Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


A New Perspective: Ma’at Isn’t Always a Positive Experience

When I first wrote this blog post I was bombarded by people passing judgement on me for not conforming to their definition of a “positive” life. I don’t have a lot of qualms with an upbeat outlook on life, but I have qualms with it when it’s used to other people and live wrecklessly.

The truth is Ma’at is not always as loving as the presence of Het-Hert. There is a reason in Egyptian beliefs why so many goddesses with the title “Eye of Ra” are also intimidating. Sekhmet, in Her quest to uphold Ma’at, killed many people and was insatiable until She was intoxicated. After turning to Her form of Het-Hert did people restore respect for the gods. While some could argue the respect came from fear, I have to disagree; it was the gods Who saved mankind from Sekhmet in the first place. I’m sure fear played a part in it, but to say it’s the only reason is dismissive of other attributes the Ancient Egyptians felt for the gods and world around them.

If anything, the idea one must be positive at all costs is more fear-based to me than anything I’ve heard in a long time. When I hear people refusing to let any emotions or thoughts become negative out of a fear of manifesting a negative life I think back to when I was Christian. Before I left I found myself growing annoyed with how if I wasn’t a hundred per cent Christian in every way the church deemed acceptable then many thought Satan had won. I had to “be like Jesus” or else I was “like Satan”. That polarity always impressed me with a sense of undue hardship; I lived in fear of myself. When we live in such fear it has a lasting, negative impact on our mental health. Having since left that religion now I see this philosophy manifest in different ways. I’ve seen people resort to mental gymnastics in order to justify the extreme dichotomy.

Most of the time I see people manifesting this fear of negativity in the form of “karma”. Usually it’s a sense of how if I’m not acting in a way that is how they would act I’ll incur the wrath of an angry, Westernized form of karma. I disbelieve Ma’at / karma / etc. is an input-output machine, but I will delve into that point in another post. What I find a bit annoying is the sentiment of how one must polarize views and then only pick one side. How can one live positively if one must oppose himself to a concept within a concept? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of polarity in the first place? Or is the purpose of polarity to simply enforce our sense of exclusivity in the world (the “us” versus “them” mentality)? Why do people who reject the notion of a God versus Satan theology seek out different manifestations of the same view? I have no doubt this sense of “positive” and “negative” living is most likely a manifestation of our urge to form social groupings and hierarchies. That’s why some groups will label themselves “good” and groups they don’t like “evil”. It allows them to psychologically validate any actions against people that are reprehensible otherwise.

By the same token there is some precedence magically to manifesting something positive or negative. It’s why some make sigils so that one doesn’t negatively affect an outcome. I think it also influences sometimes how one shifts their focus of the world. If one sees the world as a dirty, evil-ridden place one will see only evil around them. However, at what lengths one should implement this philosophy in everyday life is debatable. One should definitely keep it in the foreground of their mind, but certainly not live in fear of a view that will summon all the bad things of the world to their doorstep.

Honestly, personal validation of our beliefs and actions may be the ultimate end of why I see the positive living or die mentality. We all want to believe the way we think or act is the living in accordance with our reality. Not everyone wants to be the bad guy; even those who claim to be the bad guy may not truly believe they are bad. We want to know, deep down, we are right. However, these things are so subjective that the only way one can objectify it at times is through validation culturally, morally, and socially at the very least.

Ma’at is Ma’at. The Divine Order does not behave in a way in which we personally would view as “positive” all the time. A sunny day doesn’t always mean it’s a lush, comfortable one; sometimes it’s a sweltering day in 100 degree weather. It doesn’t make the sun “good” nor “bad” because it’s just a ball of plasma. Our experience of that sun doesn’t make us “good” nor “bad” either because it’s just how we experience it.


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A New Perspective: “Tell Me How to Believe”

One trend that disturbs me even now is how someone who leaves one faith immediately seeks out a new one. If it were simply a conversion after careful thought, research, and contemplation over what he or she believes I wouldn’t bother with it. I find it disturbing because I know how vulnerable a person feels after leaving a religion. There’s always that sense we made a wrong decision, letting go of the old beliefs, and even relearning what we do believe. Part of my relearning focused on experimenting with a couple of faiths. I tried out Wicca at one point, which I found didn’t work for me. I found myself back at square one, and after a some research into other faiths I decided not to define what I believe and just work on my spirituality.

Looking back, I learned a lesson in that: don’t be afraid of the void that remains after leaving a religion. In fact, it should be the best time for anyone to figure out what they truly believe. This is where one can sit back, reflect on what worked or didn’t work for their religion. This is a time where one can find out why you believed a certain way and if it still works now. In other words, it’s time to do some soul searching. Honestly, trying to decide what one truly believes can be very scary. Sometimes, it means admitting to ourselves something society teaches us contrary. Sometimes it can take months, even years to really find out what someone truly believes.

When a few of my friends became atheist, they had searched long and hard and tried a couple of religions before reaching this decision. After some soul searching, they decided they were atheists because of how they felt about religion and they didn’t need that means for that end. It felt right to them; it wasn’t pretty taking the long way, but they found out what they believe.

At the same time, I’ve found people who have done this soul-searching and discovered they were agnostic. There are also those who chose not to name their religious path. For some time, I did not put a name to my religion until I discovered the Ancient Egyptian gods through my personal religious experience. When Het-Hert (Hathor) came to me in a dream I felt a presence of love. It was a type of love I’d never experience that upon waking felt compelled to offer to Her. After some time I researched the Ancient Egyptian religion and found it was similar to what I believed. The more I’ve learned about myself and the religion the more I’ve seen how right of a fit it is for me.

When leaving one religion don’t immediately try to find another religion to take its place. Instead concentrate on what you truly believe inside. No one can answer what you truly believe but you, and asking others to do it for you without first trying on your own is a disservice. I can’t guarantee the answers will come instantly, but they will feel right when they come. After all, nothing is more assuring in faith than an understanding of oneself.

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A New Perspective: Simplicity

I have a tendency to clean up my life in the autumn as opposed to the springtime. I clean out my occult items, try to finish craft projects or get rid of them (sometimes both), and I may even get some very needed housework completed. I get rid of the things I no longer need in my life. When I first wrote this blog post I was cleaning and reminded of the phrase bouncing around the Neo-Pagan community: live simply so others may simply live.

When I first heard the phrase about living in simplicity I found it trite. In many ways I still feel it is. I feel it’s oversimplifying a very complex problem of sustainability on one level. As life progressed as well as my studies I felt differently. I realized I was focused too much on the material things and took the phrase in a more spiritual direction. I examined how living a simple spiritual life would impact it: what if I focused more on offerings instead of how to beautify my shrine? What if I focused more on being the type of person worthy of approaching a god rather than my offerings? I explored them and found the answers for myself.

I found that beyond the shrine, beyond what I offered the gods, there was the point of religion for me: to find a way through the world that pulled alongside the gods is what mattered most to me. What good is the prettiest shrine with the most delectable offerings if the person offering them was foul in every way imaginable? I realized living simply for me meant I needed to keep my practice basic. For me that simplicity was based on being a decent person and provide offerings to Het-Hert (for those not familiar with the name, it’s one of the ways to say Hathor’s name in Ancient Egyptian). The knowledge of holidays and rituals would come in its own time with the work I invested in it. I’ve come to find that research as a way of honoring Het-Hert as well. When I’m not researching I’m cleaning house figuratively and literally.

As I finish this blog post I’m using up the last of some beads on a menat, a type of necklace also used as a ritualistic rattle. I’m using beads that I’ve owned for some time and only take up space. I’m not sure what will become of the menat itself, though it will most likely take up space until I finally gift it or get rid of it in some other fashion. It will probably end up as some craft instruction I write up as well. One thing I found in my strive for simplicity is how things streamline. I personally like the order that comes from those moments.

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Why Spiritual Mapping Intrigues Me

After I learned about the New Apostolic Reformation I thought I’d look into the movement a bit more. While I was very disturbed by what I found I discovered they use a technique called “spiritual mapping”. From what I understand spiritual mapping is a type of prayer technique that allows an individual to “search out” areas that need evangelizing. It appears from what I can gather the system works as follows, according to this site:

The gatekeepers commission the watchmen to spiritually map their community. They act as spiritual covering.

The watchmen [sic] working in teams intercede, investigate [sic] and collate the relevant data.

The information is summarized in a series of reports released to the gatekeepers.

The gatekeepers decide on the appropriate action deemed necessary i.e. identification, repentance, spiritual warfare, reconciliation.

They lead and mobilize the watchmen into appropriate action- prayer walking, worship meetings, strategic level spiritual warfare [sic] and so forth.

The gatekeepers participate with the watchmen rather than just allocating them to the task.

If this is truly the method of spiritual mapping it comes off as something the Catholic Church does when evaluating someone for an exorcism. Even if it isn’t it comes off as overly complicated for what they’re trying to do. I don’t understand why one would need approval to evangelize a place if a person feels it’s needed, let alone approval to make a town a “better place” (I only put it in quotations because that is a very subjective term). Moreover I have a hard time finding what qualifies someone as a “gatekeeper” or a “watchman”. The best I can find is an article that discusses what it means to be a gatekeeper. It gives me the impression that a gatekeeper can go around and do the same things as watchmen (e.g. actively make a place spiritually welcome) but seem to have a stronger connection to God- possibly something akin to an oracle. It doesn’t seem to say how long one has to be a watchman before they can go to their place at gatekeeper, if they have to go through some sort of test, or if they are just handed the title. I probably won’t find out anytime soon.

What is probably as interesting is what I found on another website. John Dawson, the person who seems to be credited with coining the concept, came up with a list of questions to focus on when mapping:

from “Taking Our Cities for God” by John Dawson (Lake Mary, FL: Creation House, 1989)

1.What place does your city have in your nation’s history?

2. Was there ever the imposition of a new culture or language through conquest?

3. What were the religious practices of ancient peoples on the site?

4. Was there a time when a new religion emerged?

5. Under what circumstances did the gospel first enter the city?

6. Has the national or city government ever disintegrated?

7. What has been the leadership style of past governments?

8. Have there ever been wars that affected this city?

9. Was the city itself the site of a battle?

10. What names have been used to label the city and what are their meanings?

11. Why was the city originally settled?

12. Did the city have a founder? What was his dream?

13. As political, military and religious leaders emerged, what did they dream for themselves and for the city?

14. What political, economic and religious institutions have dominated the life of the city?

15. What has been the experience of immigrants to the city?

16. Have there been any traumatic experiences such as economic collapse, race riots, or an earthquake?

17. Did the city ever experience the birth of a socially transforming technology?

18. Has there ever been a sudden opportunity to create wealth such as the discovery of oil or a new irrigation technology?

19. Has there ever been religious conflict among competing religions or among Christians?

20. What is the history of relationships among the races?

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I feel this list is so broad and vague that it could easily apply to anywhere in a negative way. It seems that since a google search on prayer maps turns up many results (including this one I found) my opinion isn’t so hard to support.

The way I see it, this is a conglomeration of concepts and implementations that have existed since the Second Great Awakening, only with more of a paranormal investigator and New Age twist. I do have my concerns about it. The sheer amount of information available on prayer mapping, maps included, gives me the impression this is a concept gaining momentum. However that doesn’t mean this is a technique to fear; knowledge is the enemy of fear and knowing more allows people to act accordingly.

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A New Perspective: Know It Will Be Okay

When I first wrote this blog post I was dealing with a lot of worry. I worried that I wasn’t going to ever know financial stability, I worried that my life would never be what I wanted it to be, I worried that I would live my life alone, I worried about everything I hoped or dreamed would be unfulfilled. Basically I worried about everything. My remedy, or what I thought was the remedy, was to remind myself of the Reiki Principles of Mikao Usui, namely not to worry. When I contemplated how to handle my worries I ended up taking a rather over-simplistic view.

At the time I attributed much of my worry to idea I wasn’t willing to surrender. Given how I’m a person who doesn’t surrender (or at least not without a fight) I knew trying to learn how would prove quite the challenge. What I’ve learned instead was the difference between surrender as submission and surrender as release. When most people think of “surrender” they think of submission in some fashion. I thought the idea of surrendering was an act of submission, and sometimes it can be. I know that the past year has taught me about the act of surrendering as a form of release.

I’ll admit I haven’t been in a happy place mentally or emotionally for some time. As I look back on my blog posts I’ve seen it bubble to the surface. I was completely in a living situation I never wanted to revisit and surrounded by extremely unsupportive people, though I believed otherwise. I’m sure the same could be said about me while those parties in question truly believe they were supportive. I saw otherwise when I set out to start my own business. I researched everything I could think of to learn, I looked into what regulations by which I needed to abide, and even how much money I would need to start my venture. I started to ask my friends who ran their own businesses, and the truth stared me down. One I had put much trust into offered to “buy me out” despite her cries of how I need to be independent. Sometime later we had a long conversation about her offer and other offers where I mentioned my concern about how it seemed contrary to my “quest” to be independent.

“We’re all dependent on someone to some degree,” is how she responded. Even though I agree with this sentiment in a normal circumstance, given the conversation it unsettled me. I worried about the implications and what to do. I performed a Tarot reading for myself, and it told me what I knew I had to do, but wasn’t ready to do: let go. I stayed a little bit longer until she tried to humiliate me in front of her friends. I blew up and ended the friendship. In that moment of my ego I finally let go of the friendship that was damaging me.

When I first wrote this blog post I had it in my mind that my ego was the cause of not surrendering. I used a passage from a book at that time. I have a different view now of the passage from Dona G. Kelly, author of Lotus Leaves, with the passage about surrender I used:

 If you feel that you cannot give up your free will- the right to make your own decisions- then, you still have residue of Ego, which is part of the personality. The Masters lay great stress upon the need for self-surrender […] Surrender is not easy, nor can it be achieved through a miracle. It is a slow, painstaking, labor of Love.

Not surrendering may still be an act of Ego, but I don’t feel that’s anything to shun right now. I still believe it’s a long process that requires lots of love. More often than not it’s been self-love. I had to love myself enough to no longer tolerate sick behavior.
I had to love myself enough to know this woman would hold our mutual friends emotionally hostage and that I would lose friends in this process. It hurt to see her expect my friends (it’s been a year and I’m still hearing from friends about this situation) to “rescue me” even though she claimed I seek that and chided me for it. All I’ve done is all I can do: speak my side when asked, cast spells to sever our ties, prayers, and protect myself. After a year of diligence I’m almost free.

In the span of that year I worried about many things. When I paid my doctor a visit for an ear infection I got an eye opener: my resting heart rate was through the roof. She examined me to the best of her ability and I spoke with her about what was on my mind. I was blessed in my doctor also held a degree in psycho-medince. We came to the conclusion it was the stress from my worry and some underlying mental health issues. All the stress I put on myself from worry (and later I learned the product of my mental illness) took its toll on my heart. I had to pull myself together or these things would be the death of me.
I finally sought help through both a therapist and my own research into my diagnoses. Each time I saw something that endorsed feeling whatever I’m feeling and not fight it. While I wasn’t surrendering to the attack itself, I was submitting to the idea of having one. No more could I fight the attack, but to pull alongside it and feel what I needed to feel. My partner understood and has been one of many ways for me to submit to my attack. I’ve also developed other ways of handling my impending worry from awareness and tackling the causes of my worry to seeking a creative outlet for it when solutions aren’t apparent. My writing, painting, drawing, calligraphy, and now scrapbooking help me release. I know tackling my worry is still a work in progress, but now I have more experience and insight with it. More than anything, what has been important for tackling my worry was to submit to a routine. In this routine I approach my shrine with offerings, time with Het-Hert, and sometimes my worry. I submit to Her and to Her I give my worries. I pray for help when I need it, and sometimes I pray as a form of gratitude. I surrender to Het-Hert.
In the span of those years since I first posted about surrendering my worry and thus my ego I’ve learned quite a bit. I’ve learned there are times that I shouldn’t ignore my ego but should also understand why I worry. I’ve also learned there are different types of surrender and sometimes I must consciously choose which type in order to tackle my worry. Most importantly I’ve learned surrender isn’t a loss of will but understanding the limitations of my own. When I looked over my older blog post on this topic I smirked at the last lines I wrote:

In these times, while we feel there is much to worry about, can also prove more fruitful. These times can become a great opportunity for our nation, or at least our communities, to grow in a healthy way. All we need is faith in the forces at work as well as our own.