Response from Paganicon in regards to Community

This is my hardest post to date to write in regards to both the content and the psychological stress. Words can really be finicky. If I put words together in particular ways, the message I’m attempting to convey can be lost, misinterpreted, or even ignored. Granted, there is no such thing as a 100% success rate in the receipt of messages for their original intent. The impossibility of perfection and the burning need to speak out is exactly why I mustered the courage to finally stand up and speak to the community at large.

I am a part of many communities, but I will address the one I’m currently honed in on for this post.

I am a Kemetic. I am a Kemetic in a Kemetic community. I do not make the choices of who belongs in my community nor do other Kemetics have the right to exclude me. We can bully, we can attempt to corral, to assimilate, to correct, to influence others we don’t agree with on the current issue of the day. It doesn’t change the fact that we exist in a similar space and work with similar practices, tools, and rituals. Coexistence is key for us. An impenetrable bubble is the fastest way to unmake ourselves. A crop not allowed to finish a cycle of growth rots away in its roots. A temple’s foundation cracks and the temple crumbles from erosion from time and consistent inattention. However, the crops need to be sown and some temples need to crumble to rebuild.

I have long limited expressing my opinion to safe spaces where I would not feel threatened for speaking my mind. I was taught to make peace even if the result was undesired. As time has gone on, I found that not speaking leads to perpetuation and acceptance of what is around me. This doesn’t work for me any longer.

The story starts with the experience I had at the most recent Paganicon. When the Guests of Honor were first announced I saw a name I was familiar with who belongs to the Kemetic community. I was not aware of the reason for Ms. Siuda to be at the conference was to promote a book on Haitian Vodou she wrote under her name as Mambo T Chita Tann. I was  aware of her interest in African Diaspora, but was not aware of her journey as a Mambo congruent to her role as the God-King of the Kemetic Orthodoxy.

It was due to this ignorance on my part to put my plans on hold to work on a lecture, because I assumed that if the Nisut of KO was at Paganicon, there was going to be at least three things already Kemetic happening, and I have a firm belief of Paganicon as a place for interfaith work between the many branches of Paganism/Polytheism/Magical Practices/etc. Oh, how I was ignorant.

The day came for the conference. I only vaguely looked at the schedule before that time, because the time-slots changed in the past between the initial schedule and day one. I’m sure people can imagine my surprise when I didn’t see anything hosted by Ms Siuda in regards to Kemeticism. In fact, I really didn’t see ANYTHING remotely close to representing Kemeticism in a singular form (however many of the other programming items were useful and fun, and for that I thank the speakers of those lectures whose presentation subject material and styles were made for interfaith work, because I would have stayed disheartened and not enjoyed myself). It was Saturday morning when I would finally see an item related to Kemeticism.

I spent Friday night digesting the torrent of feelings running through my heart and my brain. On Saturday morning, a friend of mine pointed out there was something Kemetic at Paganicon. It seems there was a 2-hour salon to “Ask a Kemetic” held on Friday from 3:00PM to 5:00PM in the Sosyete Fos Fe Yo We room.

Now I’m going to be a bit selfish here. Why is the only representation from the GOD-KING in a Vodou Room where it’s a fluffy two hour “Ask a Kemetic”? Oh and by the way, it should be “Ask a Kemetic Orthodoxy Member”.

First, I guess it must be so convenient to have Ms Siuda’s Vodou lodge host the very simple 2-hour time slot for the members of KO who only need two hours to share their faith at large.

Second, thank you for going through the minimal effort to be able to say you didn’t take off the Nisut hat.

Third, for those who don’t know, there is a difference in practice and belief of members of KO versus others like myself. The only Kemetics listed (this may have changed, because I didn’t know therefore I didn’t go) were those who are part of the KO.

Now if it were me, and I was traveling to an area where because of my other work I can only have a small slot of time for Kemetic work, why wouldn’t I reach out and say, “hey who wants to join in?”, or “who knows someone who may want to join in and help us answer questions and have a fun time?”. Interfaith work can happen among Kemetics, people.

Fourth, to say “all topics” is not really a good way to phrase what will be touched upon when KO is a group who tend to shun outer studies and encompassing ideals outside of worshiping Ms Siuda’s interpretation of everything. Also, it should be mentioned that KO discourages multi-faith to the point of expulsion until recently when people can get a “stamp” that says “you’re good”. I wonder why that’s a recent development? (research, gotta love it).

When the only interfaith representation is this “salon”……….yeah…….

Like I said above, I’m being selfish.

I have dealt for a great many years being grouped, erased, and shoved-aside (Pagan Community and otherwise). One of the final messages from Paganicon was to encourage others to step forward and be heard, so there, I said it, I just said it. Now, some may say it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have assumed there was going to be Kemetic representation and gone ahead with a session. Silly me thinking that the ordained “God-King” was going to do any lecture/discussion/ritual/etc. Silly me not wanting to create confusion within interfaith work by inserting my own personally driven beliefs and practices when said “God-King” was a guest of honor.

Others may say, why didn’t I address it at the convention. I will point people to two of the guidelines listed in the program.

“Personal disagreements should be left outside of this gathering.”

“Respect presenters and attendees.”

If anyone can pick up my frustration in the above comments, you should have heard me when knee-jerk was in place. The last I needed was to confront illogically at a public event to make the situation that much worse for everyone involved. By the gods, I’m still illogical about it.

Call me a coward, I don’t care. I really don’t care what bridges I burn anymore, or what people think about me, because if that bridge is built on silence, then I’m no longer the builder. I’m no longer being included in the design of said bridge. Change doesn’t happen with complacency nor with resigned acceptance. I think change needs to happen in the lack of public activity from myself and other Kemetics like myself, or else we will forever be silent and silenced.

Hello community, I’m here for the long run.

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About Neteruhemta

I am a follower of the Netjeru (Ancient Egyptian Pantheon), a crafter, and a gamer. This blog illustrates and explains my religious experiences attempting to reconcile the ancient information scattered with the modern reality we all presently exist in.

Posted on May 11, 2016, in Kemetic and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. You are entitled to your feelings. However there are a couple things I think should be addressed that you may or may not know.

    ‘Guest of Honor’ at any convention or conference is never a guest. They are contracted or hired to do a set of things. Make appearances, host events, or give talks. Most of what they are asked to do are around their major published work. So the most popular or well known Publisher will suggest authors of said topics that fall into the themes of the convention. With many topics on appropriation, equality, and such it would make sense that the convention would contract authors for that specific work. In this way Ms. Siuda has very little control over what she would be able to do. She did try to hold something which she had some control over but could do very little when it came to getting rooms and scheduled events.

    Kemetic Orthodox is the square to the Kemeticism Rectangle. A square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. It was not a misrepresentation to have the salon convo as “Ask a Kemetic,” as KO members are Kemetics, just more defined in their own group within the larger Kemetic label.

    And Kemetic Orthodox does not discourage multi-faith practices. In fact there are MANY people who have multiple paths within the faith. There are also multiple levels of membership. From friends of the religion which are free to do whatever they like of their own practice. Then there are members who undergo initiation in which you will become a member and say “I love these gods first and make them my religious priority.” Not your only path but the gods you serve and honor first before all others. There are other more community centered membership after that but many people choose to stay within these two types. There is no pressure to be anything you don’t want to be. If you have not gone through the Kemetic Orthodox beginner’s course online I recommend it. It will clear some things up and its free. No risks.

    If you really want to see some Kemetic topics at conventions, tell the organizers. Show them what could be discussed. Point them at authors and leaders in the community that they can contract. Push to have Kemeticism given more focus.

    However, outright attacking someone without considering all angles is not exactly the best representation of your best self. Speak out and be willing to acknowledge what comes to light from it.

  2. I have the items quoted from IrytRa in Parentheses.

    (You are entitled to your feelings. However there are a couple things I think should be addressed that you may or may not know.

    ‘Guest of Honor’ at any convention or conference is never a guest. They are contracted or hired to do a set of things. Make appearances, host events, or give talks. Most of what they are asked to do are around their major published work. So the most popular or well known Publisher will suggest authors of said topics that fall into the themes of the convention. With many topics on appropriation, equality, and such it would make sense that the convention would contract authors for that specific work. In this way Ms. Siuda has very little control over what she would be able to do. She did try to hold something which she had some control over but could do very little when it came to getting rooms and scheduled events.)

    Here is the thing. I did email Convention staff with my concerns, and guess what, they answered me. They thanked me for reaching out directly rather than speculate the decisions made. The staff sent to me (along with other input):

    “The way Paganicon handles programming for our Guests of Honor is pretty basic. They commit to present at least 3 items of programming, but can do more if they would like. We generally ask that they keep the overall theme of the Con in mind when submitting their items. Other than that, the GOH’s are allowed to teach on whatever subject they want, and as many items as they want. All the items Tamera chose to present last year were her decision alone. I would encourage you to reach out to her to discuss her submissions – she may have had a reason for her choices.

    I want to be very clear that Paganicon (and Llewellyn as far as I know) would never tell a GOH they couldn’t present something at the Con, unless it was in some way offensive or inappropriate.”

    So, here we are and I stand by my dialogue from above. Unless there is something I’m missing, a leader in the Kemetic community made the decision to not officially represent their organization and beyond that detail, the community in which they reside. Yes, she had her reasons, but what were they? They weren’t communicated to the public at large, nor was there any statement of others to carry that banner. Paganicon is aimed at INTER-FAITH building of community. Statements like the one you made above are problematic, because until I hear otherwise, they are false and damaging towards the mission of the convention.

    (Kemetic Orthodox is the square to the Kemeticism Rectangle. A square is a rectangle but a rectangle is not a square. It was not a misrepresentation to have the salon convo as “Ask a Kemetic,” as KO members are Kemetics, just more defined in their own group within the larger Kemetic label.)

    Calling Kemeticism a rectangle means there are boundaries and I would argue the only boundaries there are is whether the Netjer are present or not present. Which is more of a definition than a boundary. If the Netjeru are present, then they are Kemetic. The paths can be Neo-Wiccan, BTW, Polytheist, Pantheist, Neo-Pagan, Reconstructionist, Kemetic Orthodoxy, etc. To me, the path doesn’t matter, what matters is the faith in the Netjer. It’s not my place to decide who gets what label when they want it. Kemeticism is aimed at the use of the religion of Ancient Egypt, so I’m fine as long as a Netjer’s name or concept is attached to it.

    As for the misrepresentation to the “Ask a Kemetic Salon” here is the description of the Salon taken from the Paganicon program:

    “Friday 3-5pm:

    Kemetic Salon – Rev. Tamara and other priests and members of the Kemetic House of Netjer will host an open discussion salon on all topics related to Kemetic (ancient Egyptian) polytheism.
    Everyone is welcome!”

    Sooooooooooo, how is this not a representation of the Kemetic Orthodoxy and a respresentation of the Kemetic community at large? A proper representation would be to encourage the rest of us through an OPEN INVITATION. We have something called the “Internet” and “Networking”. Instead, I find out the day after, because I didn’t look at the Vodou room to find the Kemetic gathering. I wonder why I didn’t find it? If there are other Kemetics who went to it and can educate me, please do. I am standing by that this was a half-assed attempt to say, “I still have a throne and crown, people”.

    (And Kemetic Orthodox does not discourage multi-faith practices. In fact there are MANY people who have multiple paths within the faith. There are also multiple levels of membership. From friends of the religion which are free to do whatever they like of their own practice. Then there are members who undergo initiation in which you will become a member and say “I love these gods first and make them my religious priority.” Not your only path but the gods you serve and honor first before all others. There are other more community centered membership after that but many people choose to stay within these two types. There is no pressure to be anything you don’t want to be. If you have not gone through the Kemetic Orthodox beginner’s course online I recommend it. It will clear some things up and its free. No risks.)

    Okay, first of all, path is not the same as faith. Multi-faith would mean that it’s not discouraged to have multiple groupings and or practices (multi-path is a part of this, but not exclusive to this approach). Multi-path would be the approach is in multiple directions. It could be multi-faith, or it could be in one faith. By your statement of “I love these gods first and make them my religious priority” kills multi-faith right in that statement. You are implying someone has to love the Netjer before any other deity grouping. Along with that statement, I do recall coming across records of a purge of members, who had to petition to rejoin after Ms Siuda kicked them out. One of the gripes was that they weren’t doing things right. That’s not a very encouraging public relations approach, especially since multi-faith is multi-approached.

    I have no intention of going through any training or classes from the Orthodoxy. It has nothing to add to the path I walk. If the go-to statement is that “everything will be clear as soon as you make the trip to our house”, then your public relations sucks. We’re not all in your house. Some of us like myself will never want to be in your house. Does that mean I want your house to burn down? Hell no, it’s just not for me, but if the House of Netjer can’t represent itself without offering their kool-aid, that’s their problem, not mine.

    (If you really want to see some Kemetic topics at conventions, tell the organizers. Show them what could be discussed. Point them at authors and leaders in the community that they can contract. Push to have Kemeticism given more focus.
    However, outright attacking someone without considering all angles is not exactly the best representation of your best self. Speak out and be willing to acknowledge what comes to light from it.)

    I have been telling organizers consistently of authors and figures to have represent us. If you paid attention to my post, I was going to go out and present myself until I heard Ms Siuda was going to be present. Guess what, we had someone there and she blatantly chose to do NOTHING.

    I’m considering MY angles, because I don’t have all of the angles, I’m human after all. This isn’t about the representation of my “best” self. It’s the representation of my “honest” self. Change doesn’t happen by being on the “best” behavior which is what I read that sentence to be related to. If it was about all of us being on our best behavior, I wouldn’t be able to vote, choose my mate(s), work, have an education, etc. I don’t easily fall in line. It’s not my style and it’s not my path. My path calls for honesty not polite pat-each-other-on-the-back.

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