Lent 2015.

With Lent on the horizon, I couldn’t help but turn my thoughts to the lwa who had left me without much farewell last year. Oh, there was a bit of a farewell between Papa Legba and I, but the rest of the bunch just kind of disappeared without so much as a wave or by-your-leave. I was angry at the way that everything ended. I guess I’m just so used to beginning, middle, and emphatic ending that no final words of farewell kind of ground on me.

As my thoughts began turning towards Papa Legba, I did a bit of soul-searching. I was really angry when he left. I felt as if I had been, yet again, cast adrift on a sea of torment. He had caught my little dingy in his hands and taught me how to weather the constant storms within that sea. He had told me stories and jokes; he had given me a new appreciate of things that I took for granted, but above all else, he held my hand when I most needed it.

When he left, I was completely miserable. Papa Legba showed up because Sekhmet was at her wit’s end and needed me to be taught a few things about servitude and to get a few other lessons out of the way. I knew this; so why had I been so hurt when he left? I had always thought, somewhere, that with the end of the lessons, he would remain. I thought that he would just always be there. Change to me is something that I have been going through so much in the last two years that I’ve just wanted one thing that remained the same. And I found a good thing, I think, with Papa Legba.

Sometimes, I would dream of the two of us in a garden or in the forest. He was always making something grow. He’s very good at getting things to grow, as I’ve found out. What I didn’t seem to realize until only just recently that each change in the scenery, the overall goal was the same: he was creating a garden and needed to nurture it. We talked a lot about the nature of what nurturing a garden was like and how that relates back to the nurturing one must do for themselves. He told me jokes and he told me stories. He said to me last night that it’s time for me to go back to where I belong; the lesson is over. And it was a lesson and a half. He wasn’t just giving me a way out of the really oppressive atmosphere I was in, but he was also helping me to grow, my core, my soul, and everything in between. He was busy nurturing the fledgling plants and the older plants that had been accidentally pinched out when I became so angry and so embittered.

I’ve been staring at this quote since Ash Wednesday. I went looking through my old entries about Lent and found this sitting there. I found this recreated a second time when I came to the realization that the lwa had truly gone. He had bid me a brief goodbye during Lent of last year, but I had still just believed that he would continue to nurture the garden that I am. I wasn’t taking into context what he was doing or what his plans were; I was only thinking about myself.

I think, though, a certain selfishness is appropriate. I had died in every metaphorical way during our relationship’s tenure and he had always been there to help me pick up the pieces. He found me in all of my inner hiding places and pulled me into the light of the day. It was hard and painful, I think, last year because I didn’t have that person who would force me to look at what I needed to in order to figure out where the chess pieces were on the board.

I still don’t have that. I have a new little filler, to a degree, but Heru-Wer is not Papa Legba. They have a certain obsession about gardening in common and they have both used garden metaphors to get me to latch on to something. But as Heru-Wer told me when we first started being friends, he was not in my life to fill the hole that Papa Legba had created but to create a Heru-Wer sized niche instead.

The niche has been created, but I’ve discovered that the hole in the shape of Papa Legba has cleared up. As I poked around in my ib the last few days, I found that the sore spot that had his name scrawled across it didn’t hurt nearly as much. I continued the poking and prodding with other things, gauging the reactions that I discovered as I worked around what had once been as sharp of a pain as I could fathom. Now, though, it is nothing but a spot that has been scabbed over and healed up… and it seems to have healed up properly.

That’s a relief; I’m kind of tired of hurts healing wrong.

With this year, I was pretty sure that I wouldn’t need to pay any attention to Lent or to sacrifice. I had kind of figured that Lent was over with, just as much as my relationship with Papa Legba. But on Ash Wednesday, one of my coworkers asked me with devilish delight, “What have you given up for Lent this year?” I hadn’t, actually, thought about it at all because I was over the hump, wasn’t I? Did I really need to sacrifice anything?

Evidently, my mouth and my mind were on two different wavelengths because what I said immediately was, “Diet Coke.”

It just popped out there.

And now it was out there.

In the world.

Being all thought about and digested.

“Oh, no,” my coworker said to me, “this is going to be terrible.” I don’t believe I was that grouchy without diet Coke last year (although the amount of posts I made about diet Coke on Tumblr would lead me to believe that I was fairly crotchety). The rumor mill ground around the office, which isn’t much of a rumor mill because we have an instant messaging program always running between the 10 of us, and everyone knew I had given up diet Coke.

Again.

I’ve thought about the reason behind this. Why did I say this before I could explain that I wasn’t observing Lent this year? I don’t want to be trite here, but I can’t help but think that there is something purposeful here. On religious matters, I try to be very careful and concise with my speech especially when speaking on them to people who don’t know the intricate woven threads of my path. But in this case, the words were out of my mouth before I could even think to myself, the fuck is wrong with you?

A part of me believes that it’s just an automatic pilot thing. Another part of me believes that this is more than just autopilot.

Out of everything I could sacrifice, there is nothing more significant than diet Coke to me. As some people have mentioned, it’s practically my life’s blood. Fuck, I drink a hell of a lot of soda every fucking day and it’s always diet Coke. (Once in a blue moon, I will have a Sunkist.) And so my automatic pilot mouth went to the first and most painful thing I could sacrifice, something that would hit me right between the eyes about twenty fucking times a day.

Last year, I sacrificed diet Coke because it was the only thing that I could think of that would fall under the category of a true sacrifice. This year, I sacrificed diet Coke without having a reason. This should prove interesting.

Kemetic Round Table: Here Be Dragons

Subtitle: The Dragons are Really Crack

I think part of the reason I chose the “spiritual turnpike” for the name of this blog, and my path to be honest, is because I was hoping that there was a map. The only thing was that I had to find the map. No problem, though – I would search everywhere and eventually, the map would appear when I was ready. I think I expected this map to have very clear instructions on where my relationship with my gods and, more specifically, my relationship with Sekhmet was going to eventually end up. It would be a nice clean environment; it would be full of unicorn farts and glitter; and there would definitely be peanut butter cups and heart eyes. What I learned instead is that there is no map; there is absolutely no fucking anything to help guide you into unexplored territories. If I did have a map, I would probably be mired in the sections labeled “here be dragons.”

I’ve been mired so long in this place with the dragons that I’m beginning to suspect that this is normal [for me]. Since I was obviously going to be hanging around with these dragons for a fair length of time, I had to go looking for ways to overcome them. To borrow from fairy tales a bit here, the knight always goes out to kill the dragon so that he can rescue the princess. It occurred to me, though, that this was probably not the best mindset to have if I was going to (A) continue to encounter dragons and (B) it seemed to me to be a rather a dick move [against the dragons]. Instead of looking for ways to successfully beat them, I began looking for ways so that we could coexist. For the most part, I think I’ve been successful – I have my moments, of course; I think everyone does when things come out of nowhere. I think my dragons and I, while maybe not the best of friends, we at least don’t try to eat each other.

The gods began throwing me for a loop when they introduced me to dragon the first. We’ll call her Astral Dragon. She was glittery and frilly and had blue whiskers. I ignored her for a long time. It was easy enough, at first, because she was a baby dragon. She had cute little wings and didn’t breathe anything like flames or ice at me. She just sat on top of my head and periodically picked a little hole until I had a nice, steady fissure for her to stream woo in my direction. I was able to write that off, too, because I couldn’t recreate it, ergo it did not exist. My first response (as you’ll see) is to ignore something. I ignored Astral Dragon, as adorable as she must have been as a baby dragon, until she grew so large that I couldn’t breathe under the weight of her. I began paying a bit better attention then.

I started off by researching what was happening and networking with people who had advised that they experienced similar happenings. This helped me get over the idea that I was all alone in a cruel world, surrounded by weirdness that only I went through. I will admit here that I was lucky: there were resources for people like me. I can’t even begin to imagine what it was like for the first person who began having Astral Shenanigans pop up and into their brains. So, I looked around and found that I wasn’t alone. I didn’t actively encourage Astral Dragon; she just kind of threw some more at me whenever she felt the need arose. And thus, I was introduced to woo.

I don’t think I have a very positive relationship with the woo and I have to say that may be par for the course. I get bitter. I get angry. I get irritated. I get frustrated. There is a lot of unexplored territory especially within the Kemetic community. And since most of the woo tends to happen within a Kemetic context (not all of it has, but much of it has), there are still limited resources available. It can be very irritating to have to map out areas of the Duat on your own because you just want to confirm something that you dreamed about… only to have it confirmed in a book and getting thrown for a loop all over again. I have a lot of moments where I doubt entirely what’s happened to me either because I haven’t found a correlation within a dry resource book written for Egyptologists or because it’s just too much to take in all at once and there’s no fucking way this is really fucking happening. Give me proof or give me doubt; so I doubt instead.

The thing is that Astral Dragon brought a friend. This friend was red and flame-ridden and he had gray whiskers, puffs of smoke streaming from both nostrils, and a ferocious bite. We’ll call him Initiation Dragon. He showed up after a while and began leading me in a direction that can only be described as initiation. On this, I fought very hard against it because no fucking way. He and I got into a lot of fights and I spent a lot of my time in a dull funk about the whole experience. It was almost like because I had found a decent groove where I had been able to work closely with Astral Dragon, she had to up the ante by bringing a friend along. That seemed like some bullshit right there. But after enough kicking and screaming, I began going through what I had to go through.

About a year ago, I died. It was while I was in the middle of this painful death (just because you aren’t dying in this realm doesn’t make it any less painful, bee tee dubs) that I began looking into what the fuck I was experiencing. I needed some form of frame of reference. This is when I came upon the word “initiation,” which had been cropping up in circles a little too frequently for the six months or so prior to my astral death. The really big problem was that in the grand scheme of Kemeticism, there isn’t much initiation talk outside of Kemetic Orthodoxy. I have found a little bit of information, which seems to work with what I went through, but it doesn’t fully explain it. I had to start looking elsewhere for more information.

Outside of that, I have found next to nothing regarding initiation. So, it didn’t really make a lot of sense to me. I had to look elsewhere for my answers. And while I found them, I have to admit that the subject matter is pretty problematic because it relates to shamanism… yeah, that’s right, the culturally appropriative word that anthropologists use to designate people with other. So, I went looking and found a lot of parallels with my path and what I had just gone through. It got worse because death was actually a beginning –this was all building to “bigger and better things” (the quotes are fucking air quotes and yes, they are sarcastic). I will admit that it was kind of nice to find something like what I was experiencing even if anthropologists are pieces of shit that steal words and then use it to encompass a way of life that is probably better described as KEY SMASHING.

I know for a fact that I don’t have a very positive relationship with this particular brand of the woo. Again, I think it’s probably normal to go through an experience of this magnitude, which fundamentally changes you on a level that you can’t even fathom, and be a little frustrated and embittered by the entire experience. What makes this worse is that there is no way to map anything out here. It’s one thing to find confirmation of your UPG in a book, but quite another when you’re flying solo and blind on a mad dragon, doing barrel rolls in the air to see if you fall off.

As if Astral Dragon and Initiation Dragon weren’t hard enough to handle, I ended up accidentally bringing home yet another dragon. And this was completely accidental – I didn’t go seeking this on purpose, looking for this particular dragon. We’ll call this particular one Hmmphmm Dragon. This dragon has aqua and lavender swirls up and down its side with a white beard, pink google eyes, and a lopsided grin. I think most people can infer what the hmmphmm is a metaphor for. For those who haven’t caught on, it means sex. That’s right, folks; I have a relationship with a deity – consensual – that would best fall under the category of “god sex.” It is not a romantic relationship. It is not a marriage. There is no oath involved. It is a relationship between a devotee and their god that has sexual overtones periodically. Talk about totally off the fucking map, right?

I’ll tell you what – there is absolutely nothing I can do as far as looking for information on how to handle this. The deity relationships that include sexy times tend to fall within the godspouse dynamic (not saying all by any stretch just that many do) and most of those relationships are not within a Kemetic background. I think I can count on one hand how many people who have admitted, in private, that their relationships fall within this particular paradigm in the Kemetic community. And I think I have only spoken with two Kemetics who have stated that they have god sex. And that’s great – I have a tiny niche that I can reach out to if I need advice. But that doesn’t help in the long run or the fact that I don’t really know what the fuck I’m doing or how this happened to me. What happened to having a nice normal practice?

I don’t have a good way to handle any of this. There are a lot of reasons for it, but at the core of this is that I’m ace, remember? It can be really difficult to handle the fact that one facet of my person is not ace while the rest of me, right now, really fucking is. How do I handle waking up from sexy times with a god? I get crotchety and bitchy; I get frustrated enough to the point where I want to fucking break everything around me. I get snotty and depressed. I deny everything going on as some kind of sick fucking subconscious fantasy. Sometimes, it’s easier to deny it all than to figure out a way to handle the fact that super ace me has a part of her who isn’t so super ace.

Another problem is that, at least with Astral Dragon and Initiation Dragon, I have some resources. I don’t have that for Hmmphmm Dragon. I want books that I can read. I want an Egyptologist to write about how the ancients had sex with their gods, either under the influence of mind altering substances or not. I want them to explain to me what the hell is happening, why it is happening, and to give me sources from antiquity. The thing is that I can’t get this information. It’s either not available or this is a new metamorphosis from the gods or the ancients just never bothered to mention it (always possible) or the resources that do discuss it are completely lost to us. Whatever the case may be, I’m wandering around with Hmmphmm Dragon completely at a loss of what I’m doing or how I wound up here.

This is me at any given moment of the day.

This is me at any given moment of the day.

Looking back at all of that, I think I could have probably handled any of these experiences with a lot more grace and aplomb. The thing is that I am so completely out of my depth that I don’t know how to handle any of this with either of those things. All I have done and continue to do is cry (and I have… a lot) and whine about it, hoping that I haven’t completely made shit up. I have spent a lot of time, hoping that someone would tell me that they had seen it in a dream or that they had tangible evidence that what I have been going through is legitimate. The problem with craving legitimacy here is that none of these dragons can really provide that to me. I don’t think anyone really can provide me with that and even if they could, I don’t know if I would believe them. It’s a vicious circle when things go off the map – your lines in the sand are constantly getting moved back and no matter what it comes down to, you will always have those moments where you just deny everything.

My religious life has long since wandered off the carefully mapped out section of what I thought it was going to be. Honestly, if I sit down with Five Years Younger Me, I would have said that my religious life would have been fulfilling, happy, exciting, making and/or had made me into a better person, and all about the laity: what that means, how that works, and being an “unexceptional, not speshul snowflake.” That is what the person I was five years ago would have said.

What I can say now is that my path is definitely making me into a better person. It definitely falls under the broad definition of “exciting.” But more often than not, it can be frightening and worrisome, with strategic stops at “bitter,” “irritated,” “confused,” and “angry.” I was knocked for a loop a few years back and I’ve been kind of reeling from it all ever since. That is why, in my opinion, a map would be fucking useful right about now.

Sekhmet: So Much More Than Meets the Eye.

Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
She wages her battles to destroy the evil forces of isfet!
Sekhmet! Lioness in disguise!
Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
Sekhmet!

– A modern day hymn as ripped off from based off of the Transformers theme song

When I look back on my early days with Sekhmet, those days when I was very frightened and I had people telling me to stay away from her, I look back now rather fondly. Even though I understand the reason behind why people told me to stay away from her and even though those first few steps towards Sekhmet were some of the biggest and most frightening steps I had ever taken up to that point, I have to admit that I made the right choice.

Sometimes, I sit around and try to see what my life would be like without her… if I had ignored that call all those years ago, and I have to admit that what I think my life would be like is paltry at best and a fog of unending torment at worse. With my entering into this realm with Sekhmet’s open arms ahead of me, I’ve become maybe not the best person I could but I’ve become a pretty damn awesome human being.

As is the case with probably a lot of the netjeru, I’ve noticed this sort of trend that comes and goes in spurts. People seem to get stuck in this particular mindset about Sekhmet and I’ve realized how much it frustrates me, especially now that I’ve begun to actively explore her other aspects and facets. It’s almost as if people can’t even begin to fathom that Sekhmet is an individual with individual wants and desires, hopes and dreams, feelings and regrets. I don’t know if that’s always true of course, but as someone who has begun exploring all the various realms that Sekhmet ends up, I have to say that it appears that way.

Lately, I’ve seen people say things like, “it’s such a hard time working with Sekhmet because she makes me want to kill people” or “I’m such a destroying motherfucker that my spirit guide must be Sekhmet” or “I’m going to burn down everything around me just like Sekhmet did, LOL.”

This mindset really frustrates me as a devotee of Sekhmet and as someone who actively seeks out those other parts of Sekhmet’s soul, those parts that hardly ever get talked about in public. I also think this mindset is incredibly problematic. Let’s talk about that, shall we? (As if you had a choice.)

  1. Tell Me Things Because I Don’t Know How To Research.

I think a lot of people want to be spoon fed and to an extent that’s actually not much of a problem (thus why resource lists are so great). I fully remember how daunting this whole historically informed path was all those years ago and I often felt like I was completely out of my depth when discussing anything with people who had been doing this a while. I often found myself freaking out because they had access to things that I did not or because they seemed to understand the texts that we all had read far better than I. They were able to discern the information out there on the Internet – separate the wheat from the chaff – and that made me feel very insecure and very, very incapable in my devotion to Sekhmet.

I know I spent a lot of my first few years doing this reading and re-reading the same type of things over and over again with regard to Sekhmet. I wanted to understand what it was that I was seeing from those who had been doing this a while and because I wanted them to tell me what I needed to know. I felt disparaged at the thought of all of the resources that I couldn’t fully understand (because let’s face it, a lot of the academic resources out there are not written for the layperson) and all of the resources I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on because they were in other languages. I wanted someone to take me by the hand and explain it to me.

Now that I’ve been at this a while, I’ve found a groove with resources. I’ve been able to better to toss aside the chaff and focus on the wheat. And while I will admit to still feeling upset that there are places I will not be able to go unless someone translates French and/or German texts for me, I would like to think that I’ve finally gotten a good foothold on what I’ve read. And I try very hard, remembering the fear and worry and anger and hopelessness, to explain to people who are new and who may not be aware that Sekhmet is more than a deity of destruction.

However, you can only say the same things so many times before you finally get to the point where frustration takes over. As someone who only minutely associates with the boat paddling phenomena, I probably get far more easily frustrated than those who have been doing the community building longer and more thoroughly than I have.

And that frustration leads me on to point number 2…

  1. Pigeonholing Makes Things Easier for Me

Quite often, I remind people that Sekhmet is more than just a destructive deity. That little check box next to the word destruction? It isn’t the only one that’s been checked, but it seems to be the most often cited. I truly believe that a large part of this, beyond newbie ignorance, is because human beings tend to pigeonhole. It’s almost as if we must always attempt to qualify something within a very strict rubric, which oft-times doesn’t do anyone or anything a damn bit of good.

Let’s be real here: in this day and age, pigeonholing should be jettisoned into space and burned upon reentry into some planets atmosphere. In a day and age where we’re beginning to realize that being uptight about everything and the requirement to shove everything into an “it is this” or “it is that” bullshit dynamic is a complete delusion, I think it’s safe to say that we can do the same with the gods.

Look, I get the whole thing when it comes to Sekhmet. We know she was sent to destroy humanity. Anything that has ever been created about Sekhmet (unless people are just blind and unable to properly read Wiki, which is where 95% of their ignorant information is going to come from) talks about how she destroys some shit. That’s all there is. Like if I had to make an art picture of every damn webpage that pops up when you type in Sekhmet’s picture, it would look like this:

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

(Photo credit, bee tee dubs.)

I rather feel as if the reason behind this is because people are too worried and scared at the prospect of looking outside of preconceived notions.

We have the mindset of the early Egyptologists who were really fond of pigeonholing the netjeru into predefined [usually Christian] terms that have no bearing on ancient Egyptian religion whatsoever. We have the mindset of people who cannot or are unwilling to do the research. We have the mindset of people who are too stuck on archetypes that they don’t bother to look into the minutiae. And of course, we have people who just want to blame the gods for all of their issues so they hyper-focus on a single detail of the painting instead of looking at the whole damn scene.

If we have any or all of the above possibilities, it makes it that much easier to not have to think critically about the gods, about their roles in our lives, and how their relationships with us impact us on a grander scale.

We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet is a destructive force that is why we, as devotees of hers, behave as such. We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet raged at people, then that explains why we feel the need to rage utterly at others. We are stating with these types of reasons for our actions, our thoughts, our feelings in regard to various things is only because we decided to develop a relationship with her… When in fact, it may simply be that the relationship with her is helping us to delve deeper into our own psyche, our own souls to figure out who we are as people, how we actually feel (as opposed to the feelings we couch in terms that polite society can/will handle), and find better ways to handle those things.

  1. I Don’t Need to Explore Our Relationship Further

Above all, I think this one is my biggest pet peeve about the whole thing. By refusing to look beyond that destructive aspect that we all see next to Sekhmet’s name, there are so many rich and rewarding aspects to her that people are missing out on. Yes, that’s right. My biggest problem with all of this is that by doing this, there are so many different parts of Sekhmet that people are not able or not willing to discover because they are too busy thinking of her as C instead of the whole damn alphabet that she entails.

I will admit to a little bit of selfishness with the above, too. It can be really difficult to find people willing to explore their relationships, like me, with Sekhmet. And because there are seeming so few of us out there, it becomes difficult to be open about the changes, the new things I’ve discovered, and all of the UPG that it corresponds with.

I know that sounds weird, right? Since I don’t see people out there who are explorers, so to speak, with Sekhmet, then I don’t want to talk about it. That’s right. I want to be able to express myself in more than simple key smashing (which, I will admit, is how I’ve felt a lot lately regarding her) and I feel that if I could just talk to someone who has experienced even a little inkling of what I’ve found lately then it would help me to crystallize and define things that I’ve discovered.

And it’s exciting.

And it’s neat.

And it’s interesting.

And it’s scary as shit.

Do the thing, you guys, so I can figure shit out.

Let's get some learning on!

Let’s get some learning on!

As bitter as I have been with regard to my relationship with Sekhmet in recent months, looking back, I can see just how much she has truly enriched me as a person and me as a devotee. I want this for everyone who looks in her direction and I definitely think it’s a good course of action to stop thinking of her as belonging in this one box because the myth we have that seems specifically about her discusses her function as an irt-re. Not only is it detrimental to us as people but it is detrimental to her as our goddess. Sure, the ancient Egyptians were scared of her and the netjeru, too, but there is so much more out there. And we, as devotees whether they be long term devotees or passerby devotees, have an obligation to her, to the new people who discover her, and everyone out there who fail to look deeper, to fill in the blanks.

Place of Truth.

You ever have one of those moments where you just have this fucking thing stuck in your head? It can be a song lyric, a picture, a turn of phrase – but it’s just sitting there in your brain pan and periodically, it shoots back out at you and reminds you that it exists in there and that you should think about it. That’s what this post is about.

For weeks on end, whenever I would walk over to my altar for Sekhmet, I would hear this phrase just echoing through my meat space. Hell, let’s be honest here, this has been going on for longer than all of that – months, more like. Whenever I would go over there or pass by, which is done on a daily basis, I would just hear this fucking phrase echoing in my head and I was so very puzzled by it. It was like a little zing at first, you know? It was just there. “Boop! Hey, I’m here.” And then with each passing day that the phrase would hit me, it became more and more like an electrical shock to the system: place of truth.

I puzzled about it, you know? I thought I was making up things out of the reactionary word vomit that can occasionally inhabit one’s mind space. How often had I had moments where something would come through like this and it ended up being nothing? (Or quite possibly, it actually was something that was never solved because, let’s be real here, that’s always a possibility.) But it began to happen on such a regular basis and the zings were becoming more painful. It was like eating too much sugar after a filling falls out – a zap of pain to the teeth. Or more like a momentary brain freeze that would shoot not just into my brain, making me want to cut off the entire apparatus housing it, but throughout my whole body.

I started looking things up because, you know, I may as well give in to the reactionary odd shit my mind makes up.

I was really just expecting like a book title to pop up or have an image come up on the screen: a single pointed finger surrounded by bubbled text spelling out “ha ha ha.” That’s not what happened. The not-oracle that is Google came up with something interesting: set maat was what the ancient Egyptians referred to the Theban necropolis as. Oh, well, that was very helpful… so helpful that I looked up the bits about how the workers at Deir el-Medina were referred to as “servant of the place of truth.” And all of that was just so very helpful but not in any way, shape, or form that could possibly explain to me why the fuck I was having this damn fucking phrase puncture my brain pan every fucking morning.

I mean, honestly? What in the world did my relationship with Sekhmet and/or my altar space have to do with the Theban necropolis? I couldn’t make a connection. Sure, I had dealings with Sekhmet in the Duat, but that didn’t really relate as far as I could see to the necropolis. And I don’t really consider my altar space as sacred as, maybe someone somewhere thought the necropolis was. So, how the fuck and why the fuck and what the fuck?

I left it alone. That’s a thing, right? When things really start to aggravate you, sometimes if you just leave them alone, they percolate in the background and something might come of it.

I left it alone for so long that I told Sekhmet’s altar that it could shut the fuck up. I got more zings. I started avoiding going near her altar except for the most necessary things – offerings, dropping off jewelry, picking up jewelry, etc. I got more zings. I refused to make fucking eye contact with my fucking altar whenever I would do these in the hopes that it would help. I got more zings. I left it alone for so fucking long that I began to actually tune it out. Evidently, this was just too much to handle because things came to a head the second week of January.

The second week of the month is when I do the rites and services Sekhmet and I agreed upon (over a fucking year ago now – time flies). I usually make up the altar pretty much the same, maybe with minor changes. I clean the place up and out and spritz it down and make it damn fine. I have ritual plates that I use for the heka feast offering and ones specific for the actual food offerings I give as well. No big deal, I pulled everything down and placed the heka in the proper plate-bowl-thing and looked at it and had the volume turned up: PLACE OF TRUTH.

I stared at the space I had lovingly tended with revulsion and irritation. We were back to this stupid fucking thing again. I had finally managed to get out of that fucking gutter and I was getting sucked back in when I had things to do. So, I looked around for something while I began to get a massive fucking headache as PLACE OF TRUTH pounded through my brain pan. I found a candle and laid it over the heka meal. I stared at the plate some more and then pulled down the feather of ma’at amulet, wrapping it gently around the candle holder.

The volume dial was turned down and I was able to walk away, pleased with it.

Well.

Shit.

What the fuck.

A while later, I began moving things away and looked down at the altar space. I was pretty angry and irritated. I went to move the heka feast bowl-plate-thing with its candle and ma’at, but my hand stayed right where it was at my side. I looked at my hand. I looked at the bowl thing. I looked at Sekhmet. I looked at the feather of ma’at amulet.

PLACE OF TRUTH.

I decided to just remove the heka feast and clean the plate thing, but placed the candle and the amulet back where it had been previously. The volume dial was turned down again. I was beginning to get a very serious feeling that the bowl-plate-thing and the amulet needed to stay put. I wasn’t really sure if the candle needed to stay put, but since it’s a good focal point, I figured it could stay. Besides, if nothing else, doesn’t the place of truth deserve a little way to make some flame especially since it seems, somehow, to be related to the Lady of the Flame?

I’ve been growing more and more desperate. I can’t tune it out as clearly as I had been. I can continue to walk by; I can continue to ignore the space; I can even just go “lalalala, I can’t hear you,” with my fingers in my ears. None of it really works. I don’t know what the hell this means. Why the hell this is even supposed to be a thing?

In desperation, I went to the not-oracle that is Google and found a whole lot of the same shit I found the first time around. In desperation, I reached out to two groups for help, but have received no responses from anyone about the phrase “place of truth.” I’m clearly at the end of my tether because I can’t fucking sit around and listen to the stupid bullshit anymore. I don’t know what this means or why this means. I don’t understand the zings I’m getting or the constant feeling that there is something missing, perhaps that I, myself, am missing (clearly) or that is missing from the fucking space in general. I just don’t know.

So, because I was finally at the end of my fucking rope and demanding answers, I pulled out the Book of Doors deck.

WHAT DOES THIS FUCKING THING MEAN.

And I got a hodge-podge mess that actually made me even angrier. I was already pretty pissed to begin with – the fact that I had to turn to cards in the first place really made me snottier than usual – so the responses I got to the question, phrased differently each time, made me very unhappy. It was made worse when I realized that how I typically interpret the deck wasn’t going to work. The answers I was looking for were “woo” related, or in that realm. So, historically, I have bubkes. And technically, woo-wise, I also have bubkes but at least I know it’s related to that in some way.

This was not helping.

I sat in front of the altar and stared at the white plate. It was just a plate. I had purchased it for $1 at the dollar store. There is absolutely nothing special about the plate. It’s flat in the middle and rounds up. It’s probably more like a serving bowl or a salad bowl. There is no design to it – I wanted something nice and plain for the rites and services when I picked it out. It’s a nice enough looking bowl-plate, but it’s usefulness starts and ends at holding offerings once a month.

And yet… adding it to the altar had definitely been a good thing.

Maybe it wasn’t the bowl so much that was a good thing, but the amulet? I thought about that. And it wasn’t until the two were placed together, with the amulet wrapped daintily around the pillar candle holder, when I felt I had done a good thing. But the good thing, that feeling anyway, is still beset on all sides. There’s more here, I can fucking feel it.

I keep looking at the damn space and I keep thinking about how the fuck this can finally shut up in my head. I keep looking at the whole damn space and I keep knowing that I need to add to it. I need more than just the candle and the amulet and the bowl. There’s something here and the answers just aren’t anything more than bleariness at the corner of my eye. I keep rubbing at the bleariness but there’s nothing there but more bleariness.

What the fuck am I even doing.

I wandered back and forth to the altar. I stared at it. I looked down at the floor in frustration and then looked back up, hoping that I had taken enough time to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I walked away in a huff. I walked back with my hands linked at the back of my head, afraid that if I didn’t hold them together tightly that I may just slash my arm across the whole edifice and destroy it all. I lay down and watched Supernatural for a while. I got back up and stared at what I had begun and then moved back to the TV. I paced back and forth while I messaged with a friend, freaking out through my cell phone. It was a good thing really; I was finally able to say something to someone who, though perhaps they wouldn’t understand the entirety of the problem, they could at least be a sounding board since clearly there will be woo and there is already woo.

This is my truth.

This is my truth.

We talked and they made sense. The panic-streaked thoughts from the last few months faded out. They became less shaky and more solid. I could see what I needed to do in my head, but I just had to figure out how to get it there. As carefully as my son has done when building a precarious tower of blocks, I held my breath and placed pieces in the plate-bowl. I held my breath so as not to disturb the precarious balance. I looked down at my handiwork and knew that I needed more. This was insufficient and I looked up at mawat’s face and I thought to myself, what the fuck do you want from me? And then I saw it… the little necklace of the four arrows I had made a few weeks back. I looked down at my not-a-masterpiece and looked back up at her and then knew what I had to do.

They were the final piece to the finished product.

You see, the point was that I had to build myself a place of truth. It makes sense that the bowl was a good thing – a repository for the heka that I have taken on for the last year. It is a part of my truth. Each little piece placed carefully in that bowl-plate is a part of my truth: my path and where it has led me. I knew this year was going to be a bit of a doozy in the way of my religious experiences. I knew that last year when I looked to the future and saw more hardship, many more ordeals, and new adventures coming my way. I was told a little while ago that I would be judged, but you know? I judge myself, too and quite often, very harshly. I built myself a place of truth. These pieces are a part of my truth – my inner truth, the truth of my ib – and while I may, indeed, be judged by outsiders, the foundations remain the same.

Je suis prêt, I remind myself.

Kemetic Round Table: More Heka!

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!

When I first got started in the wild realm of heka, I think I overcomplicated the concept to myself. I tried to look at it from the same frame of reference as the ancient Egyptians. Don’t get me wrong – that’s important especially for those of us who are recreating the religion. But I spent so much time worrying about my words and what sort of associations, ramifications, and unintended hurts may end up being inflicted on others that I stopped saying anything of merit at all.

I can assure you – this is not how you work with heka.

I think the thing that hung me up the most is that, while the ancient Egyptians saw words as inherently powerful in their own right, things have changed to an extent. We don’t take as much time with the wording of something. I think our modern viewpoint negates the inherent ability within us to effectively create heka. It’s important, of course, to be mindful of our words and how tone, inflection, and the wording can impact others, but I don’t necessarily equate someone being a twatwaffle when they speak to utilizing heka.

When I use heka, I tend to save it for “larger” occasions, specifically during the rites and services I do on behalf of Sekhmet, during major holidays, or larger magical undertakings. So, for example, I have been cooking up (so to speak) a large personal rite that has aspects of both sympathetic magic and heka interwoven together. Outside of these instances, however, I very rarely use heka in my life on a day-to-day basis.

I found that my past failings with attempting to monitor my words and mind my attitude had ended up disastrously: it impacted me negatively by feeling as if I couldn’t say anything with any substance as well as setting off my anxiety. It also made it that much harder for me to communicate effectively. I still have leftovers from this – anyone who knows me that I go quiet on the Internet frequently. This isn’t always caused because of spoon management (or lack thereof) but because I don’t feel as if I have the ability or wherewithal to (A) add anything to the conversation or (B) say anything that wouldn’t, eventually, end up coming out badly.

So, I stopped worrying about my words on a daily basis and started worrying more about them when I was in ritual and when I was working on magix. I found that I worked on it all, studying what it was I was hoping to achieve by turning to heka (healing, protection, execration, etc) and using that as a firm foundation. From there, I built upward with what I felt was needed in order to have good heka in use for the goal I was aiming to achieve.

But you know what I discovered after a while? I’ve become far more mindful of my speech on a daily basis.

Part of this, of course, could be because my job is 95% done through written communication. Much of what I work on is highly technical… and I have to communicate the technical aspects to people who would not understand the lingo. I often find myself paying more attention to how I’m phrasing a problem and what the resolution for that problem was. I pare it down to its most basic component – as an example, the carrier made a wiring repair – and reflect that in my communication.

I do this, as well, within my written communication over the Internet and my conversations with friends and family. I think about what it is they are wanting to know from me, pare it down to its most basic component, and work upward from there. (For those just getting to know me via Tumblr, this is why 99% of my responses are so short.)

When I became aware of this, I started looking around to see if there were other instances where I would use heka on a more daily basis. And I found that I did have my moments. I can’t say it’s something that comes to me either naturally or often, but it is something that I do.

Periodically, I will do a sort of invocation of one of the netjer to see me through the day. The ancient Egyptians were fond of equating themselves as the gods when they were undertaking heka. It added a layer of legitimacy along with a layer of power to the heka that they were trying to do. Most often, as anyone can guess, I reach out to Sekhmet in my attempt to embody what she is capable of: getting through some bad ass shit.

I will admit that this has had mixed results, though I don’t think it’s necessarily because my heka is ineffectual as a whole, but because I tend to do this in a fit of pique. I don’t think that being at my wit’s end necessarily assists me with what I’m trying to do… which is why I tend to plan out for quite a long time frame beforehand what heka I am undertaking.

When it comes to getting started with heka, I honestly don’t know how someone should get started. I think studying the concept in an effort to understand how it was used in ancient Egypt is a good idea. However, when I did, I found myself anxious and overwhelmed both by the concept (since it isn’t exactly an easy one to figure out in a single go) and how it could possibly impact my life.

I think baby steps are probably the best way to go, but that’s honestly the case with about 99% of anything one wishes to study. When it comes to heka, I would go through Kemetics’ blogs and read through any posts tagged under “heka” or “heka hut.” That should give you a rough understanding if what it means to the modern day practitioner.

The next few baby steps that would be the most effective would be to start off small: execration. Execrations are probably the easiest, most cathartic, and the most common forms of heka modern practitioners utilize. (Have a whole KRT topic on it even!) I’m almost positive my first official act of heka was an execration. Besides, who doesn’t like the idea of beating the crap out of a pot or piece of paper when you’re frustrated beyond your measure?

From there, I would take it one step at a time. There’s never a rush when it comes to this sort of thing. Rushing into these types of endeavors can lead to more problems in the long-run anyway. And of course, as always, make sure you have fun with it all, you know? Don’t get boring with it.

Sekhmet’s Procession with Her Executioners 2015.

January 9, 2015.

About six months ago, I started feeling as if I needed to add the Seven Arrows of Sekhmet into my practice somehow. They’re kind of important pieces of her that I’ve only recently paid any great attention to. I figured I would get around to do something altar related to add them in at some point in future.

Queue in to about a week ago when I was like, “I’m going to do it now.” I went out to a local shop and purchased four bronze arrow pendants. I have every intention of going back out for three more when the store restocks. Coincidence abounded when I received the notification that yesterday was the holiday, “Sekhmet’s Procession with Her Executioners.” Coincidence: the landmark of any devotee’s practice.

Last year, I sat around for a while and tried to figure out how I wanted to go about celebrating this particular festival. While last year’s festivities got the job done, I wanted to do something a little different. My holiday celebrations have been rather boring lately: a meal, some words, candle and incense. While this clearly is effective (since I haven’t been told to stop being a lazy bum about this shit), I wanted something more. Perhaps that stems more from three weeks of leading a very sedentary lifestyle while in arm prison or perhaps it was just simply time to hearken back to my “I’m going to have some fucking fun while doing this shit” mentality. In either case, I decided paper and food wasn’t enough this time.

All right. It looks like a collar or something, but it was what I managed.

All right. It looks like a collar or something, but it’s what I managed.

So, I worked for about an hour on how to get the arrow pendants in a sort of circlet that I wanted to fasten around my icon’s neck. Let me tell you that it was a fucking pain in the ass and I really need to come up with a better idea here. I chose silken cord that I had lying around and was unsuccessful in that attempt because the holes on the arrow pendants is really fucking tiny. My cord wouldn’t thread through it. I even had the SO try threading them for me and he handed it back with, “nope, it can’t be done,” after assuring me that he could do it.

I looked around my crafting stores, trying to figure out what the fuck I wanted to do. I knew I had wanted to purchase wire or something to hold the fucking pendants, but I figured it could wait until I had all seven. I finally found some really thin white ribbon I had lying around… and it took me about 45 minutes to thread the fucking shit through. I actually ended up unraveling one end of the white ribbon at one point. I was getting really fucking frustrated, but I kept on until I had a serviceable end result. I was even able to slide if over the head of my icon without causing any damage to myself, the arrows, or the icon in question.

That’s when I sat around and tried to figure out how I wanted this procession to go about. In 2013, I celebrated this particular festival (without knowing its full name) with a sort of Roaming Gnome impression that I found both fun, funky, and exciting. With this devious plan forming in my mind, I decided to go for broke and process Sekhmet with her SevenFour Arrow necklace around the house. I took photographic evidence to show that I’m not full of shit.

Jealous bitches? Who goes on walkabout? ME.

Jealous bitches? Who goes on walkabout? ME.

There is no TV; there is only ME.

There is no TV; there is only ME.

I have no fucking idea what the hell this is.

I have no fucking idea what the hell this is.

Books. Aw, yiss.

Books. Aw, yiss.

This room is filthy.

This room is filthy.

That looks like some damn fine eats. Let's get on with this, shall we?

That looks like some damn fine eats. Let’s get on with this, shall we?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After all of the processing was done, I put her with her necklace-of-sorts back to rights at her altar space. I ensured that it was cleaned and looking pretty dapper with all of the damn things she manages to accrue each month. (But no, seriously, I clean that fucker off every damn month and every time I go back over there to do a full on fucking clean, there’s some shit all over the place. Like, I really don’t even know how the hell this happens because I’m pretty sure I have it in my head to not add things to her altar space and yet… every month, I pare the thing down.)

That's what I'm talking about.

That’s what I’m talking about.

I added the four pieces of paper I had created last year in a sort of pattern that came out to look like an “A.” That was not done on purpose, I can assure you, but I giggled like an idiot when I realized what I had done and left it. “A” is not only just for awesome (as in awesome fucking holiday celebration; you go with your bad self) but “A” is also for Aubs, who is awesome. It was a total win-win. You may note that you only see three pieces of paper in the image, but that’s because I don’t feel comfortable announcing the names of the Sekhmet devotees I listed on the fourth piece of paper. That piece is hiding beneath the red arrow paper.

Once I was over my giggle fit, I cut two honking pieces of bread and popped it down in front of her. “Manger,” I said like my mother used to do when I was a kid. I then demanded that the SO make me a diet Coke and vodka, which devolved into a conversation that I feel best describes his stance on my religion and my point-of-view regarding offerings:

Me: Make me a diet Coke and vodka please.
SO: Is this for you or for your Roaming Lion?
Me: Lioness. And it’s for me.
SO: What if she gets thirsty, though?
Me: That shit is mine. She had better zoom in quick for a gulp before I get that shit in my hand.
SO: *shrugs* Whatever you say.

I recognize that how I go about my holiday celebrations isn’t really what others would think when they ponder the “inherent seriousness” within one’s religion. However, I can assure you that I take my love, my job, and my religion very seriously. I just don’t know why we all have to be boring fucks who sit around, thinking about the meaning of life in the cultural and religious contexts of our lives and religions, when we could all be doing Roaming Gnome impressions with our statuary. I mean, shit man. If religion means being a douche and feeling holier-than-thou, I’d rather build with blocks and take pictures of my gods traveling around my house.

I spent the rest of my night watching really awful horror movies, pounding down my straw-laden alcohol, and listening to Timber by Pitbull, feat Kesha. (No, I did not dance but that was because I was drinking my alcohol really fast and didn’t trust my feet. I had a severe case of the giggles, though.) That, to me, is a better ending to any religious holiday I have ever celebrated in my life.

And either that says something about my religious upbringing or says something about how I’m so fucking jettisoning that boring as fuck mentality about being a pious devotee.

Related Posts

The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2014.

Alternate Title: Look at Your Life; Look at Your Choices.

As usual, I had no idea what the point in this celebration is supposed to be. What kind of words should I be answering? Are they good words or bad words? Is there are a lot of cursing alongside those words or is this all clean language? Are they words or are they Words? Is there a little of heka threaded through those words? Maybe there’s absolutely no heka involved, though; or maybe even the whole thing is related to heka in some form or another and I have to answer them? That’s really just the age-old problem with recreating a dead religion, though. You don’t know what the fuck you’re doing nine times out of ten, so you slap-dash some shit together, call it a day, and hope for the best.

So, I went into this celebration having no fucking clue what I was supposed to be doing. As the days clicked by one by one on my calendar, I found myself beginning to worry about what the hell I was expected to answer for. I mean, I’m kind of a jerk. And I do whatever the fuck I want to do. And maybe, perhaps, just maybe, I’m not a really good devotee. Fuck. The anxiety about what the hell this holiday was for began to seriously mount up. Each day dawned with me having no fucking idea what the hell I was answering for or about. It was made even worse when someone else mentioned that the times they had celebrated this particular festival, they had been called to the carpet.

Shit.

My anxiety was really beginning to spiral out of control. I would find myself staring off into space, trying to envision what I could expect.

I decided that worrying about it, though, wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I mean, worrying about something is all well and good for people with anxiety (like me), but it doesn’t actively accomplish anything. Luckily, work kind of took off around that point and it was an all hands on deck situation. I kind of had the mindset that since there was nothing I could do to fix whatever words I had to answer for, then I may as well just fucking take whatever gets thrown at me. I mean, to be honest, if I was a fucking bad devotee, then by fucking golly, I was going to be a bad fucking devotee. There was absolutely nothing I could do about it. It was stupid to believe that I could have possibly have fixed all of my fuck ups in a matter of weeks. So, I shrugged it off, wiped my hands clean, and waited for the big day to appear.

I’ll admit that I had butterflies when I woke up that morning.

The day in question dawned icy and chilly. (What do you expect in early December in Massachusetts?) A lovely sheen of ice had coated the entirety of the world outside during the overnight. It was so thoroughly covered that people everywhere went skidding the moment they stepped outside. My coworker destroyed a pair of shoes when she stepped out on her front porch that morning, sliding down her porch and into the yard. My landlord’s truck went rolling down his driveway – a giant hill – after he put it into park because of the layer of ice. I was just one of many who went down and just one of hundreds who “luckily” damaged a bone in offering to the unforgiving Winter Gods. Or, perhaps the god in question was a certain temperamental Irt-Re I know and love? My first thought when I wasn’t freaked from all of the damn pain was: Well, this is certainly timely.

I spent about half of my day at work. I had no idea that I had damaged anything significant. Honestly, when I went down initially – besides being embarrassed that my ass went skidding down the fucking driveway – it kind of felt like I had hit my “funny bone.” You know the one. The bone in your elbow that when you hit it just right, it really fucking hurts and everyone says about how totally not funny it is to hit your funny bone. Yeah, that’s the one. It felt like that only a lot worse. So, I went to work since I was able to move the arm (any poor person’s self-analysis after taking a tumble).The pain intensified, though and about halfway through the day, I told my boss that it felt like my arm bone was on fire so I was leaving for the hospital. I spent the rest of the afternoon and a good portion of my evening at the ER, getting X-rayed, being told it couldn’t be “too bad” since I was carrying a 1 pound (or less) purse in my injured arm’s hand, and just generally being miserable. All other worries and thoughts were gone in the aftermath. When I was medicated and splinted, I considered the circumstances again. Was this a sign?

Divination was all I had to figure this shit out and I couldn’t even shuffle a deck since my arm was all bound the fuck up. I ended up using one of many apps on my phone; all signs pointed to me being a big, dumb, fucking idiot. I could have salted the back steps and the driveway before stepping outside. I had noticed the ice coating on the car and on the railing and on the recycle bin. But I had decided it didn’t look “too bad,” even after being warned by a few people on Facebook that it was much worse than it looked. As I told the SO later, this whole fucking experience was best summed up as: “look at your life; look at your choices.”

With that phrase echoing in my head, it occurred to me that I may have discovered what the fuck that damn holiday was all about.

I got tossed in a fiber glass prison two days after the holiday. My sentence was for three weeks. The radial elbow was only “a little fractured.” (Side note: that was actually a phrase the doctor at the ER used when describing the fracture. When he said that, I just wanted to walk the fuck out of the ER and go to a better one. What fucking doctor uses that phrase? I mean, why not tell a woman she’s only a “little bit pregnant.”) I got nearly a month of time to do nothing except to look at my choices, to look at my life. Oh, so very much joy.

You know what, though? I found a lot of interesting things in those three weeks. I found out things about myself, which was pretty important. Before the three weeks, I felt very much as if the person looking back at me in the mirror was a complete stranger. I often found myself wondering when I had decided that this was going to be who I had become all those years before. I found out things about what I wanted out to my life, what I wanted to do with that life, and how I wanted to approach things. I learned things about my shadow work, things about my religion, about my family, and everywhere in between. At the heart of every facet that I looked over, I found a single overarching theme throughout. That was kind of disconcerting; I hadn’t expected to find a pattern: impatience.

I am an impatient person. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but I really fucking am an impatient person. I can teach people things, but if someone doesn’t get it after three or four times, then I grow impatient with their learning process. I end up doing it myself, even in the teaching, because of that impatience. (Let me tell you, this is very difficult for me as the parent of a child in elementary school. This is also a problem for the SO.) People taking dictation from me had better be able to write 95WPM (like me) otherwise, they’re too damn fucking slow. People who are only going 10MPH over the speed limit are the slowest fucking assholes and need to get the fuck out of my way. Honestly, the circumstances are immaterial. Trust me when I say that I am impatient and many of my choices over the years are based on that impatience whether I realized it at the time or not.

Do you want to know how hard it is to do anything with one warm, even a subordinate arm (my left arm was the one I went down on), stuck in a fucking cast? I hope many of you are saying that you don’t know how difficult it is. For those who don’t know, let me assure you that doing anything with a cast is enough to take many of your spoons allotted for the day. Now imagine who hard this all must be for someone who is headstrong, independent, and impatient. Yes, those three weeks were really difficult. I whined a lot.

But as much whining as I did because the SO had to wash my ass-length hair (and had absolutely no fucking experience with how to wash really fucking long hair), I also spent much time being introspective. Through all of the whining about how I couldn’t read any of my fiction books because they’re all mass market paperbacks and I couldn’t fucking hold them up for long periods of time, through all the nights I spent staring at the television screen in disgust because I couldn’t fucking type a damn thing on my computer, for all of the fucking moments where I woke up in the middle of the night because the weight of the cast on my fingertips had put them to sleep, I was spending a good deal of time inside of my head and thinking about my own impatience. I chose primarily to focus all of that inside-me on the not-so-painful but after a while, with nothing else to do, even the most painful and taboo subjects got glanced over, worked on.

Again and again and again, I kept seeing the same old warning sign: impatience ahead.

I’ll use an example to illustrate my point.

Just before Thanksgiving, I had a pressing need to destroy a bond that did me no favors in the keeping. I arbitrarily decided everything had to be gone, that I had to get rid of this bond by year’s end. I had plans (which I hope to detail in a further post because I plan on seeing this shit through) and nothing was going to stop me! The thing is that there is no arbitrary time frames for removing sickly bongs. It’s a slow process if done properly. I know that consciously, but nope. I had to take between four to six weeks to clear it all out. By rushing it, I was playing with fire, honestly, and quite possibly could have made things a lot worse on myself. And as I am hurtling on my head-long way towards disaster, or possible disaster, I fractured my fucking elbow. This made doing any of the writing and any of the heka that I had planned for this batch of shadow work impossible. So, I back burnered the whole damn project until I had the time, the ability, and the wherewithal to complete it properly.

While waiting the eternity (three weeks in real time, but legitimately, time is fucking relative and it fucking felt like 20 weeks to me) for the cast to come off, the urgency that I had felt about getting the shadow work done… Well, it faded. I took up doing other aspects of that working instead. There were items that I was leaving out and items that I needed to address as well, but I thought I could just do everything in six weeks with no problems. By slowing down and taking the time to see to other items internally, I was able to feel stronger as I slowly shed the bonds in both mind and body. Since I took up those other aspects that I had been ignoring, I found the whole process to go much more smoothly over all.

In looking back through my other shadow work adventures, there are two themes throughout: “I don’t want to” and “get it done now.” I wasn’t actually mandated to remove this bond as I had been at other times and in other circumstances. This was all my own idea (for once). And yet, I went into it with this sense of urgency that it had to be done before some “important date” and for what purpose? The only answer, of course, is that I was listening to my own internalized impatience.

Throughout the three weeks that I was encased in my fiber glass prison, I slowed down. I stopped rushing head long into pain filled waters, arbitrary cut offs, and instead, took the time to sight-see. I revised myself without that red hot impatience. I found it possible to breathe easily for once. And you know, I actually took a look around myself for the first time in ages. I don’t know if that qualifies as what people would call “stopping to smell the roses,” but it kind of felt like that was what I was doing. What I do know is that I feel a lot lighter. I don’t know how else to describe it, honestly. It’s just as if the millstone that had been attached to my neck was finally removed.

I looked at my life.

I looked at my choices.

I found things I wasn’t pleased with and I began the learning curve on how to cut that shit out.

I can’t say, conclusively, if this is what the festival is supposed to be about. I honestly doubt that this is how the ancients went about celebrating it. But, it doesn’t really matter. I’m only recreating a dead religion, after all.

Phase You Out; Should Have Seen This Coming.

I’ve been working on some serious breaks in the threads. It’s been hard. I don’t really want to have to deal with this, but the same old shit keeps coming up and ask Sekhmet pointed out, I’m “no use” if I’m “obsessed with things that cannot be changed.” Yeah, I suppose that’s one way to look at it, but it seems almost callous. When I called her callous that was around the same time my pillow fort got removed and grapes stopped magically appearing in my room over there. I guess the point was that I needed to stop distracting myself and get to work.

So, I got to work. I found the bond that was messing me up. There it was, feeling all bond like and there. I saw it for what it was – the connection between two people. I followed that connection back and back again and felt myself falling back through time and space. It was almost like the closer I got to the person on the other side, the more and more real this step was beginning to feel. I had a decision to make – break the bond or say “fuck everything” and let myself go down in flames?

Why is that always the decision though? Why the fuck is it always about whether or not I’m going to do something that I don’t feel inclined to do versus destroying myself? Why can’t the decision be something more like if I don’t do the thing then I don’t get to pet the puppies? Why can’t the decision be more like if I don’t do the thing that’s demanded of me and that I probably should do for my own benefit then I don’t get any cupcakes for snack? Why the hell is it always coming down to “do this thing or bad things will happen?”

When the fuck did this shit get so fucking real?

I’m pretty sure I never signed up for this. In fact, I don’t think when the original consent was provided there was anything to do with the types of shit I would be forced to face for the “bigger picture.” And I mean, in all honesty, I fail to see how in the world my personal shadow work has anything to do with the bigger picture. But there it is, the axe above my neck with its ominous threat, and how if I don’t do the fucking thing the whole fucking timeline is screwed up.

I strongly suspect half of this is bullshit and half of this is melodrama. I’m too frightened at the prospect of fucking up and finding out that none of it was bullshit or melodrama to stop doing what needs to be done, though. It’s a catch-22, motherfuckers; welcome to my fucking life.

Two sided time,
Your rebirth can’t hurt,
Branch out behind, the pain.

I can remember the first time it came up. It was like the elephant in the room, but my cautiousness kept me from leaping forward. I had been burned and hurt before; I didn’t need to go down that road again. But they just kept pushing the fucking button until I finally just agreed. Sure, I’d meet [person]. Sure, I’d give it a shot. And the first time we met? I was just like, “Who is this person? Why are you telling me all these things about yourself? I don’t know you. Please do not share these personal details with me.”

I didn’t like [person]. But you know what? I don’t actually remember a time where I didn’t have a violently negative reaction about people whom I would one day defend with every breath in my body, so I didn’t think too much of it. I didn’t like [person] and that was it. Okay, I could deal with the fact that I would be forced in their presence and maybe, I would stop disliking the person. And you know what? The fact that [person] was willing to work around my idiosyncrasies and my standoffishness and everything thrown in between… well, we became friends.

You know, friendship is weird like that for me though. I don’t really think I can convey how much I violently disliked previous people who would fill the role [person] would inevitably fill. I guess I’m just a naturally negative person? Which in some weird convoluted and frightening way, later morphs into some form of obsessive trust and love? At the end of the day, I can tell you all one thing – I am fucking weird.

But we were friends and it was okay. And then I got to the point where it was AWESOMEFRIENDSHIPOMG and it was just always there. I talked to [person] all the time and they just got the things I was saying. It was like I had found someone who could just accept me for who I was. I had found a place where I belonged. And when shit turned really fucking bad for [person], I was there for them. And when things got really fucking badly for me, [person] was there for me.

We were besties/BFFs/bonded.

It was a thing.

Had to to turn, lay down,
Your sting of disease.
Phase you out, should’ve seen this coming.
Go on confusing the soul,
Hold my breath ’til you rupture.

I think we were actually closer when we were separated. Like how fucking weird was that? I had someone physically closer to me who could fill the slot that [person] had once filled, but it was always [person]. I guess that makes me a shitty friend? I honestly don’t know. We had become so close though and honestly, there’s something about surviving the shittiest fucking back stories ever with the purpose of moving the fuck on and moving the fuck out that creates a real connection. I don’t fucking know. I don’t know; [person] was kind of it for me?

I honestly don’t know when shit started getting hard. Like, you know how a relationship is just so easy? It like ends up being almost like a pair of really comfortable sweatpants. You can just put them on and they’re really the best choice; they’re worn in just the right places and they keep you warm and they have that aura of comfort about them. It’s just the perfect fit and you don’t have to worry about it. The relationship we had developed was like that. It was just… nice.

I could be myself and that was okay. [person] could be themselves and that was okay. We liked enough of the same things to have things that we could talk about and we had enough differences where it wasn’t stale to be around one another. Maybe it was the fact that things were so easy all the time that made shit go wrong? Like I honestly just don’t even know.

I began noticing that I couldn’t feel as trustful of them. I honestly don’t know when it began. I look back down the corridor of space and time and I’m trying to pinpoint when things changed. When did I stop feeling like I could trust them? And I honestly have to say it was when I was finally made aware of patterns. There were patterns; same ole, same ole. But these patterns were detrimental to my mental health… something that was always on the back burner in our conversations.

And as I picked at the threads of what had been going on between us for nearly a decade, I had to come to the realization that things weren’t really about me. I was secondary. There was always something big going on in [person]’s life that was so much more important than me. Some of those big events in their life were really important; enough to back burner my emotions. But when everything began to get so big and out of control and my emotional needs weren’t being met… That’s when things stopped being easy. When I realized that this was a one-side relationship.

What made all of these realizations worse was that [person] was trying to influence my personal life. Like, yeah. I get where [person] was coming from, but their advice was more detrimental than if they had just continued to ignore the fact that I had emotions and needed to talk about them. It stopped being so fucking easy and it became less about us, more about [person], and I began to feel more and more like a second-class citizen in our own relationship.

The thing is that none of this was new to me. I had gone through this same ole fucking song and dance before. I could count on my hand how many trustworthy people I could count on and in all those other instances, I had come to the realization that I was secondary. I was always fucking second in the race and I don’t know why? I think I’m important. Perhaps because I’m naturally introverted, people mistake it as a need to not discuss things? I don’t fucking get it.

Why can’t I be important?

That’s the gist.

There it is in five fucking words:

Why. Can’t. I. Be. Important.

Like a leach,
I hold on as if we belonged,
To some precious pure dream.
Cast off, you’ve seen what’s beneath,
Now fail me.

I kept the bond. I kept holding on to it for the longest time in some mistake belief that things could go back to being easy. But the thing is that I realized… I wasn’t as integral to the relationship as I thought I should be and I don’t know if it’s really possible to fix that. When I had that realization, the bond began to fade. It’s a shadow of its former self now; less a connection and more a nuisance that I’m reminded of now and again.

How’s that for a relationship, though? I just fucking referred to it as a nuisance. It can’t be all that important, right?

And it is such a fucking nuisance, though, because it’s there. I feel it. I see it. I can reach out and fucking touch it and that bond is a fucking pain in my ass. There it is, all making weepy. There it is, making me all bitchy. There it is just hanging out and doing nothing for me whatsofuckingever per the fucking usual and I still don’t want to fucking sever it. Like what even is that? How is this even logical at all? What the fuck is wrong with me?

You know what hurt the worst about it all, though? It’s the fact that I have already been replaced. I saw it coming; I knew. I pulled away and just kept doing so until the bond would sever. Well, it didn’t actually do that because it’s still there, but I watched what was happening and closed myself off. I watched everything disintegrate and [person] went about the process of replacing me. And I am so burned on the idea of relationships that the mere concept of replacing [person] is foreign. It just does not compute at all.

I’m so compartmentalized now. I’m fractured in ways that, honestly, I don’t know if it’s really possible to recover from. I have been replaced and nothing has been able to fill the hole on my end.

I’ve been informed that if I sever the tie, then things will get easier. I thought that maybe that advice may be true, so I went for it. I reached out and felt for the bond. I found it and I marveled at how much it has changed in the intervening years. There have been so many nicks and stretch points. Did you know that we have had to tie the fucking thing together a few times? I found that out and I pulled at it and I severed it.

I tied it off and burned the ends, hoping that it would atrophy on its own.

Closure has come to me myself,
You will never belong to me.

I cleared out my house of things that [person] gave me about a week ago. I had the intention of doing something to really signal that I was done with this. It hadn’t been benefiting me in years and you know what? In the clearing out of detritus from something that had stopped being easy and stopped being comfortable, I felt a little better. I threw it all away and looked around, marveling at the pieces of myself that were a part of what [person] thought I should be. I removed those bits, too, and I felt infinitely better with it all.

I will admit that I am shattered and broken, yet again, because [person] destroyed something very good about me. I used to trust. I used to feel very connected with people. I wasn’t so introverted and being with [person] made it okay to be in public. I’ve become a shut-in and look at everyone with a side-eye. Those are my hang ups, but I hope [person] is aware that they are partially at fault for them. And maybe, they won’t fucking up replacement me as much as they fucked me up.

Note: Lyrics are from Closure by Chevelle

The Astral is Balls.

I kind of feel like this is every experience I've ever had over there summed up in one 60s fabulous Spider Man meme.

I kind of feel like this is every experience I’ve ever had over there summed up in one 60s fabulous Spider Man meme.

Two years ago, I felt my mind start to shatter a little bit at a time. I couldn’t understand it at first – I didn’t recognize it for what it would inevitably turn into. The thing is that so few people actively talk about having their head cracked open. I mean, sure. I read TTR’s blog regularly and I’ve combed through almost every entry that has ever appeared about having a broke open head. But you know? I just figured I was the girl who sat on the sidelines and nodded at all the good parts, made commiserating noises at the bad parts, and made sarcastic remarks during the in between.

My head wasn’t supposed to crack open. I wanted to have a broke open head because, honestly, I didn’t recognize or realize what it would entail. Reading blog posts is fine and dandy, but it still doesn’t quite get across all the fucking bullshit, responsibility, and fuckery that comes along with having your head cracked open. It’s that whole “grass is always greener” syndrome. Just because the grass looks greener doesn’t mean it really is greener. Honestly, looking down, I have to say the grass looks decidedly dead and brown.

That’s the thing about perception though; the only one that matters right now is my own.

So you know, the months passed and the crack widened. I honestly thought it was a good thing and maybe, back then, it was a good thing. It started off as a steady trickle, you know? It’s kind of like how someone had turned on a faucet, but it was only just dribbling out. I would have random moments feeling like I was in two places at once or odd dreams that I couldn’t really explain away to subconscious mind bleed through. It all seemed cool.

As I began to realize what was happening to me, mostly through interacting with spirit workers and paying close attention to messages/dreams I was receiving from the netjeru, I worked hard on opening that little hole in my brain wider. The point was so that I could work appropriately and conscientiously on the things that needed to be done. For about three to six months, I did everything I was instructed to do as best I could – I mean, let’s face it, I’m no more for deadlines than Douglas Adams was – before I learned my first major lesson about having a broke open head:

The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool.– Stephen King

What I learned as my head was broke open was that trust was a very precious gift and that it should never be willingly given, but earned. It doesn’t matter who it is that you trust, either. It doesn’t matter if it’s a best friend, a lover, a god, a demon, a spirit, a ghost, a transfigured family member, etc. It doesn’t matter who it is that you have provided that precious gift to unless they have proved themselves able and willing to protect your trust for the gift that it is.

You see, I went into the whole business of having a religion with the mindset that the gods can be trusted. I don’t really know where this mindset came from. It was just there one day when I was doing my thing. I trusted and I trusted foolishly, blindly.

But you know, now that I think about it, I have to admit that I am a blindly trusting fucking idiot. I always have been. I can look back down the years and see all of the little things that could have added up to me not getting hurt in relationships and friendships – things that I completely fucking ignored because I trusted the person not to hurt me – and I suppose you can guess what ended up happening. If not, I’ll give you a little hint: I got fucked over.

As if I hadn’t had it happen often enough with human relationships, I got to learn the lesson again with gods. I have to admit that it was pretty fucking jarring to get fucked over by a god. I mean, looking at the situation as objectively as I possibly can… I can admit that in the grand scheme of “you got fucked over,” this was pretty minor. But it opened my eyes enough to make things that much harder as the crack widened and yet more fuckery and woo came flowing on down the sluice way.

I can’t honestly say if the lesson stuck. Or maybe I just assumed that my gods wouldn’t fucking do that to me because, that god was just hanging around to get some shit done.

Sometimes, I really laugh at my own naïveté…

As the gates began to open more regularly and remain open for longer periods of time, I got more lessons. A lot of them were personal and painful. I don’t think I can fully explain to people how painful or even how personal. It isn’t just a matter of working on some things that have been sticking with me because of things from when I was a kid. Oh, no; it couldn’t be that easy in the slightest. The pain-filled lessons have had to span centuries and numerous lives until I was dizzy from it all. My second major lesson in all of this has been:

It takes considerable knowledge just to realize the extent of your own ignorance. – Thomas Sowell

What I realized as I really started paying attention to the numerous lessons I was getting handed like some school child was that I didn’t know a fucking thing. Sure, I was well read and I could tease out tidbits and interpretations with the best of them. I could spend hours upon hours, combing through documents and books looking for the tiniest little thing that would help me leap forward a little further on this whole crazy fucking ride called life. But at the end of the day, with as much knowledge as I’ve gathered, I still don’t know shit.

I have realized that everything I had thought I had known about my religion, my path, my gods, my relationships, for fuck’s sake even my life was only a simple grain of sand in the desert of eternity. I had thought I had it figured out, mostly, but you know what? I didn’t have a damn thing figured out. I had blinders on and in order to really get to the nitty-gritty, I had to get those blinders ripped the hell off so I could truly see for the first time.

And what I saw was both beautiful and frightening.

I was transformed and remade and destroyed and put back together again. When that didn’t work out properly, I got to do it again. And when that way didn’t really work out, either, I had to do it again. When I got sick of doing that same old song and dance, I ended up being forced to do it against my fucking will because what I wanted didn’t have a damn thing to do with what that broke open head part of me needed. And I have had to keep transforming and changing everything I thought I had learned, everything I thought I knew and I have had to keep transforming myself with each new gush of that broke open head all just to incorporate yet more mind-boggling fuckery.

Sometimes, it’s almost like a euphoric, ecstatic moment where pain transcends into pleasure and then back again into pain. Sometimes, it’s almost like the darkest abyss filled with every frightening monster that hides in the dark, intent on destroying you utterly. In either case, you have to learn to deal with the shit going on around you while you feel like you’re ready to shatter for the millionth time into a thousand fucking pieces.

As that trickle turned into a steady gush, which in turn ended up as a waterfall with cascade effect like possibilities, I realized a lot of things about myself, my life, my path, my religion, my gods, my friendships, and everything in between. I’ve realized a million different details that were once thought impertinent really weren’t and the bits I thought were the most important have fallen to the wayside, completely forgotten. In the midst of that rubble, I learned the most important lesson of all:

Details create the bigger picture. – Sanford I. Weill

At the end of the day, all the harshness of this new reality has made me realize that the transience of the now is only outweighed by the “bigger picture.” I’ve talked about it, tagged it in posts, and commented on it here and there. The bigger picture is the end result of all of this. While I find it difficult to order myself and my life and my path and my personal relationships and the relationships I’ve begun with my gods in a manner that may, one day, benefit that bigger picture, I know that it is what all of this broke open head business is about.

Bigger picture.

Even just writing those two words can cause such a multitude of emotions within me that I cannot even begin to describe them all: horror, joy, terror, calm, pain, ecstasy, etc. Even just those six words cannot do justice to what it all is to describe it in any attempt at detail.

At the end of the day, even with all of that emotional capacity tapped out and felt in one form or another, I have to admit that I’m just bitter tits about it all. At the end of the day, I sit down and I have to admit to myself that while being a part of something bigger may be nice for some people, at the heart of it all, I’m a selfish fuckface and bigger picture can really piss me off.

It’s only been a little over a year though since I get hit face first with the brick wall of bigger picture and I hear tell from other people that the bitter tits might wear off. I don’t know if that’s true, but I can hope that’s the case. The bigger picture I see is viewed through a lens smeared with Vaseline, but I’m assured by the gods that it looks pretty nice. I guess so; I’ll just have to take their word for it.

Across the Universe

Across the Universe by onwatersedge via Flickr

I remember what it was like all those years ago, looking in upon what must have been a spectacular tea party when people talked about their godphones and their broke open heads. I can remember knowing that I just wanted to be like them. I guess the real lesson in all of this is that “looks can be deceiving.” Or maybe, better still, the real fucking lesson is “be careful what you wish for.” I got my wish and I honestly, truly have to wonder if it was all worth it.

Maybe one day I can look back at all of this fuckery and say, “it was totally worth it.” But I’ll admit to harboring a fear that when that “one day” comes a-knocking, I’ll never be able to say that it was worth it but that I’ve hated every fucking minute of it and I rue the day I asked for all of this. Sekhmet tells me I won’t hate on it forever. She says it’s a good thing, but I honestly can’t tell if she’s just trying to get me to stop bitching about it all or if she really means it.

Further Reading

  1. Astral Don’t Care by TTR
  2. I Am My Own Guide by TTR
  3. Devo Magix: Vision Questing by TTR
  4. Musings on Pain and Astral Travel by TTR
  5. A Good Horse by TTR
  6. For Everything There is a Learning Curve by TTR
  7. Before and After: A Comparison on Being God Bothered by TTR

Kemetic Round Table: The Afterlife

Coming face-to-face with your own mortality can be hard to handle. I know this myself; just recently, I sat down with a life insurance salesperson and talked numbers. The whole experience was terrifying and not just because I was being forced to put a price on what the hell my life should pay out for should something happen to me. But it was also terrifying because I had to answer questions like, “what will your family do if something unexpected happens to you?” It really puts into perspective that quote by Benjamin Franklin: “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

A need to bury the dead goes back pretty far in history. Scientists have reported that Homo neanderthalensis practiced burial culture. Undisputed burial customs for Homo sapiens go back at least 100,000 years. The experts seem to say that the fact that the ancient bipeds of our past buried their dead means that they had a concern for the dead, which is partially why grave goods were a thing, too. I don’t know about all of that, but I can kind of understand, especially in connection with my own recent reminder about my own mortality, why people would feel a need to provide creature comforts to the dead.

When I was an atheist, I was pretty sure the whole point in religion was so that people had something firm to believe in for that moment when they absolutely had to come to grips with the fact that, at the end of it all, they were going to die. That moment of facing your own mortality can really sneak up on you and punch you in the face with a tin can, in case you weren’t aware. So, I understood it all from that perspective. People needed something bigger to focus on in the hopes that there was something that happened after The Moment, not just for themselves but for all the people who had gone on before them. I got it, but back then, it just wasn’t for me.

It’s almost ironic now that the religion I’ve turned to and practice has a firm, strong basis in afterlife mythos and beliefs. It’s almost like I needed to go the complete polar opposite of how it was when I was an atheist. From the unsettling desire to want more as an atheist – thus the disturbing tenacious need to cling to something like reincarnation – to the full-blooded beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. I guess, one might say, I don’t really do anything half-assed.

Afterlife

Afterlife by Cristiano Pelagracci

The ancient Egyptian civilization lasted for over three thousand years. In that time, the beliefs in the afterlife changed and morphed. What we’re often taught in school is a bastardization of the rich beliefs. Teachers can’t even begin to touch the whole of it – three thousand years of belief on a specific subject in a single class? Hell, people go to college for the stuff and they can’t possibly learn the whole of it. I’m going to try and be as succinct as possible here, but I’ll admit that I have a thing for rambling about stuff and tangents may happen.

The ancient Egyptian beliefs in the afterlife get their start pretty early. Most Egyptologists will tell you that it stems from some high roller accidentally finding a body that naturally mummified in the dry climate of the desert after a burial. Maybe – I mean, who really knows? Jackals, specifically, are known to have scavenged around the necropoles that arose out of a need to bury the dead. Experts will tell you that this is why Anup has a jackal head. Maybe – again, who actually knows?

The point being that the reason why the ancient Egyptians went with what they did for their afterlife beliefs is never going to be known. We’ll have suppositions and theories, of course, because that’s kind of what we do. But we’ll never officially know what it was that made them go, “yeah, man. Let’s mummify this guy in some salt and then have a big jackal-faced guy stand guard while we do that!” For all we know, they got the idea because someone had a dream once and it just kind of stuck.

The earliest burials were conducted with who knows how much ceremony – they have one thing in common though, the people were buried with a single pot. We don’t know what the pot was for although popular theories tend to hold that this was a holding vase for food. During later Pre-Dynastic times, the people continued to be buried with a single vase or pot, but the burials grew. Bodies were arranged to face either east or west and in either a crouched or fetal position. The grave goods grew more elaborate with painted imagery on the pots and personal items, such as weapons for men and cosmetic palettes for women, joined the originally very limited burial customs.

The difference between the poor and the rich began to gain momentum even so far back as then. It wasn’t until the Early Dynastic period, though, when people began to have brick-lined tombs. Of course, these tombs lasted until modern Egyptologists could excavate them while those of the poor are lost to us. We have a million different little clues – many of which make no sense to us now – about how the rich and royals were buried. Chances are the beliefs held across the board and a desire to be taken care of after death was just as important as it was for those who could afford a better tomb.

The ancient Egyptian beliefs in the afterlife during the Old Kingdom culminated in the Pyramid Texts and the royal necropoles that litter the landscape: Saqqara, Abusir, Dahshur and Giza being the most well-known. The zenith in all of this belief was the protection and resurrection of the pharaoh to ascend into the heavens. The Duat, as we’ve come to know it, wasn’t fully developed by this point. It was the transcendence from human to star that the pharaoh was aiming for. I often wonder if the lay people wanted to become a star, too, but because of the whole poor be poor and rich be rich thing the ancient Egyptians had going on, they were barred from the practice.

The belief in the afterlife morphed throughout the First Intermediate period. I suspect that the fragmentation of the country and the different factions that arose are the reason why the more common people were allowed access to an afterlife. Since it had become clear with the collapse of the Old Kingdom, anyone who was powerful enough and edgy enough could make a name for themselves. The world of the ancient Egyptians had been built upon the principle that the pharaoh was a god on earth. But the people had to admit that it was possible to fell a good and the politico-religious world that they had crafted.

The Coffin Texts began to show up around the First Intermediate Period. They began as an offshoot of the Pyramid Texts. The difference being that everyday wants and desires were added to the lists, which seems to reflect the commoners were using them as well. The afterlife was no longer a royal monopoly, but open to anyone who had enough wealth to secure a good artist and a coffin.

It is during the Middle Kingdom that the Book of Two Ways gets its beginnings. This book starts to give the geographical details regarding the Duat. This original book insinuated that the Duat was made up of seven gates (which would later be changed to twelve during the New Kingdom) with each gate being guarded by a serpent and two deities. To name each correctly was to allow the deceased passage through to the next gate. The “two ways” seems to indicate that there were two ways to pass through the Duat on the deceased’s way to Rosetjau and the home of Wesir: one by land and one by sea.

This theme is fully explored throughout the New Kingdom. It is from the New Kingdom that we are mostly taught about the beliefs of the ancient Egyptians’ afterlife. This is where you hear about the Book of the Dead, the Book of Gates, the Book of Caverns, and the Amduat. As long as the person had enough money to pass on to a scribe, they would be guaranteed the correct spells and incantations to pass through the Duat. Only now, instead of just leading towards the abode of Wesir, we have the Field of Offerings, the Field of Reeds, and of course, the ever present judgment chamber where the heart is weighed against the feather of truth.

But all of this is about the soul, to be honest. It was the soul that was important here. The body was going to end up being taken care of by priests with offerings in abundance and temples, or it wasn’t. The body was going to end up, inevitably, forgotten in the sands of time. The body part was pretty fucking important but it wasn’t necessary so long as the memory withstood and there were adequate representations of the deceased for them to inhabit. How they buried the dead tells a lot about them, but it’s the fracturing of the soul after death that is the most important.

The soul fragmented itself after death into eight parts: the body (khat), the mummy (sah), the heart (ib), the name (ren), the ka (ka), the ba (ba), the shadow (shut), and the akh (akh/akhu). Each part was fundamental to the greater good of the resurrection: the body, or a close approximation, was needed in order to perform the magical rites of mummification. It was these two fundamentals that were the first steps which led the deceased on the roller coaster that would lead them through the Duat and into their resurrection.

The ib was the essence of the life of the deceased. It was considered to be the power house for the mind and the seat of one’s emotions. The ib was necessary so that the records of all of the good deeds and bad deeds that the deceased had committed could be written in the Hall of Records and the gods could weigh it against the feather of Ma’at.

The ren was the part that needed to be spoken in order to keep the memory alive. To write one’s name in stone was to give it permanence, which is why the ancient Egyptians would hack out names for those that were deemed in need of punishment.

The ka was the part that seems to have been most like the soul as we know it today. It came into being at the birth of a person and it was the ka that required nourishment. The ka according to the ancient Egyptians was immortal. This is the part of the person that I tend to associate with my belief in reincarnation, but that’s UPG of course.

We don’t know what the point in the shut was, honestly. It could partake of nourishment. It was also needed to pass through the Duat and there were dangers specific only to the shadow.

The ba is most often associated with the personality of the deceased. The ba returned to the body every evening in order to continue the deceased’s existence in the afterlife. The ba required nourishment in the forms of food, drink, and sexual energy.

The akh is the part of the person that transcended and became one with the sky. The akh is not as tied to the rest of the sum total of a human being. It tended to leave the rest behind and quest for immortality by becoming a star.

All of the literature we read about how the ancient Egyptians buried their dead is only part of the whole. The tombs, the books, the texts – it’s all about where the soul was going to go and how it needed to get there. I think that we forget that the whole of it isn’t simply about how expensively and how lavishly they could bury their dead, but that the things left behind were needed in order to ensure the total composite parts of the soul were taken care of.

Personally, I think that’s kind of bad ass. They spent all this money and left a million different types of grave goods, but it wasn’t really about the here and now. It was about whether or not they were remembered and whether or not they would get to live some more in the afterlife. I think, as a modern American, I can understand that. Don’t we have enough of our own monuments all for the very same purpose? We only do it on a smaller scale.

Giza Pyramids shortly after Sunset

Giza Pyramids by More Altitude

As I mentioned above, I believe in reincarnation. I won’t bore people with the details, but honestly, how the ancient Egyptians believe things happened and how I believe things happen don’t actually work against each other. I believe that it’s the ka that is reincarnated in life after life. I’m not alone; I’m not the only Kemetic out there with this belief. We all have our own reasons for it, but it works for us. Just because the ancient Egyptian culture had a rich belief system when it came to life after death… it doesn’t really mean it’s going to negate what we, ourselves, believe. Sometimes, it just adds to it.

Personally, I don’t really think that Duat functions the way it used to. From my excursions over there (UPG, of course), it seems more like a store house or a stopping place. The belief in the place stopped thousands of years ago and I strongly suspect that’s wreaked some havoc. I don’t know if the gates are still all there, although from what I’ve found, there are certain places that do still exist. I know from other spirit workers that they’ve gone to specific places over there, as well. But to be perfectly frank, I don’t think the Duat is set up the way it once was. It’s possibly the landscape has changed, yet again, due to the disbelief or the falling out of belief. But it’s also possible that the energy the netjeru needed to maintain the landscape dissipated when they fell out of favor.

And we can’t really discount others’ beliefs. Many Kemetics who have attempted to honor their ancestors based on the ancient Egyptian belief system of akhu veneration have met with fierce resistance. I, myself, am one of those people. So, perhaps it isn’t simply that the Duat doesn’t function that way anymore but that the soul transfiguration output machine has closed up shop since the last believer has long since died. Maybe with our belief we’re rekindling it a little bit at a time, but mostly, I think, it’s just a place the netjeru go to escape the ravages of time, space, and humanity.

Maybe that’s why reincarnation among many Kemetics seems to be a thing. Or perhaps the ancients got it partially wrong in the first place. As I said above, we’ll never really know the truth. We can only move forward with our own beliefs and hopes and dreams and fear of our own impending mortality. All the more power to those of us who, at least, don’t go towards it with an ever-pressing fear but more with the eye of yet a new adventure eternally on the horizon.

Further Reading

  1. Body and Soul @ Reshafim
  2. Funerary Practices @ Reshafim
  3. What is a Soul? by Satsekhem
  4. Funerary Practices by Satsekhem
  5. Funereal Liturgy by Satsekhem
  6. The Akhu category by Satsekhem