Boundaries.

The ancient Egyptians used to create stelae for various reasons but the main reason that always kind of stuck with me were boundary stelae. As a kid, I can remember reading through the books about Amarna, trying to envision Akhenaten demanding that Joe Blow Stonemason cut into a cliff face to deliberately mark the borders of his new city. For a long time, that was the closest I ever came to boundary stela.

After getting over the marvel that someone would just create a stonework detailing where something began and ended, I could see the value in such a thing. As human beings, we seem to like to clearly mark things as “ours vs theirs.” While the boundary stelae of Amarna were less about us vs. them, the other types of boundary stelae are very much in keeping with that mentality: they delineate fields, borders of administrative sectors, and of course countries.

I also had to admit that I kind of liked the idea behind it. There is a sort of permanence in the creation. It’s being sculpted from stone, which could and would last a very long time, gave an added dose of “forever” to the stelae. To be perfectly frank, the very idea that this piece of stone was to delineate a beginning point and an ending point all and for an eternity really spoke to me.

Maybe I have a permanent us vs. them mentality waiting in the wings or maybe I just like the idea that instead of using a fence, they carved some words into a rock. And therefore it was. It existed because the words had been carved into that rock and that would come down to us millennia later. The amount of mind blowing wonder I’ve spent staring at boundary stelae is probably obscene. But man, they sure are fascinating.

Boundary stela of Sety I

Boundary Stela of Seti I, found in Kom el Lufi

When I was a newbie Kemetic, I spent an inordinately large amount of time combing through forums. I started off looking for resources to help me figure out what I was trying to do but I also realize now that I was hoping for a mentor. I was hoping that someone would take me under their wing and just tell me what to do.

I can recognize that this is a sort of holdover from my early religious years. I was raised in a tradition where you needed someone to facilitate the relationship you were supposed to forge. I wanted something similar, though I still wanted to experience things on my own and without someone else’s experience to muddy the waters.

Around the same time that I began wishing someone on the forums would tell me what I was supposed to be doing, I began to work through a lot of the negativity I had after the “coven” I was a part of broke up. It took a while but I finally began to recognize that having an intermediary between myself and my gods was dangerous, worrisome, time-consuming, and not something I really could stomach any longer.

I don’t bring up the break up of that “coven” over and over again to finger point or anything. I’ve worked through most, if not all, of the resentment I had holding me back from that tumultuous and painful time. The reason I bring it up is because it helped me, only after working through a lot of that resentment and anger, to realize that I didn’t really want someone to mentor me any longer. I just wanted someone to mindlessly tell me what to do while I fumbled around on this weird and meandering spiritual turnpike.

As I began to actually explore, I wanted less that person between me and my gods, between me and my religion and more a community of sorts. I wanted to be able to talk through a lot of the things that I was exploring, the things that I was thinking, the things that I was feeling as I delved deeper. I clung to that forum a lot in those early years and it did help to shape my practice. It also helped to teach me who were good community people and who were not. It gave me a lot of learning points as I began to get serious about things.

Pushing Boundaries ( please view large on black )

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Brene Brown

One of the things the forum helped to teach me was about boundaries. This was a concept I was already beginning to figure out, but it took a while to really solidify enough for me.

As a newbie, I wanted to be let into every nuance, every detail regarding others’ practices. It wasn’t that I wanted to steal what they had to offer. I just wanted to know what things could be like if I tried hard enough. The idea of keeping quiet about aspects of my practice had never really occurred to me – that is, after all, why I started this blog. More as a tally for myself on how things had changed, but also as a place to publicly point people to how things can and do and will change as newbies delve deeper into their own spiritual practices.

I rolled the idea through my mind, trying to come to a collective decision about what, if anything, I should keep private. In those early years, the idea of keeping quiet about anything was still very mind boggling and didn’t feel right. I realized that silence isn’t my strong point.

The thing is that I want to keep people in the loop. I want people to see what it is that I am doing in the hopes that it may jump start what it is they will be doing or are starting to do. I don’t write about my personal religious shenanigans anymore simply because I need the record for my own peace of mind, but because I know what it’s like to be like, “how religion,” and not getting what I felt I needed at the time.

I’m at a stage in my practice now where I definitely do not want someone to hold my hand through my own experiences unless I make the request. I may whine and cry and arm flail about these things, but I am not looking to do that simply because I need someone to tell me what to do. I am doing all of that because that is how I work through the new things being levied at me as I wander around trying to formulate a living, breathing practice. And I have this desire to show other people what that looks like as they, in turn, go through similar experiences.

Sometimes, I feel that people misunderstand what it is that I am trying to do and when they do misunderstand those things, they breach boundaries that perhaps I didn’t carefully delineate. Perhaps I should have carved a piece of stone with carefully chosen words to explain that there are, in fact, boundaries in play as open as I may be regarding my practice. It is those boundaries that have kept me very quiet lately. Too often it feels like people are misunderstanding what I’m doing or what I’m saying and feeling the need to step in, take my hand, and point me in the proper direction.

They have broached my boundary stelae and I honestly don’t know how to handle this. I can’t help but think that because I am so open about what I’m doing and what I am hoping to achieve, that because I didn’t keep quiet about certain aspects of my practice then this is rather my fault. I also suspect that because I use open blogging platforms to catalog the things that I have done and said and felt and gone through, then I am rather asking for this.

To be fair, the people probably think that they’re being helpful, but this isn’t my first rodeo. It’s not even my fifth. I’ve been around the block a few times and I have to tell you… I don’t need or want your help unless I say, “help me.”

silent candles night

Silence is a true friend who never betrays. – Confucius

All of this has brought me back to those early years when I can remember knowing and being told that there are parts of others’ practices that I am not privy to. I am finally beginning to understand why they kept things to themselves. And I am finally having to reengage with myself regarding what is and is not appropriate to share anymore.

I’ve already begun to hold back exponentially. I often find myself wanting to discuss something incredibly personal, but being very worried about who will determine that it’s time to “benevolently” step inside my borders and tell me what they have done on my behalf, without my permission, to help facilitate things for me. I don’t want to share these items anymore because I am tired of feeling as though people who are “older and wiser” than myself have decided that I need help even though I never asked for it.

I guess I have to ask what the point in any of this is if my openness regarding what I’m hoping to achieve has seemingly made it seem to others that I need their help. Why am I doing this in the first place? Why do I keep this blog or its companion sites open if I have to sit and wonder over and over what sort of can of worms I’m opening because I’m willing to discuss these things in an open venue? Is it my fault for not posting “I don’t need your help but thanks for thinking of me” on every arm flail I post? Is it my fault for not clearly stating, “I am sharing this not because I need help but because I need to post it somewhere” or emphatically pointing out, “there are boundaries here, here, and here so don’t cross them when we discuss this”?

I can appreciate silence now and I dislike that I can appreciate it in any context. I can understand why people keep things to themselves and I hate that. I hate that I’ve become so divided in what I share and what I don’t share. I hate the fact that I’ve had drafts saved for months, going absolutely nowhere, because I’m worried what sort of person is going to try and extend me a helping hand when I haven’t requested one.

I think I need to start looking back to the past in order to look to the future.

It feels like this is a jumping off point, a moment in time where I can go either left or right on this meandering path of mine. I know that one way will lead to more and more silence, more and more moments of sitting on my laurels with drafts saved that never see the light of the day. The other turn will take me down the road to clearly mark where my boundaries lay, both for myself and for others, so I can continue down the road that I actually need to be on.

Everything starts with one step, or one brick, or one word or one day. – Jeremy Gilley

The Osiris Mysteries: Opening Ceremonies & The Gods Appear in 34 Boats

November 20, 2019/IV Akhet 18

I started thinking about what to do for the Opening Ceremonies in October. Opening ceremonies can be very important and tend to highlight the look and feel of the event even after it has begun. I racked my brain, trying to figure out what would be appropriate and what was something that I could do.

As is my wont, I started with really over-the-top ideas. I have such a bad habit of going overboard with things because I want to show that I am a Real Polytheist™ like everyone else proclaims to be. But the problem with that is that I am a spoony, so I don’t always have the energy to do what I had originally thought up. And I don’t always have the available cash flow to do what I had originally planned. Just because the budget looks bright and shiny a month in advance that doesn’t mean it actually will when you finally get to that point.

The other part of this is that this year’s Mysteries are a sort of test run. Usually, I would have accompanying words and gestures to go along with all of this. But since I have never once participated before this year, Osiris and I agreed that this would be a word-less venture this year: no rites, simple gestures with intent, no words of power to accompany everything else.

So all of my over-the-top ideas were quickly jettisoned as time went by.

I would periodically worry the thread of what I should be doing over the month in advance that I thought about all of this. Sometimes I came up with little ideas that I didn’t feel were too terrible, or at least Osiris didn’t seem to offended or annoyed with what I was suggesting. (And to be quite honest, there were a few times where my ideas actually were very annoying or repulsive to him.)

Not only did I have to do something to commemorate the opening salvo for the Mysteries (since everything to this point has been preparation, more or less), but I also had to come up with some way to show 34 boats as Osiris is accompanied by 34 gods, each in their own individual boats.

From The Ancient Egyptian Daybook:

Boats for Osiris and his companion deities were floated on the Dendera sacred lake on IV Akhet 18. There were 34 boats total:

  1. Osiris
  2. Isis
  3. Nephthys
  4. Horus
  5. Thoth
  6. Imsety
  7. Hapy (one of the sons of Horus)
  8. Duamutef
  9. Qebshenuef
  10. The Capturer
  11. Who Acts Violently
  12. Horus Who Beholds his Father
  13. Who Creates His Own Name
  14. Who Is in His Lifetime
  15. Horus, Beautiful of Front (Face/Front Side)
  16. Their Thrones
  17. Maker of Boundaries
  18. Khonsu the Construstor
  19. The Divine Falcon over His Arm
  20. The Terrifying One
  21. Sia
  22. Who Creates Himself
  23. In Front of Two
  24. She Who is Great in Age
  25. The Two Runners
  26. Name Lost
  27. Name Lost
  28. Name Lost
  29. Name Lost
  30. Who Doesn’t Give His Flame
  31. The Two Red-Eyed Ones
  32. Foremost of the House of the Red Garment
  33. The Lion of the Night Who Brought Him Low
  34. The Destroyer

That was a lot of gods and while the idea of origami was palatable, I could also admit that it was completely out. I’m not good with paper folding as I’ve tried repeatedly and it doesn’t work out ever. I don’t know how people with magic fingers can make things out of paper, but I do not have magic fingers and my paper folding tends to end up in a crumpled up ball of frustration at my feet.

Two days out, I threw up my hands and figured I would decide what to do on the day in question. Something would pop in my head and either it would work out, or it wouldn’t.

I lit all of my candles and then sat down in the living room to make the boats.

It may seem ridiculous to take out a piece of white paper and just draw 34 boats on it, but sometimes that’s about as much energy and pizzazz as you can do. I actually ended up with two copies.

The first one, I tried to be very precise with my boats, keeping them evenly spaced and about 1″ long. I found it irritating and stupid, so I free handed the second sheet. I outlined each little boat in black sharpie so it could be seen clearly from far away.

I am, what you may call, a perfectionist. I stared at the boats a couple of times on my second sheet and seriously considered throwing it away as well. It wasn’t… it didn’t come out right. I looked back at the first sheet of my carefully spaced, 1″ long boats and realized that having them so “perfect” looking didn’t work. The boats would have all looked the same in antiquity, but they wouldn’t have all looked exactly alike.

I also kind of felt, as I looked harder, that having them kind of not-so-evenly spaced on the paper gave it the appearance of boats floating randomly on the water. It took me a bit to warm up to it, but I eventually got there.

Once I was done with the boats, I turned back to the Opening Ceremonies themselves. I had a couple of ideas which was basically music and rattling my little paper of boats around over the altar space I use for Osiris.

Music is also a very important part to any religious festival, so I worried about what I would choose. Inevitably, as I thought about it, I realized that having horns and drums announcing something was probably the greatest way to go about it, so we listened to Fanfare for the Common Man on repeat a few times.

As I walked into my candle lit space, I decided that I was being ridiculous for just holding a sheet of paper over the space, letting it waft in the breeze I created. But I can remember a million times before now where being ridiculous or silly or a little joke-y about things wasn’t so bad. So I went with it. And it seems to have worked out.

The Day the Music Died.

Two days ago, TTR announced an indefinite hiatus for mental health reasons. I saw it coming before it happened. I speak with them semi-regularly and our conversations had started to have less and less content, more and more silence between our messages (to be clear, this is not just on TTR; I have also been less communicative). So, I knew that they were pulling themselves back within themselves and I knew that they would eventually make a post somewhere detailing why.

I was out dealing with boring things when it popped up on my feed as I was waiting for what seemed like forever for someone to help the husband and I with something. I saw the title and felt a little flip-flop in my stomach, in my heart. I had expected this to happen but I hadn’t expected it to happen so soon. I didn’t get to read it all right away because the person we had been waiting on finally showed up to help us out and I had to focus on that.

When I got home, while the SO was doing what I had asked him to do, I read through the post twice. I read it first quickly and made a quick comment. This is my usual protocol for deep entries or even posts people make about their religious lives. They make the post, I read it quick, and I’ll comment based on that first reading. But then I go back to it later or immediately after I comment and I start over again.

As I read through the post, I felt a plethora of things: guilt for being a terrible friend; annoyance with TTR for doing this without warning me; irritation with the wider “community”; worry that their mental health would go off the rails and I’d never know what happened to them (like another friend of mine from eons back); relief that I knew where to contact them should the need arise… But above all, as I read through the entry a second time and then a third, I felt a wave of complete and total sadness. It was so much that I felt tears in my eyes, which I blinked back because, I don’t know if you know this about me, but Strong People Do Not Cry and I am a Strong People.

It wasn’t sadness merely because of what they have been going through or because they would not signal boost my posts anymore (I always knew when a post was reblogged by them because I got a lot of fucking notes after that). It was sadness because it felt very much like what I assume the Day the Music Died must have felt like to Americans everywhere.

Maybe.

The Day The Music Died

A long, long time ago I can still remember how that music used to make me smile. And I knew if I had my chance that I could make those people dance… And maybe they’d be happy for a while… – American Pie by Don McLean

I have known TTR for a very long time. I think it’s been at least 8 years, although it could be closer to 9 for all I know. (My memory is not what it once was. It’s full of random facts and famous faces I saw once in a movie.) We haunted the same message board for pagans.

I remember reading their posts on that message board and marveling at how very together they seemed with their practice. I can remember reading through the posts of those Kemetics who were far more “advanced” than I on this whole roller coaster ride of religion and I can remember TTR holding their own against those people and their arguments or their statements of seeming fact. I remember how they made me nervous, made me fearful because I strongly suspected I would never get to the same point that they seemed to be at that moment in time.

When I left that message board in a flounce of all flounces, somehow TTR came with me. I honestly don’t remember why. They still posted there and sometimes we’d chat about the new goings-on when it came to the posts that were being made there, but I never went back. They began to tell me about their plans, the push from the Big Redhead about community. And I can remember thinking that while I couldn’t be sure I could really help in any of that, I was willing to give it a shot.

I was always under the impression that what I was to do was to be solitary, and to a point, it is. I’ve come very far since those early days where Kemetics were likened to being islands and the starter posts being published about boat paddling in an effort to connect those islands. But when those posts were coming out and TTR, along with other Kemetics who have long since passed out of our realm, were talking about connecting those islands to unify the wider Kemetic community, I could stand behind their desires and raise up those words.

The community, back then, was very different from what it is today. Most of the things going on were presented on the various message boards for different types of Kemeticism. There were the KO people, the people on tC, the ones pushing out into individual blogs on Blogger and WP, and of course, the FtS message board for the LaBordians. TTR haunted the spaces in between, trying to find a way to unify everyone in the way that Big Red told them to. It was a lot of hard work and it was completely thankless.

We started making forays into other blogging platforms, notably Tumblr. There were all of maybe 5 of us there, boosting up each other’s posts. The handful of existing Kemetics, or Kemetic curious, persons on Tumblr found us and began to haunt our posts. We talked about our blogs there, trying to push other Kemetics from other platforms to Tumblr, hoping to use that place for the visions of community that TTR and Helms had cooked up in their late night chat sessions.

We mostly spent our time in other established polytheists’ circles because we had no circles, at first. We were friends with Hellenics and Heathens and we all intermingled a good deal more than we do today. I suppose you could say it was the heyday of the Kemetic community; even though there were so few of us trying to make the kemetic tag popular, we felt like we were really doing the hard work of cutting back a swath of the wider polytheistic realm for ourselves. We spent our time joking and laughing, or running in circles around various concepts and ideas, agreeing and disagreeing with one another, in an effort to make something that really worked.

It wasn’t all fun and games. I could remember TTR growing worried about various things that were happening on the message boards, concerns they had always had but were beginning to bubble up more and more. They saw the shitty behavior of KO and FtS and tC members because they had the access to all of that. They explained the ins and outs of the different types of Kemetic message boards, carefully outlining the faults they had found and lifting up the good that they had seen too. They did their best to boat paddle and I lifted up their voice when I could, snapped at people when I lost my patience with this whole boat paddling stuff, and then came back to it to start again.

You see, I believed wholeheartedly in that vision. I worked hard to be a good little boat paddler. I sat back more often than not on posts that made me go, “eh what now”, and tried to emulate what TTR would do to the best of my ability. I still snapped. I still lashed out. But I tried very hard to be calmer, cooler, and more collected as I helped them foment the growth we both talked about seeing.

The vision was beautiful. In my head, it was all sparkling gold and silver with precious stones and gemstones winking in candle light. It reminded me of a dream I had had in 2013 and I wanted to see it come to fruition. So I helped as much as I could and for a while, things seemed okay.

But sometimes being the beacon of light in the darkness can gnaw at you. The posts are there. The sources are neatly gathered together in a good place for people to poke through, but they always asked the same questions. I don’t know if they tried to find the resources or if they just wanted it handed to them. How many times did TTR or myself get the same damn questions over and over? I don’t know if you realize this, but it kind of gets to you after a while. It makes you begin to feel like you are stuck in a maze and there is no exit because you keep rehashing the same things. But TTR kept doggedly going forward, putting themselves out there over and over again.

They had the vision that Big Red had given them in their head, the push from him to keep moving forward because it was within reach. And they followed that idea, that vision in the hopes of one day coming to the finish line.

But nothing is forever and we had problems. Slowly, we watched the hard work that TTR had mostly pioneered on their own, boosted up by the voices of others, start to fall apart. We watched as divisions within our community began to rise and we started to realize that the vision we had had may not ever be achievable. We could never get out of the rut of 101s, we could never get out of the rut of constantly having to explain why racism/sexism/transphobia/homophobia/etc had no place in our religion, we could never move beyond the establishment of the same old shit we had already twice, thrice, quadruple, etc established.

It can tire out anyone. I didn’t get involved nearly as much as TTR did, but I saw the toll it took. I saw what it all was doing and maybe that’s why people were so shitty to them or maybe it was just their own jealousy that TTR is a good and honest person who can form sentences better than most. I don’t know. But it ate at them and one day, I kind of sat back and thought that they might implode.

I don’t think anyone is aware of just how hard they took it when the division within the Tumblr community happened. To them, it felt like a personal failing. It wasn’t. There are always going to be shitty people and sometimes, they are going to gather together with other shitty people and snatch up the young and impressionable to be taught to be just as shitty as the first round of shitty people. I think it’s human nature, honestly, but TTR was greatly upset by the break up of the vision that they had so carefully cultivated with Big Red.

I had given up already, no longer willing to be a part of the whole. I couldn’t bring myself to become a part of it when the things I needed to discuss were either ignored or I was talked down to about it. While TTR kept holding my hand as I thrashed and grew disenfranchised with my whole religious life, I pulled myself away and away and away. I boosted up their words, jumped in if I felt that I could help or assist, but I kept to myself. Maybe I was TTR’s last bastion of sanity amid the chaos and I pulled out of it all, unable to go on publicly.

They kept going on, maybe seeing the vision of boat paddling within their mind as they kept trying to push forward. But it ate away at them and I could see when they began to stop believing in that vision. I wasn’t surprised when they began posting original content less and I was even less surprised when their queue was just full of other peoples’ posts. They tried again to push themselves on but with everything else going on in their life, they found it hard, harder, hardest.

Maybe they’re at the point of giving up, or maybe they’ll come back. All I know is that I’ve watched as my friend has slowly been eaten alive by one thing and another. They have their issues; they’re not perfect. I don’t want anyone to assume that is what this post is about. This isn’t me starting a cult of personality. This is me saying that I can understand why they needed to break.

And this is me saying that it also kind of feels a little bit like the death of a vision we had all once wholeheartedly shared.

rotten

I can’t remember if I cried when I read about his widowed bride, but something touched me deep inside the day the music died… – American Pie by Don McLean

The vision of the community that TTR had wasn’t just a cool hangout for kids to get together. I know it sounds like that was what it was. But we were all trying to actually form a community: a place where people could belong together based on their similar religious leanings, but could also form friendships and relationships and work together towards the common good of the community. That means being sounding boards for weirdness and being there for someone who is going through Some Shit.

I’m sure there are people that have come together because of what TTR had begun and are good friends today. They are people that can get together once a year in person or maybe do group ritual online together. Maybe they can talk about their problems and not worry that it’ll get spread around to smear their name, or feel confident with the advice they are given. TTR doesn’t have that; I am part of that failing, a part of that problem.

Sometimes I wonder if it’s just because we’re too old Kemetic fossil types (it’s a joke) and that’s why we sit back and kind of stare at what’s been going on in the wider community, unable to even begin to become a part of it again. But I think the damage may have been done with the wider division happening a few years back, and I think it has continued to be done because maybe the whispers that we’re not smart enough, capable enough, too embittered, or what have you has been listened to one too many times.

I look in my shrine room and wonder if I can handle that. I think I can because as I said above, my path was never really supposed to be community oriented. I was always supposed to go solitary, which helps because I’m getting into things that are just not discussed (sadly) within the Kemetic community, things that have little to do with Kemeticism as a whole, and more to do with personal religious shenanigans. I’ve always kind of known that I would be on the wayside, watching shit go down and maybe wishing I could be a part of it, but mostly knowing that I could not, should not, will not.

TTR on the other hand had always looked to the vision of the community, looking to call the place home. And that home has, basically, kicked them out. They created it, put the foundations up, and started working on all of the design space of the interior and exterior. They even started to decorate before they got tossed out on their ass on a place they had very lovingly tended to for years.

It is my sincere hope that one day this community will reach the potential that I know it can. We must do better about letting people slip through the cracks. We must do better at fostering ma’at.

We must do better.

As quoted above, TTR said in their post of farewell that the wider community needs to do better. They are right. We all need to do better. We need to be able to create the vision of what the community needs to be, police ourselves much better, pointing out the faults of the hateful and wrong, and be there for each other.

We need to do better.

We must do better.

 

You Are Not the One You Say You Are.

Years ago, I followed a number of people who were deep into astrology. Sometimes it felt like they were all speaking together in another language when they would get going on their discussions regarding charts and retrograde and returns. I had a passing fancy back then that maybe I would learn what they knew and use it somehow in my own way. That never came to pass and most likely never will, but one thing that stayed with me was the concept of the Saturn Return.

At the time I found out about it, I wondered when I could expect that to happen to me. I never looked into when mine would appear back then but I sometimes found myself wondering when it would hit, when I could expect things to disintegrate so spectacularly as those astrology people described, and how I would look coming out of the other side. I, of course, never bothered to look into when my Saturn return would occur because I didn’t want to confirm that I was already in the middle of it or that it was still some ways off. It was better not knowing.

I have since learned when my first Saturn return occurred. Before I figured it out, I often wondered for a long time after the year 2015 had slowly died as years tend to do if that year was the start or end of my Saturn return. It would have explained so much if it was.

Saturn Return

I can’t trust anyone or anything these days. If you are who you say you are then show me your face. You came out of the ocean like you came out of a dream. Your voice it sounds familiar but you are not what you seem… – The Stranger by Lord Huron

Fear and hopelessness are two words that, when paired together, they form a very distinct image. They elicit a painting of some dark gray and bleak hellscape. When these two words are mated together in this way, the words can convey a certain nuance that the words, when spoken not in tandem, tend to lack. The desolation one can feel when these words are used to describe themselves and their situation is so absolute as to be inescapable. It’s suffocating, worrisome, and above all, horrifying.

I think “fear and hopelessness” does an adequate job of explaining my mindset three years ago.

The year had started off so strong. I had worked diligently for the preceding three or so years to get to where I was. I had gone through a lot of shit both on a personal and spiritual level. I had developed new avenues of insight and networked to a point where I was mostly comfortable with the community I had crafted around myself. I had spent time moving as hard as I could, pushing things into place and reorganizing as I felt the need arose.

I had developed a strong relationship with a handful of gods who I loved and succored. I whispered their names as fervent prayers and I worshiped them truly. I cared for them in a way that I cannot convey verbally, that I cannot write. The emotional connection I had with them and they with me was often intense, often personal, and above all, it made me feel fulfilled in a way that I had never felt in all the years before and all the years since.

I had faith.

I had belief.

I had a lot of things that people talk about every day about their gods, about their spiritual lives, about their religions. I had all of those things and I could wear them like a strong, beautifully rendered blanket around my shoulders. Or a tapestry strung upon the wall, crowing to the world around me that I had love with my gods and they loved me. It protected me against the negatively and nay-saying. It made me feel safe and loved in return. It was security. It was safe.

But the thing about blind faith is that it doesn’t always sustain you. It’s not something that can always fill you the way that a good dinner can. It’s nothing that you can survive on. My blind faith, my blind love, began to fray and the warm, beautiful blanket began to erode around me. I grabbed for the pieces of it and I tried to re-weave it but I had my eyes opened when I died for the first time to be reborn into a useful vessel for my primary goddess. The death was necessary; the manner of it, in my opinion, was not.

It’s hard to get back to loving your gods when they have used you. It’s not impossible, but it can be so very hard to be the bright and shiny youth you once were after going through something as traumatic as all of that. It came to a head, all of my pent-up emotions on the topic, in 2015 because I was being asked to die all over again. I needed to be reborn yet again, not just for myself but for my god as well. I needed to die so that we could both live.

And I was so very angry that after only just dying, only just healing myself, only just coming to terms with all that the original rebirth’s changes had wrought that I was being asked to do it all over again. To be sure, the purpose has always been necessary and I have always been headed in that direction. But I needed to come to terms with what had already happened in conjunction with other changes I was going through; I wasn’t fucking ready.

It never helped that all of this chatter about death and rebirth was always, always couched in terms of Bigger Picture. We always come to this statement, this fucking phrase, and for those of us who do spirit work, we have to ask ourselves what in the ever-loving fuck is the point? Our lives are all supposed to be for this Bigger Fucking Picture but damn if it doesn’t make any fucking sense when paired with what our woo has shown us to be the reality of our gods’ current situation.

Why should I die yet again for this Bigger Picture bullshit when everything else is complete and utter shit?

I never got an answer to this question and I decided that it wasn’t necessary then.

I know this sounds petty. I know this sounds like I was having a temper tantrum. But the one thing I cannot illustrate enough is how much that first death traumatized me. I was passive in that death; I allowed it to happen without a peep, without a cry, without fighting back against it because I wasn’t ready. Even if I was unsuccessful, I often think back and castigate myself for not fighting back.

I should have fought back.

Rebirth

All your words of comfort cannot take away my doubt. I’ve decided if it kills me I’ll find out what you’re about. I can’t trust anyone or anything these days. – The Stranger by Lord Huron

It would be nice to end this entry here, to lay blame in its totality at the feet of the gods. But I, too, must admit to my culpability in what went wrong that year.

The years preceding had been dedicated to the hard work of creating an open forum community, primarily taking place on Tumblr but in other areas (WordPress, FB groups, etc.) of the web as well. The hard work had sort of paid off because we had managed to network a wider arena with more and more people joining our shared tags as time went by. It was nice… for a while.

My primary issue at this time was that there was a lot of growing pains going on for the wider community. I watched and aided as I could in these growing pains – growing pains that occur with every major group – but some of the things I saw, sitting on the sidelines, made me vastly uncomfortable. There was a growing group of voices that seemed to have negative points of view relating to spirit work, god spouses, and various other “woo” related arenas that made me distinctly uncomfortable.

The totality of 2015 for me was, well, “woo.” It had been forged with “woo” and it was supposed to end with “woo.” Spirit work was the name of the game in my world and the constant negative comments coming from wider and wider quarters left me feel disenfranchised with the community at large. I began to feel like I needed to keep my experiences to myself instead of sharing them just so I wouldn’t have to deal with any negative backlash.

You see, I was nay-saying my experiences all my own; I didn’t need to see it coming from some other quarter. I had my own issues related to all of this. How can this be happening? How can this be real? Even with outside divination, intuition, lining up “upg” from other sources, and a variety of other confirmation sources, I doubted heavily what was going on. I didn’t need another negative voice to add alongside my own.

Beyond my personal doubt regarding what was going on with my religious shenanigans and the fear of hearing my very own doubts parroted back to me, the community continued to grow and with it, more and more people with a historically informed background began to show up. The issue I found with some of these people is that they often came across as exceedingly condescending when I would get into both private and public conversations with them.

While I understand that being classically trained in various areas will give you a leg up in certain areas, this doesn’t mean that the people you are communicating with who aren’t classically trained are stupid or unread or unlearned. It just means that they’re coming at it without that background and because of this, they’re probably taking away a completely different perspective because their focus is in other arenas.

I didn’t need to be condescended to. I didn’t need to be talked down to or talked over or shouted at in public group messages because I disagreed about a variety of things. It only lent credence to my belief that I needed to effectively embody the hermit card from Tarot and isolate myself from the community at large.

So I did.

I not only distanced myself from the community at large, but I effectively cut myself off from those who didn’t make me feel like I was some sub-human waste of space with my woo and my different opinions. I compartmentalized so much that I stopped talking to even those of my friends who weren’t part of the community and wouldn’t make me feel like I was losing my mind if I revealed all the stuff that I had gone through earlier in the year.

It was just easier, I told myself. It was simpler to keep to myself and just keep trucking on with my fallow times and my worry that I was probably making up all the woo from earlier in the year. Better to hide away from the wider world than to engage and possibly be judged false.

I should have told myself to fuck off instead.

Bees

But I know what you want and why, Of all the strangers you’re the strangest that I’ve seen. I’m not afraid to die. I can’t trust anyone or anything these days. – The Stranger by Lord Huron

To be fair, the year as a whole wasn’t that bad. I had come to accept that I had woo though I did run away from it later for both of the above reasons listed. I had entered into a marriage with a god, which has been in effect for the last three years and seems to be going well. I had found out who my friends were because we’re still going strong three years later.

I could catalog the good things to counter all the pain and suffering, all of the hopelessness that had been intermixed with it. But at the heart of the matter, the year was not a good one and that was exactly why I disappeared; why I went off the radar. I had taken to heart the idea that I needed to hide, to keep to myself. I no longer trusted, no longer could engage in the reindeer games. I wasn’t safe; nothing was.

I had built up the house and failed to continue the growth I needed. Both my practice and I have become inert and we both suffer for it. After reading this post by TTR, I realized that I have a decision to make much like they realized they had.

Sometimes you have to shit or get off the pot. I’ve been on the pot for three years now so I guess it’s finally time to move on.

You are not the one you say you are
Now that I’ve seen your face, I’m haunted by the letters of your name
– The Stranger by Lord Huron

Some Would Sing and Some Would Scream.

I’ve been purposely quiet lately. The whole last month – last three months really – have been a sort of nightmare that Americans woke up to the day after the election. There is so much going on everywhere that it’s enough to send anyone into a spiral of darkness and depression, myself included.

Every single day, I wake up at 6am and spend a half hour looking through the news reports I missed out on while sleeping. I comb the various social media platforms I am on and reblog, share, and retweet the things that I find need to be shared. I spend much of my breaks at work or periods throughout the weekend doing the same thing. It’s honestly one of the few things that make the darkness a little more bearable.

It also tires me out. I mean, there really is only so much of these horrifying things you can take before you want to hide in a pillow fort for a few days. Life continues though, no matter how scary the real world has become and no matter how your mental illness reacts to it.

I still have to go to work and pay the bills. I still have to get groceries, do laundry, help my kid doing homework, and clean the old homestead. I still have to have the same arguments about fruits and vegetables with my son. I still have to feel miserable when shit starts flying at work. I still have my life to lead amid the nightmare fuel the world has seemingly become.

Sometimes it’s a wonder any of us can get up and greet a new day.

Fleur de Lis - Lily Style

You soon find you have few choices… I learned the voices died with me. – Arsonist’s Lullabye by Hozier

During all of this, there has been some beacons of light in the darkness. I have turned to comfort from my ancestors. Some of the reason that I have turned to them is because of that old whispering commentary telling me to get right with my ancestors. But that’s not the whole of it.

I know enough about them to know that there were members who fought for freedom in some form or another. I figure they’ll understand all this stuff we’re going through now. My grandfather and his brother joined up during WWII, the time frame that seems to most mirror what we are going through today. I know they probably get it.

I don’t actually know what caused them both to join the air force. I couldn’t say if it was the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the atrocities committed by the Axis powers, or just a need to be a patriot. My grandfather once told my mother, after learning that I did not vote in the first election that I could have, that he was disappointed because the fight for that freedom to vote was something he had done or something like that. So maybe it was just the need to fight for freedoms.

I don’t know what, if anything, they had to say about the Japanese internment camps. I don’t know what they thought or felt about any of that and I will most likely never know. I have a romanticized dream that both my grandfather and great uncle thought it was just awful. Maybe the rose colored glasses will be ripped from my eyes one day or maybe not. I of course prefer my possibly false characterization.

Whatever their reasoning, I have turned to them, and my akhu as a whole, more and more often. Multiple times a week, I find myself talking to them, thinking about what they would say to me during this trying time if they were alive. Perhaps nothing; perhaps something. It is a comfort to me.

And that is predominantly why I’ve been so quiet.

The Keys to Bokeh

All you have is your fire… And the place you need to reach – Don’t you ever tame your demons. But always keep ’em on a leash. – Arsonist’s Lullabye by Hozier

One would think that in such dark times, I would turn to my two warrior gods. They would be two whom understand fighting against a sea of swirling isfet, and to be sure, the world certainly seems full of that right now.

But I have found myself unable to do so. Whenever I think of it, I talk myself out of it. Things aren’t so bad for you. Let them focus on those who are in danger, those who truly need advice from two warriors during this trying time. I need comfort and wisdom too, of course, but in my mind, not as much as others.

I can feel them both like distant statues seen in the distance. The image is hazy even when squinting. If I were to move closer, I would no doubt have the image resolve itself. But I can’t seem to make myself move closer.

As I spend more time with my ancestors, I have found that they like being in the limelight less and less often. It seems very much to me that they lived quiet lives and want to continue that practice even in death. They have often asked me to be silent, to keep details back.

I have half a dozen drafts of posts that will never see the light of day simply because they have asked me to keep it quiet.

And to be fair, I often agree because the idea of going full on ancestor veneration under public scrutiny is disturbing to me. A little of that is because it feels lile breeching a previously unknown boundary.

But too it is also the idea that this world of akhu can get a little lonely.

Often it feels like a lonely little island with not so many other people discussing the subject. Since my ancestor veneration looks more like a cross with Kemeticism and Catholicism,  and an occasional pinch of Methodism, it seems like keeping it all to myself makes the most sense from all perspectives.

Lantern on snow

I knew that something would always rule me… I knew the scent was mine alone. – Arsonist’s Lullabye by Hozier

The akhu have filled a sort of empty niche, willingly placing themselves at my disposal. Maybe this is the road I need to be on while I “get right with them.” I guess I’ll  find out eventually.

God Bothered: A Guide.

I get bothered by gods, well, fairly frequently I suppose. I don’t personally see it as such myself, but that’s what happens when you live in the thick of it. However from an outsider’s perspective looking in on the vague posts I make, it could seem as though my entire life is a giant way station for some new god to appear and go, “hey, hi. I’m here,” or something like that.

I can definitely say that things used to work that way; they don’t anymore. It seemed like once a month or so, some deity was jumping off the train with some baggage and a sign that said, “Satsekhem: look at me!” At first, I tried to accommodate and wound up in that deity collecting phase that drove me up a flipping wall. I would take one look at whoever the new deity was, roll my eyes as theatrically as you please and just mutter, “jfc, not another one of you,” and begrudgingly wound up attempting to do the thing.

But I began to realize that this was partially my fault. I hadn’t set clear boundaries for these gods so when they showed up and without those crystal clear boundaries, I found myself constantly out of my element. I had yet another new god that I had to deal with and learn about and figure out why the hell they were hanging around. It caused a large amount of stress and a long series of headaches that left me floundering.

That is absolutely no way to live a life or attempt to be a devotee. While not everything may turn out badly for both the god and the devotee in question, I can assure everyone that it doesn’t exactly leave the best taste in your mouth. It leaves you feeling bogged down and just generally irritable with the whole kit-n-caboodle. I wound up realizing that if I was going to appear as a sort of beacon into the night that gods would home in on, I needed to be clear with myself and with those gods coming in on the midnight train.

Boundary

Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others. – Brene Brown

Boundaries can be difficult to set up for yourself. There are a lot of various aspects that you must take into consideration when formulating them. While you may be thinking about how this will benefit you, something we need to keep in mind are the current relationships we have with our gods and what their particular plans for those relationships may entail. There is also the messy business of promises, agreements, contracts, and oaths that may need to be considered before setting a boundary.

In my case, the only promises I had made before setting up the boundaries was to Sekhmet and they had no relation in allowing new gods to stay or not. But this isn’t always the case. Some devotee-deity partnerships include being loaned out to other gods, being sent to other gods for specific reasons, or various other items that may lead to developing relationships with new gods.

The best way to figure out if both you and your existing deities will be okay with these boundaries would be to focus on the primary concern for creating a boundary: why am I setting up this boundary in the first place?

This might sound like one of those “no duh” questions, but asking yourself why you feel you need to do something will open up avenues of thought that you may not have considered. Just deciding that you want to make some space for yourself isn’t going to give you the ability to delve deeply into the matter at hand and determine the best design for you when it comes to the limits you’re setting.

On the other hand, this will aid in presenting the idea to the gods you currently have relationships with. It’s a give and take situation when discussing the possibility of a boundary with your gods and compromise may be a word used often when formulating a game plan.

When I broached the subject matter with my gods, they were all very supportive but there were certain stipulations that needed to be taken into account. While at that particular moment, I was flustered and flummoxed, they let me know that they may need to parcel me out elsewhere on occasion and they would let me know when that was the case. Since I felt that was fair, I told them I would do the thing if it occurred though I wouldn’t necessarily do it with grace or humility.

As I sat around determining what would work best for me, I kept focusing on the idea that my best interests were the heart of the matter. And they were; they are. I was setting up the boundary specifically because I was flustered by this seeming revolving door of deities and needed some peace. If you constantly have an influx, it’s damn hard to do the research you need to do to figure out what’s happening or determine why.

However, there are a million reasons that may come up for yourself when you ask yourself why this is so important now when it may not have been important before. When those reasons begin piling up and after all parties agree to a sort of informal agreement, it gets easier for you to determine the next stage of the process, how closed off do I need to be? Should I limit myself to no new gods? Or should I limit myself to a specific pantheon?

Going back to the gods with what we think would work best for ourselves is also important. I had tentatively put in the idea that I needed no new gods, but I was told that wouldn’t slide. New gods were coming whether I liked it or not; I just had to limit the influx to a number I could handle.

When new gods from outlying pantheons show up, it can be difficult to not just complete the research you may need but to also network with devotees of said deities. While not everyone will take the time and delve into the research with a level of detail as others, I do need to do both research and networking if a deity not-of-my-frame-of-reference shows up. And it can be both tiring and confusing to delve into arenas that often wind up looking an awful lot like gibberish.

From a Kemetic perspective, I know where the source material is and what to pick up if someone just jumped off the train. If a god from another pantheon shows up, I may know where to look generally for information but the question that begs is whether or not it’s worth learning about.

When it came right down to it, knowing as I do regarding resources for various other polytheistic traditions, I figured it was wiser to limit myself from the outset: Kemetic gods were a maybe, depending on situation and the feedback I received from my existing relationships, but gods from other pantheons were a no-go. This left me feeling a little more secure as the months passed; I had a general system in place and it worked.

This isn’t to say that gods from other pantheons stopped showing up. Oh, of course not. This clearly defined border only meant that I had to be firm when they annoyed me, which is why I wrote this entry about saying no. Just because you’ve set a limitation for yourself doesn’t mean that the gods will necessarily respect it or be aware of it.

Setting this boundary benefited me in the long run and also my relationships with my gods. I was able to spend more time on the things they wanted and when new deities appeared, I was better able to handle researching them, networking with existing devotees, and figure out what was going on, if I chose to look into the deity.

Yes/No

The strongest and most effective force in guaranteeing the long-term maintenance of power is not violence in all the forms deployed by the dominant to control the dominated, but consent in all the forms in which the dominated acquiesce in their own domination. – Robert Frost

Just as having your gods put their stamp of approval on boundaries you’re setting for yourself, so too must we put our stamp of approval on a new relationship that we are considering entering into.

Consent is one of those things that can cause pagan drama for days. Some people believe that our ability to say yes or no to a god is immaterial; others believe that ability is a necessity. I am a big proponent of consent, however I have to admit that it doesn’t always look quite like what we would expect it to.

In my experience, gods need some forms of affirmation to begin developing a relationship. A hearty yes is going to be the least ambiguous confirmation however, it seems to be the least common given. Gods have been known to get your approval through shady dealings and may even bug you until, in a fit of pique, you give in. This kind of goes back to the boundary question above: how well defined and high is the boundary?

I’ve noticed that while begrudging cooperation will work in a pinch, willing cooperation will make the experience easier on all parties involved. But again, this isn’t a black and white area; as with all the gods, it’s shades of gray. The point I’m trying to convey is that, out of all of it, while the form of consent may not resemble what we would prefer, some form of it appears to be needed to get the ball rolling.

A recurring theme I’ve picked up on is when people mention that X or Y deity is about, sometimes the advice given neglects to keep in mind that our consent is something that’s required. Often I will see something along the lines of, “you may as well just do it because it’s not like you have a choice.” I grow concerned when I see this out there; it seems to be neglecting the very reality that consent needs to be given in such situations no matter who the deity is or the reason they may or may not be hanging around.

So, let me state this emphatically: no matter what deity is poking around or why they are poking around, you always have the ability and right to say no. It doesn’t mean they won’t keep pestering you. It doesn’t mean that no will automatically filter through and they fly off to bother some other unsuspecting possible future devotee. This only means that you have the right to say no and that you do not have to give in, no matter what you may see floating around the Internet under the guise of advice.

Over the years, my default position for new deities has been to say no. Obviously, this isn’t always the case but it’s pretty much my fall back in any given situation unless directed otherwise by the deities I have relationships with. And even when directed to look into X deity, I always have the choice to tell them that I won’t do it or that now is not a good time.

As an example, Sekhmet pinged me a few months ago and requested I look into Tutu. I was able to do a cursory look but had to admit that, while I found the information available interesting, I did not have the necessary time to look deeper. She let it go and while she does check in to see how I’m doing, she knows that my focus elsewhere is important. In same vein, both Hetheru and Heru-Wer have asked me to look deeper into Ihy than I have and while I would like to, again now is not the time.

They respect my choice and I appreciate the carte blanche they have given me regarding these requests.

On the flip side of this, Sekhmet had mentioned that a certain Hellenic party guy would be beneficial for me some time back. Since I knew enough about him to be weary and because of the boundaries I had set, I was able to tell her that I wasn’t interested and she understood where I was coming from. It took a bit longer than that for that deity to buzz off, but he eventually went on his way.

It’s not always simple. Sometimes a deity is around for a reason and you have to weigh the pros and cons about entering into a relationship with them. When Loki arrived for me, I spent a good few weeks going through the benefits as well as the possible negatives before making a decision always with the knowledge that saying no could make things worse for me. Snap decisions are all well and good now and again, however sometimes more information is needed in order to make the best determination for yourself.

It’s not always easy. Sometimes a deity is persistent and refuses to take no for an answer. That doesn’t reflect on you; it reflects on them.

But at the end of the day, it’s your decision one way or the other. And you don’t have to enter into the relationship no matter who is poking around or why. So long as you have enough information to make a decision – why they’re around, what would happen if you do and do not enter a relationship, etc. – it’s entirely up to you.

Further Reading

  1. Gods, Boundaries, and Consent
  2. The Nuances of Non-Physical Relationships
  3. A Good Horse
  4. Breaking the Narrative
  5. Consent for Spirit Walkers
  6. Setting Boundaries with Your Deity

Feast of the Soaring Falcon 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 17, 2015

I’m beginning to believe that when it comes to holidays that I add into my calendar that I will always be left wondering what the point is.

When I was informed that the Feast of the Soaring Falcon was occurring, a 15-day festival, I immediately took to Google. Aside from the KO prayer book stating that the holiday was a thing and something mentioned in a book by Normandi Ellis, I came up with absolutely nothing on what this festival was about. I pulled out the 2 books that I have about Edfu, hoping to find something of import there, but again came away with nothing.

All I knew was that for fifteen days, the ancient Egyptians celebrated a soaring falcon.

It seems like more and more, especially with regard to holidays about Horus, I’m left guessing. I have to sit in reflection more than I have in the past regarding any holidays that I celebrate for Hetheru or Sekhmet, trying to determine what could possibly be occurring and why.

As with the 3-day Festival of the Winged Disk, I came away feeling as if it was all a grand mystery… and I had no clues to investigate properly.

I spent much of the first week just kind of sitting around, contemplating the icon of Horus in the off moments. I could see gold and sparkles; I could see banquets of food just laid out to be picked over; I could see incense and maybe even hymns of some sort being sung. But it was all an imaginary world of my own choosing. None of it was based on what may have happened in antiquity. I was only guessing.

I will be honest and admit that I mostly didn’t care. Things have been hard lately. The time off that I decided to take after I posted my Boundaries post is important and necessary; I need to work through a lot of things related to my personal life as well as my religious life. Throughout all of this, I have been waging a daily war, it seems like, against my anxiety and depression. There are some days where I don’t feel as though I have won the battle. Other days, I feel like I have.

Falcon

The quality of decision is like the well-timed swoop of a falcon which enables it to strike and destroy its victim. – Sun Tzu

Every day, I pull up my silly little Tarot app and see what card it chooses for me to represent that day. I like the app. It’s an easy way to access divination tools without having to pull out a deck to shuffle. I guess that might paint me as a lazy diviner, but whatever. The apps that I have downloaded are easy, simple, and usually pretty damn accurate.

For weeks and weeks, I’ve been getting the same old cards. I get it – I get that things need to change. I get that I’m at the edge of a precipice and if I don’t stop, then things are going to wind up looking more like the Devil card or even the Tower. These are two cards that frighten me, worry me, set off my anxiety a bit. I don’t like those cards at all, but the recent spate of Swords with an occasional smattering of less painful cards has put me on edge.

I keep looking over my shoulder, waiting for the other shoe to drop.

About halfway through this particular holiday, after I had settled myself in with a nice cup of coffee and finished my French lesson of the day, I pulled up my little Tarot app and looked at my daily card. I was expecting something a little more frightening, a little more worrisome than the 5 of Cups. It was almost with a sigh of relief that I read the little advice above the divination interpretation the app provides:

If you’re feeling sad or down today, honor those feelings. Don’t try to push them away. Whatever loss or disappointment you’ve experienced lately deserves to be felt. When you take the time to really feel your feelings, you can process them, learn from them, and then move forward, with greater self-awareness and wisdom.

5 of Cups

This is a card of loss, of grief, of disappointments.

The same day that I pulled the 5 of Cups, while I was at work, I reached up and fingered the ib pendant that I wear daily around my neck. As I clasped the pendant in my hand, the cord began to slip from around my neck. I pulled it free and saw that the knot I had used to secure one side had come loose… again.

Recently, I had swapped out the frayed black cord the amulet had come with for a red, silken cord. Since the cord is silken, the knots I have tied in to it so that I may tighten and loosen the necklace around my neck come undone randomly. I expected the piece to come loose again since it had been months since the last time. But for some reason, it felt like a blow to the stomach when I pulled the necklace into my hands and studied the side that had come loose.

It felt like a metaphor for everything: my whole life was becoming undone and I just don’t know if I have the strength to figure out how to fix it. I didn’t have time to fix the knot before I had to jump on a conference call and so, I slipped the piece into my pocket until I got home. When I got home, I plunked it down in front of Sekhmet and just stared at the loose side, trying to get up the energy to re-tie the piece together.

But the nagging feeling that this stupid silken cord with the dark spots at the edges from daily use was the perfect representation of me, my life, of the way things had been lately wouldn’t stop. I kept staring at it and finally just left it on the altar. I figured I could get around to tying it at some point, but as I lay the necklace down at Sekhmet’s feet, I couldn’t imagine caring enough to actually getting around to re-tying the knots.

I didn’t know if I ever would care enough to get around to it.

Undone

It was not… that she was unaware of the frayed and ragged edges of life. She would merely iron them out with a firm hand and neatly hem them down. – P.D. James

It was at that moment that I finally realized what this celebration was about at least for this year, at this moment in time.

On that day when I pulled the 5 of Cups, I listened to the advice provided by that card pull. I stopped letting myself keeping moving autonomously forward and instead, sat for the day and allowed the grief and disappointment to fill me. I was like an empty cup – heh – and allowed those feelings to fill me. I let it overflow and then I poured it into the land around me. I let the world soak up the after effects of my disappointment, depression, anxiety, fear, and grief.

The next day, I looked up at the sky and watched as a hawk soared above me. I don’t see them as much right now. It’s November and the prey is harder to find, I guess. But I saw that animal swooping down over the trees and I knew that it had found something juicy to eat, something delectable that would see it through for a while. I watched the hunting predator and I knew that this holiday was less about celebrating Horus and his soaring falcon form and more about me and my attempts to get into soaring falcon form.

The ancient Egyptian representation of a soaring falcon is a symbol of strength and protection. In its feet, the falcon clasps shen rings – protection. The outstretched wings show a beast upon the hunt, finding what it needs in order to survive. I could embody that form, but in order to do so, I needed to work up to it.

You can’t just get onto a bike and instantly know how to ride it; you can’t just put on roller skates and instantly know everything you need to know in order to maintain your balance. It takes work – hard work in some cases – to get up to form.

I have to let these issues roll through me, pass over me, and vomit up the sorrow, pain, anger, depression as I can in order to make it possible to take off. The Litany Against Fear is often used within the original Dune universe. It’s kind of like the last half of the mantra:

I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing.
Only I will remain.

Only instead of fear, I am working on all of the other types of emotions that bog me down, that suck me into the mire like quicksand.

This holiday wasn’t about the soaring falcon, wasn’t about celebrating Horus and all the joys that he brings me. This holiday was about reminding me that in order to be in tip top shape, I have to sit and just be sometimes. I have to work through my own stuff in order to be the only thing that remains at the end of it all. And in that moment, maybe then I will be the soaring falcon I know I can be.

Black and Red Snakes.

I think I read a lot more than people realize. There are people who, knowing me, make fun of me when they see that books of 1500 pages or more haven’t been finished in a few days’ time. Everyone else, when they see me reading a very large book like that, they always stop to ask me how long it takes me to finish a book that size. I always overestimate, not wanting to let people know that I read very fast and that I can finish a book that size, if left to me own devices, in a matter of days. I tell them, “a week,” usually and go back to my reading, partially amused at whatever comments they make about it (usually, “I would fall asleep to read something that big,” or “It would take me a year to finish that”) or irritated that they feel the need to interrupt my reading.

I read a lot.

Most of the books on my bookshelves are books that I’ve read about a hundred times. Some books, I don’t read that often because they are so big. Nothing against the books themselves, but it can be a bit dicey, wandering around with a book of over a thousand pages in my purse for a spare moment to catch a few pages in. My purse is made of cotton and liable to break with sharp edged books residing within, so I don’t read the really big books as often as the others. Occasionally, I don’t re-read them because the next book takes years to finish (*cough* A Song of Ice and Fire *cough*) and I don’t want to be too irritated with having to wait so long, though I understand that the length of the books themselves causes a bit of lengthy time delay.

Whatever the case may be, I’ve read and re-read most of the books in my library a million times, but some, not so much as the others.

I’ve been re-reading a particular series that I have read from the first book, years ago. It’s historical fiction and it’s a love story. Well and good, I supposed, but sometimes, the books are a bit too graphic and the things that happen to the characters… well, anyone can guess what I’m alluding to. (And if you can’t, all I can tell you is that’s a particular relief that some people won’t understand.) Mostly, I read these sections with pinched face, in a sort of waiting for the other shoe to fall and end up getting through the section with a sigh of relief when nothing happens.

Something happened this time.

I knew it was coming because, well, I’ve re-read this particular series often enough to know when the “bad parts” can be. But I re-read them sometimes as a test, too. Sometimes I test myself with the triggers that I have, which are never the same – they’re all different and all weird and they come at me from different directions and of course, they’re never the fucking same one day, one year, one decade to the fucking next. Maybe I failed the test this time, but I don’t think I do. I think it was still a test, but it was… a different kind of test.

In the book, the main character is kidnapped and… well. She is married to a Highlander, a Scotsman who is a product from before the destruction of the clans at Culloden. And it is with his honor in his hands that he, and all the men of his new homestead, kill the vile cretins in an attempt to win back now only his honor but his wife’s honor. As the book continues, she has flashbacks but it’s not quite like I thought most post-traumatic stress disorder victims would go through. They’re kind of rare, all said and done, and I identify with her the most, not just because she is the main character, but because in this book, she has the moments so rarely… like me.

Even before getting to the part, the part where I would have a pinched face and rush through in an effort to test myself, I felt the snakes forming in my head. I tend to see them, picturesquely, like of red and black. They’re poison, of course, because that’s what a head full of snakes leads to. It leads to poison within your soul, eking out into the ethers that binds your soul to your body, and making everything ache in all planes. The red and black snakes hissed and snapped, looking a bit like the wild mane of snakes on a gorgon’s head. Only instead of turning people to stone, they turned me into a distant thing, unable to really string words together.

Periodically, TH would ask me if I was okay. I don’t remember if I was or not. The snakes didn’t lead me to a shame spiral. They have in the past. I am grateful they didn’t. I had other spirals to attend to, though, and I found this particular episode led me to look down at my body. I saw it all, clearly, the pouch left over from my son, and the spread hips, and the point of my nipples and all the other little imperfections that make me hide beneath oversized shirts and the pale hint of my skin – it’s so pale, it’s rather yellow in tone – and the sallow look of my face. The half-moon bruises are darker than usual and I’ve broken out, of course, because what thirty year old doesn’t deserve to have a fucking acne break out?

I wanted to climb out of my skin and slither away, a bit like the snakes in my head. It just seemed like I needed to climb out of it and set it aside for use when I felt well enough to use it. It wasn’t even, I don’t think, that I wasn’t fit to wear the skin, but that it needed to crack open and let me out; it was suffocating me. I know, literally, it wasn’t actually doing that. So, I worked on not feeling that way and was probably not a very good bit of company and ended up lost in my head.

I thought about that character and what her husband did to win back both their honors. He destroyed the guilty. He wasn’t alone; he had help. They were killed, every last one of them. I thought about that for a bit, turning it over in my head. I thought about it in relation to myself, really, and I turned that bit over in my head again. And I had to admit that, all things considered, it seemed like, possibly, it could alleviate all the stress of having PTSD because of bullshit.

I’ve had to deal with all of the ramifications of my own actions regarding what happened. I’ve had to contend with the fact that I will always felt just a little bit shameful and just a little bit guilty, even though technically, I shouldn’t. I’ve had to contend with the voice in my head that reminds me often enough, this will always be a part of you and you will live with it or you will not. I hate that voice; I don’t hate the person who said it to me, but I could wish that they had never said something to a young and impressionable seventeen-year-old, trying to contend with PTSD in an era where it wasn’t seriously thought of outside of what soldiers maybe dealt with.

I wonder if, maybe, the knowledge that he was dead would have helped. Maybe.

I don’t know if it’s really his death I want, ever. I should have liked him to go to prison, of course, and to have it on his record, but of course, state law had other things in mind. And then, of course, so too did the jury of twelve adults (allegedly my peers, but as we were in juvenile court, were they either of our peers? No.) came back and effectively said, “Well, you’re a big fat liar.” I’ve had to deal with that, of course, too, and I have to say that I don’t think his death, even after all of that, would have really helped me at all.

I should hope he bleeds in ways far more painful than my own. I should hope that his soul leaks out from his eyes, leaving nothing but a dried husk of a creature before everyone. And I could wish that upon his forehead was a scarlet letter R, carved deep into the flesh and filled with soot so that it scarred heavily, letting everyone know just what he was about. I could hope and wish for all of those things, but I don’t really see where any of that will lead either of us. I try to be a good person, on the face of it, and studiously not pray to the gods to unleash their chaotic Arrows upon him and let him feel their wrath. I feel, maybe, that is not quite in line with ma’at.

Then again, just to offer a second voice here, I recognize that magical protection and rites against people is absolutely indicated in just such a circumstance. But fourteen years later? It seems a bit late to unleash plague and pestilence upon him, right? Besides, I always have to come back to the idea that while justice, in my opinion, was not served, perhaps it was in his case. Two sides of a single story and I have what my side is and he has what his side is. However, I can remember the looks from that one girl… the one who he turned to all the time when he was bored and the look of understanding that passed between us when it hit the gossip mill of our high school… I remember her and I remember what she was like and I have to wonder how much of what she was like was because of him and how much of it was because of her own special brand of PTSD.

My heart quickens as I write that. I think it’s probably supposed to because these are things I don’t discuss often, willingly, either with myself or with anyone else.

Don’t fucking talk about it.

I can remember, and this has nothing to do with this entry per se, but just a single memory. I remember when I was in high school, I was in a very difficult phase, obsessed with serial killers. I spent a lot of time on the website, Crime Library, and read as much as I could find that interested me. I remember turning to my mother one day and asking her how she felt about Manson or Bundy and she looked at me in horror and said, “We don’t talk about that.” Well, she wasn’t talking about what happened to me – she was and is a big believer in therapy. But I think it always stuck with me a little bit?

Maybe it’s because it didn’t get discussed in family circles.

Okay, I have to stop and give some background.

We told my grandparents what happened to me, but only when we started going to trial. (The trial was continued three times and then some adults told me I was full of shit. It was a great thing to deal with at seventeen, I can assure you.) But we didn’t talk about it at all with anyone else. But when it happened, relatively recently (last few years; and you’ll be glad to know that he did go to jail for what he did), to TH’s cousin from a stranger who broke into her apartment, it was discussed. And the whole family was there for her, metaphorically and physically if needed. And the drastic difference between my family and his family was apparent.

I don’t think I would have liked to talk about it at all with my maternal or paternal family.

But sometimes, I think about what my mom said when I asked her about whatever serial killer and the shocked look on her face and the comment she made. I think about that and I think that I am definitely a product of that outmoded and outdated mindset, in some ways. I don’t talk about any of this with anyone.

So when the snakes come into my head, which is rare but does happen, I don’t know how to tell anyone that I am living with a rat’s nest filled with black and red streaks, scything through my brain like a farmer reaping what he has sewn. But have I really sewn anything? Not really. The snakes come in with their red and their black and push through the very center of my brain until I am left shaky and quiet, unable to voice a fucking thing that is happening in my head at all and I want to cry so very badly, but I don’t dare because I don’t want people to know what’s going on because it doesn’t even matter I won’t even be able to tell them anyway because we don’t talk about that. Yes, I suppose I very much am a product of that very outdated and outmoded mindset.

By the way, I don’t really blame my mother for that because she was also a product of that time, as if her family. I’ve done what I could to explain to my son that we can talk about anything at any time (unless I’m writing because, for real, that kid needs to respect that boundary as fucking sacred – kidding, by the way) because I don’t want him to become a hangover byproduct of a time when people didn’t talk about things. I want him to be comfortable enough to ask what he wants to ask and say what he needs to say. Sometimes, though, I would very much wish that I could have that ability.

I felt very much like jumping out of my skin all day. I thought maybe I could try it once or twice, but there’s something sneaky about skin. It’s all around you. And there doesn’t actually appear to be a way to get out of it. I know, I’ve tried before with any means necessary. It never really worked because I always woke up right the fuck back inside of it. I used other means than the horrifying ones I used to use. I tried to read some more, get through the bad part and into the better parts. That really didn’t help. I did dishes. Nope, didn’t help. I sat outside and felt the sun on my face, but I was too dazed to really notice.

I came alive a bit when the thunder rumbled in the distance, but it didn’t really do much for me, in all honesty, because it wasn’t a proper thunderstorm. It was just some thunder and then a fair bit of rain. It was lovely with the wind cool against my hot flesh and the gentle susurrus of the rain. It helped me to ground a bit when I cleaned the altar, I touched the prayer beads, and I felt a bit more relaxed in my skin again.

But then it came back later and I thought about crying, maybe. I hear that crying is supposed to be cathartic and sometimes, I force myself to cry under the principle that it is cathartic. Well, I wasn’t alone to cry. And I couldn’t think of words about the snakes and the skin and the shakes should TH or my son ask what was wrong. So, I didn’t cry, but I let Mother Nature kind of do that for me when it began to rain. A bargain, I suppose, but maybe I didn’t fully live up to my half, whatever it would have been, because it all came back and I was uncomfortable again.

It’s been a few years since I’ve had to deal with those fucking snakes. I thought I was doing better. Perhaps, it’s not that I was doing better but that I was just really that much better at keeping it under lock and key.

I don’t know if that’s really the way of all of this – to keep it under lock and key. I remember that voice telling me, across the dining room table in dim light. She had her usual diet Coke beside her in a goblet and she was earnest in her comment, “It will always be a part of you.” I had tried, at that moment in time, to look forward into the future and attempt to find bits of myself that were a part of that horrific rending of my soul when something I clearly did not consent to – at least I said no that time – ended up happening anyway. I didn’t want to be a part of me, but I think she’s right.

I am like the main character in my book in that the snakes don’t come so often. And I don’t really have flashbacks anymore, not of that single moment but of other things related to, I do. But not of that moment, at least. Maybe now it’s time to curl around myself and remind my soul that I am not rendered in shards of glass, easily broken or already broken, but rendered in steel and concrete, even if there are little dents in that steel and possibly some cracks in the concrete.

I lived with the snakes all day in some form or another. They’ve receded, at least. I can feel them a little, writhing in the recesses. They can retake me at any time and I have to admit that I am, at least, grateful that they didn’t overwhelm me on a work day. At least it was a weekend where I could give in to such things a little and be content with my own silence, even if I couldn’t quite remember what my day entailed fully because I was so overwhelmed with the snakes and their habits.

I remember those words about how it will always be a part of me. I hope that one day, it isn’t snakes that are a part of me, but something a little easier to manage. Snakes are things that slither around, poking and prodding at recesses better left locked. They can find ways into those recesses that destroy everything or at least make it harder to connect with the world in which we live. I fear that it will always be snakes, though, and I will never be able to tell anyone who it is that I go through; what it is like to have them writhe against me and want my skin to pull apart, my soul’s attempts to freedom.

I can see the cuts in my soul where I bled from other things as well as this one particular item that affected me so much this weekend. I can see the blood of my soul, welled up in its slash marks. I think about how the main character’s husband was able to buy back her honor with the killing of the people who hurt her so. And I could think that it may be an interesting experience or experiment to have something similar happen with someone who cared about me.

I don’t think there’s a way to get back whatever honor I may have had, though? I don’t even think there is a really way to re-forge my own soul into a working approximation of what it once was. I think it’s more than a bit battered and more than a bit shattered and quite possibly, it’s really just done for good. But I have the idea that I have been wounded thus in previous lives and I was relatively okay, I think, before all the horror came about and before I realized that I didn’t know how to consent or what consent was, really.

Even if I can’t find a way, in this life, to re-forge my soul, maybe I can do it much better in the next one.

Sekhmet laughs at me when I say this to her, sometimes, because it is truly she who takes the forge and rebuilds me to her specifications. I have no say in the matter and I don’t think I want to have one. She says to me in this life that I am stronger than I give myself credit for and I can do what I need to do in order to recreate the soul I wanted to be as a child. I don’t really believe her, not with the rending of those traumas I’ve been through, but other people have said as much as well.

I don’t think there’s a way to buy back my honor, either in blood or in pain or in any other way. But maybe, I can at least fit the bits of my soul back together again in a way that works. And maybe if I figure out a way to do that, I won’t have to deal with the red and black snakes that slither free and roam where I don’t want them to.

The Sandbox.

This is an astral post, so if you are not interested in such things, you do not have to read.

Whenever I was given free time at Sekhmet’s palatial sprawl, I would wind up at a window, looking out and into the desert. I could never understand the lure. Of all the places I’ve explored during my astral travels, it has never been the desert. Honestly, I’ve left those types of places alone in a sort of unknown foreshadowing of what was to come. It was Sekhmet’s domain and if I wanted to be in her domain while I was traveling all over the place, I would have gone to a desert. Sometimes, I would wind up there in my dreams, anyway, talking with her about all manner of crap that I can’t remember now. But for the most part, unless I really needed or wanted her attention, I left the whole thing alone. Even with my IRL love of the Dune series and all that entails, I’ve completely left it alone. I didn’t want to go into a place that was beyond my ken and could, quite possibly, end up leaving me lost, alone, and at a complete loss.

Foreshadowing, indeed.

After the last party, which was only as interesting as an entry that comes later, I ended up out in the desert. The night of the party was strange for a lot of different reasons, but the most interesting part was that the shindig was for me. After having gone to so many of them in the last few weeks, being shown off to all of the netjeru and everything, I finally got a celebration for me. Sekhmet said we were celebrating the break through the first phase of everything – the boring phase of the Duat and the observations only parties – to the next phase. It was the night that I completed my first rites and services in her name. She said she was very proud of me and wanted everyone to enjoy my night. Of everyone out there, I think I was the only who didn’t end up enjoying the night. I ended up off and alone, per usual, watching everyone take their time as they paraded around and had conversations and ended up doing things that I didn’t care about. I stood in the far back corner for most of the night, trying to figure out what the next phase entailed.

Was it only the fact that I was finally doing what she wanted? Or was it the fact that I was the “intermediary” she had been pushing for? Or was there more to it? Of course, I could have asked her (again) and she would have ignored me again. I was deeply unhappy, in all honesty. I had expected a lot of things, but none of the things that I had expected were happening. It’s possible that I had expected the wrong things and so now that none of them were coming to pass, I was unhappy. Or maybe I had never really understood what it was she wanted from me and now that everything was coming to pass that was what was causing my unhappiness. But of course, that’s all a bunch of shit. It’s all a bunch of horseshit. I knew why I was unhappy. As I stood there, watching everyone doing everything that they always did and said things that I didn’t care about and ate all of the food that wasn’t actually about me, I knew precisely why I was so unhappy.

I had been hoping that I could get back to the way things used to be in our relationship. I wanted to go back to a place where things made sense to me. Everything I used to say about faith and happiness and feeling good about it all – I wanted to get back there. I wanted to remember what it was like to love my gods and not fear them, not be bitter towards them, and to understand everything that was going on. Instead, I was so busy being confused and suspicious of what they were doing and why they were doing it that I couldn’t get back to the place where I had once been. Or maybe I had deluded myself – more like probably – into believe that I could get back to that place. The second I came out of that white room, I had become such a bitter, angry, suspicious devotee and I hated it. I fucking hated it. I hated everything about those emotions. It wasn’t that they weren’t warranted because they absolutely fucking were, but I remembered the days of blind devotion. And I loved the days of blind devotion to be honest. I missed all of it and I had hoped, secretly, that I could get back there somehow.

Instead, I was a mess.

I was a huge ball of emotions that was reacting instead of thinking logically and completely about what I was getting myself into. Honestly, though, even if I could have been logical about the whole enchilada, I didn’t think I could have when I had made the decision. I felt full of myself and confident, believing that I could get what I wanted out of the whole deal. But I was wrong. Sekhmet had been playing around with deals and emotions and peoples’ lives, some of which were even my own, for centuries. And I thought I could best her at her own game? Seriously? I felt stupid and idiotic. I also felt like I was some tiny little morsel on the menu and everyone was waiting for the moment when they could devour me whole. But above all else, I mostly just felt stupid and alone.

There’s nothing quite like feeling stupid and alone when you’re surrounded by beings that probably view you as something they’ve scraped off their shoes.

And that was the crux of the whole matter: I felt like I was dispensable. I had wanted to be indispensable but in fact, I was just another tool to be thrown away if they wanted to. Everyone always talks about how the gods are great and they’re wonderful and they can and should and will treat you so well. Hell, I even tell people to tell gods to fuck off if they think the god in question is crossing the line. There was always this knowledge, at the back of my mind, that I could walk away and everything would be okay. There are a ton of people out there who talk about how devout they really are to their gods and how their way is the best way. And I have to sit back now and look at the bullshit around me and ask, “Is it really fucking worth all of this? Is anything worth this?” I have to think that maybe, just maybe the answer is “no.”

But I fucked myself over here. I had entered a whole new arena with this one. I had made a deal; not quite an oath, per se, but a deal was a deal was a deal. And I had fucking made one. It was sealed and signed and there wasn’t any way I could back out of this. I was stuck and stuck and stuck some more. I had to keep at it, knowing that I was just going to end up burned out and wearied by the whole ordeal. Even thinking about walking away made me feel nauseated and disgusted. Even knowing that this was the usual bullshit that these gods put their tools through didn’t make it any better. In fact, it made it worse because that meant there were just that many more people out there, in the world, who were being shit upon for the “big picture.”

At that moment, in the middle of that party, I wanted to scream, “Fuck you and your bigger fucking picture.”

I didn’t. I got drunk and passed out instead.

When I woke up, I was pretty sure I was going to hear about how rude I was or there would be embarrassing comments about how I can’t hold my liquor. Deciding that dealing with either of those scenarios was not important, I rolled over and reached out to wrap around in my blanket a few times. However, I couldn’t find my blanket. Aggravated now, I lifted my head to find my blanket and found out that I was not on my bed, which explained why my blanket was nowhere to be found. However, I was surrounded and wrapped within the cocoon of a sand dune, which was more than mildly disconcerting. Had I been kicked out to sleep it off in the desert? Had I gone outside in a drunken haze and passed out wherever I fell? Had I been kicked out because of how embarrassing I had behaved or because of some other perceived slight I may have been caused?

I had to slowly but surely dig myself out of the dune I was wrapped within. By snuggling deeper into what I had originally and sleepily thought was a bed, I had half buried my body in the process. Slowly, I managed to extricate myself from the sand and sat up. I blinked against the harsh light of the sun, trying to figure out where I was and why I was here. I couldn’t remember anything after my internal meltdown. I also couldn’t figure out what sort of idiotic idea this was. I mean, really, drunk dialing and drunken sloppy sex is one thing, but to go out into the desert? I must have screwed the pooch somehow, I figured. It was the only thing that made sense. I had been forced to stay within the boundaries that Sekhmet had set up for me, which didn’t include much more than a few token steps into the desert surrounding her palace. So, either she had taken a bunch of lovers to her den of iniquity and I had walked off without her watching over me or she had kicked me out because I had fucked up somewhere.

I got to my feet and started climbing up the dune.

Here’s something I bet most people didn’t know, but that climbing up the golden sands of a desert are damn difficult. I tried to just dig my toes in and fell over. I tried to crawl up the face of the dune and fell over. I ended up sort of half-slithering up the hill in an undignified mass. When I got to the top, I lay there, panting, trying to close out the heat of the day and the sunlight burning a message behind my retinas. When I felt okay enough, I stood up and looked around.

There was… nothing.

I was surrounded by desert and sand; sand and desert. Winds were picking up in the distance and I could see little swirls of sand tornados periodically, but I didn’t see the palace I had come to call a sort of home. Instead, I found nothingness, blandness. There weren’t even any rocks or cliff faces or any distinguishing features. I had no idea where I was. I had no idea how the hell I had gotten there. I didn’t even know how in the world to get from one place to another without sliding down sand dunes and getting sand everywhere, as if it weren’t already. I could feel particles grating against each other under my boobs and in my ass crack. “What a great way to start the day,” I muttered. What made it even better was that, as I surveyed my surroundings, that intuition thing that I had been paying attention to was telling me that this was important with a capital I. It may have been important, but it thoroughly sucked too because there was absolutely nothing.

I didn’t have my pack of handy supplies and I had to wonder if I was going to die of thirst or something ridiculous like that. I didn’t have anything with me except my wits and my abilities. Thinking about my abilities, I decided to start creating things in an effort to have something to do besides walk across the wide expanse, hoping I was going in the right direction. I lifted up a handful of sand and whispered to it, narrowing my eyes at it as I envisioned it turning into a sandworm, like what I envisioned the worms of Arrakis (Dune reference) would look like. The particles solidified together and started to bond into the form of a worm. When I had a worm the size of my palm, I whispered at it, trying to give it life. Instead, a gust of wind shoved the thing out of my hand and scattered each individual piece of sand.

I tried again. Same result.

I tried a third time. And the same result.

Just in case I wasn’t sure about what was going on, I tried it another time and received the exact same result.

Okay, so sandworms were out of the running.

I tried to create a bottle of water and met with no success. I tried to create a meal fit for a queen and met with no success. I decided that maybe a peanut butter sandwich would be a good idea and ended up eating a handful of sand instead of sandwich. I was growing frustrated. Sekhmet had always said that while she appreciated the fact that I was a loner and liked to do things on my own, I should also try to use the powers I had been born with and the ones I had been given over the years. While I didn’t practice much more than starting a fire in the woods if the need arose or snagging something to snack on when I had no business grabbing it, I didn’t think I was so bad at this whole “magic” thing. I had always been able, at least, to get what I needed. And now what I needed to do wasn’t working. And I was seriously getting pissed off and frustrated.

Giving up, I started walking.

As I walked, I noticed that there was nothing around me. I saw movies, of course, so I knew what should be in a desert. And I had read books about animal life in deserts, so I knew that there should be creatures of some sort. But I didn’t see anything. I thought, maybe, I would see creatures from the Dune books and that would have been okay. And if I happened upon a sandworm because I was walking rhythmically, then I was going to sacrifice myself to it because that had to beat out this whole walking around like a normal person thing. Instead, I saw nothing. I didn’t see vultures. I didn’t see jackals. I didn’t see snakes or spiders. I didn’t see anything. Of course, just because I had seen movies and read some books didn’t mean I was an expert. Maybe I had to wait until twilight before anything came out? But the fact that I saw nothing and heard nothing outside of the whispers of the wind was enough to make me start singing to myself… very awfully and horribly off-key.

I couldn’t keep it up and before long, I was lost in my thoughts. I was trying to figure out why, where, what, when. But nothing was coming to me. It really didn’t make any sense. Sekhmet had spent so much time keeping me close to her and now, I was lost out in the middle of nowhere. And it didn’t seem like I was going to get any clear answers. I tried calling out to her then, hoping beyond hope that she would come to me. I wasn’t overly surprised when she didn’t. Nothing happened. I just kept walking, one step in front of another, until I couldn’t remember how many steps I had taken. I kept telling myself that if I took one more step and fell one more time, then I could take a break. But I didn’t really give myself a break. I just kept climbing and walking and stepping and promising myself a break that I never really intended on taking.

After the millionth crest of a hill, I stopped and saw something glinting in the sunlight. I licked my dry lips for the millionth time, which chapped them further. I could feel elation. I could feel excitement. I could feel something beginning to stir. It looked like a dune buggy or maybe like a very old VW bug that had no hood. The buggy had one been bright yellow, but now was dull. All of the windows were broken out or stolen. There was a roof, though, and a steering wheel. Those, I felt, were the two most important aspects to this thing. If I had something to keep my head covered from the sunlight and if I had something that I could use to steer, I would be okay.

In my excitement, I tried to run towards it and ended up rolling down another sand dune. I fell flat on my face only a few feet away. I ran over to the dune buggy and began touching it, making sure that it really was real. And it felt real. I ran my hands over the gnarled and pitted surface, ideas and thought coming to me. Even though I had failed at creating the sandworm to get me from A to B, I could probably do something really fantastic with this thing and shove the hell out of this place. Or, if I never found a way out that was okay because I had something with me and so, even though it was a mechanical beast of burden, it was something.

“Okay,” I told myself, my voice hoarse from disuse. How the hell long had I been out here…? It felt like ages. “I can do this.”

I reached out and placed my hands on the steering wheel, envisioning what I needed it to do. I needed an engine and I pictured what kind of engine I needed it to be. I began slowly building it, bit by bit, piece by piece, and placing them in the proper places. The engine began to take shape and I could feel excitement boiling over, but I had to tamp it down. I felt that if I got too emotional about what I was doing, then it would end up getting screwed up and the thing would never anywhere. While I built the engine in my mind and then in the belly of the beast, itself, I could just imagine the jumping and flying I could do. And how fast I could get around out here. I was really beginning to feel like I was taking control of whatever the hell this damn experience was supposed to be and turning it, morphing it into something that I could use.

I felt in control for the first time since I had woken up in this desolated wasteland. And that’s all it was to me now. It was just a place that I had been exiled to for apparently no reason or maybe I had exiled myself out here for apparently no reason. In either case, I was stuck out here and I had to make the best of it. And now I had the ability to do so. Not only did I have the ability to do so, but I had the wherewithal to do so. And I was going to fucking get the hell out of here. Even if I had to sell my soul to the first thing that crossed my path to get me the fuck out of this fucking shitty place, then that’s what I was going to do. I didn’t care. I didn’t care. And if I told myself that enough then maybe, it would be true.

The dune buggy disappeared.

I stared at what had been slowly but surely coming along as a really bitching project. It was definitely not there. The rust bucket that had been slowly but surely growing an engine under my own tutelage was just a mirage.

Had I dreamed the whole thing? Was I so delusional? How fucking long had I been here?

Beside me, Sekhmet said, “Cheater, cheater.”

Screaming, I went at her with two swinging fists and days’ worth, nay, weeks’ worth of unleashed angst.

Saying No: A Guide.

A while back, things started to get hinky for me. These days, things are hinky more often than not, but sometimes, I pay closer attention than most. I will admit that I’ve been paying closer attention to dreams, signs, and the like. I’ve been trying to read omens in whatever aspect I could possibly find and not just the usual things. I’ve been looking at flocks of birds – and saw something of note. I’ve been looking at the shape of a cloud as it floats on by – and didn’t see a damn thing. I have been paying closer attention to the music on the radio – and sometimes get an interesting hit. In other moments, I’ve been using my Tumblr dash like a sort of mini oracle, eyeballing the amount of hairs I find in the drain in the morning, and just generally attempting to figure out where the line should be drawn between “this is a sign” and “this is a bunch of bullshit.” Dreams, though, are usually the harbingers for me. Once I start dreaming about something, I know I need to pay closer attention. So, of course, the hinky stuff started after a dream.

I dreamed about a very well noted god in the Hellenic pantheon. I’ll give anyone who I haven’t discussed this with a big clue: he likes wine. Yeah, that’s the guy. I decided to write off the dream. As a polytheist, I may not dream about gods – whether they be mine or belong to other people I know – often, but I had a glass of wine sit out all night and it was probably just a subconscious thing. Wine: dude likes wine. Okey-dokey. It was no big deal, at first. But then I dreamed again, that night, about going to his polytheistic followers who I happen to know of via Tumblr. And one of them responded as the guy himself. He wore the face of this follower whom I’ve known for some time and just laughed at me as I dream-sobbed my way onto his shoulder. When I woke up, I figured this was probably less like subconscious wine smelling and more like something I needed to pay attention to.

Besides, I’ve had dreams about those gods before and not just because I’ve worked with one once. I’ve dreamed about this particular deity a handful of times in the last year. I’ve always written it off. I’m not a Hellenic and I’m not interested. If I wanted to jump off the all Kemetic god revue I’ve been on for the last five years, I would have taken up the anassa eneri on her recommendation that I reach out to a certain handmaiden who likes pomegranates. Or, I wouldn’t have had such a really hard time connecting with a certain other female deity who gets talked about in relation to sex and love. Or, I would have politely listened to that wise Hellenic one when she showed up at work one day instead of telling her to get the hell out of my way. Or, you know, I would have been paying closer attention to a certain tap-dancing wing-footed jokester who farted around my house for months upon months. I like my box, my Kemetic box with a dash of lwa thrown in, and I want to keep it that way. So, whenever I’ve felt those Hellenics popping up, I’ve written them off. But for some reason, this time, I didn’t immediately just shut that door.

I thought about it.

I read every entry and every comment the Hellenics I know had on the guy in question. I thought about what they had to say about him. And I thought about what his entrance into my life could possibly mean. While I sat around and thought about it, I began to notice insane oddities. There was really no other word for it – he was trolling me. He would appear in conversations that had nothing to do with that guy. He would appear more obviously on my dash. Sure, I follow some of his people, but it seemed like it was getting hotter, heavier, and far more wine-soaked than usual on my dash. And then, a slew of devotees began to show up in my Tumblr recommendations. That was about the time that I began looking serious into this and then, I just stopped. I looked at what I was reading and was both intrigued and horrified. It didn’t matter what the specific reason he was coming around in my life for – although I have some ideas – but I definitely couldn’t go through with it. We have similar netjeru in the pantheon I’m connected with and you know what? I’m really pleased with my narrow-minded deity collecting. It is one thing to collect a herd of deities within a pantheon I’m comfortable within and quite another to broach outside of my safety zone.

So, I officially and politely asked him to leave.

He did.

It’s dawned on me that my experience is probably pretty miraculous to some people. There are a lot of people out there, however, who recommend that we say no and on a regular basis. Hell, I recommend saying no to the gods with whom you already have developed relationships with. It could get boring if you give in all the time! And I also recommend saying no to gods that you don’t have established relationships with. Just because they are gods doesn’t mean that we should automatically kowtow to their wants and desires. If we aren’t ready or aren’t willing to take on the task, then saying yes is going to end up making both parties miserable. The god in question will be angry and upset with you for failing and you will be angry and upset with yourself for the same reason. The point, as I’ve been talking about often enough, is the intent that we put behind whatever the hell we end up doing for the gods is the most important part. And if we just give in because we don’t think we have a way out, then they’re going to sense that. And things may not end up going so well for everyone involved so it’s always just a good idea to say, “No,” if you need to.

Let me reiterate this for those who may stumble on this blog and think that I’m an overly assertive asshat: what I did was not miraculous. I didn’t just do it because I wasn’t ready, but because I wasn’t willing to give whatever the hell he wanted me to give. Sure, I have my own personal thoughts on what all that shtick is about and his followers told me it wasn’t just what my personal holdups thought it was. I get that. Gods are multifaceted and varied, no matter what the mythologies may tend to tell us about them. But, it wasn’t for me. I don’t really care what-all he could have given me. If I can’t get what he has to offer from the netjeru in my life, or with any future additions to the always ready for more (I guess) deity collecting that I do, then I don’t think it really is necessary or needed or even remotely something I need to pay attention to.

But for those who stumble on this blog and may think, “Wow, that’s ballsy; you just asked and he left?” Let me just say that it wasn’t as simple as all that. When it comes to spirits, whether they be gods, lwa, or anything in between, nothing is clear-cut and simple.

1. No names.

Names are pretty important stuff in ancient Egypt. We don’t really pay as close attention in Kemeticism, I think, but names are still pretty damn important. By saying a being’s name, you are giving it power. Not specifically over you, but in general. If you didn’t want to give a being power, in any way, you would do your best to forget the name or you would destroy it. In the case of the gods, epithets or nicknames were often used to refer to them instead of using their names. (I forget the specific reason behind this, but I believe it was more about ritual and piety than anything else.) In any case, you say the name, you give the power; you don’t say the name, you don’t give it any more power.

In the case of gods, if you don’t bother utilizing the name in question, then you’re not providing them with anything that they can use to gain a foothold in your territory. Just because they show up once or twice in a dream doesn’t necessarily equate to them being a part of your life or becoming a part of your personal pantheon. It just means they came knocking with a smattering of possibilities before you. Whether or not you open the door is entirely up to you, of course, but if you aren’t really sure that you want to do that, then I strongly recommend referring to them – if you decide to do so at all – in nicknames. I don’t even recommend using the popular epithets that you can find on websites but nicknames you create yourself. They may not necessary associate themselves with the nickname. In my case, I chose “wine guy” or “big D.” It was alluding just enough to give devotees of his an idea as to who I was talking about, but not really enough to let him do much more than some basic trolling.

After years of being trolled, I can handle some little things.

2. Say “fuck off” a lot.

Trolling varies from deity to deity… and it can get pretty weird. Sometimes, it’s little minor things that can easily be explained away. And sometimes, it’s less likely explainable and more likely weird as hell. In either case, it should pretty much be expected that trolling will occur when a god is interested. If a god is really interested in having your attention, then they’re going to throw some shit at you so that you get the memo. Sometimes, I think that they believe we aren’t as bright as we all believe. But in all honesty, I think it has more to do with a basic belief that no god would ever be interested in us and whatever other self-esteem related deity issues we may bring to the table. Anyway.

Whatever the trolling may be is entirely up to them, but of course, it should be expected. And of course, with each new case of trolling, make sure that there is a frighteningly large eye roll at the end of it all. Make sure it is as exasperated and as irritated as you can possibly convey because, honestly, there’s nothing like consistency with these things. If you aren’t consistent in your reactions, they may believe that you aren’t really serious when you tell them no. And you have to make it very, very clear that you are not interested in what they have to offer. So, think of all the idiotic comments you’ve ever read online that have made you roll your eyes and make it ten times more theatrical when you pull on your “for fuck’s sake, are you pathetically trolling me again” eye roll.

My personal fave is “fuck off” and that is usually enough. Occasionally after being trolled that is precisely my response, although occasionally I’ll switch it up with a melodramatic eye roll. After the wisdom lady showed up with owl feathers for two solid days, I told her to fuck off. After the last time the winged-foot irritant came by, I told him to fuck off. It may sound pretty rude, but sometimes that’s all that will break through their single-minded focus when it comes to new followers. They’re more interested, in my eyes, in gaining more than they are in paying attention to what some of that more may actually prefer in the situation. So, sometimes, it means that you have to pull on your big kid underwear and tell them to go take a hike, roll your eyes like you’ve never seen something so pathetic, and tell them to “fuck off” when the simple stuff isn’t enough. And remember: above all, consistency.

3. No research.

This almost goes hand-in-hand with the no name thing, but I think it bears repeating. If you don’t do any research, then you don’t know anything about the deity in question and you’re likely to follow your first gut instinct. I didn’t pay attention to this rule. As someone who has followed this rule to the letter, unless I’ve been ordered to otherwise by my netjeru, I can attest that by looking into the deity, you’re kind of calling more attention to yourself. I think this is why the trolling got a little heavier between the wine guy and myself before I finally told him to go away. I did a little bit of research and I read everything the people who were helping me said about it. If I hadn’t bothered, I would have fallen under the rule of consistency I just outlined above. But, I didn’t so the trolling got kind of heavy for a while.

In either case, if your first instinct is to tell a deity that you aren’t interested, then there is a reason for that. And you shouldn’t second-guess yourself by giving in to the urge to learn more. If you give in to the urge to learn more, you may end up getting sucked further in and you may end up regretting it later. In either case, if you don’t know anything but your own preconceived notions about the gods, then you aren’t really going to make a good devotee. As I’m very fond of saying, the gods have layers. I know that the wine dude is more than just what I think he is – a wine-soaked frat boy’s wet dream, literally in some cases – or what I pretend him to be. (None of you get in a huff now. I know my preconceived notions are wrong.) I keep those preconceived notions because I know that the gods who they apply to don’t like them. And that’s another layer of protection and another way to get them to get out when I want them to. If I don’t know anything but the lies I tell myself, then why are they going to bother with me?

4. Ignore them.

Sometimes your basic trolling isn’t enough. Like I said above, I sometimes think they get really, really intent on the idea of having another devotee and they forget that we have free will. Whatever the case may be, sometimes trolling isn’t enough. And they’ll start assaulting you in other ways. I don’t mean that literally, although I know that’s also a possibility. If a deity is just interested in you in a simple devotee kind of way, then assaults will end up in more like the dreams and more heavy portents kind of way as opposed to anything else. (And you know, if it gets out of hand, Duskenpath needs to be your go-to here because she’ll kick ass righteous and/or teach you how to kick ass righteous.) Instead of discussing whatever ends up happening, then you need to ignore it. You need to pretend that it isn’t happening.

As Tumblr user, Draelogor happily told me, “I was told ‘inaction is action’ and it right about blew my mind. Dunno if it helps, but I’ve personally gotten a God (as well as countless entities) to back off by ignoring them and their efforts, and taking no action towards acknowledging or validating them and their efforts, or their influence over me and my life choices and actions. As disrespectful as that may have seemed to some, I had my own reasons at the times it happened, and inaction seemed to work quite well.” And that’s really very honest and good advice. If you ignore something long enough, stick your head in the sand, it’s going to go away. If you ignore the mosquito buzzing in your ear, it will go away, no matter how obnoxious it may get before the end.

Since I didn’t follow my “no research” rule about the wine dude, I ended up getting dreams and odd Tarot readings for the few days before I asked him to leave. Since I made a post about his trolling, I got still more. I was giving him more to feed off so that he could climb inside. In a tizzy, I turned to Sekhmet for advice and she just kind of looked at me and said, “You do what you want to do here. It’s not my choice.” And that’s kind of when I remembered that I wasn’t supposed to be paying any attention whatsoever to what was going on around me. So, I ignored all the telltale cups cards I was getting and just went, “Huh,” instead of ranting. I ignored the dreams of curly headed people trying to talk to me and went about my business. Ignoring a god isn’t necessarily easy but it helps.

5. Tell them to leave.

I honestly believe that the gods have short attention spans. I’ve likened them to children a few times before and I stick by that. When it comes to shiny, new things, they are definitely very much like kids. If you ignore them enough, they tend to ignore you right the hell back. And when you realize that they are ignoring you back, that’s the time to pounce. As I showed in the link when I asked him to leave, he didn’t necessarily go quietly. He had his parting shots, but I didn’t bite. The carrot of information he was tantalizing me with wasn’t enough, to me. I wasn’t willing to wager whatever it was he wanted to get whatever he thought he could leverage over me enough to say yes. I’ve become a bit of cynic when it comes to the gods, lately, but I knew that whatever he had to offer, I could find the answers elsewhere.

The thing is that I had to admit that I may not find out whatever leverage he was dangling before me. And you know what? That’s okay. If I don’t know about it, then it can’t really hurt me. And if I’m supposed to know about it, either the netjeru I have now will tell me, in their own way, or they will point me in the proper direction. Cynic or not, I don’t necessarily believe that he was lying, per se, with whatever he had to offer me. I honestly believe he did have a thing or 70 to teach my pigheaded, stubborn ass. But suffice to say, not knowing is okay for me. I have a lot on my plate, as it is, and I don’t need anything else muddying the waters.

Now, obviously, these aren’t the only ways to go ahead and say no to a new god coming into your life. There are many different ways to go about it and each are going to be as individual as the devotee in question. Whatever it is, I have to advocate highly and fully that you are consistent in each approach. If you truly are not interested, don’t waver. No matter what the god in question may be offering you in payment for your devotion, it may not necessarily be worth it. Many long-term polytheists and pagans will tell you that this shit is hard. And sometimes, it means that you have to metaphorically rip off your skin to be the devotee that the god wants you to be. Sometimes, that’s a good thing and sometimes, it’s not. In either case, if your initial gut is saying to tell them to get the fuck out of, then tell them to get the fuck out.

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