I’ve been putting off this entry, hoping that I could write it when my mind was far clearer than it is now. And I have to admit that my mind is definitely not clear in any context. Every day finds me lost in a hell of my own devising if I’m not busy elsewhere. And whenever I ruminate heavily on what I have gone through in the last few weeks to the last few months, my reactions vary but they are all the same: hurt, pain, bitterness, tears. It’s all fine and well, but it doesn’t really help me to write this post at all. However, right now, I feel like it’s time to get this out.
This entry is dedicated to everyone who said they wanted to know what changes my relationship with Sekhmet has gone through. I hope this entry lives up to what you were requesting.
Honestly, denial is an active state of being that you have to keep up in every aspect in your life. When it comes to religious matters, it’s pretty easy to deny what you already know as the truth because there are so many open avenues to explore while actively denying what you know is right. I spent, probably, the first few years of this pagan shit actively denying where I wanted to head. At first, it was just because I was almost positive that my discernment was off and that being crazy didn’t really work for me. So, I ended up heading in various other directions, many of the Wiccan in nature, while I ran the fuck away from Sekhmet with my eyes wide open and my fingers plugged in my ears, singing stupid little diddies in horrible Technicolor. I spent so much time running away and listening to the wrong advice that I made things harder for myself. But, honestly, I’m such a stubborn asshole most of the time that I have to wonder if things would have been easy at any given point… and I have to admit that the answer to that is “probably not.”
While in the land of denial, I made a lot of stupid decisions based on really stupid emotions and then, later, based on really stupid advice.
You see, I coveted. I coveted what I saw happening with my “coven mates” and their relationships with their gods. I wanted so very desperately what they had. I can remember listening to the Sister tell me about what it was like to have a relationship with Brighid (I think it was she) and I can remember wanting that so desperately. I remember all those telephone conversations with the EM and her horsing deities to offer advice. (Whether or not she actually did horse anyone, I can’t say. All I do know is that she is a liar, to this day, and that perhaps the whole thing was a sham.) But I can clearly remember seeing it and feeling so strongly. It wasn’t hate. It wasn’t just jealousy. It was coveting. There is no other word for it – I coveted what they had. I wanted those intense connections with gods. I just … I coveted.
Let me tell you that starting out the search for deities based on coveting something is a very bad idea. I see a lot of baby pagans and baby polytheists asking, so often, on how to find a deity for them because they see everyone else having them and they want that, too. And every time I see those questions or those statements, I look back to my own memories of that shitty year where I coveted so badly and I think, that is just not the way to start anything. I learned very quickly that I was doing something wrong, but it wouldn’t be until a while later that I realized that my jealousy was probably causing a huge problem when it came to finding a deity to call my own. Besides, to be perfectly frank, since I was still actively denying what was so obvious in front of me, you know, maybe that was the cause.
What made denying where I should have gone easier was when I had gotten some truly horrible bit of advice from a “friend” of mine. That advice was to stay away from the netjeru. During that conversation and many others that ended up pretty much the same way, that friend said that, no matter what I did or who I approached, Sekhmet would come and I would destroy everything around me. Whenever they told me that, I had visions of flames around my ears and my entire life falling apart. That advice was something that frightened me more than anything else that could have been said to me. By that point in my life, I already considered myself a very destructive individual and I didn’t want to harness that power any further or give that power to Sekhmet in any context. So, I traveled all across the globe, searching for gods that spoke to me, and nothing ever fit.
Sometimes, I think that it is because of the jealousy that I felt for those coven mates that caused the issues while I was stupidly, studiously, and forcefully denying Sekhmet. At other times, I have to assume it’s because Sekhmet could not and would not be so easily thwarted.
Whatever the case may be, and I have my theories here, I still actively denied her. Even when I decided that maybe, just maybe I should seriously look to ancient Egypt, I still ignored her. I knew so much about her and it felt so… good in this creepy way, but I still turned my head when she appeared. I ignored the dreams. I ignored the feelings. I ignored everything.
I’ve thought about this a lot and I have to wonder if it was the advice I was being given or just my own fear that led me to deny her for so long. There is something incredibly frightening, I guess, about the knowledge that everything will come tumbling down around you if you head in a direction that felt like it was “meant to be,” if that isn’t ridiculous enough for anyone reading this. But I don’t honestly think it was fear that led me down that way. I think it was because of my desire to please those people around me. The EM and the Sister meant a lot to me at that time and their opinion of me meant more than anything else. I think I debased my desires to keep them from leaving me. I felt, though this was probably wrong, that if I went in that direction that I would lose their friendship, their love, and that worried me more than my own religious health. And that’s the gist: it was fear of losing people over the fear of being off-balance in my religious life that kept me from moving in a direction that felt like I needed to head in.
I lived in a world of denial for so long. I got messages wrong in that time. I got a lot of messages wrong, in that time. Every dream I had left me feeling weird and fuzzy. Everything I tried to glean from those dreams got put into practice, in some way, and it all ended up coming out incorrectly. There is only so many times that I can hang around, getting shit fucked up, while I lived in denial though. After a really unhealthy and painful time when I was very much not doing anything with the religion I felt would work for me, I threw my hands up in the air. I dedicated myself to deity after deity, still based on all of that coveting, and shit got messed up worse. I actively tried to work spells for my benefit and shit got even fucking worse. I was at the end of my tether in that land of denial when I finally sat up one day and said, “Enough is enough. I can’t do this anymore.”
It was at the end of that year of shit and shit and yet more shit that I, finally, said “fuck the advice. Fuck everything – I’m important too.” It’s nothing that I really consciously said, honestly. I remember having discussions with both the Sister and the EM, together or separately, about how I felt like I was missing something and I was pretty sure I had to go in the direction of Sekhmet. And I remember those conversations always led me away from what I had intended. It was only at the end of that year, when I moved into my own place and nothing else mattered but my religious path and how it impacted me that I went in the direction that I had always been pulled.
I ran to Sekhmet. I don’t think I looked back.
There is something really weird when you start walking in the direction you’ve always felt like you needed to go in. At first, it’s almost euphoric. And I think that really got me through the first year, or so, of not really knowing what the fuck I was doing. Euphoria is a very powerful drug in and of itself. I found myself excited and thrilled to have a relationship with a deity who had made themselves quite plain: I was wanted. I think, honestly, that the feeling of being wanted by a deity can be more of a mind fuck and more of an excitement than even having another human being desire you. Don’t get me wrong; in both instances, it is all very thrilling and overwhelming and did I mention thrilling? But knowing that a being who is older than you, more powerful than you are, and everything else we have come to believe about gods desires you and wants you for whatever purpose… Well, it’s all very intense. It’s almost a feeling beyond description where we can at least attempt to describe the very same feelings when it comes to another human being.
So, for a whole year, I was ecstatic in my practices much of the time.
But, the niggling doubt that has always been my companion on this road was there even then. I don’t know if it something that we ever really jettison – the doubt – no matter how long we’ve been at this. Point of fact, I’ve been doing this now for six years or so and I still feel very doubtful a lot to most of the time. Even with all of that euphoria pounding through my veins and stimulating me in ways to grow and ways to move forward, I still felt very much like I was not enough and that I would never be enough for what Sekhmet wanted. There is something difficult here to clearly explain why I felt so insufficient and I’ll attempt to put into words why I felt this way despite the euphoria.
Some days, I felt like I wasn’t enough because I was a mere human. While I consciously knew and understand that her devotees in antiquity were also human, it seemed to be me like I had a very long, very hard, and very weird path to go down if I ever wanted to be as proficient, knowledgeable, and capable as they were. Back then, I wasn’t sure if that was something that I ever wanted. But I did know that I felt that I was a very fractured, broken down, and used up human being who was probably not going to be capable of whatever innovative and interesting ways that Sekhmet wanted me to serve in her name. There was a lot of doubt caused by words from my ex-husband and caused by experiences that most people can glean from the words I’ve said, by reading in between the lines. Very few people have ever known me very well and can’t guess at what words, what actions, and what things I have done that would make me feel as if I were incapable of doing whatever it was that Sekhmet wanted. But believe you me, there were many things about me that I felt came up as wanting for whatever future she had in mind.
I have always had a self-esteem problem, which is partially why Hetheru and I worked very hard on this issue last year. I honestly can’t remember a time once I hit middle school where my self-esteem wasn’t some all-pervasive issue. And these issues continued to hound me in a new and innovative ways even onto my religious path. I think part of the reason why I was such an issue for me was because I felt like I was a very terrible person. Partially due to my self-esteem issues and partially due to the fact that I was on the learning curve that all teens are on, I made some very fucked up decisions. Based on those, I ended up feeling as if I were less than deserving of anyone’s attention, especially a deity. Hell, I felt that way with my partner, TH, and sometimes I still do. Whatever the case may be, and I’m really not lying when I say a large part of these feelings stemmed from shit I did once, I often felt very much as if I were out of my depth and incapable of giving Sekhmet what I felt that she deserved. Why she deserved more than myself or my human partner, I can’t say. All I can say is that I just felt like I would never be able to give her what she needed.
Another reason why I honestly felt insufficient is because, in my attempts to figure out what I needed to do, I began networking with other people. “Oh, no, not people,” right?
When I began feeling lost and alone, I began haunting some forums. I read everything I could find and found a lot of interesting information. This was, actually, part of the reason why I decided to just run forward and embrace Sekhmet. There weren’t a lot of other Sekhmet devotees that I found, but if there were people who could have relationships with the “big bad” Set, then why not Sekhmet for me? So, I began networking. And that was an added bonus because I got to read other peoples’ takes on things and that I also got to probe people for resources and get their takes on various questions I posed. And I posed a lot of questions at first because, well, who doesn’t want to know all the things when they’re starting something from scratch like an entire religious path?
But the problem is, hearkening back to my self-esteem issue, I kept comparing myself to all of these new people I was meeting. And in every comparison, I felt very much as though I were lacking. I wanted to emulate those people. I wanted to know as much as I could and none of the answers were directly in front of me. It wasn’t so much an inability or an unwillingness to do the homework and to do the research I felt was necessary to be able to compare myself to those people. I actively purchased the books they recommended and devoured most to all of them once they reached my doorstep. It was just that they seemed so knowledgeable and they seemed to be able to find whatever scrap of information someone else was looking for so easily. I was never good at studying at school or memorization for that matter. What I forgot was that the knowledge I had regarding ancient Egypt – specifically the heretic of the 18th Dynasty and his family relations – had been built up over years and years and years and years of reading and re-reading everything I could get on the topic.
It was kind of as if I felt like I should become an insta-expert and that is not possible.
But mostly, I just felt like I would never become as informed and capable as all of those people. I kept going round and round and round some more to the fact that I was a horrible human being. And in those moments, as I saw how seemingly capable all of those people were, I felt like would never be able to give Sekhmet what she needed.
Here’s the thing I learned from that time, though. I’ll impart some information upon all of you: just because someone looks like they have their collective shit together doesn’t necessarily mean that they do. There is probably something new and frightening to come around the corner that they’d like to be able to reach. There is probably some aspect to a person’s practice that will make them feel like they’re doing it wrong, whether they are or not. No matter what it is that they are doing and no matter what it is that they think they need to achieve, I strongly believe that there is going to be something, either big or small, that eludes them, that makes them feel inferior, that makes them feel like they’re doing it wrong. Sometimes, it’s just because they’re so busy trying to meet the expectations that others have of them and sometimes it is because they are attempting to meet the expectations of what they believe someone else’s practice is like. Whatever the case may be just because someone looks like they know what they’re doing doesn’t mean that they do, no matter how long they’ve been doing this shit. It doesn’t really matter, in my opinion, there is probably something that pisses them off and makes them feel like they’re doing something wrong.
So, for a very long, long time… I just felt like I wasn’t able to meet the expectations that I thought my goddess had in store for me. I was a terrible person – why does she want me? I made awful decisions – why does she want me? I didn’t know how to religion properly – why did she want me? I didn’t know what kind of religion I really wanted – why did she want me? I sucked at everything I had ever tried before – why does she want me? I am not capable of being the devotee she needs or wants – why does she want me? There was no way I would ever be as good at things as other people – why did she want me?
Insufficiency fucks everything up, whether it’s real or perceived. I fucked a lot of things up in those years. A path is not truly yours if you only ever succeed, in my experience. It is only truly yours when you fall to the ground and cry upon it. It is only truly yours when you scream your rage, your anger, your pain, your excitement, your exhilaration, and everything in between upon it. It is only ever truly yours when you stop trying to be live everyone else and do what the fuck you want upon that path. It is only then that it truly is yours.
Part one of two.