If there was any word that we could use to describe the first month of the civil year, and in conjunction with the first hour of my personal journey through the Duat, I would say liminality would be the most appropriate. When you look up the word, liminality on Wikipedia, this is what the first paragraph has to say:
…liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rites, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which completing the rite establishes.
The first month of the year doesn’t necessarily set the tone for the rest of the year. We may think that it does when we see the ongoing 24-hour news cycle and our constant connection with what’s happening in the world. But the month of January is merely a signpost, a herald advising that the year has begun and things are coming but we’re not quite there yet. Nothing concrete truly happens in the first month; it just provides you with hints as to what you can expect for the future.
In that quote that I provided from Wikipedia, they talk about “disorientation,” which would also be an adequate word to describe the first month of the New Year. It is disorienting moving from the death of the old year into the birth of the new. It is a tumultuous time, which is why we can often misinterpret the first month as the part of the year where the tone for the next 12 months is set. But again, January does not do this; it only hints at what is to come.
We can say this is true for the first hour of the journey into the afterlife. As my research into various netherworld books seemed to indicate, the first hour is what I referred to as a “non-hour.” It is a signpost and a herald for what is to come, but the work and movement won’t begin until the solar barque passes through the gateway into the Second Hour. And then, things will truly begin.
The First Month
I had my suspicions about what I could expect from the first month of the year. There were a few hints and a few pushes that I would see a lot of changes on the real-life front. However, I wasn’t really expecting that things would be this tumultuous. Even with the above research into liminality and my attempts at philosophical discussion on the topic of said word, I can assure anyone reading this that I didn’t expect shit to get this real so quickly.
Work has been one of those kind of nightmare places where you’re trying to figure out if you’re alive or dead. The first bang went off at work and was followed by two more. The first two bangs were big loud, nuclear fall-out cloud explosions. All of us are still trying to pick up the pieces from those first two bombs. We told ourselves that by mid-February we should be good to go, but with the way things have been going, I don’t really see us un-burying ourselves until March.
The thing is that my boss keeps reminding us that this was a necessary change, a good change. From a holistic point-of-view, her assessment is correct. We did need to make these changes and they are for the betterment of the office and the company as a whole. However, we have to slog through the ash that we ourselves caused by burning shit down around us. And we all voted for it; we all agreed to this change knowing that it needed to happen. And I can say that these changes have caused betterment even though we’re all up to our eyeballs in bullshit every day.
The third bang was a smaller bang and more personally impacting. It frustrated me but I knew it was going to happen long before it did. I had expect the bomb to go off and it did. I can admit why it did and I can even agree that it should have gone off. But that doesn’t make me particularly happy about anything especially considering the day-to-day shit I’m slogging through because of the other things going on.
And I’m… well, I’m frustrated. I can see on Google maps what the fuck the forest looks like, but from my personal vantage point, I can’t see the damn forest because of all the fucking trees. And what annoys me the most about all of this is that there are three other people in the office who are at the same level of the job as I am who come across as inordinately selfish for all of this shit.
As I am slogging through this bullshit, they’re whining that I can’t help them with whatever. Well… yes. That’s what happens when you blow shit up in your own damn face, like we all agreed to do. And unfortunately it sucks that you have to take on more personal responsibility that you used to very happily delegate to me and that I, sadly, would willingly take on. But now it sucks that you can’t shove your shit on me because I’m too busy shoveling my own and you have to deal with the consequences of a decision we all agreed to.
Beyond work, which is sadly a large portion of what my first month of 2019 has entailed, I have had some irons in the fire that I have been poking and prodding for… well, years. These irons are finally getting hot and ready to get pulled out for use, although I have a bit more to do before we finally get to there. I can safely say that I am very, very ready to pull these damn irons from the fire.
The First Hour
The first hour has been, well, uneventful in the grand scheme of things. You would think that there would be lights and sirens maybe, just a little hint that the work has begun. But aside from dreams and the ongoing Tarot Card Drama™, there is very little going on from the afterlife front. I suppose I should be grateful that nothing has picked up considering everything else that has been going on this past month.
So far, the first hour has been more preparation than anything else. I’ve been taking the time that I have available to look inward, knowing that once I reach the gateway, I’ll begin moving forward. I’ve found bits of myself, pieces that have been highlighted for the upcoming work that I have needed to look through, to address in some way, shape, or form. None of these things are personal failings – merely things that became highlighted for me as I navigated slowly forward.
I’m not horrible at taking the magnifying glass to myself to poke and prod at the things that need to be reviewed, but I’m not the best at coming out of the look-see feeling like I’ve made progress. Sometimes momentum or progress isn’t necessary, but I always come away feeling like I need to have something tangible in hand after the review. And if I can’t come away with that tangible something, then I feel like I wasted my time and energy in the doing.
After conversing with TTR about something that I needed to look into and their giving advice on how to do this, I was able to at least get some movement on something that needed to be addressed in some way. While I didn’t really come out of that with a solution per se, I realized that this wasn’t really a situation that fell into “I need a solution” territory.
- I needed to acknowledge what was happening – check.
- I needed to acknowledge the cause of it – check.
- I needed to admit how it was impacting me – check.
There wasn’t anything that required a way to fix it. It is what it is. I think the year ahead will probably help in all of this, but I can only really wait and see on that. I needed to admit that this was a thing and I needed to at least understand the cause for it. I was able to do that and in the doing, I feel more prepared than ever for the next step.
Of course, we’ll see how prepared I really am soon enough.
Before completing my research for the first hour of the various Books of the Afterlife, I thought that I would go into the first hour and immediately make some form of progress. I thought the progress would look like something tangible, but I was wrong. My research indicated that the first hour would almost be a sort of interim moment between the decision to move forward and the second hour when movement would begin.
As Hornung states:
The nightly journey of the sun is the focus of all the Books of the Netherworld, and consistent with this, it also furnishes the ordering and creative principle for the spaces in the hereafter. This nocturnal regeneration of the sun demonstrates, by way of example, what powers of renewal are at work on the far side of death. At the same time, the journey occurs in the spaces of the human soul, in which a renewal from the depths becomes possible. That is an odyssey of the soul is emphasized by the Egyptians through the indication that the sun god descends into the depths as a ba-soul…
The nocturnal journey leads through an inner region of the cosmos that was regarded not only as the netherworld and the depths of the earth, but also as water (the primeval water, the Nun) as darkness, and as the interior of the sky.
The first step on the odyssey of the soul is little more than putting two feet on the first step of the bus or train that you’ve decided to take to get to your destination. It is merely a herald, a signpost for the future that this is a moment that Change Is Going to Happen But Not Yet.
I am tired of waiting at least from the spiritual aspect of things, but I am ready for the movement forward to begin to take form and show me the overall outcome. But that could just be my impatience talking.