Mysteries of Wesir, Day 2

Tonight I sit in a dark room. It is very quiet. I can hear the furnace blowing air. I hear the dog breathing. I can hear the tapping of this keyboard. Even in silence I can find sound. So what could it be like to be in total silence? When death overcomes us, and there is overwhelming silence.

I have been thinking a lot recently about my own death. I used to say to myself I wasn’t frightened of death, and in some ways I am not. I am faced with it frequently in my line of work. I see death slowly take over people, witness it visit, and assist with helping others with the pain. But my own death….

I will die. I will stop breathing. My heart will not beat. My limbs will become cold. I will not see. I will not hear. I will be gone from this world. And sometimes I ask myself if anyone would notice. It is not that I want to make a huge mark on this world, and want people flocking to me telling me how much they love me, because I don’t. When I am gone what will there be left of me?

I leave behind no children. I have not done anything to make history books. But what I can leave behind is much greater. What I leave behind is the spirit of who I am. I am the man who gave of himself to those he cared about. I am the man who believed in something far greater than he could be. I am a man who loved his family from the depths of his heart. I am the man who’s strength comes from within.

In many ways I am like Wesir, and He is who I aspire to be. Did Wesir fear death? His death did not bring salvation or enlightenment. His death wasn’t a sacrifice for wrongdoings. His sacrifice was for His people. He gave up life. He gave up ever seeing His own child. He even braved Aset’s anger at Him for leaving Her alone. He gave up a lot.

Sometimes giving can hurt. Sometimes we don’t want to go outside our comfort zones. But I struggle to be like the Good God, and I will give of myself. Sometimes it is painful, but the more often it is done, the less it hurts. And the closer I share in the god’s vision.

Tonight, sit in silence and think, “what is it Wesir is asking from me?” Maybe it is telling someone you are thinking about them and here for them. Maybe volunteering for those less fortunate. Or maybe He wants you to stand up for what you feel you must do and to fully live.

May the Lord of Silence whisper to your hearts this night.

Mysteries of Wesir, Day 1

Today begins the return of one of the most sacred times of the year. It marks the opening of the great festival which the ancients called the “Mysteries of Wesir.” Specifically it marks the beginning of the festival of Sokar-Wesir. It begins a week-long celebration of life, death, unexpected change, and hope.

When I decided to blog again about the Mysteries I decided I didn’t really want to repeat myself. So if you haven’t read my previous blog about the Mysteries, please do. The posts are still relative, and I plan on rereading them and contemplating on them once again this year.

Wesir is intrinsically linked to both the gods Ptah and Sokar. Ptah-Sokar-Wesir is a continuum of existence for the Good God. Ptah is seen as the living embodiment in the Seen World. Sokar is the moment of change. When the god becomes something else. Sokar exists in all of us. We experience Him daily, we are just often blind and deaf to Him. Wesir is dead in our eyes in the Seen World, but is eternal in the Unseen.

Think about it. Wesir is the Lord of Forever, but He is also the cycle of change. Look out your window. Here in the Northern Hemisphere the leaves have fallen from the trees. The cool wind chills to the bone. The Sun burns brightly, but the days are short and no heat is found. I see the bountiful life of spring and summer dissipate. Winter is at hand, and Wesir is leaving us again. The cycle of change is here.

In shrine this morning while tending to the holy icon, I am reminded of change. This Mysteries for me, along with this year is about change. Over the course of the rest of the year, I can see much change coming in my life. Change can produce anxiety. It is not certain. It is unknown.

I pray that I follow the path of my father, and I voluntarily accept that change. He accepted it, no other god before Him did. He did not know for certain what would happen. He accepted death. And as I meditate on His acceptance, I can say I am open to change and I seek it, but am I as accepting as He was. If death was tomorrow, would I surrender to it without hesitation?

So for me, this holy season will focus on change and acceptance. Acceptance of my life and my mortality. Am I living as the person I want to be? Am I doing what I want to do? Is my life worthwhile? I think we all have asked these questions before.

So join me on this experience. Question if you can be like Wesir this season. Can you open yourself up to that change? Can you stare into the eyes of honesty? And can you make that leap of faith and dive head-first into the unknown?

7. Beliefs: Death and the Afterlife

I grew up in a semi-religious household. My father believed in God, but didn’t really practice anything. My mother and grandmother on the other hand were Pentecostal women and went to an Assembly of God church. As a child this was my religious knowledge. I was told two fates awaited me when I die. There was Heaven, a place where everyone lived in a mansion along streets of gold. Only good people who have accepted Jesus into their hearts would be there. Then there was Hell, a fiery pit filled with pain and suffering. In Hell you would be tormented by the Devil and his demons for all eternity. This was my first experience into what the Afterlife might be.

Before I go too much further into my beliefs I would like to say that I do not like the term “afterlife.” I am using it in this context so that what I am talking about is easily understand by everyone reading it, and it is a popular term we all use. What is it I don’t like about this word? Well, the whole “after” part. It gives the impression that this life isn’t important, only what comes after, and everything before is just bad prequels.

The afterlife is just a continuation of a part of us in the Unseen world. As we live and breathe here in the Seen world, we also exist simultaneously in the Unseen. There is a part of us that is eternally there. We can gain glimpses of it in our dreams at night. If we are lucky enough, sometimes through various rituals we can enter the Unseen as well.

Our culture does not like the idea of death. I have spoken before on this, so I won’t repeat myself. I have been a registered nurse for many years. I have comforted the dying person, been with people as they died, consoled family, and taken care of the physical remains. It is part of my life. It is part of my spiritual life with the Akhu and my father, the Good God. So I have thought about and mediated on my own death. I am not going to lie to you; the idea of death scares me. How do I know for sure that the essence of who I am will continue? The simple answer is I don’t. I just choose to believe it. It’s all based on my constant choice of faith.

The Ancients tell tales of treacherous journeys after death, obstacles to overcome, and finally judgment before the gods. One must be in balance with ma’at in order to pass judgment, or otherwise oblivion will occur. What awaits the transfigured soul is a paradise, a field of reeds, fertile land, and reunion of families. Doesn’t sound too different then what I discussed at the beginning of this blog.

What is important here is that continued existence is dependent on being in ma’at. We are eternal beings. Our hearts which hold so many troubles, disappointments, sadness, anxieties, hatreds, joys, and loves must not be too heavy with what we have experienced in the Seen world. Our hearts cannot also be too light, indifferent, or non-caring in order to find continuation in the Unseen. We must be balanced people. We must find a way to deal with the happiness, sadness, and anger which make up the emotions our hearts feel. We must find a way to be complete.

I do not remember if I ever told this before, but I will repeat here if I have. I once asked Wesir…

What is the meaning of it all? What is the purpose of life?

His response was simple and profound.

To live.

Our purpose is to live life to the fullest every day, every zep tepi.

I leave you all with a quote from the Book of Going Forth by Day which I frequently use as a prayer to remind myself of what I find important.

O my heart which I had from my mother,

O my heart which I had upon earth,

Do not rise up against me as a witness in the presence of the Lord of Things;

Do not speak against me concerning what I have done,

Do not bring up anything against me in the presence of the Great God, Lord of the West.

6th Day Festival

The sixth day of every Kemetic month marks the 6th Day Festival, which is a festival in honor of the blessed dead, also known as the Akhu. The blessed dead are those people who have lived here, have died, and passed judgment. They are sometimes called transfigured, which from my understanding is they are considered as something more than just a human. They have the ability to help those here in the Seen World, and influence events if called to. The gods love us and desire our happiness, but the Akhu understand what it is like to live our lives. They understand our feelings and they know the challenges of being human. A good practical relationship with one’s ancestors is important in the spiritual life.

During retreat this year, the Akhu made sure it was known to us that they are feeling neglected. My fellow priest Sobeq writes about this in her blog .  Why is it important to remember the Akhu? It is important because who we are today comes from them. Their desires and triumphs have affected who we are today, and even the fact that we are here today. Something we need to remember when we discuss the Akhu is that they are real people. They were not perfect. They had their failings. If we look at them as being very much like us, we understand who they are and how they are important in our lives right now.

Celebrating the 6th Day Festival can be something very simple or something on a grander scale. The Akhu are just happy with you remembering them and don’t require much else. Some things you can do for the Akhu are pouring cool water, speaking their names, telling someone a story about one of them, or visiting their grave sites. Today marks the beginning of a new ritual which I hope will be a monthly staple of the Kemetic Orthodox faith. While technically today is not the actual 6th day (the actual date was January 5) we will still celebrate as it is. I hope all of you can be there and if you can’t make it today, please make it next month.

Dua Akhu! Nekhtet!

6. Beliefs: Spirits and Other Unseen Creatures

Besides the gods, other inhabitants are in the Unseen world and interact with us: the ancestors (Akhu) and spirits (netjeri). Occasionally they cross the veil and come into contact with us in the Seen world, and this is how we know that they are present.

In Kemeticism the ancestors are called the Akhu, which means “shining ones.” The Akhu are the transfigured spirits of dead humans who have passed judgment and become something great. They are our blood relatives who have passed on. They are those people whom we considered family and have moved on.

I have numerous Akhu. I have family members, friends, Kemetic akhu, and Masonic Akhu. Some of these I adopted into my life, and they have adopted me as well. I have had one Kemetic akhu follow me home from a museum and find her place on the ancestral shrine. I gained a multitude of akhu when I was initiated into Freemasonry. Our Lodge is quite old, and filled with a rich history of great men whom I call brother.

Spirits are generally referred as netjeri, which means “powerful” or “divine.” These spirits are non-human residents in the Unseen that are not a god or an akh. The spirits can be servants, messengers, nature spirits, or the various spirits from cultures around the world.

Another less common spirit is the muuet, meaning “dead ones.” These are the kau of humans who for one reason or another have not gone to judgment. Sometimes they are referred to as angry, but just like living humans they may be just confused or lonely. Muuet that are bothersome to humans generally go away on their own, but if for some reason you feel the need to have added protection, pray to your own Akhu to help the spirit move on, and that Yinepu will guide them.

Specifically I work mostly with some select Kemetic Akhu. These are servants of my gods and are used for specific purposes. I own four shen which each has a netjeri attached to it, which helps me with various specialty which those gods are generally associated with. They all have names that I am allowed to call them, but they are not their real names. These netjeri are not specifically attached to those shen, as they share themselves with other people as well.

I do not work with nature netjeri very much, but living near the river all my life, and growing up on the river I do have a connection to the spirit in the Mississippi. At times the river is peaceful and tranquil. Other times it is very angry and would not hesitate to take your life. The river deserves great respect from all. Every now and then, when there is a feast to the Nile or Hapi, I go to the river and throw coins or some other offering to placate the spirits. This is especially useful during flood season when the river is at the height of its power.

Other spirits I work with are the spirits of Haiti. These are the spirits that live under the water. They are the spirits unique to Haitian culture and community. I have many experiences with them and consider one to be my guardian angel, which has been with me since birth. They are truly unique and wonderful. I also have acquired some ancestral netjeri, from the Irish-side of my family. One particular one hangs out around the house that I affectionately call the house elf. What type of spirit it is I am not sure, but it is definitely a bit of a trickster.

As you can see, the Seen and Unseen worlds are filled with inhabitants. Some spirits are easier to get to know than others, and some do not want to be known at all. Get to know you spirits. Set out some sugar and milk, and tell them to have some. They can definitely enrich your life.

Mysteries of Wesir: Day 6

The Mysteries of Wesir continue today with the Feast of the Food on the Altar. We celebrate His kingship today, and what can be better than some good food and friends. Food brings people together like nothing else can. Whenever there is an important event, there is always good food. And it is no different in the Unseen.

Let me share a dream I had once. I was walking in a small valley between two hills. The hills were covered with the greenest grass imaginable. As I come out of the valley I overlook a deeper valley. In the center is a small town in the distance. There are houses and some roads. Activity is going on near the main strip but I can’t really see what it is. Anyways, there are some animals running around, dogs mostly. A black dog sees me and runs towards me. She greets me with a jump and friendly kiss. As we walk closer to the town, I start to see people. A beautiful woman comes up to me, smiles, puts her arms around me and tells me they have been waiting so long for me to arrive. The party is just getting started. She takes me into town and tables line the streets, filled with the most succulent food imaginable. People see me, smile, wave, and invite me to join them. They all are radiant, and each and every one of them is familiar.

You see, they are my family and friends. They are the people who I no longer get to see every day. I do not get to touch them, hug them, or smell them. The joy and love I felt in this dream was so immense that I wish I could stay forever. And then I woke up, and realized that it was a dream. That I am not there, and they are not here.

As Kemetics, we believe the gods and ancestors can speak to us in our dreams. I believe mine spoke to me in this one. From past pet, to my grandmother, and to my uncles, I realize that they are happy and as alive and vibrant as anyone. Even in the Duat, they feast and have fellowship. Even the dead have to eat, and I am sure they eat well. But why do they eat if they are dead? We do it for physical nourishment, but why do they?

I talk about Wesir’s death often. It is important to me. I never quite got the “green” Wesir, the life-giving, plant growing, nature sort of deity. To me, Wesir is dead, but not in the same way we all understand what dead is. Being dead doesn’t mean that you can no longer interact with each other, at least not in my life. The dead have always come and gone around me, and really it is abnormal when it doesn’t happen.

So as I write this, I am thinking of what it is I want to say.  Life is not much different than death. They are different words for a similar state. In both we eat, drink, work, enjoy family and friends. But they are so very different as well. We have life for a reason. It is a special gift from the gods, and it takes meditation, and experience in trying to find what we feel it is.

I asked Wesir once, what the purpose of it all was. I got an answer back, quite immediately. He said, “To live.” What an amazing purpose! I am not to sit and contemplate the mysteries of the universe in a closed shrine room all day. I am not to wrap myself up in a digital world online all day. I am to live and experience life.

And when the times comes for me to depart, when I approach the Hall of Two Truth, and bow before His majestic throne, I know He will ask me what I learned. My answer will be, “I lived.”

Dua Wesir!

Mysteries of Wesir: Day 5

Today hope shines. Yesterday Wesir was gone. Dead. In our culture we have such convoluted ideas about death. We see it as a permanent state of being; when really death is like any other thing, constantly in transition. Buddhist philosophy speaks about how all things are impermanent. Nothing remains the same forever: the seasons, weather, feelings, and beliefs. Science teaches us that everything down to its molecular level is in a constant state of motion, always moving, always changing.

Death is not permanent. It too is just a change. A corpse doesn’t stay dead. As much as we try to prevent it, embalming does not last forever. The corpse must undergo a change into something different, something new. It doesn’t just disappear. It transforms. It changes.

Death is a state of being, depending upon the state of being you currently reside in. In my last post I spoke about whether the dead know they are dead. What is dead to us may not be dead to them. What I do know is that they have changed from what they were to what they are now.

Wesir has changed. He is now the King of the Unseen and not the Seen. He has acquired a new people. He sees the fundamental aspects of the universe from a different perspective than we do. From our perspective He is dead. That has not changed. From His perspective…I cannot answer that.

When I look in the mirror, I see Him. He still does reside here in the Seen World. He is in me. My eyes reflect back the beauty of the god. I see those same eyes in my siblings. He is there. I see those eyes in my friends. He is there. I see His eyes in people I meet day in and day out. He lives in all of us. He works through me. It is a wonderful gift that god has given me. Some people may never know who Wesir is. I may be the only connection they will ever have. It is my privilege and duty to share His love, compassion, and patience with them. I don’t need to preach, wave a book, or judge every wrongdoing someone makes. I just have to be present and let Wesir work through me. My spark of life is from His sekhem, and He lives in me.