How did I get here?
This is an excellent question and can tell you a lot about a person. I have decided to break it down into about 5 periods of my life when a particular religious tradition was more important to others, and have decided to break these down into workable essays. I will basically lead up to when I first met the House of Netjer and some of these experiences will be shared later. I hope by doing this I can understand my own path and needs, and help others to see where I have come from and how this affects my spiritual life today.
I was born into a Pentecostal family. Specifically it was the Assemblies of God. Well, my mother and grandmother were practicing Pentecostals, while my father was more nondenominational. I grew up going to church every Sunday morning and night, Sunday school, and the occasional Royal Rangers event. My grandmother was the matriarch when it came to the family faith. She was raised in a religious household and continued that on in her own children.
Pentecostalism is identifiable by several things that make the faith a little different than other evangelical faiths. Some of the major characteristics include Baptism of the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts (speaking in tongues, discernment of spirits, healing, and miracles). Also known as “Holy Rollers,” it was not uncommon for me to see people raising their hands in the air, cry, roll around on the floor filled with the Holy Ghost, speak in tongues, and prophesize. Songs always filled the air along with guitars, drums, and pianos. Unfortunately on a negative side, threats of damnation, burning in hell, the rapture where all your family will be taken from you and vivid visual accounts were wired into my head.
As a child I enjoyed church. As I got older and began to see more of the social interactions among some church-going people, I began to become less enthusiastic about it. It was this period where they wanted you to make the Altar Call and give your heart to Jesus. I never would go to the Altar. I felt that my personal connection was more private and interior, and that I didn’t need a preacher and the attention such a think would bring. I would instead sit in the pews, pray silently. I was never baptized.
As I grew older, I gave my mother more grief about going to church, so she finally relented. So during my adolescent years I began questioning. Not questioning specifically if there was a god, but did question if he really cared about me at all. I decided to begin my own spiritual quest.
This spiritual quest led me toward Catholicism, which at that point in my life was right for me. It helped me question who I was, my future, and my place in the world. Since I seem to be enthralled by ritual it worked well with me. I was about 20 when I took some required religion classes at college. The classes introduced me to the Bible, and actually got me to read it. I was living next door to the Catholic University at the time and started to attend church at St Francis down the street from me. Finding it very fascinating, I found a sponsor and took the RCIA class (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults). This lasted about ¾ of a year and ended with me being baptized, confirmed, and receiving my first communion in the Roman Catholic Church at Easter 1996. I was busy in my parish serving as a lecturer and communion minister.
It was at this time that I was considering religious life. I looked into several religious orders and the priesthood. Specifically I felt most closely aligned with the Capuchin Franciscans. Their way of life and brotherhood felt very natural and right for me. After much thought and consideration (especially with regards to my sexuality) I stopped the thought of religious life, and decided I would fulfill my calling to help people by working in the medical field. Being very disappointed in myself (and something I could not control) I did stop attending and began looking for something more accepting of who I was.
Around this time I began to learn about Wicca and paganism. The internet was the starting point. I explored several sites and practiced a Christian based Wicca spirituality. Scott Cunningham was a godsend for me. Even though never stated in his books, I seemed too had found a spiritual path that explored the magical side of life and was accepting. Eventually I left this behind because of life events. I started nursing school and once you do that forget about a personal life for the next few years. Then of course graduation arrived and the start of my new career.
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints/Mormonism
After graduation I became increasingly interested in the Mormon Church. About 60 miles to the north of town lay Nauvoo, IL. Once a center of heavy Mormon activity, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints decided to rebuild the Nauvoo Temple. I had been to Nauvoo before for school fieldtrips and to the Nauvoo Pageant. I have also visited the grave of Joseph Smith and to Carthage Jail where he was murdered. Before the Temple was dedicated they gave tours to the public. I went on the door and found the place beautiful and mesmerizing. I decided to talk with the missionaries and eventually joined the church. I was baptized (Mormons re-baptized all Christians), confirmed, and made a priest of the Aaronic Priesthood. I practiced this for about a year but was starting to seriously pray about whom I am and my sexuality. The bishop tried to help me, but he wasn’t prepared for something like me and my same sex attraction. Eventually I distanced myself from the church because of my lifestyle because I had no place in the church. They never sought me out when I disappeared. I sunk into a deep depression and dark place at that time.
Eastern Philosophies & Return to Wicca
My first experience with the Kemetic gods occurred in the shower. I don’t remember the specifics but it was during this time of darkness. I was in the shower, and I prayed for help with my affliction (because that is what I thought my homosexuality was) and then she appeared in my mind’s eye. A woman glowing of gold. Her skin was dark, her eyes blue. She had golden wings, and a smile that controlled the world. And it was like a light switch turned on. All of a sudden I saw my life play out. I saw who I was, and I loved myself in that moment. The first moment when I actually loved myself in my entire life. I was not ashamed of who I was. I was proud to be who I was. Everything was clear. Aset, Mistress of Heka, worked Her heka on me, and cleared my mind.
My coming out story is not really a part of this particular blog, but quickly occurred after this. My friend Michelle always joked that when I came out of the closet, I blew the damn doors off. After this experience with Aset, I sought Her out to learn more about Her. Back then I knew Her as Isis, and picked up Wicca where I left off and tried to practice an Egyptian form of it. Unfortunately finding information to practice Egyptian Wicca is very hard and scarce. I tried to develop my own rites and observances but it didn’t flow.
I started to examine various Eastern Philosophies around this time. I was becoming frustrated with creating something I didn’t want to, and needed something to calm my mind with a lot of the anger I had built up over the course of my life with god and spirituality. I practiced various forms of meditation and followed the teachings of Lama Zopa Rinpoche. While I did this though, I felt like I was neglecting god and continued with my fascination with all things Egyptian.
I had found the House of Netjer years ago on the internet but never really dug into their website or explored their teachings. I returned to it and lurked on the forums for months, just reading and seeing how people interacted. During this time I could easily say I practiced Buddhism one day and an Egyptian form of paganism the next. I was unsure which direction would be best for me.
Sometime in the Fall of 2006, I went to the King Tut Exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago, IL. I was going through these intense emotions not knowing what direction my spiritual life should go. The exhibit opened my eyes. I saw statues that seemed alive. Representations of people that are dead, but are not. The particular event I remember is the golden mask of Tuya. I looked at her and she spoke to me. Her eyes had life. Her smile displayed a secret she knew and wanted to share. She directed me to follow my heart, and if it didn’t work out I would know. I went back home, signed up for the Beginners class, and have belonged to the House of Netjer since.
This has been a very condensed version of what has happened spiritually in my life and does not even touch the tip of the iceberg. But it gives a basic background and actually a good starting point to delve into things further in the future. If anyone is interested in something I wrote and would like more clarification or detail, just ask. I am happy to provide it. I hope that this gives a good understanding where I have been. Now I am going to look to the now and examine where I am.