Category Archives: Religion

The Ancestry of Ancient Egypt (Re-Blogged)

Over the years, I have heard about every argument about what race the Ancient Egyptians were. In spite of where you might stand on the subject, this article is well worth the time to sit down and read. whether for a purely historical point of view, or if you are like me and Ancient Egyptian or Kemetic thought and culture is central to who you are about personally, spiritually or magically, then it will definitely be of interst.

Josephine McCarthy is someone whose work I greatly admire.  She has written a very well-researched article on this oft times heated topic. My advice when reading it is to tackle it in bits then mull it over for a bit and  let it sink in.

via The ancestry of Ancient Egypt – a long read

Leave a comment

Filed under Ma'at, politics, Quareia, reblogged, 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.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

2 Comments

Filed under Ma'at, politics, Religion

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…

View original post 1,775 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under reblogged, Religion

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…

View original post 255 more words

Leave a comment

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.

 

5 Comments

Filed under kemetic, Ma'at, politics, rants, reblogged, Religion, sekhmet, writing

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

 

4 Comments

Filed under Kemetic Rount Table, politics, reblogged, Religion, traditional witchcraft

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.

1 Comment

Filed under business, Ma'at, politics, reblogged, Religion

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.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

Filed under indigenous, Kemet is Cool Project, kemetic, Ma'at, pagan, politics, racism, rants, Religion, Sekhmet, Uncategorized, update

Losing Your Facebook Name & Getting It Back: It Isn’t Really About You

mynameisAfter losing my name on Facebook to a vindictive high-visibility  online troll, I penned a blog post, “The Importance of Names“.  In recent days, I have been able to reclaim my online name / DNA intellectual property. This has been made possible because of the diligent efforts of a very organized and tenacious community of drag queens and others within the LGBT sphere.   I am grateful more than I can say to Miss Roma and Lil’ Miss Hot Mess and all who fought so long and so hard for their patience and dedication and sense of fairness  in going after Facebook’s real name policy.

Recently, I have seen posts coming across my feed that somehow Pagans et al are being “targeted” by Facebook in some sort of modern day persecution.  I am never sure why these folks seem to think that everything is an inconvenience is somehow someone “targeting” them because of their beliefs or how they look, dress or how they think.  While it is true that the dominant culture, and especially corporations within the dominant culture do this, unfortunately, I think that the concept of persecution in this case is more than a little inaccurate.

Let me state at the outset to those in the Pagan and Polytheist communities that this is not about your religion.  My case was very probably a personal vendetta by someone else, and Facebook’s real  name policy played right into this.  For most people losing their chosen screen names, whether they be professional names, pseudonyms for those who want to avoid abusers, American Indian tribal names, or Initiatory names of those within the alternative faith communities, it is only about one thing.  It is about the money that your information, online and buying habits represent to advertisers, both current and potential, on Facebook. Having demographics be as accurate as possible to those potential advertisers who are more than a little interested in what you do,  what interests you and how you spend your money online .

In short this is not about “targeting” any group for who and what they are.  This is about Facebook selling YOUR demorgraphics and YOUR information to advertisers. They cannot effectively do that when you have a pseudonym of any sort. When I lost the name of Fanny Fae on August 29th and had to use my birth name up until last week. With the help of Lil Miss Hot Mess and her forwarding my information as per the instructions, I was able to get my name back in less than 12 hours.  YMMV.

If you have lost your chosen Facebook name for WHATEVER REASON, please click the bright “My Name Is” button below and FOLLOW THE INSTRUCTIONS. There are no guarantees, but if people are losing their names, then they must be both methodical (and CALM!) about getting them back. All of the bleeping screaming about religious discrimination, ranting and online petition signing isn’t going to do a goddamned thing.   Beat a pillow, scream if you need to, but wait and come back to the keyboard when you are calm.   Sure it is frustrating and it hurts and it can leave you exposed and vulnerable and it can cut at the very essence of who you are. Those things can make it feel as if it is very personal.   I promise you, it most probably isn’t.  The key, however,  is to keep your wits about you and push back with singular determination.   Facebook sees you as just a packet of information to be packaged and sold. That’s the business they are in.  Changing an imbedded corporate policy is never easy, but if you are tenacious, it can pay off.

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/17627761/mynameis-fbgraphic.png

It is more than past time for the pagan community etc. to quit their mooing and start doing!  It would also be a wonderful gesture if some who are able to benefit and get their names back after this Facebook fiasco to actually remember to take the time to thank Sister Roma and Lil’ Miss Hot Mess for what they have done to make this possible.   Because of them and their efforts Facebook has now implemented the following policy – which many still are unaware of.  Facebook just implemented the policy allowing people to select names other than real names so that they know – but that you can keep yourself safe.

What Other Names are Allowed on Facebook?

As I have said repeatedly, there are no promises for everyone being able to get their assumed names back. However, since I am writing this after having direct experience I have found that if you really are focused, it is possible to get what you want  in all of this.  Try it and see.

We just need to dispassionately lay out the facts to the powers on Facebook that be because each request to get a name back is being reviewed on a case by case basis. Speaking only for myself, I know that I am fortunate and probably got my name back very quickly because I have been branding with this name for more than a decade. I own the domain, I write on multiple sites under this name and it is pretty clear that I have been out there. Others may not be so lucky, but when you are armed with as much of your information as possible, chances are Facebook will take that into consideration. It is up to each user to make their case, because to Facebook’s marketing team, you and your habits online are $$$.  They are in the business to make money.

So why did this happen in the first place?

Let’s be honest; in spite of Mark Zuckerberg’s frequent and very public protestations to the contrary over the years, Facebook’s Real Name policy is NOT about safety or trust.  It is about money, and the bottom line is always about the bottom line in corporate culture.  While  Zuckerberg thinks that anyone who uses a pseudonym or alternative name has a personal integrity that is lacking, that argument is disingenuous. What is really being left  unsaid is that the users who use an alias only have “less integrity”  in terms of the data that those who use of Facebook provide to their real customers:  the corporations and advertising folks who mine that data in order to sell we the users of Facebook to those advertisers or those interested in all of the things we do and are interested in online.  The deal is that those advertisers want your eyeballs and what’s in your wallet on their merchandise.

In a word, WE and our buying choices as consumers, are in fact, the product.

This is why the Facebook website / service is “free”, and is almost certainly likely to remain so because your information is just that valuable to them.  We  need to now ask ourselves, just how much are we willing to give up to Facebook and other companies who sell our information to those who wish to buy the best  and most information according to that demographic data.

Another point of interest is that around the time all of this real  name push started was when Facebook announced the launch of its Atlas system, which was created as a direct competitor to Google’s in terms of demographic information that could be sold to advertisers and influence the buying public. Facebook acquired Atlas from Microsoft and recently announced the relaunch. Atlas essentially measures demographic information of users so that  marketers can use that online information to target advertising to the right place.  If you are using Gmail or using Google as a search engine of choice, you see this in action without even thinking about it. Facebook wants to compete with this for their own profits and consumers are being managed any way possible in order to insure this.

Thanks to one of my Facebook friends, I found in a USA Today news story that  Facebook’s  chief product officer, Chris Cox recently apologized for the outing off the Drag Queens and LGBT community at large for forcing them to use their real names.   I applaud the apology, but nowhere in the article was it outlined how these brave queens and others in the LGBT community, including myself, would be able to get back our assumed names.  That, thankfully, would come later.  I have my feelings about who the single user was who outed or doxxed so many, including myself. But of course, I know that we probably will never know for sure, but I am absolutely certain that Facebook never let any of those who were harmed know who was responsible.   However,  the chain of events were far too closely related in my humble opinion to be mere happenstance. I don’t trust either party in this case.

We certainly should be aware that corporations such as Facebook care little to nothing about the individuals behind the accounts or their reasons for choosing to use a pseudonym or assumed name.  They only know that when a user chooses not to use the name that is on a birth certificate or driver’s license, the information it can present to those wishing to know the most about you (eg. advertisers and marketers) have skewed information and is not worth as much as if you were to use your given name.

If you are a witch and you use your initiatory name online as a way to keep yourself safe and your boss and coworkers out of your private life, for example, that is not going to be the name on your credit card or your PayPal or bank account.   Advertisers want you to make buying decisions based on the information they serve up to you on a constant basis.  This is how if you click a story link, three other “related stories” will pop up under the link to the story that caught your eye in the first place.  Again, that adds up to clicks per view and companies pay handsomely for those ratings.  And they are not content to just be on your desktop at home or at work: They want to be on your mobile devices and be able to locate you and market to you based on where you are and what you are looking at or near on a real-time basis.  If Facebook can pull that off, that is big time money.  If you use an assumed identity, that again, changes the viability and the effectiveness of that information.  Facebook and the advertisers purchasing that information know that all too well.  And now, so do you.

Say it with me so that it really sinks in this time:  “We are the product.”

Being forewarned is being forearmed and representing yourself online as you see fit and insuring your own personal safety, Facebook’s marketing demographics be damned, is all about getting your own power back.

 

 

 

3 Comments

Filed under business, Ma'at, pagan, politics, rants, Religion, update

Regarding Spiritual Arrogance, Racism & Bigotry

arrogance“Do not be arrogant because of your knowledge, but confer with the ignorant man as with the learned for the limit of skill (art) has not been attained, and there is no craftsman who has fully acquired his mastery.”  – The Maxims of PtahHotep

Sooner or later, we all have to come face to face with the spiritually arrogant.  It may very well be, that we ourselves have bouts of spiritual arrogance of our own to contend with.  It can be as simple as looking down our noses as to why we are right in our beliefs and the other party or parties are wrong.  The whole phrase, “Religious tolerance”,  is not the same as religious acceptance.   Tolerance infers that we are putting up with something, and yet all the time view our way as being superior.  Acceptance means that we can accept the differences in how others do things and how their approach practice without being judgemental about it.

Being Kemetic, I find that this issue often raises its head.  The leadership or membership of one Kemetic group disagrees with and/or dislikes another group because of doctrine or practice, or there is  just plain jealousy.  Accusations of one sect or another being a ‘cult’, or ‘mindlessly dogmatic’ are hurled and understanding is nowhere to be found.

One of the best cures that I have personally found for such an affliction is through interfaith work.  It is the choice to leave our own neighborhoods where the spiritual ghettos seem to get constructed without our even realizing it that seems to help the most.    For me, it began by doing interfaith work with Kashi Ashram.  The experience of having attended Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati’s birthday celebration and fire puja in Sebastian, Florida was a profound one.   We were also privileged to have witnessed a ceremony in which several dedicants were committed to priesthood. SenyasiMa taught that her way was not so much a religion but a way of being in the world where the centermost idea is to practice kindness wherever possible.   That meeting and that event, however, led me to doing more research into Hinduism and interfaith work with the local Hindu community.  I am, of course, no expert.  However, I do feel that the experience made me, I believe, a better member of the Kemetic priesthood.

Even with all of this,  I realized after a time that I was feeling particularly smug and condescending toward other Kemetics and Neo-Pagans in general. I wanted to get back to my own Zep Tepi – the foundation of spiritual belief and doing ritual work and heka that would make me a better Priestess and representative of Sekhmet.

In recent years, there has been a new resurgence of relgious groups which focus on race and skin color.  I have even been around members of one such group that insisted all of its members get DNA tests in order to ensure that they are of the right blood group – all to prove their lineage to certain historical bloodlines that mark them as “superior” to their human counterparts.  They claim that this bloodline goes all the way back to either the bloodlines of the Tuatha de Dannan or to the Annunaki. The members of this group, which was once headed by a self-styled prince,  fervently believe that rulership, and hereditary nobility sets them apart and entitles them to be a part of a higher caste and class that the rest of humanity. As far as the members of this elitist group are concerned, everyone else who doesn’t share in their bloodline are more or less shuffling herd animals incapable of real thought or any kind of magical or spiritual ability.

Unfortunately, these sorts of ridiculously bigoted nonsensical ideas have migrated their way into Kemetic groups.   Afrocentrist philosophies are certainly not new. I am actually in agreement with the assertion that, yes,  the world’s greatest civilizations did in fact begin in Africa.  Homo sapiens (humans) began in  Africa.  That means that as humans, we all ultimately have a tie there. This is true whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

In the early days of the internet, the militancy of some afrocentrist groups had reached a fevered pitch.  Some of the members of these groups or their fringe followers would troll the newsgroups on Usenet.  These groups include ones such as alt.archaeology, sci.archaeology or alt.culture.egyptian.  The trolls would start screaming about blackness and racial issues that really had less to do with ancient Egypt at all and more about some sort of bragging rights or never-ending angst over an inaccurate, rendition of history.  One of their favorite claims that still persists to this day is that Napoleon or his troops decided to test their canons out on the nose of the Great Sphinx since the obviously African features of the ancient monument offended their Eurocentric sensibilities.

For the record,  that particular rendition of what happened to the nose of the Great Sphinx is patently FALSE.  Napoleon was very much in love with and in awe of Egypt. So devoted to this ancient civilization, Napoleon enlisted an entire corps of artists, architects and engineers for an expedition to explore and catalogue what they could find there so that they could study it, long after they returned to France.  As a result, this expedition produced one of the greatest inventories of the ancient monuments in the form of the multi-volume, le Description de Egypte.  That Napoleonic inventory of the riches of Egypt is still the most accurate one that we have to date.    Napoleon would have likely put to death anyone who would do something so heinous as to shoot off the nose of the Great Sphinx. In all fairness, some of his men left initials behind on some of the monuments, but such defacements were minor compared to what they are currently accused of having done.

The unconscionable Sphinx defacement was, in fact, done at the behest of a Muslim cleric in the 13th Century AD.  That is just a little bit too early for even Emperor Napoleon, I’m afraid.   Apparently, this particular Muslim cleric was quite upset that tourists went to the desert to see, or as he saw it,  ‘pay homage to’  a graven image.  He considered such behavior and reverence to the past to be very ‘Un-Islamic’.   He saw it as his personal responsibility to put a stop to it.  This is not at all unlike what some within more radical factions of Islam are proposing to either cover the ancient monuments in wax or to completely obliterate them as the Islamic State has done to the city of Palmyra or in the fashion that the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan.  One can still see the marks from the pry-bars are still visible on the Sphinx itself as evidence. These marks are still visible if you get close enough while reconstruction crews are at present trying to preserve the ancient beast.

So much for the claim by Afrocentrists that Europeans have tried or are still trying to obliterate the monument because of alleged ‘racist motivations’.

Currently there are even more scores of books and web pages almost everywhere you look that posit the notion that melanin = spiritual enlightenment and along with it, the inherent birthright to the kingdom of the Pharaohs.  According to them, people who don’t have sufficient levels of melanin have pineal glands that are pretty much non-functioning.   Proponents of this line of thinking propose the idea that if you don’t have enough melanin in your skin, you may admire ancient Kemet, its culture, people, history, etc.  However, without the requisite melanin in your skin, you have absolutely no business worshiping the ancient Kemetic Netjeru at all.

I have experienced this myself. When I was in my late teens, a  woman noticed the pendant depicting a winged Aset (Isis) and proceeded on a tirade.  Pointing at the necklace she screeched, “How dare you worship African gods! You’d best be looking to your heritage and get your own gods instead of stealing ours!”

As someone who was about 15 years old, I can only say that the experience was devastating to me.  I was quite honestly shocked and hurt for having been the recipient of such vitriol that seemingly came out of nowhere.    I have been told that, unfortunately, my experience is not at all unusual.  Many others,  even  those who have African heritage and yet have lighter skin or are not distinctly African looking, have suffered similar incidents.  For my part, I know that I didn’t choose the Netjeru.  I believed at that time, and I still firmly believe, that They chose me.  They were the ones who decided to show up in dreams and put Themselves in my path wherever and whenever they could.  When things looked dire, I was always reassured when I could look to the sky, catch the sight of a hawk or a falcon overhead.  It served as a personalized reminder that Aset (Isis)  and Heru (Horus) were watching me from overhead and that things were going to change. It gave me the hope I needed to realize that inevitably everything would be alright. How some woman, whom I didn’t even know, inexplicably walks up and tried to tell me that  my connection is not mine at all and to wear Egyptian-themed jewelry was inappropriate was inexplicable. As far as she was concerned, my notions of this were nothing more than some wishful, white girl, honky, wannabi  fantasies and that I should just move along and get me back to a church pew at the nearest Christian house of worship.

It was, and still is, beyond belief.

Racism or bigotry of any sort,  between one culture or sect of humans against another,  is a horrible stain upon humanity.   It is becoming sadly, more and more prevalent in the past decade and more specifically since nationalist sentiments have insinuated themselves in governments throughout the world.   Political correctness discarded for the moment,  I will say that, ‘Yes, we do need to discuss the past.’  The slavery that happened in the Americas from its inception till after the Civil War and beyond as well as the many, many horrific injustices that happened to African-Americans from the Emancipation Proclamation to the Civil Rights era right up to the present day should never be forgotten.   I would never expect anyone  who is of African American heritage to ever “get over it” any more than they should expect me and mine to ever “get over” the Trail of Tears, Wounded Knee I and II, and the enforced sterilization of American Indian Women. That and scores of other dirty little secrets that were a part of BIA and other government policies. The wounds are fresh for many of us, and we are not likely to forget them. Sometimes even forgiving seems like an impossibility. Yes, we need to acknowledge the pain and the sacrifice of the ancestors on whatever side of whatever equation actually went through.  We carry those memories in our DNA.  We carry all of the prayers, the horrors, the sacrifice and the tremendous accomplishments deep within ourselves.  All of these things are carried within our bones and make up the foundation upon which we build our own lives today.  The prejudice, the discrimination, the snide arrogance of stereotyping people into groups based on certain markers, unfortunately, still goes on.

Racism and bigotry, especially within spheres such as religion and culture really are about ignorance. Culture is not something that boils down to skin colour or even regionality. I know what is like to have a  bigotted person tell me I shouldn’t worship Egyptian deities because my skin isn’t the right colour. I also know what it is like to have been raised Indigenous and know that when you are “claimed” by a People as one of their own and adopt that culture as your own in terms of how you identify, NO ONE (!!!) can gainsay that.

One of my favourite examples of this is in the person of Mr. JDK Chipps. He is counted as a member of the Chipps family and a member of the Lakota Nation. JDK himself was born into a white family. This is not particularly notable excpt that he is in no part Lakota or any other Nation of Indigenous Americans by blood at all.  However, because of JDK’s devotion to the Lakota People and to the preservation of lands and his protection of wildlife, especially the buffalo, he was adopted by the Lakota Nation as one of their own. JDK is Lakota now.  Period. Anyone who has ever dared to tell JDK, or the Chipps family, or any of the People of his Nation that he is not Lakota because his skin color finds out very, VERY quickly just how wrong they are in that assumption. What’s important is that the Lakota Nation and his community knows who JDK is and vice versa.  In the end, that is all that is necessary. Those are the kinds of things that simply don’t fit into neat little boxes of blood quantum or DNA. Racism and bigotry are both complex issues. However, knowing who you are, who your People are, and devotion to that – without trying to hold yourself above others, that’s the point.

Even with all of this acknowledgement, however,  it doesn’t take much to realize that we do not solve the issues by screaming at people who are appreciating something beautiful and wonderful throughout the countless civilizations throughout the world, as well as all of the vastly diverse peoples who created them.   It does not help anyone to act belligerently toward sincere people who love the gods and love ancient Egypt or any other culture for itself.  Telling them to go away, or judging them as some other, or “Them” inevitably ends up being a kind of racism or bigotry itself.  What happens, then, when children come from a mixed racial background want to find out who they are? What is considered “African enough”?    What is Indian enough or Asian enough or European enough or whatever?   What parent, ancestor or heritage should someone eschew in order to fit into these newly constructed ideas of race = culture?    These days, DNA testing can narrow down where certain groups of people were and how they migrated as it .   Humanity has been meeting, mingling throughout history.  PBS has had some wonderful specials on just that. It is amazing and awe-inspiring just how far science has come in that it has determined that we truly do carry our akhu (ancestors) within us, but it doesn’t get to the heart of the issues surrounding race or culture.

So what happens, if after the DNA test results come out, and a person is actually presented with the scientific evidence and knowledge that none of their blood ancestors cannot be traced to a specific tribe, area, country or culture?  What if certain people of colour have no connection to the spiritual things that resonate most to them?  How far does it go when someone finds out that their own bloodline has been “polluted” somewhere along the way, and they are not purely one thing or another?  When does it stop and where does it end?

Certainly, our akhu of ancient Kemet would not do that. They had no problem with people worshiping their gods – or allowing them to bring their own into the country just as long as the ideal of Ma’at was adhered to.   If faced with such a reality, does that mean that those with no DNA connection would also have to stop paying attention to the Netjeru and go only with what their true ancestors did and how they believed?  What about those who are called – though we may not ourselves understand what a specific Name of Netjer may have in mind for that person – and they are still called?  Is it ‘cultural appropriation’, then, to love something and want to appreciate it and give thanks for it by murmuring a prayer to Sekhmet or to HetHert or Ptah somehow wrong?  Is holding one’s hands up in the gesture of henu or praise at seeing the sunrise and giving thanks to Ra somehow taking away from another culture and ‘stealing’ from it?

I don’t believe that it is.

There is also another disturbing trend within the ranks of Afrocentrists and Afrocentrism and that is the use of materials that are 1) completely out of date, eg. the public domain works of Sir. E.A. Wallis Budge.   I have written about this before.   Yes they are cheap, sometimes they are even free – but during the time that they were created, the author was clearly a citizen within a large empire, populated by people who did not appreciate the Egyptians for who they were but rather wanted to do as much as they possibly could to make them like themselves.  During the Victorian era, expeditions, particularly to Egypt and the ancient world, were more easily funded if it promised to underscore the thoughtform and religious beliefs of the status quo based on some ancient model that it was allegedly derived from.   These same people were the very definition of eurocentrism – far more than current Egyptologists who offer more current up to date and affirming works.   Many if not nearly all of those early authors were racists.  They believed in things such as the heiress theory and the idea that a certain caste and class of people oversaw the darker skinned commoners and did everything that they could to keep those bloodlines pure.   One of these authors went as far as to say, “Egypt must never be allowed to partake of Africa’s spirit.”

Budge and his contemporaries were cut very much from the cloth of eurocentricity during that time.  Of course, the times have changed and we now have in the ranks of egyptology, those who are not just native born Egyptians – but also Americans, Europeans, Asians,  and Africans from all over the continent.  In the days that Sir E. A. Wallis Budge was penning his works, there was an underlying idea of an apartheid system with a ruling class made up of a white minority who oversaw all aspects of power.  They set themselves up so that they might oversee the majority of darker skinned non-European people.  Budge ‘s works do have some good typesetting, however, his translations were completely off in many ways.  To the point, we need to not only take the contents of books into account but also the the eras in which those writings were produced and how the cultural mindset of the authors whose views very probably bled over into the thesis and conclusions that were made.

How is this sort of prejudice and racism any different from what the slave masters of the south believed?  How is it different from the views that were put forth in Nazi propaganda by Adolph Hitler and the Third Reich? How tolerable would it be for those who are not of African-American decent to make the same sort of bigoted claims that many within afrocentrism seem to make today?

My guess is that the public outcry and the flurry of social media backlash would be astounding if not downright deafening.  What makes us different in terms of religious beliefs, culture, and out outward appearance is, I believe, what makes us beautiful.   There is a beautiful line of dialogue in that wretched film, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves”, where a little English girl  comparing her skin colour to that of  the Moor, Hakim (played by Morgan Freeman) asks, “Why did God paint you?”   And Hakim smiles at her and gives her the most simple, yet breathtakingly beautiful answer:   “Because He loves infinite variety.”

Infinite variety should not instill arrogance in any of us. If anything, it should instill an almost overwhelming feeling of awe.

lotusplaceholder

Sources Cited

Furr, Grover. “Fallacies of Afrocentrism.” Fallacies of Afrocentrism. Monclair State University, English Department, n.d. Web. 18 June 2014.

Jaroff, Leon. “Teaching Reverse Racism.” Time. Time Inc., 24 June 2001. Web. 23 June 2014.

Ortiz de Montellano, Bernard,  Melanin, Afrocentricity, and Pseudoscience”, Academia.edu

Ortiz De Montellano, Bernard. “Magic Melanin: Spreading Scientific Illiteracy Among Minorities.” CSI: Community for Skeptical Inquiry. N.p., 30 Dec. 192. Web. 15 June 2014.

Save

Save

6 Comments

Filed under afrocentrist, akhu / ancestors, indigenous, Kemet is Cool Project, kemetic, racism, Religion, sekhmet