U is for Unlearning Things

I don’t know why I wanted to do this topic more than any other this week. It has come to mind as I’ve embarked on this year of path-building. I’ve been taking a look back over my beliefs and practices, trying to sort out what I want to keep and what to ditch. In switching from reconstructionism to syncretism, too, I have to unlearn a lot about how I do things, and shift my mind into a different place.

Perhaps it’s one of those processes that’s vital to do properly when you’re converting from one religion to another, to dissect the old beliefs, figure out why they’re not relevant anymore, make peace with them, and let them go. I knew I needed to do that in particular with Kemetic Orthodoxy, to shift out of that way of doing things as completely as I could so I could begin path-building with as much of a clean slate as I could.

I’d like to say it’s been a pleasant process, but it hasn’t, really. Breaking with the past is hard, particularly when they were things you believed, but don’t believe now. You look back with different eyes, and see different things. Kemetic Orthodoxy gave me enough of a solid grounding in Kemetic religion to enable me to do this kind of path-building now, and for that I’ll be forever grateful. But it’s not a religion I could ever adhere to again, I don’t think. We have too many theological disagreements. Same with me and Catholicism. And Judaism, to a certain extent, though I admit it would be my monotheism of choice if I was in a situation where I had to pick one or die.

Unlearning monolatry was part of this process. The shift to a more globally polytheistic worldview makes it pretty much impossible for me to exclude any pantheons or Gods. My worldview has to shift outside of Egypt, so I can’t hold to a Kemetic-specific view of Deity. Becoming a (mostly hard) polytheist is something of a necessity, given all the different Gods from different parts of the world I deal with. I’m still not entirely convinced monolatry works with the Egyptian Gods either, but that’s an argument for another time. Instead, I’m just going to leave it behind for those who find it useful. For me, it’s outlived its usefulness.

Questioning the usefulness of UPG within my path and the reconstructionist method were two more of those things in my ‘unlearning’ process. I kind of came to the realisation that reading about how the Gods were historically was not the same thing as experiencing them Right Now, and the Right Now was more important to me than whether or not it adhered to a historical precedent. It feels like I’m invalidating my own experiences because they aren’t based on historical precedent. But that’s just how I feel about it. Not expecting anyone to agree with me on that.

Getting out of that mindset that compares the Right Now to the past is still something I’m working on. I need to find a way to balance the two, to make sure I am respecting the Gods and what They traditionally are like, while not getting so caught up in the Right Now that I’ve veered off into Out-Of-Character terrority. I think there needs to be a balance there to do polytheism right in this day and age, at least for the way I want my practice to be.

Another thing I needed to leave behind was the Parent/Beloved framework. I had Sobek and Heru-sa-Aset leading me into a place where those Kemetic Orthodox-specific concepts became useless. So shedding that had to happen. And that, I think, has been the hardest thing to unlearn, and adapt to a new practice outside that context. Separating out ways of conceptualising God relationships and finding a way to talk about them in a way that doesn’t feel appropriative. (Yes, I worry about that a lot. I don’t like misrepresenting myself.)

Maybe it’s because I’m a writer, and I know that Words Mean Things, so I’m careful about using words in such a way that isn’t appropriate. Perhaps I care too much. I don’t know. I’m willing to admit this might be one of those things I have a tendency to overthink. I do that a lot. At some point, I should just let it be.

…I’m not sure this is the Best Ending Ever. I’ve drafted and redrafted this a few times now, and I’m still not entirely happy with it. But in the interests of getting it finished and posted, this will do. The next two are about veils! Veils and veiling and shrines and headcoverings! 😀 I’ve got a bit more inspiration for those. XD

0 thoughts on “U is for Unlearning Things

  1. This is a good post. You raise a good point about having to unlearn certain things in order to embark on a new path. (Hmmm, you’ve made me reflect on my own path. And doesn’t a good writer make readers think? ;))

    I know people disagree with me on this point, but I think it’s important to find some kind of name or description for your path to distinguish yourself from what you’re not. Words Mean Things, things that people tend to feel very deeply about. So misuse, intentional or not, of those words, creates friction. Naming is important! Specifics are important.

    Good luck on carving out your path. May your gods smile upon you on your journey. 🙂

    1. Yeah, it’s a term I came across some time ago in a different context, and I think it’s been on my mind for a while. I suppose it’s not as big a concern for people who collect religions versus those of us who just really only want one. Though I wouldn’t say that for certain.

      I agree with you here, actually. I’ve got my path description down to “Solitary Graeco-Roman Influenced Syncretic Kemetic Polytheistic Something-Or-Other”, but that is still kinda really wordy and I’d like something shorter. I’m still mulling over the best way to express what it is I do in a succinct but clear way. that doesn’t step on anyone’s toes. So yeah, still searching for a name for my religion that I’m happy with. It might take a while, though, because I want to get it right.

      I’m glad I sparked some reflection. Good luck to you too. Gods grant you wisdom and blessings. <3

  2. Thank you for posting this, and at this particular time. I’m in the midst of something similar myself, pitching out a lot of old spiritual and emotional stuff that just doesn’t fit any more. And I’m trying to learn to accept my UPG when it deviates from The Lore. It’s hard work. Good luck!

    1. Glad I provided some timely food for thought. 🙂 It is hard, to rework your brain in a new way. It’s painful, and you can sometimes find yourself feeling separated from people you might have considered yourself close to. But it’s part of necessary growth, so you kind of have to learn to just roll with it and move on. I try to think of it as moving through water. I just let it all flow over me, and I can just deal with things in the here and now and not worry so much. I don’t know if that’s helpful for you. Good luck. <3

  3. You ARE a writer. A writer who is going through inner change and growth and it really makes sense why some things cannot (at this moment) be captured into words. I have always found our human language limited, there always seems to be a great deal (especially in the spiritual and the emotional) for which words don’t do justice.
    A great post as usual 🙂

    1. Thanks. 🙂 It’s not so much that words are inadequate, it’s more figuring out the right words. What’s tradition-specific and shouldn’t be used, and what’s more appropriate for my own use. Being able to talk about my religion in a way that’s clear and coherent, and not pretending to be something it’s not. I think I’ll be working on that for a while yet. I haven’t found the right words to use.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *