“And in the dark, I can hear your heartbeat. I tried to find the sound. But then it stopped, and I was in the darkness, so darkness I became. The stars, the moon, they have all been blown out. You left me in the dark. No dawn, no day, I’m always in this twilight in the shadow of your heart…” –Florence and the Machine, “Cosmic Love”
My flavor of mental health issue is not seasonal, but it is cyclical. I should always know when it’s coming, because it always begins with a Fallow Time. The term, commonly used in Kemetic communities to denote a dry spell in practice, derives from agriculture. There, a fallow time is the time we let the land rest between harvest and planting. It is a term that could also symbolically apply to the time of Wesir’s death – He is, after all, the land.
Everyone, from newest devotee to priests dedicated for years, undergo Fallow Times. Sometimes, it’s a process like in the agricultural world, keeping the land/devotee from becoming burnt out by constant work. Other times, it happens because of a major life event: natural disaster, marriage, illness, childbirth, school… Something gets in our way and we briefly forget, before the gap grows and soon we feel that absence of deity and ritual growing. For some people, like myself, a cycle of guilt grows when we feel that absence, only further inflating the emptiness.
In my world, a Fallow Time is not a case of Netjer saying “well, fuck this guy and his cow.” A Fallow Time is not a case of your gods and ancestors deciding to walk out the door. It is not Their anger at your mistakes. It’s a natural, if unlikable circumstances. Otherworld beings let us know when something is wrong, and rarely is it pleasant (not that Fallow Times are pleasant either!). Though it can feel like abandonment to be in a Fallow Time, this is likely to our own thought processes and the method by which we try to justify our feelings of loneliness.
The best way I find to get out of a Fallow Time is to do ritual. If you cannot do ritual for some reason, find something simple to do for your gods. For me, that comes in four tasks: knitting, baking, tea drinking, and divination. Doing any task and devoting it to Netjer (“I clean this house as Nebt-Het, lady of the house. I walk this trail to admire Geb in His beauty. I watch this comedic show in honor of the laughter of Hetheru, lady of joy.”) is a basic way of waving in, saying you’re still there, and giving Them your affection and offerings. It’s a method of feeling Their presence.
For myself, I feel a Fallow Time creeping in. I have not done my daily rite since Tuesday. I was sick for two days, I traveled for four. Yesterday, I was too tired from other things, and chose to vegetate. Today, I am only stopped by the idea that I have no time. But when I come home today, I will attend a group ritual with the House of Netjer. And then I will return to the focus of my daily rite, instead of standing alone in the aftermath. The mist might be coming in, but for once, its not too late to stop it in its tracks.
The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. You can join us every other week as bloggers answer a single question, providing a variety of perspectives for beginners and learning from each other. This sessions’s question was “How do you survive fallow times?”