Category Archives: sekhmet

Guilt By Association

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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 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 getyour 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 tol 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 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, 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.  The prejudice, the discrimination, the snide arrogance of stereotyping people into groups, 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, who is a member of the Chipps family 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 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 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 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 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 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.

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

Regarding Sekhmet’s Stolen Image

Chris M. Morris, via Creative CommonsSometime on Good Friday, the Goddess Temple in Cactus Springs, Nevada was invaded by thieves. The space that had always been open to anyone wanting to come visit the Goddess, to pray and to enjoy the peace of the sanctuary could do so unhindered. It was this that made it possible for those with a more heinous mission in mind to succeed in stealing the centrepiece of that place, a four  foot tall statue of Sekhmet that weighed just under 100 pounds.

The Priestess in Residence came into the Temple to find Sekhmet gone. The thieves had left behind only tire tracks, and in them was the necklace that the statue had been wearing, indicating that she had been tipped while being spirited away in the night from the place that had been her home for the last 21 years.

For the celebration of Earth Day that was scheduled to be held at the Temple, a picture of the statue was set in the place of where the image once stood.  The Earth Day Celebration went on as planned.

Right now, there is much speculation within the Pagan community as to why it happened or who might have done it.  The first thing that came to mind is that somehow, since it was done on Good Friday, it was religiously motivated, as if to remove an image sacred to those who are not a part of the Big Three monotheistic faiths.   Others have suggested someone just wanted to make Sekhmet their own.  Others have posited that because of the area of the country and because Sekhmet personifies power itself, that the culprits could be drug dealers who believe that stealing a bit of mojo is perfectly acceptable.  Whatever the motivations are, the Pagan community and all those who love Sekhmet are upset by the theft.

Initially $500 was being offered for information that led to the arrest and prosecution of the culprits. That has since been kicked up to a $2,000 reward.  I would not be surprised if that figure increased yet again.

The unfortunate byproduct of this tragic event are those Pagans who wring their hands and drape themselves over the furniture, wailing that this is about religious persecution – or that if this had happened in a Christian church or Jewish synagogue, the press coverage would somehow be more than it has been.  I understand the deeply personal feelings that people have toward Sekhmet and that someone would do something so terrible is frustrating and brings up anger, sadness and the overall feeling of somehow being violated. I also know what it feels like when the issues and events we hold near and dear are not adequately covered as we feel they ought to be.  I think anyone who is on the receiving end of being even in a small way touched by any sort of crime – be it a hate crime or something else must feel that irritation that no one could possibly understand.  Pagans in particular, seem to love to latch on to crises of this type because it makes them feel as some “persecuted other”.  I never saw much use in wallowing in that sort of self-pity, personally.

To be honest, I never thought I would see the day Sekhmet’s children would resort to playing the victim card and yet I have in these past few days. Some have resorted to comparing and contrasting our religious site being desecrated and comparing our pain to the pain of others when thier faith was lashed out against. Somehow they conveniently have forgotten in another crime that is unrelated but took place just before Easter where  three innocent lives were lost last week during Passover.  Ironically, all three of the victims who were slain by a white supremicist were Christians.   It is my view and in the interests of ma’at that I believe that no one should be singled out, begrudged or feel persecuted for their beliefs, or have their sacred spaces violated. The ones who whine about how we of “Other” faiths that are not Jewish, Christian or Muslim are so very persecuted and discriminated against conveniently forget the burned churches, the desecrated mosques, the ravaged Sikh temples, that have all  have been the scenes of senseless violence and desecration, all  based on hate and intolerance. Our prayers go out to their families and our voices whisper hopes toward peace and understanding.  It is what we should do for each other as human beings. Skin colour, race, religious conviction, sex, sexual preference and any number of other things does not trump the fact that we are all human beings and have to share the space, so to speak.

While the stealing of the statue is a tragic, heinous thing, too many within Paganism’s ranks  love to use that common excuse that gets handed out is to blame the media – especially when screaming “religious persecution”.

This, in my personal opinion,  is not an act of persecution. We need to stop with the assumptions that somehow it was. There were no slurs painted over the space, the building was left intact- they took the statue, something that cannot be replaced. It’s a theft. Cameras may be necessary as a precaution to insure against future thefts, or worse, the safety of worshipers. That’s the way of things these days. It has to be, unfortunately. Slanting the story is not helpful.  We now live in a world where that kind of trust is not something that can be easily given to just anyone. We used to sleep with our doors unlocked and our kids could play in their own front yards. Both things are becoming increasingly rare now – but of course,  that has nothing to do with religion. It has to do with a society that is largely out of control.

We are not the dominant religion, that is true. We are not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, but we can practice our religion for the most part unmolested. Do people lose their lives here over being pagan? Hardly. That is what the comparison with the Passover shootings was about – and it is relevant. Can people in India, Africa, and even Egypt itself say the same? Absolutely not. I know of native Egyptians who do worship Sekhmet – but they cannot do so openly or it is a death sentence.

There is no point to the practice of comparing and contrasting of pain and transgressions and tresspasses against “Us” versus the ones suffered by “Them” – whichever side we happen to be on.  Any religion being oppressed, any desecration of a holy site is an outrage and intolerable. As a Priestess of Sekhmet, I ask is our suffering any greater than the churches that get burned down, the mosques that are desecrated, the medicine wheels that are destroyed?  No. Absolutely not.

Whomever did this – be they someone who lusted for Sekhmet’s image itself, or someone in the drug cartels  or someone just doing something ignorant and hateful, I can say without reservation that they will have literal hell to pay.  In spite of Sekhmet’s loving, healing aspects – and She has many – there are very dark parts of this Goddess that are invoked when Ma’at has been transgressed.   To those who know Sekhmet and those “darker” aspects of Her, know without any shadow of a doubt that the move was a very stupid one indeed.

That statue will be returned – or not. But we are undamaged, and Sekhmet’s worship is undeterred. One thing is for certain, however, those who stole Her image will get what they have coming to them. I know for a fact, Sekhmet’s Arrows Do. Not. Miss.

In my years of experience, Sekhmet, as far as Deities go,  is most definitely NOT  a victim; and neither, I dare I say it, are Her children. We will not curl up into a ball and wail and bemoan the situation. We will not stop doing what we have been doing since the resurgence of Sekhmet’s worship in the world.  We know who our Mother is,  and She knows us.  We who know that we belong to Her carry Sekhmet within us.  Our minds hone in on Her with a singular focus.  We do this because She IS the very Personification of Power or Sekhem itself. To succumb to this blow is to give that Power away.

Rest assured, we have absolutely no intention of doing that.

(Mirrored at niankhsekhmet.com)

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Filed under kemetic, pagan, politics, rants, Religion, sekhmet, Sekhmet, update

Making the transition

egyptianscribes1It is no secret that I tend to be a bit of a control freak. I do work well with others. I am just a little more reticent about working for them. I’ve been in the corporate sphere and could name-drop if I wanted to. I have also done my share of work with small businesses as well. It has been a mixture of good and bad. I have had wonderful bosses, and worked for executives who were the most unreasonable demons from the deepest pits of Hell. I have had great, co-workers and teammates that instill what that whole sort of culture should be about – and I have had the displeasure of having to work with the clueless and the incurably lazy who were more than happy to let me (or anyone else) do their jobs while they got paid just the same. In spite of all of this, I feel that each experience taught me a great deal.

I feel particularly blessed that right now, I am relying on a job outside of my own employment less and less. It was a hard road and a long time in coming. I believe my ability to do it now, rather than having been able to do it before is because of my having gone back to school. I learned some very good practical skills in media-related areas to be sure. However, more than that, I learned a great deal more and was exposed to some extraordinary teachers who are nothing less than a goldmine of knowledge, experience, and for some, the establishment of what I feel are real and lasting friendships. Through them I learned about good habits and not-so-great ones as well. This is especially true with my writing.

Between the blogs that I write and edit for commercial clients, the freelance camera work and the writing that I do via eBook publishing, it is looking like self sufficiency is not such a far off dream.

So, on my birthday I had to go to work at the job outside of the home. I don’t mind that so much. Today, however, the day after, I am spending time unfucking my habitat and unfucking the Sekhmet book. I think the former is going to be a little bit easier than the latter simply because right now, the book is a nearly 300 page long info-dump of everything I have compiled about Sekhmet and everything surrounding her for the last decade and a half. I confess, part of it makes me rather afraid, because I am putting myself out there to be shredded in the very same way that I shredded the late Dr. Robert Masters over my personal points of contention over his work. I am in his debt, of course, but he and I did not always see eye to eye and there are those who may find my work a complete departure. That sort of fills me with a bit of trepidation. Sekhmet, on the other hand, just keeps pushing that it needs to be put out there. So does my spouse and my son.

I just have to remember that the task in front of me is never as great as the Power (sekhem)_within myself. If I keep telling myself this, maybe I will actually not only start to believe it but live it, too.

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Filed under magickal alchemy, mystic woo-woo, product, review, sekhmet, Uncategorized, writing

C is for Celestial Cow

moocowOne of the most enduring symbols of Deity in the Ancient Egyptian cosmogony is that of a Bovine Goddess. From the earliest dynastic period and the Narmer Palette with the figure of the goddess Bat, believed to be a precursor to the popular HetHert – more commonly known as Hathor, the imagery of a celestial or divine cow has endured. Though Aset (Isis) and Hathor both are commonly shown with horns and a solar disk as part of their symbolism, only Hathor has bovine ears.

The Book of the Heavenly Cow, though some believe it originated during the Amarna period under Amunhotep IV (Akhenaten) more likely actually originated around the time of Amunhotep II, Akhenaten’s paternal great grandfather. This is most likely because of an illustration on the walls of his tomb which depicts the pharaoh suckling from the Great Divine Cow. the story is also depicted on the golden shrines that were found within the tomb of King Tutankhamun. Cows appearing in both the sky and in the Duat (Underworld) linked Hathor and Nut as being the one who bore the sun god, Ra, upon Her back. The story of the Celestial Cow appearing in the tomb has less to do with the magical transformation or protection of the King as the tale is probably meant a Creation tale. The Book of the Divine Cow or Celestial Cow ties directly to the mythos surrounding Sekhmet and the Destruction of Mankind.

I have talked a little about this in other blog posts. This story has direct correlations also, with the Flood of Noah in the Christian bible where Mankind, in its rebelliousness has turned their faces from Divine authority. In the Egyptian version, Mankind not only turned away, but in some versions, plotted to overthrow and kill the Netjeru (Gods). Ra asked the others what to do, and they asked Ra, Who was their King, to send His ‘Eye’. The Eye, in this tale, is HetHert (Hathor) and in Her rage, She transforms from Her more benign form of a beautiful woman with bovine ears into the lioness, Sekhmet.

Before all of this had transpired, there had been a golden age upon the earth where Mankind and the Netjeru had lived side by side under the rulership of Ra. In that golden age, there was no death, there was no real delineation between day and night where Ra traversed across the sky and then into the Underworld at night. He was always visible at all times. All of this was before the accidental creation of the Uncreated One [Apep ] or any knowledge or concept of isfet.

When Ra sought the counsel of the other deities, He asked them to tell him what to do, that he did not want to wipe humanity out, but rather to punish them. He asked Nu, who said, “Send forth Thine Eye (HetHert) to strike those who blaspheme you, for none may resist the Eye when it shines in the form of HetHert.”

When HetHert was summoned, She became very angry at those who would raise their hand against Ra, Her father. She transformed into Sekhmet and for a period of three days and three nights, she indiscriminately slew every human that she came upon; men, women and even children where She found them. Her slaughter began at Hensu (Herakleopolis Magna) and continued throughout the land. Ra was alarmed at the bloodshed and He implored Sekhmet / HetHert to stop her killing. She looked upon Her Father and flatly refused. By this time, the anger that She was feasting on had become a heady draught of its own. “As sure as You live for Me (By all that is holy),” She said, “so it is pleasing (a balm upon My heart) to have triumphed over them (Mankind).”

Ra was concerned that Sekhmet would slay all of humanity until there were none left. He needed a plan to stop Sekhmet / HetHert from destroying humans entirely. It was Djehuty (Thoth) who came up with the idea of taking red beer, spiking it with mandrake and colouring it with red ochre or hematite in order that it should resemble blood. He did this with the assistance of slave girls or priestesses of the Goddess. Vats and vats of this soporific liquid was poured out onto the land until it resembled a vast lake of blood placed directly in the path of the raging Goddess. Sekhmet came upon this lake of red beer and began to drink. She drank and drank until She became happy and forgot about why She was angry in the first place and was at last quelled, turning once again back into the beautiful (if not happily drunken) Hethert. From time immemorial during the feast that commemorated the pacifying of Sekhmet / Hathor, making the beer was entrusted to the priestesses or slave girls to make the intoxicating drink that was consumed.

Celestial Cow Inscription Ra and the rest of the Gods were overjoyed that Sekhmet’s carnage had at last stopped. Ra cried out in joy at seeing HetHert again, “Welcome, welcome in peace, O’ Beautiful One!”

But at this point, Ra withdraws from the Earth, from Mankind, not as a form of punishment but rather because He realized that unleashing His rage, in the form of Sekhmet, He introduced to the world, the reality of death and destruction for the very first time. The Golden Age that knew Mankind and Gods to live as One in the same place upon the Earth is now over. Ra knows deep down that in order save humanity from the potential of His wrath, there needed to be distance between Hims and the creation (Humanity) that He loves.

The Eye of Ra, Who was a lioness, now being pacified has transformed back into a cow. This cow is called mehet-weret ‘Great Flood’ or “Great of Flood”, which is also equated with Nut, the starry sky at night as well as with HetHert. The ‘Great Flood’ was made of beer, rather than of water. The “flood” within Egyptian mythology ends up being Mankind’s salvation when it came, rather than that which was sent to cleanse the earth of humanity. Mehet Weret / Nut allows Her Father, Ra, to ride upon Her back into the sky and the Two begin to ascend.

In the myths that make up the Book of the Divine Cow, several times She (HetHert / Nut) becomes fearful of the heights to which She and Her Father, Ra, have risen. Her Father urges Her to continue to climb, encouraging Her along the way as They keep rising up higher and higher into the sky. At one point, She becomes so frightened that She cannot stand on Her own. Ra summons the sons of Shu, who are referred to as “the pillars that hold up the sky” and the four winds so that They can steady Nut by holding onto Her legs so that She will, shoring Her up so that She will not fall.

At last Ra and Nut and Their entire accompaniment reach Their lofty destination. The Cow, for Herself, becomes quite lonely for all that She and Ra have left behind Them. Ra reassures her by reminding Her that all over Her body are the stars that make up the nighttime sky. Her starry raiment serves as a sentimental glimpse and a memory of all of those good people and things that are now removed from the world by death that may seem now to be gone. They are, in fact, not gone at all, but are always there. Today, like many cultures, Kemetics look up at the starry night sky and see the millions upon millions of akhu or ancestors who are there. Like Ra, they are removed from us but not truly gone. There is a comfort to know that our akhu are never far away and they are between us and the Divine. They keep the Gods company and the serve as a go between to intercede on our behalf and vice versa.

I love the way that Rev. Tamara Siuda explained it that, “In creating the Celestial Cow, Ra has both made sure that She will never be lonely – and righted the wrong of killing people in the first place, by making sure that they can have another life after the lives they lost, and another chance at redemption.”

The takeaway from the lesson of the Celestial Cow is that no matter how bad things may seem, no matter how far from redemption things may appear, we are never alone. Even though it may feel as if we are facing a crisis or the world at large completely with no one to hear or to help, we have many things around us in terms of people, nature, the celestial sky and even our memories to keep us company. They are there to bolster us and back us up whenever the needs arise. The blinking stars in the sky at night are that reassurance that someone, in fact several someones are up there and are indeed listening.

Resources

Piankoff, Alexandre, and N. Rambova. The Shrines of Tut-ankh-amon. New York: Harper & Row, 1962. Print.

Roberts, Alison. Hathor Rising: The Power of the Goddess in Ancient Egypt. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions International, 1997

Roberts, Alison. Golden Shrine, Goddess Queen: Egypt’s Anointing Mysteries. Rottingdean, East Sussex: NorthGate, 2008.

Roberts, Alison. My Heart My Mother: Death and Rebirth in Ancient Egypt. Rottingdean, East Sussex: NorthGate, 2000.

Shaw, Ian, and Paul T. Nicholson.The Dictionary of Ancient Egypt. New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1995.

Siuda, Tamara L. The Neteru of Kemet: An Introduction. New York: : Eschaton Productions, 1997.

Siuda, Tamara L. The Ancient Egyptian Prayer Book. Chicago, IL: Star Gazer Design, 2009.

Siuda, Tamara L. “Kemet Today: And There Were Stars: How a time out turned into a nighttime sky”

PBP2014d

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Filed under kemetic, pagan, Pagan Blog Project 2014, sekhmet

ENOUGH!

Africa191There is no shortage of people in the world, and especially online who want to worship or honour the Kemetic (Egyptian) gods or Netjeru. You would think after 20+ years of Kemetics being online they would have tried to build alliances and make bridges without the petty infighting and holier than thou bullshit that gets handed around like last year’s Christmas fruitcake.

Let me state at the outset before I say anything else, that I have no grand vision of being “in charge of” anything. I am not here to take anyone to task or to fight with anyone else. This is not some half-arsed attempt on my part in order to get students or for me to become a guru of some sort. I am flat-out not interested in such things at all. Been there, done that, and I donated the T-shirt because it wasn’t “me” anymore. I’m just like everyone else in that I am committed to the culture, the history and the religous ideals of Ancient Kemet. I am not an accredited Egyptologist. I fully acknowledge that I am here by the grace of Sekhmet and the generosity of many, many talented sebau (teachers) and to them I am eternally grateful and I refuse to dish or diss on any one of them.

Lately I have noticed increasing factionalisastion going on within the Kemetic landscape. In the years that I have been blissfully far removed from the jealous infighting, the petty backbiting, hubris and ‘witch wars’ that seem to be part and parcel of the so-called Pagan “community”, I have watched those traits migrate here. After 20+ years, I am exhausted.

So, that being said, I am going to do everything in my power to establish a list of various Temples, Shrines, blogs, organizations, information resources, etc. because it is absolutely needed. If anyone thinks I am doing this for any specific organization, guess again. I’m not. Sekhmet has given me marching orders 1) finish the book and 2) establish the network because honestly, the Pagan Community and the Kemetic Community in specifics deserve at least a modicum of respect, in spite of the differences between us and it’s time that this happened. It is long past time, to be honest. This should have been done some 20 years ago, but for whatever petty, ego-driven, any other set of reasons, it did not transpire. It’s going to happen NOW.

We are bigger than this. We should not (still) have to be listening to the petty, catty, bitchy, in-fighting that goes on for no good reason. There are no good reasons why we cannot do this. If I have to kick ass, or become some sort of pariah, ostracized or called out for being a Kumayah, Pollyanna Kemetic, so fucking be it! We are long past done playing at this. It’s time to do it.

Still have doubts? Let me spell it out:

It’s about, GOD, or the Gods (plural) and our relationship to them, people!! Get OVER it! We all have something to contribute and we NEED to be doing that in the interests of Ma’at. I am not interested in hearing the arguments against such a thing moving forward. I will not give credence to he said / she said, petty grudges from years ago that happened on Usenet, Ancient Worlds, or Tumblr. There are no more excuses, so don’t bother bringing them up to me. It’s time for all of us to ask ourselves, each and every one: “WHY the fuck are you here?!” We collectively need to take what I call the Janet Jackson Approach and ask ourselves, ‘What have YOU actually DONE for the God(s) lately?! What have you done for yourself lately?!” After answering those questions honestly, the next question to ask must be, “What’s stopping you? Who do you think is preventing you from doing it?” If we fall into the temptation to start to point fingers at anyone else than the man or woman that is in the mirror, then I encourage each of us to remember that with that pointing of fingers, there are still three other fingers and a thumb pointing right back at us.

I will write this up in more detail in a bit, however, if anyone imagines that I am doing this to step on toes or encroach on their “territory”, they need to take a step back. This is solely about trying to take a cursory census of who thinks the idea of a collective of those who are bound by the things that we believe and hold dear is more important than the ongoing factionalization that we have been suffering from for over 20 years.

Playtime is over. It’s time to STFU and get to work. If you want it, well then each of us needs to determine just how much and what we are willing to do in order to achieve it.

Excuses are boring. Let’s get to it.

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