Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Today is the Return of the Eye of Ra, meaning Hethert-Sekhmet, my spiritual Mother. I had a lovely festive chat with my Kemetic family, and have been listening to great music.
This is when we celebrate not only the strengthening of the sun (that strength is the Eye of Ra), but our lovely Mistress of Joy returning to Kemet, after running off very angry. It's also when many families across the world, in many faiths, come together to be with their families, often traveling huge distances. That is their warmth and joy.
We were given homework by Mother - 1. Do something that makes someone else smile between now and Moomas (sunday: I'll post a blog about that if I get a chance). 2. Do something that makes you smile.
Well, this video made me smile and cry a little. Maybe someone else will enjoy it too. I think I'll ultimately do something in person with someone, if I can.
Blessed Solstice, Happy Return, Merry Christmas and Happy Chanukah!
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Friday, December 9, 2011
I didn't want to move here to Florida. I avoided this possibility until nearly the last moment. I was in a toxic, codependent situation that was killing me. I was too close to it, and I didn't see it.
I'm seeing so much more now, and it really is like the elephant in the room. I wonder how the fuck I missed it.
I've been doing much better at getting shrine time in, since I now have a clean and quiet space to do so. And if nothing else is perfectly clear now, it's that my spiritual Mother and beloveds do care, love me, and that all of this, even the mess and the pain and the horror of looking back at what I was doing to myself, is on purpose. I'm meant to be here. It's not my favorite place, but it has the Gulf to wash me, it has sunshine, I have a clean bed, space to breathe, and a much clearer head and open ears and heart, so I may hear and feel my Gods.
Hethert tells me to love myself, and no longer seek to destroy myself. Bast-Mut orders me to stop eating my heart. Set tells me I will survive all of this, and be more brilliant and strong for it. All want me more pure. Want me happier and stronger.
Hethert also won't let love die within my heart. Every day I can be in shrine, I can't express my thanks enough for what She has done for me - and who She has placed in my path.
It's also the year of Ptah, the builder. But nothing can be built if there is rubble in the way. This is all clearing away of that rubble, what no longer serves me. Maybe it never did, but it's on the way out now. It will still take work. I won't always feel great or victorious about it, I'll have days where I'm dusty and sweaty and want to give up. But I won't. I have powerful Gods on my side, a wonderful faith community in the House of Netjer, and good friends. I'll make this happen.
Netjer amazes me.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
My own personal darkness again. Sometimes things look so very black. Friends can help, which is lovely and nice. And I love you all, really.
But this song keeps saving my life. It popped up on Pandora and opened a vault of grateful tears.
I'm pretty sure Mom Hethert has something to do with it.
I'm down, but it seems, I'm not out yet.
But this song keeps saving my life. It popped up on Pandora and opened a vault of grateful tears.
I'm pretty sure Mom Hethert has something to do with it.
I'm down, but it seems, I'm not out yet.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Tonight is day 2 of the Wesir (Osiris) mysteries, and this is my first encounter with them as a festival. Right now, it's mostly academic, since purity issues are keeping me from shrine. I still read over the lamentations sent out by our Nisut (AUS).
I am doing my best to connect more with male deities, but I have to confess, I connect far more easily to the feminine. Whether the reason for this is my messed up experiences with christianity or not, I can't say, but it's something I acknowledged a while back, and am still working on. Wesir is also, well, quiet, so it's hard for me to know Him. So as far as the Lord of Silence is concerned, I'll let Raheriwesir speak for me.
I have to admit, I have little experience with Aset, but I find Her easier to comprehend right now. She and Her sister, Nebt-het, are mourning the loss of Wesir, who has gone to be king of the Duat. Most of us know what it means to lose someone to death.
And being a child of Hethert, I seem to create soundtracks for everything. This song struck me as appropriate for tonight.
Saturday, November 19, 2011
At least for me. This blog post she wrote about the Occupy movement. It made me weep and hope again.
And I fucking want a ukulele for Moomas/xmas/yule, well, whatever. Maybe someone will let me steal theirs. Heh.
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
I don't know why I'm writing this there, but this is my blog, so, I'm gonna do what I feel. And you know what I feel right now?
Ready to fucking FIGHT.
I don't mean violence, mind you. I am just so goddamn ready for a revolution. And yes, this is partly inspired by the eviction of Occupy Wall Street, and the ongoing bullshit with Occupy Oakland, and how this is just too fucking much to ignore.
At first, I sympathized. Part of me wanted to be there with them, camping out, remaking a world that is better. But the other part, the conditioned part, knew it was all a dream, the world just doesn't work that way, I need to do X Y and Z for myself.
You know what? X Y and Z are bullshit.
All that shit I have been taught, how to get along in the world, go to college, you'll earn more, get a job, any job, then look for a better one, work hard and your employer will reward you - it all either comes with huge fucking caveats, or are fucking lies. This country, this WORLD is run by people who tell you this stupid shit so they can make money off your back, when all you want to do is be happy.
I was turned down for a job because I didn't already have one. "Just get a job" is bullshit.
I have a college degree. I made minimum wage at my last job, and was fired for being sick.
I looked for better jobs when I was employed. I was told already having a job would cut into my availability, so they wouldn't hire me.
It's a rigged fucking game, and I'm ready to stand up and scream it the fuck down. We can't be expected to live this way! This is not the world I want to exist in, and I am sick to fucking DEATH of playing along with the status quo, pretending shit will turn around if I just keep applying for jobs that run on that goddamn game.
Right now, I'm going to work on a plan. I don't know what it is yet. I don't know what I'm going to do to get by, but it probably won't be pretty. I don't care. I want shit to change, and change NOW. This is not the world I was taught. And I will not accept the lie anymore. I want the truth, and I want justice, and I want a fucking chance.
Monday, November 7, 2011
I haven't been writing. I've been down - very down. So I have a hard time finding much to say. Just try to find inspiration anywhere I can to keep stumbling along.
And here's a little bit of wisdom that is helping. If I just remember - it's ok, it's just a ride.
And here's a little bit of wisdom that is helping. If I just remember - it's ok, it's just a ride.
Friday, November 4, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Everything in my life is moving.
My place of residence. My perceptions. My feelings.
Maybe I can do real spiritual work here. I do love Yemaya. She can knock down a huge emotional wall. I need to be more in touch with my center. Wherever the hell it is. I find myself crying and praying to this Orisha. I suppose She is very close.
Stir the pot. I heard thunder today. Saw a few storms out in the distance. Prayed to Set that I can handle chaos and weird stuff until I come out of all this. Handle being tossed about on the ocean.
I do want to see what's next.
Thursday, September 15, 2011
So, I saw a disturbing article on my sister Sobeq's twitter today, about some new vast prayer project aimed at "taking the country back" for christians, sponsored by our favorite Jesus freaks, the New Apostolic Reformation, and while they are against, well, everyone but themselves (because Mormons and Catholics aren't christian either), they are having pagans sit up and take notice. And responding back to pagans - with "blood-covered love." (I wish I was kidding about that quote)
Some of you might remember some rumblings over the NAR during our last American presidential election, mostly around Sarah Palin, our favorite witch hunter. It's a part of an over-arching ideal in some factions of American christian fundamentalism termed "dominionism," basically, "all your soulz are belong to us." It's a relatively new term, describing the political aspirations of far-right christians, but has been on the rise here in the US, as far as I can tell, since Ronald Reagan. The evangelical right is a minority, but a very noisy one, and very faithful to the polls - and they are masters of organization.
What made me want to write about this episode, particularly the "Forty Days of Light over D.C.", is partly the comment section of the first link to the Wild Hunt blog about it, and my own mixed-up feelings. I'm no stranger to the feelings of these kinds of people, who feel it is their duty to force their god's "love" on us, as well as their god's laws and spiritual dominion, to make sure we're "free" and "saved." I have always chaffed at this kind of "love", and know it does not really come from compassion, but from deep insecurities covered by a kind of haughty surety of their own "righteousness." I try to have my own compassion for them, but at the same time, know that there is really no talking to them. They are convinced I'm an emissary of the devil. Nothing I say would be considered for a moment.
I do worry that these nutters will gain political ground - for that, I vote. However, the mention of their prayers against their enemies and "pagan idols" such as Columbia (notice that D.C., to them, is the "District of Christ"), and ongoing commentary on the power of intent (even admitted to be a force by the NAR themselves - the irony is delicious), do make me pause and think. I fully believe in magic/heka. I employ it, I live it (as best I can), and I don't think it is limited to a few specialized hands. I believe it is a natural force - one that can be honed, specialized, and used more specifically and effectively by practiced people who have put the time and effort into it, yes; but a stick can be used to kill a person, not just a balanced sword. What can an organized group of wall-eyed praying foot-soldiers do, with enough directed intent/malice/misunderstanding, to disrupt a government that ensures my freedom? What would it take to counteract it?
I'm not sure.
Please understand, I dislike the whole notion of "spiritual warfare" as put forth by these neo-pentecostal types like the NAR. I don't think it's helpful to announce "we are against you, and our god(s) is(are) too!" I don't want to drag anyone, least of all myself, down to their level of "my god can beat up your god." (Though I do think I just heard Set snicker somewhere...)
However, in the interest of balance, ma'at, and well, concern for our country not getting any crazier, I do think I will try to save the date (11-11-11, oh, but magic is evil :P) and say a few prayers to Ma'at and perhaps the genius loci Columbia. It couldn't hurt, and it might help add a few feathers on the scale on the side of keeping my country free. Maybe my fellow American pagans/Kemetics/Vodouns can jump in as well - there are days for every state, and the one for the District of Columbia.
How you respond, and the level of it, is entirely up to you, but I think perhaps quietly, privately, and lovingly might be best. Maybe do what Jesus said, and go into your closet - because these guys are certainly ignoring that part of their book.
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
I was pondering my life in the bath, as I am wont to do, and I recalled some weird episodes in my life, where my spirituality was questioned not because it wasn't christian, but because of the color of my skin. As bizarre as this sounds, it does happen, and I got this from mostly pagan people.
I will admit, there was a time in my life, as a fairly new practicing pagan, that I thought I should follow the ancient ways that my "blood kin" followed. This meant Welsh and Irish pagan beliefs. I did try. The art is gorgeous, yes - the stories interesting, the history just spotty enough to let a curious researcher really dig in and stay interested. But, for whatever reason, it didn't spark my soul. I just wasn't moved.
So I moved on. I wandered around many pagan paths, even kept a little bit of the Celtic stuff around for the sake of my ancestors. What ended up moving me and really reaching my core was radically different, and turned out to be taboo.
I even remember the moment. I was in a religious studies class on sacrifice at college, and we were watching Maya Deren's film, The Divine Horsemen: The Living Gods of Haiti. It's a black and white film, it's a documentary, so no putting on the soft lights to attract people - but all the same, I knew that was what I was looking for. Vodou, of all things! I found Deren's book by the same title, and any other book I could find on Vodou or any other Afro-Diasporic religion. I had found my home. At the same time, I was also interested in Kemetic Orthodoxy, another African religion, but that took a while longer.
But, as it turned out, not everyone thought what I had found was the best thing for me. Oh, I expected evangelical christians to hate my religion, I had been used to that for a while, starting with Stregheria. I didn't expect other pagans to object. It was by no means a consensus, but there were a few pagans who thought it was wrong of me to practice a "black religion" as a "white person." The strongest response along these lines did come from a christian, who said something to the effect of "why are you practicing that n***** religion? It's not enough that you're not christian, you have to go do THAT??" Very sad, indeed.
I don't buy this idea in some recon pagan circles that one is obligated to follow the gods of "their blood." If a pagan is happy honoring the gods of their ancient ancestors, and feels best identifying with their own ethnic spirituality, that's great. I don't object to anyone doing what their spirit honestly calls them to do. I just don't accept or like the idea that this is the way it must be. I even heard a person visiting New Orleans say they wouldn't go see Mambo Sallie Glassman, because she couldn't be a "real" priestess, she was white. Never you mind that she has been to Haiti and was initiated there by a Haitian houngan, and has every right in the world to call herself Mambo Sallie. To this person, the color of her skin determined her spiritual pedigree. That is all kinds of wrong.
Spirit has no skin color. Race doesn't even really exist, even by scientific and anthropological standards. And if you go back in your genetic ancestry far enough, you'll end up in Africa anyway (not to say everyone should worship African deities, my faith isn't for everyone either). Christianity is semetic, when you get down to it, but people of all backgrounds are christian - same goes for Islam, and to a lesser extent, Judaism. And I've seen plenty of white Hare Krishnas. When I'm in a ceremony, or at my shrine, I don't think of my skin color - I am my soul, and my soul happens to love Africa.
Of course, practicing African religions, ancestor veneration is part of what I do - I don't eschew my heritage because I feel called to honor the loa and netjeru. I am here and who I am today because of my ancestors, and my heritage does get recognition. I just don't worship Lugh and Rhiannon because my last name is Welsh. Of course, for my immediate ancestors, being southern and poor, soul food is an offering I make, which happens to be influenced by African people.
I love that I, and my culture, is a huge mix. Makes things interesting. And if more people looked past skin color, and saw the rainbows of true culture and background, maybe these racist ideas of "proper religion" would vanish.
I know, I'm a dreamer.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
So I finally joined twitter (under qefathethert, if anyone cares). I'm notoriously behind on the social-media times, so this is normal. It took me a few years to even join facebook, so, at least I'm consistent.
This leap into the 21st century was prompted by the recent disastrous tropical storm that wasn't. I noticed that on nola.com, our web-version of the Times-Picayune, that twitter was being used to get the word out about damage, floods, power-outages, and even sand-bag sharing (mostly for outlying parishes, but still, all to the good). I remarked on facebook that I liked seeing twitter used for something besides celebrity stalking and raging over lines at the coffee shop.
A good local friend of mine, a very savvy chick, let me know that twitter helped her coordinate evacuations, as well as ways back in the city not guarded by the military after the whole Gustav kerfuffle. She considers it a vital tool when it comes to disaster management (and as she is a Red Cross volunteer, I take her word for it).
She then asks what my twitter handle is. I say I don't have a smart phone, so I see no benefit to having an account. She rebuts that to post, one only needs to text.
Touchè, my friend.
I instantly see the point, especially in a situation where I might need to get word out that my insides are still inside me. Or where I might need a boat, a shotgun, a ride out of harm's way, or bail money.
Therefore, I have joined the world in the twitverse. Maybe it will help me spread word of this blog. Maybe it will be mostly inane, until the zombie apocalypse.
Time will tell.
Thursday, August 11, 2011
I went down to St Claude to look for a job. My first stop was the New Orleans Healing Center. It's in the process of opening up, and it has my favorite spiritual person running a shop there, Mambo Sallie Ann Glassman and her Island of Salvation Botanica. I figured I could see her new digs, ask what's happening in the neighborhood, all that.
I get in there, and start crying. I just break down, and tell Sallie I desperately need a job, I'm depressed, all that. She gently offers me the appropriate candle, and money drawing oil. I sniffle and thank her, and on top of this, she calls her shop girl to do some free (yes, FREE!) acupuncture for my depression.
Casey takes me into the private reading room, feeds me Emergen-C (I hadn't eaten yet), some Bach's Rescue Remedy, and gets to work. She sits with me twice the required time for it to all work. She listens to me cry, talk, admit all kinds of things I was even barely thinking. Through it all, she was calm, the very soul of gentleness, and better than any therapist I've ever met.
She takes the needles out, puts some sticky magnets on the backs of my ears, and admonishes me to go eat something. Then (oh, Netjer, can it get better??) she tells me of a free acupuncture workshop this very night in the same neighborhood.
If I ever needed a sign, that was it. I have an all-day pass on public transport. I have no excuses.
If you're ever in NOLA, take the adventure, go down to St Claude and St Roch, the giant orange and turquoise building, and visit Mambo Sallie and Casey for some mojo and some healing. They're wonderful people.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
I've said before that Florence Welch puts me in the mind of worshiping Hethert.
This song would fit in with any ecstatic worship. Rock concerts can do that, but this, I feel is special. I adore this video.
This song would fit in with any ecstatic worship. Rock concerts can do that, but this, I feel is special. I adore this video.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
This is my first Kemetic new year. I celebrated with ritual purification and prayers at dawn (very unusual for me, I am not a morning person!). But even during the Days upon the Year, I could feel a shift in me. I feel the funk I've carried with me for too long lifting, and I also think I'm becoming Kemetic.
My new name fits. Whether being Qefathethert is going back to who I truly was before the world told me I wasn't her or not (and I strongly suspect this is true), I feel like myself. But new.
Last night, I even made natron! I had been using salt beforehand (I know, not bad, but not great), so it felt good to actually speak the prayers over kernels of natron and not just salt.
Now, I can purify for senut the proper way. I chose to break it up with my hands - I know many prefer powdering it with a mortar and pestle, but there was something organic about peeling it off the tinfoil (for various reasons, I do not own a baking sheet - long story) and crumbling it with my hands. I also chose to use the ceramic bowl decorated with the moon and stars that my mom brought back from Morocco - it reminded me of Nut. Thanks mom! I think it will be my purification bowl from now on.
This year belongs to Ptah, "the builder." There are certainly many things in my life that I need to build. No more slacking - I will use this present momentum to forge ahead and build the life I want.
What exactly that means, I'm not sure yet, but I will spend today meditating on it - and perform the
I wish everyone a blessed life, whether or not this is the new year for you! Nekhtet!
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Tomorrow is Wep Ronpet. Today is the last on the "days upon the year." This day belongs to Nebt-het (Gr. Nephthys), and honestly, I've never understood Her much. But being in the Kemetic community, even if it's only online, I'm learning more about this vague goddess who seems to always be in Aset's shadow.
She's wife to Set, who is one of my beloveds. She is associated with death, and her hair is often described to be like mummy wrappings. She's necessarily associated with vultures, which, in the ancient Egyptian mind, were always female, and simply created out of thin air (literally).
While containing all these aspects that make her "spooky", and great fodder for a Halloween costume, She is identified by two hieroglyphs on her head - "basket" and "house." She's a household goddess. It seems that the ancient Egyptians honored death in their own home, next to fearsome protective deities like Bes and Taweret.
Of course, Nebt-het is also depicted and called upon in tombs, with Her sister Aset, since they both were the ones who found the cut-up body of Wesir and put him back together again, making the first mummy. Her wings protect the mummies of kings alongside those of Aset. She also was nurse-maid to Heru-sa-Aset (young Horus), which put Her at odds with her own husband. Set wanted the throne that Heru got.
I don't know if I will ever understand this Lady of Mourning, but I just might visit a cemetery today.
Friday, July 29, 2011
Today, and the next 5 days, are very special to the Kemetic calender. Mostly to the Kemetic Orthodox calender, since it's reckoned by their own temple location, but that's complicated.
It's New Year's time around the House of Netjer world, and that brings the 5 "Days upon the Year." They are days, and they aren't. It ties into a myth about the ruling netjeru of Kemet.
Geb was king, and Nut was with child - actually, five of them. Geb was not happy with this at all, because He had no plans to give over His throne to anyone else, so He declared that Nut would not be delivered of Her children on any day of the year. Nut, very uncomfortable and desperate (five kids you can't get out? Yeesh!) enlisted the aid of Djehuty to find some way out. Djehuty is a crafty sort, so he challenged Khonsu (Moon god) to a game of senet with stakes - if Djehuty won, Khonsu would lend His light to make 5 extra days. Being crafty, Djehuty won, and Nut got to bear Her children - Wesir, Heru-Wer, Set, Aset, and Nebt-Het. Thus, the calender of Kemet now has 5 days that are not days at all - not really. It's played-for time, and strange as a result.
This is limbo time, and today was Wesir's birthday. This is my first time at this, and my first time at Wep Ronpet - when the "non days" are, over, and the new year begins. I'm scrabbling to get more incense, a Wep Ronpet candle, and offerings for the last two non-days.
I kind of like liminal days. Meaning on the threshold - literally. Not in or out. Between. These are strange times, but I have high hopes for the whacky wisdom I hope to gain. Then I can destroy the isfet that's been plaguing me on Wep Ronpet.
I have a new name, right before a brand new year. I await big things. :D
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
I have made my vows as a shemsut, and have received a new name! I am now Qefathethert (keh-FA-het-HAIRT), which means "Hethert's Fame." *jazz hands! xD*
Great big nekhtet! And hugs and kisses to my Momma, the Nisut (AUS!), and all of my brothers and sisters in Netjer who were there!
This brings a whole new dimension into my devotions and meditations. Now I have a whole new name of my own to ponder and talk with Momma about. This makes me very happy!
*runs off to get the giggles out*
Thursday, July 21, 2011
I, for some reason, chose to go make groceries in the middle of the day. In this heat. In New Orleans. I r smaert!
There is a point, however. Earlier, I was watching a documentary on the life of the Buddha. I thought it was quite well done, if not a little romanticized, but still touched on all the important points and facets of Buddhist thought.
So, when it ended, it was noon, and I realized I hadn't gone to the store yet. I gathered my bags and money, and set out. Boy, it's hot out there. Sun was at its peak. I started dripping sweat in no time, and grumbling to myself about being so silly, trekking out in this blasted soup of a day.
A truck pulls up next to me as I walk. I'm hailed by the driver. He asks "want a cold water or something?" I am a little stunned at first. He repeats this. I say a huge YES, and am handed what they have left - a red Powerade. I graciously thank the guys in the truck, and renew my walk.
It's not until I get to the store, make my groceries, and leave, that I put the pieces of this encounter together. I pull out the bottle of my red life elixir, and laugh as it all dawns on me. The story.
The story basically goes that the Buddha, not yet the Buddha, just a disillusioned young prince Siddartha, goes to teachers, and endures extreme asceticism, to the point of near starvation, until he just gives up. He isn't receiving any truths, any wisdom, he's just cold, hungry, and in pain. At this point of saying "oh fuck it!", a little girl brings him a bowl of rice porridge. It wasn't until then, when he was fed (by both the food and the girl's kindness, I think), that he found the strength to meditate under the bodhi tree, and discover the Middle Way.
I'm no Buddha (yet ;}), but I found the inspiration to write this blog in a random stranger who saw a hot, thirsty woman trudging along. Kindness. Compassion. That's really it. The little girl didn't see a future sage and founder of a major religion, she saw a hungry man.
I have no idea what I may become, but I want to honor that kindness. Just as I will do my best to offer random kindness to the next person in need I see - that person could be a buddha too! Or just a fellow sibling in the human family, which is honestly quite enough.
Friday, July 8, 2011
Wednesday, July 6, 2011
I'm very "OMGOMGOMGOMGOMGOMG AWESOME! SOOOOOO AWESOME!" right now. I'm afraid I must post here, or explode, but I can't do much coherent posting.
I underwent the rite of parent divination (RPD) just now, and I have a seemingly endless grin on my face and a heart that feels like it will explode.
First was the Akhu (ancestor) divination, which was very encouraging, and had lots I needed to hear. Second was what the rite is named for, who's my Parent(s) - in this case, my Momma! Hethert-Sekhmet! Hemet (AUS) said this probably didn't come as a surprise, and, really, it didn't at all! It was just so wonderful to hear someone else acknowledge what my soul knew! Beloveds came next - Bast-Mut and Set. Neither are much of a shock either, and the instant I was told all the Names in my lineup, I felt like bursting with joy!
All my fears died in that moment. I might have doubts in the future about "organized religion", but this family is mine now. I'm so happy! This path isn't restricting me, it's letting me bloom like a lotus. I immediately agreed to accept shemsuhood. I expect to be named at the end of the month.
Nekhtet! Dua Hethert-Sekhmet! Dua Bast-Mut! Dua Set!
Saturday, June 25, 2011
Ok, so I love discovering new music. Good music, anyway. And thanks to Stephen Colbert, I found out about Florence & the Machine. Wow. Bombastic, pure emotion pouring out of Ms. Florence Welch in her voice, her movements onstage - makes me really think of Hethert. Yes, I'm sure She loves all music, but just look at that picture (stick of bells, not "authentic" but makes me think of a sistrum), then find some of the music to listen to.
Also, I'll admit, I'm thinking of my impending RPD. I try to be a "clean slate" mentally, but then I'm just watching my nightly comedy/news, and I'm hit with this amazing woman. And the urge to dance, and I feel a mental "giggle" in the back of my head. Kind of like "yeah, you know, silly."
Ok, and here's a video for ease of checking out this amazing woman + group. Also, I love geeking over this stuff.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
HELPED are those who love the Earth, their Mother, and who willingly suffer that she may not die; in their grief over her pain they will weep rivers of blood, and in their joy in her lively response to love, they will converse with the trees.
~from The Gospel According to Shug, in The Temple of my Familiar by Alice Walker
Sadly, this is only the second book by Alice Walker I've ever read, the first being her wildly famous The Color Purple. A couple of the same characters show up in this book from that one. I am not finished with it yet, but I am close, and I find it wholly stunning and sometimes heavy to read. It's taken me a long time to get through over half, but it's well worth it, to me - even if just for the three pages that make up "Shug's Gospel." I feel it would be some kind of stealing to type the whole thing out here, but I am far more moved by her beatitudes than any in the christian bible. In such a short space, spiritual, human truths about love, humanity, the Earth and cosmos, are made poetic and relevant to this world now.
One last quote - the very end of her Gospel.
HELPED are those who know.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Ok, I'm pissed off. I'm angry. I'm also tired of certain know-it-alls.
This time, it just happens to be militant atheists. The drama started, actually, with my post about the ancient astronaut people.
For the moment, I'm a member of an ex christian forum. I link my blog to my profile there. And suddenly, someone decided to tell me that my "silly beliefs" are no better than those of people who think aliens built the pyramids because they think modern cranes can't lift more than 5 tons.
Granted, I have odd beliefs, but none of them, none of them so plainly fly in the face of actual observable fact. Not like the ancient astronaut people. Clearly, most cranes can lift more than 5 tons. Moving blocks the size of those that built the pyramids has been replicated with copper age tools in the modern age. The claims of the ancient astronaut people are patently wrong. My claims are unobservable. Doesn't make for a good argument, true, but I'm not claiming anything that is obviously wrong. That would be stupid. Nor do I proselytize, so I don't see a reason to justify what I believe - but I'm asked, all the time, to "back up my claims." I don't make claims about my beliefs. I state my beliefs, and sometimes, share my experiences.
This whole vendetta blew up into something I don't care to get into (but I was called mentally ill, so that was sweet), but I am seriously considering leaving the forum. It seems that if one leaves one religion, joining another is considered stupid and delusional. And I don't need that attitude. I don't need a fundamentalist of a different stripe.
It really appears that many I have encountered who have left fundamentalist christianity just carry their fundamentalist "I'm right and you're wrong" worldview into atheism. Anyone that browbeats me for not agreeing with them is not a person I need to be around. Both are ignorant and, frankly, complete assholes.
Just a thought to leave you all with - ex christian means no longer christian. It doesn't mean atheist.
ETA: I just want to say that I don't dislike atheists as a rule. I dislike militant people, no matter what they call themselves. That is the problem.
Saturday, June 4, 2011
I re-watched the movie X-Men last night, and it brought back a lot of memories for me. Around the same time as that movie hit the theaters, I was finding out things about myself that seemed to frighten people. I was learning things about other people, and how they were treated. Anything not "normal" was frightening and dangerous.
One can put on many lenses and see so many struggles in this movie (warning: no, I haven't read the comics, so don't get all up in my chex mix about it). At the time, I was finally accepting that I wasn't christian, and had never been, most likely. I was pretending, and what my soul was reaching for was far from what anyone around me understood. I knew some people would see me as dangerous, parents wouldn't want me to be their children's friends, the school I had just left might very well have run me out anyway, because several of the teachers would believe I had made a compact with the devil. I cried when I saw Xavier's school, because I thought a school for pagans (or simply any non-christian!) would be just amazing, an oasis in the terrifying deserted sameness of Alabama that I lived in, where if you didn't love with all your heart one of the three religions - Baptist, Methodist, or Football - you had to be corrected, or run out. Besides, Patrick Stewart as a headmaster? Win! *Geek squeak*
Of course, I identified with their basic otherness in my way. There are many kinds of "otherness", things that are more clearly unchangeable - being a different race, being gay, being left-handed, etc. I so clearly saw, in a later movie, when the government came up with a "cure" for being a mutant, the struggle of my LGBT friends. How churches and some "psychiatrists" wanted to "cure" them. Because they were "wrong." And, just like in the movie, I had the feeling that some (not all) of my friends would have taken that "cure", when they were still teens, struggling, and feeling like what their peers were saying was true - they were "wrong."
Some studies have shown that religious feeling is very much wired into our brains. If someone had found a way to "cure" my brain of its heathen ways and turn me into a good christian, would I have taken it? I could have avoided many screaming matches, much fear, a few visits from the police (called by a scared christian dorm mate) and some outright violence. Would my atheist friends have taken a way to be more like their "normal" peers? If atheism was the rule of the day, how many religious people, christian, muslim, pagan, buddhist, mystic, witch, shaman, vodouisant, would rip out that part of their brains, to avoid derision?
How far would some people go to avoid being different altogether?
But then, how many would stand up, raise their voices, and refuse to be labeled "wrong" for being outside of the norm? How big would the marches be to protest any "fix" for something that is only different, not wrong? The cry that, no matter how scared you are of us, we are people too - and sometimes, we're scared of you?
But perhaps not scared enough to be trodden down and made either subordinate, or "normal," whatever that is.
As Jimi said, "let your freak flag fly," and that's what I've chosen to do. And if I meet any mutants, I'll tell them the same.
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I kind of have a love-hate thing with yahoo chat. I love the opportunity to talk with many people from all over the world, I have had some good discussions, and dare say, made a few friends. I hate that it's so easy to be nasty, hateful, all big and badass from behind the keyboard, and while it increases opportunity for interesting discussion, it also increases the chances of talking with someone very ignorant or plain nuts.
Take the good with the bad, I suppose.
Today, something was brought up by another faceless name on a screen that irked me. Thing is, it wasn't the person who irked me so much, as the subject it devolved into. It's a particular pet peeve of mine, nearly always involving my beloved ancient Kemet. Ancient astronauts. Well, that's what the proponents of this "theory" call it, with such stunning academic backgrounds as a degree in sports information communications. They make shows, write books, and have people believing that beings from other planets created all kinds of ancient cultures. Because disparate cultures can't figure out that pyramid-shaped is a convenient building style for stone, or that the stars follow patterns, or figure out complex mathematics and calendars, because well, our ancestors were dumb as dirt, because they didn't have things like lattes or snuggies or Jersey Shore.
*breathes deeply for a moment*
As you can tell, this kind of thinking insults me. Are there mysteries from the ancient world we don't have a "conventional" explanation for? Sure there are. Isn't it fascinating to find out that there are some things the ancients had that we never anticipated? Very much so. What I don't buy is the jump to a conclusion that these things simply weren't possible by a culture in ancient times without visitors from space. It smacks of hubris, an assumption that without the European Enlightenment, we'd all be apes clubbing each other, so it must be aliens! I also notice that it's usually non-European cultures that get picked out for these "alien interventions," so it seems a tad racist.
We're not smarter than our ancestors. We have learned more about many things, but our brains are not significantly better, and large portions of our population, in certain ways, are dumber. Why is it so shocking that the ancients could build monuments and write calendars that related to celestial events? They didn't have television, I'm sure they looked at the night sky an awful lot. Maybe they spent more time thinking, writing, computing, exploring, than the current world spends on facebook, twitter, and playing Angry Birds. (facebook and twitter can be used for good, don't get me wrong, but most of it is...ick.)
By no means am I saying that extraterrestrial life does not and cannot exist. I believe it most likely does. The universe is vast, and the chances of some other life form we don't know about not existing are pretty slim. We're still finding new life forms on our own planet. There is always more to learn, but some "theories" need to leave the stage. Aliens building the pyramids is just silly.
Monday, May 30, 2011
Djehuty & Shu lure Hethert back from the desert
Would I really reject a religion that has been a joy to me these past months, based on a divination I didn't agree with? Seems childish. Yet as time passes, I'm so very convinced that Hethert in my mom. It feels like a conviction, and in the face of the caveats to not expect X netjer to even show up in the lineup, I can't shake it.
I left christianity for many reasons, but one of them that stuck with me was my dislike for authoritarian religions. For years, I never even considered letting anyone tell me who to worship, how to pray, what rituals or rites are "correct." I was often disdainful of the thought that anyone knew anything more or better about the Divine than myself. Why should I let anyone get in the way?
I seem to be changing my mind. A little. I still fully believe (and know) that I can have a direct experience with the Divine without any organization or clergy being involved. What I am learning, however, is that organizations don't have to "get in the way." In Kemetic Orthodoxy, I've found a very helpful community.
While they don't deny the UPG and experiences of anyone, they are always available to add their wisdom, their own experience and teachings, and a structure on which to build more meaningful relationships.
I'm still nervous about my RPD, nervous that I will lose my independent spirit to an orthodoxy (that word seriously gave me the shivers when I first read it connected to my beloved Kemet), but it is waning. I think there will always be that free, rebellious part of me - yet I'm finding that having a framework for practice and belief is helping me at this point, and not hindering me. And that's the most important part, isn't it?
Would I leave if Hethert didn't show up in my lineup? I don't know. I know that it wouldn't stop me from being devoted to Her. It might be something to learn from (but I think every RPD should be a learning experience, if I understand it correctly). I have high hopes for my experience within KO, so I shall have to see what will happen.
I am excited, however.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Arveyda was experiencing something amazing as he sat over the stones, beginning to strum his guitar. He knew, he finally knew, why he was capable of falling in love so easily, even with his own wife's mother. It was because he was a musician, and an artist. Artists, he now understood, were simply messengers. On them fell the responsibility for uniting the world. An awesome task, but he felt up to it, in his own life. His faith must be that the pain he brought to others and to himself - so poorly concealed in the information delivered - would lead not to destruction, but to transformation.
-Alice Walker, The Temple of my Familiar
I couldn't imagine a spiritual life without music. I honestly don't think it's possible - every faith has their sacred music. There are differences on what is considered sacred, but I think whatever speaks to the human condition has a potential to be sacred. I remember a religious studies professor telling the class that the closest that the modern world gets to the kind of ecstatic mystery religion rites of ancient Greece are rock concerts. With events like Bonnaroo and Burning Man, this theory makes a lot of sense.
I usually include some kind of music with my shrine time, and a good bit of it is what some would consider "secular." I tend not to make those distinctions. That's not to say that I find any music at all spiritually moving, but I don't think an artist has to declare themselves a religious musician for their work to move my spirit. My "Temple" playlist range over many artists and genres. Depending on the deity I'm working with, it can vary even more.
Here is one of my favorite "temple" artists, with one of the best spiritual offerings I've heard in a long time.
"Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together."
Courtesy of the Shamanic Cheerleaders
In my discussions about my spirituality, or politics, or the state of the world, some people claim you "just have to pray to God." Now, I would never disparage prayer, since it's something I do, just mostly not to the deity that most people around me talk about. Then there are the materialist atheists, who scoff at all prayers, and say it's only a way to feel like you're doing something when you're doing nothing.
I tend to fall in the middle. While I fully believe in the power of words, I do see that following through with action is the best thing to do in a situation. Prayer, to me, is a conversation with the soul, or even larger powers, where actions may be worked out.
Apparently, I'm not alone in this idea. I recently watched a film three times that is all about this very concept. It is Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action, by Velcrow Ripper. It is a gorgeous film, but I won't say that it's easy to watch. It is heartbreaking at times, but it is honest, soulful, and amazing. Not only does it feature such luminaries as Thich Nhat Hanh and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, but one of my favorite modern, lovely, glittered and rose petal covered fire eating angels, Sera Beak. She's a self-described spiritual cowgirl, a lovely writer, and every woman should read her stuff. In my opinion.
In any case, this film makes me want to get a heart chakra tattoo on my breastbone and storm city hall - I want to travel to Africa, plant millet, and dance to their drums, and ingest iboga root. I want to weep and then build schools for girls in Afghanistan.
I value heka, but I still believe one must act to make this world a better place. And I think the Gods would agree.
Saturday, May 28, 2011
Ok, so I haven't posted in a stupid long time, but a lot of personal problems have beat me over the head. So I shall try to soldier on from here on out.
Latest personal spiritual news: I have become a remetj in Kemetic Orthodoxy (KO). I have also witnessed a naming ceremony, and both have left me quite excited about growing in this faith. I'm considering my rite of parent divination (RPD), which brings up all kinds of questions, fears, hopes, and squiggly feelings in my head and stomach. I have read about "RPD anxiety", and now I know what they mean.
I came back around to KO because of a very moving and strong interaction with Hethert. I have also had many more interactions with Her since then, though She did wander a bit for a time (She is the "Wandering Goddess"). I have never doubted that She loves me, and in meditation, more than once, She has hinted that She is indeed my Mother.
I have not only been warned about presuming a netjer is my parent before the divination, I am also personally aware/worried that I could just be indulging wishful thinking, or "making it up" subconsciously. The monkey wrench in the whole process is that Set has shown up, and given similar hints as to Him being my Father - which is not something I would think I would guess or hope for. He's still rather alien to me. I've interacted with him, but the experiences have all been rather - well, reserved and/or stern. Not intimate and obviously loving like Hethert.
I have also been told that plenty of people have "known" who their Parent(s) is(were) before the RPD, so I could be right - but I've also heard stories where people have either had no clue, or were convinced it was X, and it turned out to be Q.
This is such new territory for me, because not only have I never had someone else tell me who my gods are, but this is the first organized religion I've ever taken part in. But I'm excited. Nervous, still, but excited. I have had certain fears assuaged, such as no one would ever stop me from having a relationship with Hethert or any netjeru, whatever my RPD lineup happened to be, as well as observing the rather heterodox practices and beliefs of the members. Some things are very much "by the book", as it were, but personal devotion is pretty open.
Also, I can still practice any religion besides KO I wish - which is good, because I don't think Erzulie Dantor would ever let me go! xD And it appears that Vodou and KO work well together, seeing as the Nisut (AUS) is also a Mambo. There are also many members that practice various other devotions next to KO, so that's not a worry.
Going back to the "RPD anxiety", right now, I just don't see anyone being my Mom other than Hethert. As i wrote before, when I first opened myself to all of Netjer, She charged in, with a huge "FINALLY! Baby, you're home!" And, generally, the guides into KO are Bast and Wepwawet.
So, I guess I'll see.