Category Archives: akhu / ancestors

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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The Importance of Names

"Cartouches for Sekhmet Meritamen", created by Marc Line for Pan HIstoria.comWhat’s in a name?   Plenty.  A name is the essence of who we are.  It can be the name that we are given at birth, or a nickname which signifies who we are within communities, or it can be an Initiatory name.  Sometimes a name is a persona we choose for ourselves in order to keep us safe from the prying eyes of employers,  or those who wish us harm such as ex-spouses, abusive family members or stalkers who want to impinge on our personal lives and our personal freedom.    Names that do not appear on our birth certificate, Social Security card or driver’s license are no less valid than the initiatory names and pseudonyms that we use.  Some may use a ‘fake name’ to bilk, defraud or deceive others online.  Facebook, Google and many other places have in place so-called real-name policies that are designed to help, but sometimes end up hurting.

This past week, this policy ended up happening to me.   My “real name” is not Fanny Fae. It is the nickname of an ancestor of mine, Frances or Françoise McKay and used the name of this blog, Fanny Fae. My reasons for doing this on Facebook and elsewhere, primarily were to 1) protect myself from my ammo-sucking, gun-toting, “Take ‘MERICA back for Jesus”,  and “Convert to Christ or DIE”,  and “Left Behind”  series-believin’ family members who object to my being a polytheist & lesbian woman legally married to her partner after 22 years, and 2) This name is a brand that I own and intend to keep on owning it.  She started as a fictional character on Livejournal and PanHistoria more than a decade ago and I have fiction and other things that are mine written under that name – and they will stay being MINE.  Those that know me knew of my motivations.  There were never any attempts by me to deceive, defraud anyone. Just a nice safe, almost-anonymous ID to be able to live and to work unencumbered by my religious extremist family and to protect what I perceive to be my intellectual and DNA property.  Most everyone in the writing, Pagan and polytheist communities knows me by that name and I have made quite a few friends with it.

From my understanding, Christian Day, an occult  shop owner with stores located both in Salem, MA and New Orleans, a radio host, author and “warlock” who rose up to take on the Evil Charlie Sheen a year or so ago, decided to out  or ‘dox’ me and anyone else that he knew who had a “fake name”.  He took it upon himself and enlisted the help of his friends, groupies and flying monkeys to follow him in this endeavor.  That is what I was told. I have no idea because I was not online at the time. It really isn’t important at this point how or why it happened or who did it.   I refuse to participate in feeding negative energy to a person who claims he “swiffs” it for his own purposes. The end result was Facebook logging me out of my account and telling me that I must use my real name, but could add Fanny Fae as a nickname in parenthesis.  I did so.

I admit, at first I was angry. This sensation lasted all of about five or ten minutes. Then I realized that with the Sekhmet book, hopefully in production to come out soon, it was probably a good thing to stave off potential objections by those who do not equate this ID with my real name.  When I explain to them the circumstances and my reaction to it, most have been very accepting and understanding.  Some, still safely behind their initiatory names or ones that they have contrived to also stave off inquiries from employers, abusive ex-spouses, etc. have been more than understanding.  I daresay that Mr. Day will not be able to swiff their energy from them either.

The biggest inconvenience to me, so far, has not been my weirdo, religious wing-nut family pounding on my virtual door -( though I do expect this to happen eventually), but so many people in the groups that I either admin or those who I am friends with now asking, “WHO the F*** is Christina Paul?!”   I have to explain to them what happened in a Cliff’s Notes version and it always ends up being o.k..   Most did what I did and just shrugged and moved on.

What companies like Facebook, Google and all of the other social venues and corporate conglomerates don’t understand is that most of our lives are online these days. All it takes is someone with a bit of tenacity, some basic computer skills and a credit card and they can get whatever information on any of us that they want to. The entire backlash by consumers about issues of privacy, should also include the ability of persons such as myself and others to give good reasons why they want to hide behind another name.  Ninety-five per cent of the time, those who do, are not trying to do anything illegal.  They are just trying to live their lives quietly and unemcumbered .  Not everyone who chooses to use a pseudonym has gone through abuse, or has to put up with hands-in-the-crazy relatives,  or employers that want to know what their employees do on their off-time as much as they do for the time that they have those employees on the clock.  Being able to mask at least some part of our lives that we feel is private and not open for public scrutiny should be as natural as closing the shades at night when we get undressed.  We are all pretty much  at least virtually undressed when all of our lives are out there for everyone to see.

With all of the recent bouts of identity theft – whether financial, or someone such as a celebrity having someone impersonate them – of course, knowing who you are dealing with is a very good idea.  On the other hand, there needs to be dialogue about having a choice for those who have very good reasons for wanting to stay hidden.  Companies such as Facebook and Google should not assume that the only reason why people choose “fake names’ or are reluctant to not use real names on their services is for potentially illegal reasons. It isn’t.   Having a safe space to be able to interact with others is of paramount importance.  Facebook and Google, et al, have unfortunately become the village square du jour.    You can always opt not to use those services, but to do so leaves you potentially cut off from what most people use as a support network.   Someday we may  have other choices that offer more privacy -or we can hope that these companies get a clue and realize that they have become part of the problem that allows the rise of social ills such as online bullying and stalking. Companies such as Lifelock and other identity theft and credit monitoring services are doing a booming business these days.   I am left wondering if Facebook and Google don’t get some sort of kickback because they are by their own policies very probably helping to create the problem in the first place.

I know you….I know all of your names.

That is a bit of ancient Kemetic or Egyptian heka or authoritative utterance that is said when you gain knowledge of all of the names of someone and you are set to either magically protect or curse them.  We Kemetics take things like the words we use, and especially names very seriously.  There is the legend about how Aset (Isis is Her Greek Name)  wanted to get the secret name of Ra and by manipulation was able to obtain that secret Name or Ren.   Ra knew that with it, Aset could destroy Him.   But He also knew that without paying the ransom to Aset by giving it to Her, that He would die.  Like that story, our names and how we are identified and move through this world are double edged swords.  They can hold great power and they can be used to destroy us utterly.  As I always have said,  “My name is my integrity”.   Nothing is more potentially dangerous as when something does something in your name that you don’t approve of.   Like your word, your name serves as a bond.  Naming is branding. Some of us like to have absolute control over our names and our branding in order to set us apart from everyone else.  Celebrities, recording artists, authors, etc. know this reality all too well.    The more we are out there and participate in social media, the greater for the potential for companies such as Facebook and Google to be used by those who DO want to do illegal things and bilk others to gain more and more power.   It is a fine balance to walk, and having one-size-fits-all policies serves no one in the end.   These venues have already been used for such purposes.  The real name policy in most of these incidents did nothing to safeguard it from happening.

This is an issue that I think deserves more discussion.   My outing came from someone else wanting to be vindictive and to cause me and others harm.  They failed in that endeavor with me other than it has created a few minor inconveniences.  These have already been overcome, so the major explosion that he likely expected ended up being more like a dud firecracker.   Still, privacy is an issue that will not go away and it will take thoughtful consideration rather than wholesale policies in order to make things more safe for everyone. 

‘Sekhmet Meritamen, Physician of Qenbet’ – by Wbnrnpt, for the website, Ancient Sites, now known as Ancient Worlds

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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 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 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 doing interfaith work with Kashi Ashram in Sebastian, Florida.  The experience of having attended Ma Jaya Sati Bhagavati’s birthday celebration and fire puja where several dedicants were committed to priesthood at their Senyasi was a profound one.   Ma taught that her way was not so much a religion but a way of being in the world and 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, but I do feel that the experience made me, I believe, a better Kemetic.

Even with all of this,   after a time, I realized 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 of Sekhmet.

In recent years, there has been a new resurgence of groups in the sphere of religion that focus on race and skin color.  I have even been in the vicinity of one that insisted all of its members get DNA tests to ensure that they are of the right blood group in order to prove their lineage to certain bloodlines that mark them as “superior” to their human counterparts, claiming to hail back to either the bloodlines of the Tuatha de Dannan or to the Annunaki. They fervently believe that rulership, nobility and everything that sets them apart entitles them to be a part of a higher caste and class that the rest of humanity and everyone else are more or less shuffling herd animals incapable of real thought or magical/spiritual ability.

Unfortunately, this sort of ridiculously bigoted nonsense has migrated its way into the realms of Kemetic groups.   Afrocentrist philosophies are not new. I am actually in agreement with many of the assertions that yes,  the world’s greatest civilizations began in Africa.  Homo sapiens (humans) began in  Africa, so we all ultimately have a tie there, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not.

In the early days of the internet, the militancy of some afrocentrist groups were reaching a fevered pitch.  Some would troll the newsgroups on Usenet such as alt.archaeology, sci.archaeology or alt.culture.egyptian, 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 that had Napoleon or his troops testing their cannon out on the nose of the Great Sphinx because 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 into Egypt at the time that he was in the country. He enlisted an entire corps of artists and engineers and as a result produced one of the greatest inventories of the ancient monuments, le Description de Egypte.  That inventory compiled by Napoleon is still the most accurate one that we have to date.    He would have likely put to death anyone who would do something that horrible -though some of his men left initials behind on some of the monuments.   At any rate, the heinous Sphinx defacement was in fact done by 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 ‘pay homage to’  a graven image,  and he considered such reverence to be very ‘Un-Islamic’.   He was going to put a stop to it….not unlike what some within more radical factions of Islam are proposing now by covering the ancient monuments in wax or destroying them in the same fashion that the Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan.  The marks from the pry-bars are still there on the Sphinx itself as evidence. You can see them if you can get close enough while they are trying to preserve the ancient beast.    So much for the usual claim of Europeans trying to obliterate the monument because of alleged ‘racist motivations’.

Now there are even more scores of books and web pages just about everywhere you look that posit the notion that melanin = spiritual enlightenment and 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 are told that you may admire ancient Kemet, its culture, people, history, etc.  from afar but that 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. How dare I worship African gods?  I should find my own heritage and get my own gods!

The experience was devastating.  I was quite honestly shocked and hurt at being the recipient of vitriol that came out of nowhere.    From what I have been told, this experience is unfortunately not at all unusual and many others, who have lighter skin and are not distinctly African looking have suffered similar incidents. I know that I didn’t choose the Netjeru.  I believed at that time, and I still firmly believe that They had chosen me.  I was always happiest 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 and Heru (Horus) were watching me from overhead and that things were going to change and inevitably everything would be alright. Now, some woman whom I didn’t even know, inexplicably walks up and tries to tell me that  my connection is not mine at all and to wear Egyptian themed jewelry just smacked of wishful whitebread, honky, wannabi  fantasies and that I should move along and get me back to a church pew at the nearest Christian house of worship?  It was 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 policy up to as late as 1976.  My Aunt Lucille was one the ones who got sterilized because of it.  The wounds are fresh for many of us, and we are not likely to forget them soon. 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.  The prejudice, the discrimination, the snide arrogance of stereotyping people into groups – it 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, of the Lakota Chipps family. JDK was born into a white family. That family is not particularly notable excpt that he is in no part Native by blood.  However, because of his devotion to the Lakota People and to the preservation of lands and especially the buffalo, he was adopted by the Lakota Nation as one of their own. He is a Lakota now.  Period. Those who have dared to tell JDK or any of the People of his Nation and especially his family that he is not Lakota because his skin is the wrong color finds out otherwise very, VERY quickly just how wrong they are in the 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 and 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, and 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, and 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 are?    These days, DNA testing can narrow down where certain groups of people were and how they migrated.    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 does no one any favors – except he had some good typesetting, but 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 line in that wretched film, “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves” when a little English girl  comparing her skin colour to that of  the Moor, Hakim (played by Morgan Freeman), “Why did God paint you?”   And Hakim smiled at her and gave 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.

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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.

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Defending Myself Against An Unseen Assailant

I am not one to engage in what I call, “mystic woo-woo” for its own sake. In spite of being someone who follows Kemetic religion, who is an Initiated Priestess of Sekhmet and someone who has been around occult circles in one form or another for over 30 years, I am also someone who is deeply interested in science. I have spent a great deal of time being devoted to the historical record and am someone who values putting out good, solidly resourced material. I am not prone to histrionics, and I really prefer to analyze a situation so that I can effectively decide what to do in it or about it. Sometimes practical things are called for, while at other times, other sorts of precautions and ritual actions that reverberate into the Realms of the Unseen are needed. This was one of those times where the latter was called for in addition to the former.

Let me start at the beginning…

Over the last few months, several in fact; I have been dealing with what appeared to be sleep apnea. I admit, I am a couple of pounds overweight, I am going into peri-menopause, and sometimes the body does weird and not-so-wonderful things as we grow older. Being a “Woman of a Certain Age” can, quite frankly, suck. The situation of really bad sleep was I thought related to work, school and other stresses. I had done my best to correct most of them, mostly through natural therapies such as herbs, seeing my Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practitioner, and begrudgingly, even my doctor – who is, in my view, merely a servant to conventional medicine. Thinking in traditional ways about health and well-being is not her strong suit, alas.

To answer the dietary questions: I only eat meat of any kind a few times a week. I cut out a great deal of dairy, swore off of absolutely anything that contained even a trace of either high fructose corn syrup or aspartame and hadn’t drunk soda pop in at least three months. If it’s processed, it’s suspect and left out as much as possible.

Anyway…

The ‘sleep apnea’, was becoming more and more consistent and more pronounced as time went on. It began about four years ago at a Temple event in Joliet. It was also at first only happening at night, and it was not every night. At first there was not so much cause for concern. Then it was happening every single night, sometimes several times a night. At its peak, it started happening in broad daylight when I took a nap as well. It didn’t matter if I slept on my back or on either side, or sitting in a chair, the problem was there and it was, to put it mildly, becoming rather frightening.

About a month and a half ago, I had the worst bout of this phenomena that I had ever experienced. It was as if my heart had not only stopped, but that ‘I’, my consciousness that was “me”, was literally being ripped from my body. According to my spouse, I woke up screaming, kicking and fighting. For me, kicking and screaming in my sleep was definitely not normal. I woke up from that night’s “sleep” absolutely shaken. Something had to be done; whether it was physical, or something unseen or a combination of the two was not certain. I just knew that things could not keep on going as they had been.

With great trepidation, I posed my question to an email list of folks that I am a part of. The moderator of the group, who is herself an accomplished author and teacher in her own right, did a reading for me. Actually, she did several. Without my needing to tell her a thing, she honed in on several issues that had been of concern. Her conclusions matched those of my TCM practitioner and my own gut instincts. She surmised that I was most definitely under an attack of some sort and that it centred around one thing in particular. She gave me several suggestions and advice, which I followed.

Even after doing a cleansing and sealing of the spaces of the home, the property and everything else that that needed to be sealed, I put up wards and guardians. With the liberal use of consecrated salt and natron and other protections, overnight the situation had noticeably improved. For the first five consecutive nights I did not have a single incident of “sleep apnea”. On the seventh night there was one tiny hiccup and after that there was only one on All Hallows Eve. That was an indication as well. When the Veil is the thinnest – that was the most likely time that someone will try to launch something. It was just a small little blip.

Since taking precautions and continuing to keep with my changes in diet, activity and practice, there has been no “apnea”, no screaming, no kicking or fighting anything off. There have been no panic attacks – no problems. L

All of this has given me the impetus to reaffirm in the ways that I had been doing before when I first came to Iunen Sekhmet: Working with land spirits that are a part of the Enchanted Forest that surrounds our home, and and continued, focused practice.

So why would I even mention this, or even publish it online? Certainly signalling whomever might be dong this and what I am doing to stop it could lead to my efforts being thwarted – especially when I am definitely not out of danger yet.

Ah….there is a method to my madness.

Even though I have not given specifics for the steps that I have taken, and have not outlined how I had at least momentarily gained the upper hand, I know that sometimes what seems a logical explanation to something isn’t the real explanation. Besides, anyone reading this post would certainly conclude that they had stuck their hands in my own special brand of crazy. Who really believes in any of this stuff, right?

That’s the problem with those of us who have an overly-logical mind. That is what happens when you flat-out dismiss what may very well be a knock on the noggin from the realms of the Unseen. Too many people cannot find a logical reason for something, and ascribing an incident to an unseen assailant or attack can seem really as if they have taken leave of their senses. Speaking only for myself, I have been in the business of being a Priestess and a practitioner of various forms of mysticism / Cunning Craft far too long. I have seen things that cannot be scientifically or logically explained. I fully admit there are just some brands of woo that I cannot even buy myself. For example, I have never met an extraterrestrial, I’ve never even seen one. I am not all too certain that I ever want to see one. if that were in the realm of possibility. I think that many within the the Love and Light Crowd, or the ones who spout off about conspiracy theories meant to keep humanity from their “birthright” as heirs to the ancient knowledge deserve to have a stack of decent books unceremoniously hurled at their thick skulls.

Few things are more maddening to me than someone who considers themselves quite an adept as an armchair magician or expert practitioner, but they have never actually performed any sort of solitary or group ritual. They do not, and by default, cannot understand the dynamics of what power or sekhem really is. They have no clear comprehension of how heka works, or even what Ma’at< is. For these folks, continually trying to rewrite the rules of the Realms of the Unseen and the subtle seems to be their hallmarks. Many of these folks don’t even believe that psychic attacks are possible, let alone that it could possibly happen to them and so they are, in my opinion, far more vulnerable to them. If they do believe in them, sometimes they simply “send it back”.

Wrong answer.

I am here to tell you that in some traditions, and especially in the Kemetic, that particular and popular ritual solution does not always work. In fact, sometimes it can make a situation much, much worse by acting very much like a Chinese finger trap or quicksand. If you engage it at all, or struggle with it in any way, then the action that is intended to thwart the attack, in turn becomes its own trap. Too many of the armchair magicians and even those who believe themselves to be hands-on adepts are not nearly experienced enough to know the difference. Others simply “don’t believe ” in any of this stuff. I will repeat what I am often heard saying in that, plants do not need to necessarily “believe in” photosynthesis either: They will still turn green.

Right now I intend to continue to follow my friend and fellow Priestess’ advice as closely as I am able or comfortable in doing. She and I are in close contact often and we verify things with each other. In my experience, when you are dealing with a situation that makes you uneasy or you are unsure, you need to get another perspective other than your own. It is always good to find someone you can trust to help you discern what is real and what are the phantoms of your own imagination and maybe offer a point of view that you may not have considered at all. Try to find someone who is grounded in reality at least a little and not prone to bullshit. Josephine, for me, has been exactly that. For that I thank her.

When we take these sorts of precautions, we stand a far better chance of getting the best of both the Seen and the Unseen worlds.

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God Is Not Your ‘B*tch’!

Recently the question came up in one of the discussion forums I am in as to whether or not we need Divine and vice versa.

Inevitably, we get the well-considered answers, and then we get the children who think that the profundity of the entire Universe is somehow in that precious treasure trove between their ears, and that everyone else is dying to find out what it is that the rest of humanity has somehow missed.

Does the scientific reality of photosynthesis cease if plants don’t pay attention to it or believe in it? No. It still exists. I think humans like to console themselves on the arrogant notion that somehow the Divine would be somehow gone or irrelevant without our participation in the equation.

In my not-so-humble opinion: Bullshit.

I’ve been referred to all sorts of arguments by anyone and anything from the penned opinions of the late Isaac Bonnewitz to Terry Pratchett’s books and frankly none of it has any relevance whatsoever to my personal practice or praxis on the matter. I am Kemetic; Kemetic Orthodox to be exact. I have been at this as a practitioner of the Kemetic religion in some form or another for 30+ years. I think I know by now what it is that I am doing and are pretty secure in what I believe without the compare and contrast inserted by others into the equation, thank you very much. Purity, piety and fear of Netjer is a part of Kemetic religious devotion and practice, and that exact phrase goes back to antiquity and carries a lot of weight. However, that idea is not as dogmatic as that might sound. Nature IS. Netjer IS. It will be there – as a constant. Our participation is not necessary in either case. Both Netjer and humanity get something out of the deal and I believe that love on both sides of the equation has a great deal to do with why it works to this day. That is, I know, my opinion. Y’all are entitled to your own.

Which brings me to this: The God(s) are not our bitches. Add to that the notion that He/She /They is/ are not necessarily our “buddies” either. We don’t get to haul them out and play with them like Celestial Barbies or G.I. Jove. It is not all fun, or warm or fuzzy. It is hard WORK and sometimes that is necessarily difficult and frustrating. You will probably shed tears from time to time.

Get over it.

The relationship between humans and the Divine is just that….a relationship. All relationships if they are worth a damn at all, take work on both sides or it is just superficial and has no sort of depth or intimacy to it. To really know another, be it a person or a Deity, there has to be deep levels of insight on both sides. That is the hard part.

God / the Gods (the One in the Many or the Many in the One) Netjer is/are not here as the Eternal Wish Grantor(s) to be approached only “when we need something” or to be blamed when stuff goes wrong. It fascinates me just how many people become suddenly religious when they are faced with a crisis of some sort of another. We need money, we need a Divine pep talk, we need to see what lies beyond the bend in the road and we suddenly go into “religious mode”. We light a candle, or bow our heads, or get suddenly reflective or we scream to the sky, “Why me?!” Some of us may choose to perform magical rites and do heka or authoritative utterances, demanding to get our way. Sometimes we might think that resorting to threats and having a temper tantrum to get our way is the approach. We need a sign. We need reassurance we need something, and in the darkest reaches of our hearts, we know if we just get a teeny, tiny glimmer of hope, everything will be ok.

However, just as soon as some of us get that, and the crisis is seemingly over, too many simply skip along our merry way after saying, “Thanks, God! That was mighty cool of you!” And then quickly and ever-so-conveniently forget. That is they forget until the next crisis rolls around and the whole process begins all over again.

Is this any way to live our spiritual or even our day-to-day lives? Is this any way to navigate our way through the things that keep us motivated and moving? Does this give us any real connection to the Divine or even to our deepest selves? I personally don’t believe so.

I recently read a wonderful blog post by Adam Sicinski, God Does Not Grant Wishes but rather Opportunities to Make Wishes Come True that was written almost seven years ago but I found to be both lucid and insightful. Beyond the fact that Adam did not try to ram Christian-themed belief down the throat of the reader, he rather neutral on the subject; the post contained some real gems, such as this one:

“There are so many of us out there who rely on God or an Infinite Power to heal them, to make them rich, and to make their dreams come true. What these people fail to understand is that God will not fulfill their desires. It is rather up to the person asking for these things to keep an eye out for opportunities coming their way that may possibly enable them to fulfill their needs and wants.”

Even when you practice magic, or the Craft of the Cunning folk, heka. spells or whatever you want to call it, things can go wrong. Sometimes the answer is,”No.” Or it is, “Not now.” Sometimes the things we ask for or the things we think we want are better left unfulfilled. Being prepared to take on the responsibility of the thing or situation desired is important.

I have seen far too many people, Neopagans especially, pick up specific deities or entire pantheons because they think that going to that Deity or that set of Deities will get them the results that they want. If Deity has the least little bit of intelligence that we believe that it does, do you think maybe that it is possible to determine when someone is hanging out in their shrine or making alms and prayers that the person is after something? Sincerity, or lack thereof, does have a certain air to it. Most people can discern whether or not someone likes us, or is talking to us or saying complimentary things out of sincerity, and when someone is trying to get something out of the person that they are making overtures to.

The Divine is not so insecure as to need to be flattered, or plied with copious amounts of food and drink in the guise of “offerings”. It’s not unlike the husband who takes his wife out to dinner and plies her with candy and flowers and wine and maybe even some bling in order to get something or make nice. She’s no fool. She knows that this is all a part of the negotiation for whatever it is that he is after – sex, forgiveness, telling her that they are moving to South Dakota in the middle of nowhere – whatever it is. He wants something. Or the televangelist who tells viewers to send in $100 and God will “press it down and multiply it and turn it into $1,000!” In return, that viewer gets a special “prayer cloth” made of 100% polyester, cut with pinking shears to prevent ravellng and to be kept in your wallet as a reminder of your faithful covenant with God. Why do people do that? Does it have to do with faith as much as it has to do with wanting something in return?

I am fairly certain that the Divine is smart enough to figure that sort of thing out, too.

So why do we do any of this stuff? Why do we erect shrines in our homes? Why do we make offerings, why do we even bother with all the ritual and the reflection and everything that goes with it?

Speaking only for myself and my relationship that I have with the Netjeru, I do it because I want to. I enjoy spending time in my shrine with the perceived presence of Sekhmet, or Amun, or Aset or Heka – or Melek Taus or Durga or even with my akhu (ancestors). It’s a relationship. Relationships take work. I am willing to do the work, make the effort, not just because I want something, or that I hope to get anything out of it except a clearer sense of myself and where I am going, the world and how I can be in it and assist others, not just myself. That has nothing to do with being a priestess or a retired priestess. That has everything to do with humanity needing to work with our environment, with the people and even the experiences that seem to be ordinary, and yet there are inexplicable things that are extraordinary. Power or Sekhem comes in many forms. It exists deep within us, but it also can be found in the ordinary. Seeing the power of a rainstorm or seeing the blood red sky in the morning both remind me of Set. Such a simple thing was not something I asked for, but it is no less a gift for which I am thankful. Seeing the vultures fly overhead remind me of Mut and Nekhbet. The cry of a hawk outside my door reminds me of Heru and that His Eye is always upon me. The herbs that I harvest and the power to heal with them reminds me of Sekhmet. Those are the big things in all of the “little things” that make a difference in our lives. When we remember that, what part of our lives does not, therefore, become a prayer?

The gratitude for each and every day and the countless experiences we can find to remind us that we are not alone, that we are a part of a greater whole. God is not here to grant wishes, necessarily. I do not foresee Yinepu going into the kitchen any time soon to fetch a chicken pot pie. What the Divine does do is provide us the inspiration and the sense of accomplishment in creating things for ourselves. In that, lies the true gift.

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For Service, Slavery, and Sex : Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia

An excellent piece by Sarduríur Freydís Sverresdatter and definitely well worth the read. The subject of tattooing in Ancient Egypt. From slaves to Gods Wives of Amun, tattooing had special significance for certain sectors of society in the Two Lands.

For Service, Slavery, and Sex : Tattooing in Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia.

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Kemetic Round Table:The Mythic Mystique

“Send Your Eye down as HetHert (Hathor). This goddess indeed went and She slew people upon the desert.
Then said the majesty of this God [Ra], “Welcome in Peace, HetHert. You have done that which I sent You to do.”
Then said this goddess:”As You live for Me, I have been powerful over the people! And it is pleasing to My heart!”
Then said the majesty of Ra,”It is in order to diminish them [humans] that I have sent the power of My kingship.”
Thus did Sekhmet come into being.”
(Translation by Tamara L. Siuda)

Mythology: How necessary is it? Does it affect your practice? Should it?

My own answer to this question is a rather dependent upon what we are talking about. Surely when the sun rises every day, and the sky is red, I am reminded of the Kemetic myth that it is because Set has slain the Ap/ep serpent and the waters of the Nun are red with its blood so that Ra may rise again. I hold up my hands in the gesture of praise, or henu and say, “Dua Ra, Dua Set!”

Everyone who considers themselves to be Kemetic has heard the myths about Sekhmet and the Destruction of Mankind. It is one of the most well-known and important myths in all of Kemetic culture and religion. Unlike many practitioners of other religions and spiritual traditions, Kemetics tend to be a bit less dogmatic about those mythologies.

The above passage, was translated by Tamara Siuda. Tamara herself an Egyptologist and the founder of the House of Netjer Kemetic Orthodox Temple, of which I am a member. One of the things that Tamara teaches, is the reason for Sekhmet’s creation by Her Father Ra was fairly clear. In the time when the Netjeru and Humans lived together in the world, mankind got arrogant. They became arrogant in the pride of their own accomplishments, and collectively they decided that they no longer needed the gods. Not only did they plot to overthrow the Netjeru, they plotted to destroy Them. The benign Hathor, when She learned that humanity wanted to harm Her Father, became the rampaging Sekhmet.

But in terms of Kemetic belief, what does this really mean?

This idea is in itself a metaphor for many of the Kemetic myths. The stories serve to teach us things about how we deal with life’s challenges, phenomena in the natural world and other concerns. Few Kemetics take them as an absolute truth. In the case of the myth of Sekhmet and the Destruction of Mankind, as found on the Golden Shrine of Tutankhamun, it serves as a metaphor for the nature of anger and how destructive it can be justified or not. Anger, even or especially when attached to righteous indignation can become quite volatile and unpredictable. Who in the world would not want to destroy utterly anyone who would dare raise their hand to their loved ones or those whom they care about? In this case, Sekhmet’s anger with its fury and destruction that almost wiped out the whole of humanity is understandable. Humans were plotting to kill Her Father, Ra. Her anger was indiscriminate, without warning, and absolute.

For anyone who has been so angry that they almost seemed as if they were outside of themselves, they can tell you there reaches a point when that anger produces a high of its own. I have been so angry in one particular incident, that I remember distinctly standing outside of my own self and thinking, “Wow…I am really pissed off.” There was that instant of wanting to stop but being unable to. When anger reaches that point, it is as if you are quite literally drunk on it.

A little bit like Sekhmet, perhaps? Maybe. If anything, the mythology teaches that there is always appropriate action. Sekhmet’s anger was initially quite appropriate, but then it reached the point to where it “got good to Her,” and Sekhmet became less than reasonable to the point where She almost destroyed the whole of Mankind. Going overboard is not what one would call appropriate.

I have found that there are those in and around the Kemetic faith sphere who are divined, or consider themselves to be children of Sekhmet who use it as an excuse. Too often I hear too many of them try to flippantly write off their bouts of poorly managed anger, co-dependent flailing, and just general bad behaviour on being a “child of Sekhmet”. There are still other children of various Names of Netjer who try to blame their need to get drunk every other night or on the weekends as how they deal with being a child of X Name of Netjer. Frankly, I think we all know that this is nothing short of a steaming load of bullshit. It may sound logical, but it really is just abdication of responsibility. Ultimately, you and you alone are responsible for your bad behaviour – putting it off on Deity is quite clearly a cop-out; and a weak one at that. Trying to dodge personal responsibility in that manner is pretty ridiculous. So why do it?

What to do? Well, certainly we are not going to wait around till Djehuti fills valleys with beer stained red with ochre and spiked with mandrake so we can get “happy” and forget why it was that we were pissed off about in the first place. We need to take the myths in the context in which they were, as far as we could tell, originally intended.

They were stories, meant to educate masses of people about natural phenomena that they encountered in their lives. Is the sun (Ra) really being pushed across the sky by a giant dung beetle (Kheperi)? Did Atum create All that Exists by self-pleasure and masturbation? (Talk about a “Big Bang Theory”!) Is the whole yearly cycle culminated by the epagomenal days and Djehuty has to beat Ra at a game of dice so that poor Nut can give birth to her children, Heru-Wer, Wasir, Set, Aset and NebetHet? Do we at the end of those five days, in all actuality destroy the Uncreated One when we perform the Rite of Turning Back the Enemies of Ra – or the sun won’t rise and the world will end? I suppose it really all depends upon your point of view. Certainly when someone wants to tout the benefits of teaching Creationism in schools, I pipe up with the one about Atum. That usually puts a kabbash on any further assertions about teaching Creationism in public education. Apparently teaching school aged children about some cultural mythology can potentially open up a whole other set of issues that some folks just aren’t prepared to explain to their kids!

Myths have served as road maps of a kind for man since antiquity. They help us understand what is going on in the world around us and within ourselves and the struggles that we face on a day-to-day basis. They give us pause during annual festivals of the year and when the seasons change or we gather together and remember our ancestors and our collective pasts. Certainly we see this sort of re-membering in almost any faith that you care to name. Of course, for myself, I tend to think of it in terms of my own Kemetic beliefs, which in many ways are quite similar to Hindu beliefs in how we integrate our religion into our lives. The myths and ritual actions that go along with them serve a purpose to get us to stop, to connect deeper with the Unseen. When we do this, it is my experience that we are healthier, calmer, more contemplative and reflective for having done so.

We also tend to be a little less dogmatic than other faiths because in our beliefs we do not feel the need to “prove” our extant liturgical texts. I have talked to many in non-Kemetic faiths who were excited when archaeological bits turned up that ascertained what was contained in their religious scripture was “proven” by what had been found. If you have Faith, why would actually “proving” something be at all necessary? You either believe something as being a truth religiously or philosophically or you don’t. You either find a way to integrate the beliefs and the symbolism into your life or you are oblivious to it. These things are what make up faith. It doesn’t necessarily need to be proven. Ultimately, I think that’s why it’s called ‘faith’.

Kemetic myths are rich and varied. These myths changed over periods of history and many were considered regional. Some of the better books on Kemetic myth are Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods, by Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks, The three-volume set of Ancient Egyptian Literature by Miriam Lichtheim. Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms, Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom, and Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume III: The Late Period . ANother good standby that is a bit older than the other aforementioned books is R.T. Rundle Clark’s classic book, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt. Any of these go over some of the myths that many of we Kemetics hold up as part of our religious heritage.

For me, the most wonderful thing about these myths is that the longer I am around various folks who practice the Kemetic faith, I get exposed to other myths that I had never heard or just wasn’t paying that close attention to. Certainly in a religion where there are over 4,000 different Names for God and the various manifestations of the Divine, it becomes rather difficult to take them all in. That is certainly alright. Kemetic myths have a way of showing up at the time when they are the most relevant to us and in a time that we most need to hear them. There is something about this that is far less dogmatic and far more freeing when you can look at the sunrise and somehow imagine the Barque of Ra traveling across the sky.

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