Netjeru in the Natural World.

I think one of the things that I always felt completely confused about having religion was how the hell it was supposed to mesh with my mundane life. I know people who are all, “praise be,” and down with God like 75% of the time. And that is really aspiring (sometimes) and I often wondered, when I first got started, how I could be like that even with my own religious persuasion.

But I had to admit, even way back then, that the process on how to get down and dirty, feeling as if my gods were a part of every aspect of my life and not just shoved into a particular niche, well that shit is fucking hard. And as I am often complaining about, no one thought that writing a manual on how to modernize a dead religion that you are attempting to recreate would be a good idea. So, I often found the whole experience that my friends and family members have remarked – making it clear, to me, in their terms that they were down with their deity of choice quite often – bewildering (mystically bewildering, even).

Over the years, I’ve stopped caring whether or not my religion was a niche aspect to my life. It mostly is. I don’t talk about it much with people outside of my community for a lot of reasons. (Most people don’t understand; some people are worried about what I’m doing and possibly believe I am consorting with “devils;” I realize that discussing some minute aspect of one of the netjeru with people outside of my community isn’t scintillating conversation with my significant other; etc.) I figure it would happen or it wouldn’t and I would share it, or I wouldn’t.

It occurred to me, though, that perhaps I have done this and I just didn’t realize it.

So, about a year and a half ago, I started seeing Geb in this field that I was driving by twice a day to get to and from work. I no longer drive by that particular field so regularly, but I think that’s when it really started. I was able to not just associate Geb with that particular field and the geese that were so often doing geese things on that field, but it opened my horizons to new and innovative ways to see the netjeru in the natural world around me.

Prior to this, for whatever reason, associating the netjeru within the natural world was a foreign concept. Sure, it’s fine and dandy to do so when you think they may be sending you a message with a particular bird species you don’t see often, but it didn’t really occur to me that doing this throughout the natural world was a good thing. Or even possible. Or something that should be considered. Yeah, I got it when I read that post by Dver about associating gods with local flora and fauna, but I still didn’t really get it I don’t think.

Maybe the thing I had issues with when it came to Dver’s post was that I was trying to force the relationship associations. I looked for particular things I might see locally and figured that was probably a good association as any. But the thing was that I neglected to actually look for things that I would see regularly. Or maybe I just didn’t see local fauna often enough to make the connection. This is, by and large, quite probable since I live in a very urban area where things like fauna are either mistaken as scenery, hidden very well, or just not see in the light of day.

However, when I took the job that I work now, the trip down to a more rural area made it more likely for me to see fauna that could be associated with various netjeru. A glaring example, of course, being the baseball field that I would drive by and the Canadian geese who take it over once the whether starts warming up again. It became easy for me to see Geb in that and feel his presence whenever I would drive by. (Seriously, note to self: drive by and see how things are going.)

The connection I didn’t start to realize until later was how this particular relationship would flavor other relationships that I would develop.

On that longer drive when I would go by Geb’s field, I would look for other animals that I wouldn’t necessarily see living in a big city. One day, I saw turkeys waddling around in the field by the local prison. I don’t know what it was about these wild creatures that made me start to think of Mut, but there you have it. I began to associate that little family of turkeys (there were usually three but later, they were joined by two more) with Mut.

That’s weird, though, right? She was associated with vultures, which were seen as mother-like creatures in ancient Egypt. So, what the fuck was it about the turkey and the family that made me scream, “THIS IS MUT,” in my head? It was because of the first time I saw them up close and personal (and then realized I was seeing turkeys): one of them was flying across the road, directly above my car with its wings outstretched. It looked beautiful and majestic and it reminded me of the iconography of ancient Egyptian vultures with their wings outstretched in a protective embrace.

As that shadow passed over my car that day, it was solidified for me: turkeys = Mut.

I kept looking around for things that I wouldn’t necessarily associate with any particular deity that I worked with, per se, but for wildlife that I found majestic and beautiful. I found it when I began seeing hawks and/or falcons all over the fucking place. I suppose that road that I used to drive down is a prime place for them because I saw them often. There they would be, floating on the wind currents while they searched beneath them for something to snack upon. Or there they would be, sitting on the light posts as I drove beneath them.

These hawks and/or falcons (I’m sorry but I don’t know what they are except that they have the tearing beak thing and they’re big but that’s all I know) made it easy for me to find parallels with other deities: Khonsu, Heru, Re, Montu, and the like. There are a whole swathe of ancient Egyptian deities depicted with hawk heads and it was easy to see them, depending on the circumstances from which I was seeing them, as any of those deities. I tended to associate the ones from that road with Khonsu in his hawk-headed aspect because of the turkeys I also saw on that road.

The eight hawks I saw the other day, on a different road, were all of the hawk-headed deities to me. The loner hawk deity who I saw the other day, on a completely different road as well, was Heru-Wer because his birthday was coming up (his birthday, according to my calendar, is today). I began almost having fun with it – what deity could I possibly see today?

This morning, I saw Wenut in the world around me.

Across the street, there is a small rabbit that has made its home out of the bushes my neighbors have across their front yard. This morning, the rabbit was sitting up straight in a small patch of grass, looking around as it munched on whatever it was that it had found. And as I watched that rabbit for a good fifteen minutes, snacking away, there was nothing else for me but to associate that tiny little bun-bun with the long-ear Wenut, the swift one. And I watched for a few minutes more until it paid credence to that interpretation of Wenut’s name as it took off across the driveway and beneath the fence that separates one neighbor’s yard from another.

This may be unorthodox and it may not necessarily mean that I actively find the netjeru everywhere. I still can’t find a single way to associate them, other than through the ma’at I conduct within myself, at work or in other places. But I think it’s enough. I think it’s a good way to find religion in the world around you even if only for a moment.

Propitiation of Sekhmet 2014.

When I began seriously thinking about Wep Ronpet, about a month before it was to begin, I thought about how I could incorporate Sekhmet into the festivities. It seemed weird to me when I was celebrating last year that she had nothing to do with it. If not for her, I wouldn’t have a calendar. And if not for her, I wouldn’t even be a Kemetic. But, I also know that the historical record shows that Sekhmet is very much absent and on purpose around the Wep Ronpet season. Historically, the intercalary days were very chaotic days. There were specific prayers and acts of heka that were seen to in order to prevent Sekhmet and her chaos-wielding netjeri from inflicting harm and suffering on the general populace. Providing people with amulets of Sekhmet was a common gift at the New Year, provided in the hope that this would be enough to keep her and her netjeri from causing harm to the wearer. Based on the historical record, it really didn’t seem like a good idea to actually incorporate Sekhmet in the festivities.

It dawned on me that, with her associations with the more chaotic days of the year, then maybe I could incorporate her sort of in the kind of way that, maybe, the ancient Egyptians would have found satisfactory: I could placate her as best I could and keep her occupied enough to prevent her harmful netjeri from being sent out and into the world. While I can’t assume, based on UPG or otherwise, that keeping Sekhmet tied up with all of the frips and frills I could think of would necessarily keep the netjeri at bay. But I can always hope that, even just a little bit, it would help. I assume that after all of these years, the netjeri have developed desires all their own, but at the very foundation of it all, they work at the behest of Sekhmet. Whether she specifically and emphatically details who should be sought out and had harm brought to them is neither here nor there. At the core of the matter, Sekhmet is their de facto brain/leader/wielder and I can only hope that by placating her with enough things and stuffs, then I would be doing the world, at large, a service.

Hopefully.

As I kept thinking about this, I realized that it made sense, in a way, to keep her occupied prior to and including the actual day of Wep Ronpet. The point in Wep Ronpet is for the year to renew its cycle, to hearken back to that world that was Zep Tepi. So, too, would it be a renewal of Sekhmet if my thoughts on cycles and renewal merit any legitimacy. And of course, as I thought about it, her main focus upon her creation as an Eye of Re was to extinguish the life of those who had been planning against Re, which turned disastrously against Re when he unleashed her. So, in a way, it could be seen as a form of renewing her original purpose, which stumped me. I certainly didn’t want to think of all of this as renewing her decision to kill humanity. (We can do that well enough on our own, anyway.) So, how in the hell did I keep her occupied and let the renewal process happen, but not let her kill all the things?

I thought about how to prevent this by looking to other Kemetic practices that I have read about. One particular rite came to mind: Devo’s yearly rites for The Mysteries of Osiris. Each year, while she celebrates these rites, she wraps her icon of Osiris up in a blue cloth that she uses specifically for this purpose. To me, this symbolized that Osiris was “hidden” from the world. And in a manner of speaking, I would like to keep Sekhmet hidden from the world while things are getting so chaotic before the New Year celebrations begin. I decided that the symbolism – wrapping her up and keeping her “hidden” from view – was the perfect addition to keep her satiated. Since I didn’t have a cloth in mind or even something that would work, in my opinion, I had to decide on what sort of cloth and what color would be most appropriate.

I chose a simple black scarf for the purpose (and let me tell you, finding a “simple, black” scarf was a pain in the ass). I chose the color black because this, above all else, reminds me of Geb and the earth. Above all else, the main purpose isn’t really to hide her from the world, though this is part of the reason, but I want to keep her “grounded,” too. Now, I don’t mean this in the New Age context regarding meditation services, but literally grounded – as in sending her to her room without any supper coupled with the idea of keeping her in the here and now, as opposed to caught up in the New Year festivities and the chaos it can bring. Even though the color black could symbolize “resurrection from the dead and even fertility,” (source: see entry for “black”) I was aiming less for the symbolism as denoted in ancient Egypt for the color and more on personal interpretations.

But, I worried that maybe this wasn’t enough of a thing to keep her occupied. It dawned on me that maybe because I don’t have a shrine cabinet where I can lock the doors with a shrine bolt that perhaps it just wouldn’t be enough. After all, Sekhmet isn’t just the goddess who destroys humanity once, but she is also the deity that other deities quake in fear of. (She has no less than six epithets that I can find that talk about how she causes fear.) With that in mind, I thought about how else I could keep her from doing something dangerously ridiculous and making lives miserable. While driving to work one day, it dawned on me that I could metaphorically offer myself in the stead of the human race by leaving the two pieces of jewelry that I wear daily, at her request, in front of her: my heart shaped ring and the ib amulet.

I legitimately debated the merits of this action for a few days after thinking on it. It dawned on me that, perhaps, I was not making the wisest decision here. I mean, after all, I was technically telling Sekhmet that she could eat my heart and destroy it if she so desired just in the hopes that she would keep her mind intact instead of losing it. But, considering the dimensions of our relationship, I didn’t think it was something that I was risking, per se, but something that I was willing to do just in case. I honestly don’t think that she’ll take me up on the offer, though it’s possible. And if she does take me up on the offer, then I have to hope that the purpose is less about destruction and more about adding further dimensions to our existing relationship. Though I’m still leery after waffling back and forth regarding this, I feel that the ends justify the means and that the benefits outweigh the risks. I’m prepared to sacrifice myself in the name of my goddess for a hypothetical situation that may not even happen.

I guess that’s devotion for you.

With that all out of the way, I had to decide how long this was going to take place. My original thought process was that I was going to be doing this for the week of Wep Ronpet and then unwrap her the day after. I looked through my calendar to see what I was looking at as far as timeframes went. On August 2, there’s a feast day I have marked and noted as “The Feast of Sekhmet in Darkness.” This amused me and intrigued me; I had no idea what the hell this particular feast day was original for, but I found it interesting that it was to take place about a week and some change after I had hidden her away – forcing her into the dark. I decided to incorporate that feast into what I was doing and decided to push out when I would unwrap her. Looking at the rest of my calendar for the month of August, I noted “The Feast of Drunkenness” on August 20. Well, honestly, if that wasn’t the perfect day to actually unwrap her from her bindings and bring her back into the light, then I didn’t really know the definitions of coincidence and serendipity. (Seriously, I had no idea these feast days were coming up before I checked my calendar.)

At this point, I decided I should check in briefly with Sekhmet to see if this time period worked out for her and to verify that everything I had planned thus far would work out. We do, as it is, have an oracular session scheduled to conduct August 9 and I was concerned that keeping her hidden from the world in her own form of renewal would cause issues. She rejected my offer to pull the date forward for when I would pull her free from her moorings, though, and she agreed that my planning so far was looking pretty good. (Can I just mention how completely weird it is to “check in” with a deity about how you’re going to hide them from the world and they’re totally on board with the prospect? And of course, let’s just all stop and stare at that last question and think about how weird it looks.) With full steam ahead, I kept planning.

I thought about what, if anything, I would provide as offerings during this time period. I wanted, in my heart of hearts, to give her red beer as this is my interpretation of what Re provided to her during her destructive phase. However, it occurred to me that I wasn’t quite to the point where I wanted to mellow her out. I needed to keep her pleasant and calm during these five weeks (FIVE WEEKS? DID I REALLY AGREE TO FIVE WEEKS?) with her wrapped in her scarf. What I needed to do, though, was probably get her fairly liquored up on a regular basis. The point isn’t so much that I needed to overwhelm her senses with alcohol that looked like blood to keep her from going on a killing spree; I needed to distract her with as much as I could to prevent her from starting the spree. So, since I can’t stand beer (ick) and I hate tomato juice (ugh), I decided that a weekly vodka and diet Coke will suffice. On the Feast of Drunkenness, then I may make terrible faces while I revert red beer down, but not before I have to.

Cleaned and prepared. Ready for the morrow? Probably not.

Cleaned and prepared. Ready for the morrow? Probably not.

Two nights ago, I began the preparation process. I wanted to have everything set up and ready for when I would finally sit down and actually do the thing. (The thing is the vague blog phrase of choice for this rite prior to this post. Most people on Tumblr and on FB will be familiar with this.) First steps for preparation was to clean off the altar. I cleared everything away, tossing the linen napkins I use as table cloths into the wash, and pulling out clean ones. I decided to lay down plain white ones instead of using my usual one red and one white. I was hoping to eschew colors that would incite a riot, you know? And white is symbolic of purity, which is what I’m aiming for. I may not pay much attention to those ancient ritual purity things that other devotees can and do (I don’t decry the practice, per se; it’s just not me and I’ve never been ordered to be “ritually pure” like others have) pay attention to, but I wanted to at least get a nice purified and clean space going for the next day.

I pulled out my black scarf and shook it out, brushing away any stray pieces of linen and making sure the tags had been removed. I then folded it up very carefully and left it at the foot of the table, in Sekhmet’s view. I wanted her to be reminded of what she was signing up for with this and I also wanted to have it readily available for when it’s time. I placed a white candle, covered in healing related herbs, on top. This candle is something that I had prepared last November and I felt that, besides the color itself, it was pretty fitting. Sekhmet is also known for her ability to heal and it is this particular aspect that I want to have the attention of during these weeks.

I pulled out one of the lotus-shaped plates I have, this one in white with the etching for ma’at at its center, and placed important parts within: my prayer beads, my ib amulet necklace, and the ma’at feather that Bezen made. (Shameless promotion of all things beautiful: buy these gorgeous reproduction amulets!) I put away a few of the more random thing that I leave out on Sekhmet’s altar since I want the main focus to be on Sekhmet and this five-week long rite as opposed to the pretty baubles I’ve been placing around lately. To finish everything off, I cleaned off the “benben” that I place my icon on. (Obviously, I don’t really have a benben because I would have posted pictures about it and screeched a lot about my reproduction benben. What I use to keep Sekhmet’s icon elevated is an old wrought iron candle holder. It came in a set of three and I was using the other two for similar purposes before I broke them.)

Finally, I was ready for the thing.

And nervous as all get out.

The day dawned bright and cool and I was in a shitty fucking mood the moment my eyes opened. I soon found out why when I noted that my body, ever ready for a moment of betrayal, decided that it was just that time of the month. I found this ironic and fitting. It goes to show that the body has no time for such fickle things as ritual purity. I, of course, don’t pay any attention to that jazz. But I had to wonder, while the cramps ramped up and what good mood I might have had quickly dive bombed, what would a high priestess have done in antiquity if just such a thing had occurred to her? Would she have kept her mouth shut and kept up with her duties? Or would she relinquish control of a great rite, an important rite, something that probably heralded a great precipice of religious proportions that was really fucking important…? Would she have been able to give up her duty in order to maintain ritual purity? I have to assume that, you know, the make believe woman I was wondering about probably would have. Ancient Egypt was, if nothing else, a dictatorship and if ritual purity was to be upheld, then so be it.

Still, it makes me wonder how many ancient women may have had this issue.

I did my best not to think about what I was doing, why I was doing, or how I was going to do the thing throughout my work day. Work was, of course, stressful, which really didn’t help my already piss poor mood. I began to wonder if maybe I shouldn’t do it because, you know, I should have probably have been in a better mood. But I reflected and realized that I couldn’t very well always let things like work and the stress surrounding it preventing me from doing things. I use that excuse a lot when it comes to things. It’s not always religious things, though some of it is. And I have to admit that I don’t like the idea of having that other part of me – the part that looks like every other working class citizen – preventing me from doing things that I enjoy – the part of my that lives, breathes, and works within their religious preferences. So, I decided that I was going to go home, shower, and then get the show on the road.

I did the shower thing and hope that I managed to get enough of the stress gunk off beforehand. I wasn’t very… successful in that.

A meal fit for a queen? Maybe.

A meal fit for a queen? Maybe.

After I ate my own dinner – thinking about the Snickers commercial while I did so – I fed Sekhmet. I provided her with as large of a meal as I possibly could. Looking at it, it doesn’t look that big, but it was sufficient in my opinion. I gave her the usual green grapes and added a banana. I thought about adding bread and whatnot, but decided that I would give her cookies instead. I bought cupcakes (birthday cupcakes) for the Intercalary Days celebrations this week, but I bought red velvet cookies with buttercream frosting specifically for this particular holiday (and also because I really fucking love them). I suckered her up with some vodka and diet Coke, which I am finishing as I write this. I lit a cone of incense, made sure all of the jewelry I was going to be offering to her for the next five weeks was on the white dish I had rested the prayer beads on, and went about my business. I was trying to get ready for the thing.

I still felt very much out of sorts, though, and kind of angsty about everything that I had gone through at work. (It wasn’t even that the day was, like, bad or anything, but it was just a mixture of things and the period thing and just general nervousness about the whole thing, I think.) So, I ended up going around and driving, listening to music while I psyched myself up for the work at hand. I chose to listen to Skillet, really loudly, for a while and then switched over to Fall Out Boy. I don’t know if I have ever mentioned this to anyone, but there are a few songs from their most recent album that have particular sentimental and personal value in my relationship building exercises with Sekhmet. I, of course, chose those ones to listen to while I cruised around, trying to get into the mood.

So, finally, it was time.

I got home and nervously paced the altar. I had to seriously ask myself, am I doing this? Am I really going to do another thing that has no baring, probably, on what happened in antiquity? And is this going to become a yearly thing? And am I really fucking doing this? I must be crazy. There’s no way.

So, then I did it anyway.

As Devo has said, it always comes down to a FOB lyric, "I'm gonna change you like a remix."

As Devo has said, it always comes down to a FOB lyric, “I’m gonna change you like a remix.”

I whisked away every ounce of food product and the dishes. (I made sure to finish the grapes and the banana is for breakfast tomorrow morning.) While I sucked down the vodka and diet Coke ambrosia, I set the black scarf up so that it was just big enough to cover my icon of Sekhmet width wise. And then, I wrapped her up. I decided I didn’t like what I was seeing and unwrapped it. I did it a second time and liked that even less. The third time around, I spoke (in my head) and said, “I bind thee from unleashing your special brand of isfet, lady. With this cloth, your powers are bound. Your netjeri are bound. You will cause no harm.” I felt very kind of like The Craft with the wording – possibly where my head went to when I started thinking/saying it – but I also felt successful.

I then bundled my heart ring, the ib amulet, and the feather of ma’at amulet into a little golden package that I wrapped with a white cord. I placed that package on the white plate where I had left my prayer beads.

And thus, I have propitiated (hopefully) the goddess.

And just as hopefully, this lasts the full five weeks.

And even more as hopefully, this works out.

Visitation.

The pain of having something that has infested the entirety of your insides removed one finger-licking moment at a time is intense. It is so intense that, after a while, you really just want to pass out. In fact, it can get to the point where you truly ask your mind to shut the fuck off and let you sleep it off. Perhaps because of the nature of the ritual or perhaps because my body is a traitor, I did not in fact pass out. As much as I prayed to any deity I could possibly think of and as much as I cursed at myself, cajoled myself, and generally begged myself to let me pass out, I did not. I felt each tug as the demon creature purified my body.

I had, after a lot of thought, decided that was what was going on. I couldn’t be sure, of course, but it made a certain kind of sense. This was clearly a ritual of some form and the purpose, at least partially, was remove the green-black gunk that the shard had dripped into my body. Periodically, I would catch glimpses of the creature’s face – some mix between the Gnarl and some monstrosity from an episode of The X Files – that was doing the job as my vision resolved its issues. When I saw it, for the first time, licking every last drop of ooze from its fingers… that was the first, real, time that I begged my mind to shut off for a while.

I couldn’t be sure, of course, but I thought that being awake for the entirety of this was probably part of the ritual, too. I had already requested to go to the Nun in order to regenerate myself from the wound I had inflicted upon myself in an effort to sever the blue ball’s bonds with my body. There was my consent, I supposed, to the matter at hand. What I hadn’t taken into consideration was what the purge would look like and what part, if any, I would have to play within it. It seemed that the only part, besides being there, that I was to play was to be awake for it.

Sometimes, I would feel tears falling down my face. They were warm and dried out the tender skin of my temples.

Sometimes, I would just close my eyes and wonder what the hell the matter with me was.

Most of the time, though, I just hoped fervently that I would pass out.

I knew when we were nearing the end, though. It felt like an eternity had passed and I was pretty sure I was more than ready for this to be over with. But the creature sucking at my interior was slowing down. And as my vision cleared again, I watched it press its face into my abdomen. When it pulled back, it had the blue ball in its mouth. I watched, fascinated, as it swished the ball around in its mouth very much like a small child attempting to keep a marble away from a parent’s questing fingers. It seemed thoughtful as it sucked the thing clean and then, with a little audible noise, it popped the ball into its hand.

We both inspected its job – it probably was looking on with pride and I was definitely looking on with a mix of disgust and interest – before it popped the damn shard right the fuck back inside.

I was almost positive that this was antithetical to the process. Like, I was very sure I had come on through the cold blackness and the hot blackness to land on a really uncomfortable table and to be babbled at and to have weird things caressing my naked body and then doing icky, nasty sucking things to my insides NOT to have the shard/ball/thing put back inside of me. I was pretty sure that it was the cause in the apathetic goo that had infested my insides so, you know, it didn’t seem like a good idea to put it back in fucking side of me.

I stared at the demon and it, seeming to realize this, turned to face me. It gave me a grin, showing me needle like teeth, and then my vision went out again. The babbling at my ear seemed to fade as my hearing started to go, too. Oh, of course, I thought snottily. This is when I fucking pass out. And that is precisely what I did.

When I came to, I had a lot of things I had to process. It took me a long time to process it all.

My first thought was a very ungracious, fuck, I’m still here. This, to me, signified that I wasn’t at all done and there was still some things left to do. That didn’t really seem like a good idea because, you know, I had just had a demon spend hours upon hours abusing my internal organs while it ate out the pestilence that had infested my body. I probably should have been grateful but after having had to suffer through that, awake for the entire time damn thing, I had very few nice thoughts left in my head.

My next realization was that I was dressed. I was wearing a sort of halter-like dress. It had a slit along the abdomen, leaving my wound open to breathe. At least, I assumed that was the case. I honestly didn’t know what the point in keeping the thing open for anymore was. The poison had been cleaned from my body – I could tell that easily enough – so why was access to it still there?

The next thought was that the stupid little fucking ball was still, very much, in my body. However, instead of it being rooted into my internal organs as had been the case before, it was free floating. I could feel moving around in there, bouncing against what felt like my intestines. That seemed like a really not good idea, either. It had liked it so much down there before that it had sent out little roots that had poisoned my body. It very much seemed, to me, as though we were playing with fire here and just asking for trouble.

Probably, I had to remove the ball on my own, but of course, my body was still very much not moving.

After coming to terms with all of this, I realized that the babbling baby guy was either being quiet or I couldn’t hear him. On the heels of that recognition, I became aware that there was someone sitting by my right shoulder. Whoever it was had placed their hand on my shoulder very gently and was humming into the room around us. I swallowed thickly and opened my mouth for the first time in a long time. I thought about screaming, but decided that probably was counterproductive.

“You know, little one, things wouldn’t have been so terrible if you had merely asked for help sooner than you did,” Sekhmet assured me.

I pondered this statement. I had a few things I could remark here, not many of them very nice. I thought about just shrugging and maybe going back to sleep since I was still very tired. Instead, I said, “You make me seem like I can do anything on my own. I had to try.”

She hummed a little bit more and I could feel my body coming alive underneath that sound. It was like she was speaking to me on a level beyond bodies and beyond people. She was speaking to me, I felt, soul to soul. “If I tell you that you can’t do everything all on your own, and teach you that you should ask for help all the time, then you will never learn anything. Instead, you have finally learned your own limitations.”

I found my tongue thickened, cotton mouth becoming a serious issue to continuing this conversation. “I never thought I was capable of doing all of the things I’ve done on my own until you told me that I had to do all these things on my own. And now, you tell me, that I have limitations.” I coughed. I felt her left hand curl around my neck and lift my head, her other hand pressing a glass to my lips. Water cascaded into my mouth, across my tongue, and down my cheeks. It was the most delightful thing I had ever tasted. When I signaled that I had enough, I said, “I’m a little confused. Can I do everything you’ve asked of me on my own or not?”

“Most things,” she said enigmatically. This conversation was maddening. Either I was all of category A or I was all of category B. And of course, as I thought that is when I realized how ridiculous I sounded.

Wasn’t reality shades of gray? Wasn’t that what ma’at was about? And weren’t bodies and their functions just as much shades of gray? And weren’t people and their personalities and what they were good at and what they were bad at and what they were so-so at all a giant swirling pattern that, when looked at properly, was a shade of gray? I sighed. “I’m dumb.”

“No,” she corrected me, “you are just very young.”

I giggled. I had lived so many lives and here she was, calling me young. But of course, in relation to her years, I supposed I was young. “So, you knew I couldn’t do it all on my own?”

“Not necessarily,” she admitted. “I had hopes that you would be able to clear yourself of this all on your own. I knew that when the collar was put in place, this would flare up. I also knew that you would either clear yourself of the poison on your own or you would require help. You ended up requiring help and, I will admit, your request to come here had some ingenuity. I wasn’t really expecting it.”

“But, you told me that I didn’t need to come here.”

“How many times have you told someone what they think they want to hear from you even though that’s not what you are thinking or feeling at all?”

I was kind of startled by this question. I had, of course, told a lot of people any number of things because it was expected of me. They would look at me and see me as X, when I was really just a little bit of X and maybe mostly all of Y, and knowing what they saw when they looked at me, I would tell them what they were expecting to here. I had done this to Sekhmet; I had done this to other gods. I had done this in my waking life; I did it much more there.

“Are you telling me that you said those things about fallibility and infallibility because you knew I would expect to hear it?”

“Yes.”

“Are you telling me that you are proud that I asked for help?”

“Yes.”

I figured I may as well strike while the iron was hot. “Are you telling me that –.”

“I am telling you that I love you and I will do whatever you need me to do in order for you to be what you and I both need you to be.”

I was getting a little choked up here. I couldn’t really figure out what in the world I was going to say. All I kept thinking was about how I had always thought she had loved some of her other kids a little more than me. They were way more important than me in the grand scheme. I was just a fill in for other things. Or, if it wasn’t that particularly, then it was the idea that I, in a life I could no longer remember (nor wanted to), had agreed to this little shindig without knowing what I was agreeing to and I had denied her so much in the intervening years that she had grown wary of me and disappointed. She was telling me that whatever I had always thought wasn’t true at all.

“I don’t know what to say.”

“I know,” she said. “This is a lot to take in all at once.”

I mulled that over and then decided I would think about all of this later. “When I agreed to this, all those years ago, did I agree to things I didn’t understand?”

“Yes.”

“But I did consent to it.”

“Yes,” she said, seemingly startled. “You consented clearly and fully. I even had witnesses at the time, at your request.” Well, I thought, I was pretty smart about it. “But you didn’t realize that what I needed was more than just a simple lifetime’s worth of work. I don’t think you clearly realized all that would go into what I wanted from you.”

“I probably didn’t know what to ask.”

“No,” she agreed, “but you were a new soul. I needed a new soul.”

“I know.” I thought about all of these revelations, trying not to wonder why in the world she was telling this to me now. Usually if she was telling me important things, it meant that more important and confusing things were coming down the pike. I had a feeling I knew what those important and confusing things were, but decided not to discuss it. “So it’s… not because of you that the shard started, then?”

She seemed surprised by my question and she needed a few moments before she responded. “No,” she said slowly. “You’ve always had this issue, of course. But it was built into who you were when you were first created. This is one of your… lessons.”

“Are you telling me I always fail this one?”

“You can’t be perfect in every life,” she hedged.

“So, I can expect to fail this time, too?”

“No, you may just beat this finally. But it’s been in your abdomen for a long time. You let it grow when you got confused by what you needed to explore. You went forward, when you should have gone back. If you had gone backward, you would have realized that this has been a lifetimes issue, not a lifetime issue. It was built into your nature this life, too. Sometimes, it seems less at the surface than in other lives, but it is always there.

“This is why you were tied to it for so long.”

I was startled that she would even refer to that one. We had both done our utmost best not to mention it at all. But of course, it made sense; what she was saying. This issue had been happening for lifetimes instead of merely just this one. And it explained, as she said, why I had been tied to a dark soul for so long. That soul had looked for someone like me, unwilling to ask the right questions or not knowing what questions to ask. That soul had looked for someone like me, whose soul had been built with a few cracks within it. Maybe my soul had been handcrafted on a whim or maybe I had been born defective. Whatever the case may be, that particular soul had found me, had lured me, and had bound the two of us together above all others.

This, also, explained why I had denied her in so many lives. Maybe, in some of them, it hadn’t necessarily been me doing the denying but having been manipulated into it. And maybe, in some of them, I had known what I know in this life but being unable to sever that bond, I had denied her in some weird belief that I was protecting her.

Knowing what I was thinking, Sekhmet nodded. “So you see?”

“You didn’t offer me any help when I needed it.”

“You created the mess,” she reminded me.

“But I could have used your help.”

“Yes, you could have and you would have relied on me for everything. Just because I can do a thing doesn’t mean I will do a thing. Besides, it wouldn’t have done you any good if I had done all of that.”

“What if I had decided to rip the bonds out?”

“I may have stepped in,” she admitted.

“Well,” I said around a huge yawn. “That’s a relief.” We both sat in silence for a while. “This isn’t over yet, is it?”

“No, the shard is much bigger now and I think you could remove it if you wanted to.”

“Why wouldn’t I want to?”

“Are you ready to hurt again?”

I thought that over again, thinking about the pain that I had caused myself and the pain that I had relived. “Maybe I will wait on that. It’s been in there for this long and it doesn’t seem to be sending any poison through my body anymore.”

“Just don’t leave it too long, little one.”

“Yes, mom.”

Prep.

I spent today cleaning, which isn’t very shocking. I live in a small household and I have a young child; cleaning is pretty much a daily occurrence. But with Wep Ronpet coming up, I knew that I wanted to get a handle on the hoarder like tendencies that had overtaken my kitchen table and wash down the walls [in public areas] in preparation for what was coming. I also knew I needed to make serious decisions about where certain things are headed and I had to make serious room for rituals that I’ve been nudged/pushed/shoved/hinted/informed/ordered to do this Wep Ronpet [season]. So, I had a lot of fucking stuff to do and I had decisions to make.

The main decision being, not that I was going to do these things because I was going to do the things, but where these things were going to take place. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I live in a small house. I have my altar spaces in a public area (the dining room/kitchen area) so that I wouldn’t forget to give offerings daily. My house is built very strangely so I have the room to have tables just kind of hanging out, waiting around for things to go on them. The problem with this set up is that this is the only space where I can have these things, which means when larger rites are requested, such as those for Wep Ronpet, I need to consider where the hell things are going to be happening.

In a fit of pique last year, I purchased one of those shitty build-it-yourself bookcase for $20, which is where I housed the lwa and their related accoutrements. As I mentioned last month, the lwa have been missing in the last few months. I’ve thought about this issue not very much since I wrote that post because it’s painful. If I’m correct in my assumption that they’re gone, I know why (the lesson was learned) and that hurts. But if I’m incorrect and they’re just biding their time because right now is high Kemetic time, then I don’t want to be rash.

But I also need more fucking space to do things and to have things because, as much as I love the lwa and the relationships I’ve cultivated with them, my first calling has always been to the Kemetic gods. Or, to put it more clearly: they got first dibs. And their dibs, especially right now, are really fucking loud, really fucking non-negotiable, and really fucking important to get the fuck through. Maybe, just maybe, the lwa will come back with the cool air of the fall (hopefully around the same time when I start up my grave-tending services) and the winter months… since I’ve mentioned they tend to be, er, louder in winter. But, then again, maybe not.

Again, in the meantime, I need more fucking space.

With a heavy heart, I cleared off the bookcase I had purchased with the specific intent to house the lwa. I’ve turned this into my “household altar space.” Since I am, as anyone knows, a deity collector, I have a lot of fucking gods that I need to pay attention to at any given moment. Our relationships, for the most part, aren’t nearly as intense or as all-pervasive as my relationship with Sekhmet, which is to be expected. In many instances, the relationships I have had with the gods who have come poking around, looking for attention, have taken on similar aspects to the one I have with Geb (details, for those interested).

This is a real weight off my shoulders, by the way; I don’t think I can even explain adequately how overwhelming it can be to feel the need to pay attention to a dozen various netjeru at any given moment. I know there are other polytheists out there, like me, who have developed relationships or been pushed toward other deities/beings by their gods and have, in consequence, developed required attention-paying duties to said new beings/deities at any given moment. I’m actually in this boat, myself, so I decided that it would be best to kind of follow ancient Egyptian customs and just have a place where household type deities are paid attention to.

Of course, unlike the ancient Egyptians, I have deities within my “household” area that may not necessarily fit in with their dynamic. There is no Tawaret and Meskhenet holds no sway over me, either. But I do pay attention to Bes and Hetheru and Aset. I have since added the other flocks on over, telling them each morning that they can stop in for a bite and ask to share some cool water with the residents-with-icons (Hetheru, Djehuty, and Aset), if those residents are so inclined.

Seriously, this was the best fucking decision I have ever made.

In so moving my household altar space, I have also decided to open up my “hoarder fucking alert” cabinet. This is where the household space used to reside [on top]. Within the cabinet is, well, it’s a fucking packrat’s wet dream. Most of it is herbs and herb-related things for those off moments when I think, “Yes, I shall magic,” and utilize such things to get what I want. The thing is that these fucking jars are damn bulky and I would prefer to not have them in the cabinet. However, since I don’t up my stores of herbs and it can be a lengthy period of time between uses, I also don’t want them in direct light or in a public area where some yahoo can touch or where a child may break them.

(Magical parenting problems? Parents-who-magic problems?)

I decided to pull out the Tarot collection and toss it over underneath the household altar. I figure this is a good decision because then, I may be more inclined to use them again. My Tarot or oracle deck use has seriously gone down the fucking tube in the last year. I honestly don’t know if this is because I don’t have a lot of time to myself and I tend to need quiet time to read what the cards are telling me, or if it’s because I just don’t want to know what to expect or what could be coming my way. I guess that could be considered a stupid move – head-in-the-sand thing – but it’s kind of my M.O. about these things.

Also, I have decks that I either need to sell or give away. So, by pulling these out and putting them in a [more] public area, I’m kind of helping myself… maybe? I think that if I see the decks regularly, since they are on the second shelf of the bookcase thing, this might mean that I actually do something about all of that? Besides, outside of two decks that I really like, most of the Tarot are taking up space so that I can’t collect the ancient Egyptian themed decks that I actively collect with no purpose other than to own them. By getting rid of decks, then, you know, I have more space for things that take up that space.

Yes, I know these is clearly an issue, but it’s my issue and I like it.

As I began pulling out the Tarot decks, I discovered that I have a metric shit-fuck-ton of candles. I knew I had a lot because I have them hanging out all over the place in my house. This is not, by the way, packrat tendencies but concerns raised when I was out of candles during the entire fucking week my neighborhood was without power after the Halloween nor’easter. But, I have candles that don’t really aid with possible power outages… as in, I found an entire box of tea lights (white) and then random tea lights (four, scented) and then I found a bunch more tea lights (white) in a baggy. I don’t even know what I have all of these tea lights for or when I purchased them. The box has a sticker, though, which says I was planning all of this at a dollar store.

Now I have to decide what to do with them. They aren’t going to help me with this week’s ritual stuff. I have full-fledged candles already set up and I have an entire box of votive candles (white) that I have on hand for just such a purpose… on top of the smaller box of votive candles (also white) that I bought last week, sure that I had thrown out aforementioned large box.

Maybe I have more problems than I’m willing to admit.*

* This is actually quite possible. Hoarding is a family trait from my grandmother whose entire upper story was filled with useless tidbits. My mother and I have both found ourselves guilty of these things, even after swearing we would not be like my grandmother. This is why I go through my stuff, or try to, regularly and throw random things away/give things away because I swear I’m not doing this packrat/hoarder nightmare shit.

I love candles, but I think I’m at my candle limit. Hopefully, I will remember this moment and all of my candle ridiculousness the next time I am in a store that sells candles… even if they’re on sale or something.

After a lot of back and forth, I think I figured out a functional cabinet layout that will allow me to keep ritual items within it until I need them. I was able to clear space out from the drawer that I stash ritual items in (underneath Sekhmet’s space) and move things to the cabinet. Of course, though I have finally managed to get the damn thing closed with a modicum of belief that I was “successful,” I have to admit that I forgot other ritual items that will need to be housed within there. (They’re currently waiting to be cleaned.)

After about four hours of thinking, moving things, debating what can and cannot be kept out, and then re-thinking what I decided, I think I have a functional space. I also think I’m set up, mostly, for the physical things for Wep Ronpet and the Intercalary Days. Hopefully, these rites are successful and I end up happy with the end result.

The Nun.

I sank like a stone into the cold depths that I had been dropped in. As I plummeted downwards, the shroud that I had been carried in loosened from around me and disappeared into the inky water that surrounded me. Above me, the light from whatever room in the Duat I had been deposited from rapidly shrank until it was little more than a dot upon an imaginary horizon.

As I fell deeper and deeper, a momentary panic set in as I recalled the last time I had been dropped into a frigid ocean of darkness. I reminded myself, quite forcibly, that the Nun was many things but above all, he was a dark, watery abyss from whence creation began. This isn’t dying, I told myself; this is part of the process that you asked for. Just because my mind had an element to the rational to it didn’t necessarily mean that my heart and my adrenal glands were in the same boat. My heart was going in overtime and I had the intense desire to swim back up and into the light.

I began, even, to move in that direction before the wound in my side protested. Wincing, I relaxed back into the Stygian blackness and closed my eyes. If I was going to die, I figured, I could at least be a little relaxed about the whole process. Panic and fear hadn’t done a damn thing for me the last time anyway.

Days and weeks and months passed; seconds passed. As I floated into the darkness, I tried to figure out where in the Duat I had been deposited. I thought, maybe, I had come in from the entrance point where Re re-joined the Duat each evening. I figured that point was probably pretty thin and if things weren’t steered properly, maybe it was possible to join the Nun instead of just journeying through the Duat. But then again, the waters of the Duat were supposed to be the Nun, if I remembered my mythology right…

But perhaps, there were guarded entry points to the Nun at any given location within the Duat? Perhaps the green, verdant fields typically associated with the first four sections of the Duat as well as the desert areas (where I am usually) all had their own gateways that led to the Nun. Perhaps it wasn’t a simple place where entry was gained but any place within the Duat was close enough to that watery blackness and the place where the Nun bided his time until he could undo creation.

I didn’t know anything for a long time because, honestly, what is there when you are surrounded by nothing but pitch blackness? I assume, though I could be wrong, that I was in the astral version of a sensory deprivation chamber. There was literally nothing. I had nothing but my thoughts and the occasional twitches of pain coming from my abdomen for company. After a while, I gave up on thoughts and just slept my way through while my body just floated along in wherever-the-fuck-it-was land. It was actually kind of peaceful if it wasn’t so weird.

Slowly, though, things began to heat up. At first, the Nun’s waters were chilly. Perhaps that was partially why I didn’t care about anything – I had hypothermia or something. It had taken my body not very long to cool down enough to the point where even the flames of the ooze within my body were quieted. It was enough to make me feel like my idea about asking to go to the Nun was a good one. Of course, as the water around me began to warm up, so too did my body. And of course, in same vein, so too did the apathy feeding itself on my insides. And I began to hurt.

The pain slowly but surely intensified. I knew that it would; this was part of the process, I supposed. Perhaps the fact that the water around me was slowly but surely reaching a boiling point (possibly) was part of the regeneration process? Perhaps this was how the Nun was going to help me regenerate. It didn’t matter because, after a while, it grew to be too much for my poor senses to handle and I passed out (gratefully) for a while.

I couldn’t say why I woke up at all. I don’t even know if I was expecting to wake up. But something happened and with the jarring of my entire body, I woke up. Every limb twitched; every internal organ cried out in agony. The only thing that didn’t seem to hurt was the very tip-top of my head. There were tears in my eyes as I woke up, frightened and uncertain of what was going on. What made the pain worse was the fact that I couldn’t actually move to find a position that would alleviate anything. I was completely frozen.

My eyes flickered back and forth, trying to see something, but maybe they were failing me because there was nothing to be seen. There was nothing but darkness. All I could say about my surroundings was that they weren’t wet, so I knew I was out of that darkened abyss, and that I was lying on a very uncomfortable but very solid table. I was left alone as my body and my mind adjusted to the new surroundings.

I slept.

I woke again and this time, I knew what had awoken me. Someone or something was gibbering in my ear. There was no other way to explain it and I had no frame of reference to make sense of what was being whispered in my ear. If it was a language, I didn’t know it. To me, it sounded like unrefined baby talk being jabbered at me by a voice underused and dusty. As time went by and the gibbering continued, I could feel movement around me but still, I could not move my head to look around and nothing or no one shifted into my field of vision.

I had nothing to latch onto, nothing to look at.

I had wanted to savor this experience and learn as much as I could. Thus far, I had learned that the Nun was cold and then it was hot; there was a platform that was fucking uncomfortable; and some old ass fucking idiot was blathering on in baby lingo. The learning was not going far with this one.

I have to admit that I was more than a little frustrated. I mean, I understood the point in why I had come on this journey. After all, I had asked to go to the Nun (and I assumed, without confirmation, that I had received what I wanted), but I had been expecting… well, more. I had been expecting something. And so far, I was getting a hell of a lot of nothing. I had slept more than I had been awake. I had learned exactly how quickly my bored-as-fuck mind could fall asleep the myriad of times it had fallen asleep. And now, I learned that, if the husky voice beside my ear was speaking a language, it was one that I didn’t know at all and I kind of wanted to know what in the fuck this dude was saying.

I reminded myself that, probably, I should be grateful.

Or something.

A hand appeared in my field of vision and I focused on this visual cue, ingesting what I was seeing. The hand was a gnarly thing with long, fingernails. The nails were so long that they were probably about three inches long and they glimmered at me, as though given polished like silver. The knuckles were swollen, the metacarpals and phalanxes were longer than a human hand. The hand was thin and the skin that covered it was tight against the bone. The skin was a dark color, though not nearly as dark as the Stygian blackness that surrounded us.

That hand frightened me.

It was all a little too odd, a little strange, and whatever owned that hand was not human. It belonged to nothing that I could identify with. There was simply nothing humanoid about that hand and it reminded me, a little, like the hands/paws that adorned Sekhmet’s netjeri, her sacred arrows. These, I decided, had to belong to a demon of some sort.

As I tried to puzzle out the hand and tried my best to not freak out, I felt other hands alight upon my body. If I could have, I would have screamed. Instead, I screamed silently in the recess of my mind as terror really began to take over. In the background of my mind’s fear, I could still hear that dusty voice droning on its musical language of baby babble.

After having rested upon various parts of my body, the hands did not move. I could feel their solid weight against my shins, my thighs, my abdomen, and my shoulders. I felt a single pair at the very top of my head, resting atop the weight of my hair. The voice droned out and my emotions began to settle down a bit. Nothing happened except that the lilting cadence of the voice changed ever so slightly. If I had been anything but stationary, I may not have noticed.

As though they were a dance troupe performing a number, the hands began to move together. They attended me, I supposed. There is really no other word for the gentle caresses and massages they subjected my body to. I was pretty sure this was their [silent] way of letting me know that everything was going to be okay. And maybe that’s what the baby talk was about? This random, unknown personage whispering into my ear was trying to tell me that what they were doing was okay and that this was the process. Maybe it was whispering sweet nothings to me, for all I knew. But for a while, I was able to relax and not worry.

I grew drowsy from the massage and closed my eyes.

As the hands continued, though, they began plucking at the [sodden, filthy] linen sheath I had been wearing before all of this. The cloth in and of itself was decorated with any number of stains, many of them my blood and the ooze that infested my interior. I could tell that the hands were putout at having to touch this thing and I thought about telling them that they could just deal with it. Instead, they shred the thing in two and pulled it off my body.

I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned this but I’m not the kind of person, in either life, that really likes being naked in front of complete strangers? But, I’m really just not that kind of person. I was even less thrilled at the prospect of some old babbling bugger at my ear seeing my naked body, which was delivered down a further 100,000 points in things I didn’t like by the prospect of a bunch of random, unknown demons taking a gander at what my body had to offer. Not that my body was offering or that I was thinking about offering, which made this that much worse and confusing.

I tried to say something. Fuck, I tried to move my tongue so that I could talk around my closed lips, but found myself unable to do so. So, instead, I got to be bare-assed naked on a fucking cold-ass table/stone thing/what the fuck ever while a bunch of strangers possibly ogled my goods.

This was turning out really awesome, I decided.

The hands continued their massage, which only heightened my discomfort. As though to add to it, they began massaging a sort of perfumed oil into my lips, moving my legs and arms to get at all the places. I closed my eyes, feeling as though I was suffering through the apex of indignity. Of all the things I could have gotten from Mom, I thought, it couldn’t have been comfort in my own fucking skin and comfort with others seeing said skin, touching said skin… I gritted my teeth and kept my eyes closed at the discomfort of it all.

Finally, the unguent-painting thing was over and the hands removed themselves from my person. I was pretty sure I wanted to sit up and get the fuck out now. I knew, from the pain deep inside, that I was not healed in any form, but I figured that was okay. I had been pretty patient thus far and I had been dealing relatively well, in my opinion, with all of it. So, I figured that dying and regenerating as whatever the fuck the green-black ooze would turn me into was okay. Instead, one of the demon hands decided it would be a really good idea to slide into the wound I had cut into my abdomen.

I would have screamed if I had been able.

I would have come bolting off the table if I had been able.

I was able to feel the tears cascade down my temples to mingle in my hair.

I finally understood why I hadn’t been able to move.

The voice beside my ear continued to ramble on and on, assuring me in whatever language (pretty sure: baby speak) that everything would be okay. The cadence of their words, though, began to change as the hand putzed around inside my wound. Slowly, the hand pulled out and I was able to see (finally) around myself.

Candles were lit and placed in a haphazard tangle in the room we were in. It was like a cavern with stalactites dripping water down their long lengths. Sometimes the dripping water would gutter a candle, which would only re-light itself after the water had run down the sides of the candle. The rest of the candles were strewn about us higgledy-piggledy. Sometimes they were on surfaces, sometimes they were on the floor. Really, it was probably a fire hazard.

The owner of the voice beside me was a wizened old man. His face was mere inches from my ear. Slowly, he began rocking to the rhythm of his words. I felt as though whatever he was saying was very much a ritual to him. Maybe it calmed him; the rhythm and the rocking? As I looked over at him, his face became young, smooth and ageless with its perfection youth. I watched, fascinated as it aged before my eyes. I was pretty sure this was the Nun.

I looked to the being that had violated the wound in my abdomen but the room revolved back into darkness. Over the whispered words of the Nun, I could hear a slurping sound. This was followed by another round of pain as the demonic hands slid into my side. When it was removed, the slurping sound came again. I swallowed back bile that I couldn’t have thrown up even if I wanted to. I tried not to focus on the ick factor surrounding the fact that a demon was very obvious sucking the black-green ooze from my body, one handful at a time.

This was the price of healing.

Petition to Sekhmet – July Edition

I am rapidly beginning to understand why there is a dearth in the Kemetic community for heka hut type things. There is a toll on the person doing the heka hut that I, personally, didn’t take into consideration. With each month that comes by and each monthly rite and service under my belt, I am not only seeing some really heart breaking tales and requests, but I’m also beginning to see a pattern in what is requested and my responses to it. While I’m pretty used to what’s being requested – much is of the mental or financial assistance category, which makes sense considering the world climate we currently live in – but what I find disheartening is that with each new petition service having come and gone, I find myself more and more exhausted by the end of it.

All in all, it’s not even the actions themselves or the specific errands I must complete prior to the rite that tires me out, but the whole act relating to it. The next day, I wake up fairly early with the knowledge that I still need to spend some serious time on the actual blog entry itself relating to what occurred the evening before. And I find myself, more often than not, just sitting around with a blank look on my face, feeling like I haven’t achieved a damn thing and whatever energy levels I may have had are now currently out the window.

If this is what even a fraction of people have experienced when conducting these types of services, I can completely understand why they stop after a while. I think it’s kind of like burn out. And of course, while all of these service type things are happening, nothing else stops. There is still a life to live and still religious items to go through and deal with and still lessons to learn and still family to tend to and still a dirty fucking house that needs to be cleaned. I mean, it’s all still there, but it gets shunted to the side for a bit to complete the service and then, there it is, back and ready the very next day.

Yes, I can clearly understand why people don’t tend to do these things for such long periods of time.

With seven months of official rites under my belt, I’ve also noticed a steady decline in requests. I’m mostly okay with this because that means that I spend an hour writing down petition requests instead of multiple hours. However, it also leads me to wonder why the requests have dropped off. I find myself adding people into those requests whether they ask for one or not – people I care about, people within my community, who clearly need some assistance coming from somewhere.

I often wonder if the reason the requests have dropped off lately is because people aren’t seeing anything being done on their behalf. This might be fear (mine) talking, but it’s something I’ve thought about each month.

I don’t know if I have ever made it clear that Sekhmet decides on what she does or does not do. I have absolutely no say in who gets first dibs or who gets completely ignored. I would assume that the people who are just hoping that things end up dropped in their lap without doing any of the legwork are the people who are not seeing anything positive come out of this. Or maybe, it’s because whatever they are doing is insufficient and they need to do something else. Or maybe, people are just sick of seeing me put that request out there every month and they no longer give a shit.

I’m not sure it really matters.

I think I may try something different, though. This month was the last actual rite – next month is an oracular session. (Note to self: let’s be firm about how many people are admitted to this because you sucked last time and admitted like a million people more than you wanted.) I think, though, in September, I’m going to change up how I put out the request a little bit and see if that draws anyone new in or brings back frequent flyers.

The rite itself, as usual, was pretty simple. I had a couple of errands that I wanted to get through yesterday in order to meet up with Sekhmet during the service portion of my evening, fully stocked with what I wanted. However, I also had other errands that I needed to complete in preparation of Wep-Ronpet, which is rapidly approaching. (Wep-Ronpet is slowly but surely turning into something very different from what I’m used to.) So, I did the two burns with one stone shtick and managed to get everything that I wanted in about two hours… minus the rose petals.

I’ve pretty much just given up on rose petals for the time being, even though I really fucking love using red rose petals in my services. The last two bags that I had went bad before I could use them all, which irritates me beyond belief. I completely understand that I’m buying it and they are on sale so, therefore, I should use them quickly. But my ritualistic time table and the rotting-slowly time table of the rose petals are clearly not in sync. So, until I can be sure that I’m getting fresh rose petals that will last beyond two weeks, I’m going to have move passed that particular idea. In the meantime, I can still set a mean fucking altar if I want to.

Even without rose petals, it still looks pretty B.A., in my opinion.

Even without rose petals, it still looks pretty B.A., in my opinion.

I decided on a simple setting this month. I chose grapes and wheat bread for an offering. The only thing that I went a little overboard with was the CHOCOLATE. I saw this chocolate Swiss roll that was on sale at my local grocery store and it looked so delicious. It also had the fewest caloric intake when compared to all of the other delectable goodies on sale in the bakery. It was rich and fucking wonderful, by the way, and if they ever have it on sale ever again, I am going to buy it (possibly not with the intention of giving any to the gods, possibly only for me).

For this month’s flowers, I chose an orange type of color. I was hoping to add lilies to the whole shebang because I’ve been on a lily kick lately. However, none of the bouquets with lilies were in my price range, so instead, I found this really awesome orange and white bouquet for like $6. There were even roses in the bouquet and as anyone who has been reading my blog can attest, I fucking love using roses in my rites and whatnot. So, I can’t really tell if I was sold because of the orange roses or if it was just because it’s a color I associate with Sekhmet or perhaps both. But orange fucking bouquet it damn well was.

When I came home, I did some minor altar cleaning and then napped.

I realized at about three or so that I was fucking exhausted. I am an introvert and a homebody, in case no one was aware. So, all of the errand running kicked my ass coupled with yet another shit-tacular work week. So, my son and I ended up watching Mythbusters and fell asleep until well passed dinner time. (Seriously, I took like a 3 hour nap, which is unheard of. Give me an hour and I’m usually ready to bounce up and do the things. Or, well, not bounce up, per se, but like at least get shit done until I have quiet time.)

I added incense, booze-and-soda, and cool water to the altar before trying to find a box that I like for shrine purpose. (I failed. I found a bunch of boxes that I really liked and found issues with every single one. Then I found a bunch of boxes that I kind of liked and found issues with every single one of those, as well. I’m beginning to despair that I’ll find one in a timely manner – because I should have found one like well before now since this was “supposed” to be done with before Wep-Ronpet.)

While reverting the offerings, I sat around and did some thinking about what sort of changes I can expect in the next few weeks. I know there are a lot – there have been others who have confirmed that they’ve noticed BIG CHANGES on the horizon and with Wep-Ronpet rapidly approaching for Kemetics across the world, it’s really no wonder. (Wep-Ronpet can be a chaotic time for a lot of reasons and three years running, I’ve noticed that’s when shit goes down, at least in my life.) I have to hope that the BIG CHANGES are an easier confluence than the last few BIG CHANGES I’ve gone through.

Also, I have to wonder why in the hell 2014 is the year of BIG CHANGES.

Whatever the case may be, here’s to hoping that Wep-Ronpet heralds the end to them. And that with the burning of my last seven months’ worth of petitions, a new era will reign supreme. Or, if not a new era, I at least won’t have to stop because no one puts in requests anymore.

The Arm Flail.

Yeah, this is about right.

I often wonder if the gods find it amusing to watch their devotees going through the act of, what I deem officially from here unto forever, “Kermit Arm Flail Mode.” Anyone who reads that phrase knows exactly what it is that I am talking about; and for those who don’t, it’s easy enough to search online for the phrase and finding the appropriate image. (Or you can just look over to your right hand side and see exactly what I mean.)

It’s a visual representation that, I feel, encompasses much of the individuals who make up the wider pagan community at any given moment and quite often, it is a perfect representation of both my and other polytheists’ personal practices. I think there may even be a tag, on Tumblr, for just such a thing in the wider community. Whatever the case may be, many of us have moments where everything is melded together to encompass the very act by which Kermit is so well known: the arm flail.

The arm flail can happen because of anything, really, which makes it alarming is the frequency with which I see posts that can easily be encompassed within that phraseology.

I can remember as a newbie pagan, constantly feeling like I was in the middle of the longest and most drawn arm flail of my path. Everything could elicit the reaction: I didn’t hear the gods – arm flail. I wasn’t sure if they appreciated my offering of X – arm flail. I was pretty sure I was doing it all wrong – arm flail. There wasn’t an easily attainable manual that told me how to religion – arm flail. I accidentally tripped over my own two feet and dropped my offering – arm flail. I broke a nail leaving the altar – arm flail. No one could tell me what I was doing was correct – arm flail. People were mean to newbies – arm flail. People were assholes – arm flail. People were talking about frightening topics – arm flail. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing – arm flail.

Over the years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve become less adept at the arm flail. Or, more likely, I’ve just become used to some things and I’ve learned to adapt because of other things and I’ve stopped allowing shit to accumulate that would frustrate me. Take your pick here because any of them will do. You see, I’m pretty sure that I do still do the arm flail, but the reasons behind it have become more personal and less, “what everyone else is doing.”

If you look at the above examples, there is a pattern. I was so busy worrying about what everyone else was doing that I ended up in the middle of a flail. And then I felt too stupid to live – tripping and breaking nails – in comparison to what other people were doing, thus a good flail was had. And then, as I got more used to what I was hoping to achieve and actually, possibly achieving it, I ended up letting events unfolding around me, and my lack of an adequate response to such things, cause me to jump into the class flail pose.

I think that’s one of the milestones in any polytheistic or pagan religion, by the way: the moment when what outsiders are doing doesn’t really impact you, at all. Now, I’m not talking about wider community impact because, well, assholes being assholes to newbies and fucking around by telling people what to do from their “one twoo path” egotistical trip is a problem and should elicit arm flail procedures. However, what I meant was that when you stop worrying about how your practice adds up and stacks against what everyone else is doing, then that’s the milestone.

Maybe we can think of that as, “Arm Flail Level 2,” or something.

The things that cause you to freak the fuck out and go into “Kermit Arm Flail Mode” are no longer based on what you think your practice should be based on because of what you see other people are doing. Instead, they are based on things you see happening within the wider community that are unsettling or things that are happening to you in a personal devotee capacity.

In my practice, level 2 was officially achieved when I began caring about the community, at large. Part of this was due to the people I hang out with – boat paddlers. I may not technically be one (I frankly don’t know if I really fit that title) but I hang out with a lot of them. I do try to emulate them in various arenas and it is through boat paddling, in my honest opinion, that Kemetics have such really wonderful things as “don’t be a dick,” “two response rule,” and the “don’t be a dick thing.” (I know, I mentioned it twice. It’s important enough to merit a million mentions, in one sentence even.)

But it was because of the boat paddling that I began to become aware of things outside of myself. And sure, being aware of things outside of what I was hoping to achieve is always a good idea. I mean, we should, at least, have an eyeball out there to see what the wider community is doing. Even for those of us niche enough, like Kemeticism, to not really fall under the “main stream” sobriquet should probably be aware of things that are going on. And since I was hanging out with a bunch of boat paddlers, I was intimately aware of what was going on.

And so, I entered “Arm Flail Level 2,” which to me is embodied by wider community ramification and bullshit.

I wrote a lot of community related posts when I entered that particular phase in the hopes of doing some good. However, after a while, it gets to the point where you get burnt the hell out with community and boat paddling. Sure, knowing what’s going on is a bonus but it can kind of eat you alive. This is why boat paddlers should have a hearty constitution. And since I don’t really think I have a hearty constitution, I have since removed myself from the situation.

Thus, I have moved from level 2 to the really awesome phase, “Arm Flail Level 3.”

But this is the really best part, I swear, and this is where I currently reside.

Instead of being sent into flail mode because of what others are doing that I thought influenced my personal practice and instead of being sent into this mode because of what other people are doing that influences the wider community, I have entered the best part. The part where my personal practice and all it entails is the be-all, end-all of everything. There is nothing more important than my personal practice and though I do still do community outreach work and while I do still offer myself out there in a semi-boat paddler capacity, the wider community is no longer an issue. The only thing that is an issue is what my path is, to me, and the odd twists it can take.

And boy, are those some odd fucking twists.

I find myself, not very often, in flail mode, but I have found myself in longer periods of flail mode. It’s not a single action of, “what the fuck now,” but an elongated process that is drawn out for however long before I figure it out. And sometimes, it can take me a lot of months to figure it out. Or, perhaps, it isn’t a matter of figuring it out at all that is causing the arm flail. Perhaps, it’s the simple matter that I have figured it out and I don’t like it. Just because I’m in arm flail mode doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because I’m lost and fucking confused, but it can just as easily mean that I don’t particularly like what the fuck I’m seeing/feeling/doing/being told.

Maybe it’s less arm flail mode level 3 and more like, whining baby hissy fit. In either case, it just means I’m more often just telling anyone who is willing to listen, “I am not this thing. I am not doing this thing. It’s not happening. Are you listening?” And then when it’s painfully clear that they are not, in fact, listening, I am then thrust into the middle of arm flail mode level 3.

I don’t know if this is a contest among the gods, but I’ve often thought that it probably should be: how long can I keep X devotee in arm flail mode? And then, there is a contest once a month or maybe once a quarter or once a year between all of the gods and they point out that they were able to keep their devotees in arm flail mode, level fucking three no less, for so much time. And of course, those of us who are in that mode are on the verge of tears, trying to figure out what the fuck we’re fucking doing.

Of course, the gods are probably laughing it up.

Yes, it’s kind of like this. However, there is usually less of a smirk on my face and usually a blank stare.

In the interim, many people are rapidly beginning to understand the “Kermit Arm Flail Mode” is a normal and safe reaction to any particular deviation that our seemingly obvious paths are somehow taking. And they are rapidly becoming “old hat” when their spiritual lives end up at these deviations. Sometimes, I legitimately just wind up curled in a ball because of all of the flailing – with sore arms no less – and internally scream until I can smile through it all. Most days, I just wind up keeping my nose to the grindstone, hoping that someone will listen to what I would like things to look like.

Then again, I’m used to the “bigger picture” conversations by now and I very much recognize that our wants and desires do not always figure into this. (Let’s be real here: I tend to believe that none of our wants and desires actually figure into anything unless they meet the end game, specifically the “bigger picture” that gods are always on about.)

So, instead, arm flail mode and internal screaming about all the things I’m not doing or I’m not willing to admit is possible.

This sounds about as productive as it obviously is.

Kemetic Round Table: The Mysterious Godphone!

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!

The amount of times that I’ve seen someone reach out, in desperation, asking about godphones is enlightening. It leads me to believe that many newbies enter into their chosen paths with this intense desire to have one. I honestly suspect that newbies seems to think that the ultimate culmination in a fulfilling and intensely personal devotional relationship is the ability to hear their deity clearly and concisely on a regular basis. Considering all of the myriad of things that can go into a devotional relationship and considering all of the different little side paths that relationship can wander down, I honestly have to wonder if maybe the focus on the godphone thing is a good idea. I mean, of all the things to aspire to, newbies want to talk to their gods on a regular basis and hear things back? Just from an outsider’s perspective that may sound kind of silly. From an insider’s perspective, I have to admit, it still sounds pretty foolish.

And to be perfectly frank, I wouldn’t ever think that the ultimate culmination in a devotional relationship has anything to do with hearing the gods, but has to do with feeling as though you are doing it right. But, that’s just me; people often tell me that my opinion on various subjects isn’t exactly mainstream or normal.

If only it were as simple as dialing a number...

If only it were as simple as dialing a number…

For those not in the know, the godphone is exactly what it sounds like: it is the ability to have open lines of communication between yourself and your deity. The phrase, “godphone,” actually began its life as a joke, but has since metamorphosed into the thing seen today: the intense and earnest desire to be able to communicate with the gods on a regular basis. As with all forms of titles and linguistics, aspects to its original definition (in this case, a trait specific to individuals who were capable of communicating regularly with their gods) have since changed to encompass the heart-wrenching cries from the neophytes for some sign from their gods (in this case, the desire to be able to communicate regularly with the gods).

It honestly astounds me with how many people have posts running around, specifically on Tumblr, discussing the desire for one. It honestly goes to show that the desire to have that personal relationship with the gods appears to be universal, no matter what type of path one may be on. It also goes to show that my suspicions regarding Christianity and the lack of ability to have that kind of personal relationship is possibly why so many people are converting to other forms of religious traditions. Be that as it may, and my suspicions have no bearing on anything, the godphone phenomena is picking up speed and there are no breaks on this particular crazy train…

Having a godphone is incredibly painful, incredibly difficult, and can open a giant can of worms for those afflicted. Of course, outsiders, who are very busy looking in without knowing the specific nuances of the relationships they’re stealing peeks into, are just going to assume that we’re bitching and moaning. The thing is that having a godphone can lead to a lot of doubt, a lot of issues, and a lot of hemming and hawing over your own grip on sanity. These are aspects, though, that most people aren’t going to take into consideration if they’re looking in. All they see is the glitz and glamor of being able to communicate regularly with the gods; they’re not going to take into consideration what those messages may contain or even what those messages may mean to the person who is receiving them.

This is actually what it's like more often than not.

This is actually what it’s like more often than not.

As someone with a godphone, I can tell you just how much I doubt my sanity – daily. Every morning, I wake up after having had some intense dreams or experiences with various netjeru and I have to wonder if I’m making it all up. Just because there is historical contexts for communication via dreams, especially within the ancient Egyptian religion, doesn’t matter much to me. Historical information is well and fine, but I have to wonder if the ancient Egyptian priests or the people of ancient Egypt who did dream divination in their temple of choice ever had moments where the gods told them, “do the shadow work or your life is forfeit,” or “I need you to kill this spirit for me in as painful a way as humanly possible and no, I’m not going to tell you why,” or “Can you please just shut the fuck up about how much you hurt and kneel on this stone floor for months on end without me telling you why you’re doing this?”

Something tells me that my godphone-like experiences and their godphone-like experiences are two aspects of a single spectrum… with a huge fucking brick wall in the middle.

What makes it worse are the glimmers of feelings that I get regarding something.

I can go for days with this intense need to go and sit on the lawn, for example, for absolutely no reason whatsoever. And if I don’t do it, then I start to get really fucking bitchy and annoying to those around me because I have this inexplicable fucking desire to SIT ON A LAWN FOR NO REASON WHATSOEVER (and no, it couldn’t possibly be my lawn because that makes sense) and it won’t go away until I finally do it. And of course, it’s only as I do it that I realize that this is some weird act of devotion to –insert deity here–. Or, the really fun part where I have incredibly random song lyrics stuck in my head on endless repeat until I figure out the meaning behind such things.

And of course, we can’t possibly forget those intense moments where I am sitting in a slightly meditative state and I have actual conversations with the deity in question.

This is all just so joyful.

I know, I know. I’m sounding about as bitter as I probably feel. And I really do apologize for anyone who came into this entry, hoping for something that wasn’t bitter. I can’t help that there are moments where I honestly have to wonder if this is even worth it. Like, is this helping me at all? I don’t think so, but I can’t know that because I have a godphone and it works. So, I can only wonder if the grass is really greener on the other side and of course, those without are just assuming that the grass really is greener on the other side.

But how do I live with it and still manage to live my life?

In all honesty, I tend to ignore things a lot. While the gods may think that whatever message they’re pushing on me is important, I have things to do like pay the bills, tuck in my son, walk my dog, and any other random and mundane things. The gods’ time lines and my time line may not exactly add up, which is quite possibly why I can get so bitchy about not understanding the message or feelings that I am receiving. Whatever the case may be, I just continue to do my regular and mundane thing, hoping that at some point in the future, it will become clear.

And if it doesn’t become clear to me in what I feel is a timely manner, then it’s a back burner kind of thing. If it’s not important enough for the gods to tell me in a way that I would clearly and truly understand on the first try, then it’s something that I will pull out and mull over when I have a free moment or three to do so. However, if they feel like using some form of confusing hand gesture or Wing Ding to communicate with me, then they’ll just have to be patient with me.

The thing about godphones, too, that many people don’t seem to understand is that they arne’t always reliable. Things happen and life happens, which can cause “reception” to go down. It’s very much, in my experience, like a bad cell phone connection: the call is crackling, words are echoing, and there are whole aspects to the conversation that you’re missing out on because it went silent for about 30 seconds. The cell phone companies may go on about “better and more reliable networks” but the gods haven’t upgraded, in my opinion. There are still long stretches of time where I have to hope that I’m getting the message down properly.

This is, honestly, why I will put off things for as long as I do. I like to be sure that the intense desire, for example, to randomly sit on some stranger’s lawn is because an OTHER™ is telling me to do it versus, I just think that they are telling me to do it. When it comes to godphones, discernment is important. And maybe, the message came in all garbled. Perhaps there is more to all of this than just sitting on a lawn: maybe I was given specific instructions, but the message came through on such a shitty connection that all I am getting is the need to sit on some random person’s lawn.

If the feeling goes on long enough, I assume that I’m either losing my marbles or it’s time to sit down on some random person’s lawn, hoping that I’ll get something in return for all of it. Unfortunately, usually it’s more garbled messages that I have to parse out on my own.

I think, though, that the one thing most people without a godphone just don’t take into consideration – even with all the other things I’ve listed here – is that it can and will go down, for no reason. Phone lines go down fairly often enough. Usually, the actual lines themselves won’t go down but there will be an issue on the carrier level that prevents calls from connecting properly or at all. In this technical (and possibly boring) metaphor, we can make the correlation that the same thing can and will happen to those with godphones – and then where will you be after having been informed that you really need to rely entirely on your godphone?

Nowhere.

Godphones are capricious things, in my experience. I mean, just look at it from here:

  1. Not everyone has one.
  2. Not everyone has them utilized in the same way.
  3. Not everyone can confirm others’ godphone-ing.
  4. Not everyone can use theirs all the time.
  5. Not everyone has clear reception.
  6. Not everyone hears the godphone in the same way.
  7. Not everyone can use the godphone regularly.

These are all things that I’ve mentioned and discussed in this very entry. Based on this list, it looks like godphones are not really an effective form of communication when it comes to devotional relationships. But again, that’s just me! Outsiders are always going to formulate an opinion on something they have no experience with based on minute glimpses into what seems like the “promised land” or, on the flip side, what seems like “a bunch of bullshit.”

When my godphone starts acting up, I honestly just enjoy the respite.

After months and months of having intense and regular communication with the netjeru, sometimes I need a break. And I would like to assume that they need a break from me. You can’t always be in the presence of your family, your friends, or your partner, can you? Possibly not without wanting to kill any of the above mentioned. I would assume that it’s the same for the gods with their godphone-enabled devotees. And possibly even the same when it comes to those devotees with their godphone-enabled. I mean, I can tell you that there are long moments where I would very much like a break, need a break, and damn it, Sekhmet, just shut up for five minutes okay?

This is what it used to be like before I discovered that I have the godphone.

This is what it used to be like before I discovered that I have the godphone.

I can remember when my godphone wasn’t very active. It was always there since, I feel, it’s something that you either have or you do not, but not having it turned “on” all the time made my life much easier. I didn’t doubt myself as much and I didn’t worry as much about what I was seeing/being asked to do/thinking about/feeling the need to do. Since I didn’t need to rely on this internal thing that allowed me to have these conversations and nudges, I often checked in with Tarot cards or oracle decks, hoping that what I was doing was all right.

And since divination is an imperfect science, it meant that I was left frustrated and angry because I couldn’t hear what the fuck they were trying to tell me. I could only hope that I was interpreting what I was seeing properly. But even with that frustration in the background, it was still easier. Even if I was completely misinterpreting whatever the hell the cards were telling me – and I had on quite a few occasions – I was still able to go back and check either with another deck or with another user of divination at some later date in time.

Without the godphone, I was always able to double and triple check myself; I could confirm what was being said or done or seen in the cards. Confirmation via the cards now is iffy at best since I’ve been told, repeatedly, that relying on “outdated communication is no longer necessary.” Too often, I spend hours trying to figure out why the hell that card is in the same reading as this other card and… well, it’s just not working out as well for me now that I have the ability to communicate “regularly.”

There are days, and I’ll admit that it’s at least weekly, that I miss the simplicity of divination to figure out what in the world is happening in my devotional relationships.

Further Reading

  1. The Godphone
  2. Entries Tagged “Godphone” by Devo
  3. What is a Godphone? by Del
  4. The Godphone Thing by Alex
  5. GLE on Godphones
  6. Godphones and Godspouses at Adventures in Vanaheim
  7. Everywhere a Godphone by Myriad
  8. Discernment by Devo

Pestilence.

If I had realized I would have been kneeling for long periods of time, I probably would have asked for a bit of water and a cushion for my knees before being directed to kneel beside Sekhmet’s throne. I didn’t mind the imagery – pet human – but I certainly minded the sandstone blocks beneath my knees. It also didn’t help that, no matter how clean they kept it, I was constantly being peppered in the face and torso with little stray bits of sand that came in whenever the two front doors were opened. It was almost like the grains of sand had a homing beacon straight for my fucking face. I found myself spitting out sand particles more often than not [when I was alone].

Time passed because that’s what it does and the floor beneath my knees was no less forgiving, but soon I forgot that pain. It’s easy to forget a localized pain when something more dangerous is happening to you.

While I knelt there, I had nothing better to do with my time except to explore my body in one form or another. I watched as the bonds in my flesh would materialize and then disappear. The gold one – the newest one, of course – was the one I paid particular attention to. It was a marvelous design and it morphed into something just a tiny bit different each time I saw it. The other bonds had been a part of my flesh for so long that I never paid them much heed, though as I watched the golden one overshadow them, I wondered at the point in these other bonds. It didn’t really matter because the only bond at that moment, at any moment, that did matter was the one to Sekhmet.

But when I grew bored with marveling at whatever the fuck newness the collar and bonds were about, I began to explore the rest of my body. You know how sometimes you can focus your attention into a sort of laser beam to sift and sort through your body? In those quiet moments, of which there were many, I would do that. I would narrow my concentration to certain parts of my body, studying and sifting, always making sure that everything was okay. I stopped by at the space just beneath my right shoulder blade the most, always making sure that the purple-gold ball of rage that had lived there for years was still gone. It always was.

I found the shard for the first time by accident. I wasn’t really looking for anything; I was half-asleep when my mind began wandering through my body, picking at things. My mind wasn’t drawn to the shard at all. I hadn’t known it had even existed before that moment, but when my mind encountered it, alarm bells went off. It had taken up residence in my lower right quadrant, embedded in one of my intestines.

The shard was blue and shiny and deadly as hell.

Even as I paid closer attention to it, I watched as it sent out another root into my body’s system. It was intent on staying and I was intent on making sure that didn’t happen. The roots of this shard were black-green, oozing disease and apathy as it went. Even as I watched, more of the poison in its root system slipped down the green-black string of its root and began infesting my body. There was absolutely nothing more to see; I needed to have it gone.

I began poking and prodding at myself in an attempt to figure out where this shard had come from. What was its cause? Why hadn’t I noticed this thing before now? Had it always lived inside of me but it was only in this moment that I could see it? What had transpired that had caused this? I hemmed over the issue, my eyes closed as I tried very hard not to pay too much attention to the shard or its poisonous root system. Of course, the only thing that had happened was the collar and of course, I knew from that other place that the process hadn’t been as smooth of a transition as I had wanted it to be. I knew, instantly, what the fuck the problem was – now, I just had to dismantle it.

I worked from the outside in. I had things that I knew to look at it, things to focus on while my immune system did the attacking. While I worked on those things, I began to feel empowered. I knew what I was doing. I had done this before for myself and for others. I knew what the process would entail. The thing about feeling as though you are an expert on something is that, usually, that is when a curve ball gets thrown your way. Feeling so very confident after having hacked away at quite a few roots, I performed minor surgery on myself.

I literally cut myself open to pull out the shard and its root system. I was thinking, “It’s the only way to be sure.” I had visions of nuclear blasts going on inside of me, based on my intent to completely destroy the thing growing inside of me. “It’s the only way to be sure,” I muttered to myself as I reached inside. I was way too fucking confident in myself.

I had overestimated my own abilities and underestimated the death and decay going on inside of my body. As I slid a hand inside, I immediately touched one of the root systems and felt pain seeping into my fingertips. Growling, I ripped my hand out and looked. The tips of my fingers were covered in the green-black goo and it was burning my fingertips. As I watched in horror, my fingers were seared before it stopped. I was stunned.

Hadn’t I just done a bunch of work to kill off the root system? Hadn’t I just managed to kill off three of the roots that had implanted in my internal organs? Hadn’t I fucking dealt with this for weeks on end, living it and breathing it, as I killed off those fucking blackened shoots? I realized then that I had gone down the wrong road. Instead of moving backward, I had moved forward in the root system and managed to pull a few loose. I hadn’t felt any of the other roots in my internal organs, the black-green stuff having numbed me enough to not see or feel them.

I looked inside of myself and could see that this problem was a good deal bigger than I had originally thought.

The organs around my intestine all had at least one root entrenched. Even as I watched, I could see more of the ooze begin to infest other areas of my body – areas that hadn’t been touched to this point – and I was beginning to feel it traveling through my blood stream. I was slowly but surely becoming infected with this thing and I hadn’t even fucking noticed it. I had been so sure that what I was doing and the abilities I had honed earlier this year that I hadn’t even fucking noticed that I was quite possibly dying.

I looked down at the wound in my side – the wound that I had inflicted upon myself – and I could see the shard. It was much bigger now. As I watched, another root shot out and slid out of the wound. It scorched the flesh of my stomach even as I looked. I was so amazed by what was happening that I couldn’t do anything but stare, open mouthed.

I realized that I needed help.

I started to feel the roots as they began to overtake everything in the lower half of my torso. And I could feel the shard beginning to grown from a tiny little piece of bluish glass into a fully formed ball. I watched as it grew and felt the apathy that the green-black ooze was infesting in my body begin to swirl around both my heart and my mind. I wanted to cry; I wanted to scream; I wanted my mother. I wanted a lot of things, but nothing happened.

Years, days, seconds, hours passed because that is what time does. I kept trying to saw away at the roots, trying to remove any of them. The apathy in my bloodstream began to affect my fingers and they stopped doing what I wanted them to. They stopped curling around the roots and ripping them out, damn the fucking burns. Instead, my hand would lay as though asleep within the wound, unable or unwilling to do as I bid it.

Was this one of those things that was going to kill me, I asked myself at one point. I remembered dying – the drowning – and the fear of that. But there was no fear here. I was encompassed by this festering wound and everything going on around me was a part of it. I could feel the tendrils seeping into my liver, my gall bladder, my stomach. Everything was interconnected by the root system of disease and decay in my body and I knew that I needed help, I needed assistance, but I couldn’t do anything about it. I just knelt there, coughing up blackened bits of my lungs periodically.

When my eyes began to bleed, I knew I was going to die.

I honestly couldn’t say if Sekhmet had been purposely missing during all of this time or if she had been busy with other things. I know that I’m not her only pain in the ass. I know that there are quite a few of us out there and I also know that she has been paying particular attention to another daughter of hers. That other daughter needed her more than I did, I supposed. I wanted to cry for my mother and I wanted to die. I didn’t really give a flying shit what happened first so long as something happened that was more than apathy and depression.

She came into the throne room on a perfumed cloud of incense. There were attendants around her and she stopped when she saw me. I couldn’t read the look in her eyes. I didn’t know if she was angry with me. Maybe she was? I honestly couldn’t fucking tell a damned thing from her face and as I thought about it in my [newly not-awesome] sluggish way, I figured she was probably angry with me. Why not? I had been sent to kneel peaceably beside her throne and here I was, oozing filth and pestilence all over her pristine dais. That would probably piss me off, too.

I grinned at her with my red-and-black stained teeth. “I think I need a little help here,” I told her. My voice was harsh and painful. I hadn’t used it at all lately.

“This is certainly a surprise,” she remarked. She waltzed over to me, looking as though I wasn’t some disgusting caricature from a zombie apocalypse movie. I swayed as I looked up at her.

“I’m always a surprise.” I coughed and spit out some more of the black gunk. I looked down at the wound in my side, drawing her attention to it. It was also oozing. The black and red from the wound was festered with green-white pus. I was just a big old mess. “This didn’t really work out how I thought it was going to work out.”

“I have to agree with you there,” she agreed. Primly, she sat down beside me and looked me over. “Why didn’t you call out for help?”

I grinned at her again. My eyesight was limned in red. She looked like a reddish goddess, which would have amused me enough to laugh if I had the energy to do so. “I thought I could do this on my own. Isn’t that what you’re always teaching us? We can do anything we want to on our own. I did the thing on my own and I got distracted.” I couldn’t feel my knees anymore. I couldn’t feel my bonds anymore. What had once been a frightening and comforting weight around my arms was gone. “Did you know that I went in the wrong direction? I moved forward instead of backward. I also got sidetracked. This is a many-splendored thing,” I explained sweetly. “I got distracted.”

She sighed at me and then looked at the gunk I had oozed out of my body. She was clearly trying to decide how best to proceed here. If she helped me, would that mean I had to give up my shiny collar? I wondered. I thought I would be okay with it if only I didn’t look like an extra from The Walking Dead. In a detached tone of voice, I whispered to her, “Mommy, I think I need help.”

“What would you have me do?” she asked me.

I thought about it. “Can we go to the Nun? I think soaking there would be good. I hear he can regenerate things.” I gestured down at my body. “I clearly can’t regenerate this way. I was thinking about it and I think, if I die like this, things are going to be a lot harder. I’ve done a lot of work lately. I don’t want it to mean nothing and I would rather not have to drown again.” I closed my eyes and remembered drowning –the anxiety and the mind-numbing terror.

“You don’t need him,” she said coldly. She stood up and looked down at me. “You can regenerate just fine right here without him. Just destroy it and be done with this. You can’t keep putting these things off. I assign you tasks; you learn what they are in time; and then you just sit around and don’t do them. This is what happens when you don’t fucking do as I tell you to do. I may be a harsh task master and a bitch, but I have your fucking well-being at heart.”

I looked up at her. “Do you?” I asked her conversationally. “Gods have a very funny way of showing their devotees how much they care about our well-being.”

I had wounded her with my blasé tone or maybe just with what I had said. I knew a lot of devotees, though, and many of them ended up crying in front of their sacred spaces, demanding to know why the fuck their gods were demanding this shit from them. It was always for the greater good or the bigger picture or for the devotees’ well-being. I looked back at my own experiences with bigger picture and well-being. No, I had to admit, I wasn’t sure things would be where they would be now if I hadn’t gone that way, but I had to admit, things might be a little simpler and probably less painful.

I coughed and spat up a large piece of black phlegm. It landed on the hem of her linen skirt. She looked down at it for a moment, looking incredibly revolted. That was okay, I was pretty revolved too. “You always overestimate me,” I told her with feeling.

“You always underestimate yourself,” she retorted.

I stared at her and she stared at me. We had reached an impasse. She wasn’t going to help me. I didn’t have the strength to get through the Duat to find the gateway to the Nun. I knew, hypothetically, where I was and I knew, hypothetically, how to get to the Nun. But the way things were going, I would end up regenerating in the desert and who knew what form that would take? There was no telling if I would be able to still make it to the Nun as the next stage in my evolution – probably more like a de-evolution – took place.

She stormed away from me and I was pretty sure I was going to die. I was going to die, consumed by the poison inside of my veins. It was only a matter of time before it had completely taken over. I could feel it working its poison, its apathy. I was a giant ball of disease and I was going to die fucking die because I had been distracted and gone in the wrong direction.

Lesson fucking learning.

I was going to die because I had made a mistake. It seemed like a really fucked up way to learn a really fucking important lesson, a lesson that I had no idea if I would remember when I finally got back to all of this fucking bullshit. I would have been angry that she was signing my death sentence, but I couldn’t bring myself to care anymore. I was finally soaked in apathy.

As I coughed up another large piece of black-and-green phlegm, I began wondering what I would come back as. I wasn’t looking forward to death, per se, but the apathy was really started to fucking get to me. It was soaking through every facet of my being in all of my lives and I was beginning to think that maybe, just maybe, dying would be okay. The pain would stop. The apathy would go away.

Yeah, I thought, it would be okay if I died.

But Sekhmet had other things in mind, of course. That night, I was kidnapped.

Grounding and Centering: A Guide.

I go through periods where I start to feel as if my skeleton is trying to jump out of my body. I’m probably not alone here. I’ve seen remarks on various blogospheres and overheard friends saying similar things, so I can at least admit that I’m not alone when I feel this way. It gets to the point, sometimes, where I am so fucking jumpy and uncomfortable in my skin that I feel very much like I’ve been mainlining caffeine for weeks and am now just rushing around on the high. Days and weeks can pass before I even recognize my own patterns enough to realize that I’m having some issues. When it finally dawns on me that I am falling into old patterns – can’t sit still, nothing sounds right when I write it, everything pisses me off, and nothing I do is seemingly good enough – I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve done something to center myself and I should probably work on that.

The thing is, when I first noticed this issue a few years ago, all of the advice I found on those self-help websites was just a load of shit.

In every do-it-yourself guide or “Seven Easy Days to Spiritual Nirvana” type book that is out there, they tell you to ground and center. They tell you to be with the trees and throw down some roots and just go to town with sending all that wonky energy into the earth. They tell you about how that’s the whole point in Mother Earth and just toss it right on down and bring in the good energy that Mother Earth is surely wanting you to have. I tried absolutely everything I could do in order to get down with some trees and send that useless energy right where it belongs. The thing is that I realized something pretty quickly: while I can visualize this all happening, I don’t want to be a fucking tree. I’m a human being with human emotions, which occasionally get so out-of-control that I end up feeling like I’m going to puke our rainbow chunks of emotional cartilage at the next person who looks at me. None of these are things that, I think, trees go through. Besides, if I wanted to be a tree or at least act like a tree, I would have probably have signed up for being a tree in my next life.

I chose to come out a human being and to be a human being, so why the hell am I going to emulate trees? Sure, they’re nice to look at it. They do really awesome things like purify air (or some shit) and they provide shade in the heat. But, I don’t want to emulate one in any context. I just want to get this energy overload out of me.

With every ounce of advice I’ve seen on websites, in books, and going around Tumblr, I’ve just kind of had to shake my head at all and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I liken myself to Finn the Human from the episode, Up a Tree, I’m ready to make my break from all of that bullshit. I don’t need a bunch of people trying to induct me into their tree-loving cult. I’ll just go right on ahead and find my own way, but of course, next comes the question: if you can’t ground and center like the people who are “in the know” tell you that you should, then what the fuck are you supposed to do?

Quite often, I think we all forget that as children, we would do things that would ground and center us. We would run around with our friends, ride bikes, climb trees, play games, and do any number of things that, upon reflection, can clearly be seen as acts bent on grounding and centering ourselves. I can’t even tell you how many times a week, when my son is running around like a wild child in somebody’s yard or just generally all over the place with the other kids, that I hear someone say to me, “He is going to sleep well tonight.” And it’s not really that he’s going to run himself down, but that he is subjecting the world and his family and his friends unto the energy build up in his little body, sending it out and into the universe to do what it will while it leaves him a fraction at a time.

To me, it seems like the people from that in-the-tree-part-of-the-tree mentality seem to think that we, as adults, can’t do that or shouldn’t do that. We have to send all of that energy into Mother Earth while we take energy in return. And I think, people, as a whole, frown on the idea of adults doing the things that children do in order to release all of that pent up energy. But honestly, I have to say that’s bollocks (both parts). If it works for a bunch of six-year-olds, playing hide-and-go-seek and shouting their fool heads off, why can’t we, as adults, do the same fucking thing but with adult-like things? Not doing that, in my opinion, doesn’t make a damn lick of sense when it did fifteen, twenty, thirty, or more years ago when we were all just children, shouting into the darkness with our friends.

When I first realized that I wasn’t going to be able or willing to follow what everyone always said “worked,” I have to admit that I flailed a bit. There is something almost comforting in the idea of being like everyone else. It means that what they do will absolutely work for you and whatever hard work one must put in to discover what works for the individual is not your problem. However, I am an individual and while I think trees are fucking nifty, I’m not going to act like one because I’m out of sorts and overly bitchy. This, of course, meant that I had to start figuring out how to get to that magical state, or really mundane state, of not-going-to-kill-bitches-today. While killing someone is probably highly therapeutic, the court system highly frowns on such practices. So for those of us – because I know that I’m not alone here – who aren’t down with the tree shenanigans, it means it’s time for some trial and error.

Some good news, though, about my having felt as if my skeleton were getting ready to go around on walkabout is that I have a list of possibilities! The bad news is that it is going to take whatever intrepid reader is interested in exploring these options some trial and error before they figure out what works best for them. Again, as much fun as it may be to be like everyone else, we are all individuals. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else reading this. But perhaps, by offering these suggestions, it will give people worried and freaking out (and possibly seconds away from ripping off peoples’ faces) something to consider before they get to the breaking point (and possibly rip off peoples’ faces).

1. Dancing

I think this is probably one of the biggest suggestions that people of the not-a-tree persuasion recommend. And I honestly have to admit that I don’t listen to this advice very often. I should, though, because there is just something about getting hot and sweaty, heart-pumping and booty-shaking that can really bring things into focus or loose them into the atmosphere to disappear on the a wave of pent-up energy. And the act of dancing doesn’t even have to be anything over-the-top, either. Sometimes, I don’t have the ability to do much actual dancing for lots of reasons: self-conscious, not enough room, stuck in a car, etc. So, sometimes, to me, releasing that pent-up, fuck-off-everything energy is as simple as tapping my feet or fingers to the beat of whatever is on the radio. Or, maybe it’s wiggling my butt while I’m sitting on the couch writing a blog entry (as I am actually doing right this moment). But sometimes, you actually need to get up and just fucking go with it, with a partner or without. Whatever the case may be, dancing should definitely top the lists of all people in the not-a-tree group of individuals.

The song, in my experience, doesn’t even really matter, either. I will dance to whatever the fuck I want to, whenever the fuck I want to. I’ve spent whole days listening to 50s classic rock and dancing the out-of-sorts a way. I’ve spent my drives home from work, overwrought from a long day of intense bullshit, listening to something like Painkiller by Three Days Grace or Desperately Wanting by Better than Ezra in an effort to get that feeling out of my bones. Right now, I’m actually obsessively listening to Timber by Pitbull feat Kesha while I wiggle this shit right the hell out of my system. Whatever the hell you choose is entirely up to you and how the fuck you get your body moving doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is that you get your ass in gear and start moving.

2. Walking/Jogging

This probably goes hand-in-hand with dancing. I think it’s one of the more popular recommendations out there for those of us who don’t belong to the part-of-the-tree group of people. As with dancing, it is the act of doing something that gives you what you need in order to release all of that fuck-shit-up energy going on with you. I spent a lot of time, for months, just walking randomly wherever the hell my feet were willing to take me. I had no particular goal in mind because it wasn’t the act of walking that was important. The important part was that I was feeling incredibly out of control with everything going on around me and I needed a form of escape. To me, becoming one with the trees doesn’t help me when I want to escape the “rah” screaming fits that I may feel deep inside. However, doing something, like dancing or walking, was exactly what I needed in order to get out from under the pressure of the energy build up.

I would spend hours walking around my neighborhood, just putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, I would listen to music as I walked and sometimes, I didn’t. It all depended on how quickly I needed to get somewhere before I felt like I was going to rip someone’s face off or break into a thousand pieces because of the overload going on. Whatever the case may be, it was the act of actually moving that helped me to focus my mind long enough to try and find a way out from underneath everything that was poking my insides and making me feel as if I was getting ready to jump out of my skin.

3. Baking

It was only when I was unemployed that I realized how much I really enjoyed baking. It’s an organized activity that requires (if you’re following a new recipe, at least) exact requirements and attention. This appeased my obsessive compulsive side. However, the act of actually mixing everything together is just a mind-numbing enough project to not really require you to pay attention it. It was a perfect mix to make both sides of my personality feel at peace. And each action – by adding an ingredient – can help to release some of the pent up aggression/out-of-sort/da-fuck-am-I-feeling that’s going on. As the process of baking goes on, I start to slip into the rhythm of it. It gives me something to focus on enough to not feel as if everything I am attempting to do is going to turn into some fucked up piece of shit, but it also gives me enough creativity to allow myself a little free reign with what I’m making. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with the overall process, so you’re less likely to behave like a wreck when you’re adding new things.

But each action that is required for the overall baking process can be used to release some tension in specific areas, too, which is why I think it’s such a good way to get my head back to where I need it to be (under my skin). Cracking eggs? Good for being pissed off and needing to take some anger out on something. Need to make sure butter is soft before adding it? Good for staring moodily into space while you get your head in the game. Measuring out enough flour? Good for control freaks feeling out-of-control. You see? Every aspect to baking can be used to help bring your head back under control in some context. If that’s not fucking awesome, then seriously, what the fuck is?

4. Dishes

I hate doing laundry and I hate cleaning, but I don’t actually mind doing the dishes. (Sh, no one tell my ex-husband and my ex-roommate that because, let me tell you, I put up some damn fights about washing the dishes.) During the phase that I was unemployed, it was a simple enough chore to get done early in the morning. And it was during this chore that I found that I had the ability to let my mind wander enough to figure out whatever may have been bothering me at the time. There is something about mindless actions, specifically the repetitive actions, that calms my mind enough to focus on something long enough to start to explore why I may be feeling so out-of-sorts. Occasionally, I’ll find that I have absolutely no fucking reason and it’s because, well, I’ve been so do-do-do that I’ve stopped to take time for myself. And while doing something as chore-like as the dishes might not seem like taking time out for oneself, it is in my book. My hands are busy and it’s something that I can’t really fuck up, but my mind isn’t busy and it’s able to traverse whatever little rambling road it may feel like walking down. It’s actually when I’m doing the dishes that I have some of my more intense epiphanies regarding my religious path, so I suppose it’s something akin to meditating (which isn’t something I am able to do). But it’s also the time when I am able to stop whatever the fuck wildness is going on in my life long enough to come back to myself feeling a little relieved and a lot less as if my skin is going to jump right the fuck off my bones.

And with baking, the very act of cleansing the dishes can be seen as an overall metaphor for grounding and centering. The dishes are dirty – they’re a metaphor for how cray-cray the feelings are getting. The soap and sponge are the act of meditating into the state where you can finally find your center. The rinsing off of the soap is the grounding as you send the nasty fucked up energy off into the sewer system. You see? Even though I’m not a fan of the whole part-of-the-tree cliques out there, I can still find the metaphor useful when I find something much more workable, for me.

5. Card Shuffling

It’s difficult for people, I think, in my particular individualistic ground-and-centering genre to meditate like the be-like-trees group tend to talk about it. They tend to make it seem like a very mystical experience and I get that, to a degree. However, I have found that I can’t really mediate, which may be why I have a hard time with the be-a-tree mentality. Whatever the case may be, I’ve found that many of my grounding and centering techniques are a form of meditation that allow me to let loose long enough to release the pent up energy going on inside. Part of these acts is shuffling any one of my myriad of Tarot decks. The act of actually shuffling the deck quiets my mind enough to settle on whatever it is that may be causing me to feel so out-of-control to finally get it under control.

By shuffling, I’m giving myself the quiet time that my body needs in order to get to where it should be. And the act of actually pulling the cards is me flicking the excess energy into the universe, while also seeking all of the Tarot answers that may be available to me.

This isn’t the complete list of things that I’ve found to aid me with grounding and centering. Depending on the situation, and just how overwrought I may be feeling, I may do something smaller or something more expansive than what I’ve listed here. The point being that it’s not all sitting around and trying to act like trees. Sometimes, it really is just all about getting up and fucking moving enough to unleash the turmoil going on deep inside by whatever [legal] means necessary.