The Burning One.

I often wonder if my default setting is, “angry.” I know it’s not true; I can list half a dozen instances where I wasn’t actually angry in the last week. But sometimes I think about that trope of a short, angry, petty girl and I think, “wow, that really is me.”

I can remember a friend of mine telling me that the anger was killing me slowly, years before the shadow work and the release. They told me that it lived within me and had molded itself to my soul so much that it would be a long time before I carefully removed it all. I can remember the reaction I had to what they were saying – LIAR! – and I can remember wanting to prove them wrong.

I was protective of my anger. I wanted to keep it. I had lied to myself or it had lied to me, whichever. It gave me a purpose, it fulfilled me, it kept me going when all I wanted to do was keel over. I thought that being angry all the time was an asset, not a setback. I always thought that friend didn’t know anything if they could say that about my anger, which was definitely and obviously integral to my very existence. They wanted me to die because, of course, I would cease to exist if that anger was gone.

Though I didn’t realize it until much later, my precious anger was not a parasite that would kill me upon removal. I wasn’t like the hapless colonists in Aliens whose facehuggers killed them when removed. I thought it was though. I truly believed that if I started getting rid of it, I would be nothing. I wouldn’t be me.

Sometimes I look back and find myself wondering if the anger lied to me or if I was merely inventing out of fear. It doesn’t matter; it’s idle curiosity. I have often come to the conclusion that it was one and the same; the end result was anyway. I sat around and let it grow, feeding it the choicest bits like it was royalty or as hallowed as the gods themselves.

I figured it was best not to look too closely in how I reacted to things or in the knife sharp words I used on stranger and friend alike. None of it was real, none of it was a problem, if I didn’t go looking. I could live in blissful ignorance if I forgot that conversation entirely. The anger continued to grow and the person I was becoming was someone who child-me would have been embarrassed to know.

I can remember the poisonous fury I had when I got fired for no reason. I can remember how I waffled between white-hot heat and inappropriate amusement while I fought for months for unemployment benefits. It fed into the anger just like everything else. But that was the turning point because I began to identify more with my destructive goddess as those months passed. And hadn’t that been why I had been warned away from her in the first place?

I couldn’t see the rest of her through the blinding ball of rage destroying my insides. I’ve gone back to posts written during that time and older ones, and noted how big the blinders I was wearing were where she was concerned. And as the months of my unemployment stretched into a year, the identification with her began to worry me. She had been created from rage and anger and knew not reason. I didn’t want to destroy everything around me, wooed only by strong drink after everything lay in ruins at my feet.

My fear of blowing up my life, as piteous as that life seemed back then, overpowered my fear of not being me if I chipped away at it.

I discovered a lot about myself, mused on that friend and their words, and delved into shadow work. Maybe the Lady of Slaughter recognized herself in me and that’s why she set me onto this task, laying the path open for me to follow straight into the arms of pain-filled healing. Maybe she didn’t want to see me turn out like her either.

It seems like the anger had been an underlying pathology of mine for years. I never really saw it like that before then. I knew I was wrathful, but it had never occurred to me that anger was a default setting for me for years. As I parsed through various shadow work escapades over the years, I’ve determined the cause for it: the starter pack and the subsequent additions over the years. And as each escapade nears an end, I’ve felt a little bit more of it release. I’ve felt more and more calm in my life at least.

It’s been almost peaceful.

The Forest Fire

Behold, my word is spoken: so says the god who was angry with me. Wrong is wash away, and it falls immediately. O Lords of Justice, put an end to the evil harm which is in me. – excerpt from Spell 14, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

The Destruction of Mankind myth has always been a myth cycle that I could relate to. I can’t recall which translated version I read first since it was so long ago, but over the years I’ve found different versions each with their own interpretation. Most of the versions I found identified Hetheru as the avenging goddess in some way, which made sense of course but never quite worked for me.

When Ed Butler wrote this piece about interpreting the myth cycle, I was pretty much sold for a variety of reasons really. But I have to admit that there was something that I could connect with even more when he stated that the creation of Sekhmet took place during a conversation between Hetheru and Ra. It made more sense to me that it was the heka laced within the conversation itself that caused my beloved goddess to be.

As the article indicates, it was the repetition of power that brought Sekhmet into being. Maybe this particular creation circles back to the magical words we find in fairy tales and folk stories. There is a key phrase or a specific word that one must say in order to bring something or someone into creation. As a more modern example, it is the word shazam that allows Billy to become Captain Marvel. There are other key phrases throughout various tales and historical anecdotes that foster the creation of something though.

In this particular case, it was sekhem and the repetition of it that caused Sekhmet to come to life. And frankly, it seems more in keeping with Ra that he would simply create another being to do his dirty work for him since he seemed rather fond of sending various gods out to destroy his enemies. The only thing here is that, maybe, with the depth of his anger at the human populace, he didn’t take the possibility of limitations into account. He seemed to be solely focused on making them pay and thus, the goddess who elicits fear in the hearts of humankind even to this day was born.

It was actually this particular interpretation that felt, in a way, as though it represented me and by extension, the anger that had made itself comfortable within. While the cause of my own rage were actions, so too was Sekhmet’s even if she was created from words. It was the humans plotting against Ra, by their deeds and words, that caused him to bring her into existence. My particular creation was a lot less grandiose, but the end result was the same: a being soaked with layer upon layer of anger.

I saw myself in her actions, too. Upon being unleashed into the world, Sekhmet slaughters the enemies of Ra. I could carefully pinpoint where I had created a facsimile thereof in my own life with my personal experiences. That point right there, I could say, was my version of hunting down and killing the bastards who dared to speak out against the rule of Ra. There was no blood soaking the ground in my particular instance, it was all metaphorical after all, but I could see the wounds I had created in those around me.

And like a shark scenting blood upon the waves, just as Sekhmet turned her unquenchable rage upon the good followers of Ra, I continued to slaughter those around me. I can see my past self, with glee and joy and laughter, bringing destruction upon those who did not deserve it. There’s a phrase about burning bridges; I didn’t just burn them, I nuked the site from orbit every time.

Sometimes I think Sekhmet had it easy. She had Ra to help bring her down from the high of her rampage. While the conversation with my friend could be viewed as such, she wasn’t around when I realized I had to do something. I had no one to do likewise with me. I wound up seeing what I was doing and was appalled by what was happening, thanks to that long ago conversation of course. I internalized my rage instead of drinking myself to sleep. Although perhaps, in a way, internalizing the anger is just the same.

Instead of lashing out, I drank of my rage deeply and let it pass over me. I let it lap at my feet and take root in other ways. But the senseless slaughter that I had been used to doing stopped. I was cognizant of my actions and my words. I patted down my rage and worked on it a little bit at a time. Just as Sekhmet had calmed, I had the semblance of calm.

I had years to go before all that rage wouldn’t impact me as much. I often wonder if it was the same for Sekhmet.

sekhmet

O Egg, O Egg, I am Horus who presides over myriads, my fiery breath is in the faces of those whose hearts would move against me. I rule from my throne, I pass time on the road which I have opened up. I am released from all evil… – excerpt from Spell 42, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

In the myth cycle I discussed above, we are told that after Ra has tricked Sekhmet with the laced beer, her anger recedes and seems to disappear. After this episode, Ra eventually leaves humanity behind.

While I couldn’t be sure, I have often wondered if the rage really did dissipate from her simply because she fell in a drunken stupor. From my own experiences with anger and fury, I have to wonder if that’s even possible. I suppose it could be, of course, as she is a deity who is probably better at controlling this stuff than I, but I somehow doubt it.

The sources are clear: the ancients appeased Sekhmet often so as to prevent the destruction from occurring again. They gave amulets to one another, laced their workings with heka, and provided extravagant offerings to her, ever fearful that a repeat of the myth cycle would take place. This doesn’t say to me that her rage was gone; it was just under leash for a while.

On the other side of this, I could see her priesthood promoting the belief she would rise wrathful again as a form of scare tactic. “Give us all the good treats, or else the Lady of the Slaughter could destroy everyone again.” Maybe parents used the lie to keep their children in line, just like the priests. A cosmic knife held to the throat of a fearful populace.

But no. I think she truly had to keep a lid on all that anger, no matter how much of herself it may have eaten up.

One thing I’ve always wondered was if they had a way to teach her to deal with all that bottled up rage. Did they push her towards shadow work and say “heal thyself” and then wipe their hands of it? Or did they ignore the volcano living beside them, ready to erupt at the slightest provocation, and merely tiptoed around her to prevent the inevitable? I always figured it was the latter, not the former. It makes more sense to keep the indomitable on a leash for possible future use than to fix the underlying pathology.

I know; people used me like that too.

Being angry all the time is simply exhausting. There is always that possibility that you will blow your top like Mount Vesuvius or Mount St Helens and the ensuing destruction will sweep up the innocent and the guilty in one fell swoop. I have often wondered if, after years of rumblings from the volcano she had become, if Sekhmet went on walkabout in an effort to work on her inner demons and found out who she truly was at the end of it all.

Maybe that’s why she tends to push many of us in the direction of shadow work, saying, “heal thyself.” She sees herself in many of us and knows the consequences of living like that.

I have to admit that, years later, I feel less like I’m a pending volcanic explosion puffing ash into the atmosphere and more like a dormant volcano. All the fixings for an explosion are there, but not right now. I couldn’t say if I will ever be able to fully hollow out the magma chamber my friend said is beneath my shoulder blade. Maybe Sekhmet didn’t either; maybe we’re not meant to go into this with the idea that one day we’ll be normal.

Just calm. Just dormant. Just mostly whole.

Excerpt from Spell 83 – For Being Transformed into a Phoenix

As for him who knows this pure spell, it means going out into the day after death and being transformed at will, being in the suite of Wennefer, being content with the food of Osiris, having invocation-offerings, seeing the sun; it means being hale on earth with Re and being vindicated with Osiris, and nothing evil shall have power over him. A matter a million times true.

Two Roads Diverged…

Some days, I feel like my whole life is a famous poem just splashed out on paper to read. It sits there like a flashing neon sign to me when for everyone else, it’s just a bunch of fancy words on paper. Maybe everyone feels that way sometimes; maybe I’m alone in this.

After the nice woman on the other side of the state told me to get going or else, I came home and ranted for a while. It wasn’t really the message that angered me insomuch as the parting shot, the bit that left me pale and shaking. The bit that, upon seeing me after the reading, my friend asked me if I was okay. I’ve never talked about that part; I probably won’t.

When I was calm enough, I sat down with my gods and asked them what the hell I needed to do. They were all very nice about the situation but it was still a lot to take in. They let me bitch and moan and listened while I railed on about how I was a good fucking devotee who didn’t deserve this next round of horse shit. I guess they understood why I was so angry.

I laid all my cards on the table about how I was angry and how I didn’t know what the fuck I was supposed to be doing. I told them I thought about leaving, just packing it all up and burying myself away because it was all just too damn hard. I wasn’t serious, not really, but they talked me down.

At that ledge, looking down, I realized I was overwhelmed with all of this. I was at the point of being so overloaded that I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing or why I was supposed to care. My gods told me that my tentative plan of taking a time out was a good one. We decided that I had until March to make a choice.

After that, they showed me two possibilities. Isn’t that always the way though? There are two doors to choose from with the frog that always tells the truth and the frog that always lies. No frogs this time, just two possibilities to choose from with a general idea of where both would lead.

I had three months to figure it all out.

Crossroads...

And sorry I could not travel both; And be one traveler, long I stood; And looked down one as far as I could – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

I am the type of person to stick my head in the sand when things are too big. It’s actually a familial trait passed down from generation to generation. Eventually I will do something but when I get to the “I can’t actually form words” stage because there is too much going on, I get overloaded and hide.

My gods may have been kind to me because I was overwhelmed but they kept reminding me that I had a time limit. Arbitrary calendar dates are a thing for me and even though I knew I should probably look a little deeper into it, I chose not to. The partial glimpses of possibilities in December were enough.

The first path looked nice enough. It was calm and quiet with a sense of familiarity that sent shock waves through me. I looked at that possible future and saw that, while things would be dealt with efficiently and relatively quickly, things would change to a degree that I would wind up losing out on what I have established for myself thus far.

It wouldn’t go away, per se, but the dynamic would change. And that was a game changer. I could see my gods behind me, but crowded to the background.

I have worked very hard and gone through a hell of a lot of shit to get where I am today. I wasn’t saying good-bye to it, but I was, in effect, trudging up a mountain and away from my gods, my path, my life. As much as they annoy me, the possibility of that dynamic change was worrisome and confusing. I didn’t like what I saw.

The other way was more frightening. It made my heart stop with its deep, dark places eschewing light and cheer. It was filled with fear and with sorrow. There was nothing recognizable to me there. I looked at that possible future and saw an interim change in the dynamic, but at the end things would be much more manageable.

It would take longer to deal with things, though. Even with the picture drawn before me, the path was filled with unknown pitfalls and I would need to travel slowly and carefully, trudging through the slog and mud.

Knowing how hard I have worked to get to where I am, even if most people don’t recognize that hard work, I realized that while the happier seeming path would be simple, the darker seeming path was more in line with what the end game. I had to take time to look inside and figure out what was more important here.

But as my gods steadily pinged me, reminding me that we did in fact have a time limit, I was depressed for the decision process. Though they kept coming at me regularly with hits and reminders, I ignored them; that whole overwhelmed thing making its debut.

Besides, I had actually made a decision. I just hadn’t announced it yet.

Crossroads

Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

In the last few weeks, I’ve been dreaming about various modifications to myself. I think the one that took the cake was the dream where I got a tattoo of the ending stanza to the poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I got the gist to a point, but I was still a little confused by the dream. (Not to mention that thinking on it over the last few days has only made me really want to get it tattooed on my forearm, just like in the dream.)

It’s actually a little amusing that the dream took that particular poem and that particular section. I’ve been saying from the get-go that my religious life, and by extension my mundane as well, oft resembles that poem. It’s not just my favorite famous poem of all time. It is me.

It’s taken a little bit of back and forth on my part to confirm what the fuck my mind was telling me, but I got it after a bit. (Still trying to decide if a tattoo is really warranted though.) I got the message; I understood what was happening finally. But of course, the emotional hits are never over with just one final nail on the coffin.

Last night, I stood between Papa Legba and Loki, looking from one to the other.

When I looked at Legba, I could see things so clearly and I wanted so much to walk beside him again. He was a rock in a time when I needed one even while he was teaching me important things. He held my hand and helped me through the worst of the bullshit after my head split further open and the Long Term was explained to me. I cried for months after his door shut on me and still sometimes cry, like I am now.

The sweet filled smell of him was there and I could see him in such a beautiful sun-filled place. Green fields and clear lit paths, birds chirping and the crossroads so clearly marked for the eye to see.

But I turned to look at Loki and the skies were gray. There were storm clouds in the distance. Everything was hard to see and I couldn’t tell what was slog and what was path. I wanted so much to turn away from this red-headed unknown in my life, contract be damned and knowing that the Old Man would get me out of it if I asked, and march the fuck away.

But three months ago, I saw what my life could and probably would look like with Papa. And I saw what my life could and probably would look like with Loki. And I decided then what I had to re-illustrate last night.

Did you know you can grieve for might-have-beens? It’s entirely possible. I wasn’t aware though maybe I should have been.

I had to finally say good-bye to someone who meant a lot to me. It’s not the first time I’ve done it, but that doesn’t make this any easier. Loki’s kindness after didn’t really help, though it distracted me at least. I will miss the might-have-beens, but I need my autocracy as it is now, not what it would become with Papa Legba and his brood. I will miss the relationship and the lessons he set before me, but what ice been working towards is more important than all that.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
– The Road Not Taken
by Robert Frost

Came Out West to Find the Sun.

Fairly often, I find myself dealing, in some form or another, with contracts. While my job doesn’t necessarily revolve around them, they’re required in various instances for different reasons. Sometimes they’re specifically for the relationship between my company and the client while at other times, they’re between my client and another company. I don’t spend my days reviewing contracts but I do have to read through them now and then.

Some days, the contract language gets stuck in my head and I’m living off the careful wording people throw in to contracts to protect themselves. Other days, my mind sort of tunes it all out and I move on with my life.

I fucking hate contracts, man.

Since I have the contract experience through my job, I kind of knew what needed to go into the crafting of a contract between Mr. Redhead and I. I needed a period of time, the services to be completed for both parties, termination conditions, and fail safes in place to protect both of us. Intellectually, I was sure I could pull this off without any problems.

I still quailed when it came time to write it all down. Experience or not, I didn’t fully understand what the hell I was supposed to be doing with him. Oh, I mean, I got that he was around to help me, but that doesn’t actually tell me anything about the actual work being completed really.

It was almost as if the whole concept was two dimensional. I could see what the outcome was intended to be, but I couldn’t see the actual steps needed to get there. I realized that I needed help.

Hallway

You think you know someone. But mostly you just know what you want to know. – Horns by Joe Hill

When I need help, usually I will begin with an in depth Google search. I was hoping someone had written a very careful and concise tab A into slot B instruction about creating a contract with a deity. I found legal contract examples and only a small smattering of posts referencing contracts with deities. It occurred to me that I was (a) out of my depth and (b) this contract stuff was probably private between the individuals for a reason.

I turned to the Trickster Guy himself, hoping for some little bit of information. I probably should have known better. I got a lot of conflicting responses, reminders that I couldn’t actually keep loopholes out of the contract so stop freaking out about it, and told to go it alone. My gods said the same damn thing when I turned to them.

I got kind of huffy, honestly.

If one needs to create something at the behest of a deity, wouldn’t they be willing to give some sort of clue as to what the fuck needs to be included? Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical.

The thing that I kept getting stuck on was the loophole gambit. I’m fully aware of loopholes and I have exploited them myself in my work. However, loopholes with a carrier versus loopholes with a deity are two very separate categories. Even though he told me not to get hung up on it, I was. That’s my thing; I get hung up on the details.

I talked the situation over with someone who gets this Loki business better than I do. Their advice was to sit on it, mull it over, and come back when I was calmer. Well yeah. That made total sense after my freak out. So I left it alone for a few days, fuming about all of this like the snot nosed brat that I am.

When I had more time to devote to the project, I thought about the contracts we use for our clients and the contract examples I found online. I decided I needed to be clinical about the situation. Instead of focusing on what needed to be done, I removed myself from the equation and viewed it from a distance. I took more advice on items to add in – placeholders to prevent true destruction on me and mine – and got to work.

Foundation.

It was something… the way a person’s life picked up speed, the way a life was like a bullet aimed at one final target, impossible to slow or turn aside, and like the bullet, you were ignorant of what you were going to hit, would never know anything except the rush and the impact. – Horns by Joe Hill

I spent an entire afternoon on the project, weaving back and forth between my personal knowledge of contracts and the legal templates I found online. It took me a few hours; longer than I thought it would. The whole time seemed to fly by. One minute, the sun was bright and cheery; the next minute we were on early evening and I was printing out the document so I could read it over later.

Not long before I was informed I needed to create a contract with Mr. Trickster, a fellow Kemetic on Tumblr put out a blog post about contracts. The post was good stuff and I followed that person’s advice: instead of signing the thing immediately, I sat on the terms for a week and a half, making sure I was really going to do this and that I was willing to agree to the terms.

It was a bit like reaching a foregone conclusion though. My gods had been clear: this way or no way. Loki had said the same thing and as much as I find everything suspicious where the gods are concerned, I could feel the truth inside that place where my intuition resides. It was this or nothing – a last ditch effort to make sure the tool that I am doesn’t break.

I had my gods review the contract just in case and everyone seemed okay with it. I reviewed it myself a few times and had to admit that it wasn’t half bad for my first attempt. Like a reed on the wind, I counted down the days until I was ready to sign off and get this party really started.

I chose the Ides of March as the sign date. It was a possibly poor attempt at dark humor: Caesar was told to beware the Ides and I felt similarly myself. I figured it was the best date for all parties involved.

No one complained anyway.

Since signing aboard, I have felt a little more even keel. Things feel manageable, even if they’re not specifically related to what we’re supposed to be working on. I guess it kind of feels like I’m finally standing on land after weeks at sea. The rocking of the boat is a memory, fading as I move forward.

Maybe I’ve just finally added furniture to the empty house that I am.

Promise Me a Place.

I haven’t been grave-tending in almost two and a half years. It wasn’t for lack of desire; life just managed to get in the way.

It started off for mundane reasons anyway.

Olga, the shiny 2001 behemoth that I had been tooting around in for almost 5 years, decided she was on her last legs. It seemed foolish to go on extraneous side trips to the cemeteries and graveyards that call me by name or to explore news ones far off in the cities around my home. I needed to go 20 miles to and 20 miles from work five days a week; maintaining my and my family’s standard of living was more important than my happiness at any rate.

When Olga was replaced by the slightly newer Karen and had gone to the scrap heap in the sky, it was too hot in the mornings to try. I determined that my comfort had more bearing on the situation and told myself: in the autumn, when the days are cooler. I looked forward to it.

But autumn arrived and I moped inside on Saturday mornings. For some reason, I couldn’t reconcile the job of tending graves without the slick-speaking, top hat-wearing, sunglasses-with-one-piece-of-glass old man who had grabbed me up and told me to get doin’ the good work. He was gone along with all his mates and as much as I wanted to feel the cool, calm release that comes from speaking with the dead as I clear off detritus and feed their souls, I couldn’t do it. So, I moped away my Saturdays and felt abysmal for it.

I tried to talk it up with Anup, asking him to help me figure this all out, but our relationship had boiled down to two growling beasts unable to find or unwilling to find common ground. I gave it all up and moped away Saturday after Saturday, trying to forget that part of my life. It was gone and I was better off without it.

Graveyard

To the solemn graves, near a lonely cemetery, my heart like a muffled drum is beating funeral marches. – Charles Baudelaire

My mom pointed out to me some time last year that I seemed much happier when I went grave-tending on a regular basis. It took me a while to figure iut what the fuck she was talking about. I hadn’t really considered the idea that it was a stress relief to me. It never occurred to me that it wasn’t just about the deceased calling me, but about me as well.

What I found, upon reflection, was that the experience was more than a snappy-dressed old man, telling me to get up and go explore. I found myself reviewing weeks of high stress and the image of graveyards quietly settling me down at the end of the week. I distinctly recall sitting at my desk one day and reminding myself that the bullshit I was dealing with was effluvia; it would be gone from my mind when I finally got to the cemeteries.

As much as I could admit that grave-tending was practically a necessity for me to stay sane, I kept getting caught up in what it had started off for me. It had been with the simple intention of paying homage to the man with the crass entourage that I started all of this and it morphed from there. No matter what though, he still remained st the center of it and I felt his loss more keenly when I considered going back to it.

I guess I was… grieving? I will admit to being surprised by it. I hadn’t considered my relationship with that sex-joke telling party boy to be that important where grief would play a part in our separation but there it was. I was actually grieving and I needed to keep to myself to fully process it all.

The problem was that I let the grief eat me up. I forgot that I needed to walk among the dead, touch their cool stones, read their names, and feed their souls. I forgot that it was a sacrifice of time and money, but it was also a reward for the terrible weeks that made up my work life. It wasn’t as simple as A and B; there were a few extra letters of the alphabet in there and it spelled out, your needs are important bby.

The act of mourning a loss can take as long as it needs, really, but sometimes the act of grieving works against you. It destroys you a little bit at a time and you don’t realize it until it’s too late. It takes pieces of you away from the whole and you’re left over compensating for the giant hole born of that grief.

It may sound a bit melodramatic but I think my not going to graveyards and cemeteries destroyed a fundamental part of who I was becoming, who I was meant to be. I can’t help but wonder now if part of my stagnation problem was because I had stopped going out for that stress relief each week.

Graveyard

When I am dead and buried, on my tombstone I would like to have it written, ‘I have arrived.’ Because when you feel that you have arrived, you are dead. – Yul Brynner

Shortly after the very nice lady told me that I was a house with nothing going on inside, I spent time looking at myself to see what was lacking. As I’ve remarked time and again, she wasn’t wrong; she didn’t tell me anything new. I was like a shadow of a person, or maybe more like a negative image. Everything that made me who I am was remote and distant; I was just a shell really.

During a talk with TTR about all of this, I realized that there were things I could do to get back to my roots. One of the steps was getting my tongue pierced again; I got that settled in January. Another step was cutting off my hip-length hair and keeping it at a manageable length. That was completed last month.

This month, as the warmer weather finally began appearing after the few weeks of solid winter in February, I got up at the crack of dawn to watch the sunrise. I drank my coffee, listening to the birds happily discussing whatever birds discuss and made plans to get back in touch with myself, get down to who I am and visit some cemeteries. I chose the closest ones to tend to, having missed them greatly.

I spent time clearing branches away from graves older than my grandparents. Some of the winter storms had dropped branches straight down into the graves below, burying them deep enough where I left them alone. I cleared back dead flowers, threw away trash, and mourned over the fallen over monuments that had tipped over since last I had been.

I felt a peace and contentment that I haven’t touched in a very long time.

I fed my dead and told them to expect more in future. They seemed cautiously optimistic, not as though they had forgotten me but like they didn’t put faith in what I was saying. It wasn’t just the fact that I had disappeared but the fact that they had all heard that line before. How many others before me had said that they would return with goodies and treats and never did?

I plan on going back and I plan on finding new local places to pay attention to. I had never stopped having the desire to tend graves; I had never said at any point that the job wasn’t for me. I just… got lost a little, maybe. Turned down the wrong cross path when I should have gone straight or something.

But I’m moving in the right direction again. I know I am; I can feel it like a zing in my joints, a pleasant weight against my torso. This is what I’m supposed to be doing. And I hope that I won’t get lost again.

Raise Hell and Turn It Up.

It’s not unheard of for me to dream of my online friends. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a very good personal community and the bonds of those friendships have twisted enough to include an occasional visit via the dreamscape in some form or another. There are some people who seem less like dream visit friends than others, of course, but on the whole, it surprises me not one wit to wake up from a dream with one of my friends in it.

Last week, a Norse friend of mine showed up to take me to a bank to discuss getting a car loan. All very odd but not overly interesting. Two days later, they showed up again, but this time, to physically pull me from a dream about work which had no clear exit. (I have become adept at pulling myself from dreams I have no interest in continuing but this one was impossible until they showed up.)

Another friend of mine mentioned that these instances could be something Other. They mentioned that a certain, very well known Norse trickster was a fan of showing up in dreams wearing the skin of their followers. A little concerning, I suppose, but I didn’t start to worry until the friend who had appeared twice in dreams mentioned they don’t dream walk.

Damn.

The icing on the cake came when Seth fucking Rogan appeared in a dream to show me condominiums to buy. At one such place, the guest book had LOKI in very ornate calligraphy across a page. When I looked at Seth, he grinned and nodded. The game was over; I had figured it out (with help) and it appeared as though Mr. Trickster had something up his sleeve.

Rain

I wanna wake up; can’t even tell if this is a dream… – Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time by Panic! at the Disco

All of the people who have commented have been remarkably nice about my ambivalence. Every single person has remarked that, as it stands, Mr. Redhead is very well and good for initiating change. This actually only causes me to actually have concerns about his appearance. I definitely need a change, what with all of the inertia, but is it truly so bad that I need the assistance of Mr. Wears-People’s-Faces-for-Funsies?

The first reading I did when I had a chance to calm down seemed to indicate that I was relying more on hope than doing to get through the situation in question. The card wasn’t wrong; it just crystallized something I had been unable to verbalize to myself. The second card in this reading remarked that the existing traditions were broken and unusable. I swore a little bit and walked away.

As additional information comes trickling in piecemeal (mostly because I have made no time, on purpose, to look deeper here), it all relates back to the stagnation, to the inertia. It pops up when I least expect it and while I haven’t thrown a tantrum at my gods yet, who have been curiously silent in all of this, it’s rapidly coming down the pike.

I can’t help but feel a little betrayed: the very traditions that they have coached me in are somehow failing? The very message of hope that they have harped at me is now causing further damage? Well, for fuck’s sake, what the hell am I supposed to do here? Apparently, pay some tiny attention to Mr. Becomes-a-Mare-And-Has-a-Foal.

I don’t even know if my complete lack of interest is due to the fact that I feel this insurmountable mountain should, in fact, be surmounted with my Kemetic background or if it’s the fact that Mr. Has-a-Wolf-for-a-Kid has been steadily tossing “helpful, friendly” vibes in my direction. Hasn’t he figured out that the nicer you are to me the more distrustful I become?

Beyond the feelings of betrayal and irritation and distrust, I have to admit that I’m a little curious. I have followed and paid enough attention to Lokeans for long enough now to know that he’s really maligned by the wider community. I don’t doubt that he would prove useful in the fulfillment of getting out of the rut. I just have to wonder what the methods would be and how deep down the rabbit hole I would find myself at the end of all this.

Bad plastic surgery

Champagne, cocaine, gasoline… And most things in between – Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time by Panic! at the Disco

I did, eventually, sit down and pull a few cards to mull over the situation. I may not jump to the task immediately, but I recognize that sometimes I need more than dreams and arm flails. Unfortunately, the readings made complete sense and induced more arm flails. At least I have a better understanding though.

The gist seems to be that, while the work I’ve slowly been doing with Ptah is sufficient to meet the expectations there are, hm, fears that it won’t be enough. Ptah is stability and silence for me. Since I have an ability to ignore the work under the existing tradition and gods who I have relationships with, it’s been decided – not by me – that I need an outside assist in order to truly be successful.

To be clear, this decision was undertaken out of love for me even though it is without my knowledge or without my direct input. One of those, “I’m only doing what is in your best interests” things without talking to the person whose best interests are being taken into consideration.

I get… the need for it. During the moments that I am being rational about the whole situation, I can even agree that what’s being said is correct and that someone to push me off the cliff is probably warranted. I can also agree that a person from outside of my home base is more likely to get results if for no other reason than I don’t want them around and will work harder to make them go away sooner. That doesn’t mean I’m thrilled by any means.

It seems as though I will need to determine a contract between us. It was made quite clear that guidelines and rules need to be determined (I am not surprised) and that the “finite timeline” needs to be built into this. My one concern is that I’m going to not think this contract through clearly and wind up accidentally stuck with Mr. I-Turned-into-a-Fly for more time than I am willing to endure. I fucking hate contracts, man.

All in all, I have more concerns regarding how all of this is to come about: loss and isolation. I didn’t ask for clarification on this (mostly because I was already upset and forgot to ask) but the idea of both loss and isolation is concerning. He was quite clear that this is what would be needed to get me through the bullshit morass I’ve been doing through. Another concern was the hint that poverty was going to cause problems.

Not a horrible start, I suppose, but not exactly thrilling either.

I keep coming back to the nice old woman who read the cards for me in December though. The description that I was a house with a solid foundation and nothing going on inside because the work hadn’t been done. And the warning that not bothering would cause things to get worse.

I know that my choices are limited and it’s my own inaction that’s brought me to be here. But damn, man, why did it have to be him?

Local Cultus: Wildlife.

Years ago, I began to try to force connections with local wildlife. After reading a very well written post by Dver, I had a desperate need to feel my gods around me. In that desperation, I tried to force connections that weren’t there and grew upset when I found it difficult to see my gods in the urban sprawl that I call home.

Once I stopped forcing the seeming connections, things got easier for me.

Foggy Marsh

Next to the marshes; The muddy smell fills my nose; The cat tails shutter – Marshes by Jack Pedlow

Common enough in most states, routes are a favored way of getting from one place to another. Unlike the highway, there is, in my opinion, more to see and more to be amazed by. After exiting the tree-lined route, the road opens up on both sides. The road itself has been etched into what had once been a hill, perhaps filled with trees and wildlife years ago, which had been cut back in the name of progress. In the swath of open expanse, there is a marsh to one side and a crisp field of either big bluestem or Indian grass on the other.

Within these fields live a plethora of wildlife, but the most common creature I see are the wild turkeys.

The first time I saw one, it sailed over the road above my car as I drove past. I stared at the legs and wings, aghast at this huge creature above me. I had no clue what it was until much later when I saw an entire troup of them marching about with a Tom and a few ladies. They stop tractor trailers in their tracks and cars alike as they waltz carelessly across the street from one area to the next.

Over the years, I’ve watched them and noticed the quiet majesty of the creatures. I had never recognized turkeys as majestic beings until I saw the wild troupe in the fields I drive by. As I watched a hen with its Tom calmly watching for predators one day, I could see Mut in that lovely lady’s stance as she daintily searched for foodstuffs.

Though turkeys do not, perhaps, resemble the vulture iconography so often associated with Mut, I could see the protective embrace in that female turkey as she opened her wings wide. I could see the tenderness of a mother’s embrace there and before I knew it, wild turkeys as a whole were associated with Mut in a way that I could never undo.

Eagle

Close to the sun in lonely lands; Ring’d with the azure world, he stands. – The Eagle by Lord Alfred Tennyson

Not very far from the first spot I saw a wild turkey, I had my first run in with an eagle. It stood upon the side of the road very near to a large copse of standing trees that had probably been there since the dawn of time. The creature had shaggy feathers and its head bent away from me. I had no clue what it was; I thought it was a very large hawk at first.

There is a lot of local fauna that I had certain beliefs in regards to, specifically that such creatures would never end up near me. As an example, moose are, in my mind, a creature of northern climes like Maine. I can think that all I want but I wouldn’t be dumb enough to tell the moose in the outlying areas that they don’t belong here. I had always assumed I was too far north for the eagles’ migratory habits and I was rather wrong.

Seeing a wild eagle isn’t all freedom and fireworks, no matter what the memes tell you. After a friend helped me figure out what it was that I had seen, I hoped to see it again, less for a reason to associate eagles with one of the netjeru and more because of the exciting prospect that I, me, had been within 50 feet of the nation’s official bird. Albeit I had been driving past the creature at the time, it was still an experience that I wanted to recreate. They were animals seen in videos and television specials; not creatures nearby.

As much as I hoped regularly to see another eagle, it took longer than I had expected. I thought that once the eagle had stalked its claim over the area, it would be a regular feature, but it wasn’t. I have seen the eagle over in those trees since then. The appearances are rare; it’s almost like the sun peeking from behind clouds on a lightly rainy day in April. I want the sunlight to shine down on me, but the instances are few and far between.

When I first saw the eagles by the river on a different route home, it occurred to me that these creatures were akin to Re to me. As the majestic beast swooped over the traffic circle towards the river or its nest, I saw the rare appearances of Re in my life embodied in the rare instances of sighting eagles in the urban sprawl around me.

Cardinal

He shocks us when he flies like a red verb over the snow. – The Cardinal by Henry Carlile

In my family, we have a sort of unofficial tradition where cardinals tend to be associated with the deceased. My mother’s family, where this tradition is strong, is French Catholic. I’m not sure if the cardinal thing relates to that or if it’s something that they picked up over the generations from intermarriage or something. All I know is that it has soaked our familial mythos and become, well… canon.

When we go to the cemeteries to visit the deceased, we often look for cardinals. The desire to see one is like fine tremors beneath the skin; it’s not conscious at all, but the desire exists nonetheless. The cardinal symbol is less a herald and more a vessel for the spirit of the deceased person. Seeing one in the cemetery is considered a sign that the deceased is there while you visit.

Without noticing that I was looking for the little red birds, too, I began looking for cardinals at every stop to both tend graves of those I knew and those I didn’t. I began to notice that cardinals appeared when I was tending to the needs of my personal dead, though not when I was tending a cemetery. It dawned on me that, by chance or by design, cardinals had infiltrated my own relationships with my akhu.

When I stopped marveling at the fact that some things are just ingrained (and don’t necessarily merit a removal by force), I realized how much cardinals had become a part of my akhu adventures. I have limited space for a shrine to my akhu, so to keep space free, I use a small votive of a cardinal as their symbol. It was as I was cleaning off my altar space not that long ago that it finally hit that this votive was doing an admirable job of ensuring that all of my ancestors are honored in such a confined space.

I often wonder if this progression with cardinals would have manifested itself eventually even without my desire to find my gods and my religious practice in the world around me.

I guess the same questions can be born out with any of the local wildlife that has taken up positions within my religious practice. Was it just the need to see my religious practices in a public setting that lead me here today? Or was it always something that would eventually come to be if I waited around long enough?

As I create more and more connections with the natural world, in both local flora and fauna, I’m beginning to think that this is just the natural progression of things. If you live and breathe something as intense as one’s religion can be, why isn’t it possible to have those intense happenings occur across the board?

Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at III.

Three years ago, I sat down and wrote a post that would later define a lot of who I am and how I practice today. I didn’t think the post would become as important as it has become, nor did I think it would garner as many hits. But that’s the thing about blogging: you never really know which post is The Post, the one that everyone will go back to time and time again. I’ve found even myself going back to that first post, looking it over and kind of realizing how much of that original post has defined me today.

Looking back over the last three years, I’ve come to see that post (along with the situations that were occurring at the time) as a very large crossroads in my practice. It didn’t feel like one, of course, but as I look back, I can see that all of the things that came before that post were more newbie flail and everything that came after has been one more step forward on the path I’ve been treading these last few years.

That post, more than the situations that were happening back then, helped to crystallize a lot for me.

With the help of others, I was able to get a working definition together that felt appropriate to me. And together, we were able to come up with a list of things that kind of helped us in the day-to-day:

  • Ma’at was don’t be a dick.
  • Ma’at was give stuff to the gods.
  • Ma’at was take no shit.

This was good stuff and we put the word out there. I don’t think there’s a Kemetic on Tumblr who hasn’t heard the “don’t be a dick” thing. Maybe everyone’s seen the posts from TTR that have been reblogged to death about what ma’at entails and how we’ve simplified it, made it easier to contend with such a large, amorphous concept, and live with it to the best of our abilities.

I’m sure there are times where we all feel like we fail and I’m sure there are times where we can step back, shouting to the rooftops, “fuck yeah, I am totally living in ma’at!” But at the end of the day, we have a workaround that helps us to feel like we know what we’re talking about.

Peacock Feather

This is not to say the person had no need of personal conscience. On the contrary, it simply suggests that conscience (ib or h3ty) is a relational concept and thus depends on both what is thought of one by one’s moral community and what one thinks of oneself based in substantial part on this evaluation by significant others. – p8, Ma’at the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt by Dr. Maulana Karenga

In recent weeks, TTR began reading through Ma’at, the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt by Dr. Maulana Karenga. The text is dense, from what other sources have told me, and as they work their way through the book, they’ve helpfully been posting quotes for public consumption. One of the things that has gotten to me with each reading is just how integral community is within the concept of ma’at.

It almost seems, to me, that without a community at one’s back, then it is very difficult to maintain and live within ma’at. As stressed in the quote above, the concept of one’s conscience depends both on the self and based on the moral community that they are surrounded with. In ancient Egypt, it was simple enough to achieve this goal as the concept was lived and breathed, not only by the gods but by the very people who made up the country.

Nowadays, we are in diaspora and trying like hell to pick up the pieces.

One could assume that the decision of the wider community regarding what is and is not ma’at is fundamental. Well, we have that. We have our little list of things that we tell people when they first get started on this roller coaster. We send them to the various posts we’ve all written about the concept and sometimes, in the responses we provided to those newbies, we re-evaluate the nebulousness of the concept itself, redefining and redetermining whether or not the little list works for us still.

For the most part, it seems to work for people.

But the question becomes what happens if someone or multiple someones within your community infers or outright states that what you are doing is not living in ma’at? What if they state your actions are isfet through and through?

Do you go for arbitration? Do you execrate the shit out of them? Do you sit down and talk about it, one-on-one? And let’s say that you do sit down and talk about it, one-on-one: points of view are highly personalized things and each individual could end up talking past the other person, unable or unwilling to see the other point of view. What do you do then?

Offering Ma'at

In general, the good man is still the silent, self-controlled man, with the emphatic devotion that is now explicit… – p171 Exploring Religion in Ancient Egypt by Stephen Quirke

I try like hell not to tell anyone whether or not they are living in ma’at. I try very hard not to tell anyone that what they’re doing is isfet. I am not judge, jury, or executioner. I am not the nisut and I have no intention of ever becoming one. I find it morally reprehensible to make that decision on a singular basis. Maybe I’ve always recognized that it was a communal effort that went into the determination.

I can think of a single instance where I’ve made the remark to someone and I felt guilty as all hell afterwards. I broke my very principles in making the statement. Sure, they were a manipulative prick and used their UPG to prey upon the young and impressionable youth in our community, but I still felt like I had no business making that supposition out loud, much less on a public blogging site. But I threw it out there, using our little tenets and I never heard back from anyone, stating that I was doing something wrong when I made the claim.

To this day, it still bothers the fuck out of me.

I don’t feel that any single person has the ability to determine any of that. Based on the quotes, the conversations, the arguments and my own feverish nighttime thinking on the subject, I don’t think anyone knows enough about the concept (and likely, never will) because no definitions were ever left behind. We stumble around and hope that what we are building is enough. Maybe it is for some; maybe it isn’t for others.

Whatever the case, I don’t think anyone can just arbitrarily make the decision about what falls within ma’at and what falls within isfet.

Now, more than ever, it’s become clear that the definition of ma’at is a communal effort. The problem, I think, would be that our list of definitions are too infinitely finite. They narrow the bandwidth on a broad road and forget to take into consideration the social context of our modern-day lives, the shades of gray that we live in day-to-day along with the shades of gray that is very clearly within the realm of ma’at.

What could be someone being a dick to one may not necessarily jive with someone else’s definition. What could be a perceived failing in giving stuff to the gods could simply be a misunderstanding based on posts reblogged a hundred times while the private stuff is kept quietly back or never makes it to the public. What could be seen as a heavy-handed reaction could in fact be a deeper problem within the community.

It is our job to band together and determine those things together, not to listen to a few souls who are louder or are reblogged more than most. It is our job to make determinations as a group, not listening to the people shouting down.

This is a group effort. And that means communicating on both individual and group levels, communicating with people who may take issue with you or may make you feel dumb for existing, and communicating what it is to be a part of the community at large and what you would like to see as it grows.

Thus, the model person is not the warrior or even priest, but the gentle person who serves and is responsible. – p 38, Ma’at the Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt by Dr. Maulana Karenga

Relevant Posts

  1. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at I
  2. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at II
  3. Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Finding Balance
  4. Life is Orthopraxic

Feast of the Two Lands 2016.

January 27, 2016

Two years ago, Khenne had put out the request for other people to simultaneously celebrate the Feast (or Festival) of the Two Lands. I answered that call then. Last year, I low-key paid homage but didn’t do much other than to calculate the holiday to my calendar and add it.

Though this celebration is about the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, I will probably always associate it with Ptah. The triad of Memphis doesn’t soak into the my thoughts on the holiday nor do any of the other available triads out there. Whenever I think of this particular festival, I can only see the image of Ptah that is often in my mind’s eye: quiet, calm, ankh-djed-was scepter in hand.

As I looked at his icon this weekend, trying to figure out what to do, it was like being overwhelmed in the presence of someone you really respect. It wasn’t quite being an emotional wreck, but it also was. It was very strange, but I looked upon his icon and felt the heat of tears at the back of my eyes.  I was so overcome that I wanted to cry, though I didn’t.

While sitting there, I got more of the same from him that I got from Sekhmet last week. This isn’t about the holiday; this isn’t even about him. It’s about me, myself, and I. He said I could deliver. I told him I would try.

Unified ↂ Conscience

More and more frequently the edges of me dissolve and I become a wish to assimilate the world – More and More by Margaret Atwood

Since Ptah has joined my household, I find the need to pay homage to him most often by creating things in his presence. When I work on long-standing artistic projects, I tend to have him around to watch me. It’s both an opportunity to have him around so he can oversee the results and also so that when – not if, when – I get frustrated, I can soak up his calming presence.

I get very frustrated when it comes to my artistic endeavors because I am not an artist. I had never been interested in drawing, only coloring carefully between the lines in coloring books as a kid. Most of the things I craft by hand look, to me, like something my kid brings home from school. There is nothing wrong with that, of course; the things I make get the job done. But I’m a perfectionist so the fact that I can’t draw for the life of me grates on my nerves.

Since this celebration was supposed to be about me, as Ptah instructed, I tried to think about how I could be associated with unification in some way. The inertia thing is still a huge problem, confounded by the fact that I spend most of my days in an office setting that tears me apart most days. In the end, I decided to create a jar filled with heka specifically aimed at bringing more spoons into my life.

I listened to happy music since this is one of the very few things Ptah has asked me to do since officially joining Sekhmet in my home. Music is very important in my practice, but we had noticed that much of the music I listen to can or do have depressing associations. Still other pieces of music are so closely intertwined with specific relationships that, happy or not, it doesn’t fulfill the request very well. The mission to find happier music has been in play for months and while I don’t always follow through, I do try to when I’m working for or with him.

I started the jar off by creating a sort of paper poppet of myself. I filled the little envelope with charms that represent bits of me then doused everything in red, yellow, and orange glitter. I had forgotten why I don’t use glitter anymore, only recalling that I had sworn off using it ever again; I remember now. (I found a single piece of gold glitter in Heru-Wer’s cup this morning, days later, and I had been using the glitter on the floor 2 feet away. I just don’t even.)

When I was mildly satisfied with those results, I went paging through books to find a good representation for spoons. If I attempt to draw a spoon, it tends to look a little like Pops from Regular Show. As I went leafing through various books, I decided that I wanted something that had ancient Egyptian symbolism. In a seeming twist of fate, I wound up finding an image of a soul rising from the blue lotus. It was a hell of a lot more complicated to draw than a lopsided spoon.

It took about forty-five minutes for both images, probably longer, and it was frustrating. As the crick in my neck became more pronounced and my frustration grew, I would stop and look up at Ptah, trying to remember what the fuck I was going for here. Finally, I wound up with two of the images on sheets of half paper.

I filled the interior of the jar with my poppet and with herbs that scream spoon management to me. I pressed the sheets of half paper against the sides of the jar, with the soul picture facing my paper poppet, I closed the jar. I thought about sealing the jar with wax, which ended up only making things worse (and with my ruining two pairs of pants in the attempt). Deciding that the contents may need to be revamped at some future unknown date, I held off on the act of sealing everything in.

Blue lotus- Processed image

I plucked my soul out of its secret place and held it to the mirror of my eye to see it like a star against the sky… – I Know my Soul by Claude McKay

As I angrily scraped wax off the lid of the jar, I realized that this was not helping. Ptah had stated I needed to do something for me, and I did do the thing for myself, yet there I was angry as all get out because the image in my head wasn’t showing up in front of me.

It was like all my doubts and frustrations kind of metastasized into this really snotty diatribe directed at Ptah. And the whole time it rather felt like he was just nodding sympathetically, waiting for the rant to end. When it finally did, I looked down at the jar in my lap and realized that it didn’t look so bad as all that.

I set it upon my altar, lacing the top with a carnelian rose, now covered in glitter, an ib amulet, and a key. I looked down at my handiwork and felt rather proud of myself for what I had made. From frustration and worry to pride and pleasure; it was like all I needed was to vomit up all the concerns I had about the project so I could focus on what I had actually done.

The next morning, I woke up feeling rested and ready to greet the world. It was probably just a simple little mind trick – believing the thing was working because I had crafted it, because Ptah had watched me put the materials together, because he had overseen the creation of the thing from start to finish. But sometimes, we need to have faith in the things we create even if it’s not a conscious decision.

Sekhmet’s Procession With Her Executioners 2016.

January 9, 2016

I have been flailing a bit with regards to holidays lately. Though years into this, I am still rather stuck in the attitude of what and why and how instead of focusing on the doing. I don’t think that’s abnormal, but after a while, both the gods and the devotee get a little winded from the constant questioning.

In the years since I added this holiday to my calendar, I have focused on various aspects of it while trying to celebrate it. I have focused on Sekhmet, then on her executioners. I focused on what a procession could conceivably look like and how best to recreate it. Sometimes these attempts have felt more like a stab in the dark, hoping to hit something.

Looking back on each instance, it has felt as though something has been continuously missing. The holiday was about Sekhmet and her executioners; I paid attention to them as much as I was able and in accordance with what I hoped were her wishes. But it occurred to me this go around that the one thing I’ve glossed over every single time has been me.

Don’t get me wrong: holidays like this were less about the people. But this isn’t ancient Egypt or merely a bastion of recreating a dead religion. This is my home, my relationship with my gods, and if I’m to celebrate these things, I need to do more, in my opinion, than simply orchestrate a bastardized recreation. I need to be as integral as the main deities these holidays are supposed to be about.

S told me the week of the holiday that the stagnation bit was important to focus on. She reminded me that this next year is to be focused more on me and less on everything else. Spoon management; job prospects; relationship building with the family; etc. But in order to really crystallize all of that, I needed to do the work.

I figured she was probably on about something of importance and decided to listen.

Though the motions I've been going through have failed and I'm coasting on potential towards a wall at a hundred miles an hour

Though the motions I’ve been going through have failed and I’m coasting on potential towards a wall at a hundred miles an hour – Saturday by Fall Out Boy

I read a snippet about a holiday in a book that indicated Sekhmet and her executioners went on a sojourn to Letopolis. I didn’t think that the book was referring to this particular holiday (the season, I believe is different), but it did get me thinking. I thought about the traveling bit and realized there was something important here. I got the idea to “lead” a procession to “Letopolis,” also known as my self-care altar.

Popularly referred to as the Place of Truth, my self-care altar has changed dramatically since its first inception. No longer a small bowl of tidbits, it spans three book shelves, a half wall, a small cabinet, and is covered in items that hold varying shades of value to me. The primary focuses are the parts of myself that have remained throughout each transformative experience of my life… similar to the one I’ve been ignoring in my attempts to “passively surrender” to what fate has in store.

While I prepared for what was taking shape in my head, it occurred to me that symbolism has been everywhere lately. It seems to have soaked through from my dreams and has begun to run rampant in my life. Along with my life, it’s also more than simply coated my attempts to celebrate holidays, but has fully enriched it. As I grabbed items together to start the celebration, I kept thinking: Symbolism; symbolism everywhere.

I have three vases that I purchased last year that I snapped up first. They are red, green, and blue vases that I bought to represent places when I was celebrating the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion. Nowadays, these glass vases represent parts of myself with a dried rose help in the mouth of each. Just as with the Beautiful Reunion, I took the three vases to use as symbols of my own procession with Sekhmet and her executioners.

Blue symbolized the inertia of my person. I envision the stagnation or inertia as a river where I have allowed it to determine what course I head down. I placed this back near Sekhmet’s sacred space. The symbolic river bank was the start of the journey. I took the green one and placed it at the base of the bookshelf. This symbolized the “greening of the ib“, basically the sprouting forth of life-affirming, ma’at-affirming action. The red one went on the shelf beside the small cabinet. This one symbolized successful movement forward, embodying my power to break free of the stagnation.

I took seven tea lights and placed them upon the floor between the blue vase and the red vase. The symbolism was two-fold: each candle represented one of Sekhmet’s arrows but it also symbolized the seven steps I was to take to get to my self-care altar. I actually measured out seven footsteps and placed the candles at those points.

Sekhmet, the four arrow pendants that represent her arrows, and myself took the seven steps to my self-care altar to break free of my own inner demons. I moved ahead with eyes focused on my goal, thinking about how I was performing a symbolic act to force myself out of the second hour of the Duat so that I could journey on to the third and fourth. To add to the journey, we listened to Victorious by Panic! at the Disco.

I read about the afterlife but I never really lived more than an hour

I read about the afterlife but I never really lived more than an hour – Saturday by Fall Out Boy

After I had provided the offerings, I sat across from the book shelf and listened to the music. I closed my eyes and let myself leak out in front of my lady and her arrows, explaining why I had let things carry on for so long. It was cathartic; I had spent so much time hiding from my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

I went through a few of the key phrases in Hathor Rising as I sat. I tried to picture what it would look like to embody Ihy, to pull myself from the realm of the Inert Ones with the same force he used to be born into this world. I thought about the dream I had of him – when I had pulled my prayer beads from my dream pocket – and thought about praying.

It’s hard to beseech the gods, even if you know you should, when you’re not used to the process. It’s something I do at my wit’s end, when there is nothing but a wall at my back. I remembered the cool feeling of the beads between my fingers in that dream and the calm that followed. Maybe I was successful; maybe I wasn’t.

I felt calm at least.

S told me that this was the start of the journey. Just as the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither am I to pass through the second hour I’ve been in lately. She reminded me that this will take time and the lesson of patience from last year’s Answering Words will be important here. I don’t doubt any of her advice on the matter.

She is the guiding force with her consort and my relationships with Hetheru and Heru-Wer as stabilizing influences on the journey. As I mentioned to her later, it is almost as if I am on a barque with Sekhmet in aegis form at the helm and the other three taking up strategic positions to row the boat with me at the rudder. We may not always get the rhythm right, but we at least try.

I turned to her and smiled that night. I whispered, “I’m on a boat; I’m on a boat.” She got the reference – we listen to a lot of The Lonely Island around here – and said that I wasn’t so far wrong in all that. Hopefully I don’t crash upon any rocks or become overrun by hippo.

The Inert Ones.

When I was a senior in high school, I thought it would be a great idea to take physics. I honestly don’t remember why I thought that was such a good idea because I had bombed out of chemistry the year prior and I had barely passed my physical science course my freshman year. I was much more in tune with the biological sciences – anatomy and physiology was my favorite class, to be honest, and while I barely passed astronomy, it was way up there, too.

In physics, the professor talked about inertia before I dropped the course and moved on with my life. The sum total of my knowledge prior to my senior year was an opening line during the theme song portion from Bill Nye’s television show for kids: inertia is a property of matter. What else does a 17-year-old need to know about such things?

I have never once, to my knowledge, applied anything related to physics in my adult years. I’ve applied knowledge from other science courses, usually not in direct relation to my life though. But right now, as I look at the Wiki page for inertia, I am beginning to see why a 17-year-old may need to know about it.

As seen in the First Law of Newton’s Laws of Motion, “When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.” I’ve been thinking about this law quite a bit the last few weeks, reading and re-reading Wiki page after Wiki page. I keep clicking through to other semi-interesting pages, but I always head right back to the First Law of Motion.

Sometimes even science can be a sign that your ass needs to be paying attention.

inert

O you falcon who rise from the Abyss, Lord of the Celestial Waters, make me hale just as you made yourself hale. Release him, loose him, put him on earth, cause him to be loved: so says the One-Faced Lord concerning me. – excerpt from Chapter 71 of The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

When I was reading through My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts, I was particularly struck with the imagery of the hours as she brought them to life. Part of the reason I got so hung up on the imagery she described was the simple fact that I had already started dreaming about this stuff.

Perhaps it was a push from Hornung’s book that caused the dreams where I was sucked into the mouth of the primeval goddess, Nut. Or perhaps it was more a metamorphosis that needed to be embodied in the imagery of my religious shenanigans. In either case, I spent a long while reading and re-reading through the hours of the night as Roberts described them. I seemed unable to pull myself away anyway.

It is in the second hour of the night that the deceased find themselves at her mouth. This hour is overseen by the gateway guardian, the Lady of Trembling, and it is here that the deceased watches Sia overlooking transfigured ones. They are mummiform upon beds and Sia commands them to: “Count your hearts, receive your offerings.”

Further in the scene, there are other beings that one can discern. These beings are known as “Inert Ones”, “Punished Ones”, and “Those of the Opposite Sky”. As Roberts writes,

… they are swimming and lying, caught in various phases of a renewal process – like the process which Hathor’s child, Ihy, endures as an ‘Inert One’ in the primal waters before being reborn as a radiant child of the goddess. Sunk in their dead sleep, they lie there, passively surrendering to their fate, some in a state of great suffering, watched by the king who appears behind Sia here in the lowest register. Again the god commands them, this time saying:

Measure your banks, lift up your legs.

I found the entire concept of beings lying around, waiting for the next hour to just sort of show up kind of interesting. It seemed to suggest that one’s metamorphosis through the hours of death wasn’t always a sure-fire bet. You could know the spells, say the right words, but sometimes it didn’t really matter. It’s possible that these are beings who got trapped within the confines of the Duat, failing to use the correct words or maybe they are just persons who had given up. I just found it rather intriguing that there were nooks and crannies, places to stop for a bit because the momentum of the deceased’s journey wasn’t up to snuff. After reading through the rest of the hours, I promptly forgot about this section.

After being told about my own stagnation, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps my journey through the body of Nut had all been a sham. After the original dream, I had some others that appears to correspond with other hours, but I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps I had never really progressed beyond the second hour gateway. It was that gateway, after all, that has stuck with me through the last year. The rest was almost ephemeral.

Perhaps my mind had made up the rest, borrowing heavily from the book I had read and whatever appearance of my forward progression was all a dream-within-a-dream, a sort of lie to myself so that I wouldn’t ever see that I was, in fact, stagnating. I honestly haven’t come to a satisfactory conclusion about all of that yet.

Did I move on?

Did I not?

Who knows?

I have to consider the possibility that through the trappings of one’s own metamorphosis that they could go back to a particular area of the Duat/night that they would prefer to be in.

I mean, look at it this way: if you had progressed beyond a specific hour and you found that the rest of the shit heading your way was too much, who is to say that you couldn’t force yourself back a few steps? Or perhaps just like when we eat our food, wouldn’t it be possible for the peristalsis of Nut’s digestive tract to send you back from whence you came?

Maybe it’s an internal reaction of Nut’s to force you back up to where you truly belong because you either lied or actually weren’t ready for what was next. Or maybe you make the decision all your own. I have to consider the fact that maybe I did get far and said, “fuck this shit; I’m out,” before heading back to the one hour where I wasn’t required to do a fucking thing. I have to also consider the possibility that Nut was just like, “ha ha, no,” and sent me back there.

I may never come to a good conclusion on what happened, but I can assert that I definitely feel like I’m right there in the second hour.

Since finding that section of the book again, I keep going back to that quote in Roberts’ book and focusing on the bit about the Inert Ones passively surrendering to their fate. That is precisely what this stagnation thing has resembled since I recognized that is what was happening. I have been allowing the ebb and flow of life to shift me wherever it wanted me to go versus swimming against the currents.

Rebirth

May he knit my bones together, may he make my members firm. May the Sistrum-player, Lord of Hearts, be brought to me that he may shape my bones and establish the Wereret-crown of Atum. – excerpt from Chapter 149 of The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

After re-reading the section of Hour Two in My Heart, My Mother, I found myself particularly interested in Ihy. It’s not really all that surprising, really. While it could have been expected that I would develop an interest in him prior to now, I can honestly say that I only gave him a passing glance. My relationship with Heru-Wer and Hetheru has had little to do with the side-lock bearing youth of their union.

I pulled up my resources and went to town. There wasn’t that much that I could really learn since Butler’s entry had citations that were heavily from the CT as opposed to either the PT or BD, both of which I have copies of. Still, I pressed on and considered the words of that little old woman who told me to do the fucking work or else. Luckily enough, I have the great resource that is TTR to aid me when I’m kind of like, “the fuck?”

TTR pointed out that Ihy had mentions, especially regarding birth, within Alison Roberts book, Hathor Rising. Since I was nowhere near my copy during the time of our conversation, they graciously typed up the pertinent quotes. I kind of checked out a bit after the quotes because they were all so fucking relevant. I went back to them in my own copy of Hathor Rising a while later:

To ‘become Ihy’, a person must be prepared to experience the raw materiality of existence – blood, faeces, and bodily fluids – all the messy substances and liquids which are there when life is pushed forth from the female womb. Such a birth is graphically described in Spell 334…

My awesomeness precedes me
As Ihy, Son of Hathor,
I am he who begets a begetting
I flowed out from her thighs
In this my name Jackal of the Light
I broke forth from the egg…
I escaped in her blood
I am the Lord of blood. I am turbulent bull …
I came into being, I crept, I travelled around.
I grew, I became tall like my father.

I went through this particular section a few times before I felt like I had grasped what it was that I needed to do.

I had left the little old lady’s house feeling less like I knew what to do and more like I was in another round of perpetual Kermit Arm Flail. After that visit, I was left wondering if perhaps I should just give up and let the passive surrender I had been living in keep on, keepin’ on. None of my gods had felt the least bit like helping me out in the months preceding; they had disappeared for lack of a better term.

While the person I spoke with seemed to indicate this is because I wasn’t doing my part by reaching out, I have to also point out that sometimes, relationships even with the gods are two way streets, man. And it’s never really been my way to beseech them unless I’m backed into a fucking corner. And honestly, being passive about the fate I was in looks absolutely nothing like being backed into a corner.

But as TTR wrote out each particular passage associated with Ihy and as I re-read them again later in my own copy of the book, it kind of crystallized that I could absolutely let the fate that I had been living have me. I could definitely allow the world around me to continue in its perceived shades of gray and drown from it. Or, I could puncture through and be born into the world anew.

No one ever said rebirth was easy. They just never mentioned all the blood and guts you have to go through in order to make it manifest.