Being a Pagan of Color- Cultural Appropriation in Kemeticism

Hi ladies and gents and those in between, I’m back! For a while I’ve been trying to figure out this thing called life and religion, so my blog has run quiet for a while now. I’ll try and be more up to date, but I make no promises. I got this idea today to write about being a Pagan of Color, specifically a Black Pagan, since that is my primary identification and experience. If you have any suggestions for posts, feel free to ask and I will get back to you.

Today, however, I specifically wanted to talk about this accusation of cultural appropriation in Kemeticism. I really hate white people telling me what to do, but I hate it even more when they ignore my existence. See, in the community, especially on Tumblr, it seems like we have at least one person trolling some newbie Kemetic’s blog and telling them they’re racist and appropriating because they’re white. Or rather, because it’s assumed they’re white and that only white people are trying to be Kemetic. Um, no, for one thing I and many other black people exist in this community thanks.

Second, you can’t culturally appropriate from Ancient Egypt (modern Egypt, on the other hand, is a different story). Here’s why: first, Ancient Egypt was an open culture. They were so open a jumbo jet cargo plane could do loop-de-loops through it and not hit a closed door. Any closed doors were closed for reasons other than what culture you were from (like educational level). Second, Ancient Egypt didn’t have a modern concept of race. You were either foreign or you weren’t, and if you did the legal citizenship thing you were Egyptian. Sometimes you didn’t even need to do that, just assimilate enough of the culture and bam, Egyptian.

Let me just pause to make a particular point. The Ancient Egyptians were not black. Technically speaking, no one born and/or raised in Africa is black. They’re African. This is a very important distinction and the terms African and Black are NOT interchangeable. I am Black, I am not African. I will never be African and will always be black. My family tree stops at plantations and native tribes, with two branches reaching into the Philippines and Germany. I will never know my African heritage or anything about those ancestors, that is the legacy of slavery. I have been severed from that continent and can never connect with it again, not as an African, not even as a black person. What would I connect with? How? Africans may experience racism when they move to America, but they are not black. Their experience with racism and blackness is separate. They and their families didn’t go through slavery and the stripping of their culture and history, at least not at the hands of American slavekeepers. They cannot connect with Black culture the same way. Further, Africa has thousands of cultures and identities within it, you erase those when you equate Africans with Black people, just the same as you erase the heritage of Black people when you call them African. This is why most Blacks call themselves such, instead of African-American. If you meet an African immigrant or the children of said immigrants, you had better mind yourself and ask them what country/tribe/identity they hold and call them that. Do not insult them and erase their heritage by calling them Black. You’re proud of your Italian or Irish selves, they’re proud of their Yoruban, Eritrean or Nigerian, etc selves.

But the Ancient Egyptians were not black. Besides the fact they didn’t have the same concept of race, genetic studies have shown that they weren’t very different from modern Egyptians, who are Arabic and Semitic and otherwise Mediterranean. During ancient times, they were considerably mixed, due to their open culture and imperialistic ways (kind of like America, we’re a melting pot partly because we keep invading other countries and forcing them to assimilate our culture) as well as their relations with Nubia, parts of Europe, the Ancient Near East and parts of the Middle East. On the by and large though, they were Arabic and Semitic, just like they are now. Claiming cultural appropriation on these grounds is just ludicrous. They wanted their culture spread and weren’t black, no matter what Afrocentrists say (newsflash Afrocentric people, you’re not actually afrocentric you’re just obsessed with Egypt. There are thousands of supremely awesome cultures, both ancient and modern, in Africa that actually had what we would today consider of African descent, like Nubia, just to start with. You’re trying to erase history and a modern culture, and take something that was never yours, while ignoring and erasing the rest of the continent. Knock it off. Look up Shaka Zulu or something).

Next, Ancient Egypt is a DEAD culture and DEAD religion. It would be one thing if some part of the culture or religion was still alive, being used by modern descendants, but the culture died out in its entirety and was replaced. Extinct cultures are more eligible for use by modern people of all stripes. Further, the people of Ancient Egypt were not subject to modern issues of racism, oppression, imperialism and colonialism. It isn’t stealing and spitting in their faces, treating them and their culture like a commodity, a shiny thing, a unique thing to be used like paint to spruce up your life or be special. It isn’t ignoring their protests, their history, their suffering, it isn’t exercising privilege and disrespecting and discarding what they have to say and how they feel about their culture, or how their culture is viewed and used. It isn’t stereotyping and simplification, it isn’t stripping their identity down to a couple points and wearing it like makeup. Especially since their culture was open and imperialistic, meaning they wanted it to spread.

Lastly, there are black Kemetics! There are Kemetics of other races! It ain’t just white people looking for some shiny thing they can stick their hands in. It is true that we have some white members of the community who are racist and act grossly, but on the by and large white co-religionists do their damndest to be respectful and socially aware.

I’d also like to make a comment on this accusation that we’re disrespectful to our gods because of the Kemetic Fandom. Mind. Yo damn. Business. We don’t have hubris in Kemeticism. Our gods can defend themselves. And have you seen the Ancient Egyptians? They put puns in their hymns and prayers. They literally threatened the gods. They bribed them and identified as them for spellwork. They would identify each part of their body as a god to be even more powerful. Dick jokes are everywhere. They drew porn on walls for fuck’s sake. They were banned from practicing law in Roman courts because they weren’t serious enough and made too many jokes. Leave us the fuck alone and mind your fucking business. Why don’t you focus on your own divine relationships and religious practice instead of wasting your time trying to boss us around? Keep in mind that just because you see a lot of jokes doesn’t mean we’re not serious behind the scenes, or that we don’t take our gods and religion seriously. We do, but we’re not obligated to show that to you or tell you about it, especially when you barge in bossing us around according to your standards and disrespecting us and treating us poorly. You aren’t the be all, end all of religions and piety. You don’t have a right to define anyone’s practice or judge whether someone is “serious enough”. Handle your own business and we’ll handle ours.

So that’s my take. Questions, comments and concerns are welcome, and if you have suggestions for other topics (keep in mind that I am primarily black and will not write about other races and their struggles as pagans, nor will I comment on lgbt issues as a straight passing bisexual) say so!

 

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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.

Change

I’ve gone through one hell of a rough time recently. Depression has hit me like a sack of building, to the point of a panic attack and the worst dissociative episode I’ve ever had. Then there’s the heat, and ugh, I am extremely sensitive to heat and humidity. Not only does it make me feel horribly sick, yucky and sluggish, but high heat and humidity is strongly associated with more asthma flares. Why? Well, that would be because high heat and humidity contributes to smog and increases the concentration of pollution and pollen. Pollution and heat combined are by far my worst asthma triggers aside from dust, mold and very frigid air (usually plus exercise). I can take my various plant allergies, they usually just make me a sneezy, sniffly, red-eyed mess, but that smog man, that smog.

As followers may know, I struggle with depression quite regular and it fucks me over spiritually. On top of that, I still don’t know what’s causing these neurological-type symptoms. I do know that the exhaustion of a week-long asthma flare (don’t ever tell an asthmatic that they shouldn’t be tired after a flare. ever.), the struggle of the suffocating heat and my depression has made the last week and a half pure hell. This stress has made me seriously reconsider what I’m doing religiously/spiritually. I’ve mused on it for a while now, trying to figure out where I’m going, where I want to be, and if I’m on the right path. This recent spell of trouble has really spurred me to reevaluate.

For a while I feel like I’ve floundered. I prefer more structure and it’s hard to find that in Kemeticism that isn’t the overwhelming priestly stuff. The vagueness of ma’at only makes it more frustrating. Don’t get me wrong, I love the netjer and I like and identify with a lot of the religious system. I love the mythology as well, and I love the community. I just, can’t figure out my head from my ass at home. I also like having things to do, which sounds weird from someone who enjoys worship, but I like goals and activities. Making shit up doesn’t work that well for me, as a depressed, sick introvert my brain works a little slow. Focus is hard to come by, so is energy, and clarity of thought or signal? Ha, surely you kid. Intense anxiety over my sanity is no picnic.

The other thing though, is that, despite my love of the netjeru, I can’t seem to connect with any of them. It’s not so much they don’t want me, a couple of them have at least shown interest and I could probably be confident that Aset is one I could rely on, but I really don’t feel connected to them. I understand that I’ve picked a quiet god, but I’m starting to think our relationship has changed, and we will no longer be the same devotee-devoted. I will likely still give him attention and pray to him, but I don’t think we’re the right fit for each other and I imagine he figured that out way before I did. Supposedly Kali is interested, I’ve received feedback from several avenues, but I really don’t know enough about Hinduism and lack the focus to learn what I feel is necessary to honor her properly. Further, she’s usually worshiped in a Tantric manner and I’m not interested in that form of worship. I can’t seem to find much for bhakti though, which frustrates me more. I am leaving space for her on my shrine, and if she wants me that badly she can chase me down and give the resources I need.

So now, I’m trying to focus on various questions that will help me pick a new direction. I need a focus, an aim, of what I should be looking for and learning about. I’m going to ask and answer them here, because recording things is good for me, and writing helps me organize my thoughts. Within three days I intend to change the name of this blog as well as its partner on Tumblr. As far as my tumblr goes, I mostly post social justice things to it, and so it doesn’t reflect what it was originally intended for. I will likely create another tumblog and connect this wordpress to that instead. Make no mistake, I won’t be leaving the kemetic community, they are totally awesome and I have a lot of friends there. I will just no longer identify as Kemetic unless a netjer tracks me down and drags me back.

What do I like? Well, I like reading, crochet, video games, wolves, dogs, cats, rabbits, the nighttime. Dinosaurs, dragons, werewolves. I like twilight and daybreak, sunrises and sunsets. I like the moon, I like streams, lakes and rivers. I have a love-hate with the ocean, it’s much to rough and large for me, the energy is overwhelming (and hydrophobia, fear of drowning, doesn’t help). I love plants, good heavens I love me some plants. Forests are awesome, especially mountain forests. Cool, autumn and spring weather. I like the quiet and slowdown of nature during fall and the quiet, waking up of spring. It helps that my asthma is best behaved during these months when extreme weather and high pollution aren’t usually concerns, and although I have plenty of allergies, they don’t usually make me too miserable. I’m fond of storms, but really I enjoy rain, mist and fog. It has a softness, gentleness to it that can shield you. I love after storms have passed, I’m not much for the buildup beforehand. I also like medicine, the body and helping people. I like the mind, even though it’s a pretty scary place. I like healing. I also like trying new things and thinking up wacky ideas, and I like my myths and anime. I could probably swing pop culture paganism.

What do I need out of a religious system? Support. Focus. Goals. Structure. Not necessarily church-level or something, just an established system and set of rules and guidelines to work within. Lattice-work to build on, basically. I also want a god-relationship. It’s just something I prefer, and was really a big reason I left Christianity to begin with. Another thing perhaps is energy work and other kinds of magic and spirit-y things.

What motivates me? Mostly other people. I’m not a self-starter, not for myself. Helping and caring for others is a big motivator for me. Oh, you need something? Oh, you fucked up and need help fixing it? Let me get started on that. Not very helpful when going after something for oneself is it? I haven’t yet found what motivates me for me yet, except perhaps enjoyment of a task, but even then it can be difficult. I’m really stuck in my head, I think about many different things, and I am an imaginer and worldbuilder at heart. I create elaborate things in my mind, and I can sit around all day daydreaming and creating a story, or thinking about my various interests, likes and values. INFP fits me well.

What makes me feel safe? Blankets, my sister and boyfriend. Silence and near silence. Classical music. Plants, especially trees, forests, mountains. Mist, fog and light rain. Cool weather with a soft wind. Low light, such as after a storm, at night, twilight and daybreak. I am a night owl and am often awake when others are asleep. I won’t be bothered, things are quiet, I’m not stressed by having to interact or be attuned to them. Hugs and physical affection, unless I am painfully and desperately overwhelmed. I’m a serious introvert and an empath, and tactile stimulation, auditory intensity and crowds upset me. This makes winter very hard, because the tactile stimulation of heavy clothes, shoes and coats often lowers my people tolerance, makes me tired and more emotionally volatile. Being affectionate to someone I’m close to is very soothing for me, people who know me IRL know I like hugs, poking, tickling etc, and that I can often be seen patting, stroking or touching Zolfyer. What can I say, he makes me feel safe and calm. Dogs and cats make me feel safe, pictures of wolves and african painted dogs as well. Stuffed animals.

What helps me focus? Music mostly, and talking to myself. Writing helps as well, as does crocheting. Visualization is a toss-up, but having a tactile focus greatly helps. I’m a hands-on learner, and I remember written words better than pictures or spoken words. Making my own charts, graphs, etc helps me remember and focus. Going over something with someone else, or teaching someone, also helps. I’m not a people person but helping others or working with a small group is a good way for me to work, especially if I can direct while working along them. This is why magic is more difficult for me, learning by hand, by trial and error, needing skills that aren’t necessarily tactile, having no one to help or discuss things with, etc, make it hard for me to find a system that works, especially because I’m very sensitive to the movement of energy within myself and working with energy is a bitch since it isn’t really tactile. It is, but not in the same way as, say, crocheting.

What do I enjoy with spiritual and energetic things? I enjoy the learning, the reading, the imagining. I enjoy feeling (there goes that INFP again) both emotionally and physically. The problem of course is that I’m a typical Scorpio with really intense emotions and so feeling can quickly cross from enjoyable to overwhelming and scary. I enjoy singing as well, which I’ve discovered is a good way to raise energy, though what kind I couldn’t exactly tell you. It’s more a way to focus than anything, but that doesn’t make it less valuable. I’ve yet to figure out a way I can use this consistently to my advantage. Dealing with plants is also fun.

What do I want out of a deity/spirit relationship? I don’t entirely know. I know I want a focus. I enjoy worship and veneration (gods if I can find somebody who has some hymns or something whose music isn’t lost omg) as well as playfulness. Having been with the netjer I value at least some looseness and willingness to tolerate sass and frustration. I want to feel protected, like I can rely on them to help me and be there for me when I reach out. I certainly need one who talks and interacts more. I know I need pushing, especially for shadow work, but I also need a soft touch, because I am diamond, so hard that I’m quite brittle. Or perhaps glass would be a better analogy, seeing as how you need diamond to cut glass, but it shatters quite easily. It’s forged in fire or from lightning, but so easily hurt. I suppose that means I need a glassworker. I certainly need to feel like they’re reliably there for me, fear of abandonment and loneliness is strong with this one.

What do I want my spirituality to do for me? Be a support system. Be a place I can turn when I am flailing, desperate and crushed. I need it to be reliable, consistent, motivating me to better myself. Giving me at least some direction in how to better myself. Interesting and able to be innovated. I also want to learn more about healing on various levels of energy and planes. I want to feel like I’m doing something, and not just wandering around aimlessly. I’d like to be traversing clouds for a purpose since I always have my head in them.

 

As usually happens when I have these issues, I talked to my twin. She had this to say

My intuition has been in high mode (thanks Neptune retrograde you sneaky bastard). I feel like we are looking at stuff and expecting something to crop up like Christianity, as far as having a big community and structured weekly rituals. Now, i know that you need structure more than I do, and you’ll probably do better if you can find a group that you can actually see and meet with.

I can agree with her here. I definitely do enjoy worship in groups, and having someone to talk to and play around with magic and energy work (and gods, give me feedback and practice!) would be very useful for me. Which will likely influence what sorts of things I’ll look in to, since many paths are small and don’t have widespread groups.

The other thing I realized is that the city makes me very tense. I don’t usually notice or realize just how stuffed up and tense I am until I go somewhere else, like visiting the mountains or something. It’s hard to let that tension go too, but escaping the hard, crackly, dense energy of the city for the energy of the mountains and forests is definitely a noticeable difference in my health on all levels. I’ve always loved plants, especially trees, and of course mountains and bodies of water have their own spirits as well. I imagine this very much connects with my wolfishness. My sister also mentioned that she very clearly thinks of me as a green witch, and I know how much I love water despite my drowning fear. Lakes and rivers are very awesome and quite calming, while also deeply foreboding in the way of a good horror movie. It’s an excitement, much like the night. The night is shielding, enveloping, but it is also dangerous in a much different way than the daytime. The same goes for fog and mist, weather I love, not only for being interesting and cool, but for being quiet and shielding as well, for having that same horror movie pulse that makes you take a deep breath and lean forward in your seat, waiting for the jump scare you know is coming and hoping to be surprised.

I think this will be good enough to make some kind of headway somewhere. Who knows. Any suggestions from ya’ll? I enjoy reading, so I don’t mind lots of suggestions or information.

Oscillating Mind

So, when I first got into this pagan thing I glossed over something. Literally as soon as I dropped searching for an alternative christian path and pursued paganism, Kali showed up everywhere. Actually, she was there even when I was looking at alternative christian paths. She was on my Facebook every day, she showed up on my deviantart, I probably would’ve seen her on tumblr if I had one when I started. The people posting pictures of her weren’t even devotees, even my future kemetic friends had some. It was crazy.

I ignored it all. I was scared of her, she’s gorgeous and terrifying. Seriously, she had tusks and a demon head in her hand and loads of people (all white and non-devotees now that it think of it) made sure to paint her as super dangerous and frightening and basically said she would eat me. I’m fairly certain at least one person did literally say she would eat me. So, I ran away and pursued kemeticism and Anpu. Do I regret starting kemeticism? Not at all. Do I regret not approaching Kali? Yeah, I do. Thing is, I still can’t get over my fear. I also don’t know what I really want out of my religious life anymore.

I thought I knew, and then I realized I don’t. I thought I knew what gods I wanted to hang out with and thankfully he wasn’t mean or nasty to the dipshit running in circles. I don’t know what I’m doing (I’m so bad without frameworks) and I’m lazy and don’t have the energy or concentration I used to on top of it. I’ve been spinning my wheels for a long while and I’ve no clue how to get out of this rut.

Well, the scary blue/black lady who slays demons pops into my head again. She’s good at the rut stuff, at breaking them up. She’s a lot like Sekhmet, now that I think of it. A super scary, destructive goddess who is also a loving mother and will whomp you to get up and dry your tears and pat your hair. Buuuut, you don’t see me waltzing over to Sekhmet cavalierly either. *sigh*

well, here’s my question to the gods then. Anpu, what’s your opinion? What should I do here? How do I get out of this rut? What would you like? Do you mind? Kali, depending on the jackal’s answers, I don’t promise anything, but what do you think? Are you still open to me? And please, both of you, be clue-by-four to the face obvious.

To the humans, I am totally open to advice, opinion, conversation and whatnot.

Password Protect Your Perils

This is hardly the first time this will be mentioned, nor will it be the last. I’m hardheaded and stubborn, so naturally I didn’t really take the advice seriously to use passwords in my practice. I didn’t think I would need one. Little me doing spirit work or flouncing around on the astral? No chance.

Oh naïve me, you’re a dumbass.

I’ve seen a bunch of great posts on passwords in a practice, but something bothered me. There didn’t seem to be anything reminding people that they don’t have to be actual words.

Maybe I’m just blind and forgetful. What I mean is, it can be several words, it can be a phrase, it can be a sound, sight, smell, touch. A memory. It can be an idea or subject, it can be a specific use of magic or illusion, or manifesting a particular thing in a particular way. A literal secret handshake even.

All these thoughts came to me while trying to make up my own password. I don’t know what other beings see when they look at me, so I had to be cautious not to pick anything too obvious or that could be easily guessed just by looking at my energy or companions. I worship a Jackal and I bangs with wolves Over There (for those of you unfamiliar with AAVE, “bangs with” means friends with, chills with, greatly enjoys, has great affection for, hangs out with, etc). At this point I’m practically part of a pack. However, because of how brains work I now could only think of pretty straightforward stuff, like wolves or jackals, and I even tossed out anything that had to do with kids or healing. Can’t do water or scorpions, snakes or anything like that either.

Since I didn’t want it to be too difficult or too much effort, I left it off for a moment and one of my songs started playing on my phone and I had my answer. I have several favorite songs, but I don’t sing in the astral (would be interesting though). My “password” is to sing a favorite song. Since I sing those songs IRL for fun, as offerings, to power my wards, to entertain, and to soothe myself, Z and Dapper, it seems like a good deal. They know at least three each, so there isn’t a reason they can’t sing one. Since there’s more than one, if I’m still suspicious I can just ask for another.

All in all, don’t be a stubborn dummy like me. Passwords don’t have to be actual words, and they can be helpful even in the event of shenanigans on this plane. Use your imagination, play on your strengths as well, keep your practice safe.

Magic Considerations

So, I’ve been thinking extensively about magic recently. I’ve always been interested in magic and witchcraft, but so far I haven’t really found a system that works for me. Some of it is laziness. I don’t want to remember all these words, or gather all these materials, and perform all this ritual (don’t get me wrong, I love ritual, but I’m not inclined to do it for spellwork). It’s also expensive (and yes, I know there are plenty of inexpensive substitutes for things, but it still costs me money and pulls from household resources that have to be replaced). All the pomp and prettiness is actually fairly distracting, and it often puts me off wanting to do it at all. Questions of effectiveness pop up as well. Further, I have a cat and boyfriend to worry about, and nothing is more distracting than other creatures wondering what you’re doing and is it possible for you to make a snack. (I kid, Z is actually really good about that stuff, especially if I warn him beforehand. Though, he has been known to be mega distracting if he’s very bored and/or hungry.) So, doing more “traditional” spellwork is difficult, because getting the stuff and doing the ritual is tricky. Not to mention, keeping all of that stuff out of the way where my stupid kitten can’t hurt herself on it or injure it. I had to move my feather representing ma’at because she played with it when I wasn’t in the room.

This complicated relationship with more traditional, physical magic has made me consider how to make my own shit up. I was pretty successful with the last couple batches of heka, but I still feel like doing more. I’m still working on heka usage and how to make it work even better, especially because I do still need some physical component. I know, I’m difficult. The other thing is I’m still not really sure what will actually be useful to me. For example, the popular visualization of connecting with roots to the earth and drawing up earth energy, as well as popular grounding techniques, don’t work for me. Earth energy leaves me feeling wired and sick and I can’t get rid of it, no matter what I do to ground. I simply have to wait for it to dissipate, which can take a couple of days. This is also my problem with heka, I somehow manage to draw up too much energy and then can’t get rid of it all. Maybe that’s more about the common heka practice of identifying oneself with a god and commanding from their authority, but it’s still an issue. Another issue is that, since my hospitalization last year, my body has a lower tolerance for anything woo or magical. Most magical systems don’t/can’t take this into account, and often don’t have suggestions for those who find themselves incompatible with the energy used or getting sick from trying to use it.

And now I realize that I’m complaining about ableism in magic and paganism. Hmm. So, I’ve been trying to think of ways to overcome these obstacles and figure out magic that will work for me. I’m very much a physical and intuitive touch person. Especially in the astral, I will know you more by your energy and other incorporeal sensation than by your face or voice. I have excellent visualization skills, but even that ties into my sense of touch (feeling my visualizations gives more clarity). I also know that this quirk does mean I need something physical to help focus and such, but I don’t know what to use yet. Also still puzzling that out, but it does make crochet magic fairly viable. There’s limitations even to that though, because not all crochet projects can be done in one sitting, and it’s tough to maintain focus for extended lengths, especially if you’re using words. On top, distraction also plays a role here, because cats and yarn, and because humans need/want stuff and crochet can be put down mid-stitch. This can all serve to derail crochet magic in progress, especially if it’s a larger or more complex project.

I was thinking of doing more research into elemental magic (it works well for me, but earth magic isn’t compatible with me), especially because plants are very helpful beings and I have plants. However, finding info is hard and it often still requires more physical objects and ingredients than I might like. I also want to learn more about healing, on this plane and in the astral. Recently though, someone brought up some different ideas. False doors (a common thing in ancient egypt) and mirrors. Now, I don’t know much about mirror magic but it’s an interesting thought. I do know a little about false doors. Mirrors so far seem to be excellent for traveling and trancing, protection (mentioned specifically for warding a false door) as are knives. I don’t know how to safely do anything much with knives, it was just a thought that came in handy during an astral trip and I stabbed the shit out of a vampire. Obviously knives are also excellent for protection.

The other thing is I was thinking of poppets more. I mentioned a little while ago, probably on my tumblr, that I really liked someone’s suggestion of using stuffed animals as guardians and familiars. I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while, mainly about what I’d want the animal to be and what I’d want them to do. I also recently thought of using poppets and sympathetic magic more. Something I definitely need to learn more about, but it’s a start.

The problem, as I mentioned a few paragraphs ago, is finding something I can do with low energy and difficulty concentrating. The fact that my body does not react favorably to magic (or at least what I’ve been trying) and astral traveling or such while awake is a major roadblock. I can’t get through as much of a book or focus on research in one sitting as I used to. Having the eternal struggle of rpg, video games and fiction coming up in search results makes it even harder to effectively utilize when I do have energy and focus. The fact that the vast majority of magic information resources don’t consider those who are chronically ill, fatigued or otherwise lacking in mental or physical stability and ability, if they don’t outright tell us to go away until we get better. Yeah, yeah, I’m not mentally stable, my low energy and asthma and pain and whatever causes this twitching and shaking makes me mildly disabled, but I’m not going to not do magic. It’s seriously ableist and a major dick move to tell sick people they can’t do cool, interesting, and fun things simply because they aren’t healthy. To tell someone who is chronically ill and will probably never 100% recover, if they ever started in “optimal” health to begin with, that they aren’t allowed to do something and will be refused knowledge, is an asshole thing to do. Give us warnings, teach us how to be safe and utilize our limits, don’t just shun us. Unfortunately, even in magic and paganism, neurodivergence, chronic illness and disability is still shunned and ignored. Hence my problem.

So, what say any of you? Any ideas for me to try? Books or other resources to recommend?

Quiet Jackals and Silent Wolves

In January I had a very serious mental health crisis. I probably should have gone to the hospital, it was that serious. However, I am poor and black and Z doesn’t know enough about mental health and the health system to know when to take me and how to keep me safe and cared for once I’m there. It was rough. The issue of mental health in the pagan community is a touchy topic. There are a lot of people with issues, and way too much fluffy, bad abusive, nasty or ableist advice for them. There’s good advice obviously, but oh do humans love to fling shit. I avoided this issue by not bringing it up outside of my safe spaces where I’m surrounded by supportive, loving people who know what I’m talking about when I mention my suffering. Yesterday one of those people made an interesting post responding to something on tumblr. One of her suggestions for resolving the problem she discussed is what has finally brought me back to my blog.

One of the problems I had during this severe bout of depression and suicidality was paranoia. Truly I have not felt such powerful paranoia in my short life, especially towards my spiritual life. The fact that I’ve been harassed by a malevolent spirit for two or three months only magnified the issue. I couldn’t discern anything. Was I being tricked? Was I being attacked? Is this really Dapper or Anpu, Kali or Aset? Even though I cleansed and warded and purified, was my house still vulnerable? Was I? Did I cut the link the spirit was using to hurt me? Were Z’s nightmares tied to this? Was Dapper ok? Was any of this even real or a very long lasting and elaborate delusion? Was I sicker and crazier than I ever thought I was? What if I had really done nothing but hallucinate, or worse, I’d been abandoned?

I can attest the post-breakdown Fallow Time is one of the most difficult and agonizing types of Fallow Periods. It felt like everything was wrong, like nothing was real, like I couldn’t be sure about anything. The fact I do derealize when my depression is very severe made it worse. Even the slightest nudge or attempt to contact was muddled and confused. I couldn’t figure out what anyone was saying or what anyone wanted, if I was even sensing them, if I was doing it correctly (I know, silly to think you could feel something incorrectly, but you’d be surprised if you don’t have a sensory issue or mental health problem and have a firm security in your perception of sensations). One thing that still pops up is whether I’m actually even wanted or poking around at the “right god”. Does Anpu really want me? Am I bothering Him or being useful in any way? Should I reach out to other gods? Am I even actually sensing other gods? Do they want me? Would any of this shit I’m thinking about doing be even the least bit useful or beneficial?

Why, oh why, dear gods and goddesses, was it so. fucking. unbearably. horrifically. silent?

Not that it mattered that it was silent. In the intensity of my fear and paranoia that I was being tricked or suckered by an opportunistic spirit or the bitch demon who attacked me made me shove away anything I did sense in abject panic. I didn’t (and don’t) know if my wards are anything more than pathetic little screens, with the gracious help of three and a half plants (cuttings of two of the plants, still just branches with little roots) and a dinosaur. I don’t know if my cleansing and purification, all the magic and heka I attempted, actually worked and will keep that spirit bitch away. I don’t know if her hold is broken. And for whatever reason every divination I’ve done (asked for from others, and not done for myself) keeps mentioning being wary of new help from nowhere and new people.

While my panic has settled down immensely, the worry and concern is still there. Especially because I still don’t know what to do about Anpu. See, it’s not that he’s ever mean or anything, nothing of the sort, I just don’t know what to make of him. I get this sense when I look at him. It isn’t anger or rejection or anything clear and obvious, it’s simply a very uncomfortable and confusing sensation. It incites worry. More like he’s looking at me, wondering what exactly to do with me. I’ve had this feeling ever since I started down this path, and it has made me question my path choice just as much as my god choice. However, I always come back here, because even though plenty of religions make sense to me and have elements I’m looking for, this is the one that works, sorta, and I’m trying not to give up or dish out when there isn’t precisely anything wrong and nothing else is reaching out to me the same way.

I know that Dapper doesn’t come as close, probably worried that his presence is bad for my health or could adversely affect me or attract attention. His concern has some rational basis, I’ve found that I cannot try and actively astral anymore and need to be wary of physical-astral contact or connection. It seems to aggravate whatever it is that causes me to twitch and shake even a year past when I initially went to the hospital. Magic on this plane is also a little harder and wears me out more. Not to mention, Dapper does have enemies and interacts with less than savory characters (his job is not an easy one) and is very strong. His weak, mewling human is an easy target. Especially easy when she can barely control any magic, astral transformations or effectively ward. I wouldn’t be surprised if Anpu asked him to stay back for a while as well.

I mention all this to a purpose, not simply to inform or lament that my mental health sucks (which it does). My friend’s suggestion in that tumblr post was that, a way to help others is write to them about your experiences and how you deal with it. Help others learn to cope and change the narrative. Unfortunately I can’t say I have any sage advice, since I’m only just pushing past the giant wall in my spirit between me and my shrine and still struggling to figure out what I do next. But, I want people to know they aren’t alone in their suffering at least, that I understand such problems, such pain, down to my bones. Heh, even my shadow shudders in pain at times, and I feel my astral wolf self bare fangs and growl. She doesn’t like the pressure and agony of depression either.

Plenty of people will tell you a truth, that it is possible to get through it, that things change and get better. I also understand your truth, that change is a long time coming more often than not, that relief is usually difficult and very incomplete and often rife with fear that it will break again, which it usually does.  I understand the truth that knowing relief will come rarely brings as much hope as we’d like, or eases the stranglehold of our broken spirits. We know it’s supposedly temporary, that our minds are telling us lies so powerful it shakes our bodies, our faith, our souls. We know many truths intellectually. We also know one particularly bitter truth, and that is that the lies feel so intense, so true, that it can be easier to believe them sometimes, or to ignore the truths of hope, because waiting for that hope to manifest is unbearable. Because being told those truths can cause the clamp of our illness’ lies to worsen, because sure we know we’ll get relief in theory, but when will it come? And when it does come, will it last, and will I survive to get there? That is one of the hardest questions to ask, because it is so difficult to answer.

It sucks. To put it far, far too simply. The fear hurts. The doubt hurts. The stifling silence definitely hurts. But you’re not by yourself. Even though the tension is suffocating, I’ve got a cozy blanket and your favorite hot drink. I’ve got your pet and my pet and we can watch them play. Tell me your favorite internet thing and what encouragement you really need and I’ll always show up when I see you suffering with those things. You’ve got a friend here. Misery loves company for many reasons.

Maybe we can try and come up with ways to hold out until the crashing stops together. Or at least I’ll crawl out of my hole and remind you that I care, that I appreciate your presence. That even if I don’t say much I’m peeking out from under my rock, looking at you with the eyes of a kitten, wondering if you’re ok, if you need me to jump out at you and half-startle you into a smile and wrestle with your feet. And if you do, I’ll bring damn near anything I can possibly bring to give you even a smidgen of relief. So, there’s that at least.