Month of Written Devotion

So, The Jackal’s Dance’s post reminded me that this was happening. I’ll be participating, although I’ve had a lot going on today so I’m going to post today’s and tomorrow’s tomorrow. Here’s the link for myself and anyone who wants to participate as well. Today is a sort of welcome post, the prompt is

  1. Who? – Deity, spirit or chosen devotion for the month

Tomorrow is

  1. How? – How did you become involved with your devotional topic?

 

Inside My Head

It’s dark in here. Not pitch black, nor is it lightless, it simply isn’t bright. I’ve been here multiple times. It is not entirely separate from me. It is a temple, golden and large. If it has windows I cannot see them, all I can see is a few pillars and two statues. The braziers hanging from the ceiling and pillars only light that much. I have no idea how large this place really is, it is all in shadow and gives the illusion of both compactness and largesse. The pillars are inscribed with shapes and hieroglyphs that I cannot read and pay no attention to. Sometimes there is more than just the two statues in this place. Usually they mean nothing. Someone visiting, or checking me out. They are often far off and I pay no mind. Rarely I sense others that are not gods in here. I have seen more of this place once, but only once. 

The statues are obvious. They tower above me, at least twenty feet high. The one in the center is Anpu. Ironically it is a form I don’t find aesthetically pleasing. He is merely standing, perfectly straight, occasionally holding a Was. The statue is black and gold, it wears only a circlet and skirt. Sometimes there is the headdress, but it is amorphous, easily changed. There is a plate by the feet, my latest offering. A broom lay nearby, for some reason I am often cleaning in here. It is almost never dirty though. Cleaning is the only time I see the walls, or doorways. I never go towards them, much less through them. I don’t have a reason to, and I am not particularly nosy, although I’ve never been told not to be. Next to Anpu’s statue is another. Sometimes she is on the right, sometimes on the left. Aset kneels in profile, as if She were a hieroglyph. Although I’m positive this icon is far more reminiscent of Ma’at, She has her arms outstretched with iridescent wings. Her statue is not plain, it is colorful and beautiful, a complex beauty next to Anpu’s minimalistic handsomeness. Sometimes it bears a headdress, most times it doesn’t. 

I come here often. Usually it’s simply to look at Them, to marvel at their huge statues or sit near Them. I pray in here, I offer food in here, and of course there’s the cleaning. Sometimes I sweep, other times I mop, sometimes I dust their feet. Sometimes I come here because I feel Their presence nearby or they wish to talk. I have only seen one other person in here, Dapper. Dapper is new of course. I have invited him into this place with Their permission. He never comes in as a humanoid, always in his Other shape, his wolf shape. I haven’t bothered to ask him about this, instead I put his portion of the food on the floor and pet him. We have been here more than I consciously remember. Perhaps it is the piece of my Guardian inside him that I sense that affinity for. He does belong there, in some way. Just like me.

For Aset

Lately my goddess has been feeling neglected, so I shall write to Her.

My Lady, you heard my call and came to me. It must be a full year by now. I still remember that day. I raged in pain and had intended to call someone else. Alas it was your name that left my mouth, and you called back. How could I not appreciate that? You have cradled me while I cried more than once and scolded me when I was being a little shit to others. I reach for you and you are there, even if you’re busy and have to get back to me, I trust you’ll come back. I still do not know why you answered my plaintive cry, but I am forever grateful.

Hail Aset, Queen of Heaven

Praise to the Lady of the Stars.

Dua to She with 1000 Names

Dua to She who knows the ren of Ra.

Hail to the Princess of the Gods,

To She who is Master of Magic

And Songs shall be sung in Her honor

As Her presence heralds the Flood.

Hail to the Goddess of Mothers,

Praise to the Greatest of Wives,

Dua to She who saved her Husband

And conceived Heru, King of Gods.

Sweetest incense in Her honor,

Pleasant drink to sate Her thirst,

Heavenly Food to nourish Her ka

And ma’at to bring Her strength.

Great goddess of Heaven and Earth

Rain blessings down on me,

May I earn your favor

And your trust I never lose.

Listening

So, last week I was telling Z about Dapper and other things going on and he asked me a question that lots of people who hear/sense ethereal beings get asked. “How do you hear them?”

I didn’t really have an answer for him. How do you explain hearing without sound, or sensing without touch? How do you explain the flutter of intuition or the pressure of a god’s presence? We take our senses for granted, and we have no words to describe their use or their feeling. Anything we try to explain them with invariably requires an understanding of them that confounds the explanation. Rule one of defining is that you do not use the word or experience in the definition of itself. It defeats the purpose. If I cannot see and ask you what red looks like, you would not tell me it is the color of a tomato, because that would require me to be able to see the tomato. You would, hopefully, describe it with other sensory references, but obviously that isn’t entirely accurate, since most people don’t really know what a color feels like, or what a sound looks like. (Unless you’re a synesthestite, but that’s a different bag of worms and not everyone with synesthesia experiences the same warping of senses).

I told him flat out that I don’t really know how to describe it, and that I don’t hear them literally like I can hear him. He knew this, of course, but it still confounded him. I mentioned that it isn’t always words either, sometimes it’s feelings and sensations. Sometimes it’s intuition. We went on to discuss that he had tried before, to talk to God, but that he could never be sure he wasn’t making things up. I told him that everyone who has a godphone feels that way, because it’s true. In fact, I’d wager that the more strongly you’re god-bothered, the more likely you are to think you’re crazy and making shit up. The more doubtful you are. He went on to say that may be true, but at least sometimes they know, at least sometimes they’re sure. I neglected to mention that they almost never know, and are almost never sure, at least the people I know. I did mention that even the people I trust for advice and discernment go through that and that I doubt a lot too, but that’s where faith comes in.

It’s true though, that’s where faith comes in. At some point everyone hears something false or fights sock puppets. But, especially as you get more used to it, you can start to tell when you’re hearing truth and other beings. However, that doesn’t stop the mind numbing and terrifying doubt that you’re a lunatic. And from what I’ve seen, that’s normal as you get better at listening. From what I’ve seen, the better you are at this spirit-talking god-phone thing, the more you doubt and the scarier it is. You don’t have the complete, fearless, undying confidence of a newb. Amateurs are often brave to the point of being cocky, because they haven’t seen the scary shit, or been disappointed or crushed. They haven’t had their world trampled and changed and twisted up by reality. Their heads haven’t been cracked open.

Z asked me this question and all I could think was he didn’t want to hear. It isn’t all fun and games, it isn’t always cool and awesome. While it is nice to know they’re real and can respond, it also means they can talk to you without you asking, and they can ignore you when you talk. And often times, once they realize you’re listening, they want you to listen. And what they might have to say isn’t always great. Don’t get me wrong, I love my gods, but I also see what happens with others and I see that they are on the move. I know I’ll probably get swept up in that. Luckily I have advanced friends who care about me and told me the truth about what it’s like. They speak candidly about their experiences and got the naiveté out of my head so that I can make better choices and have realistic expectations. Maybe that was by design, who knows.

In the end, who really knows anything? There are times when even the gods are unsure and who can know what we’re really hearing? It’s really a matter of faith at that point.

Devotion

I recently restarted my personal practice after many months of hiatus, and the same questions have returned again. As a new adherent in an alternative, non-standardized religion, creating a personal practice is exactly that, creating. Being new also adds in the bonus level of floundering. While everyone is still creating their practice, their experience makes it easier to discern, to research and to coalesce. Of course, they were beginners at some point too, but they aren’t now, and I know I at least have to remind myself that I’ll eventually get better and figure some things out. It’s still slow going however.

Primarily I still have to figure out what I want my daily practice to look like. What do I want to do in shrine to honor my Netjer? How do I want to interact with Them? How will I hear Them when they speak? What about other entities? What, exactly, does devotion mean to me?

That last question is probably the hardest, and it most likely would provide at least partial answers to the others. See, in my church growing up, everything was already in place as a framework. There was a set order to things. Songs, Welcome and Contribution, Songs, Communion, Songs (we sing a lot as you can see), and then the Message. Sometimes we sing at the end too, sometimes we skip a section of songs. Basically, I grew up singing a lot, then doing a lot of listening. Well, there aren’t a lot of modern songs for the Netjeru (yet), and unfortunately the way to sing the ancient songs is lost. I’m not that great at music, but that’s almost always what I want to do, sing. Devotion is song, because song is praise, and even if I didn’t listen to a lick of the message, well I praised and that’s what I like. It’s a little frustrating to say the least.

Christmas Songs

Yes, I’m aware that I’m extremely late. I was inspired by a thing I saw on Facebook that had rewritten Christmas songs. They were Wicca flavored and it inspired me to make ones that were Kemetic flavored. Each song has in parentheses the song it was based on so that you can sing them easily. As long as you attribute their creation to me and do not change the lyrics without permission you may use them freely.

These lyrics are copyright to Rachael Jetter, aka Aine Rayne, owner of Finding the Secret Places. Please do not alter, copy in part or in whole without attribution, or sell without express written permission of the owner.

O Come, O Come, the Lord of the Knife(O Come, O Come, Emmanuel)

O Come, O Come the Lord of the Knife,
And lead me through the Cavern of the Night.
Full of strife and demons untold,
Guide me to Ra’s barque of gold!
R: Dua! Dua! Lord of Ma’at,
I seek your strength in light and dark!
O come, Lord of the Secret Place
And grant to me your wisdom and grace;
Make my body whole and pure,
That I may lie among the stars.
Refrain
O come, O come, the Son of Ra,
Who watches o’er the Scales of Ma’at
And crushes foes both near and far
That Ra may travel safely in His barque!
Refrain
O come, He Who Prepares the End
And brings Calamity on isfet!
Let none who we call Enemies
Against us in evil succeed.
Refrain
O come, Lord of the Pavilion
And wrap me in purest linen.
Guide me through the Duat
And make my heart light as ma’at.
Refrain

Hark! Nut, the Goddess Sings (Hark! The Herald Angels Sing)

1. Hark! Nut, the goddess sings;
“Glory to the new-born King;
Strength to Ra and shining skies,
Isfet’s defeat; Apep’s demise.
2. Joyful, all Egypt, arise.
Join the triumph of the Eyes.
With the goddesses proclaim,
“Heru is born and Osiris reigns!”
Hark! Nut, the goddess sings,
Glory to the new-born King.

Away in the Duat (Away in a Manger)

1. Away in the Duat, your heart in His hand,
The great god Anpu guides you through the Land.
The 42 gods look down upon you,
Anpu will fill your heart full of Truth.
2. The scales are not tipping, He’s balanced Them true
Djehuty testifies greatly for you.
Sing praise to Anpu, the Lord of the Knife,
Give gifts to Him who is Lord of Life.
3. Be near Lord of Heaven and King of the Gates,
Allow me to come to your Secret Place!
Lord of the Pavilion and Great in His Strength,
Bless me as I travel to the West!

Sekhmet We Have Heard on High (Angels We Have Heard on High)

Sekhmet we have heard on high
Roaring o’er the arid plains
And the sand dunes in reply
Uphold Her holy right to reign.
CHORUS:
Gloria, in excelsis Deae!
Gloria, in excelsis Deae!
People, why this fear in thee?
Why is all your faith so gone?
To whom do you praise and sing,
But a fearsome Eye of Ra!
Chorus
Come to Men Nefer and see
She who destroys enemies;
Come, with water and with meat,
For Sekhmet, the Desert Queen!
Chorus

Preparing for Writing

I decided I was going to try and take part in NaNoWriMo this year. So far it isn’t going excellent, but I did get something done today. Introspection. I have a book, Writing Begins with the Breath by Laraine Herring. It has exercises in it and, on top of just freewriting, I also did a particular exercise. I don’t mind sharing, because perhaps it’ll make others struggling to find their way feel better because they aren’t alone.

I don’t know if I can do this. NaNoWriMo is a big deal, it’s fifty thousand words. How could I possibly fill that many words and make them mean something? How can I create something that soothes my soul? I don’t even know what my soul wants, what it needs. I know that my god and goddess make me feel heard by the universe. I know they respond and care about me. I know that [Zolfyer] is someone I love deeply. He makes me feel safe and protected, from the world and myself. I trust him to look after me and give me love. I know I want a child, so strongly that it’s nearly desperate. I don’t know why I wish for that so incredibly, even as I find myself terrified of being responsible for another life. I know I love plants. They are quiet and soft, steady and strong. Their spirits are easy to connect to, and they make me feel alive. I can learn a lot from them and they quiet and steady me. I know I love animals and wish so often to be a wolf. They are beautiful animals, they love their pack and care for each other. Strong, quiet, soft. They suffer from harsh weather and the simplicity of fighting for your food. And yet, and yet I wish to be one. Patience. Cooperation. I love the night, the moon calls to me as a light calls a moth. It is the eye of my god watching me at times, and others it is a guiding light. One that soothes and reaches out. I love the setting sun and the dawn. The between, the horizon. A blazing death of the sun, shattering the skies with its power and gorgeousness, a cool birth that gains strength. Fall and spring, the very air is charged with a certain energy. Nature holds its breath, the in between curls around me. The cool air is safe and inviting, the plants preparing for death and sleep, the whole world preparing for it. The power of their spirits returning in spring, growing and spreading, reaching out to me. Trees whisper to wake each other.

Writing begins with this breath. The breath of change, the sigh of sleep, of release. The yawn of waking, of growing. The breath of the wind, the breath of nature, as it shifts, as it moves, as it cools and as it warms, the touch of rain, the wash of water, the heat of the sun. Ah, this is where writing begins. Everywhere around me it breathes, it searches, it stretches. It soothes.

Is this why I reach for my camera in spring and fall? Why I watch the blossoms grow and shift, why I love the black and white? How I miss taking pictures.

I’m finally going to do these exercises for this book. Here’s the first one.

When I am at a crossroads I…
stall. I run away or stand there as long as I possibly can doing nothing. I’ve no confidence in my ability to make decisions for myself, especially if they are important. Why should I be? They are often belittled or overridden, or both. Crossroads are scary places for me, because they are lined with those who question me so much that I cannot be certain of myself or their paths. These same people also have so many ideas, thoughts and suggestions (though they can often be called commands and instructions) that I have too much information and too many options. Then I am questioned more, interrogated even, and my confidence and willingness to cooperate is shot even more. When I finally make a decision, if it’s possible, it is still hounded and I am plagued with uncertainty and regret over whether I made the best decision. Either that or the decision is overturned and I am forced the way someone else thinks is the best way, if I’m given the ability to decide on my own in the first place. It is…counterproductive. I am not capable of relying on my own intuition and wisdom. I am not often given the benefit of the doubt as to whether I am able to make the appropriate decision for myself, on my own. I have been told that I am incompetent and unreliable, I am still told regularly that I am not an adult. I still have no respect. I am lost and stuck at crossroads, frozen and panic-stricken, heckled and doubted.

Change means…
loss. Initially I was going to go with the classic “fear”, but loss is what came out. Change is loss, you are losing the old for the new. You are leaving behind the security of the known for the unknown. Change is panic, change is annoying. Change is refreshing, yet it does not refresh. It is a way to move things along. The irony is that change may not purge stagnation, and even when it does, you may be so plagued by stress and aggravation that you feel no relief, even if it’s what you wanted. I have had many things in my life change, not all of them for the better, as all people experience. Recently I experienced change in the form of a new goddess. The Queen of Light and Dark, Persephone. She requested to work with me and Anpu and Aset agreed. They are even enthusiastic about Persephone’s presence. They think it is a good change of pace. She does not seem like one who will cause me undue duress, and has already reached out to me. How can I turn them down, when they all are so excited to help me? Yet, I still have no idea what She wants.

Fear means…
itself. I honestly do not know what to think about this. Fear is itself, it reaches into every corner of life to warn you, to hold you back. Sometimes it is unnecessary and unwelcome, but fear always has a purpose. It is always warning you of something, whether that be undesired revelations or the contents of the creepy closet. Fear is a catalyst, it will either hamper you or inspire you. Can you push past the barrier of fear to write? Can you understand why you’re afraid of what you write, and what you want to write? How can you use that fear to help you, to push you forward? Fear always reveals something; it reveals what you want, what you don’t want, what you hide and why. I hide from those who know me, for I fear they will read it and be angry or dismissive. “You’re not depressed, it is just being a teenager.” You’re not an adult until I say you are. You know nothing of that. You are liar, arrogance, selfishness. When you are told such things you begin to fear your perspective, your sanity, your mind and opinion. You begin fearing whether you are capable of truth and of knowledge. Can I be wise? Can I tell truth? Can my writing show selflessness and humility, while being true to myself and perspective? Is my mind valid?

Risk means…
Change and Terror. Panic, but a potentially worthy pursuit. Risk is exposure, it is weeping. You tear down your walls and put yourself out there, inviting the world to look at your wounds and scars. Will they see what you hope for, or what you always feared? Is risk worth it? You open yourself to criticism, to misunderstanding. You expose yourself to abuse and name-calling. Are you brave enough? Are you strong enough? Risk is gathering your strength, your hope, your trust and placing it on the block. Will you be lauded or crucified? Lynched or paraded? Will others see your truths, will they be helped or harmed? Who knows, but everywhere there is risk. You risk your life in so many ways every day. You risk your sanity, your health, all the time. Here, there be demons.