Love of the gods.

I’ll be the first one to admit that my perspective on all things Kemetic is fairly insular. I don’t look too far beyond the Kemetic Orthodox community. I browse Tumblr but don’t really engage much. So anything I speak about is going to come either from what I’ve learned in the House of Netjer, or what I’ve learned through my own interaction with the gods. All this is to say: I’m not the most informed on what other people believe, so I’m speaking purely from ignorance here and nothing more. (It’s possible that, given my ignorance, I should just keep my mouth shut — but where’s the fun in that?)

I’ve noticed huge diversity in how people describe their divine relationships. There’s some who almost give off a sense of distrust for the gods, as though They were so capricious that they might turn and bite their devotees on a whim. There’s some who seem to have a very casual relationship, coining cheeky nicknames and describing drinking matches. There’s god-spousery, which I have such trouble grasping for myself that I can only say “you do you” (and I mean that earnestly, not dismissively). There’s the business relationships, where devotees give offerings and are given heka in return. What I don’t see much is sacred love.

My love for my gods is massive. It swells up inside me so vast that my breath catches, and I want to lay at Their feet and sing Their praises every day. I believe in Their fallibility, and that sometimes They’re going to try to protect me and fail. I believe in Their beneficence, Their positive intent and good will. When They challenge me, I thrill inwardly that I am strong enough to be challenged. When I kneel in Their presence I feel Their brilliance renewing me, and I am overwhelmed with happiness to know Their grace.

I know there’s not a lot of emphasis on this kind of ecstatic love in antiquity. There’s enough, to be sure, in the stelae and inscriptions that carry messages from ancient devotees. It’s not the first thing that comes to mind when discussing the distinguishing qualities of ancient Egyptian religious practices, however. The precision, the purity, the constancy with which the priests attended to their gods all get much more attention, and rightfully so. The ancient priests had honoring the gods down to a science.

Maybe it’s just my quirk. Maybe it’s a holdover from my Catholic days (which are soon to be less than half my life, somehow). Or maybe it’s just not a topic of interest to other writers right now. I’d love to see more of it though. I have my casual days too. I sing along to “Back in Black” for the Jackal and offer my Mother the first sips of beer when I’m relaxing. But it’s that love that moves me to Their shrine again and again; it’s the warmth and light They radiate, and the way my heart swells when I am in Their presence.

All this is meant not as criticism, but as a call to share. If you feel the same ecstatic love I feel, wax poetic. If you don’t… well, what do you feel? What keeps you coming back to the gods?

Featured image from https://unsplash.com/grakozy .

On sabbaticals.

Taking time off from serving as a priest of my deities has been one of the greatest blessings I have ever received. When I made the decision to temporarily suspend my service, I grieved a little. I felt like I was giving up, like I was losing a piece of myself, like I was a failure. My inability to remain committed to my worship felt like a personal fault, rather than the natural consequence of increased academic and professional requirements.

In response, I withdrew from everything. I stopped doing Senut and stopped tending my shrines. Everything came to a halt, until I slowly picked up one thread at a time. I briefly engaged with other pantheons. I worked at connecting with the most basic forces that drew me to polytheist — the spirits of the land and the Divine Itself. I began to feel enthusiastic about engaging with the Divine again. By Wep Ronpet, I felt like engaging with the gods again — and engage I did, worshipping with fervor during Retreat.

Senut began to feel fulfilling again. As I was doing my priest work, it had started to feel meaningless, like a lot of vague hand-waving that didn’t do anything.

More than that, my desire to serve the gods rose in me again. It had dwindled over the past four years, to become vaguely burdensome. I found myself planning research, sketching out festival rites, envisioning my reconstructed shrine.

I dropped everything, and then picked up one piece at a time, and it has been restorative in a way I never imagined it would. I am patiently waiting for my internship to end to consider returning to service with renewed purpose.

Ten years.

2016 will be the tenth year since I was first called by my gods. I remember being new to Their worship and thinking ten years felt like an impossibly long time to be anything, let alone a devotee of a deity.

Part of that probably had to do with my age at the time. I was 17 and just out of high school when I “met” the gods of Kemet. I had identified as pagan for several years at that point, but had been aimless and disorganized in what I believed and practiced. It felt impossible that I would ever be able to spend ten years with these gods. Ten years was more than half of my life.

Each time a year ticked by with my gods, I would feel a giddy rush of glee. One year closer to a decade. One year closer to a lifetime. With each year that passed I felt myself inching closer to some invisible goal marker. I never felt like I’d been Kemetic “long enough” to have experience or be worthy of engaging in intelligent dialogue with others, and I believed that eventually, after long enough, I would reach some invisible goal and become enough. Even now, having been in practice for 9 years, I question whether I have anything of value to offer. (Which is why this blog is so quiet.)

Perhaps it’s time to stop questioning when I will be experienced enough to have anything of value to say, and just start talking. If ten years hasn’t done it, I doubt eleven will, or twelve, or twenty.

Have confidence, fledgling devotees. Do your research and start your devotions. Honor your gods in small ways or large. Remember: you have value too.

 

A Prayer. 

A prayer I wrote to my gods recently, as I commuted to my internship site. Feel free to adapt for your own use with your own gods and ancestors. 

O Father mine,
unlock the doors of my heart and mind
that I may walk fully with others.
O Mother mine,
place your fire in my voice and heart
that I may bear your strength and compassion.
O Perfumed Protector,
grant me your softness and warmth.
O Vault of Heaven,
grant me your infinite patience.
O Crescent Moon,
grant me your sharpness of mind.
O Starry Dead,
grant me the wealth of your history.
I do this work always in Your service,
furnished by Your love.