Ekunyi's Embers

Posts Tagged ‘House of Netjer’

Vows

Today is a festival of Set in the House of Netjer, “The Day Set Kills the Rebel.”

I give thanks to my divined Father for striking down isfet in my life and in the world. In the span of our mere eighteen months together, my emotional, physical and mental health has so drastically changed for the better, that I can genuinely find no words adequate to fully express my gratitude. I only hope that my dedication to continued self-improvement, to wielding my own symbolic sword against the problems and injustice I encounter in the world, and my promise to be the strongest person I can be for my friends and family, will be thanks enough.

And so, I find it fitting that on one of His days I publicly declare my intent to take Shemsu vows. Provided that Hemet receives my message and all goes well, I will receive a name and swear my loyalty to my gods and to my community at 9:30 PM Eastern on the 30th of January, celebrating my thus far successful efforts to bring greater balance into my life, and the start of what looks to be a challenging, but rewarding, journey in this faith.

The timing… feels right. I’ve come so far, albeit it in so little time. I’ve changed so much as an individual, almost entirely for the better, and feel fulfilled for the return of a spiritual facet to my existence. I’ve felt welcomed into the House as a family member, become more involved with rituals, helped with ongoing projects, received and provided support in times of trouble.

Granted, I also know that there are greater challenges still to come. An upcoming scan related to a past health scare looms heavy on my mind, as does a drastic, but necessary, shift in my career. Taking this step feels like I’m grounding myself, planting my feet in a solid stance and digging in to face the oncoming storm, full well knowing that the best way to get through it may be to let myself ride its winds.

I am ready. As the daughter of strength and beauty, as a member of a network of kindred spirits spread across the globe, I am ready.

(Belated!) PBP Fridays 2013: A is for Arranging Sacred Space

Happy to say I’m participating in the Pagan Blog Project 2013 event! Off to a bit of a late start, but I’m sincerely hoping that jumping into this right at the beginning of the year will prove ample inspiration to keep it going.

As a member of the Kemetic Orthodox faith, a major portion of my spiritual practice revolves around my shrine. While kneeling before this space, I perform both the official state ritual of senut (click here for an excellent summary of the rite at Shrine Beautiful) when I can, and various other forms of worship and prayer based on my own inclinations and research on days when my various health concerns preclude the full rite. However I choose to interact with Netjer, my time “in shrine” allows me to remove myself from the worries and concerns of my day-to-day existence. I light a candle, and in the flickering light I am brought into a new day, a new space unto itself. I light incense and the smoke drifts upwards and fades, the scent is wholly unique from that which is secular, and my heart is lifted with it away from the profane. I offer cool water and bread and refresh my gods as well as my own spirit with the eventual reversion of these life-sustaining items. Thus seemingly transported, I can look to the statues, paintings, jewelry and other items laid out in my sacred space and find inspiration for music, poetry, essays, or personal meditation.

In achieving all of this, my Kemetic shrine creates a place which is distinct from the rest of my life, and as such, the space itself deserves to be well planned. Yet it is easy to lose sight of this sort of organization. I find many fascinating things in my travels; in the moment a new icon seems like it will add something unique to my shrine’s collection. Gods know I am guilty of “shiny object” syndrome, and over the course of two years of collecting and creating my shrine was beginning to show the results. Though full of beautiful objects, many of them gifts, my focus was pulled in too many different directions. Gods were represented in several different ways, some contradictory, and though it brought me pleasure, it did not provide me with a specific direction for my creativity or contemplation.

So today, my first day home since the start of the calendrical New Year, I completely reorganized my shrine with the goal of creating a space dedicated to the concept of Balance. This issue has been a constant one in my life: balancing personal happiness with the happiness of others, balancing career with creative activities, balancing health with perfectionism and achievement. I was not surprised when this was the message my akhu brought to the fore during the akhu divination before my RPD, speaking to me through a reading called “ma’a.” It’s something I’ve always struggled with, and only recently have even begun to take the steps, make the necessary changes, to put my health and joy as priorities equal to my work and the needs of those around me.

Here is what I came up with–

First, the Shrine space itself:

The items required for a Kemetic Orthodox shrine include the candle, the incense holder, and something in which to place offerings of food and drink. Granted, my shrine cloth is red, rather than the traditional white, but given that I have two solar deities, a goddess of love and passion, and the Red Lord Himself in my line-up, They would have it no other way!

I have personally chosen to create space for four candles. In part, this is in acknowledgement of the significance of the number four to my faith. My sibling Emky writes, “To the ancient Egyptians, four was the number of completion, and we see it everywhere – the four directions, the four winds, duality x duality; five is four plus one, “perfection plus something to oversee it.” (From “About Kemetic Orthodoxy“). One is often asked to wait four days before making important decisions related to membership, and as a personal ritual act, I sometimes set aside four days for prayer and consideration in shrine before making an important choice, lighting one candle on the first day, two on the second, and so on until coming to a decision on the fourth.

I am currently looking for new items on which to place offerings. The mug and plate, with their shifting, autumnal leaves, once represented change — something my spiritual Father, Set, taught me not to fear in one of our earliest lessons. When I find something more appropriate for the concept of Balance, I will replace them.

Many Kemetic Orthodox choose to place images of their divined Family (to learn a bit more about the Rite of Parent Divination, try this post by Shukheperas’ankhi) in their shrine as well. I was divined the daughter of Set and Bast, beloved of Heru-wer and Hethert-Nut. I have placed matching statues of my Parents on an elevated space in the center of the shrine, with smaller statues of Heru-wer (admittedly represented with an image of Heru-akhety) and Hethert (wearing a Nut shen, a gift from my sibling, purchased from Inibmutes) on either side.

The placement of all four is deliberate: Set and Heru-wer stand beside each other representing the balance of the Bawy. Explaining the dual relationship that defined this entity, Sarduriur writes, “Sutekh [Set] and Heru-Wer are often shown together in Egyptian art, throughout various periods in history. They are complements, not adversaries. They demonstrate the unity of the State, as well as cosmic balance and harmony. Symmetry was not only a concept of aesthetic importance to the  Egyptians; it was a concept which carried profound theological significance” (From “Why do you worship Sutekh?“)

Bast and Hethert-Nut stand beside each other as complements of day and night, Bast as an Eye of Ra, the sun itself, Hethert-Nut as the vastness of the (usually) night sky and its multitude of stars. More generally, there is also a balance of male and female, symmetry in gendered representation.

A few special items I’ve yet to mention. First, Heru-wer carries a necklace made for me by Emky. Each component of the necklace has meaning related to Heru-wer, and His relationship with His brother Set. I want it out and visible because Heru-wer remains the Name I know the least about. Every time I am in shrine, I hold the necklace and consider its structure and form. I use it as an impetus to think about my most enigmatic Beloved, in the hopes that we will grow closer. Second, there is a small, beaded, blue-purple container resting in front of Hethert-Nut. One of the tasks She has charged me to complete is to write a goal for the month on a slip of paper, and place it in that jar. Every time I am in shrine, I unfold it, read it aloud, and then replace it. At the end of the month, I read it one last time, burn it, and while it is being absorbed by the flame I consider how successful I was at achieving said goal. It’s a little bit of positive heka (very roughly: empowered speech) to help encourage me to take on my personal challenges.

Finally, I also have a painting hanging over my shrine, a gift from Emky in celebration of my Rite of Parent Divination.

The symmetry of the central figure, along with the balance amongst the four Names featured in each of the four quadrants, makes this a perfect image to reside above my shrine, mirroring many of the themes I hoped to convey in the physical shrine itself.

And with that, I believe I’ve covered, albeit briefly, everything in my new shrine layout. If you have any questions about certain choices, just let me know. I’d love to go into further detail.

I’ll conclude with a photo of the shrine as it looks when everything is lit:

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?