Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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When to Walk Away from Commitments

“Follow your desire as long as you live and do not perform more than is ordered…”

-The Maxims of Ptahhotep, transl. by R.O. Faulkner

It’s no secret to those in my life this holiday season tends to be tough on me.  In fact it’s hard on a significant amount of people.  The stress of planning, shopping, meetings, gatherings, and the accumulation of many projects.  I ended up with a reminder from a friend about being busy as opposed to sedulous.  Most of the reminder emerged from my personal feelings about some of my commitments to online events as well as helping my family decorate for Christmas.  Despite my hatred of Christmas and observe it for the sake of my family I partook in not one but two holidays to which I feel no connection.

Agreeing to help out in holidays I don’t personally observe was my first mistake.  Apart from Christmas I don’t observe Yule and this internet event focused on this.  The group had been quiet for a while, and I started to see how quiet it was.  Except for me no one monitored the group.  I couldn’t get a hold of anyone else nor the resources set aside for this group.  I had no choice but to start this event from scratch.  Luckily some notes were left and some people helped me with research.  Without them I couldn’t have managed what I did.

I haven’t been so lucky with my family.  I thought if I volunteered to help with decorating the Christmas tree, one which was creatively speaking a Herculean task for my parents, I contribute meaningfully.  Instead I was handed a mess of resentments over a color scheme my mother didn’t like, her frustration with a design she saw somewhere on YouTube that wasn’t working for her, all heaped into one emotional, passive aggressive mess.  It was another lesson in when to be helpful.

I showed signs of feeling taken for granted.  I received complaints about arranging an event because it wasn’t the way such-and-such person would have run it, I had to dig from my own time and resources at the last minute, and my mother obstructed any creative endeavor with the tree (she even fought with me about ribbon width!)  I felt cheated, used, unappreciated, the whole gambit of resentful emotions.  When discussing with my friends how drained I felt one question kept popping up: why am I doing this?  I believed I gave reasons at the time, but in retrospect I gave excuses.  It was to the tune of “my obligation” or “giving back” or some other sense of duty.  That changed overnight.

I had my umpteenth struggle with my mother about how to decorate the tree last night.  I’m the type of person who, when planning, tries to be as clear and precise as possible so that there’s no confusion.  When gathering the additional materials for the tree I explained what I designed and what I would need.  Well after these materials were purchased and ready to be made my mother decided to drop a bomb on me.  She had her own plans for those materials, plans which she never communicated, and rendered anything I wanted to do useless.  I stared at her for a moment and reminded her I had gone over this with her.  She dismissed my reminder.  I grew so frustrated at this point I was speechless.  I saw all my time and effort dissolve in that one moment and couldn’t think of any way to salvage it.  I stared at her and saw the project as hopeless.  I realized then I was doing this for no reason, not even out of kindness.

“I’m through,” I whimpered, “I’m through with your childish games.  I’m too grown up for this.”  I walked away and left her to her own devices.  She didn’t want my help, anyway.

I’ve had time to think about my projects up to this point and it all needed one question answered: why was I doing this?  I’ve evaluated the time, effort, and other resources I’ve put into my projects up to this point.  I realized my friends were right in that I became too busy and spread myself thin.  I’ve had all the wrong projects on the back burner so I could be “charitable”, when in reality I set myself up for failure.  I was contradicting my own message about the pitfalls of this act.  My endeavor resulted in exhaustion.  Luckily since I can identify the issue I can solve it.

On my part I can identify which projects I feel are best for me.  I can also take advantage of the holiday season to rest and work on those.  Because of that I won’t blog as much for the next couple of weeks.  This will remove any distractions for myself to get things done which should have been out the door months ago.

I’ve learned this holiday season that it’s time to walk away from some commitments when the costs outweigh the benefits.  When I put forth more effort than I get back it means I have to muster up more energy for other work, energy or resources I may lack.  I’ve also learned to walk away from commitments when I’m truly doing it to placate my ego.  In the end the result is the same.  I have less than what I intended to gain.

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Craft Friday: Mini Shrine

After discussing on my blog the other day about making a shrine on a budget I contemplated it further. It occurred to me that there are a few ways to create a mini shrine with even the most mundane of objects, and as I stared at the last of my gluten-free cookies the idea popped into my head. This is what resulted.

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What You’ll Need:

-box, 8 1/2 inches

-decoupage glue

-brush

-scissors

-ruler

-marker

-additional cardstock as needed

-decorating paraphernalia

-handle for drawer (in this case I used a button)

1. Take the box and cut off any tabs. Don’t discard the tabs as they will be used later. I used a box that once held some very bland cookies for this project.

2. Mark on the box the halfway point all around the box. Cut along the mark.

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3. To make the place which will house the image of the god (in Kemetic beliefs this is called the “naos”) measure the dimensions of the box of the shortest face. Take one half of the box and mark these dimensions along the widest face. Cut. Don’t discard the cuttings as this will be used later.

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4. Cut along the center and across the top edge. Glue the top flaps as necessary. This will result in two doors.

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5. Take the other half of the box and mark at roughly 3 inches. Trim the excess and save for later.

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6. Gather all the box scraps. Measure the dimensions of the box half without doors. Cut out the cardstock and box scraps for size. TIP: Make it slightly smaller than the dimensions so it will fit with ease.

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7. Glue the back piece to the main cardstock. If you need to fold a little portion of the edge to get the pieces to connect it’s OK.

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8. Glue the side pieces to the main cardstock. If you need to fold a little portion of the edge to get the pieces to connect it’s OK. TIP: If you have clips or clothespins to hold the corners in place this will help keep it together too.

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9. Decorate the drawer as you wish. This makes it easier to glue the front of the drawer.

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10. Take the front of the drawer and decorate it. If covering with paper leave some room to glue it to the rest of the drawer.

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11. Mark the center. This is where the handle will go.

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12. Poke a hole. Insert handle and fasten it.

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13. Decorate the other shrine components.

14. Apply glue to the back edge of the “chest”. Apply to the back of the bottom half of the naos. Let dry.

15. Insert the drawer. Now you have a mini shrine!

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Horus Jesus Meme

I’m sure if my readers haven’t been subjected to the woefully inaccurate film Zeitgeist they’ve encountered the people who believe this.  In Kemetic circles this is mostly in the Jesus is really Horus (specifically Heru-Sa-Aset) myth.  It’s annoying because it’s been long disproven, and seems to originate from a 19th century poet whose interest was in Ancient Egypt.  Given the  information available at the time it’s sufficient to assume the information is completely off the mark.  I find it mostly annoying because there are people who still assert this information even in the day where more accurate information is available.  Even google has a feature to search academic sources.  Another blogger, warboar, covered the issue pretty well and with others made a meme about it to demonstrate the absurdity of this connection.  I enjoy it so much I wanted to play along.

I used quickmeme for my captions, so if you want to add a few feel free.  Here are my favorites:

 

 


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The Real Cost of Free

I’ve put off writing this blog for a bit because I wanted to give it time to fully process without my emotions involved. I’m seeing, probably due to the economic times, a resurgence amongst Pagans for things to be free. It’s obviously a point of contention, especially for me.  The debate about whether one should charge doesn’t just reside in services.  This issue permeates every aspect of the community, and it’s one that I wanted to fully contemplate before I vented online publicly (again).  What finally moved me to write this blog post despite my emotions was etsy.

Etsy has been an interesting experience for me mostly in customer service. Most of the time I deal with some great people. There have been some bad apples, though. These people actually complain about the cost of my products or over demand for a service (I can’t be expected to clarify a session for a week).  I understand the desire to find a good deal or a bargain.  I have a section of my blog devoted to it.   I even sympathize with those who can’t afford to shop anywhere but places that exploit manufacturers and workers.  I have issue, however, with people who try to exploit independent sellers because they don’t want to pay full price.  Seriously, this should put some perspective into what goes into handmade goods.  It doesn’t help I see “bargain tips” that push the legal envelope or encourage guilt-tripping as a form of haggling.  What finally pushed me over the edge was a person trying to get some of my beeswax chime candles for practically free by insinuating my prices were too high and how I needed to “come down”.  As of this blog post I am the cheapest seller of beeswax chime candles at slightly over a dollar.

It irked me because it’s testament of how we perceive free socially and in the Pagan community.  I’ve read about a temple in Paganistan that couldn’t get funding without bloggers bringing it to the public’s attention.  I’ve seen discussions of how the Pagan diaspora should be free  (though some renounce it later once it becomes clear about how “free” all that work is).  I’ve born the brunt where even outsiders try to lecture us about how we charge for services despite the fact most of Pagans don’t affiliate with an organization (I won’t cover the issue of why they care for the moment).  All of this, to me, speaks volumes about how the cost and value of things in the Pagan community are deemed.  While there are some who have qualms about placing a price on such services, which thalassa covers quite well in her blog,  I’m less likely to see people who are against charging for those reasons than people who want free or near free stuff.  It’s not an issue of pricing possibly obscuring access to something.  It’s the growing undeserved sense of entitlement I see in the Pagan community and American culture.  I’ve seen more people demand things for free because they feel as an individual it should be available to them as a convenience.  The most they value the product or service is about how they got it and not from what is gained.

It reminds me of an event from when I was younger.  My parents were furniture shopping and took me along.  The store had a machine set up for free sodas, and I took advantage of it a few times in one sitting.  My father pulled me aside and lectured me.  He reminded me that the soda was complimentary.  The company didn’t have to provide it, especially given the cost of providing it, and that I shouldn’t take that for granted.  Just like providing free soda, it costs money and time to provide a service or product.  There are the hours of work invested in providing a worthwhile product, the personal finances spent in gathering supplies and space, the energy put into answering the same questions without snapping, the energy it takes to muster up the last shred of patience needed to handle numerous personalities, and more.  Some people don’t find the need the for upkeep of their well being worth the trouble without some compensation.  The people who find the work worth it without compensation also place their own boundaries.  They know they’re not a thing at someone’s disposal.  They’re a living being.

People seem to have forgotten the most vital part of anything offered, be it for profit or not: there’s a person behind the offering.  There’s a person who put time, money, and energy into it.  It’s why offerings to the gods are important.  It’s a gesture that not only offers sustenance, it offers up the fruits of one’s work.  It is work not only of the god given to the people, but the efforts of that work the people added to it.  Just as an offering is the work and the result of work, so is  the work offered by someone to people. It is the work not just of one person, but especially in Kemetic communities the work of many.  It’s the work of compiling everyone’s research, everyone’s offerings, everyone’s time and effort, into one offering.  It’s not just an offering for one person, either.  It’s an offering to everyone in the community and an offering to newcomers.  If that work is trivialized it demeans everyone.  If someone offers up their work it should be honored equal to the work placed into it.  That is the real cost of free.

Free is not just free of charge.  Free is not free of costs.  It’s not some infinite resource to be tapped.  Concerning communities anything offered is an investment in another person.  When it comes to the Pagan community someone put enough faith into their work to offer it to another person so that person may grow with that offering.  If they both grow within a community it’s an investment returned.  It’s not some cheap bauble but rather a priceless heirloom.  I’m not sure how to restore that sense of value and fragility comes with heirlooms in all its forms on a social scale.  All I can advise is for the individual to remember this is an offering to them and to treat it as such.  As for people who want things for free at all costs and regardless of costs to make it, I’ll offer a passage from the Teachings of  Ptahhotep:

[…] do not boast of what has accrued to you in the past, do not trust in your riches, which have accrued to you by the gift of god; you will not be subordinate to anyone else to whom the like has happened.

Don’t be so proud of your bounty.  Be mindful from whom it came because it won’t last.


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Craft Friday: Gift Tag Festival Calendar

I got some of this idea from pinterest (by the way, if you have one and want a little peak into my creative process, follow me) and thought a festival calendar would be cute.  I used the Epagomenoi, and included a tag for the intercalary month, for this project.

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What you’ll need:

Ribbon, 2 feet

1 dowel rod, 1 foot

7 wall hanging eyelets

1 gift tag template

Cardstock (I actually used empty tea boxes. Mmmmm, jasmine tea!)

Paper

Scissors

Decoupage glue / sealant

Pens, colored pencils, etc.

Hole punch

Beading wire, 20 gauge

Jewelery wire cutters (admittedly I used scissors for this, but I don’t recommend this as it can dull the scissors)

Needle nose pliers

 

 

The Calendar Tags

1.  Trace out seven gift tags. If you don’t know where to find them, googlemancy can help.

2.  Cut out the tags. Repeat with the paper.

3.  Apply a thin layer of decoupage glue on the cardstock. Apply the paper and allow to dry. Trim as necessary.

Gift Tag Festival Calendar

4.  Punch a hole near the top of the card. This serves as a guide for decorating later.

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5.  Decorate the cardstock side. Since I’m using the Epagomenoi I’ve decided to use the names of the gods along with an image of Them. When done apply a thin layer of decoupage sealant. Let dry.

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6.  Apply a layer of decoupage sealant on the paper side. Let dry. Decorate as desired.

 

The Hooks

1.  Cut four inches of wire.

2.  Use the needle nose pliers to curve the ends.  Curve them so the ends point in opposite directions.

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3.  Place the tag on one of the ends.

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4.  Wrap the end with the tag around the post. Keep wrapping until fully wound around the post.

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The Pole

1. Decorate the dowel rod. I used one I decorated from a previous project.

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2. Mark roughly 1 inch from the end. Repeat on the other end. In between the two end marks mark 1 1/2 inches apart until there are 7 total marks on the dowel rod.

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3. Screw the eyelets into marks. Wear any necessary eye protection when doing this.  Also be sure to use eyelets that aren’t too long because it will split the wood.

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4. Tie one end of the ribbon to the rod. Repeat on the other end. Trim the excess ribbon.

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Budget Thursday: Shrine

I know for this particular idea there must be a million and a half blogs that address this problem. Just the same I figured I’d address it because there are other reasons to be economical about shrines apart from financial ones. Someone may live in a space that doesn’t warrant a permanent shrine (I’ve seen this one more often than finances), or someone travels too much for a proper shrine, or a shrine may be too ostentatious and problematic for roommates / family / etc., and so on. Those thoughts in mind I think there are a few tips I can give.

-Make a portable shrine. There are several tutorials and displays of portable shrines that someone can get ideas of how to create their own. I have one I made from a free meter pouch.

-Use available furniture. This is a given, but one worth repeating. I’ve seen some folks use the top of a bookcase, book shelves, added shelving to walls, cabinets, end tables, and more.

-Make one your computer. As silly as it sounds, if one has the concentration or the discipline it’s possible to make a shrine space on the computer. I’ve seen this accomplished as a desktop or as a picture. I’ve also seen something along the lines of…

-Make a cyber shrine. Some people have created websites, some have used their blogs, and some use game accounts to set up a shrine space. The same ideas of concentration apply as before.

-Get inventive, let go of your idea of how a shrine “should” look. Just like the portable shrines this doesn’t have to be intense, just have the basics. I have a portable shrine made from a meter pouch, but once had one from a cigarillo tin. The shrine that currently houses my Het-Hert statue was once a stand up jewelery box. It doesn’t have to be elaborate or impressive. It needs to be a sacred space.

I’m sure these ideas also apply in many ways for those who have altars instead of shrines, which works for those who may be Egyptian Pagan or Tameran Wiccan. The biggest note to make is what works best for you and your life.


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The Ninefold Purification: Does Anyone Know What It Is?

I was reading the Book of the Heavenly Cow and I came across instructions that mentions “the ninefold purification”.  My internet search has failed me on trying to find what exactly this is (unless I delve in Buddhisim, but I’m pretty sure that’s not it), let alone how it’s different from any other purification.   Otherwise the other source I’m finding comes from Budge, and I don’t trust that all too much.

All that it mentions is it lasts three days in the Heavenly Cow.  Does anyone have any other information on this or where I could find it?