C is for Commitment

Ok, I know I’m ultra late with C for the PBP, but better late than never right?

So, commitment. Dictionary.com violates the rules of defining words (they use the word being defined in its definition) for the first two definitions, but the third and fourth are better. It defines commitment as: “3. the act of […] pledging, or engaging oneself. 4. 

a pledge or promise; obligation.”
 
Now, I’ll admit that I’m not fond of the word obligation, because it has certain connotations that can be negative. It tends to suggest force and lack of consent, something that must be done despite all desire and will to do otherwise, or being manipulated. However, it clearly doesn’t always mean that. For instance you have an obligation to feed your children, they are yours and they deserve not to starve. You should also, in theory, want to feed them, thus making it seem like less of an obligation and more voluntary.
Nonetheless, obligation has a purpose to it, especially in a religious context. You see, as a…something…to the gods you kinda make different types of commitments and obligations to them. It depends on your relationship with a particular deity. Of course, I’m talking about religious commitment in regards to deity relations, but you can be and make religious commitments without involving deities at all.
I hope to have a long term relationship with my deities, so I will have a different kind of commitment and resident obligations than someone who just needs a deity for a season. One of my commitments is daily rites. I made that up myself to Them. Why? Well for one thing because I want to be closer to Them and disciplined, but also because I want Them to see and know that I am committed, even when I don’t feel like it or have a hard time. Unless they direct me to stay away I will do my best to show up. Of course, the real trouble with this is finding ways to create small sacred space when I’m not in my room. I often spend weekends and random days during the week not in my house. Gm and Pop-Pop’s are frequent visiting locations and the former not only stays up late but can’t be around incense or candles (not to mention I share a room with Sister and Nephew) and the latter doesn’t know I’m not Christian anymore. Still struggling with how to do shrine time at these places.
I found recently that I was willing to take the obligation this commitment brings. Even though I was super pissed and did not want to be in shrine I made myself go (this was about two or three weeks ago). I had to keep repeating to myself that it wasn’t about me, it was about them, and I had to keep things short (just couldn’t concentrate), but I was there. I’m keeping this up, I made a commitment, I have an obligation and I have to figure out this particular blockade.

 

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Pagan Blog Project- D is for Daily not Dilly-Dally

I know I’m late and haven’t done a C post yet, but C is fighting me, so I’m gonna ignore it and then go back and beat it into submission.

So yesterday I baked bread for the first time. No one in my family makes bread from scratch, by hand, despite just about all the women being prolific bakers. I prefer cooking over baking, so I figured I’d get into the family hobby with something practical, especially since I’m not yet brave enough to start experimenting with recipes from cookbooks. Before you ask about that I’ll mention it when I beat C into submission.

This is the Result of that endeavor

This is the Result of that endeavor

I think I did ok for it being my first ever bread (or baking completely unsupervised). I had a lot of fun with it, especially the kneading and such, though I’ll admit that takes a lot of work. Talk about arm strength, it looks easy but it’s so not. What’s the point of me talking about this? I’m getting to that. You see, ever since I became a Kemetic I’ve wanted to make bread, after all it’s a common staple of Ancient Egyptian offerings to the Netjer. It was seen as an epitome of collaboration between man and Deity. Netjer makes everything needed for the bread: water because it’s frigging water, grain, cows (for milk and butter), grass for the cows, soil to grow everything in, more water for growing, sunlight, fire; then humans take over and take those things to transform it into sustenance and offer the creation back to the Netjer. And we all know AE was all about cycles and balance. Bread is the shiznit ya know?

Now, I never actually baked anything for the Jackal and Sir Chaos-a-lot, but I have cooked for them and bought things they like. Then there is Aset. She came along in response to be going “omg I’m falling apart and I suck at being a girlfriend help!” And She did, which makes me happy, because I like Her presence. She and Set don’t fight over my head either lol Speaking of the Storm God I have honey now and that’s His little personal request, should get on that. Aset hasn’t really asked for much from me, keep my room clean is really the main thing, something I’m gonna do today because it needs to be done badly and it’s annoying me by being disorganized. Oh, I’m off topic, back to baking.

I’ve wanted to bake bread in Aset’s honor for a while since She joined the Panel O Gods. I hadn’t done it, in fact I hadn’t baked anything for Her at all. I’ve cooked a few dishes in Her honor, but I feel like She’s more concerned about the baking and the caretaking role that cooking symbolizes along with other things like cleaning unbidden and whatnot. I’m still working on that, I kind of clean spontaneously on my own, meaning that there could be weeks that things go uncleaned. What ultimately prompted the baking last night was a combination of wanting to introduce myself to Ganesha (that’s a story for another time) and to finally do something solely in Aset’s honor and with Her in mind.

And I did it, I made bread, even if it is misshapen and more cake-density than bread-density. And too small for sandwiches. But I did it! And it tastes delicious, and Aset and Anpu were proud of me and Set told me not to take His rolling laughter personally XD I’m going to try again tonight after I clean my room and the kitchen. I have to say that I’m glad I didn’t use my mom’s bread machine. There is something awesome about having to get all the ingredients and then mix them, then there’s the kneading and the beating and finally the oven. I like making things with my hands even though I don’t do it nearly enough. Even with baking sweets you don’t really get your hands as worked and dirty as with bread.

Now, to the point of the post, which was not bread (I’ll admit I want to get more praise for the attempt XD). Besides wanting to improve my relationship and closeness and ability to hear my deities, I want this to be more than just a spirituality. I do actually like ritual and structure, which is why I’m so upset that no one has more songs out for the Netjer, especially MY Netjer. I like singing and have managed to modify a couple songs from my Christian days for when I’m really like omg needs to sing nao. This baking of bread is something I want to do regularly, especially since I live in a house of bread lovers lol

But, this was also an attempt to start me on a path to daily devotions. I haven’t been doing daily devotions at all, they’ve been highly sporadic. The fact my lighter just died, I need new candles and I can’t find my other ones is just saying I need to be paying more attention. I’d like to spend a little money getting some incense and a holder for it. I like incense and I’m at my mom’s and don’t have to share a room so there’s really no excuse. Besides it’s not like I don’t know how to do mini devotions while I’m elsewhere in the universe. Not just that, but my deities deserve at least consistency from me. It’s not difficult to offer a little water at night in a corner or something. I will admit that it’s quite a bit of laziness as well as a hangup over not having something a little more proper for an altar.

This is one of those times however, where “I’ll try harder” is not enough. I need a clear and determined resolution to persevere and do devotions at least once a day no matter how tired or lazy I’m feeling or how little I have. Trying gets nothing, it’s a matter of doing. I feel like I made an ok start since I sat my ass down and did devotion last night even though I was tired and it was 1 am and I had to get up six hours from then. I feel like it was appreciated and I got a Holy Hug, which was great because I wasn’t feeling well emotionally last night when I went to pray.

I feel a little bad because I didn’t go to shrine this morning when Anpu asked me to sit in since I was too tired to get up and shower. (Yeah, some mornings I don’t shower, so sue me). It took a lot of strength to get up just to go to work, which was pointless btw since my client didn’t show. I don’t think He was angry about it, I think He was trying to give me the chance to get some Holy Hugs before work. I will be making an appearance at shrine tonight too, especially since it’s Friday I really have no reason not to. I’m going to have to take a good look at my schedule and make some decisions about things and how to discipline myself, especially about going upstairs at night. I’m a night owl and insomniac so sometimes I truly have to will myself to bed even if I’m thoroughly exhausted and that often interferes with devotions at night or any chance of them in the morning. I get the feeling that Anpu may want both morning and evening shrine time. It’s just my intuition because He hasn’t said so or given a reason He might, but I’ll have to plot that out, especially since I’m not a morning person.

Thankfully I have a patient god and goddess and Set hasn’t decided to sock me yet so yeah, we’ll see. Mayhaps I can get Iretenra over at Black Fur, Black Wing to help bug me. And there’s always Shine over at Per Ma: House of the Lion (they’re both so wonderfully nice). Hopefully they’ll have some ideas for how they keep up with the daily thing, even when every fiber is straining for the sheets instead. Maybe my stepdad has a drill so I can put these shelves on the wall so I’ll feel less poor in front of a trunk lol XD (maybe I’ll get a doorknob!).

Hopefully this baking and breaking of bread will lead to better things and daily things. I want to be close to my deities and I believe in myself.

Pagan Blog Project: Beauty

So I know I’m super late for the B weeks, but it’s ok because I don’t care lol For my B post it will be a devotional writing talking about how awesome my Netjer are 😀

Last week I was watching the show Frozen Planet on Animal Planet and really the images and videos they have are absolutely stunning. If you ever feel down and like the universe is ugly and hopeless, watch a show like The Universe (Discovery/Science) or Frozen Planet. You will feel better about life because it shows so much about our reality. Unique ice formations, penguins, seals, underwater life, baby penguins, wolves, wolverines and so much more to see. You even get to see into the lives of northern peoples. It is amazing.

Something else, besides “my gods our world is beautiful,” went through my mind as I was going to bed at 4 am after watching two hours of the show. It was a train of thoughts, starting with that I should write a blog post about how awesome the gods are, most especially Ra, for creating such a unique and shining world (and hell, world’s within the world, because the Arctic and Antarctic are truly universes unto themselves, so very different than the rest of the planet). I was also thinking that I wanted to write something in praise of Anpu and Set and it occurred to me that the icy ends of the earth really exemplify them.

Let’s start with Set. Lord of Chaos and the Desert. Are the icy tundras not both chaotic and like deserts? Especially Antarctica? There is an intense beauty of both the desert sands and the ice and snow. The sun blinds in both places, harsh in different ways. There is hardship everywhere. The tundra is no more forgiving than the sand dunes. Food is scarce, weather is extreme, winds are sharp, animals fight to survive so very hard. Ever seen Emperor Penguins in the Antarctic winter? They look thoroughly miserable don’t they? They are, and they’re starving. For months they huddle together in hunger and misery, but there is a prize at the end, for they hold eggs on their feet. It’s an excellent way to keep chicks from predators: stay inland, during winter, protecting them with their bodies, protecting each other. They suffer and do it greatly, but for such a great prize at the end.

And Set is in the ice, and He is in the cold. He is in the wind that stings and the darkest nights. He is also in the Southern Lights that illuminate the persistent night, He is the sweet relief of the rising sun over the horizon, and He is in the unbridled joy of the eggs hatching and the females returning.

Anpu is in the poles too. Many people know that He is a god of Death, but they often don’t realize that He is also a god of Life (He has numerous epithets, the clearest being “Lord of Life”) as well as god of the liminal and the between. I feel the plains of ice are just as representative of Him as the desert. Think about it, there are few places where the hairline balance between life and death are so clear and obvious. You see Anpu when you watch a Least Weasel* kill a vole for food (which are ADORABLE btw, both animals are) and, because it is too slender to stay warm easily, uses the vole’s skin to stay warm. You see Anpu when starving wolves fight a bison and both animals may die from injuries. But you also see Him when those female penguins come back to relieve the males and they have a touching reunion. He’s there when the sun rises and when it stops doing so, when the moon shines and the wolves howl at the Northern Lights.

The gods are everywhere, and it is awesome.

 

 

*I am a carnivore lover. There are many, many, many prey animals that I love and adore, but there are so many more carnivores that I love and adore. I will always root for both sides, I will even feel sympathy and a tinge of sadness for the prey, but I will always support carnivores and their right to live. I will always argue with those who think carnivores are savage or bloodthirsty or heartless or evil. Why? Because carnivores are none of those things. They are none of the exceedingly negative and wholly human-focused labels like the ones I mentioned. They are necessary, important and beautiful, even when hunting, even when killing, and sometimes especially so. And above all they have as much a right to live as prey. Not to mention it is incredibly hypocritical to label carnivores as evil, cruel, nasty, heartless, savage, bloodthirsty, or whatever when most humans (especially in America) consume meat in much larger than healthy quantities. Carnivores do not see killing the way humans do, they never ever kill without reason or out of cruelty or spite. They kill to survive, to live, to protect themselves or their young. They are beautiful, they are wonderful, and I say kill on.

Anubis

I’ve decided I’m going to do the Pagan Blog Project this year. I know, I’m a day late. I knew I was going to do a post for Anpu, though I couldn’t decide if I would do His for the first week or the second, but it just kept invading my head so yeah. Maybe I’ll do one for Aset? I’m not sure, I’ll likely write a normal blog post after this so you’ll get two posts. Anyways, on with the show yes?

I’ve written plenty of posts on my main deity (though Set loves to troll and take first dibs on things), but I have to say I love writing about Him. He’s a quiet deity, but never mistake quiet for weak. Anpu is often around, a quiet and comforting presence. He is also a powerful presence, like listening to thunder in the middle of the night. In general it is just rolling and deep, a threat that isn’t a threat, a hidden sound reminding you that there is great strength. I’m sure I sound a little cheesy, but I’d bet His voice would remind me of thunder. You can’t see thunder, you can only hear it; you only know it’s there when it comes upon you. You can’t anticipate thunder, sometimes it comes right on the heels of its lightning and sometimes it doesn’t. Thunder can also be terribly frightening. I’m 21 years old and there are times that thunder wakes me up and terrifies me, sometimes with no lightning to be seen from a window. I think that’s the scariest type, the kind that crashes like falling buildings and explosions but no lightning to speak of. What happened to it? Where did it land? What sort of bolt could make such a terrifying noise? That, is Anpu I think. Normally placid, calm, but capable of being terrible and ferocious. I like that about Him.

I will admit (and probably have admitted elsewhere) that I initially researched Anpu out of love of canines and His canid head. Of course I found out that He is incredibly awesome, even more awesome than I ever thought. I always thought He was a cool and interesting deity even though all I knew of Him was His role as Divine Embalmer and a deity of death. For some reason that just never grew on me, I always just liked Him; regardless of His role in death or what The Mummy (1999) had to say about Him. Or what any class in school didn’t say about Him. I don’t know, it was just always a feeling that He was awesome. And I can’t tell you how happy I was to be proved utterly correct. He is a very important presence in my life and in my head now and I’m still getting to know Him, but I look forward to that.