Ekunyi's Embers

Kemeticism, Animism, and Animality

It was a Kemetic goddess who brought me back to animist belief, guiding me to the meditative journeying practice that once formed the bulk of my spiritual life in late high school and early college. She helped me step away from a career path that was not healthy for me, and brought me back to joy in the form of artistic and musical creation.

I call Her grandmother out of love and respect, honor Her as the musician of Hermopolis with eight faces, know Her both as woman and as frog, and continue to move forward in my efforts to honor Her requests that I maintain my ties to that which connects me to my world. At Her insistence, I’ve begun attending a local Quaker meeting as a frequent guest. I find the weekly hour of silent contemplation ideal for maintaining a regular schedule of personal meditation. I’ve also derived a fair amount of satisfaction from participating in the environmental activism and taking the first steps towards a more ecologically-friendly lifestyle, both of which engage with one of the main Quaker testimonies.

It has been immensely gratifying to see how these varying forms of re-connection with the world around me, once completed merely to satisfy Heqat’s requests, have now a developed into an emotionally necessary and regular aspect of my day-to-day life.

Yet, I have still felt the lack of something I couldn’t quite define. A sense that I needed something more tangible, almost something I could run between my fingers. I think this stems in part from this past winter. It’s been a very difficult cold season here in Pittsburgh this year, harsh and unyielding well into what the calendar has claimed to be spring. Living largely at my computer as I wrap up my final semester of graduate study, I’ve felt utterly and constantly human. This is not a healthy thing for me.

It’s a strange thing to explain, given that I am, of course, biologically and physically human. But I can be more, or less, or better yet, I simply exist as an other that need not be quantified in some meaningless hierarchy of species.

What does it mean to be other than human? Sometimes its as constant as sprawling on the floor on a pile of blankets with my cats, murmuring for lack of a purr, enjoying the heat of the sun streaming through the window without actually contemplating such in anything more than the sensation of pleasure. Other times it’s as rare as walking through the park behind my parents’ old home, coming upon a pair of white tailed does, and instinctively running after them as they turn and break, seconds expanding to hours as I just move without knowing, or doubting why just to treasure the sight and power of their forms so poorly mirrored in my own. Other times still it’s wading out into a shallow portion of a bay, feeling the minnows bite at my toes, the seaweed curl around my ankles, swaying with the current as the gentle waves of a distant ocean pulse from far beyond me to carry through my body in salt and sand and life.

I am human, and I am other than human, and I have missed living this.

Kemetic gods, for all that they can bear animal forms, be they symbolic or, as many of the myths describe, acquired through magical means, are not other in that same way, in my experience. They interact with mortal life in all its varying shapes from a different plane.  Even Heqat, who brought me back to animism and saw before I did how vital a place it had long held in my heart, will almost always use words and greet me as the human Shemsu I have vowed to be. The only Netjeru to do otherwise is Set, who will gladly greet me as sha-animal, run with me in the woods of my meditative space, hunting alongside me in His form nearest the deerhound body I often adopt in meditation. We don’t have to speak, instead we just run, move, exist and guard the entities that live in that sacred space.

I wanted to dedicate more time to that sensation, to the tangible things in the world around me that I could both worship and protect. I found myself starting to seek out means of doing so.

In a brilliant coincidence, it was not long after I’d made this decision that Tenu directed me to the Keystones of the Sacred Land e-course being offered by Alison Leigh Lilly. I was immediately intrigued, having at least heard of Ali’s work previously, but opted to dig deeper into her blog before deciding. Ali’s anthropocentrism posts in particular rang true, touching that core place I’d had such trouble defining, but which most certainly reached back to my own childhood, well before I’d had a fancy term like animism to ascribe to my interactions with animals and plants. Then I found her post entitled “When the Frogs Begin to Sing. Having met a grand total of one other person, ever, who defined frogsong as such, who saw these amazing creatures as musicians in their own right, I knew then I needed to take the course.

Part of the class involves journaling our thoughts about each lesson. I’ll be sharing those thoughts here. Please do chime in if you wish, I find discussion to be a vital part of learning, and if anything I share inspires you, even in a small way, you’ll brighten my day immensely for letting me know.

Much love to you all.

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