love is not enough

•April 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

Love is not enough.

Today I ran across this article via a dear friend, and as I’m a priest of a love goddess, it is relevant to my interests and therefore this blog’s content. Don’t believe anyone–human, god, dog, spirit–who says that love is enough. Love is only one element of life and it is no more important than any other.

Most importantly, buried down at the end is the crucial corollary: there is enough love. There is more. If this love is broken or polluted, set it down and proceed directly to the next, cleaner and healthier love in your area. There is more love. Always more love.

You Are Not Forgiven

•February 12, 2017 • Leave a Comment

The Kemetic faith does not confer a guarantee of forgiveness. There is no abstract absolution, disconnected from the real life cause-and-effect we have to live with. You can’t sit in a box and be assigned some unrelated penance in exchange for a bare confession of error.

Our ethics are firmly rooted in living life, in our actions and inactions and what flows from them.

We make choices. We suffer the consequences, whatever they are. Where those consequences have unpleasant or undesired or unintended effects on ourselves or our environment or other people, we take steps to reverse or mitigate the damage.

We forgive ourselves through acting to intentionally create and contribute to ma’at when we find that we have–intentionally or not–contributed to isfet. We forgive ourselves by learning from our mistakes and not repeating them, as well as holding ourselves up as examples of what not to do. We forgive others who work to fix what they have done that caused harm. We forgive by supporting them in their work, and they forgive us by supporting us in kind. There is no ma’at without this forgiveness-through-action. There is no ma’at with lip-service apologies that are divorced from ownership of wrongdoing. Forgiveness creates itself from our actions. It doesn’t come from the gods, it comes from us.

This is the forgiveness of the Kemetic faith. Do the gods forgive us when we cause harm or make mistakes? Of course they do. But their forgiveness is not what matters most. We live in the Seen World. We have responsibilities primarily to what happens here. What is the forgiveness of a god when a person leaves a wake of misery behind them? What good is divine comforting when we continue to cause or avoid facing the damage we have caused?

Our hearts can only balance against the feather of ma’at in our final judgments if we create  forgiveness through our own human actions, not through the blessings of our gods.

Shame

•April 17, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Shame has no purpose in kemetic discourse. Shame builds nothing and is not effective criticism. Shame only wounds, and blocks avenues for discussion that could lead to growth through exchange of ideas between people with differing perspectives. At best, it is futile dick-waving. At worst, shame poisons the well and encourages both the shamer and the target to defend themselves by being more entrenched in their positions.

I refuse to link to any of the most recent examples, because the specifics of who’s shaming what are less important than the fact that there are people who think it’s a valid, sensible, or useful thing to do. It’s anything but. Shaming is only a way for the shamer to vent frustration. It’s emotionally driven and seeks to inspire an emotional response in someone else. It is not an effective tool to challenge ideas and practices you find to be problematic. It doesn’t make a person look smart or righteous; it’s an immature and irrational tactic and seems to be used when a person has nothing useful to say but wants others to know how upset they are.

If you do not like the world as it is, you need to build your own something rather than cutting down someone else’s. You may see what you think are flaws in what someone else is doing. Most of them aren’t important–they’re just things that don’t appeal to you and so you are justified in ignoring them or explaining why you don’t do them. You aren’t ever justified in belittling or shaming people who do things different from you.

If you don’t like the Kemetic landscape as it is now, think about why things are as they are–not just your self-serving assumptions (hint: all your assumptions are initially self-serving; you can’t change anything until and unless you develop skill at questioning your own assumptions and motivations). Think about what you want, why you want it, and how it can be achieved. Then do those things. And if you’re not willing to do that work, then shut up. It should go without saying that if you are engaged in doing that work, you’ll be too busy to write up shaming blog posts.

Just stop wasting time and energy and discussion space on attempts to shame. It’s not useful and it makes all Kemetics look bad. Stop it.

embracing blasphemy

•December 1, 2015 • 3 Comments

Periodically there are arguably creative works that appear in the world that feature my gods. Ninety percent of the time they are nothing like my experience of those gods. The remaining ten percent ranges from “meh” to “right on!” This means I was faced with a choice fairly early on as a noob to Kemetic religion: perpetual rage or perpetual shoulder shrugging at the 90%. I chose the latter.

There’s a new movie coming out that is, unsurprisingly, not historically accurate. Or mythologically accurate. And so the offense starts bubbling around. Again. I think it’s fair to point out that when the movies are fun, no one is ever that offended, but if they’re dull or incomprehensible it’s time to stoke the moral outrage.

Our gods give not one fuck about a movie or all the movies. They really don’t. Or porn featuring a certain goddess. Or caricatures involving cats and dogs. They really, really don’t. And I have never once seen how these things affect my life in any actual, definable way apart from my decision to feel offense or not.

Back in my childhood, I always found the seriousness of Catholic rituals to be kind of hilarious. If you look at them literally, the rites and their magic words are just as outside of normal life as anything from a fantasy novel. The same held true for every other church I’ve attended over the years. I still found/find them beautiful in their particular ways, though, so I am a perpetual weirdo–a believer who nonetheless laughs her ass off at religion. Even worse, I also thoroughly enjoy blasphemy.

Everything from foul language that invokes gods in tasteless manners to my own embarrassingly public attempts at intoning the Eucharistic Doxology in exactly the same way my old priest would to the more explicit blasphemy displayed by The Tiger Lillies [click at your risk]. I find it all delightful. Really. That song, and many others by those depraved gentlemen and others who are just as wrong can fill me with absolute joy and shake all despair from my soul. I realize how fucked up that sounds. (I have theories about this phenomenon, but that’s one hell of a tangent; I’ll stick to blasphemy here). Part of  this is because . . . this is not actual blasphemy.

I find “blasphemy” to be precious and adorable. It’s hilarious on a cosmic scale: the thought that a vulgar comment about Hethert (who, come on, could out-vulgar any of us with both hands tied behind her back [heh]) or any other god could fundamentally damage anything other than my relationship with the blasphemer. If someone’s being legitimately hateful about my religion, they’re doing it in other areas of life and therefore need to get out of my life. But your garden variety crass blasphemy? How exactly does that hurt me unless I decide I’m so delicate that I can’t bear to hear sassy talk? I decide every day to be more resilient than that.

So bring it on. I’ll bring the popcorn. It will be awful and inaccurate and unintentionally hilarious. People will see it and no one will be unnaturally repelled by our gods and the sun will rise again. It will be fine.

Actual blasphemy is of course a thing I recognize in the world. The atrocities people commit against their fellow creatures are what we should revile. But I guess it’s easier to get up in arms about the little things. Oh hey, there’s another atrocity for you.

15 Years in the Kemetic Community

•April 17, 2015 • 2 Comments

My exact 15-year anniversary of the day I said yes to Hathor and a few others is still a little bit away, but the urge to contemplate my position and what my time on this journey has taught me has been strong lately. So the two cents I’ve amassed over this time, fwiw:

1. These Gods are My Gods

I turn around to see where I have been and the first thing that occurs to me is that it is right and good for me to be here, in the company of these gods. They are good to me, they nurture me, they guide me, and when it has been too much of a struggle to cleave to them, they have given me lifelines to remind me that even when I can’t hear them they are ever with me.

Of all things I have lost faith in these years, my gods are not among them. For me, they have been rock solid. Not because they are loud and “talk” to me in words and elaborate visions. I rarely have dramatic experiences with my own gods, although one or two others have been very intense at times (which are stories for other days). My gods interact with me the way I interact with others: quietly. It’s appropriate and forces me to slow down and quiet my mind, two things I need to do often anyway, in order to be effective in my worship of and service to them. I am grateful to them for existing and for helping me to be a better me by working with me and showing me the things about myself I need to see, even when they are not pretty things.

I look back and I would not change a thing about my time with my gods. The journey together has not been perfect but it has been good, and I look forward to many more imperfect but deeply satisfying years with them.

2. This Community is not My Community

It may not even be a community, so much as a collection of people who talk about similar things at each other.

This is the perpetual frustration–my private religious life (my interactions with the gods) has been almost constantly satisfying, while my communal religious life has been up and down and often times more down than up.

I have been in two temples. I have participated in more public forums and private forums than I can remember right now, from small to large, from temple-only to interfaith to pan-Kemetic. At most, I have found small pockets of reliable community within larger groups. Primarily, my experience of the larger Kemetic world has been a profound and consistent disappointment. The problem, as I have come to see it, is that Kemetic* community refuses to grow up. This creates an atmosphere where sincere people burn out quickly and disappear or stick around and become closed off and cynical, insecure bullies stomp around abusing everyone in an attempt to control all discourse, and generally nothing useful gets done.

You don’t have to believe me. I’m not trying to convince anyone of anything. I’m too tired and too I’ve-got-a-real-life to scour the internet for links to support for my opinion. It’s just an opinion. Like it or lump it.

I think I am not alone in these observations, though. At a certain point you notice that certain people don’t just like to look superior, they need it. They go hunting for people who are wrong. They like to point out wrongness and explain how and why it’s wrong and gloat over being correct. You notice that they never have anything supportive to say about anyone who isn’t doing exactly what they are doing. They often make the biggest overtures toward “interfaith” discussion, but when it comes to actually cooperating on any tangible project with people who are in any way different, even people who honor the same gods, it doesn’t work. There are exceptions, but they are rare and those exceptions that appear to be a group effort are often just one or two people who are doing the actual work while the rest flap their gums and look important. When the real workers burn out, the project will collapse.

It all seems to come down to insecurity and the shitty ways we cope with feeling inadequate and adrift.

I see it in the constant attempt of people to define themselves as “the REAL ______” and others as fakers or idiots or noobs or whatever and to insist on their expertise while cutting down everyone else’s contributions. I want to leave the planet every time I see a “[random number of] [things] [people who aren’t in this group] don’t understand” article on any of the many time-wasting websites whose links flood my social media. Everyone is busy drawing lines in the sand and insisting that everyone else doesn’t know/understand/appreciate these particular things in this way and no other way than they know/understand/appreciate. It’s isolating and dehumanizing and pervasive of every online “community” I have ever interacted with. This sentiment is the opposite of community. It’s also chock full of hubris and ironically ignorant.

Does it matter that Kemetic Orthodoxy does X but someone else does Y and other people do Z? Why? And who cares? Do you really have so much time to spare in your life that you need to scrutinize the incense this person offers or the fabric of that other person’s ritual clothes? Are YOU their god? No? Then I think we’re starting to get somewhere, but is this anywhere I want to go anymore? Not so much. If everyone stepped out from behind the cardboard cut-outs they hide behind and left their artificial insistence that if people are not doing exactly what they’re doing then someone must be wrong and bad and it was definitely everyone else, the alleged Kemetic community would be a something I’d want to participate in again. Real community requires real work and real work requires everyone to decide that growing up and putting the self-aggrandizing masks away is more important than looking smarter or more historically accurate or more Kemetic than the next person.

Different =/= wrong =/= moral judgment. Lather, rinse, repeat. We waste too much time on trying to pretend there is any other more significant equation.

I don’t mourn the lack of a functional community that can be a home to all Kemetics. As nice as that would be if such a community happened, I have too much to do for my gods and family and pockets-of-community. I grew up. If the would-be community can grow up too, then I’ll be part of it. But considering my journey, I don’t think I need any fabled supercommunity. I think I’ve got enough to support me and for me to support without joining in any grand yet mostly empty gestures toward broader Kemetic cooperation.

So for now at least, I’ll be in the bar or my shrine or the many places in my life where my gods and I tend to work.

Lessons Learned

Work on improving your life. Cooperate with your nearest and dearest to facilitate your growth in conjunction with theirs. But most importantly, keep mindful of your abilities/needs/blind spots and keep working to improve your self and serve the gods and those they lead you to. Don’t for a second think that you are done because that’s not possible until your heart stops. Recognize that you will keep making mistakes and periodically being wrong and embrace these for the lessons they teach. Don’t overreach. Do what is necessary. Cultivate inner stillness and a calm heart so that you know what is necessary in each moment and can carry it out without agonizing or injuring yourself.

* I’m assuming other groups have these problems too, but since my experience has been rather specific I don’t want to overgeneralize my overgeneralization.

The Work is the work

•March 2, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I’m working a lot. I’m grateful to be working at two jobs that pay (albeit modestly) and that don’t whittle away at my soul (just my time and energy). I am fighting the good fight for people who are in some truly bad spots and I adore it. Not the bad stuff but the helping. Especially on a day like today when I made small but actual progress on a project that has been an almost  three-year-long string of defeats. I could almost flip over a car from joy and relief if my back wasn’t being a bit tweaky.

But instead of lamenting the fact that I have had to chose between shrine time and being functional in the rest of my life (fyi: rest of life always wins when there’s a kid involved), I am grateful that I find my gods in my work and that they accept my work as an offering. May it continue feed both of us. Literally.

Dear Everyone: You’re Fine

•January 15, 2015 • Leave a Comment

A good portion of my online Kemetic-flavored reading often comes from people searching for validation for a variety of things. Is this okay to offer? Did this god like that offering? I think god just said/did X–does god ever say/do X? And so on. And a long line of people who are usually not calling themselves experts but fancy themselves something of an authority on these things and are totally happy to certify who’s doing what right and who’s not. But even if those people are 100% right 100% of the time, they are a band-aid on the real problem, which is that people don’t know that they are actually doing alright, all things considered.

First, a wee rant: you’re not a “concrete head.” You just might not have figured out whether you’re picking up god channel on the TV or radio or tinfoil hat or semaphore, but the signal is there and you *can* and *will* figure out how to dial it in. You’ll get it way faster if you let that miserable analogy sink the the bottom of the nearest body of very deep water. Let’s please stop pretending that the only way to “hear” gods/spirits is literally. Okay. Rant over, back on topic.

These questions that people so often have are both important and distractions from the experience of the faith. Yes, it is necessary to evaluate what you’re doing, gauging its effectiveness, and reality checking to make sure as best as you can that you’re not just hearing your own inner voice. However, its more vital in the long run to develop your own internal checks on all these questions. Whether it’s divination, or resolving to only count it as a divine message if you see it as grafitti on a particular wall or the sixth song that you hear playing in a public place, or whatever–you can (and kind of have to) build in your own self-checks. Sometimes it might be impossible to confer with anyone else who might have similar experiences or gods to check your insight against. (I know it’s hard to imagine being without cell signal or wifi, but there are definitely places in the world where you can be very much isolated among people who could not be farther from your religious world view where you can’t just text for a spiritual confab. And these places are way closer to home than you might realize until you’re suddenly in them.) When you run out of people to give you feedback and you can generate none of your own, it won’t be long before your faith is lost. But also: no one else is you. No one else, not even those with the same gods, is going to get exactly the signal you get in the way you get it. There may be times when no one else, even your spiritual identical twin, would think that that thing that seems significant to you is a comment from god. You need to have your own ways of testing your perceptions and hunches to support you in those times. Don’t believe every thought that occurs to you (we all do a lot of filtering to support our assumptions about the world and what we want to be true), but learn to parse into “maybe from god” and “probably not from god.” You can learn a lot about yourself and your gods by what kinds of things consistently end up in those categories. Learn to trust yourself. And even more important is being able to step back and recognize that really, you’re fine. If you don’t know the answer to this deep, burning question of theology–that’s fine. You have to realize you don’t know something before you can learn it, and you will then learn it if you pursue it. If the offering was subpar, you will fix it next time. If that sign was not a Deep Meaningful sign but just a weird coincidence, you add that to your encyclopedia of sorting out god signal from the noise of life and you move on.

You really are fine. You are progressing as well as you possibly can right now in your current circumstances. You can adapt circumstances to adjust your progress, too, if you want and if you apply enough effort. (No, it’s usually not easy, but it’s possible. If it’s important, you will find a way.) You will be fine tuning your spiritual radar the rest of your life and sometimes you’ll be right on while others you will totally miss the memo. It’s okay. It’s part of life. It’s frustrating in the moment, but a month, a year, a lifetime later it will be nothing to you but maybe a lesson learned if it meant that much at all at the time.

I can’t tell you you’re doing anything right or wrong. At best I can say what I’ve done or not done, what I would or wouldn’t do from my limited understanding of anyone else’s position. I can tell you, not as an expert or authority on Doing Things Right, but as someone who has benefited greatly from learning to support herself through long periods of questioning and uncertainty, that learning enough about yourself to understand a) what you need validated and why and b) how you tend to receive god contact that is the most easily comprehensible/accessible to you is the level best tool to support any kind of spiritual anything.

You’re fine. But please don’t take it from me. You can see it plainly for yourself.