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.

Sharing: Access and Justice: Disabled Pagan Activism

I highly recommend that everyone who reads this blog go on over to http://stoneontosand.weebly.com/disability-equality-training.html and take a read and /ora listen.  This is topic that, in my opinion, is never discussed enough.

Alternatively, you can hear the talk by clicking the video link below:

 

Slide below posted with permission:4996347_orig

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.

Gyromancy

When I was a little girl, one of my favorite things to do was spin around in a circle until I fell over dizzy.  I’d go outdoors on a sunny day, find a spot in my yard, and spin and spin until I couldn’t stay standing and toppled over into the grass.

(I also used to roll down the hill in our front yard, but that’s a topic for another time.)

Anyway, the idea of doing such a thing now makes me nauseous – in addition to my equilibrium changing after I had my son, I also have benign positional vertigo (BPV) which means I sometimes get dizzy and fall over for no reason at all.  Spinning in a circle until I fall over is now off the table, as is going on any amusement ride that spins and watching any movie that uses shaky cam as a thing.  But, I was amused to discover that my childhood spinning actually had a use that I didn’t know about – divination.  I’m referring to gyromancy.

Gyromancy is the practice of divination by circles or rounds, and there are a couple of well-known methods:

  • A person, or a group of people, spin or dance in circles until they become dizzy enough to fall on the ground.  At that point, everything that is said by the ones on the ground is recorded, and then those recorded words are interpreted for potential meaning.
  • A person, or a group of people, stand within a circle that is bordered by letters or symbols.  At the appropriate time, the person or group walks around the inside of the circle repeatedly until they grow dizzy enough to fall on the ground.  At that point, the position of the people on the ground in relation to the letters/symbols is noted and interpreted for meaning.

Both of the methods above sometimes involved the person or group of people getting up once they fell and repeating their actions until they couldn’t stand again or, as reported in Occult Sciences: A Compendium of Transcendental Doctrine and Experiment: “…till he evolved an intelligible sentence, or till death or madness intervened.”

Ummm, yeah.

Another method, and one I hadn’t heard of before researching for this post, uses a nicked or marked coin – the coin is spun within a circle of letters, and words are spelt out by where the nick or mark lands when the coin falls over.  I think I like this method best as it doesn’t involve me spinning in circles and then spewing.  Although, that might be another method – spin the person and interpret meaning based on where the discharge lands?

(Okay, forget I suggested that.  EW.)

Since I started pondering gyromancy, I’ve had a picture in my head of someone practicing it at a day care facility, at random, based on spinning pre-schoolers.  I mean, they will spin on their own – why not make some use of it by giving them soft mats marked with letters to use as a base?  I don’t know how accurate it would be, but it might make for a good experiment provided that no one actually spun the children; the children would need to spin on their own, of course.

Clearly, I am getting silly.  Sillier than usual, anyway.

I don’t currently know anyone who practices gyromancy, much like I didn’t (and still don’t!) know anyone who practices tyromancy.  If you do either, I’d be really interested to know your how and your why, and whether you think harnessing the power of small children is worthwhile.  After all, a day when I learn something new is a good day!

Today is a good day.

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.)

Xen

(I’m cheating, a little, because the title of this post refers to a specific person…and this post is actually about a culture.  Nevertheless, the person is a member of that culture, and I needed another X post.)

Admiral Daro’Xen (“Xen”) vas Moreh

I’m not as drawn to quarian culture as I am to specific individuals who happen to be quarian (anyone else have rage over the lack of fem!Shep/Tali in ME2 and 3???), but the central tenet of quarian religion is very present in my own practices – ancestor veneration.

From the Wiki:

“…The quarians used to practice a form of ancestor worship. This involved taking a personality imprint from the individual and developing it into an interface similar to a VI. The quarians began experimenting with making these imprints more and more sophisticated, hopefully leading to the wisdom of their ancestors being preserved in an imprint that could be truly intelligent. However, the geth destroyed the quarians’ ancestor databanks when they rebelled. Some quarians saw their subsequent exile as punishment for their hubris, but most accept that the geth rebellion was a mistake, not a punishment.

However, respect for their ancestors is still prevalent in quarian society…”

I venerate my ancestors; I don’t usually call it worship, but there are aspects of what I do for them that might deserve that appellation.  I take a moment to think of them when I pass the shrine I’ve set up in the living room.  I offer water and beer to them when I remember to do so (not regularly, but often enough that I think I can count it).  I remember, with intent, the ones I knew, and muse on the ones I didn’t, and pray for them, and once or twice I’ve asked for intervention from them.

I’ve also been known, on occasion, to meditate on the larger…conglomeration that is Ancestors with a capital A…which I think may be more in line with how modern (future?) quarians invoke their ancestors:

“Blessed are the ancestors who kept us alive, sustained us, and enabled us to reach this season.  Keelah se’lai.” – Mass Effect 2, Tali’s Loyalty Mission

Here, in this invocation, I can see gratitude to both individual ancestors (some known, some not) but also to Ancestors – the quarians who grew a culture and civilization on Rannoch; the quarians who were driven from their homeworld by the geth and thus formed a nomadic society to wander space; the quarians who kept the flotilla in repair and able to maintain and sustain life.  All of these groups had a hand in ensuring the survival of those who came after, and thus all of these groups can claim the gratitude that is offered.

The same is true for those that came before me; there are many groups of people that contributed something toward my existence today, and even if individuals can be condemned (and some are, believe me!) the larger community of Ancestors deserves my recognition and my thanks.  And so, in this, I find yet another religious practice from the video game realm that has useful real-world application…which seems to go against the pronouncements of many about the triviality of gaming.

(What usefulness will I find in Tamriel, I wonder?)