#2362

When I first began praying to Wepwawet it was for good parking spaces and light traffic.

See, back then I thought, He’s the god of travel, right? Opener of the Ways? Why not? And admittedly, he didn’t seem to mind. But eventually my half-joking prayers became more legitimate requests and thanks for his continued protection as I travel. I set up an altar and bought him an icon, and over time I came to associate him with my father due to their shared love of ships, cars, planes, and other modes of travel. I liked to think my father had met Wepwawet after he died and asked the god to watch over me. Wepwawet’s presence felt a bit like he was doing someone a favor – not in the sense that he was obligated to keep me safe, but in the sense that he asked very little from me in return. For several years he was just the quiet, chill god who I thanked for saving me from my own terrible driving, a god who seemed happy with whatever offerings I had and never demanded anything more. This was our relationship for so long that I just assumed it would always be this way.

Oh, what fools these mortals be. Every god brings change – when will I learn?

Cut to the global shitshow that is 2020. I’m mentally and emotionally exhausted, lost in perhaps the worst depression I’ve ever experienced. I desperately want to leverage my privilege to be a force of good in our world but I’m struggling with how exactly to do that. I’m no warrior or leader or orator, nor do I have a huge following I can leverage to enact real change. I’m also limited by my own physical and mental health issues, and now have the added concern about catching covid-19 at some public event and passing it to my high-risk wife. So what can I do on the individual level that will still have a real impact for others? What can any one person do to push back this tide of darkness?

I keep coming back to deathwork. So many lives, both human and animal, are needlessly sacrificed on the twin altars of capitalism and white supremacy, and many of those lost don’t have anyone to grieve for them. Lately other pagans have started sharing their rituals to honor the dead, especially spirits who are related to us not by blood but by marginalized identities and shared suffering, and their work is inspiring. I’ve been toying with doing something similar yet neither Inanna nor the Morrigan, the two gods I follow who are most connected to death, seemed to be urging me to take this up with them. So the idea of deathwork has just been sitting in the back of my mind (like so many other spiritual things I tell myself I’ll do “soon” and then never do) – until last week.

When I do my weekly devotions with my gods I usually only briefly connect with Wepwawet to give thanks for his protection and to present an offering. This time, though, as I watched the shadows dance across his statue I was just… struck, I suppose, by this sudden understanding that my journey into deathwork is meant to start with him. It was so obvious! I whipped out my tarot deck to get further clarification. I don’t usually use indicator cards but one grabbed my attention and demanded it be set at the top of the spread. After that I drew three more cards. Here are my interpretations:

  • Indicator card: The Emperor – I’m not dealing with chill, informal Wepwawet now; this is Wepwawet as Lord of the Duat and Opener of the Way. The hard work is coming.
  • Where does your path for me begin? Page of Wands – Here and now! Wepwawet is confirming he will be my guide and that I need to take the plunge. No more hesitating.
  • Where does your path for me lead? The Magician – Harnessing creativity, willpower, and unseen forces to master new skills. A deeper understanding and relationship with magic and/or deathwork, perhaps?
  • What must I do next? King of Pentacles – Plant the seed and begin to nurture it with passion, hard work, and patience. Again, my time of uncertainty and hesitance is over; it’s time to begin the real work.

This feels like a strong confirmation that not only should I move forward with deathwork, but Wepwawet will be the main god to guide me through it. I’m excited to work with Wepwawet in a more formal way and I hope this will help me feel like I’m doing something constructive to uphold ma’at and destroy isfet.

#2354

Oh wise Anup who weighs the hearts of the dead, how heavy mine feels today! Be gentle as you hold it else I am sure it will burst from sorrow. How can any heart which beats in these dark times remain lighter than a feather? How can any empathetic heart not soak up all this pain? Even ravenous Ammit would spit out my heart, bitter as it is! Oh chief healer, I beg you take your sharpest knife and lance my septic heart so I may bleed out this toxic isfet. Empty my heart of this impotent rage and never-ending grief, that I may refill it with love and peace!

#2322

The face Bast shows me is not young. Artists always depict Her with the ripe, vibrant bloom of the maiden, all hourglass curves and taut brown skin, but this isn’t how I see Her. My mother’s face is lined by little creases above Her brows, the corners of Her eyes, the edges of Her lips. Silver hairs glint in Her long black braids. There is a softness to Her breasts and waist like one who has given Her body to the birthing and raising of many children. Her beauty is not that of potent sexuality; it is the beauty of experience, of wisdom, of time and its endless flow of joys and sorrows. It is a beauty shaped and weighted by so much care that only a goddess could bear it – but oh, is She all the more beautiful for bearing it with pride!

#2318

In my dream my mother and aunt wrap their bodies around me, skin to skin, and I am like a babe in their arms, my weary head resting on their pillowed breasts, my small hands clutching at their warm skin, and I am safe, so safe, so safe.

#2312

Reveal yourself!, I command the raging spirit as it snarls at me. Reveal yourself! It bares long fangs; its red eyes roll wildly with a feral madness. Reveal yourself! It lunges but I do not back down and I do not lower my outstretched arms. Reveal yourself!, I cry and the monstrous spirit howls in fury as my words finally dismantle its menacing facade. It shifts, shrinks, and by the time it regains its true form the howl is only a pitiful wail of despair. I kneel and pick the tiny spirit up, cup her in my hands and hold her close to my heart. She’s just a baby, a kitten barely six weeks old. That’s all the life she got this time around – six weeks. Six short weeks of fear and pain, enough time to experience the world’s cruelties but not enough time to understand them, and then death. She’s not even given the dignity of a grave because there is no one to mourn her. No one to remember her. No one to name her, even posthumously, so her spirit might know peace.

Fear, pain, death. No wonder she became so warped.

I realize I’m weeping, curled over this trembling little soul as if I can shield her from the horrors she’s already faced. Mother, I sob. Mother, I can’t do this. I can’t do this. How am I supposed to do this? I’m not strong enough to bear the weight of these truths; I’m not brave enough to open my heart to these sorrows. I fear they’ll drive me mad as well, that I’ll become a monster if I can’t gentle this awful tide of despair rushing through me. But that wouldn’t be fair to this spirit or the millions just like her who deserve recognition and empathy. If I can’t change the world completely, if there will always be innocent lives falling through the cracks, I should at least offer the solace of grief. Someone should carry the memory of all those lost souls so their brief lives weren’t in vain. I am a daughter of Bast; it is my duty and my honor. I don’t think I’m strong enough, it’s true, but I know my mother thinks I am. I must trust that is enough.

#2287

I am known as a goddess of love
And yes, I am a lover, a mother, a teacher
Yes, I can be gentle and kind
But do not forget my claws and teeth
Or the blood I have shed on the battlefield.
I have always been a goddess of war;
There is a reason my children are born knowing how to eviscerate their prey, after all.
I have always been a goddess of war;
The war between life and death
Between survival and failure
Between order and chaos.
Love makes life worth living,
But war is how you defend it.

#2280

Hathor is the embodiment of energy in its most kinetic forms. Her eyes glitter with excitement; Her tightly coiled hair bounces with every movement; Her lips pull back in a wide, joyful laugh that shakes Her bosom and belly. She is constantly in motion, existing in the vibrant now with no burden of the past or care for the future. She is the yes to every maybe, the why not? to every why? Her unfaltering dance is a celebration of birth and rebirth that smites isfet and nourishes ma’at. To those in Her graces She offers access to this well of pure, primal energy if only you are willing to open yourself to its possibilities. In order to embrace Hathor’s vivacious energy you must lay down your fear – fear of failure, fear of change, fear of the unknown – and leap into the moment. You cannot fall with Hathor at your side, only fly.

#2253

I will never have words enough to express my love for the divine, nor ways enough to express my gratitude and honor to live in its presence. If I repeat my praises too often, or if I reuse the same phrases because no others seem as worthy, please forgive me; I am just so often overflowing with awe that if I do not release some of it into the universe I may drown completely. Oh, the stunning beauty of Hathor! The humbling benevolence of Bast! The terror of the Morrigan, the ferocity of Inanna! Oh, to bathe my modest mortal soul in the pure glory of their divine radiance! How can I not sing their praises ceaselessly when everywhere around me I see evidence of their blessing? A word for every breath I take, every moment I live, every year, every decade, every life, still would never be enough!

#2237

Dua Bast, Lady of the East, Lady of Flame, Lady of Truth
Vengeful Eye of Ra, Protective Mother Cat!

Dua Het-heru, Lady of the West, Sweet Sycamore
Bearer of Joy and Bringer of Prosperity!

Dua Wepwawet, Opener of the Way
Shepherd of the Path, Unique and Adorned One!

Hail Inanna, Queen of Heaven, O Radiant Star
She Who Descended and Arose Again!

Hail to the Morrigan, Phantom Queen and Prophetess
Sovereign of the Battlefield, Carrion Crowned!

Hail to the Sun and Moon, Lords of Darkness and Decay
Lords of Light and Love, of Sacrifice and the Solstice!

Hail and thanks to all!

#2236

Bast is the Lady of Joy, yes, and the Lady of Love, and yet She is also the Lady of Mourning. These are not such disparate concepts. To be a goddess of joy is to weep at its loss, to feel every cruelty and injustice in the world as if they were done to you. To be a goddess of love means to be a goddess of mourning, for there is no love without life and no life without struggle and death. Bast is beside every cat in need, though Her children number in the hundreds of millions. This means every starving stray, every sick or wounded feral, every abandoned pet waiting in some high-kill shelter for euthanasia. This means every cat caged for breeding, for research, for torture, for extermination. This means every cat who right this moment suffers from pain and terror and loneliness. Think how many precious, sacred lives that is! How endless the tide of grief! To be a goddess of love is to be present in those moments of greatest agony so those you love are never truly alone, and thus Bast remains with all Her children in their need. What could be the result but continuous mourning?

Oh Mother, who holds You in their arms when You weep? Who lifts the burden of the world from Your shoulders so You may rest for a moment? I am no goddess, I cannot carry Your mantle of responsibility for You, much as I dearly wish I could. Yet I am Your daughter; I can at least share a portion of Your grief so You need not mourn alone. Let me weep with You; let me wail with You; let me bear witness with You. For those of Your children whom I cannot save or offer solace, let me at least acknowledge their pain so someone on this earth mourns their passing. We will grieve together, Mother.

#2233

Dua Het-heru!
Dua Het-heru, Lady of the West, Sweet Sycamore
Dua Het-heru, Bearer of Joy and Bringer of Prosperity

Lady, you are wondrous to behold
You are rivers overflowing
You are gardens overgrowing!

Your beauty is boundless
Your charms are countless
Lady, you are wondrous to behold!

Dua Het-heru, Victorious Eye of Ra, Mother of Mothers
Dua Het-heru, Glorious One of Many Names
Dua Het-heru!

#2230

Mother, under Your bright gaze I become a child again!
I am the Six of Cups dancing in the forest
I am the Three of Wands yearning for a new adventure

Mother, under Your patient gaze I become a child again!
I am the generosity of the pentacles
I am the curiosity of the swords

Mother, under Your loving gaze I become a child again!
I am the Fool’s fearless freedom
I am Strength’s courage and the Star’s faith

Mother, under Your holy gaze I become a child again!

#2218

The psychic said if I keep flying so close to the sun I’ll burn my skin and melt my wings, but she doesn’t understand how good that heat feels when it’s enveloping you in bright white radiance, when you are consumed and infused by divinity, nor does she understand how you’re glad to burn when that blazing force is the love of the divine, searing in its intensity, perhaps, yet uncompromising and unconditional, pure joyful affection which warms you to your core, and so I do not begrudge her words even as I tilt my wings to capture the next updraft into my solar mother’s waiting arms.

#2215

I dreamed I stood before a great altar full of Kemetic statues. I touched each piece with trembling fingers: human, avian, reptilian; feline and canine and bovine; creatures that were many of those, or all of them, or none. I knew these figurines were ancient, that they had once graced temples and altars in a time when the gods they portrayed were at the height of their worship. To see them at all was a wonder and an honor.

“They’re magnificent, aren’t they?” I glanced over toward the unknown voice. A beautiful African woman stood beside me, watching with quiet humor as I reverently admired the icons. She was made of curves; her round, smiling cheeks, her generous bosom, her shapely hips. Gold jewelry gleamed against her ebony skin and winked within the cascade of her tightly coiled hair as it caught the light. Most of all, though, it was her dazzling white smile that stunned me. There was such joy in her expression, such boundless love and affection; it was like her body could barely contain her overflowing personality.

I suspected who she was, but her presence here seemed impossible and so I had to know for sure. “Are you…” I hesitated. “Hathor?” The woman nodded, her grin expanding, and I burst into tears. I cried so hard I had to grip the edge of the altar to keep from sinking to the floor. They were primarily tears of awe, for never had a spirit blessed me with such direct contact, but I wept also in relief to have this undeniable manifestation of the divine right before me. If this radiant woman was Hathor, then all the gods I loved were real. With a single nod she banished every last scrap of doubt within me until I was pure faith.

#2214

The gods appear to us in the forms they choose for a reason.

Bast appears to me close at hand as if I’m a small child and She’s holding me in Her arms. She is an older woman with a face graced always by a gentle, loving smile. Freckles are scattered across her cheeks like stars and perpetual laugh lines gather at the corners of her golden eyes. She is muscled yet soft, in the way a woman who has given birth to many children is simultaneously rounded and strengthened. Her dress is of white linen, Her jewelry of gold, amethyst, and lapis lazuli. Her dark hair is woven through with beads and charms which jingle softly when She moves. She is the quintessential mother goddess with a soft breast to cry on and strong shoulders to lean on. I can feel in Her embrace the latent energy of the war goddess, and know She could change in a heartbeat if any danger came my way, yet to me She always appears in this maternal form.

Inanna appears to me veiled in red silk and firelight so I may only see Her soft belly and pendulous breasts and that sacred place between Her hips for which songs were sung. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of red hair, full lips, a proud hawk nose, but otherwise Her specific features remain uncertain. She is almost close enough to touch but always just out of reach, the way a dancer moves away from your embrace with the fluidity of water. Her face is hidden in shadow and because of this She might be any of the wild, unbound goddesses men have tried to shame for eons: Inanna, Ishtar, Lilith, Babylon the Great. She takes this form so I must face Her innate physicality; if I want to work with Her, I cannot avoid Her divine flesh.

The Morrigan appears to me only from afar as a shadowed figure backlit by heavy red skies. I cannot make out Her face but I can feel the weight of Her gaze, the immensity of Her presence. She is tall and thin as a finely honed blade, and like a blade there is a patient tension in Her form, a promise of deadly grace. She has long, dark hair, I think, and pale skin. She is not young; if I could get closer I would see lines on that gaunt face, especially at the corners of Her mouth and between Her eyebrows. Neither, though, is She frail; beneath Her dark cloak is a body spare yet strong as steel. This is all the Morrigan will let me see just now: the sovereign of the battlefield, the goddess of war and bone.

The gods appear to us in the forms they choose for a reason. What these forms show us – and do not show us – always hints at what we have to learn from them. Bastet is my mother; Inanna is my mentor; the Morrigan is my guide down a dark road.

#2212

Long before humanity learned to whisper Her name in reverence or cry it in exaltation, my mother walked this earth. Long before humanity crept from its caves to build crude homes with mud and sticks, my mother stalked this earth. Her eyes gleamed yellow in the firelight; Her fangs glowed like twin crescent moons. In ancient Kemet they called Her Bast, Sekhmet, Mafdet, but in the time before language they simply knew Her as a swift and awful death. Long before they understood what She was, they understood what She could do. Humanity has not always worshipped my mother – but they have always feared Her.

#2210

I dreamed I stood on a raised platform in the entrance to a church. Anubis stood at my side, tall and dark and silent. He handed me a thin gold wand; when I touched it, both ends lengthened until it became a staff with a sun on one end and two long prongs on the other. I glanced down and spotted a similar wand, only silver, laying on the floor at my feet. I bent to retrieve it and handed it to Anubis. When He took the wand it began to grow as the other had, lengthening into a silver staff with a crescent moon on one end and a single sharp point on the other. He gestured then toward the far end of the church, indicating I should walk forward, and though He didn’t speak I somehow understood part of his meaning to be “do not be afraid”. I stepped off the platform and found myself standing on air. I took another step and the invisible path held; in this way we made our way down the aisle of the church with the pews laid out below us. As we approached the altar something appeared in the air before us; a dark, twisting mass which radiated menace. I knew even before it began uncoiling itself that it was A/p/e/p, the chaos of absolute nothingness manifested as a great black serpent bent on the destruction of all existence. It opened its fanged jaws and struck at Anubis, who repelled it with the sharpened end of His staff. The creature then lunged for me and I did the same with my own weapon, bellowing as I drove the points into the serpent’s armored face. I think I might have spoken as I beat it back, might have yelled out the names of its victims, my lost loved ones, but I can’t remember. I do know I held their images in my mind as I struck and found some measure of comfort in harming the force which took them from me. A/p/e/p fled after this and from there the dream changed, yet I will never forget the fury with which I fought, nor the quiet, solid presence of Anubis at my side.

#2201

Sometimes I’m so envious of Christians in America. What does it feel like to be part of the dominant religion, I wonder? To see evidence of your faith everywhere, even in completely secular environments? What is it like to know everyone around you has at least a rudimentary understanding of your beliefs – your gods, your morals, your holy books and the stories therein – or to have your holy days treated as national holidays? I yearn for that total cultural saturation and the confidence, the validation, it must instill. No hiding. No lying. No fear of being ridiculed or attacked or simply dismissed. Do they understand how lucky they are, how unique their experience actually is? If I woke up tomorrow to a world where my gods were not only well known but celebrated and respected, I would never take it for granted. I would feel blessed every day I could express my beliefs without any hesitation, let alone worship in a temple or celebrate holy days with others who believe as I do. It’s hard to even imagine that freedom. What a gift!

#2166

This is how I think it went down. After Anubis finished weighing my father’s heart on Ma’at’s grand scales – lighter than any feather, magic or otherwise, of course – he was met by Wepwawet to guide him through the underworld. Along the way they got to talking, bonding over a mutual appreciation for travel in all its forms by land, by air, and by sea. It is rare to meet another as knowledgeable as yourself in the more obscure aspects of your passion and they became fast friends.They probably shared about the classic cars they had owned and old motorcycles that had carried them faithfully down hot roads beneath a desert sun. Maybe they discussed the aircraft and ships which had shaped the course of human warfare or reminisced about the modes of travel long outdated by technological evolution.

(This is where the story gets hard for me to write. I keep deleting it. Ignoring it. Pretending I can’t see the scene so clearly. I can, though. And I want to tell it, I do, but it’s like my hands just… stop working. Revert back to heavy, lifeless clay. Not this time, though. Come on, just get it out!)

At the threshold to the Field of Reeds my father asked a favor from Wepwawet. He had left behind a teenage daughter, you see, and he worried for her safety. She wasn’t a very good driver, for one, and was often scatterbrained or easily distracted. Would Wepwawet look out for her as she moved through the world, just to make sure she got home each night in one piece? He gave my name and Wepwawet must have smiled, maybe even said something like, “She’s already known to us,” and assured my father He would keep an eye on me. And He has ever since, though He’s probably had to save my butt more times than I can count and I’m sure it’s a stressful promise to keep. But they’re kindred souls, I can feel it, and every time I feel Wepwawet’s presence I feel my father’s as well and know I am doubly blessed.

[ Hey, I added a “dad stuff” tag if anyone’s interested ]

#2151

I have never felt closer to divinity than sitting in a stuffy little room which smells of cat litter while singing a lullaby Bast helped me write to three nearly feral kittens. They fled at my approach, five days of safety and good food not yet enough to win them over, and stared at me with wide, reproachful eyes as I sat down just inside the door. Then I started to sing – the lullaby first, my voice a little weak from the last traces of a cold. Glancing inconspicuously, I found at least one little face turned my way, though two still hid. I moved on to the songs that have brought me peace over the years, old hymns and spirituals and various songs collected from choir and pop culture. I had two sets of eyes watching me, then, and a still resolute back turned my way. I kept singing; songs that remind me of Bast, of home, of the undeniable divine spark in music from other religions, other cultures, other times. I peeked again and saw all three kittens facing me now, the bravest with drooping eyes and the wariest with unwilling curiosity. My voice could take no more so I started humming whatever gentle tunes came to mind the way a mother might idly hum to her crying babe. When I looked next I could see two little white bodies stretched out in their hiding place, no longer bunched up with the need to fight or flee but relaxed in weary sleep. Even the third had succumbed to so drowsy a state that when I slowly, so very slowly rose to my feet my movement woke, yet startled, no one. I whispered my goodbyes to three little watchful faces that seemed, at least to me, slightly less wary and took my leave for the night, praising Bast for the gift of music as I closed the door.

#2150

I have dreamed twice now about Sutekh. In the first dream he led myself and a group of people out of a maze-like Egyptian tomb after I prayed to the Netjeru for help. In the second dream he was in his animal form and severely injured, though I didn’t know why. When I woke from that dream I felt like I had sensed Loki’s presence in it as well, and also Daren’s. Is this meant to confirm the connection I made between Daren and Lucifer? Certainly all three are trickster gods who can be considered the “evil” ones of their respective pantheons. Or am I reading too much into this and Sutekh is merely reaching out on his own? It doesn’t feel that simple, though. Sutekh murders his brother; Loki ushers in Ragnarok; Lucifer rebels against Heaven. Fratricide, chaos, and rebellion – Daren embodies all three as core aspects of his being. So should I see these other gods as mirrors with which to better understand him, or does the connection go even deeper?

#2137

The mother comes to me first, bearing open arms and unconditional love. In her embrace I learn to be vulnerable with myself so that I may to listen to and follow my intuition. She sets me upon the path which leads to the others yet remains always at my side as I walk it. She is a goddess of war and she teaches me to fight for what I know is right.

The maiden comes to me second, walking naked out of the underworld with head held high. She shows me the beauty of curves, the haughtiness of folds, the rebellion and freedom inherent in self-love. In the mirror I see her staring back at me, daring me to find flaw in this sacred form. She is a goddess of war and she teaches me to fight for myself above all else.

The crone comes to me last, dragging war in her wake. Under her fierce gaze I learn how to live when all the earth’s become a battlefield, how to survive and thrive on death like her black-winged children. She kindles the witchblood in my veins so I may face the darkness without flinching or giving ground. She is a goddess of war and she teaches me to fight, to fight, to fight.