Making Natron the Quick and Lazy Way

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Okay, it’s official. I’ve flunked Natron cooking class. My first attempts at making natron were an utter failure three times. Just so you can see what I did wrong, this was my process:

1 teaspoon of salt

1 teaspoon baking soda

Place in a custard cup

Add barely enough water to dissolve

Let it dry for 3-4 days.

So by the fourth day I’d take it to the kitchen and sure enough there was still enough moisture that the water redissolved the crystals and ruined the batch. Probably my impatience was what got to me and that’s the reason I created this impromptu and lazy way of creating natron within 2 minutes.

Mix everything like above:

  • (1 part salt, 1 part baking soda, just enough water to dissolve in a bowl)
  • Place a microwave safe lid over the mixture in case it splatters.
  • Microwave the mixture on high for 1 minute.
  • If the natron still has some water, microwave for 30 seconds more.
  • When you take it out you’ll have a perfectly dried batch of natron.

Because the bowl will be hot, let it cool for 5 minutes, then break apart the natron chunks with a butter knife and then grind it with the blunt end the knife or with a spoon. The natron in the jar is the batch I made using a microwave.

Shrine Safety

Candles and burning incense are beautiful, but can be dangerous if left unattended. I have a cat so I’ve come up with safer alternatives to using traditional candles and a lighter during my rituals. Here are some safer options I use during my daily ritual.

Kemetic Round Table: My Daily Ritual

When I first came to Kemeticism I didn’t even know it was a religion being practiced by anyone. Isis called me and I answered in the only way I knew how. I created my own ritual without books and hardly any historical knowledge. I just built a ceremony that seemed right to me.

Coming from a previously Catholic background my earliest ritual was heavily influenced by the structure of the Mass. I would light the candles, say my prayers (in a very formal fashion) and then had my own “Communion.” Instead of the Eucharist I substituted a cup of milk to represent the life-giving milk of Isis. As I read about other people’s rituals in offering bread, milk and water to the gods, the Communion part felt a bit out of place, so I dropped it.

This is my current ritual I use:

Ring a bell

Light candles (LED electric ones)

Prayer: All hail to you Netjeru. Receive this light. May it shine upon You as you shine upon me. Praise to you Sekhmet (place a candle before the statue). Praise to you Djehuty (candle). Praise to you Isis (candle). Praise to you Osiris (candle). Praise to you Anubis. Praise to your Horus (candle).

With the LED candles burning, light some incense. I use an electric cigarette lighter which is flameless and lights up the incense beautifully.

Prayer: Receive this incense from me, most pure. 

Instead of putting the incense in the holder I tend to wave the incense stick gently before each statue almost like a wand. I discovered I could create a smoke ring with the incense which is very cool and beautiful with the lit candles. After I get enough scent, I extinguish the incense in the ashes as I don’t like too much incense in the room.

Now bring out your offerings. It varies depending on the time of day I pray. Most of my offerings are based on what I’m willing to eat or drink at that time as I don’t want it to go to waste. Of late I’ve been offering them my breakfast which often means a cup of milk and some cornflakes.

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I take the cup first and wave it once left to right before the Netjeru before raising it up in the middle above the Isis statue before setting it down.

Prayer: Take this milk. Drink and be refreshed.

Now I take the food offering. Often I’ll customize the prayer depending on what food item it is. If I baked it or made the offering I’ll add it to the prayer. Here are some examples.

Offerings:

Cake:

(Formal) Take this cake which I baked for you. May you enjoy its sweetness.

(Informal) Enjoy this cake I made tonight. It tastes great and I thought you’d like it.

Cereal

(Formal) Take this cereal. May it nourish and restore you.

(Informal) Yeah, I know it’s only breakfast cereal, but it’s pretty good. Enjoy.

Fruit:

(Formal) Enjoy this sweet, delicious banana. May it nourish and restore you.

(Informal) Okay, I know a banana is a strange offering, but it’s yummy. Give it a try.

So why the informal offering form? Because the Netjeru sometimes have a sense of weird humor and chuckle with some of my offerings – like breakfast cereal to Sekhmet. Set thinks the banana is hilarious.

Now once I give the offerings and they’re sitting in the shrine, it’s time for the active prayer. You can petition them. If you want to do divination (I use Egyptian style tarot) or heka this is a good time. Sometimes I’ll recite a litany to Isis if I have nothing to say or am not feeling like She’s present that night. Most of my prayers are more like a conversation. I mostly talk with Isis, telling Her about what is bothering me or what I must do to improve a situation.

Now this is the most important part …

You must remain silent after you’ve spoken. I’ve gotten some incredible insights from the Netjeru in that silence, but you must be willing to be quiet and wait for them to talk. Sometimes in the silence you can just enjoy each other’s company and feel Their presence. In my experience, the Netjeru’s arrival is often pretty strong and dramatic. You can be sitting there, sensing nothing and then all of a sudden They are there in the room with you. It’s an amazing experience.

For closing prayer:

(Standing up, I raise my arms, palms facing outward toward Them)

I thank You for Your time, wisdom and love. Help me to grow into a better person and live ever in Ma’at.

Ring the bell and the ritual is over.

I turn off the LED candles and take the food and beverage offerings down to the kitchen to eat.

This sounds like a very long ritual, but I’ve performed this in 5 minutes especially during a very busy day or when the god phone is silent. I try to have a daily ritual even if I’m busy. I notice I benefit more from the pause in my day to pray and communicate with the Netjeru. The insights and wisdom They have given me far exceeds any offerings and prayers I give them during my daily ritual.

Here are some of tips to a successful daily ritual:

  • Keep the ritual simple. A simple ritual is one you’re most likely to use
  • Don’t make it too long. A time-consuming ritual will discourage you from practicing often.
  • Miss a ritual? It’s okay, but make sure it doesn’t become a habit. The quickest way to kill a relationship is to never “call.”
  • Use plates and dishes you can run in the dishwasher. Okay, I know this is very unorthodox, but having easy to clean dishes for your rituals means you’ll do it more often.
  • Don’t get hung up on the little details. Again, very unorthodox, but don’t be afraid to change and modify the ritual to make it your own.
  • Getting stuck in a rut with your ritual? Change it up!
  • Give from the heart. Fancy offerings and elaborate rituals don’t make up for not giving from the heart.

As a new Kemetic I’m just starting to get involved in a community, mostly online. After 10 years in Catholicism I think one of the beauties of Kemeticism is how individual and unique it can be. You don’t have to practice a ritual a certain way just because of your ancestors. It’s like in Ancient Egypt where each city/region had its own patron god/goddess and creation myth. We now are following the same tradition by discovering unique ways to worship and creating a relationship with the Netjeru.

The Broken Scorpion

I recently bought a statue of Serqet, a replica of the goddess’s statue in Tutankhamun’s tomb. The statue already had lost her scorpion, but she was beautiful so I purchased her anyway. When I received the package it wasn’t encased in foam like many statues, but was wrapped like a mummy with newspaper and packing tape. It would have been more fitting to open a statue of Osiris that way!

As I finally freed her from her newspaper wrappings, however, I heard something rattling inside.

No, it wasn’t a scorpion.

One of her arms had broken off at the elbow while the base had broken clean away from the statue at the ankles. I thought about returning the statue, but then I became determined to mend it. I was certain I could fix her. It was time I had to fix my desktop statue of Isis anyway who had lost her crown during a recent drop from her file cabinet perch.

Some people swear by Goop, but I used jeweler’s epoxy which takes awhile to set, but it doesn’t stink up the house.

I mixed the resin (red tube) with the hardener (black tube) and started with the easy project, attaching Isis’s crown.

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I had to hold the crown in place while the glue set (about 5 minutes). During that time I started an impromptu crowning prayer to Isis. The Catholics have a crowning ceremony to the Virgin Mary statue in May so I used this as my way to “crown” Isis.

Prayer:

I crown you, O Isis

My Mother

My Queen

My Goddess

Great is your love

For all your children.

Receive your crown

From your daughter

As a sign of my devotion

And love for You.

I didn’t have a prayer for Serqet as I tried to fix her statue. It was very tricky and I needed all my concentration not to botch it up. I first attached her arm and held the statue and her forearm for at least 10 minutes. As the minutes ticked by and I grew impatient for the glue to dry; I started a meditation. I thought about how countless other statues were broken by time and religious fanaticism. We have the capacity to destroy many beautiful things, but also we have the power to mend what was broken.

As Kemetics we are searching through the pieces left by time. We try to put them back together, but some of the pieces are still missing. Instead of abandoning the broken pieces, we instead start mending, add our own unique blend – a glue so to speak – that wasn’t authentic to the ancients but speaks to us. We bring our culture, our history and our personalities to our worship and our relationship with the gods.

Finally I let go of Serqet’s arm (and it held). I thought about how through the Kemetic faith the gods are finally able to reach out to us. They have arms in which to embrace us and hands to touch our lives again. As I went on to attach the rest of the statue to the base I thought of how they have feet on the Earth again and have a presence in this world through us.

Here is the end result:

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Kemetics – mending what was broken 2,000 years ago.

When Your Prayers Are Answered

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This month has been full of surprises, most of which involve prayers I didn’t expect would be answered at all. If you’ve been reading my blog you’ll know I come from a Catholic background. During my seven years as a Catholic I’ve petitioned countless saints, asked Mary and of course prayed to Jesus. I’m sad to say hardly any of my prayers were answered. So when I came to Isis I had a little skepticism. I believed She heard me; I just didn’t expect an answer.

I’ll tell you a little about what I prayed for and how they were answered. It’s a testament to Isis’s love for us and that indeed She hears the prayers of all Her children.

Recently my writing business hit a bad dry spell. No customers and the phones were quiet. I started to lose hope that perhaps running my own business was the best career move. I asked Isis for help. I received a phone call the next day and almost instantly landed a new client.

I also noticed a difference in my self esteem and my desire to achieve. Before contacting the Netjeru I was pretty depressed, feeling helpless and figured what was the point? Then I felt some of my depression lift and felt a renewed sense of purpose. I had to do something. I have to say Djehuty helped me a good deal. After my prayer to Him (and I placed His statue next to my writing table) I’ve written every day and a lot more than I ever did in a month.

Also I’m going to mention the long-shot prayer. When I first prayed to Isis and gave Her an offering I asked for something I thought was well out of my reach. I was single for many years and believed there wasn’t anyone for me. I’d gone on many dating websites and went on a few dates, but nothing ever clicked. So I asked Isis (certainly believing there was no answer to this prayer) that if there was someone for me She’d send him my way.

Shortly after I felt like I needed to sign up on a dating website I’d never been on before. Then I met my boyfriend who seemed so uncannily like me in both interests and personality we seemed made for each other.

It really is surprising what She can accomplish and how the gods look after us. I notice that that many of the prayers require action on our part, but when we need that extra cosmic energy flowing in our direction the gods are there to help us.

I’d love to read about how the gods have answered your prayers. Do you have any stories you want to share?

A Vision of the Blue Goddess

I normally don’t get mental images when I’m praying. But last night I saw a sudden, clear and beautiful vision. It also was completely unexpected. It’s left me puzzling about what I saw. Perhaps you can help clue me in, but I thought it best to give you an idea what’s going on my life. It might shed some light on what I saw.

It’s been a rough couple of days for me. I was sick shortly after Thanksgiving weekend. This meant I was pretty limited in my devotions and even lazier when it came to writing. I also started to tentatively test the waters of online dating again. Perhaps it was fueled by loneliness or a belief I should be with someone.

Regardless I struck up an e-mail conversation with someone on the online dating site. It went well, but then he became pushy and insistent on meeting up. I’ve been dragging my feet and feeling something is not quite right about this person. Granted, he isn’t creepy, but there’s some negative energy surrounding him.

I had a real heart-to-heart chat with Isis last night. I didn’t feel the presence of Isis coming from any my statues. It seemed to emanate from the beautiful papyrus painting of Isis with the throne glyph. I asked her about the person I considered giving a date to. After some silence of being in her presence I felt the emphatic reply, “No.”

I also felt this was the best decision somehow and thanked Isis for her advice. Even an hour after prayers I still felt her powerful peaceful and loving presence still in the room. When I went to close my eyes I saw a very clear and brilliant image. I saw a woman in brilliant, shining blue dress. Her hair was black but with a tint of blue and a blue light seemed to shine from around her head. She was floating near the clouds as the light reflected off of them. She also had a crescent moon crown on the top of her head.

At first I thought it was Isis, but somehow she felt different. I checked online and wondered if who I saw was Hekate.

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This looked a little like her, especially the crown which lacked the sun disk of Isis. This one statue of Hekate shows her wearing a bright blue gown although I believe this isn’t a traditional view of the goddess but more a modern interpretation.

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This was very odd as I didn’t pray to Hekate or ask for her help. She didn’t appear scary or forbidding as I think this statue makes her. The blue goddess looked more natural, brilliant and unnaturally beautiful and free as she floated below the clouds.

What are your thoughts? Was it Hekate or Isis in another form?