Perils of Overintellectualisation

I am at the moment working on a manuscript for work (which I am enjoying immensely, and if I ever get my shit together and make a Recommended Book List For The Stuff I Do I will probably put this on it, because for a book about Shinto it is brilliantly Kemetically-relevant – though I’ve long thought Shinto had a lot to reveal to Kemetics).

One of the things the author keeps talking about is a resistance to theologising, to thinking too much about religious matters, rather than performing the recitations and rituals appropriately.

Which is a thing that I think is worth keeping in mind – that the idea that religious thought must be tightly systematised is likely not entirely native to practices that we are reconstructing, regardless of the culture of origin of those practices.

Too much thinking about it gets in the way of doing it, as I commented before. Too much being bound up in being Right about the way to do things rather than doing them, likewise. “Here are three ways of interpreting this word in context” is not something that sits easily with a lot of theologies, that are all about trying to make things tidy and clean and clear, rather than the ways that three different things layer to create a complicated nuanced thing which is all and one and none of these things.

A message I can take from what I’ve read so far goes something like, “Out there, there is the world; relate to it with clean senses and a pure heart. That is the natural and divine way of being.”

Not bad, for Kemetic ponders, is it?

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Spiritual Convection

Doing a bit of reading has me pondering basic cosmological structures. Which I touched on, briefly, when I posted the map that was published in the Guide, but I’m looking from a different angle at the moment.

There is a gradient of formlessness and form to be seen in that image of the cosmos: we, resident primarily in the world of that which is knowable and known, visible and seen, bounded and contained, and having a distinct shape, have our residence primarily in the top half of the world, where potential has, for the most part, been realised – or is in the process of becoming so.

But if we enter the akhet and the realms of dream, the residences of the blessed and mighty dead, the personal homes of the gods, we have crossed a gate to a realm in which shapeshifting – a subject of a huge number of spells – is common, though one must take care not to adopt a form that falls too close to formlessness (such as a fish), where the rules of the seen world risk becoming inverted, and the powers can be seen more readily wearing their own faces.

And if we go deeper, the perils are sharper – the nightmare forms dwelling in Rosetjau, the lair of the enemy.

And if we go deeper still, back into the depths of the past and the bottom of the bottomless, the very edge of being where it melts into the Nun, we find the Mysteries, through which possibility and growth are released into the world of the existent, to bubble upwards, conveyed by the Boat of Millions towards the surface, carrying life by which forms may be animated.

It is true that the ancestors are guardians of the flow of life into and out of the Duat, that their blessings come with the turnings of the year: the ancestors are the mirror into which we look, seeking our origins. The flow of that which the gods bring up from the Nun passes through their hands as it reaches the gates of morning.

And of that we make worlds. We choose how we conduct our lives, we eat and offer and live, and we pass back the forms that we have created into the akhet in the evening, in the shapes of our dreams, the passage of our travelling souls, our own selves when we come to our mooring day.

Blue is Red

The trip out had been full of storms, which both delayed us and made me fret about whether the beach would be open, because my daughter was demanding, at irregular intervals, if we were at the beach yet, and explaining disappointment to the four-year-old birthday girl is difficult.

When we got there, at eleven, the clouds were thinning, though the wind had a chilly bite to it at times, and the parking lot was nearly empty. We spilled out of the van, all seven of us, and claimed a spot on the beach, dividing the labor of minding the children and each taking our turns at other occupations.

I spent a while building fortifications out of sand, and watching them collapse into the moat (though the tide was heading out, digging would suddenly reveal the sea resting like the Nun under the sand).

Eventually, covered in sand from these diversions, I made sure that the kids were watched, and I walked out into the Bay. The sea had receded to reveal one sandbar, and I crossed that and kept going.

There was a patch of red water a bit further out, as if the sea had been stained with blood that never dissipated, and I waded out to it, finding a brick-red sandbar hidden beneath the waves, and I sat on that, letting the water come up to my ribs, contemplating. My foot dug into the sand, and the redness gave way to perplexing swirls of purple and green.

By the later periods, storms had been also bound to sea, and I thought about that, and thought about the way the storms of the drive had kept a place for us on the beach, and many other things besides.

Schools of little speckled fish, moving like my memories of guppies (because they were that size, and thus they move like fish of that size) eventually gathered around me, swimming fiercely this way and that in the various currents of the receding tide. The waves slapped me with gentle force, and once I saw a hermit crab marching the length of the sandbar past me (as the children playing elsewhere in the water occasionally cried “Hermit crab” and charged in one direction or another in pursuit of similar sightings).

A helicopter buzzed overhead, an odd and artificial menace, and I watched it go; when it was gone, the waves resurged more firmly, as if to remind me that there are more dangerous things in the world than men.

When I stood up, the fish scattered, suddenly terrified that the immobile feature of the sandbar that was myself had shifted and cast a different shadow on the sea.

“Everything’s a storm to something,” I thought, as I walked back to shore.