Sirius rising

I am such a nerd. I spent an entire day looking up coordinates for various cities and calculating the heliacal rising of Sirius to see if there’s a pattern. There is. Here’s what I learned:

The heliacal rising of Sirius varies by latitude (how far north or south you are). Longitude doesn’t affect the results. You still need to enter your longitude when doing the calculation, but if two cities are on the same latitude, they will get the same date regardless of their longitude. I thought elevation was supposed to be a factor, but it didn’t make any difference for any of the numbers I checked.

Anyhow, the long and short of it is that the date depends on latitude. For most of North America, we’re looking at mid-July to mid-August.

If you are farther north, it will be later in the year. If you’re up in someplace like Alaska, it could be as late as the beginning of September.

If you are farther south, it will be earlier in the year. It could be as early as the beginning of June. So it’s a pretty big range.

If you want to calculate the heliacal rising of Sirius / Lokabrenna / Wep Ronpet for yourself, I made a walkthrough here.

Dates may vary a bit from year to year, but it will generally be very close to the same date. (I got the exact same date 3 years in a row.) So if you just want a close estimate, here’s a cheat sheet to look up the most likely date based on your latitude.

45°S = 1st of June
42°S = 4th
40°S = 7th
37°S = 9th
35°S = 12th
33°S = 13th
31°S = 15th
29°S = 17th
26°S = 20th
23°S = 22nd
20°S = 24th
18°S = 26th
15°S = 28th
12°S = 30th

9°S = 3rd of July
7°S = 4th
5°S = 5th
2°S = 8th
1°N = 10th
3°N = 11th
6°N = 13th
9°N = 15th
12°N = 18th
15°N = 20th
17°N = 21st
20°N = 23rd
22°N = 25th
25°N = 27th
28°N = 30th
30°N = 31st

31°N = 2nd of August
34°N = 4th
37°N = 6th
39°N = 8th
41°N = 10th
43°N = 12th
46°N = 15th
49°N = 18th
51°N = 20th
54°N = 24th
58°N = 29th
61°N = 3rd of September

As I said, I got the same date 3 years in a row. I have not looked farther into the future. If the dates start to shift in future years, I will update this page, but I expect it to be fairly accurate for quite a while.

Personally, I don’t feel the need to celebrate holidays on the exact day, so having a close estimate would be good enough for me, but I’ll still do the calculations, because it’s fun!

Changing directions

When I was little, I started out with an animistic view of the world. Then I was taught that some things are not alive, and even though plants are living things in a sense, they don’t possess consciousness. At the time, I believed that, because the grownups know what’s what, right? But eventually I ended up defaulting back to animism. I can’t remember when or how that happened, and it’s interesting to me, because no plant or stream or anything ever talked to me, so what was my belief even based on? But it’s the only thing that ever felt right to me.

Whatever else I may be, it’s built on a foundation of animism, and that affects how I interact with the world: Since I believe that everything deserves to be treated with respect, I try to be a good neighbor or a good guest to whoever I’m sharing space with. And when I see places where nature is hurting, I want to help.

That desire, of wanting to make things better somehow, that’s been the most important thing to me for…I guess most of my life. I think it is a good aspiration, but it seems I need to walk a different path.

The way I relate to the world won’t change, I will go on being a good neighbor, but I have to give up this notion of trying to help make things better. I think help is very much needed, but that work is not for me. I have other things I need to be doing; I need to focus on that now, and let this go. There is a keen sense of loss in this, but I want to move forward.

Despite that loss, I’m happy with my new direction. I think I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and really excited to be moving forward. Also a little scared, because while I have a general sense of where I’m going and how I’ll be getting there, I don’t know how I’m supposed to get past all the obstacles in my way. But I’m going for it anyway. I have to.

Pain

Changes are coming. Life-altering changes. The process has already started and cannot be stopped. It’s not something that I would want to stop anyway; what’s coming is a good thing, great even, and something that I want very much. But it hurts.

I don’t understand why it should be painful. I get to watch something amazing unfold, something that I wished for a very long time, and I’m happy that it’s happening…so why does it hurt?

(Sorry for the vagueblogging, I’m just posting this for myself.)

(ETA: Here’s a non-vague post about it.)

KRT: Akhu basics

Akhu means “shining ones”. (The singular is akh.) Akhu are those who have died but can still remain in contact with the living. It’s often used interchangeably with “ancestors” but you can honor any akh, not just those who were related to you.

How do you work with the akhu (shrines, rites, etc)?
How do you set up an akhu practice?

If you decide that you want to have an akhu practice, I would start by identifying which akhu you want to venerate. These could be people who were related to you, or not. They could be friends, pets, people who have inspired you. You can even just honor “your ancestors” in general, even if you don’t know their names.

Once you know who you want to venerate, it’s helpful to have some kind of shrine. If you have pictures of the people you want to add, that’s a good thing to put on there. In my case, I don’t have pictures of any of my dead, and that’s okay too. Other things you might want on your akhu shrine: things that belonged to the dead, things that they liked, candle(s), maybe flowers. Cool water is like the basic offering for any occasion, but you can also give them other things.

Don’t just get stuck on the physical trappings, though. Spend some time with your akhu, get to know them better, remember them. You can pray or simply talk to them, you can write them letters and leave those on the shrine.

Something that others have pointed out: Since akhu used to be mortals, they have a better understanding of our daily lives than gods do, and people who liked you when they were alive would likely want to help you if they can.

~

Akhu in my personal practice:

At first, I did not think I would have an akhu practice at all, because the only dead relatives I know are people I didn’t like, and I couldn’t think of anyone else I would want to venerate. But sometimes life takes some unexpected turns.

I did find one dead relative with whom I get along well, and then I had a pet who died, so I made a shrine for the two of them. However, I couldn’t think of much to say or do, so I didn’t really do anything until almost a year later, when I was suddenly presented with many more dead who needed attention.

Since then, my akhu practice has mainly centered on the forgotten dead. I remember and honor those those who have no one else to remember them. I’m not sure why it happened, I just got the call one day, and couldn’t say no. Maybe it’s because I know what it’s like to be alone, to not have any family. I want to take in all the lonely souls.

In practical terms, what I generally do is put out a cup of cool water, light a candle, and invite those who wish to come. A note on safety: Be careful who you let in. I have wards in place, and when inviting people I don’t know, I make the invitation to “those who have no ill intent” or something along those lines, and that has worked fine for me.

I’m not sure what to say about rites; as far as that goes, I’m just making it up as I go along. So far that’s mostly been “try to do a little something extra” (a nicer spread, special flowers, whatever seems appropriate at the time). I usually don’t know what I’m going to be doing until I start preparing, and then it somehow falls into place. I know that’s not very helpful, but I don’t have it figured out either, I just try to go with what feels right and maybe I’ll figure it out along the way.

~

The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here.

Reblog: Encountering Outside Powers

EmberVoices: Listening for the Vanir

I had a great conversation recently with a former student of mine. We were talking about the challenges of balancing human ethics with spirit etiquette. How do we avoid cultural appropriation when a Power from a culture to which we have no other connection decides to drop in and say “Hi” for whatever reason?

Novice spirit workers who have only public blogs from other spirit workers, devotional polytheists, and reconstructionist pagans to work from can come away with an impression that it’s just not supposed to happen in the first place. As if we’re each only ever talking to the specific Powers we have some kind of cultural permission to serve, and that anything else is Against The Rules somehow, and you can either accept those rules or reject them outright and face dire consequences. But in my experience both in private conversations with other spirit workers, and in my…

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Reblog: “Karma” by B. T. Newberg

Humanistic Paganism

There is only one stream of karma: cause and effect.

There is only one stream of karma: that of the entire ecosystem.

There is no individual karma, all is inextricably bound together.

There is no individual karma, all return to the earth equally at death.

The good receive their just reward: rejoining nature, freed of ego.

The bad receive their just punishment: annihilated into nature, freed of ego.

Rejoining the original influence, the good are physically recycled for the nutriment of all.

Expunged of ill influence, the bad are physically recycled for the nutriment of all.

Those who wish worse for the bad misperceive their place in the ecosystem.

Those who wish better for the good misperceive their place in the ecosystem.

They think individually, but they are not individuals.

They think individually, but they are the one earth.

There is only one stream of karma: cause and effect.

There…

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Monday’s rite

I was going to do this writeup on Tuesday, but my family had a medical emergency (everyone is okay now) so I had to postpone things. Luckily I had made some notes so I remember what I want to say. Always make notes!

~

Monday’s rite was pulled together last minute. I wasn’t planning to do anything, but the thought of ancestors came up, and then I suddenly got very emotional, with a sense of urgency, like “Do the thing, and do it NOW.” So I went out, got the flowers and bread, and did the thing.

It had been a long time since I’ve spent any time with my akhu. I keep meaning to do something for them, but I never know what to do or what to say, so I kept putting it off.

I thought I might do something for The Beautiful Festival of the Valley, but didn’t, as usual. That was around the 20th, I think. After that, things started…coming to my attention. There was one particular ancestor who was on my mind a lot. No reason for it, she was just…there.

And then the 25th hit me pretty hard, being both Memorial Day and The Glorious 25th of May. Yes, the latter is a fictional holiday. The Discworld quotes made me cry, which they’ve never done before. And then the crows. There were crows everywhere. At that point I said “Alright, I hear you, I’ll do the thing.”

I had had plans for Monday. But no, “We’ve canceled your plans, you’re doing this now.” Alright then, time to get to work.

I cleaned the room and changed into clean clothes, and felt like I should wear something red. Then it was off to the store. I thought bread would be a good thing to have, so I ran out for a fresh-baked bun, and also some flowers. I was thinking carnations or something, but I ended up with roses. I do not like roses, but that’s what came home with me. Well, they’re not for me, so whatever they like, right? I also unexpectedly picked up some strawberries.

I notice there was a red theme. Red roses, strawberries, red bowls, red candle, and me wearing red. I’m not sure if the color co-ordination was coincidence or not. If it was purposeful, I don’t know the reason for it. There’s the obvious connection of blood, but maybe not.

This day was for all of those whose actions have made it possible for me to be here. Not just ancestors related to me, but anyone whose life has had a part in bringing me to where I am.

The candle burned from 6pm until after sunset. That idea of taking the light into the night also came up unexpectedly.

Other than making the offering and inviting any who were interested in being present, I didn’t do much, basically just thanked them. I said a bit more than that, but that about sums it up. I also tried to be open to them talking to me, but didn’t get anything. Which is how it usually goes, but I try. Although it was mostly uneventful, I did sit with them for the full three and a half hours. That time spent together felt very important, and I wanted to give it–and my dead–the attention they deserved.