Ekunyi's Embers

Posts Tagged ‘community’

Red Week Round Up

I still owe you all a summary of what occurred during Days 4 through 7 of Red Week, and I promise that I have such a post in the works. However, my brain is still processing a number of things that took place during that span of days, trying to find words for certain emotional reactions and sorting out feelings regarding things that I researched or discussed.

Bling_Set

In the meantime, I wanted to do a quick post that highlights some of the other ways that different followers of Set joined in on Red Week celebrations. I like to think that the week brought some extra attention (and positive “PR!”) for my Father, that He was pleased with our efforts, and that those who celebrated Him learned something about the Red Lord or themselves.

 

 

 

  • G.B. Marian of LV-426 Tradition (priests of Seth-Typhon) shared photos of a new Set statue he recently purchased!

 

  • A child of Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, Itenumuti shared zir experience learning more about Set during His week and perhaps a bit about zirself!

 

  • Kemetic Orthodox gatherings were held in Massachusetts (with Khenneferitw), Ohio (with A’aqytsekhmet), and Maryland (with myself and Heruakhetymose)!

 

These were just a few examples amongst the sculptures and drawings created, stories shared, and heka enacted in Set’s name over the past week. I remain humbled by how many chose to participate in some way, how many volunteered to pull together and make this festival a reality.

Finally, if you did something for Red Week, I’ve not mentioned it above, and you would like to see it added to this post, just let me know. :)

Dua Set! May the Son of Nut continue to walk with you and lend you His strength.

Spiritual Places Without and Within

I will not live the live my parents led, and I am fine with this. As musician, artist, and scholar, hopefully someday counselor, my home will not compare with the home of two lawyers that I grew up in: again, I am fine with this. My home is huge in comparison with the homes of many. Three rooms full of instruments and art and books. My home is open to those friends and family who need shelter. My home is full to brimming with the affection between two human-bodied and two feline-bodied people. There is space in my home for the ancestors to visit, if they choose, a small space always left for a father, two grandfathers, and any other relations to drop by in whatever form they might take. There is space in my home for gods and spirits, a Kemetic shrine and animist altar well tended in separate rooms for separate moments of worship.
 
My home exists in the liminality of the mountains and the city. Sturdy brick with nearly 70 years to its name surrounds me, with human neighbors above and below. Yet the deer walk the small patch of woods behind my home, as do chipmunk and squirrel. The robins greet me in the warmer months, the crows laugh when the weather begins to cool. Wild turkeys occasionally posit themselves directly in front of my car, reminding me that nothing is so important that it can’t wait a few more minutes for them to strut on by.

In my mind my “territory” extends about a mile east, to the avenue that holds both my favorite cafe and my nearest big park. I wrote my masters thesis, in its entirety, in the local, family-run coffee shop. I know the people there better than I do the ones in my own building. After working and writing for hours on end, I can walk up the same street to my park, get lost in the trails that during summer are shielded from any roads. I can view the Allegheny river from here, greet a broader range of avian life: mallard ducks, Canadian geese, chickadees, blue jays, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, grackle… the list goes on. Only recently, courtesy of the animist course I’ve been taking, have I looked on a smaller scale. Ants, wee spiders hiding in the bark, inch worms, lady bugs… a world I’ve not given nearly enough notice to. The plants as well: a newly acquired Kindle has allowed me to download a guide to the wildflowers and trees. My goal is to know the park that has given me such joy since I claimed Pittsburgh as my new home three years ago. I owe it that much, if not more.

Yet my home extends beyond this physical space. My heart strings are taut. The core, bass strings are drawn out of love and duty to my parents and Maryland; these are also pulled fiercely to Texas where my sister, best friend, and heart-kin lives with zir mate. Higher pitched strands guide my soul to Colorado, North Carolina, Illinois, and West Virginia. These are the homes of friends, family; so many loved ones I cannot ever see nearly enough for my own liking. Pittsburgh remains within driving distance of many of these places, and I am grateful for that. For the places more distant, it grants me compensation: in being near other spaces important to those I love, it gives me the option to see them when they travel. It also provides me both the water I grew up with, albeit three mighty rivers instead of the one great Bay, and gods bless it for the mountains.
 
It is unsurprising to me that the places I travel in my meditative journeying efforts reflect the reality of the physical that feeds my soul. My internal temple, while Kemetic in design, was built within a natural clearing in a vast forest. It is near a great river where I work with Heqat and Hatmehyt, and the forest itself is rolling and wild, a part of some unknown mountainous region in my mind. I run the woods with deer and hound, I soar above the trees and see great valleys and other, unknown tributaries with Great Horned Owl. As my physical self, I seek similar places out in my actual travels. I clean litter from the aforementioned park when I visit, trying to protect what small corner of my ecosystem is within my neighborhood, my little human territory.

I would shrivel up without access to the woods, the water, the birds and the green. It is as much a part of my spiritual life as ritual and prayer.

Kemetic Round Table – One Person at a Time

The Kemetic Round Table works to connect Kemetic bloggers of various practices and paths in order to provide helpful information for those new to Kemeticism. More information about the project can be found here.

There were many questions included in this prompt, but I have chosen to focus on: “When you look at the Kemetic community as a whole, what flaws, hindrances, and negative trends do you see at work? What methods and tactics should we employ to improve Kemetic presence on a local level; to encourage Kemetics to network not just online, but also in ‘the real world’ ?

 The Kemetic community has its fair share of obstacles to overcome, as other Round Table authors have discussed. We are mentally divided by our opinions on the appropriate way to worship; physically divided by our many, varied locations across the world; and emotionally divided by our seeming inability to hold rational and respectful conversations without the moments of disagreement devolving into unproductive vitriol. For such a small community, a community that could so greatly benefit from developing a network of support amongst its members, regardless of their particular brand of Kemetic belief, many of us still find ourselves bobbing along, solitary.

The internet provides some relief for this. For some, like myself, the House of Netjer offers weekly fellowship or duas — group rituals led by Rev. Tamara Siuda or a high ranking priest — in IRC chats, and for that hour, give or take, we participate with other people in the worship of Netjer, we commit ourselves as a group to a cause of self or community-improvement, and the connection is fulfilling. There are also less formal methods of Kemetic networking. Facebook hosts a relatively lively community across several different “pages” and the Kemetic Round Table, of which this post is a part, has created a space for the exchange of ideas on different Kemetic topics in a more involved manner.

Yet I often find that the internet cannot completely fulfill my desire to experience the Kemetic community in my day to day life. It serves as more of a salve that briefly soothes the lingering ache of something missing, than an actual cure for what I lack. I suspect I feel this way for the following reasons:

1.) The juxtaposition of my communal life online with the physicality of my individual practice is quite jarring.

I don’t use a computer when I am in shrine. So much of my practice involves a physical and mental shift from the profane to the sacred: the purification with water and natron, the burning of candle and incense, the reversion of offerings. It is a deliberate time to be away from the stress of my work, so much of which takes place at a laptop, staring at a screen. It can be difficult to really feel like I’m entering the right “headspace” when I participate in virtual rituals, as much as I cherish them and understand that they are really the only option at the present time.

2.) I am jealous of the physical communities of churches/synagogues/mosques etc. I see near me.

Thank Netjer I don’t belong to a faith where coveting is some terrible “sin”, because come Sunday mornings, I freely admit that I am envious! While I don’t miss my childhood experiences of receiving a guilt-trip of a sermon once a week, I freely admit that I do miss the experience of going to church. I miss seeing the people who considered me part of their religious family, singing together, sharing coffee and brunch as a spiritual community after the service was over. It was good to belong to something, good to have a place to travel to once a week, good to have a special space where people gathered and praised God and acknowledged the start of a new week. The internet just can’t quite match this.

3.) The internet provides anonymity.

Whenever I teach an older relative how to use Youtube, I always warn them: “Don’t read the comments.” Why? Because the internet is full of anonymous faces hiding behind computer screens, ready and willing to say whatever the hell they want without threat of repercussion. You don’t have to look a man in the eyes when you insult him, the filter of conscientious interaction is removed. I think this contributes to the frequent flare-ups of drama within our community, where in-person interaction might inspire greater diplomacy.

The virtual wall of anonymity can also make it more difficult to meet new people. There’s no coffee hour after a dua where you can walk over and introduce yourself to that intriguing woman who raised a poignant question after worship. In the ‘real world,’ you might see a group of long term friends chatting and be inspired, or invited, to join them. On the internet, they’re likely chatting in a private space, and there’s no way to add your voice unless given the appropriate web address or password.

 Okay Ekunyi, the internet sucks, we get it. What do we do about it?

Reach out, one person at a time.

There may not be any self-proclaimed Kemetics living near you: I live in a decent-sized city and it’s slim pickings even here, so this is a highly probable situation to find yourself in.

But there are other spaces, other groups, that will welcome you. Try Meetup.com, use Facebook, seek out groups welcoming Pagans, Heathens, Wiccans, or Druids. They exist, and if their gods are different than yours, so be it. There’s still something to be learned, something to be gained through conversation, something viscerally ka-feeding that can be found in the companionship of another polytheist over coffee. Visit a Unitarian Universalist church and I suspect you’ll find that their Covenant fits quite nicely into the concept of ma’at, plus the discussions in such a multi-faith locale can be quite inspiring.

And those discussions are key. You want to have conversations with the people you meet in these spaces. In teaching others you will simultaneously be learning more about your own beliefs, and perhaps will even find another person who also worships Kemetic deities, or was always interested in learning more. Community is built just like a road, you lay the mortar between bricks, one at a time, establish connections between people, one at a time. It doesn’t matter if these people are “little” or “big,” only that they reach out, seek each other in the physical world, and live their religion by living it with others. 

Craving Community

I had a dream a few nights ago, very simple. I was attending Wep Ronpet at Tawy House, and had just arrived after an excruciatingly long drive cross-country. I walked in the door, weary but energized by my own excitement about finally getting to attend, in person, the biggest festival of the year. As soon as people saw me, they knew me and greeted me.

(Heck, they even asked me if I wanted iced tea, which amuses me to no end on further reflection. Thanks dream-friends, I really wanted that tea!)

Those who were closer with me hugged me in a fierce embrace, and then one person, laughing aloud at how overwhelmed but happy I looked, said “Welcome, daughter of Set and Bast!”

Something about being acknowledged, aloud, as the child of my Parents, and having everyone present believe it without hesitation, warmed me to my core. It was such a pleasant and unique experience to be able to fully express and live that part of my life. Share it with other people. Be known by the Names who claimed me.

And though this is hardly “proof,” I had a growing sense as the dream continued that the imagined experience was something of a gift from Netjer. Because that’s all there was to it: love, acceptance, and speaking aloud (ohai, heka!) that I was my Parents’ Child. I was completely taken aback by the strength of the sheer joy I experienced at finally being able to say such things, confidently,to my family of kindred spirits who recognized the power behind such words of acknowledgement.

I never have dreams this pleasant (almost everything I dream is nightmare-oriented) nor this simple (usually there’s something of a storyline, rather than just a snapshot experience.) However, what this dream does have in common with some of the other experiences I’ve had while sleeping is that it has stayed with me. I find my thoughts returning to it again and again during the day. I crave the opportunity to experience this sort of thing in my waking hours, and have been prowling both the Kemetic Orthodoxy boards and the Kemetic Interfaith Network in an effort to build on what digital connections I have. It ached that I missed the Lamentations for Wesir at Tawy. I’m scrabbling to find a way to attend the Midwestern “Moomas” even though I rationally know that I will be elsewhere with family on the same day it’s being held. A “Moomas” card exchange has lifted my spirits somewhat; even just the prospect of holding a physical object from another Kemetic friend cheers me. I’m also debating getting involved with several artistic projects being run by the House.

All this said, I find myself mildly amused at my own excitement at eventually getting to interact with other Kemetics in person. So much of my social life revolves around the computer, and has since I was in my pre-teens — why this sudden urge to push beyond the screen and speak, face to face, of the gods and faith that has become such a revitalizing force in my life?

We shall see what comes of this.

But what of you all? Have you had the opportunity to attend any gatherings with other Kemetics, be they of Kemetic Orthodoxy or another form of Reconstructionism? What did you do? Was it a worthwhile experience?