Quotidian

A typical weekday in the life of this Veggie looks something like this:

6:00 AM – Wake to blaring alarm (when it works)
6:05 – 6:30 AM – Coffee, breakfast, check email to wake brain
6:30 – 6:45 AM – Dress for work
6:45 – 6:55 AM – Pack laptop bag and lunch
6:55 – 7:30 AM – Commute to work (depending on traffic)

7:30 AM – 3:30 PM – Work

3:30 – 4:30 PM -Commute home from work
4:30 – 5:00 PM – Change clothing; pack bag for swimming
5:05 – 5:10 PM – Commute to YMCA

5:15 – 7:30 PM – Teach swimming lessons
7:30 – 8:00 PM – Shower; change clothes again; commute home

8:00 – 9:00 PM – Eat dinner and hang with husband
9:00 – 9:30 PM – Wind down and get ready for bed

And then I try to go to bed between 9:30 and 10:00 PM (try being the operative word) because I have to get up again at 6:00 AM the next day.  Unless, of course, it is Saturday – then I get to sleep until 7:45 AM!

(I love sleep, and think it is super underrated.  Just saying.)

As someone who actively promotes incorporation of religion and religious work into every day life, and who tries to do so as well, you can imagine how frustrating I find my weekday schedule.  It reminds me of the struggle some people have about adding an exercise regimen to an already packed schedule…and religious work is something I actually want to do on a daily basis.  But, when I already get up at sparrowfart (in the dark!) and come home exhausted (also in the dark!), how the fuck am I going to fit religious work into my schedule?

The answer took quite some time to find and I still don’t think I have things perfect, although my religious path is all about making attempts and, if they fail, owning the failure and making adjustments.  I find the constant reworking of actions to be frustrating, honestly – after all, I somehow believe that my own actions should be perfect the first time around!  But, through trial and error, and a lot of swearing, I’ve found ways to incorporate religious work into the few quiet spaces I have.

Take this morning, for example.  This morning, I left for work early enough that I could stop at a nationally-known coffee chain (PUMPKIN SPICE ALL THE THINGS!), and got coffee and a scone.  On the way to get said coffee, I said prayers to wake the netjeru, and after returning to the car loot in hand I offered them both as ka refreshment.  Before leaving the parking lot, I dialed up some Kemetic meditation music, and then drove to work, not touching coffee or scone or iPod for fifteen minutes.  Once the meditation music was complete, I reverted the offerings and slowly sipped my coffee, giving myself over to the liquid bliss that is the nectar of Caffeinea…

(Um, yeah.  I might have a coffee problem.)

Doing the above put me in that mindset of, “All I do is for ma’at,” that I believe is so necessary for Kemetics in general, and for my own path in particular and I feel more equipped to deal with whatever my day might throw at me (three meetings, chasing down people for signatures on documents, and a private swimming lesson at a different YMCA than I usually inhabit.)  I’m calmer and more focused than usual, and I know it’s because I took the time to do the things I wanted/needed to do along with some time for breathing.

Now, obviously what I did this morning will not work for everyone.  Hell, there are mornings when I can’t do it either – morning when I move more slowly than usual, or can’t find the right thing to wear, or have to deal with a hairball, or don’t get coffee before work (a sin, I know).  But I keep trying to find things I can do to make me mindful for just a bit, to remind me that religion does not have to sit on a separate shelf from life.  At the risk of appearing to proselytize, I think everyone who claims a religious bent of any variety can try to make time for the Baby Steps needed to begin incorporating the two and, eventually, the trying will become doing and the benefits will be more tangible.

Things to Think About:

  • Do you try to incorporate religious work into parts of your life that wouldn’t normally have such a component?  If so, how?  If not, why not?
  • What would you (or do you) expect to get from such an exercise?

Reset

I don’t often write about my coexistence with mental illness on this blog, unless it is in reference to Monster Work. I like to keep Depression fed in a different space because while I believe that all Monsters need to be fed or be fucked (and sometimes both), I don’t think I necessarily have to do that feeding and fucking in the midst of the rest of my life.

(Or, maybe that’s the way to truly recognize them as parts of me and to integrate them. Hmmm. Must think about that some more.)

Anyway, I have Depression, with a capital D, and was officially diagnosed in the first year after my son was born. Since then, I’ve been on and off medications and in and out of therapy (seventeen, count them, seventeen therapists) until I finally hit the formula that worked for me in November of 2009 – a therapist I could trust and connect with, and a medication regimen that works.

Being on medication again, and in therapy, meant that spaces in my life opened up that were formerly consumed with Depression telling me what I should be doing and how I should be doing it. I had space to breathe, and spoons, and was able to focus on things I wanted to do for the first time in year.

Things like building a religious practice.

With treatment for my mental illness and its’ attendant issues, I delved into Kemeticism (something Sekhmet nagged me about for years before I found it) and FlameKeeping, and Monster Work, and Words Mean Things. I learned how to apply the concept of ma’at to everyday life. I went to Paganicon, and did a talk on Baby Steps. I listened, and I learned, and my brain and heart became full. At this point in my life, I feel like I inhabit myself…and I wouldn’t be there now if it weren’t for the fact that I got the help I needed.

Why am I saying all of this? Well, as of yesterday, September 11, 2014, I had my last therapy session with the amazing Dr. Barb. We almost hit the five-year mark – just a little over a month short, actually. And this post, for the Pagan Blog Project, is in recognition of the fact that without her I wouldn’t be where I am.

As I push the reset button on one part of my life, I can honestly say I am looking forward in hope instead of fear. I know I can handle whatever comes; I’ve already passed through the fire and come out singed but not roasted. I am transformed.

So, here’s to the supporters out there – the quality therapists who are open-minded and don’t judge; the psychiatrists who listen and want to help us make our own decisions about medication; the counselors who fit us in when we need them. Here’s to the psychologist who takes over the client load of another and promises to help with a forward journey rather than looking back.

And here’s to Dr. Barb. Without her, I wouldn’t know what it’s like to truly live.

ToST – Reading 3

I used the Tarot of the Sweet Twilight for this reading, with a random significator and a card for each question I asked:

  1. How can the querent build a foundation?
  2. What are the initial steps? (Actual question – what equates to wading ankle deep?)
  3. What is holding the querent back?

Significator – Knight of Chalices

There is something brave and beautiful about rushing headlong into love, about giving all of yourself with your whole heart.  Brave and beautiful, but not without its risks.

Question One – Eight of Swords

There are times when there seems to be no way out.  Trapped, powerless, without a single option.  What is left then?  Hope?  Despair?  Anger?  Fear?  Do any of those make any difference?

Question Two – Seven of Swords

A wall is built, ready to withstand whatever attacks may come.  What does it mean, though, when the builder of the wall spends more time convincing herself that she is in the right as she does anything else?

Question Three – Two of Chalices

Love, romance, candles, and wine.  There is nothing like it while it burns to light the darkness, fill the world with beauty, and heal all manner of ills.

 

Interpretation

You believe that anything worth doing is worth doing well, and because you are an intelligent person, you get frustrated quickly when things don’t come easily.  Diving head-first into a project is what you like best – tentative steps around the edge aren’t for you.  And yet, when you do dive in, you expose yourself more than you are comfortable doing.  Falling back to regroup feels like failure.

To build your foundation, you need to go back to basics.  What do you want from a religious path?  What do you need in order to follow it through?  Think about these things, and be honest with yourself – you do not need to go by what others think, but what is in your heart and mind.  Just remember, though – a foundation is built from the lowest level, so the beginning should be made up of simple things.  Don’t focus on what you should do.  Focus on what you will do.

An infant can down in an inch of water; even wading has its dangers, but if you spend too much time worrying about what might happen, you’ll never swim.  Take a step, then another.  Feel the water around your feet, swirling.  Think about how it feels, and recognize who you are in that moment.  Be here and now, and when things seem too distracting and you’re reaching for shiny things, step back and remember who you are.  A practice is nothing if you cannot recognize yourself in it.

Being able to visualize yourself in a practice that fulfills you and strengthens you is an amazing thing, but can be detrimental in the first stages.  You need to narrow your focus, and make smaller goals.  Imagining what may come can get in the way of what you need to do.  Stop daydreaming and find the plot.

 

Images of the Cards and the Spread

ToST - Knight of Chalices (Cups)

ToST – Knight of Chalices (Cups)

ToST - Eight of Swords

ToST – Eight of Swords

ToST - Seven of Swords

ToST – Seven of Swords

ToST - Two of Chalices (Cups)

ToST – Two of Chalices (Cups)

Spread for Reading 3

Spread for Reading 3

 

TT – Reading 4

I used the Tattooed Tarot with a random significator and a past, present, future reading (three cards) to answer the following question:

  • What is blocking the querent from spiritual work?

Significator is the Six of Swords – A long way to go; Distance

Past – Eight of Chalices – Agreement; Reconciliation.

Present – Three of Swords – Tears; A stab in the back; Separation

Future – Two of Swords – Balance; The aid of a friend; Union; Alliance

 

Reading of the Cards

Sometimes, it is necessary to go as far away as possible.  Accept a contract offered to you; give a new development your favorable attention.  A bolt from the blue will cause you great disappointment, but providential assistance will arrive when you least expect it.

 

Interpretation

For some reason, you are looking at your spiritual journey in terms of the time it is taking to get to where you think you should be.  This is a fallacy – the journey shouldn’t be defined as meeting a goal or not, but in what you learn on the way.

In the past, you’ve kept an open mind about what might happen to you and were willing to try new methods to tap into your spirituality but you’re hesitating now.  It’s as if you don’t quite trust your own instincts, and I can’t quite pinpoint why – either you tried something that backfired and you’re not wanting to do so again, or you ended up with an unexpected result you didn’t know how to handle.

The best thing for you to do is to pick something from your list (if you have one), grit your teeth, and just power through it, even if you have to force it.  I get the sense that a breakthrough is coming but you won’t get there by sitting stagnant.

 

Images of the Cards and the Spread

Tattooed Tarot - Six of Swords

Tattooed Tarot – Six of Swords

Tattooed Tarot - Eight of Chalices

Tattooed Tarot – Eight of Chalices

Tattooed Tarot - Three of Swords

Tattooed Tarot – Three of Swords

Tattooed Tarot - Two of Swords

Tattooed Tarot – Two of Swords

Tattooed Tarot - Past, Present, Future spread

Tattooed Tarot – Past, Present, Future spread

Quaere Priests

(Thanks to The Phrontistery for help with my Q for this week!)

Quaere Priests.  It’s simple enough to say;
Two words that include complexities of meaning beyond their apparent simplicity
(well, if you ignore the Latin.)

Can there be an answer to the question of priests when there are countless
ways and means and methods?
Can there be a right and a wrong?
Or is it all dressed up in fashionable shades of grey, covered with a fabulous hat?
Or are all the answers correct?

If I turned it around on myself and said,  “Quaere Priests…”

Well.  So.

On the question of priests, I ponder function and form.  What do you do, and how?
What do I do, and how?

I am many things, but they are not all that I am:
I am a tool.  I am an offering.
I am a servant.  I am a slave.
I am a minister.  I am a go-between.
I am a voice crying in the wilderness.
I am a whisper huddled in the darkness, with a single match.

If I am all of these things,
and I am a priest,
is the analogy logical?

On the question of priests…have you an answer?
Need you one, if what you do is act?

Penn Museum and Open Statues

Last weekend, I braved crowds of sportsball fans so I could spend time at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology with someone who is both a friend and a member of my religious community.  They’d never been, and I always jump at the chance to visit because of how amazing the museum is.  In addition to having one of the largest collections of Egyptian artifacts in the United States (including the first mummies I ever saw), their other galleries are equally interesting.

(Incidentally, I highly recommend anyone interested in Ur spend time at the Penn Museum – they always have some sort of exhibit on it (right now, it’s on the Royal Cemetery) and one of the world’s foremost experts on Ur is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania.

So, my friend and I visited the museum and were full of squee and religious discussion and overall joy.  We talked about the Amarna period, and boggled over the timeline of Ancient Egypt as compared to what was going on in the rest of the world, and discussed the concept of soul and ma’at (and Ma’at, and the difference between the two), and I was in my element.  And then, we went to the third floor gallery so I could introduce my friend to Sekhmet. Sekhmets?  Sekhmet, in duo?

You see, the Penn Museum has two open statues of Sekhmet on display…and they’re placed across from each other.

For those who don’t understand the concept of an open statue, I’ll borrow words from another blogger:

“…To those who don’t know what an open statue is,  the nutshell description is such: It is a statue utilized as a home for a deity. An open statue is different from other statues in the sense it needs to be taken care of as a person is. Food, clothes, water, bathing are some of the basic needs. It is a TON of work, and  I mean a TON…” -
Within the Watery HeavensThe Path onto the New Decade.

(I do not have any open statues, myself, and I don’t know at this point if I ever will.  The ritual for Opening the Mouth is filled with complexities, and once opened they cannot be closed.  Since I don’t believe I manage my own life effectively for more than a few days in a row, I don’t think I am ready for be responsible for the sustenance of a god.)

As I said, the two statues of Sekhmet are placed across from each other in the third floor gallery, and so, in the Penn Museum, Sekhmet is effectively looking at herself while she looks at herself.  In addition, she has been without care as befits a netjeret for centuries.

(This is not the fault of the museum, obviously, but it still bottoms me to the bone.)

Standing in the presence of an open statue (never mind two open statues) is…well, it’s incredible.  Another friend of mine put it this way: “…it’s not, oh wow, this is a nice representation of a god.  It’s “OH WOW, HI GOD.”  When you look into the face of the statue, you are looking into the face of a god.  You are staring into infinity and all of its possibilities and, from all reports, you don’t need to be an epic sensor of woo to notice there’s a difference.

In the case of Sekhmet (Sekhmets?) at the Penn Museum, one is distinctly desert and heat and wind and something not unlike water before it bursts into a rolling boil.  This is Sekhmet Justicar, in her splendor as Eye of Her Father, ready to mete out justice and restore order, and to ensure ma’at is upheld through any means required.  She is Sharp of Knives, Sekhmet Overwhelming, and Distant Goddess all in one.

The other, across the hall from the first, is the Returned Goddess.  She is cooler, and more constrained, and the breezes in the hall contrive to wrap themselves around her.  This is the Returned Goddess, Patron of Physicians, Lady of Science.  The calculation is there, as is the upholding of ma’at, but in a quieter way.  She is Sekhmet Chastener, Beautiful One, She Who Loves While Pointing Away.

To stand by one of them is overwhelming.  To stand between them is to be caught up in the whirl of what Sekhmet is and what she can be – caught in the limitless.  Words cannot do it justice, and I am trying so hard to do it justice!

Today, almost a week later, I am still riding some of the emotions I felt, and wondering if all experiences with open statues are like this, or if I am sensitive to these because of who they are.  I’ve never come across another one, although I’ve heard that most open statues in museums are Sekhmet and it makes me wonder why.  Why so many reports involving Sekhmet?  Are there more that I could go and visit?  Are there open statues of other netjeru in museums?  And also, do the museums know that these statues are open and, if they did, would they change anything?

I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Peace, War and My Druidry

veggiewolf:

A beautiful post, worth reading.

Originally posted on Treasure in Barren Places:

I’m currently having a hiatus from Facebook and other social media (though this post will no doubt automatically end up posted in some of those places), as a result of debates – if you can call them that – on Palestine and Israel.

At the same time, Cadno of the Druid Network has got me thinking about honourable debate. I do not think that honourable debate is actually happening on social media in response to this particular topic, at the moment. Nor do I think it’s happening much in person, although it may be slightly better face-to-face. But just barely.

I say this, writing on the verge of tears, because yesterday my wife SJ (who uses the pronoun ‘they’) and I were sitting in a cafe. SJ had a fancy coffee, I had a very nice cup of tea. SJ, who rarely gets emotional, was upset and trying to explain…

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