Monthly Archives: June 2012

Changes

I have a confession to make. I have been an idiot. I have many resources all around me and within me and I have not used them at all well. I have squandered time and talent and I’ve let the best go by unharvested., uncrafted and unfinished. I am regretting it now because I realised that I should be claiming my place as a wise woman. Even at 50, you would think I had a clue by now. I’ve had my business license for over 10 years, I have been a practising herbalist for about that long and have either been working for others or going back to school after having been laid off. I cannot say that the school was at all a waste of time. It certainly wasn’t and I got some valuable experience in writing, media and many other things. I can do more now than ever and the knowledge and hands-on experience has begun to pay off in a big way.

So now it is time to make notes, organise and assemble all the tools that are in my employ. I can do this every bit as well as anyone else has done. It just takes making a plan and executing it. Today, I am in the basement / herb room space and putting it together. For too long I have let it go. No longer. I do need to go about finding jars and labels in the midst of getting all the other things assembled. Watch this space for handcrafted incenses, oils and other healing and magickal blends as well as some protective amulets, jewelry as well as the writing and media projects that are underway. I have a shop on Etsy that I am finally getting set up.

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The Fallen Star (Fiction)

And many will tremble thereby.
All habitations and desert spaces are indeed of My own creation, set forth,
All fully within My strength, not that of the false gods;
Wherefore I am He that men come with their rightful worship,
Not the false gods of their books, wrongly written;
But they come to know Me, a Peacock of bronze and of gold,
Wings spread over Kaaba and Temple and Church, not to be overshadowed.
And in the secret cave of My wisdom it is known that there is no God but Myself,
Archangel over all the Host, Melek Ta’us.
Knowing this, who dares deny?
Knowing this, who dares fail to worship?
– “Mes’haf i Resh” (The Yezidi Black Book)

He was the Brightest Star in the Heavens. Some say he was himself a god. Others say he was merely the servant of the Divine. In either case, the glorious perfection and splendour that he was had and has no equal either in the Heavens nor upon the Earth. Before humanity’s feet ever touched the sacred soil of Middle Earth, Melek Taus otherwise known as Azazel, the Father of the Tuaduha d’ Anu, the Duanine Sidhe, the People of the Stars and of the Powers, along with his company were called into the presence of Yahweh. This self-appointed Lord of the Heavens wished all to see his latest creation,; Man, of whom the demiurge was most proud. “See before you, Melek Taus, Adam, of who is my greatest creation; even greater than yourself.” He said. Yahweh then ordered Melek Taus and the company of Heaven to kneel before Adam and to bow down and worship him. Many of the Heavenly Host did as they were commanded by Yawed and bowed down before Adam. But Melek Taus refused, and 200 of those of his company refused along with him.

“Why do you press me?” Malkek Taus asked. The Peacock Angel then looked upon this Adam. With a scoff of indignance he looked back at Yahweh, ” I will worship God alone and I will not worship one who is younger than I am, and inferior to me. I am older than he is. If anything, this, your creation, ought to instead worship me!”*

Yahweh grew very angry at Melek Taus and his company’s refusal to worship Adam and reproached them. “Begone from my sight, Melek Taus! For your disobedience, you and your company are cursed and cast down! You and all of your followers shall wander the Earth in the deserts until the seas boil and the sky falls.”

And so, Melek Taus, otherwise known to the Shepherd Peoples as Azazel and the company of 200 angels were cast down from the Heavens to the wastelands of Earth. The Demiurge sought to bind him and his company into the deepest recesses of the wastelands, using even the Archangel Raphael to attempt to accomplish the deed.

However…..

Once an Angel, even from the ashes, always an Angel. Melek Taus is yet far more than mere legends ascribe to him. Melek Taus arose as the Bennu Bird, the Phoenix, the Peacock, all of which are seen by the Sidhe as a brother. He is seen by the human Yezidi peoples as Supreme Being, with ultimate authority over the world and all worldly matters. He gave to us, the Sidhe, and to humans, all knowledge of metals and of armor, of jewelry and cosmetics that make Sidhe and human form beautiful. From Melek Taus, all luxury was given. To these he also taught all wisdom, knowlege of herbs and the healer’s art, magic and sensuality and the art of alchemy so that his followers should want for nothing.

So now, after these centuries, at last it comes to light that he is the One who came to me as a child. Melek, my brother who set me upon the Path of Power, restored to me and to the Sidhe, My Throne upon the Fortunate Island. The truth, no matter the written blasphemies of others, shall be told , for we the Sidhe cannot and do not lie. It is an anathema to us. In spite of the best efforts of tinker-monarchs and lesser mortals and immortals alike, the Fallen Star shall rise once more.


Muse: Faelyn Gan Caenach
Fandom: Original Character / Folklore /Mythology
Word Count: 501 (excluding quotation)

Special thanks to Iona Miller for her kind help in my research.

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Standard Disclaimer for All Fiction

Because I write fiction over at Pan Historia, Dreamwidth and sometimes even over at Livejournal from time to time, I have to post a standard disclaimer. This is because of the sad fact that people are often unable to discern fiction from non-fiction and need you to preface it. This particular one has my own personal spin on it:

Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work / journal are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Caveat: However, if the writer should decide that some cheap therapy is needed and there is does happen to be some hapless victim or two that dies a horrible, particularly grisly and senseless death; it very well might be that it does in fact represent someone after all.

Thank you.

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Reflections & ‘A’ is for Ankh

There is this incredible desire for me to do more “A” words that were inspired by the Pagan Blog Project, which I am supposed to be participating, but I am only participating on my own terms. I say this, not because it is my aim to be contrary, but rather my life is so busy at the moment, just doing my morning pages over on 750words.com is hard enough some days! To be honest, there are tons of ‘A’ words to be written about. There’s Ankh, Azazel, Athame, Anubis, etc. The list goes on and on.

Oh hell..I will just go ahead and do another one!

Ankh


A is for Ankh

According to Egyptologist, Richard H. Wilkerson, in his book, “Reading Egyptian Art: A Hieoglyphic Guide to Ancient Egyptian Painting and Sculpture”, (1994, Thames & Hudson, p. 177):

“The origin of this most familiar of hieroglyphs is somewhat obscure and suggestions for its original identity have ranged from expressions of arcane sexual symbolism to representations of the humbls sandal strap.”

According to Wilkerson and others, it can be thought of as a sandal strap or in terms of the vagina and fallopian tubes. A similar assignation has been given to the Tet or Isis Knot. Both symbols appear as elaborate bows. Ultimately, the ankh is the symbol for “life”, and its design is incorporated into other ritual and common objects used in Ancient Egyptian life such as the sistrum and the hand mirror – which ironically is also referred to as “ankh”. The ankh has survived in religious iconography even to this day in the form of the crux ansata of the Coptic Church, also referred to as the ‘eyed’ or ‘looped’ cross. The fact that it is in a cruciform shape, according to Wilkinson and others, is probably one of the largest reasons why it still survives to this day.

The ankh is given to represent life-giving air and water and in the many extant examples in sculpture, painting and jewelry from the Dynastic periods and beyond, it is often offered to the deceased and in particular the Pharaoh himself. It is seen being poured out like a libation over the deceased as signifying just how life-giving a resource water truly is. It is also offered to the nostrils so that the king or others can intake life into themselves.

Interestingly, of Ancient Egypt’s gods or Netjeru are shown with the ankh, usually being held within their right hand. This positioning of the symbol underscores the power of the idea that Netjer can both bestow or withhold ‘life’ if They so choose. The symbol of life or eternal life, can at least in this interpretation, be held to mean that the ankh is an instrument of life and death as well. It indicates a sophisticated understanding that part of life is death, as well as the possibility for rebirth, has an infinite number of variables.

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The Arts of Writing and Magic

I make no secret about the fact that for my entire life, I have had an interest in the occult. The mystical and Magic(k)al are both points of fascination and realms of study that have held my interest for my entire life. Writing, too, has had an incredible hold on my life and within these two artforms I have found and I make my home. I don’t claim to be a Master of either Art, but rather only having lived a lifetime being a constant student of both.

“In the beginning there was the Word.”

This well-known biblical verse is really a truism, regardless of what particular religious persuasion you are. Religions and Traditions of Faith the world over recognise that within the written, spoken or even imagined ‘Word’ there is a tremendous amount of power. That Power is the Power of Creation. The Ancient Egyptians, according to Egyptologists, believed the word to be so sacred that the rituals were written down on both the walls of the Temple as well as on papyrus scrolls and were read rather than memorised. The Priesthood, because ‘The Word’, was so sacred, wanted to take no chance of ‘taking the ritual into their own hands’. It was important. Both stone and papyrus were considered precious things. Words were considered heka or magic, and if you knew the proper name of something and how it was said, it was believed you had both the power to create and to uncreate it. Look at the oft-quoted metaphysical idea that says, “Thoughts are things.” They are things. Every single tangible thing you see and interact with was first created as a thought in someone’s mind. The ideas were conveyed and deveopoed and out of something that many mght consider to be ‘nothing’, and a more tangible object was created. By standards of the ancients, and as little as fifty years ago, the world we live in now is indeed quite ‘magical’ if not miraculous.

Within writing, we still need to weave that sense of magic and Creation. We imagine worlds, create characters, beings and situations, or we become vessels for the voices that we hear clairaudiently or things we see clairvoyantly and we describe them for our readers so that in some sense these imaginary places, people and events do ‘come alive.’ Like the Mage or the Witch, we are trained to go into that Otherworld or Between the Worlds and bring back to show to our peers or our communities that which we have ‘seen’ or interacted with or experienced, only within our mind’s eye. We weave it all together tangibly like a mystical cloak and we put it on so that we are seen as either a great conjurer or a poor one, depending on how well we have done our jobs as writers. A Magician or Witch who does not plan well, does not keep focus within the Ritual and bring down and project out the Magick that they seek to weave is a poor operator indeed. So it is with we who write. If we do not plan, if we let ourselves be buffeted not only by the winds and the emotions and reactions of others or are put off by the changing tides and storms that come up in life, we find ourselves unable to operate within any realm of existence effectively. Excuses for not doing either art are meaningless and unacceptable. All that matters is if we do or do not; and as the Jedi Master Yoda said, “There is no try.”

Writing and Magic are passions, compulsions and can lead to them becoming a profession. It takes skill in both to either not be labeled as a fraud, a sell-out or downright shallow. We can be inspired by or try to emulate the story weaving or magic of others, but in the end it is we who must do our own work. Such shortcuts are found out and exposed for the charlatanism that it is. It takes a dedication toward integrity of one’s work to make ourselves as good as our Word. For within that word, be it done for the power of creation in Magic, or Writing, in the end it is the same. We use the subtle realms to construct a kind of reality.

What better way to connect us to the Power of Creation and the Creator?

It’s a heady experience when you have done a Ritual so well that it leaves you exhausted yet exhilarated. It’s the same way with writing. There is no better thrill than to know you have done a particularly good piece of writing. That the dialogue, the description, the situation moves and flows s a heady sensation indeed. You do either thing by focusing on the energy, moving it by your Will and going where it takes you or where you Will. Those places are journeys to the Otherworld indeed and I personally would not trade them for anything.

When I first started formally training, there was something called ‘The Admonition’ within the particular Tradition that my mentor gave to students. It went something along these lines:

“This is a Path that you shall walk alone or with others of like mind. If your friends or loved ones were meant to be here then they would be right now.”

It went on to say that even within the framework of those who work Magic together, there sometimes comes a point of separation. Inevitably in life there comes a time when you part the ways with others. Ideally, we do so in peace, going your way without regret or remorse and allowing that other person or situation to go as well. But in doing so you know that the time was spent and all within the equation had grown somehow in some way. So it is with writing. We write with those whom we resonate, we weave our magic and then we move on.

I have written collaboratively with some incredible people. My very best friend I met via and we have been writing together for nearly a decade, but for either of us, it is the bond of friendship that we conjured out of that writing that means the most. Others have rotated into my life for a shorter amount of time, but the gift of the experience is no less appreciated. The greatest gift they gave was in teaching me things about myself and about the Muses and characters that share my headspace and have pushed us all to becomeing better writers, and in the end, better creators and far more responsible for what happens in our lives.

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Ancient Egyptian Grammar 101

I have been involved in ancient Egyptian religion for a very long time. I fell in love with everything about that culture in my ancient history class in the 7th grade. That love has never waned. Along with the culture and history, I have studied the hieroglyphs on and off for about 25 years. I am by no means a master of any of the above.

However, there is one thing drives me into absolute fits. Those that make these faux pas clearly indicate those who grasp the concept of the religion, and those that just sort of use it as an overlay to what they think they already know about the subject.

The Ancient Kemetic / Egyptian word for God is Netjer Ntr). The plural of that is Netjeru (Ntrw). When people use the words, “The Netjer” or “The Netjers”, I feel myself start to grind my teeth. The Ancient Egyptians believed in the One and the Many, the Many in the One. Isis and Ra and Osiris and the Aten all were a part of a concept of an unfathomable, unknowable ‘ONE’ and was referred to as Netjer. It is sort of like the ancient Hindu concept of Brahman. Each of Them in and of Themselves is indeed Netjer – and each of Them also feeds into that Whole. They are both individual and separate.

Are we good so far? Hmmm? Yes? Good.

When someone talks about going into Deity’s presence – or a specific Deity or God’s presence, they do not say, “I went into the sanctuary of the Netjer.” That’s grammatically and theologically incorrect, You would instead say, “I went into Netjer’s presence.” God is God, no matter what Face He or She is wearing, or whether They are clothed in a kilt or a kalisari…or nothing at all! We determine the difference by saying Name of Netjer or referring to Them in plural as The Names, the Netjeru (plural) – which is all inclusive, whether or not you are speaking about the range of Names from 2 all the way up to the 4,000+ Names of Netjer that are known. I am quite sure there are several that have been missed somewhere along the way.

Gender issues with Netjer can get a little trickier. A Female Name of Netjer are sometimes referred to as Netjert or Netjeret. The plural for more than one would again revert back to the word Netjeru or Names of Netjer. Bast is, according to many scholars, and with veru good reason, not really ever called “Bastet. ” This has also been credited back to a translation error in early Egyptology (What a surprise!) The Extra “t” is in fact a female determinative and that extra “t” in that particular Name of Netjer is used to underscore that this Goddess, which was in her earliest form represented by a leonine figure, rather than a domestic-sized cat, Who was in fact a Goddess and not a God. So, whether it’s comfortable or not, techncally, it is simple just “Bast” (Pronounced ‘BAH-st’). That’s it. Nothing more. Believe me, as a Goddess, She does NOT need anything more than that! If you do put any more on te mame and insist on using the word “Bastet’, it really does tend to conjure up images of Josie and the Pussycats or Bast and the Bastets. And no, they will not be opening up in Las Vegas for the Wayne Newton show at the Luxor Hotel.

So….here we have a quick recap:

It’s “Netjer” , NOT “The Netjer”
“Netjeru” NOT “The Netjers”
“Bast” NOT “Bastet”

Anyone who writes Egyptian fiction absolutely classify themselves into who actually understands Kemetic culture by using correct terminology in a correct fashion and those who just play at (unconvincingly) it on the Internet or in books. If you don’t believe me, please take a look at the works of legendary author of all things Ancient Egyptian, Pauline Gedge. You will NEVER see her making any of these mistakes. Her understanding of language, culture and history is impeccable. The lady does her research and puts just about everyone else to shame in that area , with the exception of Elizabeth Peters who is in actuality Egyptologist, Barbara Mertz. So, if you want to sound credible and characters believable as having come from ancient Egypt, you need to consider these things very carefully.

Not to do so just looks like someone who has donned a virtual costume and wig that they’ve put on and started ‘walking like an Egyptian’. The audience can more than likely see through such a thin disguise.

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A is for Akhu (Ancestors)

Over the years I have often said to any who would listen that our ancestors are the foundation upon which we build our own lives. We stand upon their shoulders to see not only with our own eyes, but with theirs. We carry their hopes, their dreams and their prayers within our very souls. Our blood relations, or as author Raven Grimmasi calls it, the ‘Red River of Memory’, is within each of us.

The Ancient Egyptians had the belief that our akhu or ancestors, once they passed to the Beautiful West, or underwent their 70-day long journey to that place and passed through the Halls of Ma’ati, were closer to the Netjeru or the Gods than we on Earth are. From the place where they passed to, they could more easily intercede on our behalf. Nearly everyone in antiquity did some practice of honouring their ancestors. From having household shrines, to visiting the tombs and having a family picnic outside of it in order to invite the departed to partake with them. There have been found letters to the dead as well. There has always been a necessary human desire to reconnect with those who did build the foundation upon which we stand.

The idea of venerating ancestors has been misconstrued by those outside the practice as “ancestor worship.” Honour and worship are, to my mind, not at all the same thing. Leaving tobacco or food out on a stone or putting up a shrine to our ancestors or akhu is not any more eyebrow raising or difficult than our ancestors having had a telephone table where they would sit with the telephone and chat during the times of the week when the phone rates were the cheapest to talk to family and relatives, about what’s been going on – sometimes for hours at a time. They would simply dial the number and the person would be there on the other end of the line. Passing to the West, as we call it, is a bit like that. Death, in spite of its inevitabilty and sense of never being able to see a person or interact with them again, does not necessarily have to be the case. The person who leaves this world of form is not necessarily gone, but has rather moved to a different address and changed their number. The forwarding contact information for that person, their essence in the regard that we interacted with them is still available and at the very least, still inside of us.

You don’t need to believe in the fact that the dead are not “gone” any more than a plant needs to actually ‘believe in’ photosynthesis in order to turn green. That connection does not leave in spite of death’s finality. Cultures the world over know that ancestors are there to assist and to guide us. Sometimes they can provide answers to us that we might not have considered otherwise.

According to Celtic scholar, Caitlin Matthews, we have ancestors that are closest to us by family and those who are ancestors to all of us, collectively of humanity. If we go back a mere seven generations, then we have over 200 people in just our immediate, or father / mother, grandfather / grandmother line. That does not take into account the aunts, uncles, cousins and others that are alongside. When you think about it, there is an army of people in our ancestral background to whom we can go for insight and guidance. Then there are the ancestors to whom all humanity has a kinship. These are the men and women who have changed the world and have inspired us over history. These persons have continued to live through the generations and veneration that they receive by those who have come after.

It is immaterial whether we can sign on to a site such as ancestry.com or anywhere else, or send off with a DNA sample to prove that somehow we have superior ancestors. Too many get caught up in the trap of what I call Blood Quantum B.S. There will always be those in the world who will ask you to “prove” or cite your lineage, or to produce some sort of documentation outside of the colour of your skin or the shape of your features in order to ascertain that you are in the right spiritually, or that you are not trying to culturally misappropriate the ways of another Clan or Tribe or Nation. There is nothing wrong with saying,’Thank you” to the departed who have sometimes become part of the spirit of a specific place regardless of your heritage. Anyone who tells you otherwise, more often than not, is a bigot, most likely insecure in their own heritage and spirituality and should be ignored.

In my own practices, I leave offerings of food and water, and sometimes alcohol and tobacco for the akhu. Sharing a conversation and maybe leaving an offering of something that the particular ancestor liked in particular is perfectly fine. In Mexico on Dia de Los Muertos or the Day of the Dead, family members will share a meal with the departed, setting a place for them, or even venturing out into the cemetery to sing songs, stories or even food with them. The key, according to a close friend of mine, is “to make sure you have a good relationship with your dead people.” The spirits of the dead, whether you believe in ghosts or not, can make the life of those left behind easy or in some extreme cases, can cause headaches for those still amongst the living. Saying, “Hello,” offering water, or just remembering who they were to us and what they gave us is one of the most important gifts we can give to ourselves as well as to them. Someday, all of us will be ancestors to the ones who come after us. It’s good to have such traditions in place and to keep those lines of communication open.

Note: This was supposed to be a part of the Pagan Blog Project. However, since I was so occupied with school and work it is a bit late and obviously did not make any of the official deadlines . With that in mind, I am doing what I always do: This will be on my time, in my way, and according to my own parameters. That’s what being an independent practitioner and independently minded person is all about.

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