Kicking the Hornet’s Nest

I spend a great deal of time poking at hidden things.  I open cans of worms; I kick hornet’s nests; I turn over rocks to see what lies wriggling underneath.  And, I ask questions – tons and tons of questions, sometimes to the dismay of my colleagues, and my family, and my friends.  I hold the flashlight and shine it right into the face of things that are more comfortable in darkness, in the secret places where they cannot be examined.

Some of this is innate – I am a curious person, and examining something from every conceivable angle until I *know* it fills me with the kind of ecstasy most ascribe to moments of a more…intimate nature.   And, don’t get me wrong – I enjoy sex as much as anyone, and perhaps more than many…but the perfect blend of the emotional and the physical that so many of my loved ones ascribe to it is, for me, found in that first perfect moment when I truly understand something new.

This, as one might assume, means that I am sometimes extremely difficult to be around.  When active avoidance of a topic is the MO, I have to deliberately focus to not only not see the elephant in the room, but also keep from asking it questions about how it got onto the elevator.

It also means, though, that I am a Very Useful Tool, and that some of the Powers That Be have a vested interest in keeping me in good repair.  My boss at my day job, for example, knows I will dig deeply into anything he asks me to investigate and bring back every single piece of information available.  My boss’ boss, the head of Quality Assurance for our company, has come to welcome me greeting him with, “I opened another can.”  They both know, as does anyone who works with me, that I will worry a thing until it breaks open and reveals its creamy center, and that benefits almost everyone involved.

Mmmmmm….creamy center….*drools*

Outside of my day job, I remain a Very Useful Tool.  This thing I do, this poking, and prodding, and questioning, and untangling, brought me the attention of the netjeru before I knew that they were available to me as more than a list of Names in a book of mythology.  It brought me Work to Do that was ecstatic and transformative, but wrapped to make it seem smaller and less critical than it turned out to be.  It is the primary way I uphold ma’at, the concept that is so critical to Kemetic practice.  It is integral to my FlameKeeping work – the Dark Flame Wayfinder guides through the nebulous so the seeker can see the infinite potential(s) waiting for them.  It forms the foundation of my web work – how can I know what to untangle and what to leave in place if I don’t ask the question, or at least get right up against the threads to trace where they are connected?

To ask, to kick, to nudge, to pry – these are not without consequences.  For every piece of knowledge gained, for every insight, there is something better left unknown, or untouched.  My head is filled with things I’d rather forget but cannot, and I’m reminded of some platitude about being unable to put knowledge back where it belongs.  Once opened, a box can never return to its unopened state…but then again, I’ve always found Pandora to be a kindred spirit, and wasn’t Hope at the bottom of that box anyway?

I am the one who Questions, and I have no regrets.  The reward is worth a thousand stings.

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Empathy for the House of Netjer

Last night, I saw a series of blog posts from members of the House of Netjer (HoN) noting that they are currently in financial difficulties and asking for community support.  The posts serve as a reminder to anyone who forgets that religious organizations are as reliant on financial assistant as individuals, and that tangible resources are necessary for an organism to survive and thrive.

This post is not a call to donate to HoN, although that community needs some support.  It is, instead, a statement of the empathy I feel for its members, for those who believe wholeheartedly in the community and its work, for those who follow its teachings, for those who do senut, and who celebrate festivals according to the Kemetic Orthodox calendar.  For those who believe, and support others in that belief.  For the onion hoers, and the priests.  For those who are hem(t)-netjer.

For those who Trust.  I empathize most with you.

I am Kemetic.  I hold fast to the idea that community must be developed and nurtured and perpetuated.  I hold to the concept of ma’at and that it must be developed and nurtured and perpetuated, lest isfet infest and unmake.  And, I hold to the idea that in ma’at there is community, and in community there is ma’at and that I have a responsibility to Speak in order to continue and improve.

I am not always good at subtle; the first of the Names that came to me was Sekhmet and she is very good at ma’at at any cost.  I am becoming better at this, although parts of me still long for subtlety, to work things out one-on-one, and to address those I believe have forgotten ma’at in private rather than in public.

But the time for that has passed.  It is time for me to Speak Up, to say publicly what I tried to say privately:

The recent actions of the Nisut tell me that the HoN no longer has a head.

To be the God-King, especially in diaspora where no larger civil structures are in place, is not to be a titular head, or a leader in Name only.  In a community where Words Mean Things, where language is heka and heka is language, calling oneself the Nisut implies certain actions…and those actions are not occurring.  Worse yet, to my mind, there has been no owning up to this as far as I can see, save for some throwaway comments at a recent Pagan Event about it being assumed that her attendance at the World Conference of Religions some years ago was related to Kemeticism, followed by a laugh.

Well, yes.

When one is the self-professed leader of a Kemetic organization, when one claims to have been crowned by the gods and given the kingly ka, it is expected that one wear that mantle seriously.  To represent oneself as a leader in another faith while retaining the title of Nisut; to hold a discussion about Kemetic beliefs in a conference suite reserved for a Sosyete; to run from the role one claims to hold to another is shameful.

You, Tamara Siuda, should be ashamed of yourself.

How dare you call yourself their Nisut and not nourish them?  How dare you not open the granaries, and how dare you reduce the community you built – and now seemingly ignore – to the point of begging assistance from the pagan community at large?

For the sake of those who were once your people (and are now something else entirely), I hope your abdication comes soon.

The End and the Beginning

I’ve not been writing much of late.

This is not because I don’t want to write; I do, very much.  It’s not because I don’t like the topics I’ve been choosing; I’ve been having a grand time with my pop culture paganism series, even if no one really reads it.  And it’s not because this blog doesn’t fit me anymore; now, more than ever, I find myself bumping into things along my religious path that I want to pick apart and examine here.

The actual reason behind my lack of posting here is complicated, but there is a teal deer version: I stopped posting for The Cauldron Blog Project while trying to sort out whether The Cauldron was still right for me, and after a few weeks and months of both introspection and conversation with some of the members of my religious community (and friends), I decided that it was no longer a good fit.  And so, I’ve resigned as part of the Staff at TC, and I have also left as a member.

The Cauldron has been a huge part of my religious life since early 2010: it was there that I feel I really came into my own as a Kemetic; it was there that I discovered and embraced FlameKeeping; it was there, among the other members, that I refined my own personal practice into something that nurtures and fulfills me.  For those things, not to mention the number of friends I made, I will always be grateful.  But, as people change and grow, their needs changes and mine no longer align with what The Cauldron can provide.

So, this is the end of the TC chapter of my life, but it is also a beginning.  It’s the beginning of a new re-examination period for me, looking at who I am and who I want to be.  It’s the beginning of a new section of road on my religious path.  It’s a chance to start anew and figure out new ways to put together all the bits and pieces, and new ways to poke at them, because the life un-examined is a stagnant life…and you all know how I feel about stagnation.

To those I met on TC, you are a part of who I am, and I will never forget you.  To those joining me with Beginnings of their own, I can’t think of any friends or companions I’d rather have.

Thank you, for everything.

The Importance of Being Earnest

I’m behind in The Cauldron Blog Project again, and so I am trying to catch up by writing several posts at once.  This…is not an easy task, as I’ve been trying to stick to a theme of pop culture paganism this year focusing on The Elder Scrolls, and while the series itself is named with an E, there are no deities in any of the games that also begin with E.  And, did I mention that there are 87 total deities in that series?  Anyway, now I have to write two posts with the theme of E, and since Paganicon 2015 is winding down and I happen to be in a hotel in Minnesota after attending it, I started trying to think of things that came up during ‘Con that I could address.  Which led me to something I saw a lot of this weekend: earnestness.

It’s not easy to be earnest, especially when surrounded by others whose beliefs are different than yours, but the majority of people I met at Paganicon 2015 did it with aplomb.  They, as the definition goes, showed depth and sincerity of feeling for their path(s) and practices, and were happy to share what they thought without stomping on the toes of anyone else.  Or, if someone was mistakenly stomped, they were happy to apologize in a way that did not lay blame on the other person.

I find the earnest fascinating, mostly because my own inclination is to be, well, not-so-earnest in public.  That’s not to say that I hide my beliefs, exactly, or that I am not serious about anything, but I am more likely to hide myself from strangers.  I like to be camouflaged to a certain extent – to keep my counsel unless it’s asked for, to put on an outward face that resembles what people expect to see in a given situation.  In the case of Paganicon, I’ve been pretty successful so far – I wear what I consider to be ordinary clothing (usually jeans and t-shirts), wear simple devotional jewelry, keep my hair in a basic style, and offer opinions among those I don’t know only when it is appropriate.

I’m completely different among my friends, of course – I am outspoken and forthcoming about what I believe and what I don’t.  I don’t know if I’d call it being earnest, though.  I can be serious, and I certainly hold serious beliefs and do serious things, but the word earnest has connotations to it that I don’t think are characteristics of myself, and I also don’t think it is one of those words worth reclaiming or slapping with the Words Mean Things label.

(Wow – I never thought I’d say that.  Maybe I need to regroup.)

But, anyway, the earnest are fascinating to me because they neither hold anything back, nor try to laugh away their intensity.  They’re committed to their path and practices in ways that I admire, and have sometimes wished I could emulate…and it makes for interesting conversation.  I always learn something from the earnest, and since learning new things is one of my joys in life, I welcome spending time with those who have this trait even though I know it is likely I’ll never be quite like them.

After all, differences are what make the world go ’round, and that’s a good thing.

Wale

Sometimes, figuring out what counts as a choice is the tricky part.

When I learn something new that resonates with me, I find it difficult not to allow the NRE* to spill over into every aspect of my life regardless of where I initially plan to apply it.  Take the concept of Words Mean Things – I primarily chose to incorporate it into my religious practice because it fits with ma’at and heka…and from there it was easy enough to adhere to at work, and with my family, and in my leisure time.  It’s what I sometimes call a “slippery slope principle”; it’s more difficult to limit the application of Words Mean Things than to stand back while it infiltrates every nook and cranny, and there’s no doubt I’m benefiting from its incursion.  Yet, I didn’t choose to allow it out of its box in the first place.

Of course, I also didn’t choose to stop it.  Why would I, when it works so well?  In fact, I don’t think I ever stopped to think about whether I made an active choice on Words Mean Things until I started writing this post (and rewriting it, and rewriting it), and now I’m noticing some things:

  1. I didn’t actively choose to allow Words Mean Things to run amok all over my life, but I also didn’t choose to stop it.
  2. Not choosing to stop it means I did make a choice on the subject, albeit a passive one.
  3. Passive choices are still choices, and therefore still count as action.  (I think)

As I said before, it’s tricky.  There’s a line between not choosing and passive choosing, but I’m not exactly sure where it is.  I’m also not sure that one can’t be retconned into the other – refusing to make a choice about something that happens anyway can look like a passive choice after the fact.  Does this matter?  Well, in the grand scheme of things I think it must, if only because I tie such importance to action and to being required to make a choice in situations.  I know if I’ve made a choice, and I have to live with the consequences of my action (or inaction)…so I guess the only thing I can really do is be conscious of when I wale, and how I wale, and whether I’ve waled at all.

This is turning into one of those philosophical posts with more questions than answers.  Must be time to stop writing now.

*New Relationship Energy

Give Me Ubiety

I wish I knew exactly where I am, and where I’m going.

I’d love to feel that I were in a definitive place, a specific location, and that my religious, spiritual, and philosophical journey had mile markers, and rest areas, and scenic turnouts where I could admire the view before ending up at a planned destination with a soft bed, climate control, and room service.  I also have a sneaking suspicion that I am not alone in this wish, but I know I have trouble remembering that it is the journey that is supposed to matter when I’m hot, tired, and in need of some sort of spiritual shower?  I want a destination, goddamn it!

Yes, I’m whining, and I’m continually reminded that this doesn’t make me (or anyone else) less worthy, or less Divine, but gods does it make me feel boring and gods does it make me wonder why I haven’t thrown my hands up and called it a day when I see other people pay lip service to parts of my path that I cling to, tooth and nail.  Why do I keep putting one put in front of the other, sometimes at a run but more often at a crawl, when there is fulfillment in just pitching a tent where I am and half-assing the rest of the journey?  Why do I need so much from my religious and spiritual life when other people are happy to coast?  When the hell am I going to get where I’m going and feel that overwhelming sense of ubiety, of being in that definitive place?

(And now, I’m wondering why I have so many questions, and why the majority of my sentences are so much longer than other people’s sentences.  Gah.)

When I try to answer these questions, I often get stuck in one of several loops – I begin arguing with myself about judging my own actions based on what other people do, or I enter a cul-de-sac of my own making where I check and re-check that I’m actually on a real religious path (and go in circles in the process), or I freeze in place and close my mental doors to anything new out of the fear that I am getting it wrong.  I remember the heartbreak I felt when I realized that I would never find my place in Christianity, that the overwhelming love of God that the people around me had would never be mine, and I freeze in place, terrified that I am once again walking in a direction that will lead to despair.  I hate these loops, and I’m sure that at least part of why I get into them is related to Depression.

The other part?  Well…all humans have doubts, even if they don’t admit them, and it is perfectly natural for me to look at my path, and where I’ve been, and where I think I’m going, and say, “How do I know this is right?”  I don’t have anything to measure my experiences against – there is no mile marker, or sign post, or scenic turnout to show that I will end up at a specific point that is recognized as The Ultimate Destination.  And, for my path, I have to keep remembering that, well, that’s the point.  Walking the path of the FlameKeeping Kemetic (or Kemetic FlameKeeper, depending on the day), and the path of Words Mean Things, means that I won’t reach a definitive end in this lifetime because the journey is the point.  To move through my life, to learn new things and use them to grow myself and my connections, is my destination.  To bring things into being through words, which are action, is my goal.  There is no Xanadu in front of me; no mounting wave will roll me shoreward, and I will not lie, indolent, eating of lotus.  The Journey, the Road, is my destination, and I have ubiety as long as I keep going.

…The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet…
“Roads Go Ever On – J R R Tolkien

Space

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space.”― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

This is a post about space, but not the kind of space you might be expecting. I suppose outer space could be included in the overall theme, but what I really want to talk about is space for. You know; space for being; space for action; space for recognizing yourself in the context of the universe.

Space for can be as nebulous and difficult to grasp as time for, and I think more people worry about the latter with the idea that finding the time for will open up space for…but I’ve never really been able to do it that way. I have to seek out both at the same time or put space for in the priority position in order to get what I need.

Here’s an example: If I go into my backyard after the sun has gone down and the neighborhood is quiet, I can find space for any number of religious or spiritual things. The fact that I’ve gone out to investigate at a time when distractions are minimized means that I also have some time for any number of religious or spiritual things. They may not match up symmetrically – space for a lengthy ritual may not always match up with time for the same ritual, but there’s always something that can be done with the available space and time. Perhaps I shift gears and act in a way that matches both space and time, or I go back to the space when I have the time to complete what I want to do.

(At this point, I feel like I might be writing in circles. There is a point to this, I swear.)

The largest space for you can imagine will not work for you without the right amount of time for. The largest time for you can imagine will not work for you without the right amount of space for. The two concepts are connected and intertwined just as you and I are intertwined with each other, and the tree, and the rock, and my left shoe (especially my left shoe!). We are all Divine, and thus we are all part of each other’s being.

Look up at the night sky, into what we call outer space, and remember that such vastness of space is not possible without vastness of time. Now, look into yourself and remember the things you want to do, and then seek out the space for along with the time for. When those two things are solidly in your pocket, the possibilities are endless.