Being dead is very weird. I don’t really know how to describe it at all. I just remember landing at the bottom of the carbonated ocean amid a plume of sand. I don’t know how long I lay there, but it was a mindless moment. I felt moderately aware of the body that I was still quite attached to, but I also felt like I was in an oceanic void of the blackest proportions. I honestly don’t know where I ended up or what ended up happening. One moment, I had landed at the very bottom of the carbonated ocean and the next moment, I was dragged into the Duat.
I knew I would end up in the Duat. It was the only possible place that made the most sense. Every reset my lives have taken, which usually ends up happening not in the middle of said life but at the end of said life, leads me back to the Duat. My soul is connected to that place or maybe it’s more like addicted to that place. “I need a fix – Duat time,” or something. All I know is that I’ve been to the Duat in between lives numerous times and this time was no different.
A trapdoor, or something, opened up, and something with two human-like hands dragged me inside. The door slammed shut and I kind of became more aware of the body my soul had just vacated. I never saw what dragged me inside because I blanked out from what was happening to my body. I ended up back in that oceanic void for a while. Days could have passed or weeks could have passed and I would have been none the wiser. I suspect it was only hours in between the moment when I was dragged inside and the moment I ended up fully back in my body.
For anyone who ever wants to know, I don’t recommend dying especially if you don’t want to die. When I came back to myself, in my body, I had the shakes and I was sweating. It felt very much like I was recovering from an illness or something. I curled in on myself, closing my eyes against whatever was around me while I attempted to get back in touch with my body. I worked on flexing my hands and my toes, trying to send the proper signals to the proper body parts. Sometimes I failed, sometimes I succeeded. It was such a slow process.
When I finally felt like I probably wouldn’t throw up, I sat up and got a good look at my surroundings. I was in a round chamber. The walls and the floors were made of rock, though the types of rock were different for each. The walls were a reddish hued and they looked like cliffs. The floor was more of a gold and gray color, the circular stones fitted tightly together. The chamber was circular with little oval and circle cut outs in the floor. There was a podium in the center of the room. Within one wall was a blackened doorway, open and ready for me to walk through it. I had a suspicion that if I tried, I wouldn’t like the consequences.
I crawled over to one of the circular holes in the floor and looked down. Beneath the chamber was a huge pool of lava, which provided the only illumination for this chamber. I could see things wriggling around in the lava beneath me, but I didn’t pay them much attention. Some of their looks made me think that they may just be the stuff of nightmares…
I rolled over and lay flat on my back, staring at the ceiling. There were stalactites and they were the same reddish color as the walls. I lay there for a while, staring until my eyes blurred. When I closed my eyes, I resolved to get up and walk out that door. I had to do something or else I would be bored and terrified and I was kind of tired of that dynamic. Instead, I fell asleep.
When I woke back up, I wasn’t alone.
I was still on my back on the floor beside the hole in the floor. I could sense that someone or something else was in the room with me. I opened my eyes fully and sat up quickly, preparing to defend myself if the need arose. The room hadn’t changed at all except that my traveling knapsack was leaning up against the podium and the creature that shared the room with me.
It was definitely a netjeri. It reminded me very much of the Seven Arrows I had met in Sekhmet’s palace, but I didn’t think it was one of them. I couldn’t be sure, however, since it had been their reactions to my being in their room that differentiated themselves to me. This one wasn’t doing anything particularly like the ones that I had met in her palace, though, which is why I couldn’t be sure. Its form didn’t seem to shift as much as the creatures in the palace, which led me to believe that this was a different netjeri.
It had a long, orangutan like face with brown and gray fur all down its back. It had rounded, bear-like ears on top of its head. Its eyes were wide and sorrowful. I didn’t think it was sad, per se, but was giving me puppy eyes like, well, a puppy. Its front paws were more bear-like or similar to a mountain lions or something. There were wicked-looking black claws about an inch in length at the end of each finger-like appendage. I could tell those paws could do some serious damage. Its back paws were more like canid paws. Its ears flicked at me, as though waiting for me to react. Honestly, I didn’t know how to react, though.
What the hell was I supposed to do with this thing? Was it mine forever? Was it just something that was going to hang with me while I was stuck here? Was this some sort of test, like how parents will test their kids’ responsibility levels by getting them a pet? What was all of this? Why was all of this? And honestly, what the fuck was I supposed to do with this thing?
“So, fancy meeting you here,” I said to it. Its ears flickered at me and then it began slowly walking closer to me. I stood very still while it sniffed at me. When it had completed its introductory sniff, it heaved a sigh at me and then fell to the floor in a heap. “Are you mine forever?”
It heaved a sigh in response. I licked my lips and slowly knelt down beside it. I didn’t want to scare it away from me. And I didn’t want to instigate it to do anything really silly like attack me, either. When I felt like I was pretty safe, I asked, “So, have you been here long?” There was absolutely no response from any quarter. “What do I do with you?” I asked it, really at a loss here.
It was one thing to get thrown into a desert, screaming while I went half-insane in my attempt to figure out what the point in all that was. It was quite another thing to get thrown into the Duat with a netjeri and have absolutely no idea how to interact with it. Shrugging, I walked over to my backpack and began pawing through it. I had a change of clothes, some water bottles, a couple of snack like foods (my favorite – grapes – were in a box!), and a few other odds and ends. The strangest thing was the full on ancient Egyptian mace at the back.
I was pretty sure I hadn’t packed that in there.
I was all about being prepared, but I had never needed a mace before.
I placed it back in the pack, grabbed a bottle of water, and snuggled up against the netjeri. I thought about naming it. It seemed weird that it didn’t have a name, or if it did have a name then I didn’t know what it was. I thought about a bunch of names – Bob; Sin-eater; Funny Face; Tinsel; Needle; Lover of Books – but nothing seemed to work out right. While I was busy thinking up a name, I ended up falling asleep.
Boredom did that to me.
So, as a quick aside, I have to admit that I always thought things like these would be more exciting. Like, I thought that if I started doing the whole thing with the gods and did astral travel, I wouldn’t be nearly as bored as I have been. But every experience lately has ended up with me bored to tears. I was so damn bored in the Duat, in the Lake of Fire, that I ended up falling asleep. I was noticing a serious pattern here. In my mind, I was beginning to see the Duat as the equivalent to the sleep-inducing machine. Hell, I was beginning to see all of these experiences as boring as hell and really, that’s not what I had been expecting.
I’ll admit that, in the grand scheme of things, boredom is way better than terror. So, I guess it can’t be really seen as all bad.
When I woke up, Sekhmet came in the room. She wasn’t alone. She had a guest with her and I was pretty surprised to see Bast walking in.
Someone that I didn’t pay any attention to during all of my previous excursions with Sekhmet was Bast. She doesn’t mean much to me, at all. I’ve read about her of course because, well, she is kind of associated with Sekhmet. Frankly, though, she never has meant much to me. Even in the heady days of my fairly Wiccan like adventures, I didn’t pay her any attention. Many of the new Wiccans that have a Kemetic flair seem to be most interested in either Aset/Isis or Bast, but not me. (This is, of course, based on my own observations of blog entries, Tumblr posts, and the like. The two of them just seem to be the most well-known [female] NTRW that people want to pay homage to.)
She would show up, periodically, and eyeball me in the Duat and during the parties. I didn’t like her looks. It’s not that there’s something disconcerting about being eyeballed by another deity, but there is something pretty fucking disconcerting about being eyeballed beyond belief by another deity. What really made me uncomfortable was that, quite possibly, she could have been my fate but she wasn’t. Maybe if I had a bigger thing for cats or maybe if I had read more about her earlier on, maybe just maybe, things would have been different and she would have adopted me into her household.
I didn’t read up on her. She never adopted me. And honestly, she means very little to me and my practice.
I know that kind of sounds like an asshole thing to say, right? There’s an entire deity that means nothing to me. But there are actually a lot of deities that mean nothing to me, personally, though they may mean the world to other devotees. All I can say is that when it came to the Cat Lady, I was just kind of like, “Yeah, okay, she’s a god. Whatevs.” And I went on my merry little fucked up way.
Usually if Bast showed up, the only one showing tension was me. I got the impression that neither she nor Sekhmet really cared for each other but were okay with each other. Maybe Bast wanted to be what Sekhmet was, but got relegated to other roles. Maybe Sekhmet was jealous of the fact that Bast gets more attention because she can be kind and nice while Sekhmet so often is not seen as such. Or maybe I’m just making shit up because I wanted to have a good reason for feeling the tension that stiffened my shoulders, that caused my stomach to bundle into knots, and that made me want to run the fuck away. Whatever the reason, whenever Bast came over to pay respect or to talk with Sekhmet, I found myself uncomfortable.
And then there were the looks.
You know how sometimes when people just stare at you, you get instantly uncomfortable because you know they’re thinking things about you and you don’t know what those things are? It’s kind of like that. When I tried to mention it to Sekhmet, she merely pursed her lips. Once she said to me, “It is what it is. This is part of the bargain you made.” I had no idea what the fuck that meant when she said it to me. Would I ever understand anything weird and secretive that she told me? Yeah, at some point in future. It just took a couple of weeks before I was able to make the whole series of experiences click.
Sekhmet was looking fine-tuned and beautiful, as usual. Not a strand of hair out of place, not a single piece of jewelry not centered, and looking as though she had been having a rollicking good time. She wasn’t alone, though. She had brought Bast with her. The two of them looked like they had been enjoying a series of adventures that had the two of them bonding. Their friendship is weird, I thought as I watched them come inside. They’re like friend-enemies.
I stood up slowly. I was honestly very weary. The two of them together couldn’t possible mean anything good for me. I had an insane second where I thought they were going to demand I do a sort of lesbian orgy with the two of them – like their cream filling to the Oreo cookie outside, ya dig? – but I squashed that back down. I stood beside the netjeri – Alec; Bronson; Orangutan; Fuzzy Face; Butt Kisser; Butt Sniffer; Killer Breath; Adam; Rick; Dune; Maud’dib – with my arms akimbo, waiting for some weird and random thing to get sprung on me.
Instead of the weird and random thing getting sprung on me, it got sprung on Bast.
She was, of course, staring hard at me. She was practically eye-fucking me or something. If I had ever been uncomfortable in her presence, it was a far fucking cry to how I was feeling right this second, right now. I swallowed loudly. It practically echoed around the chamber with how loud it was, but it really wasn’t. I was imagining things because I was kind of worried that some weird shit was going down. And with good reason.
Sekhmet turned and faced Bast, her eyes narrowed into slits. “Many would have what I have created,” Sekhmet said conversationally. Bast broke her eye contact from me and studied Sekhmet quietly. “I have worked very hard on this project. As you no doubt are aware, I have been fine-tuning this one for many years. She is finally ready for what I want and I will not have you messing about.”
“I hardly know what you mean,” Bast said carelessly. She shrugged.
I didn’t know if she was the bravest creature I had ever met or if she was just really fucking stupid. I figured she had a right to be, you know, ballsy. But if Sekhmet had been looking at me like that… I probably would have only said one smartass remark… maybe…
“You have been coming to her,” Sekhmet said. There was no drama here. Nope, not in the slightest. And how the fuck did she know that? I had been complaining to everyone IRL about the Bast dreams because, you know, weird and creepy. I hadn’t said anything to Sekhmet about it at all because my concerns regarding Bast’s looks had been pretty much brushed off. So, since my thoughts on how she was staring at me had been me being “over emotional,” I hadn’t bothered to say anything about the dreams I had had about her.
“So,” Bast said.
Fear? Was she scared yet? I kind of hoped she was. I was disgustingly excited about all of this. And I understood the reason behind it, of course. This is going to sound fucked up, especially considering I was stuck in a room with two war deities who could, maybe, fuck some major shit up if they got into a fight. But, I felt, like, okay for once. I was wanted. Sure, she talked about me like a fine-tuned and well-oiled machine, but you know, wanted!
Sekhmet stuck a very well-manicured finger in Bast’s face. Bast narrowed her eyes but didn’t say anything. There was a sort of courtesy here, or maybe like an unknown [to me] set of carefully choreographed behaviors. “You are poaching on my territory. I don’t do such things with whatever items you’ve been working on. I expect the same courtesy.” She walked majestically around Bast. Bast didn’t flinch. She didn’t follow Sekhmet with her eyes. She just stood absolutely still, waiting for whatever it was Sekhmet had to say. “Are we clear here?”
“I suppose,” Bast said flippantly.
Sekhmet stopped pacing and stood directly behind Bast. I could see her breath, twitching Bast’s hair in the wind her breath created. “There are no suppositions,” Sekhmet breathed. “This one is my child. Do not approach her. Do not go to her in any way. Otherwise…” Sekhmet trailed off. I didn’t know what the “otherwise” was supposed to constitute. Bast evidently did because she blinked and swallowed whatever flippant response she had been preparing.
“Fine,” Bast agreed.
“You may go,” Sekhmet said.
We watched Bast twitch out the door. When she had gone, I turned to my mother, waiting for her to say something about this. Obviously, this was important and I was supposed to see all of this. So, we were going to discuss it, right? “Prepare yourself,” Sekhmet said. And of course we weren’t actually going to discuss what I wanted to talk about because, you know, that made way too much sense. “There are many things coming your way and I need you ready.”
“So, you mean, keep the sass to a minimum?”
Sekhmet smirked and walked away.