Ekunyi's Embers

Posts Tagged ‘daily life’

Kemetic Round Table – Daily Battles

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.

Members of the Round Table were given the following prompt: “How does being a Kemetic effect your daily life? Does it? Do you do things differently than you used to because of your faith/religion?”

This post is highly personal, but I share it in the hopes that perhaps it may be of use to others. The follow trigger warnings should be noted: discussion of depression, suicide, and self-harm.

I believe I was seven when I made my first threat of suicide, telling another young friend that I was going to throw myself off a bridge because I had started to recognize the cruelty of other human beings and the unfortunate futility of my own existence. My mother’s conversation with me that evening, minutes after my friend’s father called home to report my announcement, taught me to hide those feelings when they recurred in the years to come. I did my best not to make her, or anyone else, ever have to weep again over my strange, existential angst, and channeled the feelings into a daily ritual I referred to as “watching cars.” To most it would appear that I was zoning out, watching local traffic go by. Only in my head did I visualize throwing myself in front of them and only in the privacy of my bedroom, during the winter when long sleeves covered any damage, did I ever take a small blade to my forearms.

In college, finally living apart from the parents I protected by never speaking of my feelings, I finally found the nerve to seek counseling. Medications and a few less-than-stellar counselors generally made the situation worse, not better, and in my junior year I made a noose from a belt, attached it to a ceiling pipe, stared at it for awhile, and eventually walked outside to inform my roommate that I was committing myself to the college’s mental health services for the subsequent 48 hours.

While things have recently improved a great deal, I still don’t know what it is to go through an entire day without being aware of the presence of depressive thoughts. I have described the sensation in the past as a bottomless pit, a gaping hole in my peripheral vision that tempts me. I want to turn to face it and toe the edge, full well knowing what would occur if I allowed myself to actually jump in. On the best days I am too busy, too fulfilled with the tasks I’m working towards, to think of it much. On the worst days, the days when I have nothing to do, nothing to strive for, it is as if that pit is the only thing I can think about, and the longer I dwell on it, the harder it is to look away. Depression is experienced differently by every individual, but for me it has always been something of a mind game. The past year or so of mindfulness and cognitive behavioral techniques (CBT), the first “therapeutic regimens” to genuinely seem to improve things for me, has made this all the more apparent.

In my personal experience, my daily Kemetic practices solidly align with and enforce these strategies. To oversimplify the matter a fair bit, much of CBT relates to a sort of re-programming of your thoughts, cutting off the panic or mental self-abuse before it spirals out of control, re-directing your thoughts elsewhere. There is a prayer to Set from Rev. Tamara Siuda’s Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook which I haven taken to using in these situations. If my anxiety begins to rise and I recognize that I am beginning to slip back towards that “pit” of disproportionate reaction, I do my best to pray rather than simply lose myself in the self-abuse.

Storm Lord,
Pilot Who sails over evil Ap-p’s Back
Captain of the secret Boat!
You Who bind Ap-p, bring me a Boat,
Make me a strong rope so I can sail forth. 

I repeat this four times, focusing on the visual imagery of the boat carrying me away from the emotions, the strength in my own body becoming a rope, holding me taut, keeping me from falling into the current of irrational thoughts and emotions. I also recite this prayer preventatively, any time that I sit in shrine, as a reminder of my goal to keep Ap-p bound, to keep my mental tendencies of self-hatred and self-destruction caged.

A less structured aspect of my daily practice that also contributes to my mental health is simply the sense of awareness (“mindfulness” could also apply here) that I have developed over the past two years. I am more open to receiving communication from my gods, be it through speech, visualization, or even what is going on in the physical world around me. As I have grown more accustomed to tuning in to Their words, so have I become more accustomed to tuning in to myself. I am more conscious of when I begin to feel a certain way, where those emotions are coming from. In developing this consciousness, so have I also developed a means of accepting those emotions and moving forwards. Sometimes I can do this of my own volition, other times I seek Netjer’s aid. Set in particular is quite, ah, “skilled” at telling me to get my ass out of bed when I’m feeling lower than dirt, to physically move and get the endorphins flowing, to work my way to the shower to purify physically, mentally, and spiritually.

Finally, there is the significance of heka in a more general sense. The power of the spoken word cannot be overstated, and there has been more than one occasion where, in the midst of an anxiety attack, repetitively speaking aloud “I breathe. I stand. I walk.” has gotten me up and functioning when little else could. Shaping these positive statements into something more, something magickal, something intended not only as self-help but also praise and prayer, only strengthens their intent: “Serqet makes me breathe. I stand in Set’s strength. I walk at Bast’s side.” Here is my own will reinforced by my verbal supplication and devotion to the divine, and in this, I have found that I am able to overcome even the bad days.

So yes, in this sense (and indeed, in many others as well) being Kemetic has changed my daily life. It has provided me with a means of overcoming my own mental health concerns, and I remain incredibly grateful for this. Dua Netjer!