When Ma’at Becomes Isfet 2

The funny thing about life is how easily things can turn around. One day you’re totally doing the right thing, the next you realize you’ve made a horrible mistake, or what you’ve been doing backfires spectacularly. Maybe you were using a routine that worked perfectly, and now find it doesn’t fit you anymore. This certainly ties into my last post, and I’m starting to think I’m in that changeover phase. I’ve realized things are no longer working how they were before, and it’s time to change. Will that mean that I’ll permanently not consider myself a Kemetic anymore, even though I still strongly identify with the religion and its tenets? Possibly, or this could be a pressured sort of situation.

By that I mean, multiple things have come together to force the old out and cause change. I’m a little complacent, yes, quite lazy at times, just as much as I’m dealing with a broken brain and an uncooperative body. Last night I was pondering meditation and came upon why, even though I can meditate, I don’t like to. This train of thought was born of reading a post by someone else (another point I’m going to make later was inspired by reading a post this evening) about movement and dance. Ironically it was not, in fact, Devo, but a witch I follow on tumblr. It made me realize that I also have difficulty quieting my body, much moreso than quieting my mind. It’s not that I can’t sit still, it’s that I have physical problems that make it uncomfortable to sit or lie in certain positions for extended periods. Further, while I can quiet my mind if I try hard enough, I don’t actually want to.

It is almost physically painful for me to quiet my mind. I am a thinker and a dreamer. I have a very loud brain, and it loves to craft ideas. More importantly, it’s depressed and anxious, it’s also angry (that’s what happens when you are told repeatedly that your emotions are too intense, invalid, shouldn’t exist and then heap abuse on top of it). It’s quite painful to have my brain sit still for any extended length. Even when I’m going to sleep, it’s busy. It’s also boring, but that’s something else entirely. I never really considered it that deeply before, but there it is. Am I willing to do it? Yes, I’ve meditated successfully before with visualizations. Even then, however, we can see that I’m not sitting in the total silence, blank mind sort of meditation.

As I said in my last post, I don’t intend to drop Anpu. I don’t intend to completely abandon what I know and love. Perhaps I should do some divination (something I’ve been avoiding because I’m nervous. I can tell that I’d get better readings if I worked intuitively instead of with the cards’ ascribed meanings, but I know I have sock puppet syndrome sometimes, and yay anxiety for making everything hard). Perhaps I should just poke around or toss a flare into the netjeru’s space. Lost puppy to a good home. Bakes. Has cat. Stubborn, not terribly consistent, easily bored, skittish. It would certainly be something, but I don’t know yet.

Starting on a new path and maintaining it was ma’at. It is now becoming stale, burdensome and useless. Isfet. I must either change my path or abandon it entirely, I must maintain ma’at.

I already elaborated on the biggest pain in the ass part of my life. I’d like to touch on some other things here. First about this movement as meditation part. I don’t know if that’s a good alternative for me. For one thing, I don’t have a lot of space, and anyone who has ever done yoga with pets knows that they get in the way. My kitten, for example, loves to be underfoot for reasons we can’t comprehend. We’ve nearly hurt her more than once because she walked right up behind us and under a raised foot. Really though, lack of space is a big factor, along with self-consciousness. I was thinking for a while that I could sing, but that takes more effort than one might think, and I’d potentially be doing it for several songs. Even just the change over would be distracting. Then I was thinking meditating with my plants, which I will likely give a try at some point. I’m going to keep trying to come up with other ideas as well.

Then there’s still magic. I plan to work more extensively with my plants and hopefully find info on devas and individual spirits. Water is a harder one for me, I don’t live objectively close to any bodies of water and I know that physical proximity helps me a lot. I recently found some nice sigil resources and need to go through those. I’d also like to learn more about clairsentience (touchy-touchy me) and other touch-based magic, therapies and divination. I also need to play around with what I’ve got, since I can feel in my bones that I’d get better readings from my cards if I did it by intuition.

Shadow work. I know I need to do shadow work. I will be honest and say I’m afraid. I’m also stubborn, because in some ways, for some things, with certain people, I don’t want to let things go. Very common thought process, I’m sure. Perhaps this is also why my practice and relationship went sour. Anpu did mention shadow work quite frequently. Even Dapper has scolded me for avoiding it, not that he should talk. I have very intense emotions. For someone who wasn’t taught healthy ways to handle intense emotions, trying to confront them and the fact they’ve been pent up and compounded for years is terrifying. It’s also angering, because I shouldn’t have to do this. I shouldn’t have to do this and the people who hurt me should be sorry and should have been sorry sooner.

I see why Kali wants me. She certainly knows all about getting carried away by strong emotions. Anpu is a god of change, which I brought up a few posts ago. Perhaps these things will get sorted out once my house is whole and calm and aired out.

I mentioned that there was another post I had read. This was about cocoons and change. I wasn’t expecting it, but it was certainly timely. It described reasons why one might feel a witchy change, a witchy cocoon phase, would be happening and the “symptoms” you might feel as it happens. I certainly feel like I’m going through that right now. It’s difficult.

I still feel like I’d benefit from a louder, more active god and more structure. It’s hard to find structure that works when your mind is very fluid. It’s always moving and always wants to move. Crochet is probably the only thing that really matches both structure and fluidity, but at the same time it’s very stimulating and creative. I suppose I could try that, since I do like making simpler things with the knowledge I know as opposed to following complex patterns. It depends on my mood. It just seems both difficult and silly to really meditate or even try to astral while crocheting. There are moments of focus necessary, even with simple designs and stitches. Won’t hurt to try though right?

Any suggestions for me out there? For example, where can I get a decent, tiny cauldron? Like, just bowl sized or something. Also, someone remind me to get cheap red pots as well, and a red pen, and ingredients for baking and yummy foods. I intend to celebrate wep ronpet this year, because I honestly feel like I need to. New year, new path, new god, new me. I may also reach out to Aset, I hear this is a special week for her. I haven’t talked to her in a while, and perhaps she or one of the other goddesses can help me here. I admit freely to being too scared of Kali to work with Her, it has kept me out of shrine honestly. They say all goddesses are one goddess in Hinduism, and there is quite a bit of overlap. I imagine it won’t hurt to ask Kali to be a little less frightening, or gentle, to give me a nudge or something in the right direction. A few hints perhaps of where or how I should look for information. (HINT HINT KALI, HINT HINT ANPU, HUMANS ARE HARDHEADED)

I love this religion a lot. I love these gods a lot. I love this community a lot. I just need more help. Something to go on, some direction, something that even my stubbornly fluid, lazy brain can happily latch on to and do. Or at least relentless pursuit and nagging until I get shit done (jk, that doesn’t work that well). I’m tired of long ass Fallow Times. I’m definitely tired of being unable to contact Dapper. I am tired of this cluttered apartment in this cluttered city where my windows view concrete and asphalt. Where are my plants, I need leafy hugs.

I do wonder what I’ll accomplish if I start working with my plants. Finding information on working with plant devas and individual plant spirits is a pain. Most green and plant magic is all about herbs and oils and whatnot. While I don’t mind that, I don’t have the luxury of doing that type of spellcraft, because I don’t have space for the plants and I don’t really cook with fresh herbs. My typical seasoning is mixed, so kitchen witchery is kind of weird. I can’t afford to just buy things willy nilly either. It’s so hard to really figure out what I want and what I need. I really just don’t know what I need and can’t articulate it.

Until then I’ll play around and just focus on planning for wep ronpet. Mayhaps I’ll finally join the KO beginner’s class. I don’t like their application honestly. I can understand it, and understand the reasoning for the questions on it. I just don’t like being asked those questions. They’re difficult to answer (which I suppose is the point), but they’re also often used to judge me and make things unnecessarily difficult. Sort of like “why do you want to work here” at job interviews. I’m lost and need help, y’all have pre-established structure and stuff. It may be time to break out Eternal Egypt again. Been a while since I read that. I’m ok with that though. Now if only I was any good at song-writing or music making and then I could sing.

I’m also wondering if I could make it a habit to pray or otherwise give offerings at sundown or something. Sundown is a little inconvenient, if only because it often happens around dinner time, which would be good for offerings I suppose. There’s always dawn and sunrise, but I’m not a morning person, and further I’ll be starting school soon. Sunset may be better. We’ll see, I may give it a try. 21 days to build a habit right?

Now it’s getting early, 5:33 am. I’m gonna play with my plants and cards for a bit, because why not? I am a horizon child, this is my time.

When Ma’at Becomes Isfet

Since March, Zolfyer’s cousin and his fiancee (henceforth to be referred to as Cousin and Fiancee) have been staying with us. They were about to get kicked out of their apartment, one of their roommates ditched them–like, packed up all his things, moved out in the four hours the house was empty, cut his phone off and hadn’t paid his share of the final rent or utilities, ditched– and Fiancee is pregnant. Further, Cousin’s mom is unstable, with a house that really isn’t fit to live in and Fiancee’s parents are racist (Cousin is black like us, Fiancee is white). Since they wanted to move north anyway and they didn’t have money or time to find a new apartment down south, they begged all of our family to let them stay. We told them they could stay here, although technically Fiancee was supposed to go back down south to finish school and graduate. Did I mention she’s 18 and he’s my age? No? She doesn’t have her high school diploma, her birth certificate or her SSID card. To say it’s a lunatic situation is an understatement and mostly irrelevant. That’s her life, I’m only going to get but so involved.

They came here in March. There is now four people in a one bedroom apartment, and a baby on the way. They also have two ferrets, and it was lucky that Fiancee had someone who was able to keep her snakes. We already have a cat, she’s currently lounging on our clean laundry with her pure black fur. Our house is very busy. Zolfyer and I accepted this and we’re doing our best to take it in stride. We assisted Cousin with his job search, having two HR professionals detail his resume, suggest jobs they knew were hiring and we even paid for some of the things he needed, such as bus fare, car insurance before he lost his car (no job=no money=repo) and something to wear for an interview. We scraped, scrounged and asked for money from our parents and siblings to make sure everyone was fed. We took them to one of the city’s biggest festivals as a treat and a distraction from the hard first month. Cousin got a job and we told him he’d only have to give us $100 a month so that he could save as much as he could, as fast as he could. We thought the baby was due in September, so first week of August you need to be out.

This is ma’at, helping others in desperate situations. Helping the people you care about and love. Making the world a little more orderly, more awesome. Being generous.

Then we realized, slowly, that this was not nearly as ma’at as we thought.

Cousin is argumentative. He has bad communication skills. He likes to give people the silent treatment when he is angry. A post he made today made clear that he believes he is never in the wrong, that he is always a victim.

People get upset with him unnecessarily because of the things he says. Why isn’t he allowed to have an opinion? Why is everything he says supposedly sexist, racist, wrong, hurtful or messed up? Why are people always attacking him? He’s also passive aggressive. He and I argued fiercely yesterday because I do not allow slurs to be used in my home. In this case it was “midget,” directed towards a short character, who may very well have been a child, in some inane video he posted on facebook. He’s made rape jokes in the past, though he wasn’t living with us at the time. I was in the wrong when I got upset at him and ruined his gaming mood. He ruined my gaming mood. He didn’t consider at all my feelings and why I was upset and took offense to it. He spent all day today posting passive-aggressive memes on facebook since I won’t let him say “midget” in my home and called him out for being sexist the day before.

I quote:

Normally i dont post my feelings on pictures and social media..but why..why..When i open my mouth its sexist, mean, assholish, or coming of wrong. I justthink shutting up and not saying anything like i did before i way better.People wouldnt get offended and attack if i did that.

For those who like pictures: Cousin's Nonsense

His passive-aggression doesn’t end there. We also discovered, over these painfully long four months, that he’s emotionally manipulative. Zolfyer used to have an anger problem because he spent his entire youth being bullied mercilessly and experienced loneliness and abuse at home. He was in anger management for seven years. I have only seen him angry enough to hit objects ten times, and that’s an overestimation. Somewhere between five and ten. I’ve only seen him angry enough to break objects twice, with the third time being an accident. The second time was last month, when Z was trying to explain to Cousin why he was angry and upset that he had blown him off, been passive aggressive and otherwise very dismissive, callous and belittling. The situation was that we were planning on going to a tournament (we play Cardfight! Vanguard) and Cousin and Fiancee were coming with us because they wanted to participate. Cousin was supposed to put up for gas and potential tolls. Coincidentally we had received news about unexpected extra money (debt really, increase in credit limit) and Cousin commented that he didn’t have the money to put up for gas like he’d promised. Now, not once earlier in the week had he mentioned that he’d be short the money. We wondered when he intended to tell us, and we knew why he was short, he’d purchased cards off of the internet. Both Cousin and Fiancee admit to not being very well educated in finances and being irresponsible, we were teaching them, Z had gone so far as to draw up a savings plan and carefully explain it.

Then Cousin and Z got into an argument about some cards that were worth money. I missed what initially started this, but the point is that it was part of the gas money disagreement and was also calling on their words and memories of events earlier in the week. Namely, the budget, what Z had written down for Cousin, which cards were supposed to exist, who was supposed to get them and why, and where they were supposed to be. Everything was supposedly recorded, and Cousin, in an attempt to be correct, tried to find proof he was correct. The paper didn’t say which was correct, although it supported Z’s story more. Z insisted he knew what he was talking about and what he had said. Cousin gave an angry non-apology (I’m sorry you think I’m wrong, sort of deal, I’m sorry you’re upset and arguing, type of thing). This made Z angry. Not only is it disrespectful, but it’s also dismissive, and manipulative. It’s belittling, contemptuous even.

Zolfyer largely hates conflict. He experienced it too much as a child, and being tormented and isolated makes him afraid of being disliked, however he pushed off the fear of backlash to confront Cousin about his behavior. Cousin continued being distant, passive-aggressive, dismissive, belittling and emotionally manipulative. Acting cool and collected, like he’s reasonable, never once admitting that he was wrong. Constantly turning things around and making non-apologies and double-bind statements to make it seem as if Z was being totally out of control and his memory was suspect. Eventually, when Z said that he wasn’t trying to fight but he was so totally frustrated by Cousin’s arrogance and his refusal to take any responsibility whatsoever, Cousin said “I’m not fighting, you’re the only one who is fighting. I’m totally calm.”

Thoroughly upset, frustrated and angry, feeling taken advantage of and like his memories and thoughts and feelings were being dismissed, ignored and feeling twisted into the bad guy position (which, considering his past history with emotional abuse, bullying and dealing with unintentional emotional neglect from extreme poverty, is totally triggering) he goes into our bedroom, slams the door and puts a hole in it. Then dents his mini fridge, mostly because he wanted to avoid putting a hole in the wall. I spent fifteen minutes cleaning and bandaging his hands. It took two weeks for his knuckles to heal.

This is an intense example. This is one of the most intense examples. Most of my other examples are much smaller, more low key. Cousin refused to go to the tournament, which meant that the two friends who were also going (this was a team tourney, you need groups of three, now they were one short) were assed out. Because he couldn’t grow up and get over himself, he failed two people who he made a commitment to. I had to go instead, because I tell our friends that I will always play if they need me. I’m not competitive and despise crowds, enclosed spaces and especially crowded enclosed spaces. Traveling also takes a lot of energy from me, and this tournament was in Maryland. I was extremely cranky and exhausted from the beginning, especially since, as an empath, arguments take a lot out of me just to be around (on top of that my deck was behind everyone else, so I was at a huge disadvantage because support for my clan didn’t exist yet). Cousin also acts this way towards Fiancee, including frequently getting angry at her and yelling at her when she confides or vents to us, then follows it up with telling her he’s “glad she has someone she can talk to and confide it.” Then, when she vents and confides, gets really angry at her again. Also gives her the silent treatment, going so far as to lock her out of their bedroom while they were still down south.

My intense example was yesterday, about him treating me with contempt. I don’t hit people or objects, so there won’t be any of that. I did, however, rant a metric ton to other people. If you’d like to see the rant detailing most of the situation, you may do so here. More clarifying information for that is this: Cousin was insistent that his future daughter could not have sex in his house before she turned 16, but his future son could. BGF and I asked him repeatedly to clarify, to elaborate, and all he had to say was “because that’s my girl, my princess and that’s my boy, my prince”. We asked why the boy got to but not the girl, we asked why was there a double standard, we asked why did it matter, we asked why could he but not she. We phrased it about six different ways, each, and he still gave the same answer. He insists I jumped down his throat and never gave him the chance to answer. He also told Z that I am always shoving my words down his and Fiancee’s throats. Among other things. He basically ranted to Zolfyer that I’m a huge problem to them and that I act in an unfair and antisocial manner. He hasn’t spoken to me all day, never even looked me in the eye.

If you’ve chosen to read this far, and have even read my rant, you’ll understand what I’m about to say next.

Ma’at is decaying. It is becoming isfet. It needs to change.

They are creating one hell of a toxic environment. They are literally taking up space, food and energy without giving a significant balance back. My house is dirty and smells from their ferrets. I’m tired of being confined to my room or the kitchen because their things are spread out in the livingroom and they can’t be bothered to clean up after themselves consistently unless someone starts cleaning. My bathroom stinks and is perpetually dirty because of the extra people taking long showers. They don’t seem to know how to get out of the shower without dragging water all over the floor, which means my rug gets soaked and nearly had to be thrown out from mold and mildew.

I am angry. I am perpetually angry because of things they do, or things they say. Usually to Z, but also to me. I am tired of being disrespected and treated with contempt in my own home. I am tired of my boyfriend being treated with contempt and disrespect in his home. He pays for literally everything, almost $2,000 per MONTH, with two jobs and freelance work and we only ask for $100 from them. He should not have anyone say to him, but especially not the person in his home out of the generosity of his heart “well, be glad you don’t work nine hours a day.” (I actually nearly went off on my mother for saying something about his work hours. People like to demean the fact his jobs are part-time and discount their value and the toll they take) He shouldn’t be experiencing the anxiety, insomnia and lack of appetite he got from the mortgage job on his way HOME. He shouldn’t feel like he can’t be in his living room or kitchen because of the dank energy and nasty, petulant, cocky attitude of his cousin.

I should not have to argue with anyone about whether it is or isn’t ok to use slurs in my house. 

It occurred to me, that I haven’t been able to connect or focus as well on my spirit work since they got here. Now, part of that is Dapper being sick, another part is that I quiet my plants and Dapper when there are guests over. Some of my frequent guests are sensitive, so it’s only considerate. However, a lot more than that has taken a toll on my practice. I do still think it best for me to reach out to other gods and explore other paths and ideas, but I do know their being here has significantly impacted my spiritual health as much as my emotional health. It isn’t ok. They need to go, we were already thinking about moving up their date because it turns out Fiancee is due in August, not September, but now we’re getting to the point of being thoroughly fed up.

I’m not saying I’m completely in the right. I know that I’m not. I am not exactly a “fair” debater. I have very intense emotions and extremely strong opinions. I also want people to mean what they say and say what they mean. I expect people to back their statements and opinions up, and not expect me to take them at face value. I don’t like it when people try to dodge. I do attack people sometimes, or otherwise “jump down their backs.” Could I have handled my particular intense example better? Hell yeah, I could have. I did try and be calm from the get go, since I was calm and wasn’t trying to fight when the disagreement began. I genuinely didn’t think he knew that the slur “midget” was a big deal since lots of people use it. I know that I can handle things better and that doubtlessly some arguments I’ve had with Cousin or Fiancee are my fault and escalated because of me. That doesn’t excuse their behavior either though.

This cannot continue. When ma’at turns to isfet, you must turn it back. When they leave, my home is getting the most thorough cleansing I can possibly give it. There will be execrations, to say the least. I don’t know what else I’ll do, I’ll figure it out.

 

Cracks

I read a blog post by a friend the other day and I have to say I’m unhappy. I’m the sort of person who strives to see their friends and family happy and cared for and is very protective. She, currently, is none of these things. I haven’t known her very long, true, but I do care and it sucks major fucking ass that she’s so far away that I can’t just barge in with cookies and hugs. I’m tired of seeing her suffer and I’m tired of watching her fall through the cracks.

What is wrong with people? What is wrong with the Kemetic community, with any community? Why reject someone who is clearly of value? Why ignore and turn away, or worse, abuse and demean, another person? Why destroy them or do nothing to help them? I don’t understand how so many can talk about helping others and becoming a stronger community, when those thrown to the shadows and those too quiet and meek to reach out are ignored or even chased away? How can you chase people away? How can you completely ignore and be oblivious to someone calling out for help and friendship, and out your ass talk about the community being terrible? It is unacceptable that someone should feel so alone and helpless that they cannot even fathom what it must be like to be part of a group!

What, the, fuck? Now, I’m not yelling at everyone here. We’re human, we make mistakes, sometimes it’s impossible to see those forced into the corner, in the alley, in the dark, but shouldn’t we at least make an effort to look? Shouldn’t we at least reach out when we DO see the lonely? Shouldn’t we make an effort not to talk over and forget those who are soft-spoken, shy, and easily frightened? Should we not be persistent with those who have difficulty reaching out, especially when they do reach out?

My friend should not be so alone, she should not be falling through so many holes and cracks. She has suffered from the cracks in humanity for a long time and still suffers. She is depressed and on the verge of giving up. Giving up her practice, giving up her hope. She is swamped in doubts and pain and confusion. There is so much static that she can hear no god and is losing faith that she ever heard them. This is unacceptable, and it is fucking bullshit that I can do little about it. I just want her to get the happiness she deserves and is worthy of. She’s a wonderful person, a lovely, awesome, delightful person. I just don’t understand how anyone could leave her out. Stop doing it, stop leaving people out. If they aren’t clearly lunatics or dicks, then there’s really little excuse. We are social animals, people die for lack of love, for lack of affection, for lack of community. And yet she and others are constantly rejected.

I think it’s time to pave the cracks. Look for the quiet people who have a hard time being social and articulate. Be friendly, offer help and friendship. Do fucking ma’at people. Who gives a shit whether Aset is a mystical rainbow goddess or not? Who cares if Anubis is an alien? Don’t be a dick. DON’T BE A GODSDAMNED DICK. Help people, be kind, welcome the misfits, the lonely, the lost, the searching. If they aren’t lunatics or dicks, there’s no reason to exclude them or stomp them or anything. Support each other, be encouraging. Disagree respectfully. Kindness. I’m not a “love and light” pagan or whatever. I’m pretty blunt, I can be downright belligerent and sour. I believe that there is a time and place for nastiness, violence, and cutting words, but there is a TIME and a PLACE. I do not believe in exclusion, not if someone is kind and helpful and has something to add. If they are not bad people and are not dicks and they are not dangerously unstable then why leave them out?

My friend is kind, helpful and has so much to add. But she’s been so shunned in her life and in the community that she doesn’t believe that. I love reading what she writes. I see her soul and mind bared and feel what she seeks to communicate. Her writing is not clinical or academic, but at times that is not appropriate anyway. I read her work to find her heart, because in the end that is what religion is about. Or that’s what it’s supposed to be about, in my opinion. Her heart is bright to me and I want to understand and have that same brightness. She shares her experience, her thoughts and feelings and I can understand that I am not alone in my struggles. I know I’m not the only one who gains insight and encouragement from her writing. I wish deeply for her to keep writing and to keep going. She struggles and I do not want it to be in vain. How many others struggle in loneliness and silence? How many others swim in pain and doubt and do not realize their value and worth?

It’s time to fix the cracks. Shiney I love you girl, don’t give up.

Ma’at and Isfet, Anpu and Set

So, last night while I was washing dishes at 4 am (don’t ask, nothing I say will justify it XD) I got into a train of thought that led to thinking how would I describe my religion, it’s tenets and basic concepts to my family? How would I describe Anpu so that I don’t get asked (again -_-) if I worship death now? And I came up with several things, which also lead to a great way to describe Set as well.

First thing was Anpu. Well, everyone knows He’s a funerary deity, a god of death. The Mummy franchise has made that common knowledge (as well as His Roman role as the enforcer of curses). But, that’s not all He is. It always baffles me how people can pigeonhole deities, even at the same time of espousing how versatile and helpful and multilayered their deity is. I mean, sure, for some people it’s out of innocent ignorance of how large and varied other deities are (can’t really get mad at someone who never learned those other facets) but still, if YHWH isn’t a one faceted deity, then neither is any other.

Anpu is more than just a death deity. In fact, considering His associations and jobs and how the Ancient Egyptians viewed death and life and the reasons they did various things when a person died, I’d say He is a life deity. The Ancient Egyptians did not worship death, they were unapologetic and enthusiastic lovers of life. Death was a transformation and they sought to make the afterlife as good, and preferably better, as life. Everything they did at funerals and tombs and after that was about promoting a great afterlife. Anpu was a part of all that, He heads that operation. He made hurt bodies whole so the person would not be maimed in the afterlife; He guarded and guided spirits through the Duat; He guarded hearts and helped a dead person reconnect with their heart; He is called The Lord of Life.

Anpu balances the Scales of Ma’at, He is called He Who Unites with Ma’at. How much can you say He is merely a deity of death when He is called Lord of Ma’at? Ma’at is just as much about life as death, because it is balance and you can only reach the afterlife when your heart is aligned with Ma’at. Anpu is a guardian deity, a guiding one. He is a patron of orphans and widows and the lost. And every follower I’ve talked to espouses how kind and calm He is, not only that but my experience shows this. Anpu is the big scary-looking bouncer in the corner who will bottle feed a kitten and play duck, duck, goose with four year olds, but is not opposed to knocking some unruly person over the head. As gentle and patient as He is, one has to remember He traipses through the Duat every day and that’s where lots of things, Apep included, live. He’s no pushover.

So, I worship Anpu, but I do not worship death. Quite frankly I find that to be rather silly, worshipping death. There’s nothing particularly worship-worthy about it. I can’t imagine asking that question even sounds right or makes sense. I suppose there are people out there who worship death, but I don’t. I worship a living god who is a shepherd of life. A god of the liminal, the between, a god of change and transformation. I worship a Lord of Life, and one who is with Ma’at.

Now, Ma’at. Truth, justice, balance, rightness, creation, “good” chaos. All of these things describe Ma’at, but it remains a concept just a little out of reach, just a little beyond our understanding as we are so removed from Ancient Egypt and understanding what they saw. I recently had a conversation with Aubs and Devo and others about Ma’at not being a peace and rainbow farts concept. Ie, Ma’at may be balance, truth and justice, but that doesn’t mean violence is not involved in getting it. Deities like Sekhmet and Set really personify this point as They both are known to use any means necessary, violence included, to bring things back into Ma’at.

Now, I rather like the summarised Shopping Cart metaphor, originally written by Darkhawk. It’s a great way to think of how Ma’at works realistically. If you’re not inclined to read those links, it goes a little like this: Everyone makes choices every day, including choosing not to choose. These choices affect yourself and other people, even if it doesn’t seem like it and those choices can either make things easier on yourself and others or harder. When you do things that contribute to Ma’at, everyone benefits and life is made easier.

The Shopping Cart metaphor illustrates this. Everyone knows how the system is supposed to work with shopping carts, they are conveniently placed at the front of the store, neat and ready for use. If everyone returns them properly, it is a self-sustaining wonder. Everyone knows that doesn’t happen of course, for a variety of reasons, but doing so helps the system to come closer to the ideal. Returning carts, straightening up carts in disarray, it all helps things go better.

Ma’at is very similar. Contributing to order helps everyone, makes life easier and is beautiful. It’s not always easy, or convenient, but it works. As an extension of considering it isn’t always easy, I want to comment on Ma’at and violence and “good” chaos. Yes, I believe in good chaos, though I put quotes around it because, well things may not always seem that way and a person’s perspective may affect what is “good” and what is “bad”. To start, the Ancient Egyptians thoroughly believed in using violence to promote Ma’at. They have several deities who are violent and willing to be violent to turn back isfet and chase away Apep.

Thing is, it doesn’t make sense for Ma’at to be all butterflies and unicorn farts (a favorite comparison on The Cauldron btw lol). Why? Because isfet is not nice, it is not calm and you can’t kill a Big Ass Demon Snake with cookies and cake. There are plenty of ancient scenes and artwork displaying slaying, the slaying of said giant evil snake Apep, enemies, other demons. Swords, spears, blood, body segments, violence all over the place. The promotion of Ma’at can’t be completely non-violent, because isfet is out for blood, it is destruction for destruction’s sake. It is the “bad chaos” that people fear, where things are destroyed and broken down and fall apart for literally no reason. There is no silver lining, no light at the end, it isn’t clearing the way for better things, it isn’t breaking things down to give new nourishment. Isfet is destruction and disaster for pain and suffering, it gets its kicks from being horrid and completely useless.

I thought of some examples for how violence, chaos and destruction can be used to restore ma’at. I’ll get to the one about chaos and destruction after speaking on isfet and Set. The example about violence actually comes from the Bible. The gospels of Matthew and John tell of Jesus driving out the marketers in the temple. I’ve heard people puzzling over this story, especially the version in John, where it says Jesus sat down and made a whip by hand. It took so long that he left the temple for the evening (that’s when he curses the unfruitful fig tree) and went back the next day, presumably with his whip, and drove everyone out of the temple. I’ve been part of conversations where people think Jesus lost his temper, and therefore sinned, but ya know, it seems to me like this is him using any means necessary to restore the temple to its proper order. He goes on to tell his disciples why he did that, because the temple is supposed to be holy and for worship, and it has been defiled and turned into a marketplace. So, he beats the shit out of people and restores the temple to a holy place, and stops the marketers from taking advantage of those who need offerings for the temple. He was restoring ma’at.

Jesus is often seen restoring ma’at, though this is the only example I can think of involving violence on his part. Though I will say, one could see his sending Legion into the herd of swine was one of those chaotic ways of restoring things. Set and Sekhmet are also deities of justice and will restore ma’at by all means necessary, whether that’s crafting a whip and overturning tables, or slaughtering the humans who plotted against the gods, or spearing Apep and tearing down corrupt dynasties.

Isfet is uncreation, which can be a little hard to understand. We think of regular destruction and breakdown as uncreation, but that’s not true uncreation. The laws of thermodynamics state that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed, only changed. Matter and energy are forms of each other. Isfet seeks to destroy everything, down to matter and energy. It wants to completely unmake the universe, down to obliterating particles and annihilating energy. Such complete and utter destruction is hard to truly grasp. I know I have a hard time really truly imagining it. The epitome of absolute nothingness, where nothing exists in any way, shape or form. No heat, no light, no space or time. Absolute zero, no potential for anything ever. That’s isfet, and that’s what isfet wants. That’s what is the complete opposite of ma’at, and that’s what all the gods and Kemetic followers seek to avoid. The Demon Snake is an agent of isfet, and it plans to start that destruction by consuming Ra and His solar barque when He travels through the Duat at night.

That’s where Set comes in. For a long time He was at the head of the barque. Set is the strongest of the gods, it is He, in many myths and artwork, that is keeping The Demon Snake from boarding the barque and killing Ra and the other deities and spirits on it. Set’s popularity in Egypt changed and waned in the later dynasties when Egypt was experiencing a lot of upheaval and invasion. Set became popular with foreigners and Egypt was xenophobic (unless you came to live there and became part of society, then you were considered Egyptian, perfect assimilation not necessary). Not liking the foreigners conquering their land, they started to disassociate with Set and consider Him, well, evil. Certainly the foreigners coming in with opinions on Set’s chaotic nature had something to do with it as well.

Most people today see any chaos as bad. Set is, by definition, a chaotic god. But He isn’t evil. Just, challenging. Chaos and destruction can be hard to accept and understand, especially when, at least at the time, they don’t see any rhyme or reason for it. This is where the example I mentioned earlier comes in. Everyone can agree that wildfires are chaos in motion right? Right. Fire is one of those things that is so helpful and useful and yet so destructive and violent. Most people see wildfires as very bad, especially in places that have homes. It’s understandable, fire is causing destruction, wreaking havoc. It seems to be killing plants and animals, threatening  human lives as well. Wildfires don’t seem to have anything good about them.

Alas, there are many creatures (mainly plants) that benefit massively from wildfires. Many species of plants in areas prone to wildfires actually need the fire. There are species that even make it easier and more likely for fires to start and spread. The fires are a part of their life cycle, not to mention that ash is very fertile, hence volcanic regions being highly fertile and colonized despite the danger. Even though wildfires are destructive and can be harmful, especially if they’re out of control, they are necessary and useful displays of chaos improving the world. By clearing away the old and dead and leaving fertility and potential behind, wildfires are an essential part of many ecosystems’ health and beauty.

Set is just like that. Of course, no one said chaos is easy to accept or work with. Just because you may actually see how the destruction is helpful and clearing away the old and dead to make room for and fertilize the new doesn’t make it any easier to be in it. I can’t imagine that those plants are ever totally happy about the fires. They know they need those fires, they may even be the ones who make it easier for fires to start and spread, but I bet they flinch and cringe as it starts and comes near. I bet it still hurts to be burned and broken away, or in the case of seeds that need fire to germinate, I bet it sucks to be sleeping and suddenly ablaze and cracked open, forced to grow or die.

But Set is like that. And ya know what? Anpu steps in I imagine. The fire is a painful change foisted by Set, encouraged and supported by Him, and you are transformed. And Anpu is a god of transformation and healing, you wonder if He comes in after the fires have passed and touches the black and ravaged soil. Does He touch those hurting seeds, those hurting plants to encourage them? To push them towards the healing that will lead to them growing stronger and healthier? He is a god of fertility as much as death. And let’s not forget Set. He’s rough, but He does care, deeply at that. I imagine He’s not in the business of tearing things apart and leaving you high and dry to your own devices, at least not all the time. And I’d bet money that bossy hurricane would rip the heavens asunder if you really needed Him to.

This is what comes to me while washing dishes at four am lol