This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.
After I had admitted that I was willing to do the bidding she had in store for me, Sekhmet let up on things. She wasn’t as interested in forcing me to “get started right away.” She told me that I had to slowly build up to it, but I knew there were things that I wanted to do in an effort to better prepare myself for the next year. She “had plans in motion,” she told me, “but we don’t have to rush into anything.” I knew she was telling me this to make me feel better or perhaps just to put me at my ease. In either case, I knew I had to get to pushing with some things and had only a month or so to get the ball bearings greased, fully, to achieve the goals I had in mind.
Maybe she wasn’t lying to me.
I’ll admit, I have a hard time now deciding when the words she says are the words of full truth or the shiny truth filled veneer that hold piles of unknown meaning behind them. I often wonder, usually in my more bitter moments, what it would be like if I could see those words. There is a neurological disorder I heard about recently called Grapheme-color Synesthesia, where people will see words in bursts of color. In the show that featured this, the character saw words in different colors and these different colors could tell him the character of the person who was speaking. Sometimes, I wonder if it wouldn’t be easier to have something like that so that when she speaks to me, I could tell the difference between the truth and the things that are semi-truth.
She took me to the Lake of Fire not long after I drew my line in the sand.
We went to her palace, first. It was spacious and beautiful. Everything was shades of white, from pure driven snow white to shades of cream. The building blocks of the temple floor were golden, shimmery majestically in the sun light. Lotus topped columns flew into the sky, the lotus blossom colors sparkling with golden dust. It was beautiful and I was in awe. She giggled at my reaction, uncharacteristically shy. “You can see more clearly later – we have a date,” she told me.
I have to admit, I was completely overwhelmed. I felt very much like the poor, country cousin. I had just made a huge decision. I had just told my goddess, one who could very easily destroy with hardly an eye blink, that I would do as she wanted, but I had limitations and I had designs and I wouldn’t always follow her every whim. And she had agreed. So on top of being, finally, taken to one of her safe spaces, I was also in shock. Being in shock in the astral is no good – it prevents you from remembering things. But at this moment, all I can remember is staring around the forecourt, awed and humbled by the majestic beauty that she had created for herself out of the iridescent golden sand dunes that was her home base. Dumbly, thickly, I asked her, “Where are we going?”
“To the Duat,” she said.
I felt very much like I was going to walk upon a scene like from the movie, Mean Girls. “Get in loser; we’re going to the Duat.”
I looked down at my sandy, torn clothes. I thought about whether or not I was dressed to impress.
I have to admit that I almost always feel completely underdressed when I am in the presence of the gods. Usually, it doesn’t matter because one some fundamental level, I truthfully don’t give a shit how they view what I’m wearing. My torn up travelers clothes – stained and rusted machete, comfortable and stout hiking boots, a loose blouse, bandana, and comfortable pants are all about getting me from A to B.
But as someone whose main soul facet has been a mousy wallflower for every life that I can remember, I always feel that being dressed appropriately will at least make me accepted at face value. The gods hardly seem to care. And the times I’ve gone out to party with Papa Legba in pajama bottoms and an oversized T-shirt are numerous. All I can say is that I always feel like I’ve been left off the invite list and it’s only due to the beings whom I know that I’m able to get on the A-list.
Sekhmet rolled her eyes and clapped her hands. I don’t know if it was magic, honestly. I think, somewhere, it may have been her servants. She has to have them. A goddess who is as drunk on her own power as she is would not do things of her own accord if she could help it. And while she has shown that she is quite capable of doing things all on her own, she has also shown herself to be quite capable in taking advantage of other people. In either case, whomever or whatever did it, I was wear a linen sheath and golden sandals.
Instantly uncomfortable with the sheer fabric and scowling at her, she tilted her head. “This is what I expect a child of mine to wear,” she told me pointedly. She waved her hand, dismissing her barb and irritating me with her imperious wave. “Of course, you will do whatever it is you will do.”
“You made me strong,” I prodded.
“So I did,” she replied, a sheen of ice under the surface of her flippant response.
I know that I stopped talking then. There was nothing more for me to say. She was doing her best to piss me off, I figured, just to see how serious I was about the promises I had made. I may be a lot of things, and I am a lot of things, and many of those things are both contradictory and weird. But I had promised that I would do what she wanted. Besides, I knew that it was either this life or the next, or the one after that, or the one after that. The path I was on was inescapable and no matter what the fuck I said, did, thought, wanted, believed, or anything, I was stuck.
I was counting to one hundred while I got the best of my temper.
Out of the astral, my temper is very fiery. A lot of people, once they meet me and have interacted with me and they find out what deity I am most in line with, they laugh and say something stupid like, “Well, that figures.” Har-dee-fucking-har. I may be a fucking hot head, but I have other gods too. I’ve worked hard in reality land to not explode at the drop of a pin. Part of that is being a mother and learning that patience shtick. Another part of it is trying to be nicer and more friendly and helpful. But mostly, the anger shit gets old after a while.
On the astral, my temper is far closer to the surface than it is in real life. On the astral, I just don’t really have to be any of those things – patient, friendly, helpful, or nice – because I am just a wandering vagabond who has ties to a lot of other beings that I mostly ignore. So, if I want to fly off the handle there, I can. And I know that the consequences will be minimal, unlike in real life. I can burn down an entire crossroads, a place of great importance for many reasons, and not have to fear the consequences. I can build large monstrosities and set it to run amok wherever I want, laughing as I do so, with no fear of the consequences. Consequences are minimal and minor to me. One may even say that my astral self is a bit haughty. However, when you’ve heard, for so long, that you are the child of a god, it starts to inflate you a bit…
Even though I am ready, I am forced to wait for her to be ready. I wait out in the forecourt, not willing to look around me at the glorious surroundings she has created for herself. Instead, I try to glimpse whomever or whatever may have dressed me in such record time. I hav eto admit that the secrets she keeps are well hidden and that her heka is true. I cannot see anything that would make me think there were people or netjeri here. Instead, there is only the forecourt with its gleaming, soaring columns and the golden sandstone blocks that make up its flooring.
I do study the walls while she is gone. She had managed to con someone into working on the decorations she wanted. There are images of festivals unknown to me, but of course, she reigns supreme in each. She lays regally as a lioness, searching for the next meal. She sits in her human body-with-lioness head upon a throne, her back erect and her eyes bored with the pomp around her. Hieroglyphs surround each new image, giving direction and pointing out the who’s who, but of course it means nothing to me. There is no need, she once told me, to fully recreate the past. I have always taken that to heart and ignored much of the past that she may still cling to. She may be an ancient being, or as ancient as I have ever known, but she does enjoy her modern comforts as well.
As I study the walls, I attempt to imagine her stuck in the desert, without her creature comforts, and I have to admit that I cannot even begin to picture it.
Then she is before me, pulling me from the decorations. “You will have time to see all of this later,” she says. I pulled away from her and study her. She is beautiful, as always.
To me, Sekhmet often shows me only as her lioness headed form. I don’t know if this is because she is attempting to connect with my human side whenever we meet or if she is most comfortable in this guise. She has shown me, of course, all of her many sides. But it is this side that I see the most often. This being is statuesque and beautiful and awe inspiring and something beyond words. Sometimes, I think she puts on this face for me so that she will remind me of those years I spent in utter awe and in love with her. I do not know why she would care to remind me of that time except perhaps in an effort to better control me. Whatever the case may be, I always have to admit that she is beautiful.
She wears a linen sheath dress, which falls down to her ankles, and is colored the deepest red. It envelopes her figure as though painted on. It stops just beneath her breasts and the top is threaded in gold. There are two thin red straps that cover her nipples. Over where her nipples are, there are green rosettes. She wears a collar of gold, lapis lazuli, carnelian, and turquois. She wears her signature headdress over thick black wig. The ends of the wig are banded together in gold. She shines in her costume and poses fetchingly a few times.
“Come along,” she says, pulling me back into her arms.
We are in a hallway of the Duat. The hallway is lit by flaming torches placed in niches along the right hand wall. On the left hand side is thick blackness. Of course, I have been in the Duat before, but not in this place. This is a place I have never bothered to look.
The Duat that I know is a maze-like place of silence and darkness. The paths are not well lit and if you are not careful, you may just fall off. Always, whenever I have gone there, the soul palaces of the many who have ended up there are on the right but on the left, there is pitch blackness that is a sheer drop. I have peered down, heart in my throat, and imagined the horrors that may be in that Stygian blackness. Whatever horrors that may end up there, I have not met them and do not intend to.
The first time I had come here, I had been forced to ask Anup to show me to where I wanted to go, which was to my own soul palace. I had been told about that place but had been unable to find it on my own. Lost and alone, hearing whispers from some unknown quarter, I had called out for that jackal-headed being, hoping that he would find me. And as the keeper of this world, he knew precisely where I was and was able to lead me to where I wanted to go.
As Sekhmet steered me down the roughhewn stone path, I secretly hoped to meet up with Anup. I was scared. I didn’t know what to expect and I was growing angry because of my fear. At least if I found Anup, I would understand something. Our relationship is anything but pleasant. He and I do not get along. I often think he is so short with me because I have paid him little heed in my explorations of ancestor worship, but for all I know he just doesn’t like lions. Still, as my fear mounted and my anxiety mounted, I wanted nothing more than his caustic responses, his wrist tapping impatiently as I dawdled, and his stiff bearing. I could handle all of that.
Before long, I could see bright light coming off from the blackness that was on the left hand side. The empty cliff face on the right with its torches began to fall back and back and back again. The torches all but stopped as we grew closer and closer to the reddish-gold glow in the distance. The heat began to build and I knew where we were going. We were going into the area known as the Lake of Fire. I should have known.
Of course, my explorations of the Duat were limited. Anup is nothing if not diligent about making sure that people aren’t just wandering about in the soul palace area, walking into places they have no never mind being in. And I was no exception. Though he knew me and though we had discoursed a time or three, I was not allowed to wander around in places where I did not belong either. I think, honestly, part of his job is to prevent souls from going to the places where the gods frequent because, prior to my going there with Sekhmet, I had only ever met Anup on my journeys.
I didn’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t what I finally saw.
I glanced down to the left and saw a sort of sand and gravel pit slowly but surely raising to meet the cliff face that I was on. On the right hand side, the walls were curved into a sort of horizon hieroglyph. I was pretty sure that was done on purpose. As that sand and gravel rose, large pools began to form, but instead of pools of water, they were pools of fire. And there were a few of them. I could count at least three of them, of varying sizes. The one nearest to us was the smallest and that was the one that Sekhmet steered us to.
She walked into the flames as though she were walking into a hot tub. I just stared at her like she was fucking crazy because I knew she wanted me to follow her. She walked to the other side, the flames in some places taller than her headdress and in others, they barely touched her breasts. On the other side, she maneuvered herself and then she was only head and shoulders above the smallest flames.
“Get in here,” she snapped at me. I just stared some more and then looked at the flames, which looked like lava but not really, and then back at her. “As if I would let you burn asunder in one of my favorite places,” she snapped.
Oh well of course, I thought dumbly. Mutely, I put a toe into the flame/bath/lava and felt absolutely nothing. I didn’t see any steps and I didn’t think she would appreciate me jumping in like in a swimming pool. So, I closed my eyes and stepped down. There were steps, and of course, I had to stumble around trying to find them. They couldn’t’ possibly be in a single row leading down. Nope. They were like little risers, maybe a foot in width, and growing steadily longer. Searching dumbly for the next one, I slipped and down I went in a disgraceful heap.
I could kind of swim, I noted. I couldn’t touch the bottom or didn’t want to touch the bottom. So, as inelegantly as I possibly could while trying to be as elegant as possible, I swam through the thick flames/lava/pool and ended up at the other side. I felt beneath the flames for whatever it was that S was sitting on and groped her in the process. I grinned at her as she stared at me, completely nonplussed. Finally, I found the shelf her ass was on and managed to perch myself on it too.
I looked around.
I had no idea why we were here because there was nothing and no one. Sekhmet was imperious and intent and statuesque and beautiful, but there was no one around. The dim silence I had come to associate with the Duat was all encompassing even here. I couldn’t hear anything. Weren’t there supposed to be souls screaming in torments? I knew that there was a Lake of Fire – now I knew there were three or four. And whatever the one the souls went to or where creatures lived, I didn’t think that was this place.
I found, though, that beings did start to appear and most of them, I couldn’t even remotely place. I assumed they were netjeri. Some looked kind of familiar, but not all of them. And the ones that looked kind of familiar, I couldn’t figure out why. What I found most disconcerting was that I couldn’t hear anything they fucked said. I knew that Sekhmet was talking – she was right beside me – but I had no idea what she was saying. It didn’t really matter, to me, because I was more than slightly overwhelmed and entirely overtired.
Before long, I was flagging and all I wanted to do was curl up and go to sleep. There was nothing of interest going on for me and frankly, it didn’t matter what the hell Sekhmet was doing. I was merely a decoration.
I began to wonder what the hell I was doing in this place when a dark-skinned man stepped forward. Sekhmet sat up a little straighter and gestured to me, her mouth moving. I have no fucking clue what she was doing or saying, but I stared at the dark skinned man. He was wearing a pure gold collar and a gold-and-linen skirt thing. It looked like a mini skirt and I was pretty sure I could see his balls. He had a bald head that glimmered in the dull-not dull flames/lava/pool. When he looked like me, I knew he was a predator. And as I stared, his skin turned as blue as lapis lazuli and I knew, instantly, who the fuck I was staring at.
He smirked at me as he realized I knew who he was and then walked away.
I opened my mouth to say something to Sekhmet, but she shushed me. It didn’t matter after a while because I stopped caring.
A long line of beings came back, paying obeisance to the glory that is Sekhmet. And I was bored to fucking tears. I was so bored that I began to crane around, trying to see into the other pools off to the left hand side of where we were. But Sekhmet was in my way and I knew she would be embarrassed if I looked around too much. I thought, at one point, that I was able to see other gods, hanging around in the larger pools beside us, but I couldn’t be sure. For all I knew, they were really just netjeri, taking time off to soak in the Lakes of Fire.
I was behaving myself, I felt, and doing very well. I wasn’t scared anymore, but I was confused. I couldn’t hear anything, which isn’t the usual for me. My ears and my memory are pretty fucking good when it comes to this astral shenanigan shit, but the Duat was fucking around with me, I figured. After what felt like the thousandth being doing something with Sekhmet that didn’t concern me, I closed my eyes. And of course, I fell asleep.
And when I woke up later, she told me that I drooled on her shoulder.