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Mealtime Prayers for Pagan Families By Thalassa; Musings of a Kitchen Witch

Posted by Sorcha on December 3, 2011 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (1)
Mealtime Prayers for Pagan Families

Blessed be the Earth for giving birth to this food
Blessed be the Sun for nourishing it
Blessed be the Wind for carrying its seed
Blessed be the Rain for quenching its thirst.
Blessed be the hands that helped to grow this food,
To bring it to our tables
To nourish our minds, bodies, and spirits.
Blessed be our friends, our families, and our loved ones.
Blessed Be.



This food comes from the earth and the sky
It is the gift of the entire universe
And the fruit of much hard work
I vow to live a life that is worthy to receive it

(traditional Buddhist mealtime prayer)



Lady and Lord,
Thank you for this food which we’re going to eat
Thank you for the earth in which it grew,
the rain that watered it,
the wind which gave it breath
and the sun which gave it life
Thank you for the life which was given so we can eat
Blessed be.



Lord and Lady, watch over us,
and bless us as we eat.
Bless this food, this bounty of earth,
we thank you, so mote it be.



Earth who gives to us our food,
Sun who makes it ripe and good,
Dearest earth and dearest sun,
Joy and Love for all you’ve done



Give thanks to the Mother Earth.
Give thanks to the Father Sun.
Give thanks to the plants in the garden,
Where the Mother and Father are One.

My Ancestor Altar

Posted by [email protected] on October 25, 2011 at 9:55 AM Comments comments (1)

Since Samhain is fast approaching, I thought I would share a picture of my ancestor altar and talk a bit about what an ancestor altar is and what it means to me.


 

My altar is a old side table that my wonderful Pepere (that’s GranPa to you non-New Englanders), had by his favorite lazy boy chair until he passed in April 2009. On my altar, are pictures of him and my Memere (You guessed it, GrandMa), who passed almost a year to the day after him, in April 2010. Small urns of their ashes adore my altar as well as two silver horses. I choose to have horse symbols because they raised horses for almost 50 years. There is a candle for each of them, that is lit on their birth days and the anniversary of their passing. My Pepere’s old cowboy hat is there too.


 

My altar is in a corner of my dining room because that is the central gathering spot in my home. The altar is a permanent year round addition to my home but as we get closer to Samhaim, it becomes a place of focus and reflection. I add an offering bowl and put in food that my Grandparents enjoyed. I go to it daily and speak to them as if we are just chatting on the phone. I ask for guidance in the coming year and ask them to watch over my children as they did when they were alive.


 

On the night of Samhain, my family gathers for dinner and a ritual. We light the altar candles and we leave a chair open for the departed (like at a Dumb Supper, I’ll post about that tomorrow) and I say;


 

This is the night when the gateway between

our world and the spirit world is thinnest.

Tonight is a night to call out those who came before us.

Tonight we honor our ancestors.

Spirits of our ancestors, we call to you,

and we welcome you to join us for this night.

We know you watch over us always,

protecting us and guiding us,

and tonight we thank you.

We invite you to join us and share our meal.

(Theses lovely words were written By Patti Wigington)


 

Then we sit down to eat, making up a plate for the ancestors and talk about our favorite memories of  our departed loved ones.


 

An ancestor altar is very personal. There is no right or wrong way to set one up. A friend of mine has placed photos and toys of a beloved pet who passed, on her altar. The only warning I have is to never place a photo of the living on your ancestor altar. Do you have an ancestor altar? What’s on it? Share a photo too!

 

The photo is in the gallery, under My Altars.

My Egypt: Earthy, Fleshy, Tribal, and Pharaoh-free!

Posted by Sorcha on October 22, 2011 at 9:50 PM Comments comments (5)
by Renée "Orselina" Nicole Schwarz

This is probably Pagan blasphemy, but at times I dread the ubiquitous, "So what path do you follow?"  First, rattle off words like, "Kemetic," "Netjer," or "Em Hotep" to any person on the street, and they'll glare at you as if you have three heads.  They're not stupid by any means - these aren't commonly known words, even among some pagans.  

Secondly, mention "Ancient Egyptian religion" to that same person and what images will likely come into mind?    A person draped in gauzy, white linens and shining gold;  perhaps a bitchin,' Tut-esque headdress?  How about an altar spilling over with pyramids, feline & serpentine statuary, and postcards of Saharan sunsets?  "Wish you were here, Imhotep.  Wish you were here."

I am asking, for the remainder this essay, that you employ a suspension of disbelief, and just drop all of that imagery.   Let's start from the beginning.  

Ancient Egypt, and all of its lore was something very familiar to me growing up.  My grandmother - who we Sicilians call "Mema" had a love affair with Egypt resulting in a houseful of touristy papyri art, personalized hieroglyph pendants, 101 books, scarab pendants, and even a Nefertiti bust.  

One such curiosity that caught my eye was a papyrus of a woman, kneeling, large blue wings spread.   Like all Egyptian art - in my opinion! - her sideways facing body was flat and posed; her face, plain and expressionless.  But it was that wide expanse of blue wing that caught my attention.  I figured out her name early, because Mema always referred to the piece as "my Isis."   Her Isis - I could feel the warmth of this sentiment before I could even fully understand it.  

Years later, a love of "mythology" and Ancient history led me to a course in college that presented pre-Abrahaimic religion from 'under a microscope,' so to speak.  For the first time I was taught these ancient faiths not as a a collection of fables someone 'made up' and passed down.  This would also be the return of "Isis" into my life.   We learned about her worship, not just in Egypt, but in Greece, Rome, and with evidence of her influence as far as Britian and Russia!  I wasn't "in the market," per se, for a new religion - I had already tried Christianity, Wicca, and Agnosticism, all to complete failure.  But what started out as research for a fifteen page essay became an infatuaion.  I couldn't stop reading about her.  And where infatuaion ended, love picked up.  

I primarily identified as Isis-centric in the beginning, eschewing the rest of the pantheon.  Looking back, this is probably attributed my dis-connect with how I thought they "must have"  appeared: stoic, cold, and looming, whereas Greco-Roman "Isis" was warm and motherly in her soft folds of sculpted fabric and assuring expression.  (But more on this a bit later.)

Then one day, that, too passed.  With no particular deity or force leading the way, the rest of the pantheon began to open up.  It was as if Isis was bringing me home for dinner to "meet the family."  From there, I returned to research with fervor.  I discovered a world of Reconstructionism; of community; of Orthodoxy.  

Joining the Kemetic Orthodoxy was one of the best moves I've ever made, even if it's not the exact path with which I identify today.  It was here I learned the term "Netjer" - the collective name for all the gods & the singular divine force of this collective.  I also learned the *proper* names for each 'Netjeru.'   Osiris was acutally "Wesir."  Thoth, "Djehuty."  Hathor, "Hethert."  And finally, Mama, I would know your real name.  I may have met you as Isis, but from here to eternity, I would know you as "Aset!"   

Following Aset, Sekhmet, the fiery, lionine warrior/healer goddess, would make herself known - and then some! - in my life, and become an amazing source of strength.  Just recently Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the younger) has entered my life, as well. 

 A problem remained.  I didn't exactly fit in with the Orthodoxy, either.  Some of the rules, while understandble, just did not mesh with me.  A "feminazi" such as myself could not abide to staying away from certain rituals during menstruation.  And while I have the upmost respect and admiration for Ms. Siuda, the "Nisut" of the organization, hierarchy - and the concept of continuing Pharaoh-hood - just never meshed well with me.  Again, no dis-respect.  We just have to follow our ib (heart).  

Finally, something I've been alluding to this entire essay:  The aesthetic of Ancient Egypt does nothing for me.  The traditional ritual garb of white linen never felt as good as a long green maxi and some colorful jewelry.  Gold?  meh.  Traditional statues?  I tried it.... and then I decided to make my own.  Rather than the flat and static pyramid drawings, I fashioned them fleshy, earthy, colorful, and almost tribal.   I've always said that my artwork is simply a conduit for my faith.  After all, if I'm given a gift from Netjer, should I not honor them with it?

That is where I decided that being "just Kemetic" was good enough.  All of my schooling, research, and studying in groups has been invaluable.  But at the end of the day, my practice - my worship - had to come intstinctually.  And like much else about me, it is completely unique.  

Now that you know "how," here's a little bit of "what."  So what exactly DO I practice?  (and, again, I'm telling you what *I* believe -  I do not represent any larger belief or organization.)

1) The concept of Ma'at.  Apart from being an actual goddess, Ma'at is the idea that living a life that is FAIR, HONEST, and GENEROUS keeps your life in balance.  To be cruel and deceitful weighs down your heart and results in "isfet" - the opposite of Ma'at.  This is why, in the afterlife, your heart is weighed against a feather as a judge of your deeds in life. 

2) Netjer as the many-in-one.  Think of the Catholic trinity.  Is it three or one?  It's both.  Same with Netjer.  There are hundreds of gods, some syncretic (two or more gods "mixed together" to create another god altogether), but all part of one whole benevolent force.

3) The relationship & existance of Man and Netjer is co-dependant.  We exist because Netjer created us.  They were are first rulers, and taught us how to live, work, and love.  But they exist because we believe in them.  They exist for creation, and therefore cease to exist if creation turns its back on them.  In this sense, we both keep each OTHER in balance.

There is so, so, so much more to it, but this essay is fast approaching the volume of "War and Peace."    It's too late for "short & sweet," so let's end it at :  if you have ANY questions, I will be more than glad to do my best to answer them!  

Thank you so much for reading.

Senebty (good health) & Em Hotep (be in peace),

- Orselina (little bear).

The Goddess Inanna: From the Goddess Knowledge Card Deck

Posted by Sorcha on October 16, 2011 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (21)

The Goddess Inanna:

Inanna is the ancient Sumerian mother Goddes. Both the protector of grain and the queen of heaven, she combines earth and sky. Powerful, self-sufficient, passionate, and many-sided, she is a fertility Goddess as well as the source of the earth's wells, springs and rivers. Each year Inanna descends to the underworld to resurrect her consort, Dumuzi. At each of the seven gates she leaves one of her garments behind until, naked, she meets her sister Erishkigal, queen of the Underworld. Erishkigal kils Inanna and hangs her on a hook until Inanna herself is resurrected and returns to life. Inanna is a representation of the many facets that go into being feminine as well as a guide into the dark places of psychological and spiritual death and distintegration.


This is just one interpretation of her mythos, please feel free to add or debate!

Blessings~

Sorcha


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