Category Archives: Religion

The Battle Lines Have Already Been Drawn

CrusadesThe election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the U.S. was a disheartening wake-up call for many of us.  It signified that we who count ourselves to be liberal or progressives had not done enough to ensure that the freedoms we enjoy were not wrested away from us.   This situation, however, did not just begin with the election results of November 8, 2016.  The fundamentalist, radical right has had this moment in its sights for as long as I can remember. While Pagans have been busy living it up over the years at various pagan festivals like Circle Gathering and Pantheacon, contemplating Goddess and congratulating themselves on creating a new world, the Dominionists were constantly pushing to limit as much of the rights and freedoms that we take for granted. I have said it numerous times; there is absolutely no difference between the Taliban and the Christoban except the religious texts and the specific names they refer to God. 

We should not be at all surprised by anything that Vice President, Mike Pence, says either.  His brand of Christianity is nothing if not consistent.  Pence hails from the kind of Christianity that has done and continues to do all that they can in order to convince, coerce or even frightening their own people into compliance. Dominionist sects, on the whole, have been setting up for this type of takeover that we are seeing unfold before our eyes for decades.  Ask any of them and they will tell you that in order for America to be truly “free”, we must “become a Christian nation again”.   If you ask them what that means, sooner or later they will get around to informing you that they absolutely advocate ruling by “biblical law”.  These same individuals will make no secret about how abhorrent that they find the idea of ruling by Islamic or Sharia law.  If you gently remind them how there is little to no difference, expect to get an earful.

Pagans, Polytheists, & Allies

Please, I understand these Pagan and Polytheist gatherings I mentioned above are important.  However, our activism and rallying behind various causes and issues have often been diffused because of infighting and lack of a common goal or purpose. The so-called Moral Majority which had its heydey in the 1980’s and early 90’s, did everything it could, from Satanic Panic to the constant barrage of personalities (Bob Larson) who would keep listeners in abject terror of everything in the world being not only a conspiracy theory, but an all-out orchestrated Satanic plot.  During that same time period, we were seeing an incredible awareness raising regarding Pagan faiths.  Surely Margot Adler’s book, “Drawing Down the Moon”,  the boom of Pagan, Wiccan and other types of ‘new age’ books and periodicals was at its height.  Many of the forefathers and foremothers of that movement, such as Selena Fox, for example, spent a great deal of time getting in front of the cameras of mainstream media outlets in order to reassure the general public that modern witches and Wiccans were benign and nothing to fear.  While that may be true for some, inadvertently they had managed to all but completely defang the entire movement.  The whole “harm none” idea morphed into a sort of apologetic pacifism and the so-called Three Fold Law became an admonishment against anyone who would do anything as radical as even defending themselves against those who meant harm.

I am not proclaiming that we are somehow returning to the mostly-mythical ‘Burning Times’, that series of events when some of the most rabid baby Pagans like to claim outlandish and historically inaccurate figures of the number of people who were put to death for “Witchcraft”.  What I am saying is that in the past 500 years, we have moved forward into a more inclusive, progressive society. Because of the manipulations of a few, our country, indeed our whole world appears to be more divided.  We have, since then had several shining rays of hope in the form of the Women’s March, the removal of Michael Flynn and most recently the well-deserved and utter defeat of the Draconian ACHA and the attempt by the Republicans to repeal Obamacare.  The Women’s march was the largest in U.S. history and if #45 has done one thing, he has awakened many of the once complacent electorate to know that their participation is essential and they called their representatives relentlessly and showed up at town halls around the country to protest.  It is this kind of activism we are going to need if we are to succeed against the people who would strip women, minorities, the elderly, children and the poor of their rights.

The reason for the incredible success of the radical right and Christian Dominionists in particular, is that they have always seen total control as their end goal.  They mobilized their membership and through referring to their extant religious texts and their communities were able to keep the membership towing the party line.  They created their own television and radio stations, bookstores, business networks and other ways to extend their reach far beyond Sunday services.  They created the concept of homeschooling so that they could absolutely control what went into the minds of their own children. While some parents do this because the well-being of their children requires their continued support, finding homeschooling materials that are completely secular and devoid of Christian-centric rhetoric is extremely difficult.

ramses_iiWho’s Really In Charge?

The truth is, that many racists, bigots, white supremacists, and white nationalists have been emboldened by Donald Trump.  Those who are threatened by the fact that the world is getting more inclusive, are terrified that in today’s job market, getting hired, or even your place in society is not assured because you are a part of the (for now) dominant culture.  Being the best person for the job is no longer based on factors such as your sex, your gender, your religion or more to the point, the color of your skin.  Indeed, the terror attack carried out in Quebec during a prayer service was done by a white Trump supporter who was also opposed to immigration.   The desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the threatening of schools and Jewish centers around the country has drawn a sharp line in the political sand: Those who adamantly reject such hatred and those who are apathetic to it.  There are those that are even happy that since Donald Trump is president, they can now outwardly display their bigotry and prejudice against any people that don’t fit into the narrow world view of what they feel is the Dominant Culture.

At the root of it all, indeed who and what is behind this rise of such is, I believe, Steve Bannon. In an article by Terrell Jermaine Starr that appeared in the Washington Post,  is unlimited control.  So what is the end game?  It is my firm belief that by recently removing all white supremacist groups from the terror watch and instituting the Religious Freedom Executive Order that Bannon and Trump want the people to start dividing into groups of us and them. He wants people, in their own self-interests to have infighting so that they are then able to declare martial law. In the meantime, sources inside the White House conclude that this is what is driving the agenda.  The current administration believes that they don’t need to give facts, just information; and if you control the information, you control the message and perception of the people.  I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like to be ‘managed’ in such a fashion. This past week underscores the fact that the majority of the American electorate don’t like to be ‘managed’ in such a fashion, either.

Sekhmet is the upholder of Ma’at.  She is also the absolute personification of Power. I say that not as some sort of feminist diatribe or anything else other than to say that Ma’at will be preserved. Astrologically, this is the time when those things that are illegal and unjust shall be exposed. With the recent revelations by the FBI before Congress and the heat being turned up on the distinct possibility of the Trump Team’s collusion with Russia and Vladimir Putin, it would seem that Ma’at will be coming down on their heads – in every sense of the word.

We are not victims. Each of us individually can do much on our own.  Let us never forget that compassion and standing up and speaking out against wrongdoing is what we are charged with. That is also a part of what Ma’at is. It might not be easy. It might even get a little bit messy, but Sekhmet and Her strength is what we should look to. Collectively, I am convinced, we will change the world for the better.

May the Divine bless us and keep us all.

 

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Yahweh’s Divorce from the Goddess Asherah in the Garden of Eden

Mythology Matters

Hebrew Bible scholars have long recognized that the writer who penned the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and much other narrative in the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible (called the Pentateuch, or Torah) had a distinctly anti-Canaanite agenda, and that his anti-Canaanite polemic started in his Eden story. Focusing on this helps us to decipher the meaning of that story, as I have stressed in my new book, The Mythology of Eden, and in talks that I’ve given on the subject at scholarly conferences.

This author, known as the Yahwist (because he was the first author of the Hebrew Bible to use the name Yahweh for God), most clearly set out his anti-Canaanite views at the beginning of his version of the Ten Commandments, in Exodus 34:12-15, where Yahweh warns the Hebrews against associating with the Canaanites, intermarrying with them, and worshipping their…

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Heart of Red Jasper Is Your Name

Ptahmassu has written some wonderful words and painted breathtaking art representing Sekhmet.

Kemetically Speaking

Heart of Red Jasper is Your Name

The Goddess Nuit brings you with her lips when she comes;
west’s mouth opens at twilight where your flashing star rises.
Your luminescence foretells the rising flank of the naked moon;
‘lips of lapis lazuli’ is your name at the moment of his ascension.

Djehuty declares you by the enchantment of his tongue;
you glide from his divine speech as a silver crescent’s boon.
What graces my mouth is the fullness of heaven’s eye;
‘tongue of silver’ is your name when his gleam strikes my lips.

The Goddess Auset binds you to me with her girdle;
she brings at her breast the sanguine knot of sky’s magic.
Seven knots surround your center on her seat of constant ardor;
‘heart of red jasper’ is your name where my breast keeps you.

Ausir the green raises you from his pasture when he comes;
sprouting seed weaves your field as the earth my…

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, kemetic, pagan, reblogged, Religion, Sekhmet

Guilt By Association

metmuseum5a1(Note:  This is a blog post that I posted over on my other blog at Niankhsekhmet.com.  I am re-posting it here in its entirety. If you’ve read it before, please forgive the redundancy.)

The adage that we are known by the company we keep probably is very true within the Kemetic Community – perhaps even doubly so. It has become frustrating and disheartening to be judged by people whom you don’t know, who don’t know you, or your specific religious path – nor do they care really! For someone to offhandedly decide that you are not with the “in crowd” or that somehow, will pronounce that not to be of a certain religious affiliation, or sect will deem you unworthy to be given the time of day. Some of course, fear recruitment or being indoctrinated into some sort of cult based on internet rumours that they may or may not have heard.

I am Kemetic. I was trained and ordained as a Kemetic Orthodox Priestess of Sekhmet/HetHert in 1998. I stepped down a couple of years ago by choice, or as one internet website geared toward atheists said, “I retired.” I kind of laugh at that. One does *not* retire from Sekhmet’s service. Your service may change, but it is absolutely for life! At any rate, my reasons, initially, were because I was attending college full time and could not give the level of service required. My situation has changed a bit, and so now my reasons of not wanting to return to it again are deeply personal. I can and will say quite clearly that it was not because of any rift with the Temple, or disagreement between myself and any of the membership. I have been listening to Sekhmet’s call and it has been specific and in a direction by necessity. That doesn’t make anyone bad or wrong. It just makes it a different route that I have chosen to take.

All of us must by necessity approach our spiritual life on a personal level. We may choose to join or Initiate in a specific sect, temple or path, but ultimately, only we as individuals can decide when to move on. Each of us, who are Kemetic, have personal rites. Sometimes this entails a daily practice that follows a formal outlined structure, such as that which is outlined at the Temple of Horus at Edfu. While at other times a practitioner may choose something more fluid, eclectic or non-traditional. Each is a valid structure and approach to the connection to the Netjeru.

That being said, the only things that become annoying are those who insist on the belief of either a maddeningly absurd UPG-type of approach, or those who cannot and will not move outside the formal scholarly sanctioned type of practice. I have found by direct experience that there are deep pitfalls within each extreme and either can be deleterious for spiritual understanding or growth. Egyptology does *not* know everything. Conversely, I have seen so many ridiculous, crackpot theories that should never have made it outside of one’s own personal headspace, let alone made it into print for others to try to decipher.

One extreme, that of the scholarly community only, and especially within Egyptology’s ranks, often eschews and ostracizes those who “actually believe in any of this stuff”. In some place it becomes so much of an issue that those who have made it into those hallowed halls of the scholarly ranks take great pains to either conceal, downplay or flat-out deny that they actually do worship the old gods. These individuals dare not speak of it or it may cost them their entire career or get them passed over for any future projects because their beliefs are not considered “objective enough”. I personally know of several tenured professors or professional Egyptologists who by necessity are very guarded about their personal beliefs. I can state quite clearly that their fears are absolutely justified. Egyptology is neither easy nor cheap to take up as a scholarly pursuit. Admissions into these programmes are prohibitively expensive and generally only accept a tiny handful of students each semester or once a year. Most of these who are accepted have and/or have maintained a 4.0 GPA. Further, that high GPA must be maintained or that student will get a boot planted in their posterior and find themselves completely washed out and with student loan amounts that are nothing less than nightmarish and just shy of the national debt.

The Kemetic Community, I think, is going through something that much of the so-called Pagan “Community” is going through. I believe that there is far too much backbiting, petty, catty and deeply personal bitching among the ranks. People either are wrapped up in an idea that if you do not belong to X group, you obviously are “doing it wrong”, and if you are a part of that group – or have been trained by it, have handed your brain, your soul and your personal assets to some sort of mindless cult of personality that does not allow for personal considerations.

I call “Bullshit,” on both points of view.

Even with my training and years in the priesthood, I interact with those who are not Kemetic Orthodox. I spend a great deal of time with people who come from many different faiths and belief systems, and each gives me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise. In so doing, I am able to form my own opinion that has nothing to do with toeing a party line, a religious canon or being a spokesperson for any given temple or group.

If I see a person make an incorrect, ill-considered or socially repugnant statement to the general public, I have no compunction but to call them on it and tell them why I feel that way. Conversely, I expect to be accorded the exact same service be done to me in return. I also expect that it will be done without the need to resort to ad hominem attacks. I think that is more than fair. Of course, there will always be those who claim to be holier-than-thou, or claim some sort immunity because of the number of books they wrote, lectures at Pantheacon they conducted or letters after their names in terms of university degrees. The political correctness and personal butthurt needs to be put away and replaced with something that resembles common sense. If we cannot have that, then what’s the point, really?

maat1aAll of us who consider ourselves to be Kemetic have a single and solitary foundation. That foundation is not exclusive to any one group, or leader or anything else. We have nothing other to worry about than the idea of Ma’at. Each of us must decide what that is and where we are at personally. Under that one single idea / ideal, there is enough there that is complex enough to keep all of us occupied for the whole of our personal and spiritual lives. We are held responsible and we hold those whom we associate responsible as well. When we do this, we are held responsible for our own actions and words in the context of not only our own lives but the greater whole within the Kemetic community and within the world at large. With this single understanding, some of the petty, single-mindedness is stripped away, and we by necessity have to sit down and listen to the thoughts, concerns and observations of others. Being able to see that perspective and say, “Yes, you are right,” does not, therefore, declare us to be lepers within the groups that we are a part of – or not a member of. It means that we can each be viable on our own, and that we can stand up for ourselves and what we believe, rather than hiding behind an organization, a label or anything else than our own sense of rightness – or our own sense of Ma’at.

 

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Reblogged: Reconsidering the Witch’s Uniform

It’s that time of year again. I am definitely feeling the need to point at and post a link at Devo’s astute article on why the whole witches in pointy hats thing needs to go. If you are going to be dressing up for All Hallows Eve, or Samhain, it might be well to give this article a look before donning that pointy hat.

Reconsidering the Witch’s Uniform

 

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Branding is Everything

Devo has written some pretty profound things about how the idea of brand not only affects companies, but also how we represent our communities and ourselves.

This idea touches on what my friend, Dr. James Wanless, refers to when he talks about how we are all in the “YOU-biz”.  This very idea is something that we all need to be conscious of in today’s increasingly interconnected world.

We really do have to be activists for what we want to see in our communities and the world around us.

Branding is Everything.

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Finding Our Way Back to Kemet

Mash_signThis post started with the intention to give those who call ourselves Kemetic a place to look to find resources. I know that I am not the first to talk about this. Certainly Devo Kraemer with the Kemetic Round Table and her blog, as well as Helmsman of Yinepu, Henadology and countless others have stated the same goal.  This post is to essentially open up the dialogue and throw out ideas to the greater Kemetic Community as a very small piece of a much grander puzzle.  If we can just figure out where we are going, we might end up getting something that has a bit less in fighting and is a bit more cohesive.

All of we Kemetic folk are different. We come from different places, have had different sebau  (teachers) It feels a little  bit like that road sign on the set of M*A*S*H* that showed where everyone at the 4077th where home was.   The road sign served as a starting place,  rather a map of  how to get there. More than simply telling someone that there is just one temple, one group or one single right way to get to where to go, it will, I hope that something like this might serve more people without any accusations of an agenda.

The truth of the matter is that civilization was born in Kemet.  The pharaohs were black, and varying degrees of brown and every other skin colour that was known in the ancient world at the time. This is inevitably what happens in an integrated and cosmopolitan society.  By my saying this, it does not make me a revisionist or a racist. Speaking only for myself, my goal is to welcome any and all evidence and discussion, except that which promotes racial hatred and modern cultural divisions that seem to have escalated to all time highs over the last few years.

Like most within the pagan and polytheist sphere, we Kemetics have our share of issues to deal with. We have our dramas and disagreements but overall, I don’t believe it’s anything that cannot be overcome.   So…..we can choose to continue to arguments over religious doctrine or other points of contention, or point fingers about who “stole” what from whomever else, or we can acknowledge the fact that for each or us Kemet is a constant call in our lives.  Just as in Kemet’s  antiquity, I believe that  cultural exchanges and sharing were and are the norm.  Someone who was well-traveled or could appreciate the customs of the people and places that they visited was welcome as a guest and greeted as a hero or heroine when they returned home to share the knowledge that their travels had afforded them.  Being a good, respectful guest was the most important thing of all.  I think the akhu (ancestors) have plenty to teach us on many levels and it is something that the world desperately needs.

I believe that we can have that and be the richer even if all we do is try.  We are most us here because we love Netjer or the Netjeru and honoring the akhu.  The land of Kemet IS Zep Tepi, the First Time.  It is inevitable that it calls to our kas with such depth and intensity that we cannot turn away – not even if we wanted to.

But what about Kemet is it that calls us?

Is it the sophistication of design? Is it the fact that science and medicine, literature and the beginnings of writing were born on the banks of the Nile?  What do we as modern, 21st century people hope to gain by reviving the religion, the culture and the values of that bygone time?  I believe for everyone the answer is different.  Even as a child, I dreamed of a day when more people would realize how wonderful ancient Kemet was and there would be a push to restore temples and bring a language back from the Realm of the Dead.   With the advances in Egyptology and the push to reconstruct events, study DNA and analyze the overwhelming amount of data coming out of Egypt on an almost daily basis, we may very well see some of these ideas and pushes become a reality.

Hedwig Storch via Wikimedia Creative Commons LicenseWhat I want, what I am asking in this blog entry is for people to think long and hard about what it is in Kemet that draws them so deeply.  I sincerely want to hear from each and every one of you – not because I am starting a new group; but rather because it’s something I’ve felt called to ask and to do.  I am not doing this for any group, even though I am currently a member of a group.   I respect and care for enough people outside of my own respective group and have the luxury of conversing with them in a dialogue of mutual respect.  It is of paramount importance to me that this spirit of cooperation continues.    For some, such as myself,  Kemet was a call felt at a very young age that simply would not let go.  For others, it is a reconnection to their own proud history and culture.  For others, it might be something else entirely.   Whatever it is – it’s important.

It is my hope that the dialogue between all  of the different groups can somehow push us a little closer to having a clearing house of knowledge, lists of books to read, online courses being offered for free or at a nominal fee, groups that get together socially for no other reason than to share that interest. Later, we can discuss the potential of boards, or groups on Facebook or Google+ in order to discuss those resources that we find.   Whether any of us views it as a culture, a spirituality, a passing interest or even a fandom, it is my personal belief that  none of us individually knows nearly as much as all of us do collectively.  It is also my belief that if we try we may yet make even more of our dreams about Kemet come true.

 

 

 

 

 

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