Restoring Ma’at

sekhmetdarkness2016,  through all of the abysmal things that have happened during that time, has me thinking a lot about Ma’at lately.  We’ve lost so many cultural, artistic and historical icons in this year, any of us would be hard-pressed to name them all without referring to a list. This year has been a crippling blow on a lot of levels, but it is not the end by any stretch of the imagination.  That is not to say that it’s been any less trying.

I won’t beat about the bush.  We are all about to head into unknown territory in 2017.  For some, that prospect is terrifying.  Given some of the more recent events that have occurred in the world and the attitudes of those who were supposedly elected to help us face them, we probably should all be on alert.  We are facing several global crises of epic proportions and our elected leaders are staying mostly silent about them. The media is of no help either.  Between the fake news and the apathy of mainstream media attempting to dumb us all down into complacency and obliviousness, it’s pretty damned obvious we’re on our own.

First on the list is that we are facing climate change at a much faster rate than what was initially estimated by climate scientists.  While the rest of the world wrings its hands in fear of what calamities might befall us if we continue at this pace, the president-elect, and his appointed ministers deny it’s a problem.  They thumb their noses at it, and continue on their breakneck pace of looting and pillaging all that is left of both our country’s natural and monetary resources for their own gain.

Let’s get this out, and state it at the outset: None of those people the POTUS-elect has appointed to his cabinet gives a bloody damn about any of us.  Please allow that to sink in.  A corporate oligarch who fancies himself a king has been appointed to lead our nation down the long pathway to Hell.  This failed businessman was not elected by the majority.  That much is proven, and he was put there with the blessing and complicity of the current Congress, a largely bamboozled electorate, and the assistance of a foreign government that is historically hostile towards us.  Deny it if you want.  I only ask that you continue to watch what is going on in the world and then ask yourself what’s really going on. The most important thing is to be honest with yourself when assessing every situation.

I will make the unfortunate prediction that the safety net as we know it will most probably be dissolved.  If the GOP has its way, you can kiss your Medicaid, your Social Security, educational funding, and any other government subsidies goodbye.  It doesn’t matter how long you paid in as a taxpayer – the GOP will make a diligent effort in legislating them all away under the guise of “privatization”. Privatization = Maximizing Profits for politicians, their friends, and contributors.  Again, none of these people give a damn about you. If you get laid off because of outsourcing, or get sick or fall into bankruptcy or die because you have no medical insurance, or if you cannot afford your medications, or to feed yourself and your children or lose your home and anything else in the process, that’s not their problem.   If you cannot afford to go to school to update your skills after being laid off from your job, they. simply. don’t. care.  In fact, if you do, it means more profit for them, because as far as they are concerned, you are of little use to them unless you are adding to their bottom line.

I confess, this is a cynical and very bleak vision, and one that our forefathers never imagined would or could befall us.   Let me ask a question:  How are your survival skills? Do you know how to forage for food?  Do you know how to make medicine, build a fire, or make do? Can you even begin to function without your wired devices?  Will you go stir crazy without having access to the Internet? Have you thought about the benefits of following your crazy grandma’s example of stashing a supply of cash in the mattress? Your debit card may not work at one point or another and then where will you be when it comes time to purchase food, gas or something else that you are in dire need of? You’ll be forced to really live on your wits then and the question becomes whether you can or not.

So what does this all have to do with Restoring Ma’at?

Absolutely everything.

In Ancient Egypt, Ma’at wasn’t just a goddess or an abstract concept. It was the absolute base of every pillar that their entire culture was founded upon. Ma’at is much more than a concept of Truth (with a capital ‘T’). It is about justice and fairness and right action, even in those times when it’s difficult. It is what Dr. Maulana Karenga described as serudj-ta – or repairing the world. In the coming days, perhaps for several years, we are going to have to collectively concentrate on the ideas of Ma’at and Serudj-ta in order to restore what has been or will be destroyed.  We will all be tasked with raising up those things and people who are in ruins, setting to right the wrongs of racism and bigotry, sexism, homophobia, xenophobia and all of the other ills that may raise their heads wherever we are. It is up to each of us to be the advocates for one another; to replenish that which has been diminished and to make things as beautiful or more beautiful than they were before.  This is what each of us has been charged with right now.  If we care about anything or anyone else outside of ourselves and our own sphere, then we need to face the reality that we each carry this responsibility.  We must stamp injustice, hatred, and cruelty out wherever we see it and we need to not be complicit in our silence or our apathy.

None of what I describe is easy to hear and can seem an overwhelming thing to do.  It’s probably all pretty frightening to consider.  Even as I write this, Congress is attempting to pass legislation that will not allow cameras on the floor to let us see exactly how our rights are being slowly whittled away.  Perhaps they imagine that the public won’t feel what we cannot see. Or perhaps they know that what they are doing is wrong and that the public backlash would be something that none of their careers could stand.

Owapsi-heronur collective carelessness with our land, water, air and all other natural resources has wrought terrible things.    We know, based on scientific evidence and even by simply paying attention to the natural world around us that we cannot keep on as we have in the past. While allowing the Dakota Access Pipeline would bring temporary prosperity for a select few for a short amount of time, what happens after the work is complete?  Those “jobs” are gone and the and all the corporate interests need to do is sit back, turn on the spigot and gather up the profits.  What we are left with is the incredible risk to not just the land and water of a few members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, but to millions upon millions of people who are dependent upon the water of the Missouri River downstream.  Look at where it goes and then ask yourself, what happens if the pipeline bursts?  Have we forgotten the tragedy of the Deep Water Horizon already?  Don’t we remember the incredible tragedy of the Exxon Valdez? In both instances the consequences of spilled fossil fuels to the environment and to those whose livelihood depended upon those waterways was enormous.  We have within our grasp, right now, the ability to get away from fossil fuels and push toward renewables. Other countries have pushed and shifted their economies around renewables, so it’s been proved that it can be done.  The only reason why the US has been so reticent in the effort toward renewables is the incredible amount of influence of a few oil billionaires and the fossil fuel lobby.  Deep in their guts, they know that their days are numbered. Our will to survive and to thrive as a planet must match and far outstrip their sense of corporate survival and maximizing profits.

So then, how do we create serudj-ta or work to further Ma’at? Each of us has an idea in our mind of what makes society work and what doesn’t. The vast majority of people in the world do have a strong sense of right and wrong. This goes beyond borders, national interests or origins, race, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, or any other way we choose to parse out segments of human society.   We each want a place in the world, the opportunity to be able to feed, clothe and house our families in safety and security and we all want a chance to do something meaningful with our lives.   Those are basic human motivations. When we let greed, envy, and vindictiveness and break our human family into segments of “Us”  vs. “Them” that is when the problems arise.  We have seen this demonstrated over and over again with disastrous results.  When we hold those ideas in our mind on a constant basis when dealing with anyone and in every situation, we are reminded of those higher ideals.  We cannot individually fix the world.  But does it really cost us anything at all to be courteous?  How much do we lose and how much do we gain by exercising compassion in even the smallest of ways? Most of what I am talking about doesn’t have to cost money. It doesn’t mean a major inconvenience for any of us. It just takes remembering that any of us could be in a similar situation at any given moment depending upon circumstance.  Sure you might get a warm fuzzy feeling after having done something nice – but that shouldn’t be the goal.  The goal is knowing that something was right to do and to simply do it without an expectation of thanks or payment or anything else. The end goal, especially for we Kemetics, is doing our part in order to further Ma’at in the world – and absolutely nothing less.

Resources

“Ma’at: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt” by Dr. Maulana Karenga, 2004,University of Sankore Press, Los Angeles

 

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Excavating Our Souls

This is a crosspost from my other blog at fannyfae.com.

writing_smThe way to mend the bad world is to create the right world.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

It’s been far too long since I have updated this blog.  No doubt there have been some that have lost patience with me for my neglect. That’s ok. I realize that’s my own fault.  Sometimes, life gets in the way and making the time for blogging is something that I have intended to do but just didn’t.   In excavating my soul, in my efforts to create the right world, I made a decision that I supposedly made last year.

This past Saturday night, I worked my final shift at a C-store that I spent five years at working part time. Those last two days for me were far from a walk in the park and they were grueling in the sense that I was on my feet nearly the entire day on a knee that has a torn meniscus. Needless to say, I was a hurting puppy at the end of it all.

But in among the aches and exhaustion, there is an overall sense of relief. I no longer have to be on someone else’s schedule. I no longer have to be on my feet for 8 and 9 hours at a time, to the detriment of my own health. I am grateful, to say the least, that now the freelance writing jobs that come and the herbal products etc. That I am marketing locally have allowed me the luxury to work from my own home. I have my own office,  the herb room  and workspace I have carved out in the basement is now organized and I am starting to put together product.  It all will allow me to make a living on my own terms.  I can say that taking that step is absolutely terrifying and yet at the same time exhilarating.

I have clients that give me regular work. I have other clients that give me periodical, as needed work that pays a little extra. All told, my expenses are met and I have managed to save a little, but I wouldn’t mind making more.

This morning I relinquished my key and it really started to feel official. I can now officially focus on things and career moves that matter to me and not do terrible things to my body. The truth of the matter is that things have really started to open up since I got the hell out of that C-store. It was something that I promised myself and my gods just a little over a year ago when I ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. I got talked out of it or talked myself out of leaving. Now, it feels as if the possibilities are endless.

To prove that point, an exciting opportunity to attend a possible event that is due to be held in the UK next fall presented itself.  When I heard about it, I was so excited, that I called my attorney to see if there was a way to get a copy of my divorce decree from the County so that I could renew my passport with my proper name. Because it was finalized in 1996 and Cedar Rapids, Iowa had a major flood in 2008, there was a more than good chance that the record had been completely lost or destroyed in that flood.

Apparently, mine was among the lucky few that had been saved and the clerk of court was able to find it! So tomorrow, I journey back into the city and plunk down the dosh in order to get a certified copy. I can then put together my application for a new passport with my maiden, rather than my former married name on it.That is the last vestige of anything that I had that connected me to that part of my life.  So again, the excavation has turned out to my advantage.

I sometimes find it amusing just how much things fall into place when you finally listen to what your gut tells you to do and you actually follow through on it.

Now, to just hunker down and get that Sekhmet book finished – FINALLY!!

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How Witchcraft Liberates

My friend, Benny Bargas, has written a powerful and thought-provoking blog post about his personal journey through Witchcraft.While it may not be the answer for everyone, his reasons are clear in what it means to empower oneself.

The Jackal, Stag, and Crescent

1-IMG_8379 Don’t need these anymore. kthnxbai.

In discussions of Witchcraft, it’s common to hear or read about how peoples’ lives change for the better through its practice. One can easily find accounts of witches who improved their lot in life: better jobs, more romance, a greater sense of belonging, or protection from enemies. Also common are accounts of witches who find spiritual revelations: a greater connection to Nature, a personal relationship with god(s), or the discovery of one’s own divinity. But the most important power granted by the practice of Witchcraft I’ve discovered is one that is least often given the place of importance it’s due: personal transformation—specifically, the sort of personal transformation that liberates the witch from the deleterious shackles placed upon us by society—through the power of Witchcraft’s inherent subversive nature. And so, I discuss how Witchcraft can liberate through its ability to empower, its rejection of sexual repression, its opposition to…

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Guilt by Association

metmuseum5a1The adage that we are known by the company we keep probably is very true within the Kemetic Community – perhaps even doubly so. It has become frustrating and disheartening to be judged by people whom you don’t know, who don’t know you, or your specific religious path – nor do they care really! For someone to offhandedly decide that you are not with the “in crowd” or that somehow, will pronounce that not to be of a certain religious affiliation, or sect will deem you unworthy to be given the time of day. Some of course, fear recruitment or being indoctrinated into some sort of cult based on internet rumours that they may or may not have heard.

I am Kemetic. I was trained and ordained as a Kemetic Orthodox Priestess of Sekhmet/HetHert in 1998. I stepped down a couple of years ago by choice, or as one internet website geared toward atheists said, “I retired.” I kind of laugh at that. One does *not* retire from Sekhmet’s service. Your service may change, but it is absolutely for life! At any rate, my reasons, initially, were because I was attending college full time and could not give the level of service required. My situation has changed a bit, and so now my reasons of not wanting to return to it again are deeply personal. I can and will say quite clearly that it was not because of any rift with the Temple, or disagreement between myself and any of the membership. I have been listening to Sekhmet’s call and it has been specific and in a direction by necessity. That doesn’t make anyone bad or wrong. It just makes it a different route that I have chosen to take.

All of us must by necessity approach our spiritual life on a personal level. We may choose to join or Initiate in a specific sect, temple or path, but ultimately, only we as individuals can decide when to move on. Each of us, who are Kemetic, have personal rites. Sometimes this entails a daily practice that follows a formal outlined structure, such as that which is outlined at the Temple of Horus at Edfu. While at other times a practitioner may choose something more fluid, eclectic or non-traditional. Each is a valid structure and approach to the connection to the Netjeru.

That being said, the only things that become annoying are those who insist on the belief of either a maddeningly absurd UPG-type of approach, or those who cannot and will not move outside the formal scholarly sanctioned type of practice. I have found by direct experience that there are deep pitfalls within each extreme and either can be deleterious for spiritual understanding or growth. Egyptology does *not* know everything. Conversely, I have seen so many ridiculous, crackpot theories that should never have made it outside of one’s own personal headspace, let alone made it into print for others to try to decipher.

One extreme, that of the scholarly community only, and especially within Egyptology’s ranks, often eschews and ostracizes those who “actually believe in any of this stuff”. In some place it becomes so much of an issue that those who have made it into those hallowed halls of the scholarly ranks take great pains to either conceal, downplay or flat-out deny that they actually do worship the old gods. These individuals dare not speak of it or it may cost them their entire career or get them passed over for any future projects because their beliefs are not considered “objective enough”. I personally know of several tenured professors or professional Egyptologists who by necessity are very guarded about their personal beliefs. I can state quite clearly that their fears are absolutely justified. Egyptology is neither easy nor cheap to take up as a scholarly pursuit. Admissions into these programmes are prohibitively expensive and generally only accept a tiny handful of students each semester or once a year. Most of these who are accepted have and/or have maintained a 4.0 GPA. Further, that high GPA must be maintained or that student will get a boot planted in their posterior and find themselves completely washed out and with student loan amounts that are nothing less than nightmarish and just shy of the national debt.

The Kemetic Community, I think, is going through something that much of the so-called Pagan “Community” is going through. I believe that there is far too much backbiting, petty, catty and deeply personal bitching among the ranks. People either are wrapped up in an idea that if you do not belong to X group, you obviously are “doing it wrong”, and if you are a part of that group – or have been trained by it, have handed your brain, your soul and your personal assets to some sort of mindless cult of personality that does not allow for personal considerations.

I call “Bullshit,” on both points of view.

Even with my training and years in the priesthood, I interact with those who are not Kemetic Orthodox. I spend a great deal of time with people who come from many different faiths and belief systems, and each gives me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise. In so doing, I am able to form my own opinion that has nothing to do with toeing a party line, a religious canon or being a spokesperson for any given temple or group.

If I see a person make an incorrect, ill-considered or socially repugnant statement to the general public, I have no compunction but to call them on it and tell them why I feel that way. Conversely, I expect to be accorded the exact same service be done to me in return. I also expect that it will be done without the need to resort to ad hominem attacks. I think that is more than fair. Of course, there will always be those who claim to be holier-than-thou, or claim some sort immunity because of the number of books they wrote, lectures at Pantheacon they conducted or letters after their names in terms of university degrees. The political correctness and personal butthurt needs to be put away and replaced with something that resembles common sense. If we cannot have that, then what’s the point, really?

maat1aAll of us who consider ourselves to be Kemetic have a single and solitary foundation. That foundation is not exclusive to any one group, or leader or anything else. We have nothing other to worry about than the idea of Ma’at. Each of us must decide what that is and where we are at personally. Under that one single idea / ideal, there is enough there that is complex enough to keep all of us occupied for the whole of our personal and spiritual lives. We are held responsible and we hold those whom we associate responsible as well. When we do this, we are held responsible for our own actions and words in the context of not only our own lives but the greater whole within the Kemetic community and within the world at large. With this single understanding, some of the petty, single-mindedness is stripped away, and we by necessity have to sit down and listen to the thoughts, concerns and observations of others. Being able to see that perspective and say, “Yes, you are right,” does not, therefore, declare us to be lepers within the groups that we are a part of – or not a member of. It means that we can each be viable on our own, and that we can stand up for ourselves and what we believe, rather than hiding behind an organization, a label or anything else than our own sense of rightness – or our own sense of Ma’at.

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On the Anniversary of Getting Back to the Land

This post  will probably come as a puzzlement tomailboxinfall those who are expecting me to hand out some profound post on Sekhmet. While the subject matter is a bit of a side jaunt, because Sekhmet is the very embodyment of personal power, self-reliance and personal sovereignty, I think that it is appropriate.   My journey with Sekhmet all but coincided with coming to this place; a small acreage with a log house and a ton of potential nestled in the woods that overlook the beautiful Wapsipinicon River Valley.

Many magicians, witches and the like make a lot of noise about Nature and getting back to it.  They tout the virtues of living in harmony with the land and the creatures and the spirits on it and living in rhythm with the seasons. Some of us actually get to potentially live that kind of a life.

Next week is the 25th anniversary of having completed the closing on this place.  The journey was difficult in that we sold a completely paid for home in the city to buy this property that had a mortgage.  The banks hemmed and hawed on the closing, and we were quite literally homeless for about a month. Sleeping on the stone floor of a fellow magician and her mate that is just a stone’s throw from this property.  Every tear shed, every frustration was worth it, however.

In that time, I have been divorced and have remarried my partner of 23 years. I’ve watched my son grow up and is now entering his final semester at college – majoring in the very industry that is what this place is about – horticulture and living in harmony with the land.  I confess, I have met the challenge that was set before me with varying degrees of both depth and success. Sometimes what we believe we want, what we need and what is possible are simultaneously at odds with one another.  Sometimes however, we get a glimpse, a sense that it will all work in harmony. We have been so close to he edge of losing it all, facing unemployment, drought, flooding and the potential of foreclosure. We had the triumph of refinancing and at last getting it completely paid off.  It has all been about focus and priorities.  For our family, it has been about being here.

The job is not done, the work is not done.   We are still doing repairs, making improvements, looking to more sustainable lifestyle with raised beds and the possibility of being able to get off the grid finally.  This place has always been an oasis and all of the members of our family tend to let out a grateful sigh of relief and a whispered “Thank you,”  when we get back home.

Fifteen acres is plenty of land, even that is mostly wooded, with limestone cliffs and a creek that runs through it.   There is a sense of peace here. Of course, lately that peace can be disturbed when looking around us we are seeing more houses dot the land that overlooks these beautiful woods It makes me feel a little bit of desperation to buy up as much of the land around us.   There is this notion that if somehow we can keep encroaching civilization out, we can preserve it.

I’d much rather have my neighbors continue to be the hawks, eagles, owls, foxes, turkeys and other wildlife that call this place home than hear the pounding of hammers and thrum of bulldozers as another foundation is dug in the subdivision up the road.   The problem is, because land prices have skyrocketed and surviving children who inherit the family farm see dollar signs and are not thinking about sustainability or preserving the land are parceling it out into plots. Whenever I see trees being mowed down to make room for someone’s future grassy yard, I shake my head.  What could have been more beautiful than looking out over the forest?  More houses drawing on the aquifer that feeds the deep wells for all of us out here are also going to further tax that resource.  Those are the kinds of things that are a source of concern for the future.  Even if you have your own well, water conservation should be a priority.

On this blog, I am going to be putting the focus on the subjects of self-sufficiency and sovereignty. Some of the things I post will be how-to’s, and other things may have more spiritual overtones.  I may decide to focus on writing, or any number of other things that catch my fancy. (Hey, that’s the fun of having adult ADD!)  The overall focus is really going to be about Wholistic living;  which is Mind, Body & Spirit and how to keep them all together.   In today’s world, that is becoming more and more of a trick and far more necessary than many of us may have done to date.

 

 

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Regarding Sekhmet’s Stolen Image

Chris M. Morris, via Creative CommonsSometime on Good Friday, the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs, Nevada was invaded by thieves. The space that had always been open to anyone wanting to come visit the Goddess, to pray and to enjoy the peace of the sanctuary could do so unhindered. It was this that made it possible for those with a more heinous mission in mind to succeed in stealing the centrepiece of that place, a four  foot tall statue of Sekhmet that weighed under 100 pounds.

The Priestess in Residence came into the Temple to find Sekhmet gone. The thieves had left behind only tire tracks, and in them was the necklace that the statue had been wearing, indicating that she had been tipped while being spirited away in the night from the place that had been her home for the last 21 years.

For the celebration of Earth Day that was scheduled to be held at the Temple, a picture of the statue was set in the place of where the image once stood.  The Earth Day Celebration went on as planned.

Right now, there is much speculation within the Pagan community as to why it happened or who might have done it.  The first thing that came to mind is that somehow, since it was done on Good Friday, it was religiously motivated, as if to remove an image sacred to those who are not a part of the Big Three monotheistic faiths.   Others have suggested someone just wanted to make Sekhmet their own.  Others have posited that because of the area of the country and because Sekhmet personifies power itself, that the culprits could be drug dealers who believe that stealing a bit of mojo is perfectly acceptable.  Whatever the motivations are, the Pagan community and all those who love Sekhmet are upset by the theft.

Initially $500 was being offered for information that led to the arrest and prosecution of the culprits. That has since been kicked up to a $2,000 reward.  I would not be surprised if that figure increased yet again.

The unfortunate byproduct of this tragic event are those Pagans who wring their hands and drape themselves over the furniture, wailing that this is about religious persecution – or that if this had happened in a Christian church or Jewish synagogue, the press coverage would somehow be more than it has been.  I understand the deeply personal feelings that people have toward Sekhmet and that someone would do something so terrible is frustrating and brings up anger, sadness and the overall feeling of somehow being violated. I also know what it feels like when the issues and events we hold near and dear are not adequately covered as we feel they ought to be.  I think anyone who is on the receiving end of being even in a small way touched by any sort of crime – be it a hate crime or something else must feel that irritation that no one could possibly understand.  Pagans in particular, seem to love to latch on to crises of this type because it makes them feel as some “persecuted other”.  I never saw much use in wallowing in that sort of self-pity, personally.

To be honest, I never thought I would see the day Sekhmet’s children would resort to playing the victim card and yet I have in these past few days. Some have resorted to comparing and contrasting our religious site being desecrated and comparing our pain to the pain of others when thier faith was lashed out against. Somehow they conveniently have forgotten in another crime that is unrelated but took place just before Easter where  three innocent lives were lost last week during Passover.  Ironically, all three of the victims who were slain by a white supremicist were Christians.   It is my view and in the interests of ma’at that I believe that no one should be singled out, begrudged or feel persecuted for their beliefs, or have their sacred spaces violated. The ones who whine about how we of “Other” faiths that are not Jewish, Christian or Muslim are so very persecuted and discriminated against conveniently forget the burned churches, the desecrated mosques, the ravaged Sikh temples, that have all  have been the scenes of senseless violence and desecration, all  based on hate and intolerance. Our prayers go out to their families and our voices whisper hopes toward peace and understanding.  It is what we should do for each other as human beings.

While the stealing of the statue is a tragic, heinous thing, too many within Paganism’s ranks  love to use that common excuse that gets handed out is to blame the media – especially when screaming “religious persecution”

This is not an act of persecution. We need to stop with the assumptions that somehow it was. There were no slurs painted over the space, the building was left intact- they took the statue, something that cannot be replaced. It’s a theft. Cameras may be necessary as a precaution. That’s the way of things now. It has to be, unfortunately. Slanting the story is not helpful. .We now live in a world where that kind of trust is not something that can be easily given. We used to sleep with our doors unlocked and our kids could play in their own front yards. Both things are becoming increasingly rare now – but of course,  that has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with a society that is out of contol

We are not the dominant religion, that is true. We are not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, but we can practice our religion for the most part unmolested. Do people lose their lives here over being pagan? Hardly. That is what the comparison with the Passover shootings was about – and it is relevant. Can people in India, Africa, and even Egypt itself say the same? Absolutely not. I know of native Egyptians who do worship Sekhmet – but they cannot do so openly or it is a death sentence.

There is no point to the practice of comparing and contrasting of pain and transgressions and tresspasses against “Us” versus the ones suffered by “Them” – whichever side we happen to be on.  Any religion being oppressed, any desecration of a holy site is an outrage and intolerable. As a Priestess of Sekhmet, I ask is our suffering any greater than the churches that get burned down, the mosques that are desecrated, the medicine wheels that are destroyed?  No. Absolutely not.

Whomever did this – be they someone who lusted for Sekhmet’s image itself, or someone in the drug cartels  or someone just doing something ignorant and hateful, I can say without reservation that they will have literal hell to pay.  In spite of Sekhmet’s loving, healing aspects – and She has many – there are very dark parts of this Goddess that are invoked when Ma’at has been transgressed.   To those who know Sekhmet and those “darker” aspects of Her, know without any shadow of a doubt that the move was a very stupid one indeed.

That statue will be returned – or not. But we are undamaged, and Sekhmet’s worship is undeterred. One thing is for certain, however, those who stole Her image will get what they have coming to them. I know for a fact, Sekhmet’s Arrows Do. Not. Miss.

In my years of experience, Sekhmet, as far as Deities go,  is most definitely NOT  a victim; and neither, I dare I say it, are Her children. We will not curl up into a ball and wail and bemoan the situation. We will not stop doing what we have been doing since the resurgence of Sekhmet’s worship in the world.  We know who our Mother is,  and She knows us.  We who know that we belong to Her carry Sekhmet within us.  Our minds hone in on Her with a singular focus.  We do this because She IS the very Personification of Power or Sekhem itself. To succumb to this blow is to give that Power away.

Rest assured, we have absolutely no intention of doing that.

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E is for Eye

eyofra

Painting on papyrus of a pectoral of the Solar Eye from the treasures of Tutankhamun

The eye has served as a powerful image for humanity for millennia. The Eye, in Kemetic belief, centres around the Udjat Eye – which is that of protection. Also the Eye of Heru (Horus is his Greek name) and the Eye of Ra – which are separate entities from Ra’s more than 70 forms – and can function independently of him.

Even in the earliest periods of Ancient Egyptian history and culture , the sun and the moon were often regarded as very eyes of the Great Falcon, Horus. Later the two were differentiated in that the Eye of Horus was the Left Eye or the Moon, while the Right Eye was Ra or the sun. One particular myth which comes to us from the tomb of Tutankhamun, talks of how Horus’ eye was blinded but then restored by Hathor – who is Herself an Eye of Ra. This ties into the cycles of the moon and of the waxing and waning action of that heavenly body that is ever present above us.

The more well known “Eyes of Ra” are HetHert (Hathor), Sekhmet, Bast, Wadjet, Mut, Meretseger and even Aset (Isis). The Eyes of Ra were considered to be the protectors and enforcers of divine law. Probably the best known myth surrounding this is the “Destruction of Mankind” where Hathor, the goddess of love, beauty and all that is good is told that Mankind has rebelled and attempted not only to overthrow the Netjeru (gods) but destroy them utterly, is sent forth by Ra in order to punish them : Thus Sekhmet was born.

These goddesses, known as Eyes also resided in the crown, or uraeus that was upon the brow of royalty. These goddesses held the power of the King and their power is manifested through him. This is where the function of the Queens or Great Royal Wives were the stand-ins for the Eye Goddesses, such as Hathor and Isis and insured the protection of Kingly Power and function within the Two Lands.

The Eye of Horus, or Eye of Ra or Udjat Eye were all a part of this greater protection. There were almost always eyes included within funerary equipment in the form of amulets, and painted motifs on coffins, walls. The Eye was a major theme to protect not just the pharaoh, but common people as well. It worked to keep away evil, to insure the path toward the Afterlife of the Duat was kept clear. The sailors of Ancient Egypt would often paint the eye on the prow of their ships and even skiffs to insure safe travel. Even today, modern Kemetics will have Eyes either painted on their vehicles, or in similar fashion to the Fish motif of the Christians, they will have an eye on their car. I certainly have them on all of our vehicles.

The Eye as depicted in Ancient Egyptian art is based off of the markings of falcons, such as the Peregrine Falcon ( Falco peregrinus ), a totemic representative of the God Horus. As depicted on many Eye artifacts, whether it be an actual amulet, piece of jewelery or a painted motif, shows the “teardrop” marking near the bottom of the Eye, not dissimilar from the markings on the Peregrine falcon. A similar line is also found just below the eye of the African Cheetah, who at times can be taken to represent Eye Goddesses that take the form of big cats.

Hieroglyphically, there are several symbols for the Eye. Gardiner Sign list, symbols D4 through D17 either depict the Eye or parts of the Eye. The attached meaning in Ancient Egyptian to these often talk of “doing” or “making” or one who “makes or does”. This idea ties rather emphatically to the eye and what it symbolizes as being an active rather than a passive role. “Here comes protection”, or “The Eye goes forth”, which could be in a protective or punishing type of function. The Eye of Ra is there to protect and to defend authority and keep the balance and either defend or restore ma’at. https://i1.wp.com/upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f5/Oudjat.SVG/200px-Oudjat.SVG.png

The Eye is also used symbolically within Ancient Egyptian mathematics as a sort of symbolic break down for the concepts of measurement in the form of fractions. The Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and the Lahun or Kahun Papyrus, both have tables of unit fractions (1 as the numinator), and scribes would often have these tables for use within their work. The various parts of the Eye would be broken down in this fashion:

  1. Right side of the eye = 1/2
  2. Pupil = 1/4
  3. Eyebrow = 1/8
  4. Left side of the eye = 1/16
  5. Curved tail = 1/32
  6. Teardrop or downward marking= 1/64

Unfortunately, however, studying this particular diagram does nothing for those of us who are mathematically impaired, no matter how much we love all topics that pertain to Ancient Egypt! 1000px-Ancient_Egypt_Wings.svg Another symbol of the Eye of Ra in specifics is the sun disk that appears on the heads of solar deities in the Egyptian pantheon, such as Sekhmet, Horus, and even Ra Himself. The sun disk and the Uraeus at the centre were protective and punishing at the same time. The sun or Ra moving across the sky could be found in the symbolism of the Solar Barque, which carried Ra across the sky each day. In the Barque of Ra or the Solar Barque, other deities rode with Ra. Certainly the body of the heavens was equated with the Celestial Cow who travels with Ra.

The symbolism of the Eye is central to Ancient Egyptian belief and the complexity of everything this one symbol can encompass can be both complex and at times confusing. While the Eye was a protector, it was also a punisher of wrongdoers. While it was protective of that order or Ma’at, it was sometimes difficult to control and would tend to wander. The cycle of the Wandering Eye returning to the Two Lands to signify that balance would once again be restored was met with great joy and merrymaking. When the Eye is restored and reestablished, we, too, are likewise restored and reestablished as well.

Resources:
Roberts, Alison. Hathor Rising: The Power of the Goddess in Ancient Egypt. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1997

Roberts, Alison. Golden Shrine, Goddess Queen: Egypt’s Anointing Mysteries. Rottingdean, East Sussex: NorthGate, 2008.

Roberts, Alison. My Heart My Mother: Death and Rebirth in Ancient Egypt. Rottingdean, East Sussex: NorthGate, 2000.

Shaw, Ian, and Paul T. Nicholson. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995. Print.

Wikipedia, “The Eye of Horus”. Web.

Wilkinson, Richard H. Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieroglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture., p.176 – 177; London: Thames and Hudson, 1992 Pagan Blog Project 2014

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D is for Dancing & Drumming

dancers For those of us who have been raised with an intimate knowledge of our Indigenous culture, we know that dancing is an important part o our and many cultures throughout the world. For myself, hearing the sound of drums and the sound of bells and jingle dresses and the singing along the powwow trail begins at the first sign of spring and continues on well into the fall. We dance, because we can. We dance and sing and beat drums and it serves as an affirmation of life; our own heartbeat and the heartbeat of everything and everyone around us. People gather to dance and to sing and to celebrate the rhythm that permeates every aspect of our existence.

Dancing and music figure prominently in our religious and ritual practices as well. Dance is a meditation, it can send us into a trance and be a way for us to express emotion, ecstasy and connect us to the Divine. The truth of the matter is that dance has been a part of human history or prehistory around the world since probably before Homo Sapiens became fully bipedal.

The first great culture to really infuse its entire society with the magic of music and dance was that of Ancient Egypt. The Ancient Egyptians enjoyed life to its fullest and no celebration in Ancient Egypt would have been complete without music and dancing. At parties, singers and dancers performed to the music of harps, lutes, drums, flutes, cymbals, clappers and tambourines. During festivals, crowds chanted and clapped, carried along by the vibrant rhythm of Egyptian orchestras, while dancers performed amazing feats, leaping twirling and bending their bodies in time with the music. It was so important a feature of everyday life that musical instruments – frame drums, harps, clappers, sistra, and other instruments found their way into the tomb of those who passed to the Beautiful West and their entertainment in the afterlife.

Most of Egyptian secular and religious life was marked by the performance of music and dance. This important aspect of daily life of the Egyptians is depicted as early as the Pre-Dynastic periods. Ceremonial palettes and stone vessels indicate the importance that music had even in the earliest of periods. The importance of music in daily life in Ancient Egypt is underscored by the large number of musical instruments found in museum collections around the world. Of the several terms used in ancient Egyptian to describe dance is ib3.

In many banqueting scenes found within the tombs of the Ancient Egyptians, the banquets appear to be more secular. Shown in these scenes are an idealized rather than any actual event. The basic components of these scenes changed very little throughout Egypt’s history, until the New Kingdom. Around the 18th Dynasty, there is a marked change of character, in the song, dance and the overall “feel” of these scenes. At this time we see a marked sense of erotic significance. Lotus flowers, mandrakes, wigs and unguent cones, as well as men and women clothed in semi-transparent garments and the gestures of the banquet participants. Music, love and sensuality go hand in hand in most civilizations, ancient as well as modern, and in different spheres. Overall music is a major component of life, an important piece of both secular and religious life.

NileGoddessDance was far more than just an enjoyable pastime in Ancient Egypt.During the Pre-Dynastic period were found depictions of female figures, perhaps of Goddesses or Priestesses, dancing with their arms raised above their heads. The act of dancing was undoubtedly an important component of ritual and celebration in Ancient Egypt. The Neolithic figurine of a goddess or priestess that currently resides in the Brooklyn Museum is commonly referred to as “the Nile Goddess” or “Nile Dancer”. The figure has arms that are raised above her faceless head like some sort of pre-historic ballerina. Her body is slender with ample breasts and broad hips. Some have speculated that her graceful limbs lifted above her head are to emulate the horns of the Goddess Hathor, who was the personification of the joys of music dancing, love and life itself. This particular piece of very early ancient Egyptian art has been an inspiration for many modern sculptures and art lovers just in its beautiful simplicity.

girlmusiciansPeople from every social class were exposed to music and dancing. Manual laborers worked in rhythmic motion to the sounds of songs and percussion, and street dancers entertained passers by. In normal, daily life musicians and dancers were an important and integral part of banquets and celebrations. Dance troupes were available for hire to perform at dinner parties, banquets, lodging houses, and even religious temples. Some women the harems of the wealthy were trained in music and dance. Unlike today, however, no well-born Egyptian would consider dancing in public. The Nobility would employ servants or slaves to entertain at their banquets to a offer pleasant diversion to themselves and their guests.

Elizabeth ‘Artemis’ Mourat, professional dancer and dance-scholar categorized the dances of Ancient Egypt into six different types: religious dances, non-religious festival dances, banquet dances, harem dances, combat dances, and street dances.

muudancers1There were certain ritual dances that were crucial to the successful outcome of religious and funerary rites. This is particularly true of the Muu-Dancers. These dancers wore kilts and reed crowns and performed alongside funeral processions. Funeral rites often employed or were based off of the Songs of Aset and NebetHet (Isis and Nephthys in Greek) and the retelling of how Aset searched for the body of Wasir (Osiris in Greek) and reassembled his dismembered form for burial and restored to eternal life through Her prowess and skill in magic. This period of singing, dancing, drumming and lamentation was said to last over a period of five days. It was through these rites that it is believed Roman mystery cults arose.

With the emergence of the cult of Wasir dance was a crucial element in the festivals held for both He and Aset, His sister-wife. These festivals occurred throughout the year. Dance also figured prominently in the festivals dedicated to Apis. Another deity that has been linked to dancing, is the Dwarf-God, Bes. He has been depicted in both reliefs and in statuary playing a tambourine and dancing, denoting the idea of using dance in order to drive away evil spirits. Images and amulets of Bes were often found in and around the birthing chamber for women who were giving birth. In these images, Bes is quite often shown playing a tambourine or a drum. Wikimedia Commons

acrobatsmThe act of dancing was inseparable from music, and so the depictions of dance in Pharaonic tombs and temples invariably show the dancers either being accompanied by groups of musicians or themselves playing castanets or clappers to keep the rhythm. Little distinction seems to have been made between dancing and what would be considered today as acrobatics. Many dancers depicted in the temple and tomb paintings and reliefs show dancers in athletic poses such as cartwheels, handstands and backbends.

Detailed study of the depiction of dancers has revealed that the artists were often depicting a series of different steps in particular dances, some of which have been reconstructed in the modern era. Movements of Egyptian dances were named after the motion they imitated. For instance, there were “the leading along of an animal,” “the taking of gold,” and “the successful capture of the boat.”

Men and women as a general rule and in the more conservative society that was Ancient Egypt were never shown dancing together. The most common scenes depict groups of female dancers often performing in pairs and more rarely, men dancing in groups. Dance was done in private chambers as well as public festivals and gatherings, in the streets as well as Temple rituals. The importance of dance has not lessened over the years, it has maintained and is carried on even today. Professional dancers, musicians and other performers, though they are often admired for the work that they do, are not often given a high status within society. Because they wander the country side often with men to whom they are not related, especially if they are women, this sort of behaviour is still rather looked down upon – especially within village societies.

There was a notion within early Egyptology that noblewomen or women of a certain class or caste would never engage in dancing except in private. The only exception to this idea were the dancers, singers and musicians that were dedicated to the service of a deity, for example. The dancers that are depicted within the ancient tombs are often described or depicted as being a part of the tomb owner’s immediate family. As a direct relation to the deceased then any taboos were lessened. Today, women may dance within the privacy of their own homes, or that of a family member, but never in public. It is a good idea that depictions in tombs were never intended to be viewed again by the living once they were sealed, and as such served as a private residence for the deceased.

Modern day bellydancing has a little resemblance to the graceful and acrobatic gestures that were a part of dance in antiquity. Because of so many external influences – the Greeks, Romans, and influx of other cultures over the centuries, not to mention that dance in Egypt as also influenced by the influx of Islam into the region. In spite of all of this, however, we can still see within Egyptian culture the idea of dancing just for the sheer love of it.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Most of this piece is a reworking of a section of my website, ‘The Ancient Egyptian Virtual Temple’, 1995 -2014, Copyright Ma’at Publishing. (Mirrored at fannyfae.com)

Other Resources

Manniche, Lise, Music and Musicians in Ancient Egypt British Museum Press, 1991. Print.
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Redmond, Layne, When the Drummers Were Women: A Spiritual History of Rhythm Three Rivers Press, 1997. Print.

Shaw, Ian, and Paul T. Nicholson. The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995. Print.

Spencer, Patricia, “Dance in Ancient Egypt”, Near Eastern Archeaeology, 2003, p 111 – 121

Pagan Blog Project 2014

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The Re-Establishment of Nekhen Iunen Sekhmet

SekhmetStatue_sm

‘Sekhmet in Basalt’ by NiankhSekhmet

A few years ago, when I was a Kemetic Orthodoxy Priest, I established a nekhen or shrine to Sekhmet.   The name of that shrine was Nekhen Iunen Sekhmet – or to translate, The Shrine of Sekhmet’s Sanctuary.   Here in the Wapsipinicon River Valley, in a land that I refer to as the Enchanted Forest, this place has served as a sanctuary for humans, animals, plants and all manner of wildlife.   The wild animals seem to know that once they cross into the borders of our 15 acres, which is not much in the scheme of things, they are safe.

After a series of life events that sent my life into a tailspin, the death of my mother, the outsourcing of my job overseas and returning to school and starting a business, things were neglected, I left Sekhmet’s formal service in pursuit of a life that is just now starting to show itself as becoming a reality.

Nekhen Inunen Sekhmet is more than just a place to perform the daily proscribed rites or heka on behalf of others.  It has become a way of life, a consciousness of its own.   One thing is for certain, I do not and absolutely will not do this in affiliation with any  Temple – at all.  This is and shall remain absolutely my own.   I am doing this out of love and devotion for Sekhmet;  She Who owns my head, She for whom Life Belongs – particularly my life.  Every medicine I make, ever rug that I weave, every thing that I do in some way ties back to that service.  I am not interested in having ‘students’,  so it would be futile to even ask.  Neither am I the least bit inclined to be out front and telling other people how to be  what group to join or sit in judgement  of another’s practices.  I will let the grand poohbahs and the gurus have at that. I hope they have fun with that. More power to them.

I am frankly much happier being left to my own devices rather than having someone, be it a group or an individual, looking over my shoulder to see whether or not I am doing it right.  I am. I have the liturgical texts, I have the materials and the resources that allow me to do it right as in antiquity and I have made the commitment to do so.  I do it.  I no longer have a single thing to prove to anyone about anything.  Further,  I am at an age when I no longer give a fuck what anyone else thinks of me – nor do I really give too much of one when confronted with the practices of others.  They don’t matter.  I am singularly focused on the things that do.  Everything else tends to be superfluous and unnecessary fluff.

The measurements have been made.  The sand and the amulets have been crafted and have been laid for the foundation.  All shall  be done as it should be – as the Lioness lies ever-watching and overseeing the Work.

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