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Kemetic Bloghop: March 2018 – Festivals

As I have mentioned in a post from about two years ago, IV Peret is probably my favorite month out of the Kemetic year.  There are several holidays honoring both Set and Bast that land in this month, the final month within the season of growth and emergence before the harvest and subsequent heat of Shomu. Based on the Kemetic Orthodox calendar, I celebrated the following holidays throughout the month:

  • March 6th – Feast of Bast
  • March 7th – Day of Chewing Onions for Bast
  • March 9th – Bast, Lady of Heaven, is over the day
  • March 18th – Set, Lion of Ra, is over the day
  • March 19th – Procession of Set
  • March 27th and 28th – Feast of Set, Lord of the Oasis

There’s a pleasant symmetry to these festivities, a shift from a two day festival honoring my Mother, to a day where she guards as the Lady of Heaven.  Set travels through Her domain, and then He, in his form of the Lion of Ra (an image that seems to balance Bast Herself!) takes over the remainder of the month, leading into a two day festival honoring the Great god in the oases that existed beyond the Nile, in those boundaries where He was continuously worshipped, and specifically His oracle at Dakhleh. While the significance of this symmetry is personal, rather than historical, it still brings me tremendous joy to honor both of my primary gods in ways that reflect some of their similiarities, their mutual emphasis on protection, a protection that extends to those vulnerable periods of growth and transformation.

For “Onion Day,” as some of the members of my community call it, I celebrated Bast by making Her a meal from scratch with onions, and then processing a small icon through a local bookstore (it was a bitterly cold day, so an outdoor public procession would have possibly involved hands too numb to hold Her icon!)

A statue of Bast in our living room, with an offering of handmade onion rings!

A statue of Bast in our living room, with an offering of handmade onion rings!

 

I also performed a relatively involved heka in Bast’s name, collecting small, handdrawn onions on which various members of my spiritual community had written intentions that they hoped would grow and become manifest in the coming days. I “planted” these intentions within Bast’s shrine, asking Her to bring light to these goals, to help them develop and come to harvest within the coming season, and giving offerings in a formal context.

Unfortunately, later in the month, I struggled with an unexpected health issue that impacted my purity and ability to pursue some of the more formal rituals I had intended for my Father, Set. Nevertheless, I was still grateful to celebrate His festivals on a smaller scale, in part by reviewing some of the songs I have written for him over the years — I’ve listed a few below:

I also admired how many other members of community honored Him as well through offerings of divination and art. For my part, I wrote a brief prayer that I shared for His day, and led a discussion about His many aspects, and the many ways that we perceive Him. I thought I might share that prayer here as well:

Hail to you Set, Lord of the Oasis!
God of beauty in the midst of desolation,
We wander the desert of personal challenge.
Set, Great of Voice
Call us home again
That we may drink from the pool and be cooled.

Hail to you Set, Lord of the Oasis!
God of mirage and reality,
We view our reflection in your sacred waters.
Set, Great of Magic
Protect us as we search
That we may find what we need within ourselves.

Hail to you Set, Lord of the Oasis!
God of new beginnings,
We look with uncertainty to the horizon.
Set, Great of Strength,
Raise your spear
That we may trust in the dawn of Zep Tepi to always come again.

All in all, despite being under the weather for the latter two weeks of the month, it was a good month full of wonderful festivals.  Festivals that offered an important reminder that there are many ways to celebrate and honor the gods. Flexibility, self-understanding, and acceptance of one’s present health formed important lessons in their own right, Set’s challenge to be okay with my own inability to meet every goal I’d had for his holidays standing in sharp contrast with the larger scale offerings I was able to provide Bast.

Between these two experiences, it became an important month on many levels, a month where the festivals provided opportunities to honor the gods, but also a chance to recognize my own fallibility, an inherent part of being a human who does the best she can. While it has taken years for me to get here, I have come to realize that despite these times of imperfection, or perhaps even because of them, I am still worthy of serving the beautiful, protective, incredible gods I so dearly love. It is the intention that matters, doing what one can in the moment of illness, even if that is a small prayer while laying down in one’s own oasis of healing, and rising to one’s feet to worship the gods again with a loud, ringing voice once well enough to sing their praises once more.

Kemetic Bloghop November 2017 – Gratitude

Pardon the dust in this tiny corner of the internet, I fear it has been quite awhile since I last wrote here.

*takes a feather duster to various descriptions of icons, poems of devotion, and old ponderings about the mysteries of the divine.*

To my chagrin, a new spiritual year has come and gone and a new secular year is about to begin in just another month or so, all without any reflection or comment from yours truly. I have not made time to write here in months. Admittedly, in considering it, I’ve made very little time for my own personal spiritual needs at all.

“You cannot pour from an empty cup,” is the phrase I so readily share with others. You cannot give when you have not allowed yourself to take.

I’ve tried, certainly, against my better judgement, to keep on pouring. I’ve upheld my responsibilities to my spiritual community to the best of my ability, done my ritual work as priest and continued to serve as part of the team that helps foster and build community within my religion.

I’ve been giving a great deal in my job every day. I’m the first to volunteer to teach the extra workshop, to take on the new client. To stay late to see that person who can only come in after hours. Some of it’s making a good impression during my first year as staff at my non-profit. (And some of it is just me being me: a recovering perfectionist, still overly infused with the drive to get shit done.)

I’ve also been trying to be there more for family, as loved ones have faced challenges of myriad sorts and I’ve offered what support I can, now that my health is stable. *knocks on wood*

Admittedly, it’s catching up with me a bit. I’m not in a bad place emotionally, but I am feeling a little threadbare in various bits and bobs of my being. My body, as it likes to do, has solidifed this personal self-assessment by bestowing me with a cold.

Okay, Saryt, you may be wondering, this is all well and good, but you seem to have forgotten that the title of this grand re-entrance is “Gratitude”?

True enough! But, you see, there’s gratitude in all of this. Gratitude in having so much of a personal sense of purpose because of my religious community, in being able to serve my gods and my spiritual family as w’ab priest and community helper.

There is gratitude in knowing that as soon as I post this, chances are that someone is going to reach out to me and check in. Offer their love and support in turn. What I give out is given back to me tenfold, and I am forever and always thankful for this.

The responsibility for any lack of energy to keep giving, rests purely on my shoulders, as does my lack of time for my own personal, spiritual growth.

Yet, even as sit here and think about it, the soft grey light that defines Appalachian winters a comfortable presence beside me, I know my gods are near. That they love me, even if I have briefly lost sight of myself and my own needs for a time.

Set has always held me to high expectations, but the love He gives in kind is so fiercely strong, a bolt of fire straight to my heart that moves too quickly for me to offer any contradictions. His heat and affectio is there, always there, even when I need to remember that I am human, inevitably fallible and restricted to certain inevitable limits, and must step back from the fierce push to excel that I fully believe is one of His many gifts to my personality and being. Bast’s affections towards me are a broader thing, gentle but ever present. Her touch is sunlight that slowly warms me to the core, seeping in gradually so that no inadvertent thought-walls of self-doubt can hold Her out, reminding me that I am worthy of that love just as I am, no matter what I have done, or will do.

How could one do anything less than fall to their knees and kiss the ground before such love, gratitude coming forth from my heart as my beautiful, strong, incredible gods of protection come forth from their shrines.

I will care for myself today, as I care for my world. This begins with this post, and a promise to continue writing, making space for my own, personal devotions, as well as my ongoing dedication to serve the communities and individuals I love.