Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
– Margaret Atwood, The Year of the Flood
I’ve put religion on the back burner as a I try to sort out what it is I’m supposed to do with it. I’ve gone through that honeymoon period where you initiate contact with Deity, marvel at the fact that there (quite probably) exists another facet to reality that you were previously unaware of (and continue to be not quite sure of). My question is, though, what are you supposed to do with it? And then: Do I have to do anything with it?
Apart from the religious themed dystopian novels I’ve been reading, (e.g. Oryx and Crake, The Year of the Flood, The Sparrow, Children of God, A Thread of Grace, etc., all quite good by the way) I’ve just started on a book that compares the 4 classes of knowledge: Science, Philosophy, Occultism and Mysticism, in which the author begins by speaking of the history of how scientific positivism has caused the divorce of the seeking of spiritual knowledge from the knowledge of the physical world (in other words, secularism). I haven’t finished yet, but this does raise some interesting questions.
I see myself now as the inevitable product of a Western 20th century line of thinking. My younger self, first getting a taste of spirituality thanks to the forays into my father’s Presbyterian church (and at once being turned off by its tactics; we were asked to let Jesus live in our hearts but he did not deign to knock on my heart’s door), then evolving into an arrogant certainty that the ridiculous philosophical arguments for God were bunk, (but of course, if you set up a straw man just to knock it down, how could you not revel in your own intellectual prowess?) only to continue to seek that spiritual component to life; name it, grasp it, add it to the collection of knowledge already forming in my brain as I constantly adjust my definition of reality. Yes, Bast “touched” me, but it seems she grew bored and hasn’t since communicated to me as directly. This tormented me for quite a long time, until I asked myself why it was even necessary.
Sacrilege! You mean you can have a religious context in which to live but not worship Deity as well? How dare you?!
Actually, I take an understanding of Ma’at as I have it, informed by ancient texts and modern interpretations, to eck out some kind of proscriptive morality that is so general and wide open that in the end I rely on context to ultimately decide the next appropriate action. That, along with my suspicion that the silent man (mentioned in the wisdom texts) is kind of a symbol of the introvert and their positive aspects helps me to integrate myself more into society. Don’t speak if you’re going to blabber. Consider the feelings of others. Be fair and wise in your judgments. Kind of like an ancient “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”
Going back to my inevitableness…I found in my horoscope portrait (don’t laugh!) that Mercury and the Moon are in opposition to each other. This means I’m doomed to have my intellectual capabilities always in conflict with my inner feelings and intuition. I guess it’s fate. (btw I don’t know if I believe in fate) But then again, I think this is more a larger cultural issue than mine own personal one. Or is it the Human Condition? (uck, now I’m getting pedantic)
I have no definitive answer. Neither am I trying to look for a One Truth to which all roads ultimately lead. I’ve long since given that up in favor of the slippery polyvalent logic that allows me to accept as true many conflicting things as long as their spiritual truths coincide at some point. Neither have I renounced the existence of Other beings, Other reality, Other worlds, even. (I believe in Equal Opportunity) But I think that’s OK. That’s part of being human. I am un-training myself to focus on only the seen and physical (and thus, the quantifiable). Yet neither am I collecting alternative healing or spiritual modalities like Pokemon. This is a natural process as I become more myself.
Back to the initial question: What am I supposed to do with this gnosis of the Other? I dare to posit another question: Do I have to do anything with it? For now, I’m assimilating. I don’t have anymore expectations about how Deity is supposed to interact with me, or what they’re supposed to grant me as one of their “chosen.”* (please don’t read more into this word than there really is) At this point, it’s sort of like, help me if you will, and I’ll appreciate it. But neither will I go attributing what little successes I have if I didn’t involve the gods in the process in the first place and neither did they make it obvious to me that they had a hand in it. Do gods need a pat on the back for doing the right thing? I like to think they’re above that, doing whatever gods do, playing cards wherever they are, maybe.* In the meantime, I see this process not as a spiritual crisis, but an organic development of a spiritual identity, somewhat blocked by the antics of a near 3 year old and constant lack of sufficient funding for daily life. I’m the metaphysical chicken running around with no head, if you will.
p.s. Bast, if you read this, it wouldn’t hurt to drop in every once in a while. You may get some good stuff out of it. I’m game if you are. Do ut des, and all that. I don’t mean to be (too) flippant. Really, come ‘round.
p.p.s. Seshat, saucy siren of sophia, hope you liked this meandering muddle of words. Or rather, please forgive the intellectual ego masturbation.
p.p.p.s. Please to forgive the excess of parenthetical asides. I often annoy myself more than anyone else.
Great resource on how to look for credible sources. My only problem is that personally I used to focus more on the academic than on the lived and experiential. I’ll be working on this for myself, but meanwhile I hope that as many people as possible can read this and incorporate this knowledge into their own personal practice, and most importantly, be conscious of and develop their critical thinking skills.
Originally posted on Shadows of the Sun:
Hello once again, gentle readers! It’s your friendly neighborhood Medievalist and former Classical/Near Eastern Studies-ist Sarduríur Freydís Sverresdatter, here with some tips regarding proper sources, academic discernment, and citation. Now in a super-informal colloquial format! Huzzah!
Historical research is a major part of many Polytheist communities. Whether a Revivalist or Reconstructionist, to a lesser or greater degree, we all turn to the written word of History at one point or another. History is the backbone of all we know and understand about ourselves as literate, self-aware creatures. However, many Polytheists have not had formal University training in the professional field of History to any extent. Quite a number of Polytheists, both seasoned practitioners and “newbies” alike, feel lost in the stacks — whether they care to admit it or not — and don’t know where or how to begin to sift through the thousands of publications on any given subject.
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It’s a bit late, but I wish everyone a happy holidays. And as far as a Kemetic slant goes, do check this blog post out.
A while back I purchased an eBook from Biddy Tarot called Tarot Foundations. I like that it’s in eBook format because I get to put it in my Kindle and take it with me wherever I go. However due to other priorities I haven’t really been able to do much more than read it. This is more like a workbook than a book that lays all the meanings down for you. It provides activities to help deepen your understanding of the tarot. There are a lot of good ideas including creating a keyword chart (really gonna have to work to find time for this one) but I thought I’d enjoy part of the last day of my four day weekend doing one of the activities, albeit out of order.
This exercise is about focusing on the imagery and symbolism on the cards to create a story about what is happening in the cards, thereby integrating apparent images with intuited rationalization. I was supposed to choose three cards randomly. With the first card I’m supposed to write about it using the Scene – Action – Outcome – Moral formula to build a story from the card. With the second card I’m supposed to write a fairytale story starting with “Once upon a time…” And finally with the last card I’m supposed to write a story about myself using my present day circumstances, writing about work, a relationship, an event, or even make believe. While I think this activity is wonderful in theory, I’m pretty daunted by actually doing it. Oh well, here goes!
I purchased this deck months ago and also did a divination using the same spread that I used with my Anubis Oracle Deck, but for some reason never got around to fully interpreting the results and posting it on the blog. I think it’s about high time I did that, considering I’ve been wanting to develop my tarot reading skills, so now I’ll be posting my results here along with my interpretations of the cards that came up in the spread. I’ll be using the same spread provided by Dusken at her blog as I did last time. Here are the primary cards that came up:
You may remember this post that I wrote on Monday about my religious crisis and not being able to feel Bast’s presence in my life despite repeated attempts to understand her and what role she should play in my life. Although I had been concerned about this for quite some time, it had always stayed on the list of “things I need to take care of just as soon as I stop having too much stress from current life concerns” which includes things like working so that I could put food on the table and clothes on my family’s back since my husband is unemployed. That blog post was sort of a last ditch effort to assimilate and try to digest what it was that was happening to me, because the religious lack in my life was only part of the problem. Well, I’m happy to say that just one day later, I received an answer in the form of messages embedded in articles I found online. Once I realized she had listened, I was filled with a peace that I hadn’t known in a long time. Bast didn’t give me peace- she led me to it. She showed me the door, and waited for me to walk through. She shows me the path and I walk ahead in joy, in thanks.
I think the catalyst was particularly this post found on Fanny Fae’s blog. It talks about how relationships take work, and it’s the same with a relationship with Netjer. It also mentions how many people only try to speak with the gods when they need something. This is an immature way to approach the netjeru and I realize this is what I’ve basically been doing. I mentioned before that I’ve changed and grown as a person but unfortunately my relationship with Bast didn’t reflect this. She led me to see that post in order to communicate this to me.
I asked myself before what kind of relationship I wanted. Fanny Fae talks about why she works with her gods:
Relationships take work. I am willing to do the work, make the effort, not just because I want something, or that I hope to get anything out of it except a clearer sense of myself and where I am going, the world and how I can be in it and assist others, not just myself.
Remarkably this is exactly the reason why I do Reiki, and am interested in developing myself spiritually further than where I’m at right now (I’ve also found a very useful guide on how to maintain the body of one who practices magic or uses energy). The relationship I have with Bast is part of this process. I don’t usually come to Bast with something I want her to fix or want her to give me. It’s mostly a matter of “I’m stuck. I don’t know how to move forward. Show me the way so I can help myself.” And from Fanny Fae’s post I found another post speaking from a Christian p.o.v. but no less useful. I found particularly helpful the questions included at the bottom of the post. It’s as if Bast is showing me that she understands my analytical mind, and even went so far as to provide me the questions I need to ask myself in order to have a good idea of what I want from our mutual relationship.
But I think the most important takeaway message that she’s given me was that relationships take work- something I’ve always been rather dim witted with even with just other humans, let alone divine beings. She wants me to include her in more of my every day life concerns. Because even though it’s clear that I am to respect her, that doesn’t mean that she can’t be a part of my daily life. And I heartily agree. From here I will be taking small steps to commune with her, appreciate her influence in my life, and let her know how I’m doing, while providing offerings of food along the way. I think what she’ll value the most, however, is my offering of time. I dedicate very little of it to myself compared with all the demands that outside influences make of me, so this, for me, is a difficult thing for me to do. But I’m just glad that I’ve gotten somewhere. Now the real work begins.
In a dream. Mother but not her. The body is different but the essence the same. The body shifts, melds, there she is. She smiles sadly. She wants to talk to me, tell me many things. She can’t say much, something pulls her away. It’s always the same. She tells me she misses having her senses. To see, to touch, to taste, to hear, to feel.
In that place between dreaming and waking I wonder, how can you see me without seeing?