April 11, 2014

Greetings from EuroRetreat!

This morning, I'm posting from a conference room in England, during a break in our very first Kemetic Orthodox religious retreat outside of the United States.

If you'd told me in 1987 that I'd be teaching and sharing information about the ancient Egyptian religion in England, with people from all over the world, I think I would've laughed. There is no way I could've foreseen this happening. It's exciting, and a huge milestone for our religion and our religious community. We have, in one weekend, become a global organization in a literal, non-Internet-based way. I want to express my deepest gratitude to our W'ab priest, Nesyutenmutes, for all that she has done to bring this together in her country; and Rev. Tanebet, who also helped plan and put this together from Germany. Both of them have been dreaming about a European retreat for years, and we've finally made that dream reality.

So far this morning, we've had a discussion about Kemetic terminology around the deceased (specifically Akhu and Muuet, an expansion of a discussion that the wider temple was already having this past week in our official internet message forum), and some basic talk about apotropaic magic and what we'll be doing over the rest of the weekend. We have a very cozy group as we had some cancellations, but know that we're thinking fondly of everyone who isn't here, and already planning for future European gatherings.

December 25, 2013

And there were stars: How a time out turned into the nighttime sky

Have you ever been angry with other people?

I'm not talking about being annoyed with one or two particular people, or general frustration. I'm talking about the kind of seething, frothing misanthropy that makes you furious at the human race in general, the kind of rage and disgust that makes you think, "If I never see another human being again, I could live with that." This is the kind of all-consuming anger that makes you sick of trying to get along with anybody, that has you cursing everything and everybody and just wanting to be left alone.

This is how angry Ra was with human beings, according to the myth where Sekhmet was born. In His rage – and mind you, as far as the myth goes, He was right to be angry – He sent Hethert down as the Lioness of the Blood Red Garments and told Her to chew up evil. Then She got carried away, and started chewing up everybody, not just the evil ones. Her rage was "pleasant to her heart," and She would not stop.

So Ra came up with a clever ruse with the help of a small army of priestesses and a large quantity of beer and hematite powder. Transformed into a lake of "blood," this red-tinted beer was poured out alongside the town where Sekhmet had gone a'slaughtering, and once She found it, She drank it. And once She drank it, She fell asleep. End of angry lion, end of destruction, end of story.

Or was it?


November 16, 2013

Nothing that is original can perish: Lady Olivia Robertson, 1917-2013

Bear with me. This will be long and full of feelings, but these are things I haven't been able to talk about for a very long time. In the spirit of Olivia Robertson, an amazing spiritual woman who always had the knack to be able to be herself without judgment or censorship who passed to the Beautiful West yesterday, I'm going to present my thoughts here, in her honor, and in her memory. I will miss her more than I know how to express.

I read about it in the back of Rolling Stone when I was 13. "Fellowship of Isis," the little ad said. "International Goddess organization."

The ad caught my attention at a curious time. I'd recently lost my maternal grandfather, and his final words to me, "what are you going to do with your life?" were a mandate. I'd asked my parents for a hiatus from church. Sitting in the place where I'd had to watch that funeral was the last place I wanted to be, plus I was dealing with my emotions around well-intentioned but misguided behavior from relatives who suggested in televangelist-fueled wisdom that Grandpa might not have gone to heaven, due to his not having attended church. I didn't blame God or Jesus – I was more than certain that Grandpa was right with Them – but I found myself dissatisfied with a structure that suggested heaven was only something you got if you had enough punches on your churchgoing card.

It wasn't a typical teenage rebellion. I didn't go running to some opposite. Atheism held no appeal, and neither did Satanism. Instead, I spent a lot of time in the woods, in the library, in solitude thinking about what my grandfather had taught me by his life. I considered every Christian sect and then everything outside Christianity. After my review, I became a Buddhist. Meditation was helpful and I enjoyed the practice, but found myself troubled by that First Noble Truth. While I could agree that life is often suffering...I couldn't agree that it was suffering all the time, that everything was always doomed. I loved the world and the people and things in it too much. And if I couldn't get past the religion's first tenet...well....Of course, now I know better, even having had the honor to speak about it personally with the Dalai Lama once, but that's a story for another day, and I wasn't meant to be a Buddhist apparently.

So I retreated into the Egyptian mythology I'd read off library shelves since elementary school. I wondered what the world would've been like, had the Battle of Actium ended differently, or Julius Caesar had opted to listen to his wife and stay home on a certain March morning. I wondered whether ancient Egyptian deities even existed anymore.

And then I saw the ad, and I wrote a letter, and my adventure began.