Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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Kemeticism 101: Offerings

One of the things I haven’t discussed in better detail are offerings. It seems pretty apparent what they are, but I thought I’d delve into their purpose and the type of offerings.

Offerings101

 

What Are Offerings?

Offerings are items which are presented to a god as part of prayer. In this sense, I’m using prayer to include ritual use and not solely petitioning. Offerings served different purposes such as providing nourishment for a god, purification, dressings, as well as other purposes. In Ancient Egypt offerings consisted of food, drink, bouquets of flowers, livestock, cosmetics, clothing, as well as votive offerings. I’ll go into a little bit more detail with each category so it’s understood a bit more for the beginner.

Food Offerings

This is pretty straight forward. It is believed the gods needed Offerings101foodsustenance and it’s provided for Them. There were possibly some foods which weren’t offered, but this is up for debate as taboo foods were found in the offerings. There are known offerings of foods, such as various breads, cooked meats, in addition to fruits and vegetables. As with many things in Kemetic rituals these have symbolic significance.

Bread was a staple in Ancient Egypt. It was also a common offering. In one temple Amun was offered different types of breads. I’m sure bread was tied to some symbolism in ritual, but my research hasn’t turned up much on what that is.

Some of the meats offered were from animals which may confuse beginners. Some of the animals have dual representations not only of gods but creatures labeled as “the enemies of Ra”, which were also representations of enemies of the king. More on this fact in a moment.

Produce was also offered in Ancient Egypt. One of the most notable offerings occurs in the ritual of The Offering of the First Fruits. In this instance the offering marks part of a ritual of the beginning of the harvest season.

Liquid Offerings

Like food offerings this is also self-explanatory. Some of the offerings include water, milk, beer, and wine.

Possibly the most common liquid offering is water. Every temple had Offerings101watera water source from which to draw. Modern Kemetics offer water to the gods as it is easily accessible for many. In ancient times they recited a formula while offering water. This is done today by some groups, the Kemetic Orthodoxy being one. While all offerings coincided with some utterance formula the others are less accessible for some.

Beer is another common liquid offering next to water in modern Kemeticism. This was also offered in Ancient Egypt on holidays and the daily ritual. Some Kemeticists have issue with offering this and

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other alcoholic drinks. The most common issues are alcohol abstinence or being underage. Luckily there are alternatives today, such as non-alcoholic beer. If I don’t offer beer physically I have some image of a beer jar as a stand-in while I recite the beer offering. In modern times this is a fairly popular offering still, even though the other common offering is equally available for some.

Wine represented a couple of things in rituals, and it depends on the context which symbolism is used. In most cases wine is offered in connection with Wesir and rebirth, not to mention the association with crops (and with wine in this respect). As is the case with beer some may not offer wine due to abstinence from alcohol or being underage. I’ve seen some Kemeticists subsitute grape juice. I’ve also seen non-alcoholic wine (though I’m not sure how it’s processed to be like wine and non-alcoholic), though I’ve not heard of Kemeticists substituing this for actual wine. I personally have an image of a wine jug stand in for the wine while I recite the offering.

Another drink offering was milk. The significance of the liquid is not only purity (thanks to the color and its association with purity) but also in strengthening. The latter association refers to mostly child deities –for example, Harsomtu –though other gods sometimes received milk as well.

Livestock Offerings

Various types of livestock were also offered in Ancient Egyptian rituals, namely cattle and waterfowl. While obviously offered during temple rituals and not by the layman the livestock offerings had their place. The livestock and slaughtering of it usually represented some enemy of a god (and also the king) which was considered subdued. In this way it was considered upholding Ma’at when the meat was prepared for cooking after the slaughtering.

Bouquets of Flowers

In Ancient Egypt bouquets of flowers were also presented to the gods. They Offerings101flowerswere even presented for certain rituals. Unfortunately I can’t see to find anything else about them nor their significance, but the bouquets offered in temples were later distributed to the tombs of the king during certain holidays.

Votive Offerings

Votive offerings are essentially items which are offered to a deity. They can take on many forms, but it was offered with the premise that it stood in place of something in order to answer a prayer.

While most votive offerings found at archaeological sites consisted of Offerings101prayerjarfigurines, stelae of people presenting offerings to the gods, and ears (in hopes the god can hear the prayers of the person) the concept found a place in modern Kemeticism. Some use food offerings made out of clay, some offer their own figurines or artwork of a god, where others may offer jewelry or stones.  In this case I have a prayer jar representing the votive offerings, a practice I learned from the Kemetic Orthodoxy which has a similar function.

Offerings Based on UPG

Modern Kemeticists offer additional foods which weren’t available during the time period. Since these seem to be accepted without too many reservations (if any at all) it tends to fall under Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG). Some of these offerings include: chocolate; coffee; tea; instant ramen; various candies; toys; bacon; and New World meats like turkey. The offerings vary in significance from shared gnosis of certain deities enjoying such offerings to the devotee’s available resources. This doesn’t indicate the offerings are deemed insignificant by the devotee, however. Oftentimes the offerings are presented with sincerity and honest intentions. Due to the nature of such offerings, however, it can be hard for a new devotee to assess if a UPG-based offering is deemed welcome by a deity.

The question becomes, then, how to assess if a deity accepts an offering outside of the more traditional offerings. Most of the time it seems to be based on the devotee’s intuition. Since the subjective nature of such offerings means a deity can accept a type of offering from several devotees and not others it leads to interesting discussions.

What Happens to the Offerings?

Regardless of the offering type it was removed from the offering table. I have a blog post which addresses what to do with food and liquid offerings. Votive offerings, however, were and are still handled differently. In ancient times votive figurines were buried, but most votive offerings today are kept on the shrine.

Thanks to Big Rip Brewery Company for letting me show off their beer.  You can learn more about them at this link.

 

Sources

Pinch, Geraldine and Elizabeth A. Waraksa, 2009, Votive Practices. In Jacco Dieleman, Willeke Wendrich (eds.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles. Online database. Retrieved 2013.

Poo, Mu-chou, 2010, Liquids in Temple Ritual. In Willeke Wendrich (ed.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology, Los Angeles. Online database. Retrieved 2013.

Nelson, Harold H. “Certain Reliefs at Karnak and Medinet Habu and the Ritual of Amenophis I.” Journal of  Near Eastern  Studies. Vol. 8, No. 3 (Jul., 1949), pp. 201-232. JSTOR. Retrieved 2/12/2011

Nelson, Harold H. “Certain Reliefs at Karnak and Medinet Habu and the Ritual of Amenophis I- (Concluded).” Journal of Near Eastern Studies. Vol. 8, No. 4 (Oct., 1949), pp. 310-345. JSTOR. Retrieved 2/11/2011

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PBP: F is for Flame

I read once that flames were part of the offering in Kemetic rituals. I’m not sure how much I believe it, but I can certainly see why the person asserted that about flames. Harold H. Nelson mentioned how a torch was listed in the offerings given my Thutmose III for Ptah in Karnak. Besides mentioned in the offerings of one king there are other things to consider why someone would consider flame as part of the ritual offering. Flame not only has direct ties to ritual significance, but also religious implications.

Fire is an important element in Kemetic ritual. Flames open up Kemetic rituals. There are formulas for lighting lamps (or candles for most modern Kemeticists) and extinguishing them after rituals, assuring the flame will still exist for the deity. The practical element of having flame in ritual is apparent given the darkness in some areas of the temple, which has symbolism in its own right. The flame, as with many elements in Kemetic ritual, also shares a symbolic element. In one translation of the flame being extinguished the flame is paralleled with the Eye of Heru as well as the Ra’s death and rebirth in the form of the sunset. In this respect not only is the flame “kept alive” but it is also associated with the light of a deity. Fire served another purpose besides a lighting element.

Outside of lighting purposes fire plays an important role in rituals. Flame is mentioned in the formula for lighting the incense. In one formula for incense (Utterance 269 of the Pyramid Texts, R.O Faulkner’s translation) the flame is mentioned as kindled before the incense is even said to be burned. While this is obvious as to the importance of flame in incense it also hints to the connection between the flame and its sacredness in ritual. In the rituals of Amenhotep there a few connections made with fire set up for a brazier and the spit roast in connection to Heru or the Eye of Heru. The formulas for the two not only connect to the Eye of Heru, but to other deities and even the king. The possible connection to flame with the Eye of Heru further enforces not only the practicality of including the flame in ritual, but its significance to the gods. As mentioned with the flame in connection to lighting with the Eye of Heru providing the light within a deity, the Eye of Heru in this instance provides nourishment and life to the gods. In turn the gods are able to provide these necessities for their followers.

Flame when connected to the gods serves as a practical as well as religious significance in Kemetic ritual. It was a way of ensuring the gods provided vital necessities to the followers by providing for Them. Part of that is accomplished by relating the flame to a deity or the Eye of Heru, while another part places emphasis on the flame in terms of how it provides for the gods.


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Daily Ritual (My Abridged Version)

I originally posted this as a link to an outline on the Daily Morning Ritual from the Temple of Karnak during the 22nd Dynasty.  I thought it was a great outline to share at that time, and I still believe so.

Over time, though, I realized that people may not want to work on plugging in their own wording or look up what was said.  If that’s the case I recommend Richard Reidy’s book Eternal Egypt: Ancient Rituals for the Modern World.  I also realized some folks will feel obligated to follow through every step of the temple ritual.  If you don’t have time, that’s cool.  Based on the aforementioned ritual outline I linked here’s how my morning ritual tends to go.  You can adjust it accordingly.

Preparations

Formula for lighting the fire

Formula for taking the censer

Formula for placing the incense on the flame

Formula for proceeding to the sacred place

Another formula

Opening the shrine

Facing the image – hymns to the deity

Formula for kissing the earth

Formula for placing oneself on one’s stomach

Formula for placing oneself on one’s stomach and stretching out

Formula for kissing the earth, face down

Another formula

Incense

The offering of the goddess personifying What is Right Maat)

Formula for the offering of Maat

Food Offering

Libation

Incense

Reversion of Offerings


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Craft Friday: Sekhmet Ribbon Garland

I know this is late for most people, but since I’m starting Tekh over the weekend I thought this was a perfect time to share this craft. I find it really hard to make crafts for this particular holiday as it is, though. It’s a pretty straightforward about its purposes and it’s hard to work with that at times. In spite of the challenge I decided a garland would be a nice holiday project.  It also gives you a rare glimpse at my shrine.

I didn’t have enough ribbon to do what I wanted this to do, but I had enough to decorate my shrine. Also I couldn’t find bow wire, and the floral wire I found clashes with the ribbon. I ended up using beading wire instead. If you have any tips for this or recommend a place to get gold bow wire – I’ll even take red – tell me so in the comments.

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • gold ribbon, 5/16 inches (about 3 feet long)
  • red ribbon, 5/8 inches (about 3 feet long)
  • red ribbon, 1/8 inches (about 3 feet long)
  • additional red ribbon for bows
  • scissors
  • Sekhmet (or a lioness) stamp
  • red ink stamp pad
  • decoupage sealant
  • 18 gauge gold beading wire
  • sand-colored cardstock
  • dowel rod, 1/4 inch
  • jewelery wire cutters
  • needlenose pliers

1.  Tie the  3 feet long ribbons together.

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2.  Grab one ribbon and wrap it around the other ribbons. This should give it a shape like the number 4.

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3.  When tightening the ribbon to make a knot place the dowel rod in between the knots. Make a square knot around the dowel rod. TIP: This may require cradling the dowel rod while making the knot.

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4.  Make a second square knot around the dowel rod. Move the ribbon to the far left.

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5.  Repeat with the other ribbons. Tie a square knot at the other end. This will serve as a cord.

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6.  With the remaining 5/8 red ribbon make bows. I made bows from 1 feet (the larger ones) and 6 inches (the smaller ones) of ribbon. I won’t however, use all of the bows. TIP: If the bows are hard to make tie a bow on a bamboo skewer, then pull off and tighten the knot.

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7.  Cut about an inch or two of the beading wire. Thread the wire through one of the loops and through the knot of a bow. Wrap the loose ends with the needlenose pliers and tuck.

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8.  Repeat with the large bows.

9.  Stamp the cardstock with the Sekhmet stamp. Cut and trim. TIP: Save any leftover pieces stamped. It will come in handy if you mess up in the following steps.

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10.  Punch a small hole in the cardstock. Thread the bow with beading wire as in step 7, followed by threading the cardstock. Use the needlenose pliers to tie it.

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11.  Repeat with the second small ribbon.

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I kept my garland fairly simple, but feel free to elaborate on it. I’d love to see any variations of this in the comment section.


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When Ma’at Means Hotep

I thought for the first time ever I’d participate in the Pagan Values Project. I’ve always wanted to participate, but something always came up and I couldn’t post in time. This time I have a chance and no excuses.

I think the main value Kemeticists strive for is to uphold Ma’at, and I’m no exception. Given how there isn’t a direct English translation of the word—though it’s usually something like “order”, “cosmic justice”, or “balance” just to name a few major ones—I’ve seen the idea of upholding Ma’at take many forms. For some it means serving the gods. For others it may mean community service. There are plenty who interpret upholding Ma’at to mean something beyond service. The latter applies to me in some respects. There will always be a part of me who will strive to help someone in need because I know what it’s like to wont. I also enjoy seeing people living up to their highest potential and try to help them achieve it in whatever way I can. I’ve also come to understand sometimes the best community service starts from within.

In Ancient Egyptian the word for peace was htp. One thing I try to focus on my blog is my interpretation of the Ancient stay calm within chaosEgyptian religion and peace currently plays a major part in it. People even in the Pagan community don’t fully understand why I’m not focused on living a positive life, and people outside of the community will try to construe peace to still mean positive. I feel there’s a difference between what I’ve observed as positive living and peaceful living. I’ve observed those who live positively (and truly positive lives, not just ignoring that bad things happen) don’t let adverse situations define them nor let it get them down. While one does that with a peaceful life as well, I’ve found the difference lies in the approach.

My way of approaching a peaceful life differs from how I’ve seen people handle living positively in the approach of finding opportunity in an adverse situation. To illustrate my point I’ll use meditation because of one common problem of poor concentration due to noises. When I lived with my partner we lived across the street from a college campus. One thing about college campuses is they have some bell (or like my alma mater a steam whistle) to signal when classes were over. This would go off regularly and posed a bit of a problem with meditating. When I discuss this scenario I found people trying to live a positive life were more inclined to look for a different spot to meditate. I found a pattern, on the other hand, with the bell and incorporated it into my meditation. I learned to do this with the other noises eventually. While someone living positively may also incorporate the bell I started to incorporate it with other noises. I found peace in finding the patterns to noise and turned it into music. I’ve found living peacefully mean learning to work within a situation as well as making the situation better.

meaningofpeaceI find Ma’at in peace because it isn’t about making the most of a situation. I’ve found in finding my balance peace is essential, and part of my peace is seeing a situation for what it is. In ascertaining what the situation seems to be I look for a solution. I try to do this with as little judgement and personal biases as possible. Sometimes I perform a Tarot reading to help me in removing those biases. Sometimes I will meditate before my Het-Hert shrine. I will read wisdom literature at times. Sometimes I sit down and try other methods, such as confiding in a friend. Whichever method I try I keep my aim at upholdling Ma’at by finding the solution which gives me the most peace without compromising my integrity.

I’ve found when I’m willing to compromise myself rather than compromise in a situation for the sake of peace is deceptive. If not for the fact I’m fooling myself it’s the feelings afterwards. I’ve found if I compromise myself I tend to feel resentful towards anything and everyone involved in the situation. The only thing I can do at that time is examine the situation and learn from it. Sometimes I need to vent before I can examine it. I run the risk of ruining my peace if I don’t clear my emotions. I’ve taken to the passage of the Maxims of Ptahhotep of letting someone vent in these instances.

[…] A man in distress wants to wash his heart
more than that his case be won. […]
Not all one pleads for can be granted,
but a good hearing calms the heart.

Even though this passage is reference a court case and letting people air out their grievances it also applies in my case. Sometimes to regain my equilibrium I need to vent and move on. If I can’t move on after venting I can then look at the situation and learn from it. I understand how this isn’t always possible as well.

learn to surfThere will always be something that throws us off. There will be that person at work who’s attitude is something we internalize, or inexplicable anxiety sets in, or a myriad of other things which could ruin our peace. It’s why I don’t see peace as something stagnant; just like bop bags our peace gets knocked off center from time to time. We lose our peace as we flail about to regain our center. Part of regaining that peace for me is to practice my faith. When I go to my shrine to regain my peace I find myself first at my shrine before Het-Hert. I feel calmer when in Her presence at my shrine, one that is loving and often sympathetic without coddling. When I calm down I regain my peace either with that act alone, or it calms me down enough to figure out what I need to do.

Finding my peace is an integral part of my values. In finding peace I learn about myself and find ways to examine my religious practice within that value. It’s reminding myself of my tools like the wisdom literature. Sometimes it’s reminding myself I can breathe and move forward. Whichever way I use I go forward in my peace as one of my ways to uphold Ma’at. In that I regain my balance.


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Craft Friday: Menat

A menat is an interesting piece from Ancient Egypt. It was worn as a necklace (mainly as an amulet for protection) and was used as a percussion instrument. Contrary to how most people wear anything resembling a pendant, the menat was worn with the beads in the front (called the aegis, which means “shield”) and the pendant (called the counterpoise) was worn in the back. The menat was associated with a few goddesses, mostly Het-Hert. The menat was important enough of an instrument it was presented to Het-Hert as an offering.

While the strand length varied the menat consisted of three parts: the aegis (shield), which was usually a series of bead strands strung together and draped across the chest; the strand, though the length of this varied; and the counterpoise, which was large enough to serve as a handle for shaking the menat and as a counterweight for the menat. The materials varied, but faience was usually the material of choice.

I didn’t have a proper counterweight nor a pendant large enough when I made this menat, so I combined a couple of pendants to get the desired length. If you can get a hold of a proper counterpoise or a large enough pendant use it. It’s also worth noting it’s important to have a long enough counterpoise because the aegis will droop otherwise.  I know this because when I’ve worn this menat I made it too long to wear it with the counterpoise in the back (when I wrap it around I end up with the counterpoise in the front).  I actually made my menat strand 3 1/2 feet, though I think because of my oversight 2 1/2 feet (maybe even 2 feet) should suffice.

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What You’ll Need:

Aegis

-seed beads

-nylon beading thread

-2 larger beads (I used scarab beads)

-scissors

Strand

-2 pendant caps

-nylon beading thread, 2 feet

-various beads

-scissors

Counterpoise

-2 pendants

-1 pendant cap

-1 bead (I used another scarab bead)

1.  Cut a strand of nylon thread roughly over 1 1/2 feet. The extra length will be used to tie loops.

2.  Make a small loop on one end. Trim excess from the loop. TIP: If the loop is hard to make first loop it around something like part of a pen cap, then make a square knot under the loop.

3.  String the seed beads until the total length of the beads is 1 1/2 feet. Tie the other loop like before.

4.  Repeat steps 1-3 until there are at least 10-12 strands (though I think for this project I made something around 15). These will serve as the aegis.

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5.  Gather all the strands. Take the nylon thread for the strand and thread each loop.

6.  Tie a knot when the loops on one end are threaded. I tied several knots to ensure it would stay.

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7.  Thread the pendant cap so the open end will face the aegis.

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8.  Bead until the center is reached.

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9.  Thread the second the pendant cap so the open end faced the pendants.

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10.  Thread the bead and pendants through.

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11.  Thread through the pendants again.

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12.  Thread through the bead and pendant cap.

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13.  Bead as on the other side. Thread the final pendant cap so the open end faced the other end faces the aegis. Take the end loops and thread together like the other side of the aegis.

14.  Thread the left over thread back through the pendant cap. Tie a few knots, trim as needed.

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This is a wonderful piece for ritual use. When I use it in ritual I gather up the strand and the counterpoise, letting the aegis hang. Shake gently, as if shaking a fist at someone.


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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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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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Budget Thursday: Image of a God/dess

This is a question I find asked incredibly often by those who are either in search of an image of a hard-to-find deity or just don’t have the money (sometimes the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I’ve seen statues of hard-to-find deities that are quite pricey). Luckily there are very simple solutions to this problem that mostly depends on what you want to do with the image.

Print off an image. If you really want to get creative with it I suggest modifying it so that it’s only the outline. This will allow you to color the picture as you wish. I found this link while scouring the web full of images ready to color.

Make your own. This one is very pivotal on your resources. Sometimes making one from clay is easier. You can also make one from paper maché, just keep water away from it (or seal it).

Draw an image. This goes back to printing off your own, but it allows for more control.

I’m sure there are other ways to handle this issue.  If you have an idea you’ve tried feel free to share in the comments.

 


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Budget Thursday: Aspersion Tools

In Ancient Egypt the priests not only offered food, drink, and incense to the gods. They also provided many toiletries for the god, including bathing. However in this day many people who want to reconstruct the Ancient Egyptian rituals tend to include the aspersion jars, one called a nemset jar and another called a deshret jar. These can be quite easy to acquire, creativity depending. If you use aspersion tools in your ritual I’d love to hear in the comments your suggestions for penny-saving on these tools.

 Consider tea sets. While I don’t necessarily mean children’s playsets (though I’ve seen people use them), I do mean at least consider the creamer and sugar bowl.

 Make your own. This is probably the cheapest and easiest to do with clay that dries in the oven. This can be purchased at craft stores.

 Discount stores, the old standby. Well, it’s my standby. Discount stores offer lots of dishware at very low prices, and if choosiness isn’t your prerogative there are plenty of options.

 Use what’s available. Sometimes it isn’t possible to use anything else. If all that’s available are the coffee mugs in the cabinet, then it’s all that’s available and that’s fine.