Emergence

It is turning to spring here.

It is a fiddly thing to ponder in terms of calendars, with spring coming here after Peret has wound to its conclusion.

But even with the seasons as they are (and not as they are not) there are the places where it nonetheless works. Where the spring rain that finally brings the greening to the trees has fallen at last, filling a bowl with water from the Inundation, so that I might be prepared for the Beautiful Festival of the Western Valley.

(I have strained the water into a jar and popped it upstairs with my shrine and ritual supplies.)

Today we got ten dollars’ worth of little yellow flowers and planted them in front of the house, because the older kid wanted to plant yellow flowers with her grandparents. She has watered them with her little watering can, encouraging emergence.

Encouraging the spring.

Harvest Festival of Min

One of the things that I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is how Egyptian festivals fit into my (northern hemisphere temperate) seasons. I mean, my lepidopterist’s calendar has a harvest festival for Min on Friday, and around here we’re … not safely past the last frost date.

Someone in a southern hemisphere temperate climate would likely be nicely in the middle of their main harvest period right around now, and be happily able to do a full-up reaping of the wheat or whatever (or at least think about it usefully) right around now.

However.

The first stuff we harvest around here is greens.

So I’m thinking lettuce wraps for dinner on Friday might be a good thought.

(There may be a more substantive festival post later, but I wanted to get this thought squared away.)

The Accidental Syncretist

I have a deep yearning for artificial simplicity.

Back when I converted to Kemeticism, it was like coming home. It was like falling in love. It was this intense experience, an actual genuine conversion experience, and it was a big damn deal for me. I went out, I found a group to join, and I settled down to do the thing. I did regular ritual, and it fed me like no other ritual had before; I found language and framework to articulate theological and philosophical concepts I had been kicking around for years but couldn’t talk about coherently because I didn’t have a structure for them; I had a lovely honeymoon.

And then I had one of those Experiences, which told me “This isn’t enough for you.”

And I didn’t like that. I didn’t want it to be not enough.

And I chewed on it for a long time, and I did research, and I started exploring in the direction I had been shoved, and it turned out, several years later, that it was indeed not enough for me.

So I started doing other stuff too. And I built an artificial simplicity: I will do this, and I will do that too, and there is this illusion of multiplicity to work with, and I do not cross the streams.

There was a fascinating thing about doing other stuff more deeply, more thoroughly, and with more devotion: the more other stuff I did, the more it all looked like the same stuff. Here, this symbol matches that symbol, with similar resonances; here, this goal looks like that goal viewed from a different angle. And that was okay, that was a thing where I did the work and suddenly I was building a deeper framework because I was doing two things.

I’m okay with it when it feels like work.

And then …

… and then it gets different …

… and the artificial simplicities, the this-and-that, they break down, they fall away, there is this gaping chasm, and after the fall there is …

actual simplicity.

And the parts of me that crave the neat and tidy boundaries scream. (But if you’re not being scared by something, you’re probably not doing something deep? People ask me how to make it safe, and I wonder what they’re looking for.) I do believe the Powers of Egypt can reveal themselves in the rest of the world (because otherwise what would be the damn point?), and yet having a Power present herself in symbology and structure from another part of the world makes me panic.

And I talk to people about it, and they say, “Yeah, that makes sense. I can see it.” I can see it too! I just … there are parts of me that don’t want to. That don’t want this additional tie-together of all the things I do as one thing, as a coherent thing of all sorts, that doesn’t want it to be that easy, because the ease of it feels like the moment when the audience shouts, “Don’t go in there! It’s a trap!” (It’s quiet. Too quiet.)

I don’t have Sannion’s holy-unholy glee about it. It scares me too much.

To lose the artificiality. The neat lines, the tidy categories that I never really believed in but clung to nonetheless.

So I go with it, of course. Because otherwise, what would be the damn point?

In That Sleep Of Teeth What Dreams May Come?

I spent an hour trying to get a screaming baby to take a nap today. Usually things are not that hard, but sometimes we get a bad day.

I spent a lot of the time holding her thinking about teeth.

One of the things that’s hard about working with the Nut Cycle, as has been noted recently (and as came up when I was doing my Digging Up The Mysteries talk at Paganicon) is that second hour, the gateway of teeth: knowing that in order to go through the divine rebirth process, one must submit to having the Great Mother bite off one’s head.

It’s hard to get to the point that one can trust that She’ll put the bits back together. Teeth are scary.

(Yes, I am way behind on Nut Cycle summary posts. I am aware of this.)

It is not uncommon for various cultures to connect the process of sleep with the process of death, or to treat sleep as a time when one or more souls is absent from the body (and have taboos about waking sleepers and so on); certainly that is part of the cultural heritage of English-speakers, if for no other reason than Hamlet.

And anyone with experience of small children can recognise that kids don’t want to go through that first gate, maybe missing something in the material world, maybe experiencing terror in dreamland, and perhaps going to sleep is itself frightening – loss of consciousness, loss of time continuity, not knowing who or what will be there after sleep, not necessarily knowing in the body that there is a road back to waking.

That screaming baby who is kicking and clawing rather than go down for a much-needed nap, she’s afraid of the teeth too.

So I wonder: what back in pre-memory teaches us that sleep is an acceptable risk?

Well, Smack Me With A Dead Fish

Okay, so. Some folks I know were talking about this knitting pattern, titled “Osiris”, which is described as “A stole with 13 full moons and a fish.” The fish, in this case, being the bottom-feeding beastie that consumed Wesir’s penis and thus meant that his reconstitution required a bit more magic than would have been the case had all fourteen pieces been recoverable. (For more of my ramblings about Wesir’s amber wave of grain, please refer to this post.)

And the conversation turned, as such a conversation might, to whether or not it would be inappropriate or perhaps tacky to wear a fish stole in a devotional context for Wesir, especially when the fish was explicitly there was THE ONE THAT ATE YOUR PENIS, YO.

Which turned into the usual side conversations about taboos and appropriate behaviour, and what one does about fish and Wesir, and I made an offhanded comment about execrating them by eating them. (Which may not be an ancient practice – I don’t know off the top of my head – but I do know off the top of my head that there was a stomping on fish execration and that meat offerings were reliably also treated with the symbolism of conquered enemies. So it’s not farfetched and I would not be surprised by some nome or other doing it. And some other nome being horrified. And fistfights.)

Anyway.

I got one of those funky revelatory moments.

One of the things that I think is important for people to do is look for underlying systems in their environments. I don’t live near the Nile, after all, and the intuitive rhythms and balances of that place are not mine (even if they still existed in the same form after the construction of the Aswan Dam). And one of my standard illustrations of that for my local environment is the Three Sisters.

The Three Sisters are maize, beans, and squash. They are a traditional planting method used by the Native inhabitants of this and other areas of the North American continent. Roughly speaking, one plants the maize, lets it grow a little, and then plants beans and squash around it. Maize is a heavy feeder, but beans are a nitrogen fixer; beans like to climb, and they can use the maize stalks to do so. The squash leaves spread to discourage invading leaves, and create a sheltered microclimate that keeps moisture available to all three plants. Further, the combination of maize/beans/squash produces reasonably balanced nutrition and thus can supply the needs of a human community.

This strikes me as an elegant illustration of ma’at, one tuned to my local environment.

And – if I want to get mythical – one of the traditional things done in this area when soil was poor is to throw a fish in the hole when starting the planting.

And thus I find Wesir and his fertile power of vegetative growth hanging out a few thousand miles from home.

Dua Wesir!