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…

View original 1,107 more words

Paludal Dilemma – Real World Ethics

I was listening to an episode of the Radiolab podcast this week called “For the Birds”, and was struck by the story they told.   In short (from their website):

“…When the conservationists showed up at Clarice Gibbs’ door and asked her to take down her bird feeders down for the sake of an endangered bird, she said no. Everybody just figured she was a crazy bird lady. But writer Jon Mooallem went to see her and discovered there was much more to this story…”

The more to this story?  Mrs. Gibbs’ husband had severe Alzheimer’s Disease and the only time he was present was when birds were in the yard and at the feeders.  In the midst of her turmoil, Mrs. Gibbs found moments when she could almost forget everything she was going through – moments when her husband came back to her.

I recommend listening to the episode in full before pondering the questions I’m about to ask:

  1. Where is the point at which the needs of many outweigh the needs of an individual?
  2. Does that change when one side is human and one side isn’t?

There are a number of ways that I can look at this particular story, and each one reminds me how situational ethics truly are:

As someone who believes in the conservation of endangered species, especially those who are endangered due to human intervention, I can take the side of Operation Migration.  They have worked so hard for so long to keep whooping cranes alive and thriving.

As someone who lived through a loved one’s descent into dementia, I can take the side of Mrs. Gibbs.  I would’ve given anything to have my grandmother come back from where her mind trapped her – my heartbreak remains with me now, even though she’s gone.

As someone who believes that sensible laws on the books should be upheld, I can wonder why the focus is on Mrs. Gibbs and her husband instead of on the vandals that are senselessly destroying migratory birds.  Bird feeders in a yard do less physical damage to a bird population than people who kill animals for the joy of destruction.

As someone who feeds birds in her own yard, I can wonder whether Mrs. Gibbs uses seed feeders or suet feeders…and also whether anyone’s spoken to her about providing sources of water instead of seed, and providing suet in winter to keep insect-eating birds around.

So much wondering, and in the end, my point-of-view has little bearing on this specific situation…but it speaks to my thought processes in general.  Which way am I inclined to lean, and why?  What could convince me to choose another way?  Am I as open-minded and ready to hear things that contradict my own opinions as I’d like to be?

In Kemeticism, the “right” path is the one that upholds ma’at.  To be true to this concept, I must look at the situations in which I find myself and try to predict the choice that will best serve.  In FlameKeeping, the “right” choice is one that promotes growth and improvement rather than stagnation.  To be true to this  concept, I must apply action in ways that move the Divine forward; I must look at the connections between myself and other parts of the Divine and choose accordingly.  When these pieces are put together, though, the “right” way may not be ethical when seen from anywhere outside my own head…and this is why I continually refer to ethics being situational and not always “right”.

Which brings me back to the questions I asked about this particular story, although I’d prefer to alter them slightly to address the world at large:

  1. Where is the point at which the needs of many outweigh the needs of an individual?
  2. When does that point change?

Working Through Trance-Portation: A New Approach

So, in March of 2013 I tried to do a work-through of Diana Paxson’s Trance-Portation on this blog.  It was a dismal failure – on my own, I was unable to read past Chapter 3 and write past the Introduction.  I put the project aside and figured I’d just never finish the book and would be forever branded as a failure as a Pagan.

Okay, that last bit is an exaggeration.  Kind of.  Maybe.

And then, the book came up again in discussion on The Cauldron and I decided to join a group of people in reading through it.  Yes, I know, but I actually think I might be able to get through the thing if I have people to keep me accountable.  I can do many many things on my own but finishing Trance-Portation is not one of them.  Sorry, Ms. Paxson.

The organizer of the group effort posted the initial discussion thread, on the Introduction and Chapter One, here, and along with it came a questionnaire.  I decided to bring that questionnaire over here to answer fully, and then I will summarize it in the discussion thread.  So, here goes!  Wish me luck!

(I’ll be writing the questions in bold, and my answers in regular formatting.)

*****

Support systems

Q1. What is your living situation? Do your family or house-mates support your spiritual practice? Will they allow you the privacy in which to practice the exercises? If you are in doubt, negotiate, or find somewhere else to work.

I currently live with my husband and two cats in a semi-detached home.  My husband supports my practice, and I suspect the cats do too from how involved they seem to want to be.  I will be allowed privacy to varying extents depending on the state of closed dooredness and Cat One’s ability to open said doors.

Q2. Do you belong to a prayer circle, kindred or coven, or other spiritual group? Does it practice trance work or meditation? If so, what kinds, how often and for what purposes? Are any other group members working with this book? Will your group support your efforts to master these skills?

I do not, aside from The Cauldron.  Since this project is a Cauldron project, it is likely that the group will be supportive.

Q3. Do you already have a power animal or totem? How did you acquire it? How often do you contact it, or how does it contact you?

No, and I’m not sure how I feel about the concept, honestly.  I think the terms are tossed around too often.

Q4. Do you have a strong affinity with/devotion to specific god/desses? How did you acquire them? How often do you contact them, or how do they contact you?

Oh, Lordy.

Yes, I do and, for the most part, they found me.  I contact them routinely for a variety of reasons, and they do the same.  Different methods are used – two speak inside my head, and all of them communicate through dreams and feelings.

Background

Q1. How do you make a living? What states of consciousness or mental skills do you use in your job, and how did you learn to attain them?

I work in the pharmaceutical industry as (currently) a Project Manager.  I use my intelligence, ability to think critically and block out distractions, and intuitive thinking in my job.  I…am not sure how I learned to attain any of them.

Q2. What other work or hobbies occupy your time? What states of consciousness do you use? How did you learn to attain them?

I teach swimming lessons.  I also read, play video games, crochet and knit (although I’m not very good at them yet) and garden (mostly arm-chair right now).  I use the same skills in these that I use in my day job, along with an ability to get along with and manipulate people.

Q3. What is your academic training? What kind of thinking did your department teach?

I have a university degree.  Because of the nature of the university I attended, a variety of thinking styles were encouraged and taught.

Q4. What strengths or skills do you already have that can help you in trance work? What do you think will be hardest to learn?

I have no idea.

Physiology and Psychology

Q1. What is your general state of health?

Pretty good, aside from chronic sinus issues and Depression.

Q2. How do you rate your temperament in the following areas? Consider the column on the left to be 1, and the column on the right to be 5. Where do you fall on the continuum?

How can I even answer these?  My temperament changes, as my default state is chameleon with rage issues.

Calm – — – Lively

Depends on the situation.

Forceful — – – Responsive

3 is my default state, but it depends.

Robust — – – Sensitive

4.  Or 2.  Or depends.

Q3. How do you react to stress?

Badly?

Sometimes I overeat.  In the past, I’ve self-medicated with alcohol, but I’m pretty good at not doing that any more.  Ummm…I get angry.  I’m more comfortable with rage than sadness.

Q4. Do you have any chronic or cyclical problems or conditions (especially heart, blood pressure, diabetic, menstrual or menopausal symptoms) that affect your mood, energy or focus? Are you on any medications?

Gods, yes.  My Depression (and why aren’t mental illnesses included in the especially?) impacts my mood, energy(?), and focus.  I’m on an SSRI and a bunch of sinus and respiratory meds.  Whee!

Q5. How do you react to alcohol or drugs?

I don’t use illegal substances.  My reaction to alcohol depends on whether my Depression is flaring but, in general, I can handle it and like it.

Q6. How much and what kind of exercise do you get? Are you eating your vegetables?

I swim anywhere between 3 and 6 days a week for 1-4 hours.  I am a pescetarian, so vegetables are a major part of my diet.

Q7. Have you ever had a life-threatening accident or illness? Did you have any weird experiences during the crisis? Did it change your attitude toward life?

My appendix burst in 1991, and I went into shock during childbirth in 1993.  No weird experiences except the little red men, but that’s common with morphine.  No attitude changes.

Q8. Have you been in counseling? What kind and for what? How did you respond to it?

Yes, yes, YES.  A mixture of CBT, DBT, and narrative therapy since 2009 for my Depression.  I love my therapist.  This will be stopping in September 2014 when she closes her practice, as I don’t want to start over again with someone new, but I think I’m okay with that.

How would you rate yourself on the following topics? Excellent? Adequate? Willing to learn?

Relaxation

Adequate

Breath control

Adequate

Visualiasation

Excellent

Lucid dreaming

Excellent

Self hypnosis

Willing to learn

Shamanic journeying

Trying not to react to use of ‘shamanic’ and failing.  Willing to learn if we can use another term.

Sensing and moving energy

Excellent at sensing; adequate at moving.

Divination

Adequate on average.

Folk magic

Adequate.

Mythology

Adequate.

Shamanism

There’s that word again.  See answer to journeying.

Jungian psychology

Highly dissatisfied with Jung and not even remotely interested.

Purpose

What are your goals in beginning this training? Why do you want to learn how to do trance work? Once you have learned it, what do you want to be and do?

I’d like to better be able to explore the liminal edges, and I feel that I need to have a solid grasp of trance work in order to do so.

*****

On to re-read the Introduction and Chapter One!

(The) Ogdoad

I wanted to write a simple post explaining The Ogdoad of Hermopolis, with a larger plan of later writing one about The Ennead of Heliopolis, and then culminating in a compare-contrast post of the two.  However, like so many thinks that seem simple from the outside, looking into what I thought was The Ogdoad turned into an exploration of ogdoads.  As in plural.  As in…this is a way more widespread concept than I thought, and it isn’t limited to Hermopolis.

(Spoiler alert – ennead isn’t any more cut-and-dried.  Just sayin’.)

First, let me get this out of the way: Hermopolis is the Greek name for the city of Khmwnw (Khmunu – Eight City; City of Eight), just as Heliopolis is the Greek name for the city of Jwnw (Junu – House of Ra).  In this post, I’ll be trying to stick to the Egyptian names, except when specifically talking about the Greek period and/or Greek thought.

An ogdoad (literally four, doubled) is a group of either four or eight deities that are worshiped together.  They are often doubles of themselves (four deities, doubled) or male/female pairs (four male/four female).  The Ogdoad that we know best, the one from Khmwnw, dates back to the Old Kingdom although names do not appear in writing until the Late Period.  It also appears that, in the case of this particular grouping, the term Ogdoad ties back to the name of the city itself – City of Eight – and so it is postulated that although the concept existed throughout Ancient Egypt, the exact term didn’t come into common use for all such groups until Egyptologists started looking at the pattern.

Interestingly enough, when the pattern of deity grouping is examined there appear to be two trends that repeat over and over.  The first is the fact that gods of place were a fact in Ancient Egypt.  The second is that these gods of place were either tied to a feature of the local landscape (Meretseger, as an example) or grouped with other gods to form an ogdoad.   Ogdoads were mainly formed of cosmic or primeval deities, however.

I find this fascinating and feel compelled to look into the concept of local groupings of deities that oversee the primeval – the source of creation, from which all things came.  Judging by what I’ve read so far, though, finding materials may be tricky.

When it comes to Khmwnw and its ogdoad, we have more written data that we do for other local groupings.  This ogdoad was formed of eight primeval deities – four male, and four female – that represented the aspects of darkness, moistness, and lack of boundaries or visible space.  In the mythos, the eight come together to form either a particular space or particular object from which the sun god emerges.  Depending on the source, the space is either called the Primeval Mound or the Island of Flame and the object either the Primeval Lotus or the Cosmic Egg.  To make things even more interesting – sometimes the sun god emerging (hatching?) is Khepri, and sometimes the sun god is the one who created the ogdoad who then create the sun god…and we end up with the concept of deity being its own ancestor.

The Khmwnw ogdoad’s deities are named, to a certain extent, but the names change depending on the source material and the period of time.  The primeval waters were represented by Nun and Naunet; Naunet is sometimes seen as another name for Nut, and the connection of Nut to Nun makes a great deal of sense.  Amun and Amunet, representing invisible power and the breath of life are next, but later were replaced by Nia and Niat, representing the Void, once Amun became a creator god.

(An aside – Amun is interesting in that he is seen as being both sun and Nun, and two of his epithets include mention of Nun – “Nun, the Old One who evolved first” and “Nun the Old One who issued forth at the first time”.  This connects Amun to being a primeval being rather than just a creator god, and it is interesting (to me, anyway) that later mentions of Amun, especially as Amun-Re, absorb the role of Nun.)

The third pair of deities, Kek and Keket (or Gereh and Gerehet), represented primeval darkness – the absolute dark of the first time, and the fourth pair, Heh and Hehet, were the currents in the primeval waters.  Heh was also the name of another grouping of gods – the Heh gods – who were the twilight after dusk and before dawn and aspects of the time of pre-creation.  In addition, all eight of the deities in the Khmwnw ogdoad were (are?) conflated with the Eastern souls, in baboon form, who helped the sun to rise.

(There’s a lot of “Pete and Repeat”* that goes on in the Ancient Egyptian mythos – duplicating of roles, syncretization, etc.  I find it helps to think of everything as equally valid and able to exist simultaneously; it keeps my head from exploding most of the time.)

The Greeks liked the concepts that the Ogdoad represented, and saw the primeval era as a Golden Age since ma’at was a celestial force during that period of time.  I, personally, still see ma’at as a celestial force as it transcends the tangible…but that’s really a discussion for another post.  In the Greek line of thought, though, creation out of primeval matter resulted in the celestial (or cosmic) rather than the organic, and the fact that the Egyptians stressed physical qualities when personifying cosmic matter indicated the scientific advancement of Egyptian civilization, despite the fact that myth was used.  I’m honestly not certain how I feel about this line of thought, though.  The Ancient Egyptians were clearly scientifically advanced – one only has to look at their engineering and astronomy and medical treatments to see that.  I’m not sure if I can, myself, prove scientific prowess through the application of philosophy.  That too, most likely, is a post for another time.

So, a simple post this was not (as if that needed to be said), and I’m afraid I’ve come out of this experience with more questions than answers and many many thinky thoughts.  That’s not all bad – I need more things to occupy my brain in the middle of the night.  Hopefully, I’ve given you things to ponder without dooming you to the same sleepless nights.

To paraphrase a favorite podcast: Good night, dear readers.  Good night.

 

Resources:

Hornung, Erik.  Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1996.  Print.

Pinch, Geraldine.  Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt.  Santa Barbara: Oxford University Press, 2004.  Print.

Morenz, Sigfried.  Egyptian Religion.  Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1992.  Print.

 

*Children’s verse – “Pete and Repeat went for a walk.  Pete fell in a hole; who was left?  Repeat!  Pete and Repeat went for a walk.  Pete fell in a hole; who was left?  Repeat!”