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.

Cloverleaf and Roundabout

Like last year, this year I got to Paganicon via a road-trip, and while I didn’t happen to see The Rider on my journey, I did unravel a piece of the web that I’ve been staring at for what feels like ages but has probably been around six months.

But I should probably back up a bit, and explain a couple of things before diving down the hole in front of me and urging you to follow, shouldn’t I?

2015 was a horrible year for many people, and for me it was filled with family tensions, work tensions, and religious community tensions that eventually drove me to leave the place I considered my religious home for six years.  And, after all that, came the time of No Computers, and I was driven to seeking out those I wanted to stay close to via Google Hangouts from my work laptop in between doing the things that comprise my day job, which is heavy on pointless meetings with people I don’t want to hear, much less see.

(Okay – done with the self-pity now.  I swear.)

At the time of the upheaval (last October, or therabouts), I was staring at a problem I’d been tasked to address – the untangling of a particular set of threads in the Web in front of me.  Staring wasn’t getting me anywhere, and I couldn’t figure out where I need to start, and then things blew up and I put the task aside where it sat.

And sat.

And sat, until I was smacked in the head by a not-so-velvet paw and reminded that the tangle was still there.  And, that I hadn’t said “No” when I was asked to deal with it.  And that it was going to stay right there until I figured it out.

I like to put my gods in the category of “tough but fair”, but they don’t always like to stay in that category.  This time, though, everyone took on that label, and everyone reminded me that there was a THING that needed DOING, over and over again until I finally decided to get off my ass and look at it again.  Which, I did.  I looked at it.  I walked around it, and looked at it from a number of angles, and tugged on a few things, and pushed a few more, and then sat down and stared at it again.

And then, I took a 21 hour (round trip) road-trip with my sister, and we talked the whole way.  Sometimes it was serious, and sometimes it was silly, and sometimes it would have made no sense at all to anyone listening in, but it was in the talking on the way there, and in Paganicon itself, and in the further talking on the way home that I figured it out and the threads unwound themselves as prettily as anyone could hope to see…and now they’re connecting just as they should.

It took two things, really: the realization that I am very very good at asking questions, and that the sigil I created in Thorn’s workshop is meant to remind me to Speak Up.  And once I connected those two things everything else fell neatly into place.  I am not meant to be a Hammer – I am meant to be a Lever.  I am meant to move things from passive to active.  What once I called a cul-de-sac, a parking lot, where we stop and wait and try to figure out which way to go is now a cloverleaf, or a roundabout, with exits that are there.   We’re just waking up and wondering where we are, how we got here, and why we’re in a hand-basket.

This, then, is the Introduction.

Reblog: Do We Act Justly? Disability, Mental Illness and Vulnerability

“Disabled people are routinely treated as a ‘vulnerable’ group, rather than as a marginalized one. But what if we were included under a social justice banner instead?”

Read the read of the post.

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Naomi Jacobs (AKA Léithin Cluan) tackles a critical topic with the type of openness and clarity that, for me, have come to represent her writing style.  This is a must-read, and a must-think.

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.

It’s Opet time, again!

And, apparently I forgot to post about it last year.  Wow.

The Emboatening Crew is coming together once again for Opet to emboaten the boatless through charitable giving.  We do this over on Kiva.org, and many of our micro-loans do in fact go for boat-related things (boat repairs, refurbishment, buying new boats, etc.)

For those not as into boats as our Kemetic team members are, we also:

  • Embovine
  • Emgoaten
  • Emhome…something or other
  • …I forget what we called lending money for bees

Anyway, if you are on Kiva, we’re currently trying to get Melanie funded. As of this post she only needs $150, and her loan only has one day to go. Please, lend if you can, and of course you are also welcome to join The Crew.

Falderal

At times, it’s all I can do to embrace my connections with others while ignoring the falderal that accompanies it.

As a human being surrounded by other human beings on most occasions, it is inevitable that I’ll be exposed to a certain amount of human behavior that is just baffling.  Some of this behavior might fit most people’s definition of nonsensical  (an adult pirouetting in Starbucks while waiting for coffee, for example), but a lot of it simply doesn’t make sense to me, and it makes me wonder if it is the behavior that is unusual or my perception of it.

We’re all blessed with unique perspective, since no two human beings are exactly alike, and so there’s a certain amount of play in the idea of what is acceptable behavior and what isn’t.  For example, if we take dining in a restaurant as an example situation, I am relatively certain that running up to the table of a stranger and removing all of their cutlery is unacceptable behavior.  But, in that same restaurant, is it acceptable for a child to run around the restaurant rather than staying at the table with whoever brought them?  Some would say yes, and others would say no.  It’s a matter of perception; if I allow my own children to do that thing, then it is likely to be acceptable to me if other people allow their children to do the same thing.  If I don’t allow such things, then it is more likely I will find such behavior appalling and be baffled at the idea that someone thinks this is okay.

It gets tricky, for me anyway, when looking at things that society as a whole deems acceptable that I just don’t get.  To take what I think is a good example: marriage in the United States contains an expectation that the people entering the marriage will behave as if they have no romantic love for anyone but their spouse, no physical attraction for anyone but their spouse, and no desire to form relationships that go beyond the platonic friend stage with anyone but their spouse.  Those who do not behave in this fashion are called “immoral”, “unethical”, “cheaters”, and many other things because they deviate from the societal norm.  But, while I understand that society has built up expectations of how married people behave, those expectations baffle me.  I cannot imagine turning off my feelings and attractions to other people simply because society expects me to, and thankfully my spouse is of like mind (if he weren’t, we probably wouldn’t be married now).

(Now, I should probably say at this point that I do think lying about such things is inappropriate.  Someone who agrees to do one thing but does another is a liar, and that’s what makes it cheating.  Anyway.)

My position on relationships between people has led to some interesting situations in my day-to-day life.  I can’t watch a television show that has a “love triangle” plot without ranting about how the person in the center of the triangle should just admit how they feel and try and work things out with the other two.  If I am attracted to someone who is in a relationship with someone else, I tend to ask about the openness of that relationship, thereby exposing myself as non-monogamous.  This baffles other people at times, and yet I am baffled at their bafflement…and around and around we go.

Here’s another one: there’s a child in one of my swimming classes, a four-year-old boy who, when choosing a toy, always picks one that is pink, or purple, or has sparkles on it.  He’s a bright child, and is really enjoying his swimming lessons, and I didn’t even think about his toy choices until his mother approached me after a class and mentioned that her son’s toy choices didn’t mean he was gay.  I am sure the expression on my face conveyed my confusion, because she further explained that he was the youngest of four children, and the others were girls, and so it was natural that he would want to play with their toys…

WTF?  This person was concerned that I might read something into her child’s behavior, that I might think her four-year-old was gay because he likes to play with pink and purple ducks in the pool.  I was flabbergasted that she felt the need to say anything, but of course I reassured her that I hadn’t read anything into his behavior and that, in my class, everyone gets to choose the toy they want.  She walked away happy, and I stood there stunned because the idea that someone would expect a preschooler to adhere to gender stereotypes, and then comment on them, is baffling to me.  It’s falderal – it makes NO SENSE to me.

It’s easy enough to be myself, to be open and honest, when I’m in situations where it makes things better.  In the case of the swimming lessons above, it was an easy thing to reassure the mother than I wasn’t thinking anything about her son based on his choice of duck, and go on when life…but when it is my own behavior that is causing bafflement, it gets trickier.  When I see that I am brushing up against societal norms and cultural mores, when I see I am making others uncomfortable, I end up torn in two directions.  On the one hand, I want to rail and shout and explain that I am a decent person despite their bafflement, and that it is our differences that make humans so interesting, and that everything I do is consensual and it doesn’t affect them anyway!  On the other hand, well, I have to live in society and things work better if I am not marked for ostracism.  So, almost inevitably, I end up pulling back and behaving in ways that are way outside my own norms to please others…and it fucking sucks not to be myself.

So, why am I writing about this, especially over here on a religious blog?  Well, I’m a FlameKeeper, and as a FlameKeeper I am always looking for connections, for the things that tie us to other pieces of the Divine and to the Universe.  And, behavior is a pretty big connection between people; we’re joined by our behavior preferences, by things we do and do not do, by what we think is appropriate and what we think is inappropriate.  The trouble is, we’re also connected to the people who do not behave like us, and those people are not going away despite our wishes to the contrary.  There will always be someone on the other side of the debate: for every person who identifies as pro-choice, there is a person who identifies as pro-life.  For every liberal, there is a conservative.  For every theist, there’s an atheist.  For every gamer, there’s someone who thinks video games are a waste of time.  But, we’re connected to those people, the ones who disagree with us on a fundamental level, the ones who behave totally unlike us.

We are all Divine – you, me, the tree, the rock, and my left shoe (especially my LEFT SHOE).  The connections between us are there, even when we pretend they aren’t, even when we let the falderal get in the way of recognizing them.  The trick is to see past the nonsense to the essential, to see the spark and what radiates from it, and then nourish those connections.  Through this, we improve ourselves, and thus the Universe.

YOLO

Whether you agree with the accuracy of the statement “you only live once” or not, the meaning behind it is clear: make the most of what you do, and live life to the fullest.  For me, as a FlameKeeper and a Kemetic, that means doing the following things:

  1. Living ma’at as best I can.
  2. Recognizing that we are all Divine* and acting accordingly.
  3. Taking responsibility for my mistakes (aka owning my shit).
  4. Trying, in future action, not to repeat the mistakes I’ve made.

Not very glamorous, I admit, and hardly the fodder to post on Twitter under a hashtag.  In fact, when I did a little exploring (something I think you should do, at least once) of the hashtag YOLO (#YOLO) on Twitter, few seemed to be using it the way I do.  People tag some amazing things with #YOLO – for every affirmation of friendship, or child’s first step, or road trip, there’s drunken Christmas caroling, and law-breaking, and -ist** comments.  All of this is…well, you know what?  It’s not my place to tell other humans not under my direct supervision what to do or how to do it unless they ask me for an opinion.  And, no one has.  So, I’ll give you a couple of cents on the topic and let you draw your own conclusions.

My religious path requires action in place of stagnancy, choice in place of passive-aggressiveness, and moving forward in place of looking back.  I am much less concerned with what happens after I die than I am what happens in life.  These things are piety in my practice – I am a pious person despite not doing the things that traditionalists would imagine because I adhere to the need to act, and choose, and move forward.  YOLO, for me, fits right into that – I make a choice and follow-through and, if it backfires or goes horribly askew, I acknowledge it, regroup, and move on.

Now my choices and backfires aren’t nearly as adrenaline pumping as, say, a civilian pulling over a police officer, but they’re still the result of action.  I’m not sitting back and watching things happen around me; I’m precipitating them.  And that, I think, is really the point of YOLO: take that leap and make something happen in this life rather than waiting for the next.  Life’s too short for regrets, even if you believe that we get more than one.

(Maybe the thrill seekers are on to something, after all.)