Wep Ronpet for me

I’ve been thinking about Wep Ronpet. For me, the day is less about doing holiday-type things, and more about quietly observing and waiting to see what will happen. I do try to make the day joyful, if not an outright celebration, but I tend to focus more on the year as a whole, and try to feel out what the coming year will bring to my life, and what it will ask of me.

New Year of course means that one year ends, and another begins. What I find interesting, is that I have felt that each year has a certain characteristic, and it seems to go from summer to summer, not winter to winter (new calendar year), or spring to spring (new growth/nature waking up).

I have memory problems, so I can’t remember all of them, but I know there was one year that was full of lost things being found, then a year of disappointments and things falling apart, then another year where everything seemed to give me greater insight, and another one characterized by constant travel and change. And it always goes from summer to summer, at which point it changes to a different characteristic.

So it seems that, for me, mid-August is when the old goes out and makes way for something new. I think I noticed this after my second Wep Ronpet. At the time I thought it was only coincidence, but it kept holding true, so it has become “the way of things” for me.

Wep Ronpet is important to me, but not because it’s a Kemetic holiday. I’m afraid I don’t give much importance to that; it’s the personal significance of the day that makes it important to me.

On a personal note, I have tried to post regularly, but have come to accept that I can’t, under the circumstances. This has been a very bad year. It’s been bad health-wise, and financially, and mentally/emotionally because of all the stress. And spiritually too; on a couple occasions I lost all hope and only my spouse kept me going. I’m afraid to be too optimistic yet, but I think things might finally be looking up. And what do you know, Wep Ronpet is just around the corner. Time for a change? I am certainly ready for it.

I hope I can increase my posting frequency again in the future, but things are still pretty bad at the moment, so I’m not making any plans yet. I just really wanted to share a helpful resource for Wep Ronpet, and now I am going away again for a while. Hopefully not too long, now that we’re so close to the change of the year, but change isn’t instantaneous, so I’ll play it by ear.

I’ll be back, though. I don’t know when exactly, but I’ll be back. This blog, leaving a legacy, is important to me.

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Wep Ronpet, and a super easy way to calculate it

It’s summer, and you know what that means: it’s time to think of Wep Ronpet (Kemetic New Year).

The ancient Egyptian year began with the inundation of the Nile, which started the growing season. That makes sense, but how do you predict the rise of floodwaters? As it happens, the inundation coincided with the heliacal rising of Sirius, which made it possible to predict the time for the inundation by watching for the heliacal rising of Sirius.

The heliacal rising of a star occurs when it first becomes visible above the horizon before sunrise. Each day after the heliacal rising, the star will rise slightly earlier and remain visible longer before the light from the rising sun makes it disappear.

There are several different tools out there for calculating the heliacal rise of Sirius, and thus Wep Ronpet. You may have a go-to method already, but I know from my early days that even the simpler tools can be stressful for newbies to navigate, and even some of our more experienced folk cringe at the thought of calculating the date again. This year I have something exciting to share, which completely changes the game: I found a website that makes it so simple to calculate Wep Ronpet, that anyone can get their date in about 30 seconds, no stress, even if they’ve never done it before.

  1. Go to https://in-the-sky.org/ephemeris.php  and set it to your city.
  2. Set it to Object type: Any | Object: Sirius | Display options: show rising and setting times, and observability.

The form will look like this:which gives you a table like this:So, in Tulsa, the first day this year that Sirius will be observable before sunrise is Aug 13, when the star will be visible from 6:20 to 6:22. Up until then, the table simply tells you that Sirius is not observable before sunrise; so there’s no need to compare lists of numbers, just skim down to the first day where it’s observable, and that’s it! So easy! (Pass it on.)

Note: Observability varies based on latitude, so your date for Wep Ronpet depends on how far north or south you are.

Being spread out all over the world can make things a bit complicated, but it doesn’t have to be. I recommend celebrating the start of a new year in whatever way makes sense for us. Since most of us are not even farmers, never mind not living along the Nile, calculating the heliacal rise of Sirius is mostly kept up as a tradition, with no practical purpose for our lives. So, if you want to be all in-tune with the stars, have fun (I certainly do!), but it’s also totally fine to just pick an approximate date in the summer, or choose a date to celebrate together as a community regardless of where you live.

I wish everyone a joyful Wep Ronpet, and a great year to come!

Bringing the gods into our world

Well, it’s been a few months. I have been working on answering the Kemetic Round Table questions, but I got hung up on the fact that my practice is not what I want it to be. How can I write about shrines when mine is getting dusty from neglect? There have been big changes in my life, and some things that worked well in the past no longer work for me. Offerings used to be central to my practice, and having lost the ability to do that, I didn’t know how to maintain any kind of practice at all.

I started wondering if I should say goodbye to my gods – I don’t want to, but I can’t seem to stay in touch no matter how I try, so maybe I should stop trying? But I wasn’t happy with that solution. I do want to maintain maintain our ties, and I have a great desire to give my gods *something*, but offerings clearly aren’t working. So I sat down and asked myself:

What do I want from my gods, and what am I able to give them?

-I want to continue learning about them. What I’ve learned so far has been edifying as well as interesting, so I want to keep on doing that.

-I want to continue learning FROM them. Being able to look at them as mentors has been probably the most valuable aspect of our relationship in all the years I’ve been doing this.

-Ah, here we have it: What I want from them most of all, is their presence in this world. But they are non-physical beings; in order for them to be here, they need *us* to give them a foothold. I guess that’s why I feel so strongly that I want to give them *something*, because I believe that would help to draw them into this world. I really want them here, and if possible, I want to leave something behind so that others will be encouraged to go on doing this after I’m gone.

-I don’t want to do physical offerings any more. I loved having a daily offering in the past, and I highly recommend it to others, but I no longer have the time and space to do it right. There’s no specific “right way” to do it, as long you do it in a mindful way. But if it becomes a perfunctory chore, then I think it’s better not to do it at all, then to do it in a disconnected way. I believe that the attention we give is more important than the actions we do. The actions can help us focus, but if they’re not helping, then they are no longer useful. What we need to do is to actively engage.

-I do want some kind of daily offering, to have that active engagement; it just has to be something that doesn’t require physical upkeep. It’s the bringing and arranging and removing of physical things I’m having trouble with. It’s a long way from the bedroom to the kitchen, to obtain a glass of water, etc. And no, there’s really no room for the shrine anywhere else. But if I don’t need to worry about physical things, I have no problem sitting down and giving them my attention for a while. I think prayers/hymns would be ideal for a daily offering. I’ve tried just talking to them, and that’s fine, but I often don’t have much to say. I think that having a few liturgical poems I could learn and recite would be much better.

-Although I am discontinuing physical offerings, I still want to have the figurines and art of my gods. Since I won’t have physical offerings any more, the shrine can be redesigned to fit in a smaller space, which will help a lot, since lack of space has been a big issue since we’ve had to move. Or, I might split up the various objects, and put them in different areas of the house; the main reason they were all together was for offerings, but now I could put the picture on the living room wall, the falcon figurine on a bookshelf that I walk past every day…the possibilities are wide open!

-Although I won’t be doing daily offerings any more, I *may* still do something special on holidays. This is a ‘maybe’, because I am not sure yet what I want to do for holidays. I definitely want flowers as usual, but beyond that I’m not sure. I might just have special hymns for the day, and have the flowers as the only physical offering. Yes, let’s do that; I can always add on ‘extras’ but flowers and hymns feel right.

-As far as celebrating holidays, I think Wep Ronpet (Kemetic New Year) is a must for me, and I also want to mark the winter solstice for Sekhmet. Otherwise, I will consider other holidays optional; if I can set aside the time for them, great, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary.

I feel much happier now that I’ve thought this through and have a clear set of expectations. So, next steps will be to find a new home for the shrine (or its parts), find some hymns that work for me, and so rebuild my practice on a new foundation.

When I started interacting with these gods, I only wanted them in my life, and my practice was built around that goal. And that was perfectly fine, but now that I’m facing the end of my life, things are different. It’s not only about what I’m able or not able to do, it’s also that the amount of time left changes one’s outlook. When you know that you’ll die before your current set of clothes can wear out, you realize you’ll never need to shop for clothing again. There are so many little things like that, that you’d never think about, that are suddenly very different. But I’ve found that some things still matter a great deal, even if I won’t be here to experience it. This is like that. I think our gods’ presence in our world is beneficial, and I know that they don’t have a lot of followers these days, so I want to do what I can to make their place here as secure as possible, for the future of our world.

Anubis and crossing thresholds

Continuing the series on what I learned from my gods, I wanted to write about Anapa (Anubis) next. Through my interactions with him, I have learned that he is incredibly compassionate, patient, a great listener, and always ready to offer comfort. He is my go-to for any kind of emotional problem. But I was supposed to write about what I learned *from* him. I had no ready answer to that. I guess I never felt the need to have him as a role model, since the things I see in Anapa are all things that are also a part of me (having empathy, being a good listener, etc). Still, I felt sure there’s something I could learn from him, so I brought an offering and sought his guidance.

I started again at the beginning: I had been drawn to Anapa because he is a liminal figure. I strongly associated with the idea of liminality, and liminal gods were the first ones I became interested in. I felt that they were somehow relevant to me. I couldn’t properly explain it at the time, but looking back, I had been in a major transitional phase in my life, didn’t fit in anywhere, and desperately needed to talk to someone who understood.

Let’s look at liminality. It comes from the Latin word ‘limen’, meaning ‘threshold’. It’s that transitional in-between place between two states. Dawn, dusk, birth, death, etc. But a lot of people (myself included) get stuck on the idea of being in-between, and want to stay there. That’s not liminality. Liminality is a transitional phase, and transition means moving from one state to another. You can’t live in the doorway, you have to go through.

liminality
1. the transitional period or phase of a rite of passage, during which the participant lacks social status or rank, remains anonymous, shows obedience and humility, and follows prescribed forms of conduct, dress, etc.
2. the condition of being on a threshold or at the beginning of a process. (dictionary.com)

It occurred to me that going through any major change is often difficult. Yes, births, deaths, but also a child’s first day at school, becoming disabled, moving to a new country… not “new things” in general, but specifically those situations where your relationship to the world around you changes, and requires adjustment. You have to learn a whole new way of being, and that’s hard, so people need help during the transition. Anapa is most known for being a psychopomp, guiding souls into the afterlife, but he also has associations with birth, and I think he is very well suited to helping people through any kind of transition.

I think it bears pointing out that, while a lot of us want to stay in-between, separate from the world around us (because we feel out of place in it), Anapa works to guide people through the in-between places, and helps them adjust to a new existence on the other side of whatever threshold they needed to cross.

What I am taking away from this is, two things. First, liminal times/places are doorways, not meant for clinging to, but meant for passing through to the destination on the other side. Second, any major life change requires adjustment, which is often hard; this is when people are most in need of empathy and guidance, something our modern world doesn’t always provide. I think we all *feel* empathy, but often fail to turn it into anything tangible, which is what people really need. I think we should endeavor to offer more tangible support, especially children of Anapa, since this is so important to him.

Sometimes friendship is enough. It’s not so hard to be a friend; have some tea and cookies, talk about the weather and ordinary things, just show some human kindness. For those who are new to the area, community centers often have great programs and resources, but not everyone knows about them. I like to keep tabs on what’s available in my neighborhood, even if it’s not relevant to me, so I can pass it on.

I also recommend the Psychological First Aid course from Johns Hopkins University (a free online course, link is here). Like regular first aid, this is meant for responding to emergency situations, but I have found that it is also a good model to follow for reaching out to strangers, e.g., how to talk to new neighbors and make friends offline.

I think the hardest part for any of us, is to reach out to strangers offline. The internet has given us a world where we only have to talk to people who are like us, people we can get to know from a safe distance and abandon just as easily. I don’t know how many people would be willing to knock on a neighbor’s door and ask if they need any help, or just share a cup of tea and chat. I’m not saying you can’t offer support over the internet, you can, but there are so many people who need support in the physical world, and we should not neglect that.

~

As I was writing, “compassionate, patient, a great listener…” a thought popped into my head:
“Being depicted as a jackal (large of ear) was not only an aesthetic choice, you know.”

Upuaut and mindsets

This is to continue my series on what I’ve learned from my gods.

When I first started reading about Upuaut (also spelled as Wepwawet), the first thing I found out about him is that his name is a title, meaning “Opener of the Way”. We see him in this role in various contexts; clearing the way for the human king, as well as for Ra on his journey through the underworld, and also as a psychopomp, opening the way to the afterlife.

Let’s start with a generality, though. He is the Opener of the Way. So he is someone who clears a path. A trailblazer, you could say. Now, an interesting thing about that word is that it denotes not only clearing a path, but also making a new path. I think that this describes Upuaut; sometimes he might just clear the way of obstacles, but he can also make whole new paths, carve out a way that didn’t exist before. So I started thinking about him as an innovator, someone who can think outside the box and find new/better ways of accomplishing goals.

I spent some time thinking about this trait, and trying to emulate it. I have had moments of creative insight in the past, but usually I am not very good at thinking outside the box. I tend to see only the usual routes, and if they are blocked, then I think “oh, there’s no way to get to where I want to be.” But isn’t there? Upuaut would find a way. He would make a way. Couldn’t I do that, too? I find that this is not so much a matter of something being either possible or impossible, but more a matter of creative thinking. Also, with regards to reaching goals, I realized that sometimes we confuse the path with the real goal. For example, my choice of employment was a means to an end, but for a long time I saw it as goal in its own right, and when I failed to land a job in the field that I had my heart set on, well, it wasn’t good. But I realized that although this was *one* way to my end goal (the obvious way), it’s not the only way. So, I suppose that trying to be more like Upuaut helped me to get into the habit of focusing on the big picture, and not get hung up on HOW I’m getting to where I’m going.

There is also an element of patience in this; sometimes the path I need to take is not obvious, and I have to admit that I don’t have the answer. I know from experience that it will become apparent when I get closer to it, but until then, it’s best remain noncommittal, and simply observe. Like a hunter. Upuaut strikes me as the hunter type, someone who can calmly sit, watching and waiting for the right moment, however long it takes.

Before I learned that lesson, I often rushed into things. I thought that I could reach my goals through sheer determination. Well, all that led to was a lot of dead ends. I did eventually end up where I needed to be, but it didn’t happen the way I had envisioned. So, I had spent a lot of time passionately pursuing a number of different goals, and then later felt embarrassed when people asked, “How are things going with [job goal]?” and I found myself in the uncomfortable position of having to say I’m not doing that any more, even though I had been dead set on it only a short time before. So, I had to learn to wait, and remain noncommittal until I see the answer.

Watch and wait. And the “watch” part is important; if you just passively wait around for things to happen, nothing would ever get accomplished. But paying attention is an active waiting. I get impatient with inaction, I want to be doing things and making progress. But I see now that standing still doesn’t mean being idle; if you are actively looking for the right opportunity, that is time well spent, and what’s more, it is often a necessary part of the process. I still get impatient, but that’s not as bad as rushing into dead end after dead end. I have gotten better at noticing relevant clues, and that helps. It took a lot of practice, and I think there’s still room for improvement.

So: Focus on the big picture, and don’t confuse the road with the destination. Remember there’s often another way, think outside the box. Have the discipline to wait and watch for the right opportunity, and remain noncommittal until then. All of these things have a common foundation, of thinking in a particular way. It takes a lot of time and practice to train one’s brain to think in a new way. It is well worth all the time and effort.

I hadn’t realized that the lessons I learned from Upuaut had such a strong focus on mindsets. Writing these posts has been illuminating. I have surprised myself more than once, by writing things that I hadn’t known that I knew.

Some things can’t be rushed

My apologies for the unscheduled hiatus. I know most people would say “It’s your blog, do what you want,” but I had wanted to post at least once a month, and said I would, and then I didn’t. As I said on my about page, I wanted this blog to be informative, not personal. However, it doesn’t feel right to just ignore my 3-month-long break like nothing happened. So I will make an exception and write a brief personal update.

Without going into details, there were health issues (for both my husband and I together) which kind of pulled the rug out from under me. We are both doing well now, it’s just taken some adjustment. It has changed my life drastically. I am not sure I’m completely mentally adjusted even now, but I want to get back to writing, and reading, so…here I am.

Before my life got interrupted, I had started a series of posts about my gods, about what each of them had taught me. I had posted the one for Sekhmet, but hadn’t had a chance to finish the others. I really want to get the rest of them finished and published to the blog. I also had other notes and outlines for future posts. I have a lot of thoughts waiting to be written up, I just need to sit down and put it all together, but I’m still a bit disoriented and finding it difficult to get the gears in my head turning the way they should, so I’m going to take it slow at first. But do stick around! Looking at my drafts, I should have one published in a day or two, and another one next week, and then hopefully back to a regular schedule from there.

Beliefs and ma’at as motivating forces

The topic for May is, How do you work your beliefs into your everyday life?
I haven’t needed to work them into my life; I think beliefs naturally influence and motivate our actions, and form the basis of how we live our lives. I would rather phrase the question as, How do your beliefs influence the way you live your life?

Believing in the existence of gods has led me to interact with some of them; I talk to them, give offerings. I think that’s pretty basic so I’ll move right along to animism. Believing that everything has a soul leads me to treat all of nature (and even mechanical things) with respect. How does this manifest in daily life? I can plant a garden to provide much-needed habitat for pollinators and birds. I pick up litter, and generally take care of the place where I live. Mainly I just do my best to be a good neighbor and live in harmony with my environment.

Since this is a Kemetic bloghop, I suppose I should focus on Kemetic beliefs, but there is really only one: the concept of ma’at. Though I wouldn’t even call that a belief as much as a philosophy or a world-view. I plan to write a more in-depth post about ma’at, but perhaps this is a good place to start. Basically, ma’at is the idea of “things being the way they should be” which encompasses a wide range of things, but boils down to equilibrium, that is, having healthy systems.

Another word for equilibrium is balance, so a lot of people stress balance. Personally, I find that limiting, because balance is often seen as being about the individual, whereas ma’at is about the whole system being in balance. Ma’at is not about me, it’s is about how I interact with the world around me. We don’t exist in a vacuum, we’re all part of ecosystems, economic systems, etc. – all the way up to the Earth biosphere being one system. So for me, ma’at is not about being satisfied with my work-life balance (that’s important too, but I don’t categorize it as ma’at); rather, ma’at is about contributing to the healthy development of the systems I’m part of.

As for how that manifests in daily life, I already partly answered that with regards to ecology. Another place where it comes up is with civic responsibility. Go out and vote, participate in community events, volunteer, help neighbors carry groceries. Promote understanding instead of hate. Promote the idea that we’re all in this together and should work together for the good of all.

Sekhmet and self-mastery

I am posting very late this month, because the post I had planned has not come together yet. I have started a couple different drafts on the subject of ma’at, but it is a difficult concept to describe, and I am not yet satisfied with my drafts; I need to spend more time thinking about what I want to say.

In the mean time, there is another topic that I have been reflecting on: Things I learned from my gods, and how these lessons inform the way I live my life.

From Sekhmet I learned to stand on my own two feet, to fight for what I want, and to not give up when things get difficult. But that was only lesson number one – a foundation for what was to come.

We should value self-reliance and determination, but these concepts on their own are too vague unless you also define parameters for them. One problem I ran into is that I kept failing no matter how hard I tried, and I started to wonder, At what point does persistence become a waste of time and energy? How long should I keep trying when it looks like my efforts are futile? I finally figured out the answer (I think Sekhmet is a fan of letting me figure things out for myself) and that answer is: Keep trying as long as there’s still a chance. Since I have defined that parameter, I finally feel like I know what I’m doing.

I thought the lesson was the value of determination and persistence, and that is certainly One lesson, but it was only half the story. Later I learned that there’s a second and more important part: Yes, you should keep trying as long as there is a chance, but it’s more about your character than about succeeding. So, I could fail at this endeavor, but by seeing it through to the end, I succeed at being the sort of person I can be proud of. Sometimes, things don’t work out no matter how hard you try, but the way you behave does make a difference – your choices and attitude define what kind of person you are, and they also make a difference in how you experience events, so that things not working out doesn’t have to be such a negative experience.

My perspective shifted from looking outward at what I can do, to looking inward at who I can be. In her role of protector, Sekhmet is a fierce fighter who will not back down and not give up. She is also a healer. At first, I wanted to learn from the fighter – and that was time well-spent, but she had more to teach me. She made me shift my focus, and got me to see that my choices and attitude have an effect on who I am, so I must be careful how I behave, and actively work on becoming who I want to be.

A related thought: in fiction, there is a trope that the hero must always show compassion, not because the villain deserves it, but because the hero’s soul would be tarnished by the act of causing harm to another soul. I believe it’s possible for a soul to become tarnished and then come back from that, but the more a soul is damaged, the more time and effort it will take to get it back to a healthy state. Because your actions are all a part of you – not just your most recent decisions, but everything you’ve done, big and small – they all contribute to who you are. The good can cancel out the bad, but repairs are costly and time-consuming, so it would be best to not cause harm to yourself in the first place.

You could think of your deeds, choices, and even your attitude as building blocks of the soul. What kind of soul do you want to construct for yourself? When I think about Sekhmet, that’s the question she always seems to be asking. (I don’t mean that she actually asks this question, but more like this idea of self-mastery is part of her essence, perhaps? I have wondered if this was a question she has asked herself and chose to internalize, after her rocky beginnings. This is only conjecture, of course, but I think it makes sense that she would know about the great effort required to turn things around.)

So, I do my best to incorporate these lessons into my life. When I want something, I keep trying as long as there’s a chance. If it doesn’t work out, I can still be proud of my hard work. I think about what kind of person I want to be, and make my choices accordingly. I look at how my behavior affects me, and strive to feed my soul only that which has a positive effect. I am far from perfect, but the goal is not to reach a final perfect state, but to keep working at being the best you can be.

It’s about the relationship

“It is not about us, it’s about them.” – I both agree and disagree with this.

I agree that it’s not about us, meaning that the gods are not here for our benefit. They are intelligent beings who have their own desires and goals, and we should not treat them like vending machines.

However, just as they are not here for our benefit, we are not here for their benefit, either. And (at least with the gods I know) I think they want relationships, not vending machines.

This is just my opinion, and others may disagree, but I think the best option is to not have a hierarchy at all. Respect is very important, but hierarchy is only useful in a work context; in personal relationships, it is best avoided. When one person (god or human) is more important than the other, the relationship will not be healthy. Of course the gods are older and often wiser, and we are not equal in every way, but we need to be equally important to each other.

As with any other relationship, it shouldn’t be about you, and it shouldn’t be about the other person; it should be about the two of you (or all of you) together in a relationship based on reciprocity. Let the focus be neither on us nor them, but on our mutual affection and appreciation for each other.

How to Choose a Patron

Do not choose a god according to their might. Might is vain, transient, and does not lead to rightness.

Nor should you choose them according to which of them seems most likely to exist. Simply existing is no assurance of goodness.

Rather, ask of your heart, “What is your unreasonable wish?”

Ask the same of the hearts of gods. When you find that god whose wish is your wish, then your hearts will be like one heart, and your mission will be one mission.

Serve none unless this is true.

via Ariadne’s Axe: How to Choose a Patron