For the Beloved Departed (The Orlando Shooting)

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For our brothers and sisters at Pulse

A thousand loaves of bread

A thousand jugs of wine

A thousand of all good things

(If you can, please donate or share Equality Florida’s gofundme page. All the funds they receive will go to the survivors of the shooting.)

Reaching Down to the Core

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What’s at the core of your religion? What is the foundation of your practice? Why is it so important to you?

I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. And these last few months, my focus has been on stripping back my practice; thinking about why I’m Kemetic, why I worship the deities I do, what it does for me, and how it effects my  daily life.

So, here’s what I’ve found.

The core of my religious practice revolves around two deities.

The first is Ma’at. For me, Ma’at is in the cycles of everyday life; it’s in the rising and setting of the sun, in relationships between people, in supporting one’s community and telling the truth. I try to structure my life around maintaining good Ma’at (which sometimes works out and sometimes does not).

The second is Saule. She’s my favorite deity, and she’s been around as long as I’ve been in paganism. I remember once that I tried to stop worshiping her for a period of six months, during a time period when I was trying to be purely Kemetic. Guess how that worked out?

It didn’t. I couldn’t stop seeing her in the sunlight, or in apple trees, or the sun. I missed her a lot. Which is silly to say about an invisible being, but, y’know, it is as it is.

I’m weak. I need my imaginary friend.

The only reason I don’t put Saule before Ma’at is because Ma’at forms the basis of my worldview. Everything lives on Ma’at; Ma’at is the only way that anything can function well and consistently. (And it’s ironic that I give Ma’at this position because I don’t think I’ve ever done any rituals to Ma’at, whereas I pray to Saule all the time).

Anyway. I’m beginning to see the two of them as working closely together, at least as it pertains to order, love, and functionality.

Now to preface this. I know that there’s a rule among pagans that if you worship two different pantheons, you should keep your worship of the pantheons separate. Because, you know, that happened all the time in antiquity, right? People kept their pantheons and beliefs separate from one another with absolutely no integration. At all. Ever.

I’m being a little sarcastic, but truthfully, there’s no historical basis for the melding of the Egyptian and Lithuanian gods. How could there be? The time periods, areas, and cultures are as separate as they come.

However, even keeping that in mind, I do see Saule and Ma’at as working together.

Saule cares for children and mothers. Saule’s mythos is very cyclical a revolves around birth, death, and formation. Saule brings the dead to the underworld, caring for people even after they’ve passed away. She is the ultimate expression of love. And in this way, I see Saule as maintaining Ma’at.

It’s… probably a little bit blasphemous. The Baltic tribes did not have any concept comparable to Ma’at. How could they? As I said, Egypt was very different from Lithuania.

But… you know… I am a Kemetic. I’m a Kemetic that worships foreign gods. And that means that ultimately I end up fitting everything in my life into a more Kemetic worldview; seeing things in terms of Ma’at and Isfet, maintenance and destruction.

I mean, it’s a little bit weird. But it fits and it works, and Saule’s happy and I’m happy and Ma’at- well, who knows what’s going on with Ma’at- but anyway, everything’s still running smoothly. And with that in mind, I’m going to continue this odd sort of integration that my practice seems to be doing.

To be honest, it pains me a little to talk about this. I know that many people think that part of being a Good Pagan means keeping the pantheons one worships separate. That each pantheon is its Own Thing and doesn’t overlap with any other at all.

But I disagree. Gods, religion, and spirituality are all growing things. And while it’s true that one goes about worshiping the Baltic and Kemetic gods somewhat differently, I don’t think that means that they don’t interact with each other. And I don’t think that means that you can’t worship them together, so long as one keeps an ear out to what they’re saying (and stops if they start complaining about what you’re doing).

Anyhow. That’s what’s at the core of my belief system. What’s at yours?  Whatever’s at your center, thank you so much for reading, and may the sun always be at your back.

Prayer to Geb

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(My Prayer to Geb)

Geb

Son of Shu

Husband of Nut

Father of Aset

I give Thanks for all that you offer

The meals that you grant

the beauty You create,

The firm ground beneath my feet

I pray that you rejoice, but that you laugh

Not too often

Nor too Loud

May you Live Forever

 

Happy Earth Day!

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So originally, I was going to celebrate Earth day by doing something for Zemyna and Perkunas (the Baltic Earth Goddess and Thunder God, respectively). However, I decided to celebrate the Baltic pantheon during Easter instead, during which I did my whole Welcome Spring ritual (focused around Zemyna, Perkunas, and Patrimpas and during which I couldn’t stop thinking about Sobek which threw me off SO MUCH oh my god).

So getting that done, I decided that it made more sense to do something for Geb, because I really like the Earth god and I’ve wanted to do something for him for quite a while. Unfortunately, what I did was kind of thrown together, because I completely forgot about Earth day until the day before.

So. Earth day, I went to the lake and collected a bunch of rocks from the beach. They were all smelly and kind of gross, but they were super pretty, so I went ahead and soaked them in soap and water, washed them each individually, and then let them dry. Then I scattered them across my altar and used a tarot card (the hermit) to represent his Earthiness.

I was really happy with the results, honestly. It looked really pretty.
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My ritual to the Divine Goose (I’m so sorry, I love silly epitaphs) was really, really simple, because I was honestly super tired from school and did NOT have enough energy to make it anything huge. Which, honestly, made me kind of sad, because I love rituals where you shower beforehand, and wash your hands in homemade natron, and just go ALL OUT with everything.

However, what I did was super satisfying all the same. I wrote a prayer, lit a candle, and talked to him for a moment. Then I puttered around while his candle burned out.

I think  it’s really ironic that I’m celebrating Earth day when I do very little to actually help keep the earth clean.  I mean, I recycle, but beyond that, it’s very minimal. It’s something that I’ve been thinking about a lot, because I really want to help keep the Earth clean, but I’m investing so much energy into school that I keep forgetting about literally everything else.

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So. You know what I think I’m going to do?

I’m going to work on using more reusable bags when I shop. And I’m going to work on eating less meat (because, you know, the meat industry uses a lot of resources, and while I love meat, I can’t condone the destruction of rain forests).

We’ll see how well I actually hold to that. I’m not going to promise anything right now, because sometimes I get so exhausted that I just stop caring about my impact (I’m a bad person). However, Geb is important, and we kind of need the  Earth to remain clean so that we can, you know, keep living on it.

Thanks for stopping by, and Happy (belated) Earth Day!

Casting Stones

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So… I just read an article discussing “day of silence”. I would post a link to so you’d know what I was talking about, but you know, it was a disgusting article, and I have no desire to increase their views in any way.

See, it was a very aggressive article that talked about how LGBT people are pushing their Homosexual Agenda onto Innocent Childrens, and how Good Parents can protect their Innocents. Like handing out cards encouraging people to Renounce Homosexuality. Or placing little stickers banning rainbows on doors, to make safe spaces for “normal people”.

Because LGBT people aren’t normal, right? Because we’re strange and weird and different.

…And… it made me angry, and then sad, and then numb.

I just don’t know how I’m supposed to react to it anymore.

There is this assumption that many people make- that all children are straight, and that LGBT people just kind of Pop! into being as fully grown adults, eager to demolish the current heteronormative system. That anyone pushing to include LGBT history or acceptance in schools is a wicked, wicked adult looking to pervert the Innocent Children.

Because there’s this kind of belief that one’s own children can’t be queer, and that the children one knows can’t be queer, and that it’s disgusting to even imply that a child might be queer.

But… like… guys, I was a gay child. Homosexuality did not appear in me when I came out at eighteen. (I’m sure you  are all, like, super surprised to hear that. Like, omg? Really?) I mean, I crushed on boys at a very young age.

…Which is something that I gather people don’t like to hear. Like, it’s okay if a child crushes on another child of the opposite sex, but if you suggest that you yourself crushed on people of the same sex as a child, you’re told “no, children don’t have those feelings that young, you’re clearly making that up”.

No, I’m not, you just don’t want to think children can be queer too. Because heaven knows that children are Innocent, and LGBT people are NOT Innocent, and ohmygod gay people can’t be as Pure as Straight people, Mkkay??

And I know that I’m preaching to the choir, because I really can’t see anyone anti-LGBT reading a pagan blog about crocodile gods and sun goddesses, y’know? I just need to vent.

It frustrates me that we’re told that we’re trying to make “more kids gay” by teaching them that LGBT people exist. That is literally not how it works. Most of the kids ever taught about LGBT history are going to be straight, no matter how much “gay propaganda” you throw at them. Because for the vast majority of people, sexuality is fixed. It can’t be changed.

But by teaching them about LGBT people, you not only help the LGBT kids among them learn to accept themselves, but you teach all of them to be more accepting of LGBT people in general. That LGBT people are just people, not wicked monsters out to hurt them. (Something that many adults could learn as well

It’s a step towards decreasing hate crimes, y’know?

And… yeah. I know this post is super short, but that’s all I have on this right now. I mean, what can I say? It’s not like they’re going to stop pushing their agenda, and it’s not like I’m saying anything really original. I just…

…words fail me.

Scattered Stones

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I know I’ve already written a post about Sobek, but I think I’m going to have to write a second. See, Sobek has become a really active influence in my life recently. I’ve been working with him pretty intensely- almost as much as I do Saule. I’m really enjoying it; I love attention, especially when it’s from a deity, and I adore devotional work.

So today, I want to share some scattered thoughts about Sobek, and my experiences with him. They’re not meant to be anything more than observations on my personal experiences with him; as such, I wouldn’t go into this post expecting any sort of organization. They’re just things that I’ve noticed about him as my relationship with him has grown.

First Stone

Sobek feels like a wound spring. He always feels ready to rush forwards, ready to strike fast and fierce. This makes sense; he is a crocodile god, after all. It was really confusing at first though, because when I felt the tension, the readiness to attack, I thought it meant something big was happening; like he was getting ready to do something huge.

I wasn’t incorrect. Sobek is always preparing to do something huge. However, he hasn’t done anything yet, and I feel like his preparation is mostly the readiness to… seize opportunity? It’s like, he’s not going to make huge changes for the sake of making huge changes, but he  is ready to make huge changes.

To attack and eat something.

 Second Stone

I’ve found myself making more tooth-related analogies as his presence has grown, mostly when it comes to my problems or people I find difficult to work with. I refuse to fear this person, because if they attempt to harm me, I will eat them.

*Nom nom nom*

(On that note, I feel like I need to say that this “eating of people” is strictly symbolic. I promise, I’m not going to go around biting my classmates or the rude people  that cut in line. It’s an attitude thing.)

 Third Stone

He likes incense. He likes incense a lot.

 Fourth Stone

Sobek’s very focused on self care. He’s been very focused on making sure that I take care of myself. He can be intensely practical about it. “If you’re tired, sleep. If you’re hungry, eat.” Things that are very easy for me to forget to do properly. He can be a bit pushy on this front, and that’s probably a good thing; I tend to procrastinate on my responsibilities a lot.

 Fifth Stone

While I know that perhaps I should be a little more scared of him, (and I have no doubt that he could be truly terrifying, if he wanted to be), he doesn’t really… terrify. He can be aggressive, but he’s never, ever aggressive towards me- just the things that he considers threats.

 Sixth Stone

I honestly feel like he’s been working to help me feel safer. Because the last couple weeks, which I expected to be super hard and difficult, and weird, several of my anxieties have sort of been… evaporated.

He’s a very nurturing force; he seems very focused on growth and generation, on eating weakness in order to build strength in its place. He’s super protective, but in a way that encourages me to try new things- scary things.

 Final Stone

I associate him with running water. Almost any sort of running water can remind me of him (even tap water), though truthfully, I feel him most strongly around rivers and streams. I think he  prefers those, honestly.

Sobek is a complex deity. He’s hard for me to wrap my head around, and he’s really interesting and exciting to work with and be with. I don’t know where my relationship with him is going, but I don’t know that he wants me to, or even that it’s going anywhere. I sort of think that if Sobek is teaching me anything, it’s just to be content being, and that sometimes it’s enough to be moving, goalposts be damned.

A Thousand Are Her Souls

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“The Egyptians called the night sky ‘a thousand are her souls’, expressing the belief that each star was the transfigured soul of a dead person. This, then, was the pattern for the afterlife that Egyptians believed in at the time of the pyramids. Could it also have been the belief of those who left images on the rocks of the eastern savanna some 1,500 years earlier?” Genesis of the Pharaohs by Toby Wilkinson, page 157.

I remember reading how Saule, the Baltic goddess of the sun, picks up the souls of the dead while she travels and carries them to the next world. I also remember reading another Baltic myth, in which the soul of the dead person literally claws their way up the sky mountain to reach the afterlife. There’s also an Egyptian myth speaking on how Nut would take in the souls of the dead, collecting them among her body.

My point? I believe that when I die, I’ll travel up into the night sky to join those that came before. The stars are my destiny.

It’s not something I believe will literally happen. In the same sense, I know that the sun is really not a woman pouring light out of a jug, but instead a constant explosion in the middle of space that will one day destroy the planet that we live on. And that the earth is not a man lying on his back, waiting for the day he and his wife will be reunited, but a mass of rock and magma and minerals.

But at the same time, I believe in the gods, and in some form of afterlife. This brings me into something that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, which is the purpose of religion- why do I believe in what I do? Why am I not an atheist?

Part of what’s driving me is that I do live with an atheist, and her worldview is rubbing off on me. Which isn’t something I mind; honestly, I think the gods prefer it if we’re able to consider other viewpoints and see if they fit us better.

(And even if they didn’t prefer it, it still holds that alternative viewpoints are important to consider, regardless of what the gods might think of them.)

In any case. I’m still trying to figure out what religion does for me. I don’t really think that I need my gods to behave morally, and I doubt that they have any desire to control what I do.

And in many ways, I think atheism makes a lot of sense- particularly if you factor in that religious practice might have just been an evolutionary accident. In fact, there’s a theory that suggests that evolution did play a part in religious development.

It’s an idea that I think deserves a lot of attention, because it makes so much sense. It basically suggests that people evolved the ability to see other beings as having their own wills, being able to behave as independent beings. This allowed them to survive longer, because they were able to then discern more easily what those intentions could be.

(E.g., that’s a deer. I want to eat that deer. That deer doesn’t want to be eaten. Therefore it will try and run away, therefore I need to plan how to react to that deer’s reaction.)

This ability was then applied to things in motion that don’t have wills; rain, earthquakes, floods, and so on. Because the assumption was that these things had wills of their own, it was assumed that one could interact with them. Through that assumption, religion was born. You can read more about the theory here.

I think, though, there’s a little bit more to religion than just evolution and survival (though I do think that religion’s origins are likely because of evolution).

Part of the reason that religion appeals to me is that when you pray to a deity, you’re usually not praying to something that’s never been heard of before. You’re praying to a being that existed before you did, a being that other people that you will never, ever know have also prayed to, a being whose memory will exist long after yours.

For instance, when I talk to Apollo, I know that he’s a deity that was worshiped in ancient Greece. I know that he’s a being- real or imagined- that has influenced Western culture just by existing. I know that there are other people that I don’t know exist, and who don’t know that I exist, who also pray to him.

The idea of Him connects me to the idea of permanence- something that doesn’t actually exist, but that I continue looking for anyway.

Religion, through worship, connects us with the eternal- with ideas of gods and spirits that endure throughout thousands of years of history. Religion can help us connect with each other (when used correctly), and can be used as a reminder of those that came before us.

It suggests to us that the end of the world- death- isn’t the end. It gives me, personally, a little bit of a connection to the past (and the future, as well). It grounds me in where I am now, and reminds me that ultimately, what I do matters.

And, on a very personal note, it reminds me that I’m going to die. This is something that I try very hard not to forget. See, ultimately, I don’t want my time on earth to have gone to waste, and I don’t want to leave having done nothing to help make things better somehow.

On top of that, it also reminds me that I personally am a very small being in a very big world, and that it’s okay if the things that I do to make things better are also very small. Ma’at is supported by the multitude of small actions. And religion- at least, my practice of it- revolves very much around the small choices.

I practice religion for connection with other people, for reminders to do small important things, and to try and make peace with impermanence. I practice because I am a person that does a lot of little things, both good and bad, and it reminds me that I need to at least try to make the good things outnumber the bad.  And finally, I may also practice just because my biology and culture both suggest that it’s a good idea.

Um. So if you were able to make sense of any of that, I’m deeply impressed. Thanks so much for taking the time to read this, and may the sun and stars always light the way before you.