I Have Driven Off A / Pep.

This past week, I had a part of my body removed because it stopped functioning properly. I tell people we removed my gallbladder because I’ve been beating it up for the last 18 years and we needed to permanently part ways, which is true. I told my gods I was sorry and I didn’t mean to and couldn’t they fix it so I could keep all parts of my body for the afterlife?

It was a very confusing time leading up to the surgery.

To be fair, it was a very confusing time leading up to the diagnosis.

Confusion

O you who emerge from the waters, who escape from the flood and climb on the stern of your bark, may you indeed climb on the stern of your bark, may you be more hale that you were yesterday. – part of Spell 101 from The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

I don’t know why I let it get as bad as it did. The first few times I had a gallstones attack, the pain wasn’t bad enough to drive me to the ER at 1 in the morning. Google-fu pretty much told me what was happening to me (gallstones) so I cut back on fatty foods to the best of my fatty food loving ability and the attacks were minimal. I had one or two in a 6-month period that first year and swore I’d deal with it next time.

But I just kept putting it off (sometimes with valid reasons and other times with probably not quite so valid ones).

Three years is a long time to deal with an  undiagnosed health issue. But I kept assuring myself that waking up my family in the middle of the night because of the pain that would eventually clear up was not worth it. My body and I were on an uneasy keel, but I was managing pretty well.

My gallbladder had other ideas of course. Maybe it got sick of my shit or maybe three years was too long. After a meal that was not very high in fat content, the pain was bad enough to force me to the ER where the doc said, “oh it’s definitely gallstones. There’s an awful lot in there; how long has this been going on?”

It was kind of nice to get the confirmation of what I already knew, but now I had to deal with it. I read up on different ways to contend with it and found non-surgical alternatives. However they all weren’t permanent solutions; the stones always came back.

I decided to ignore the implication that I would, by necessity, have a part of my body permanently removed. The fear of the surgery itself weighed too heavily on my mind, but I was also completely freaked out by the loss of that body part. I could lie and say just losing a piece of yourself was what was freaking me out, but to be frank, it was trying to figure out how this could impact me in the afterlife that was causing my issues.

It had never occurred to me before I faced this that I had always just assumed I would be fully intact upon my death. But now I had to face the music: my poor nutritional choices had brought me to the point where being fully intact upon my death was no longer an option.

a town of memory loss

Seth … will say to him with magic power: “Get back at the sharp knife which is in my hand! I stand before you, navigating aright and seeing afar. Cover your face, for I ferry across; get back because of me…” – part of Spell 108 from The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

The month of June was completely overwhelming as I faced the news that I needed my gallbladder out. My liver function became less efficient and the doctors were highly concerned because my gallbladder had also begun to harden after 3 years of attacks that I hadn’t dealt with. I found myself crying a lot as I tried to think past my own fears of what was to come.

One night, I cried in the shower, begging the gods to enact a miraculous cure. I knew they couldn’t do such a thing but I was still angry when I woke up with the dull ache around my liver and gallbladder as I had been off and on since the second trip to the ER. I had known the only way to deal with this was removal but the terror that I wouldn’t go to the afterlife because I was missing a piece of me held on and squeezed at me.

That sounds almost ridiculous, I suppose. “I’m terrified of surgery because my beliefs tell me I need all of my body to get to the afterlife.” I don’t want to say that this was a crisis of faith because it wasn’t. It was more like failed attempts to correlate a belief system from early human civilization with the modern era.

This is probably quite common for those of us attempting to create an historically informed practice from an ancient religion. For the most part, I’ve moved beyond these issues and have modernized my beliefs and practices where I needed to. But sometimes, apparently, something comes up that tosses you into a tailspin.

The thing that finally got me over this particular hump was something a coworker of mine said when I mentioned how much the notion was freaking me out. “Maybe they’ll put it in a biohazard jar so you can bury it.” It was said in jest and made me laugh, which was the overall point at the time. And somehow, hearing that set me a bit at ease as far as loss of organs went.

It occurred to me that I was probably being ridiculous. As I came at the fear from another angle, I had to remind myself that people in ancient Egypt probably also lost body parts and may not have been able to keep them for whatever reason. I most likely wasn’t going to be barred from the afterlife because an organ had stopped working properly and needed to be removed before causing me any serious harm.

When I was able to see it from that angle, I felt better. I was still a little weirded out by the whole thing since, aside from canines that didn’t come in correctly, I had never had to have anything removed before. But at least I could turn my anxiety away from what my soul would uncover upon death and focus heartily on my fear of the surgery itself.

Surgery

…expel my evil, grip hold of my falsehood, and I will have no guilt in respect of you. Grant that I may open up the tomb, that I may enter in Rosetjau, and that I may pass by the secret portals of the West. – part of Spell 126 from The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

I knew fear as an intimate companion the days leading up to the surgery. I would hear that phrase from Christian burials, “and yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil,” and I would sit in a haze of terror. I would shake with it and I would hold onto my apotropaic amulet and let fear race through my veins.

I broke down minutes before the surgery, whispering in my mind, I don’t want this; I don’t want to be here. Please let this be a nightmare. But it was reality and forward I went. The SO squeezed my hand and kissed my forehead, but I was still terrified of what was going to happen to me.

The removal of the organ; the death like sleep doctors were going to control while I was out; the unknown pain and recovery of what was to come after. All of it coalesced into a sort of miniature battle where I wasn’t really sure if I would survive as intact as I hoped to be.

This sounds ridiculous but it felt a bit like a battle against that entropy snake we all battle against as Kemetics. It felt like I was going into battle against an unknown and unseen enemy and I could either survive another day or I could die in the attempt. I didn’t step into the battle with courage like you’d expect from a true warrior but with tears on my lashes and a team of ladies in blue injecting something into my IV.

Split seconds before I passed out, I was staring at the ceiling and thinking that this was a bit like being drunk without all the terrible consequences. The grating in the ceiling above me did a full 180 spin and I can remember thinking, it’s like bed spin without the nausea, and then I was waking up in a green room with nurses everywhere.

I’ve felt very fragile since the surgery. It’s kind of made me realize that our bodies can easily break. I mean, I knew this in a sort of abstract way – I had a fractured elbow a few years back and I’ve fractured my ankle before – but it’s like the point had to be made real again. I feel very much like I could break completely, maybe next time it will be in half.

I’m recovering though, no matter how dark my thoughts or how fragile I feel.

The pain is weird; it comes and goes. Sometimes I feel like I could just recover on my own and then the next time I go to get up for something, I have to call for help because I can barely even think of the idea of getting up without someone helping me to my feet. I overdid it yesterday with all my trying to do this on my own and I’m suffering for it now.

My body feels a little foreign because of the pain, a little like it was someone else’s and now I’m trying to make it fit. No. No, it’s honestly like I put on a different skin suit after the surgery sometimes and now I have to figure out all the motor control again.

No. No… maybe a better description would be like being reborn…

I am reborn, I see, I behold, I will be yonder, I am raised up on my side, I make a decree, I hate sleep, I detest limpness, and I who was in Nedit stand up. – part of Spell 174 from The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

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

Have You Ever Seen the Rain Coming Down on a Sunny Day?

The other day, it felt as though the world had been purified and renewed in the night, leaving a mist of newness across the land. It had rained in the night and the world around me had been soaked in the aftermath. I had smelled rain on the wind in the evening before, closing my eyes and sampling the gentle soft scent that I have always associated with gentle rains in this place where I was born. There is something about that smell, that precursor telling us that the rain is coming, that I have always associated with a form of renewal and purification. I can remember feeling that way as a child and it has not left me as I have aged.

It has only become a stronger association in my opinion.

While I walked the dog, I was giddy as I made footprints in the chill water left on the tips of the blades of grass. Both my shoes and the bottom of my jeans were soaked with that physical embodiment of purification and renewal. In my mind, I could feel it climbing up my legs and soaking me with its potency. I was walking the dog through the glitter of dew drops and rain drops, thinking about this.

The rays after rain

The Rays After Rain by Masahiro Noguchi

It seemed appropriate that after the Reunion the world would begin its ever steady march in its attempt at renewal. Not only have the lovers reunited for another year, but I am entering the final month before the new year. Renewal, purification… these things are understandably on my mind as the time ticks towards the new year celebrations.

It felt almost as if the very area in which I live wanted to join me as I work steadily and slowly on building myself back up, building a new dynamic in my practice as the year marches steadily towards its reset.

I’ve felt hollowed out and alone recently while I go through this, backing off from social media and online communities. I know that I am not capable of balancing the recreation of myself and the recreation of my practice with the work that communities entail. None of this is a bad thing – these changes I’ve felt and discussed finally in my last entry – but it’s a long heavy process and I think, during it all, I will need healthy doses of both purification and renewal.

You see, I don’t always realize when I need to back off or when I’ve actually made a serious indent into the work I’m doing. I think the aftermath of the rain was a subtle reminder of that issue I have.

A common question that we ask ourselves at my job is, “are you too in the middle to see the outside?” This question is typically asked when we are discussing steps that we could have undertaken and probably should have undertaken to facilitate a repair or project. However those steps were neglected usually because we are racing at break neck speed or being pounded with the need to get shit done as quickly as possible. It impairs our efficiencies and we’re left standing back after the ticket has been closed, discussing it with other people and realizing where we made mistakes and how we could have prevented them.

This kind of goes back to the “bigger picture” talk I complain about. I don’t necessarily realize that I’ve made a major break through (or even a minor break through) because I don’t take the time necessary to step back and go through every little detail. I’m racing forward on adrenaline when I should be taking my time. Due to the fact that much of this shit is shadow work and painful in the extreme, you can probably understand why I don’t want to do that. So, I end up actually getting through the mess but then take months afterward to analyze and absorb what it is that I have done.

Just like with my job, if I had been able to stop long enough to take a breath, I could have probably have prevented the inefficiencies, but I was too caught up in the moment to do so.

It felt to me that the rain soaked grass and the leaves dripping as the sun began pouring over the landscape were all a subtle reminder*. It felt in a very personal religious way as though the gods themselves were pushing this lesson (again – this isn’t the first time I’ve had this type of a reminder, but it is one of the more gentle reminders I’ve had).

* Of course, this could all be coincidence; I’m fully aware that when it comes to omens and portents in one’s personal religious path that we need to consider that always as a possibility. But why can’t the gods use the very things that we have associations and interactions with in order to get those omens and portents across? It’s all a matter of discernment, but sometimes it comes down to needing to feel like there is just a little bit more in the moment.

As I watched the sun break through the cloud cover and begin to poke around at the world around, as the birds began doing their morning dances and chatter, as the cars filled the road with traffic to get a start on the day, I marveled at the idea that all of this was a thing of which I am part of and if I just stop for a moment, I could see the picture from the outside as opposed to the inside.

As was recently voiced over in a dream of mine, one small step for Sat; one giant leap for Satsekhem! I don’t know how true that statement really will be in the months ahead, but I find myself just a little excited by it all.

Kemetic Round Table: But Why?

As a kid, I attended a Methodist church and I can remember sitting beside my mother during the [boring] sermon on more than a handful of occasions. If I wasn’t busy trying to play hang man by myself or staring up at the architecture (it was that church, to be honest, that made me appreciate Gothic architecture as that was what it was modeled after when built), I was so busy trying to figure out what was so special about the person in the pulpit that gave them the ability to shepherd my soul and my faith onto its path to redeem the inherent sinner that I, as a Methodist, clearly was.

I got that the person in question went to specialty school and had been indoctrinated in all the things that were required in order to perform rituals and services under the teachings and dogma of the Methodist church. And I understood that the role of that minister was to take my hand (so to speak) and guide me on my path in my relationship with Jesus, the Holy Ghost, and God. But I couldn’t really figure out why I needed that person over there, pulpit or not, ritual officiant or not, to guide me. I constantly had to ask myself, but why?

While sitting at the front of the church with the other acolytes, admiring the really ornate altar that I got to light and put out the candles for, I still wondered. I went to Sunday school and when I wasn’t dawdling on my millionth bathroom break back into church, I was always trying to figure out why there had to any person between me and my relationship with God. Didn’t I have the ability to pray just as well as the priest? Was there something in the induction from any ole human to priest type human that made their prayers, on my behalf, that much more clear? Or was it all just a bunch of hype?

It doesn’t matter what answers, if any, that I may have come up with. I’ll be honest, I can’t think of any damn things that I came up with to explain why the person in the pulpit, who wore the garments ascribed to our sect, had the right and the wherewithal to shepherd my soul. I kept coming back down to the fundamental question of: but why? Maybe that makes me a bit of a troublemaker or maybe I missed something in Sunday school that I should have paid attention to. Whatever the case may be, I had nothing but the ongoing ramble of but why why why why why? in my head enough times to seriously side eye the whole fucking concept.

Frankly, changing my faith from monotheistic to polytheistic hasn’t really stopped the whole, but why?

I started looking up things about the ancient Egyptian priesthood a few years ago when I got a card reading that was kind of like, “hahaha, you’re going to be a priest!” And I just about flipped my shit and sulked about it for a while. I knew a sum total of this about the priesthood in ancient Egypt: (a) they were everywhere, (b) they got up really early, (c) there was some ritual purity standards or something, and (d) they stood in for the pharaoh for everything who was the Big Cheese as far as the religion was concerned. So, realizing that if this was going to end up happening, I decided I should look a little further beyond what I knew.

And I found out a lot things about the priesthood and none of them were even remotely what I had come to believe a priest was for. I was coming at this point-of-view, of course, from the Christian faith I was raised in. I was informed that the minister was supposed to be a sort of intermediary of sorts between myself and my relationship to God. The minister officiated at really important rituals like baptism, marriage, and communion. These are things that they did for the parishioners. Again, in my limited information regarding what I had figured out over the years, it was this shepherd thing (something hearkening back to Jesus’ image of the Good Shepherd, iirc) that the priests and ministers and whatnot were supposed to do.

That was so not even the case in ancient Egypt.

The entire point in the priesthood in ancient Egypt was to serve the gods in whatever capacity that particular priest had been hired for (or bribed to get the position for). There were numerous priests within the priesthood hierarchy – not just one guy at the top of a pulpit, preaching on about whatever the case may be. The priests who maintained the temples and completed the rituals did so on behalf of the gods that the temples were for and to maintain ma’at by providing for those gods – not to shepherd the laity on their bumbling path with their faith and offer them spiritual guidance on how to proceed. While they did complete things on behalf of the laity, such as writing things, providing healing, and/or interpreting dreams, this was only if the person had paid for those services. As far as I could discern, it seemed like how the temples’ functionaries (the priests) worked with the laity was minimal.

Another thing to consider was that since the duties of the priests were twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, there were no breaks. They did not stop and take a week vacation from their job. They had four months of doing the job and then they were off the rotation to do whatever it was their personal lives required of them. But when they were in rotation, the outside world was immaterial to the duties that they had to perform on behalf of the temple and the gods. The priests I grew up with only were around for Sunday services and the Methodist specific rituals, which in my experience tended to take place on Sundays.

Even remotely looking at the ancient Egyptian priesthood with the perspective of someone born and raised within the Methodist church was hard to handle. It was like two polar opposites had crashed head-on in my brain and I honestly couldn’t even begin to reconcile it. And that was kind of when I realized that viewing the priesthood from a Christian heavy perspective was probably not a good idea.

So, I tried to view it from a modern-day Kemetic perspective and had to admit that the nagging question come back in spades: but why?

In order for a priesthood to exist in any context akin to what had been established in antiquity, there would have to be an established temple. And frankly, I haven’t joined any of the established temples because I don’t want a theocracy regarding my religion, which would need to be the case in order for it to bear any resemblance to antiquity. I don’t want someone from on high – like the people in the pulpit – to tell me what my function was. I wouldn’t want someone to give me a position, which I may not feel suited my abilities or my personal desires for what I wanted my personal relationship with my gods to look like, and have to turn it into, well, a job. That seems like such a terrible idea on so many different levels.

If I remove the idea of an established temple and all of the possible hazards and pitfalls that could occur with an established temple, I have to admit that the nagging question of but why comes up louder and louder. If there is no temple, why in the world would a priesthood be needed? I mean, after all, isn’t that what most of the solitaries are doing?

Think about it:

They’re maintaining their relationships with the gods, seeing that the gods are pleased with offerings and any rituals they feel like doing, and doing their damned best to both live in and maintain ma’at. From that perspective, it kind of looks like those of us who fall under the “solitary Kemetic” persuasion may already be what the ancient Egyptian priesthood was… without all of the in-fighting, politics, full-time work, and bribery.

If looked in that particular way, then technically, all of us are our own priests… so then what’s all the hype about?

How often do I see people going on about priesthood like it’s the top echelon of super religious achievement? I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve seen people just spout on and on about how great the whole idea of a priesthood totally would be if only we could do X, Y, Z. Well, I hate to break it to all the “ra ra priest” cheerleaders out there, but it’s kind of already in existence from a solitary perspective. And many of us don’t even want to look at the fucking word priest, much less, use it in any context to describe what we’re going. The word has some serious baggage; it’s a dirty word; it’s blown up and blown out of proportion; and did I mention the baggage?

To be perfectly frank, I’m kind of tired of people looking at the whole priesthood thing like it’s something that we should all strive for. Let’s not forget that the priesthood of antiquity was a hierarchy from scribes to prophets, from high priests to cooks in the kitchen. By stating that “priesthood” is the be-all, end-all, we are definitively stating that we need to create strata within our community. And by so doing, we could quite easily make it seem like there is a clique for the haves and an exclusionary circle around the have nots, which should not be the case for a religion that is as community centric as ours. Besides, we see how destructive such things can be within the wider Tumblr pagan community – the constant battle cry of “speshul snowflake” – so why the fuck are we going to invite the conflagration to our party before we really have gotten our feet under us?

I think the more important thing is focusing on the personal path that we are all walking on and how it relates to us as human beings and how it relates to the gods to whom we cultivate these relationships for. Priesthood was a many splendored pain in the ass in antiquity from what I’ve read and frankly, I don’t want to be associated with it… even though I am, for all intents and purposes, doing precisely what the ancient priests did in my position… only without the conniving and bribing of other people (I’ll totally bribe and connive with my gods though).

I truly believe that people who push this idea that priesthood should be or will be the highest point that one can aim for on their path is detrimental to the fomenting of the individual paths we all walk down. I think that it leaves a lot of people feeling inadequate, people who may be frightened of the term priest or who may look askance and distrustful of the terminology priesthood. The focus on a religion that is so widespread and predominantly made up of solitary practitioners should be less on something that requires a temple to work properly and should be more focused on boat paddling, community, and what each individual needs from both in order to establish themselves on their path.

So if the whole point in the ancient Egyptian priesthood was to do what each modern person building a personal relationship with their gods is already doing (in whatever context that particular relationship requires or ends up becoming), then I go right back to point A, which is the question, but why?

Maybe if there was a temple that had more of a “it’s okay to be laity” point-of-view and less of a “the priesthood are super awesome” mentality, I could answer that question. In the mean time, I shy away from the word even if I really am doing the job of a priest and I continue to think that at this stage, modern priesthood really just isn’t important.

Further Reading

  1. TTR’s WP Clergy Tag
  2. TTR’s Tumblr Priesthood Tag

Place of Truth.

You ever have one of those moments where you just have this fucking thing stuck in your head? It can be a song lyric, a picture, a turn of phrase – but it’s just sitting there in your brain pan and periodically, it shoots back out at you and reminds you that it exists in there and that you should think about it. That’s what this post is about.

For weeks on end, whenever I would walk over to my altar for Sekhmet, I would hear this phrase just echoing through my meat space. Hell, let’s be honest here, this has been going on for longer than all of that – months, more like. Whenever I would go over there or pass by, which is done on a daily basis, I would just hear this fucking phrase echoing in my head and I was so very puzzled by it. It was like a little zing at first, you know? It was just there. “Boop! Hey, I’m here.” And then with each passing day that the phrase would hit me, it became more and more like an electrical shock to the system: place of truth.

I puzzled about it, you know? I thought I was making up things out of the reactionary word vomit that can occasionally inhabit one’s mind space. How often had I had moments where something would come through like this and it ended up being nothing? (Or quite possibly, it actually was something that was never solved because, let’s be real here, that’s always a possibility.) But it began to happen on such a regular basis and the zings were becoming more painful. It was like eating too much sugar after a filling falls out – a zap of pain to the teeth. Or more like a momentary brain freeze that would shoot not just into my brain, making me want to cut off the entire apparatus housing it, but throughout my whole body.

I started looking things up because, you know, I may as well give in to the reactionary odd shit my mind makes up.

I was really just expecting like a book title to pop up or have an image come up on the screen: a single pointed finger surrounded by bubbled text spelling out “ha ha ha.” That’s not what happened. The not-oracle that is Google came up with something interesting: set maat was what the ancient Egyptians referred to the Theban necropolis as. Oh, well, that was very helpful… so helpful that I looked up the bits about how the workers at Deir el-Medina were referred to as “servant of the place of truth.” And all of that was just so very helpful but not in any way, shape, or form that could possibly explain to me why the fuck I was having this damn fucking phrase puncture my brain pan every fucking morning.

I mean, honestly? What in the world did my relationship with Sekhmet and/or my altar space have to do with the Theban necropolis? I couldn’t make a connection. Sure, I had dealings with Sekhmet in the Duat, but that didn’t really relate as far as I could see to the necropolis. And I don’t really consider my altar space as sacred as, maybe someone somewhere thought the necropolis was. So, how the fuck and why the fuck and what the fuck?

I left it alone. That’s a thing, right? When things really start to aggravate you, sometimes if you just leave them alone, they percolate in the background and something might come of it.

I left it alone for so long that I told Sekhmet’s altar that it could shut the fuck up. I got more zings. I started avoiding going near her altar except for the most necessary things – offerings, dropping off jewelry, picking up jewelry, etc. I got more zings. I refused to make fucking eye contact with my fucking altar whenever I would do these in the hopes that it would help. I got more zings. I left it alone for so fucking long that I began to actually tune it out. Evidently, this was just too much to handle because things came to a head the second week of January.

The second week of the month is when I do the rites and services Sekhmet and I agreed upon (over a fucking year ago now – time flies). I usually make up the altar pretty much the same, maybe with minor changes. I clean the place up and out and spritz it down and make it damn fine. I have ritual plates that I use for the heka feast offering and ones specific for the actual food offerings I give as well. No big deal, I pulled everything down and placed the heka in the proper plate-bowl-thing and looked at it and had the volume turned up: PLACE OF TRUTH.

I stared at the space I had lovingly tended with revulsion and irritation. We were back to this stupid fucking thing again. I had finally managed to get out of that fucking gutter and I was getting sucked back in when I had things to do. So, I looked around for something while I began to get a massive fucking headache as PLACE OF TRUTH pounded through my brain pan. I found a candle and laid it over the heka meal. I stared at the plate some more and then pulled down the feather of ma’at amulet, wrapping it gently around the candle holder.

The volume dial was turned down and I was able to walk away, pleased with it.

Well.

Shit.

What the fuck.

A while later, I began moving things away and looked down at the altar space. I was pretty angry and irritated. I went to move the heka feast bowl-plate-thing with its candle and ma’at, but my hand stayed right where it was at my side. I looked at my hand. I looked at the bowl thing. I looked at Sekhmet. I looked at the feather of ma’at amulet.

PLACE OF TRUTH.

I decided to just remove the heka feast and clean the plate thing, but placed the candle and the amulet back where it had been previously. The volume dial was turned down again. I was beginning to get a very serious feeling that the bowl-plate-thing and the amulet needed to stay put. I wasn’t really sure if the candle needed to stay put, but since it’s a good focal point, I figured it could stay. Besides, if nothing else, doesn’t the place of truth deserve a little way to make some flame especially since it seems, somehow, to be related to the Lady of the Flame?

I’ve been growing more and more desperate. I can’t tune it out as clearly as I had been. I can continue to walk by; I can continue to ignore the space; I can even just go “lalalala, I can’t hear you,” with my fingers in my ears. None of it really works. I don’t know what the hell this means. Why the hell this is even supposed to be a thing?

In desperation, I went to the not-oracle that is Google and found a whole lot of the same shit I found the first time around. In desperation, I reached out to two groups for help, but have received no responses from anyone about the phrase “place of truth.” I’m clearly at the end of my tether because I can’t fucking sit around and listen to the stupid bullshit anymore. I don’t know what this means or why this means. I don’t understand the zings I’m getting or the constant feeling that there is something missing, perhaps that I, myself, am missing (clearly) or that is missing from the fucking space in general. I just don’t know.

So, because I was finally at the end of my fucking rope and demanding answers, I pulled out the Book of Doors deck.

WHAT DOES THIS FUCKING THING MEAN.

And I got a hodge-podge mess that actually made me even angrier. I was already pretty pissed to begin with – the fact that I had to turn to cards in the first place really made me snottier than usual – so the responses I got to the question, phrased differently each time, made me very unhappy. It was made worse when I realized that how I typically interpret the deck wasn’t going to work. The answers I was looking for were “woo” related, or in that realm. So, historically, I have bubkes. And technically, woo-wise, I also have bubkes but at least I know it’s related to that in some way.

This was not helping.

I sat in front of the altar and stared at the white plate. It was just a plate. I had purchased it for $1 at the dollar store. There is absolutely nothing special about the plate. It’s flat in the middle and rounds up. It’s probably more like a serving bowl or a salad bowl. There is no design to it – I wanted something nice and plain for the rites and services when I picked it out. It’s a nice enough looking bowl-plate, but it’s usefulness starts and ends at holding offerings once a month.

And yet… adding it to the altar had definitely been a good thing.

Maybe it wasn’t the bowl so much that was a good thing, but the amulet? I thought about that. And it wasn’t until the two were placed together, with the amulet wrapped daintily around the pillar candle holder, when I felt I had done a good thing. But the good thing, that feeling anyway, is still beset on all sides. There’s more here, I can fucking feel it.

I keep looking at the damn space and I keep thinking about how the fuck this can finally shut up in my head. I keep looking at the whole damn space and I keep knowing that I need to add to it. I need more than just the candle and the amulet and the bowl. There’s something here and the answers just aren’t anything more than bleariness at the corner of my eye. I keep rubbing at the bleariness but there’s nothing there but more bleariness.

What the fuck am I even doing.

I wandered back and forth to the altar. I stared at it. I looked down at the floor in frustration and then looked back up, hoping that I had taken enough time to figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing. I walked away in a huff. I walked back with my hands linked at the back of my head, afraid that if I didn’t hold them together tightly that I may just slash my arm across the whole edifice and destroy it all. I lay down and watched Supernatural for a while. I got back up and stared at what I had begun and then moved back to the TV. I paced back and forth while I messaged with a friend, freaking out through my cell phone. It was a good thing really; I was finally able to say something to someone who, though perhaps they wouldn’t understand the entirety of the problem, they could at least be a sounding board since clearly there will be woo and there is already woo.

This is my truth.

This is my truth.

We talked and they made sense. The panic-streaked thoughts from the last few months faded out. They became less shaky and more solid. I could see what I needed to do in my head, but I just had to figure out how to get it there. As carefully as my son has done when building a precarious tower of blocks, I held my breath and placed pieces in the plate-bowl. I held my breath so as not to disturb the precarious balance. I looked down at my handiwork and knew that I needed more. This was insufficient and I looked up at mawat’s face and I thought to myself, what the fuck do you want from me? And then I saw it… the little necklace of the four arrows I had made a few weeks back. I looked down at my not-a-masterpiece and looked back up at her and then knew what I had to do.

They were the final piece to the finished product.

You see, the point was that I had to build myself a place of truth. It makes sense that the bowl was a good thing – a repository for the heka that I have taken on for the last year. It is a part of my truth. Each little piece placed carefully in that bowl-plate is a part of my truth: my path and where it has led me. I knew this year was going to be a bit of a doozy in the way of my religious experiences. I knew that last year when I looked to the future and saw more hardship, many more ordeals, and new adventures coming my way. I was told a little while ago that I would be judged, but you know? I judge myself, too and quite often, very harshly. I built myself a place of truth. These pieces are a part of my truth – my inner truth, the truth of my ib – and while I may, indeed, be judged by outsiders, the foundations remain the same.

Je suis prêt, I remind myself.

The Art of Balance.

I think I’ve been babied by how most of my interpersonal deity relationships have been in the last few years.

I talk about being a deity collector; I have a lot of deities that I pay homage to at any given time. Some of those relationships are more fleeting than others, which is how I am able to handle my shit without flipping my shit. Geb and Mut are prime examples: they do the “deity pop-in.” I only ever associate them with outdoors type shit so I don’t need to pay homage to them nearly as regularly as I do with other deities. Bes is only given attention when I’m at home and doing home and family centric things (pretty obvious with that one); Set gets attention when he’s told to send me a pick-me up; Anup gets attention when the akhu are involved. Hetheru, Djehuty, and the rest have all been so quiet since I flipped out on them for constantly pulling at me, trying to get me to do what they want when I had someone of larger importance already having led the fucking charge. In the end, while I do pay attention to those relationships that began when I was nervous and worrying about things, they’ve mostly gone the way of the Dodo.

Some of this is okay; the work with those deities was for Bigger Picture. I understand that now although I didn’t necessarily fully understand what that Bigger Picture was way back then. So, I had to learn to use heka effectively under the tutelage of Aset to prepare myself for the intermediary status I took on last year. I had to learn to write more effectively under Djehuty’s demands in order to make my heka more effective. Hetheru has always been there, waiting in the wings, until she felt I needed someone’s affection. (She counter balances the intensity of my relationship with Sekhmet by not being intense, at all, and not demanding anything from me except some fun periodically. She’s always kind of been a breath of fresh air.)

Thing is, they’ve all been relegated to household deities while things have seriously picked up with Sekhmet. I had made my choice; I wasn’t getting cake and eating it, too. They’ve quieted down and stopped asking things of me. I seem to have even lost that counterbalance with Hetheru, not as if it was a permanent addition to my life anyway. I don’t have the energy and wherewithal to give them any more than what I’m doing now: a daily offering, perhaps some words, the occasional, “hey, how are you,” and then I move on with my life. I was pleased and happy that I had been able to move from “active deity collector” back to “one track mind.”

Then Heru-Wer showed up and I’m beginning to flip my shit.

You see… I have never really had to learn the act of balancing relationships.

balance

Balance via Flickr

I am not very good at that whole thing. I talk a good game, but I’m very much a MUST HYPERFOCUS ON THIS THING RIGHT NOW BECAUSE REASONS and everything else falls to the wayside. This was the fundamental issue between Sekhmet and Hetheru. I always just assumed that Hetheru was around for a purpose and I strongly suspect she was only there as an escape when things would get really hard with Sekhmet. I don’t think I’ve necessarily burned the bridge, but I do think that she’s kept her distance for good reason. (I was a massive ass face when I made my decision last year.) The problem is that I don’t really seem to have that option here. Sekhmet is demanding and fickle; I bound myself to her and that is just simply what it is. However, as I’ve been looking more and more steadily into the mythology of Heru-Wer and wondering about what relationship we will have and figuring out what the fuck it’s going to entail, I’ve come to conclude that… well, he offers a really awesome balance point between HARDWORKHARDWORKHARDWORK and PLAYPLAYPLAY, which is something I need to fucking learn like yesterday.

How the hell do people do this? How in the world can you balance yourself out between two different deities that want two different things from you?

I got off scot-free, so to speak, and now I have to pay the piper. That’s… how it feels anyway. I was able to do my thing with Sekhmet and still do some things with other gods, but while it could suck at times, there was still something in the back of my mind that said I could run away if I needed to. I could walk away if I needed to. In the end, the decision was made for me anyway. The decision to end all intense relationships outside of Sekhmet’s was made and I have lived with that decision for almost a year now. I can’t tell anyone if it was a good one or a bad one, in all honesty. I think, with everything, it is shades of gray: I had to stop getting pulled in a million different directions and my loyalty was to Sekhmet first and foremost. Everyone else was cannon fodder for that Bigger Picture I was just harping about.

The problem is that I’ve been able to escape all of this learning curve. Perhaps because of my own inability to NOT be so single-minded about things, I never had to learn what it was like to actually balance a relationship with one deity and then learn how to add another. I tried it, sort of, when Hetheru joined Sekhmet in annoying the fuck out of me the beginning. And I found that I was so intensely focused on the various aspects of Hetheru that I couldn’t jump out of my head long enough to make that relationship more than an offshoot that was painful and frightening. Perhaps Hetheru knew something I didn’t back then: I wasn’t ready for this whole balance thing. In an effort to terminate that relationship, I have done everything in my power to push that particular goddess out of my life, too unwilling to stop long enough to think about other aspects of her that I needed/need to pay attention to. Instead, I have severed and strangled that connection to the point where it probably needs more than just mouth-to-mouth to resuscitate it.

That is my own stupidity, however; my own inability to work on the things that need to be worked on. I recognize that I have a lot of failings, by the way, and I know myself well enough (at least in this particular ball park) to know that I have a lot of fucked up shit that I have been very firmly ignoring. Sure, I look at it and I poke and prod at it occasionally, but what it comes down to is that all of the associations that Hetheru holds the keys to regarding that fucked up shit made it nearly impossible for me to do much more than to push her away. She got the hint long before I did, probably. I haven’t felt her since last year and then when I made my decision in October, I figured everything there was no longer available to me. Now, though, I have another deity in my life and I… well, I don’t want to be an asshole. I don’t want to strangle that connection until it is as dead as some of my other connections and relationships. I want…

That.

That.

Right there.

I want.

I want to try it. I want to see where things will head, but I don’t necessarily know how to do it. I recognize that I have limitations; didn’t I just say that? I also recognize that there is a possibility here that is very frightening on a lot of levels. The possibility though is made more possible because I don’t have the issue with my head getting in my own fucking way. With Hetheru, as I said, I was too aware of her other associations to be completely comfortable with all of it. Heru-Wer doesn’t really have those types of associations, as far as I have found. He has associations with Hetheru (which is possibly where this randomness comes from), but the things that made me pull away from Hetheru aren’t necessarily there with Heru-Wer. That, in all honesty, makes it a lot easier for me to be willing to explore the realms I need to in order to move forward and I desperately want to.

Maybe it’s only now that I am fully aware of how fucked up my shit is and how much I need to, you know, actually work on it.

But I have to ask how people do this thing. I know of quite a few people who have intense relationships with various gods and they manage to work it out all right. They don’t seem to (in my limited view into what they do and who their relationships are with) have had the issue I have where the brain pan has been too busy fucking with them. And from what it looks like, while not easy, it seems feasible. I just don’t know if I have it in me to balance anything appropriately. I know myself too well: that thing about being hyper focused on things isn’t even remotely an exaggeration. I’m a Leo, for fuck’s sake; it’s in our nature to be like GIVE ME THE SHINY to the detriment of all else.

But I also recognize that the whole fucking point about this religion is balance (ma’at). I recognize that, maybe, this will help me with the whole ma’at thing.

If nothing else, I can only hope it helps me…

Prep.

I spent today cleaning, which isn’t very shocking. I live in a small household and I have a young child; cleaning is pretty much a daily occurrence. But with Wep Ronpet coming up, I knew that I wanted to get a handle on the hoarder like tendencies that had overtaken my kitchen table and wash down the walls [in public areas] in preparation for what was coming. I also knew I needed to make serious decisions about where certain things are headed and I had to make serious room for rituals that I’ve been nudged/pushed/shoved/hinted/informed/ordered to do this Wep Ronpet [season]. So, I had a lot of fucking stuff to do and I had decisions to make.

The main decision being, not that I was going to do these things because I was going to do the things, but where these things were going to take place. As I’ve mentioned numerous times, I live in a small house. I have my altar spaces in a public area (the dining room/kitchen area) so that I wouldn’t forget to give offerings daily. My house is built very strangely so I have the room to have tables just kind of hanging out, waiting around for things to go on them. The problem with this set up is that this is the only space where I can have these things, which means when larger rites are requested, such as those for Wep Ronpet, I need to consider where the hell things are going to be happening.

In a fit of pique last year, I purchased one of those shitty build-it-yourself bookcase for $20, which is where I housed the lwa and their related accoutrements. As I mentioned last month, the lwa have been missing in the last few months. I’ve thought about this issue not very much since I wrote that post because it’s painful. If I’m correct in my assumption that they’re gone, I know why (the lesson was learned) and that hurts. But if I’m incorrect and they’re just biding their time because right now is high Kemetic time, then I don’t want to be rash.

But I also need more fucking space to do things and to have things because, as much as I love the lwa and the relationships I’ve cultivated with them, my first calling has always been to the Kemetic gods. Or, to put it more clearly: they got first dibs. And their dibs, especially right now, are really fucking loud, really fucking non-negotiable, and really fucking important to get the fuck through. Maybe, just maybe, the lwa will come back with the cool air of the fall (hopefully around the same time when I start up my grave-tending services) and the winter months… since I’ve mentioned they tend to be, er, louder in winter. But, then again, maybe not.

Again, in the meantime, I need more fucking space.

With a heavy heart, I cleared off the bookcase I had purchased with the specific intent to house the lwa. I’ve turned this into my “household altar space.” Since I am, as anyone knows, a deity collector, I have a lot of fucking gods that I need to pay attention to at any given moment. Our relationships, for the most part, aren’t nearly as intense or as all-pervasive as my relationship with Sekhmet, which is to be expected. In many instances, the relationships I have had with the gods who have come poking around, looking for attention, have taken on similar aspects to the one I have with Geb (details, for those interested).

This is a real weight off my shoulders, by the way; I don’t think I can even explain adequately how overwhelming it can be to feel the need to pay attention to a dozen various netjeru at any given moment. I know there are other polytheists out there, like me, who have developed relationships or been pushed toward other deities/beings by their gods and have, in consequence, developed required attention-paying duties to said new beings/deities at any given moment. I’m actually in this boat, myself, so I decided that it would be best to kind of follow ancient Egyptian customs and just have a place where household type deities are paid attention to.

Of course, unlike the ancient Egyptians, I have deities within my “household” area that may not necessarily fit in with their dynamic. There is no Tawaret and Meskhenet holds no sway over me, either. But I do pay attention to Bes and Hetheru and Aset. I have since added the other flocks on over, telling them each morning that they can stop in for a bite and ask to share some cool water with the residents-with-icons (Hetheru, Djehuty, and Aset), if those residents are so inclined.

Seriously, this was the best fucking decision I have ever made.

In so moving my household altar space, I have also decided to open up my “hoarder fucking alert” cabinet. This is where the household space used to reside [on top]. Within the cabinet is, well, it’s a fucking packrat’s wet dream. Most of it is herbs and herb-related things for those off moments when I think, “Yes, I shall magic,” and utilize such things to get what I want. The thing is that these fucking jars are damn bulky and I would prefer to not have them in the cabinet. However, since I don’t up my stores of herbs and it can be a lengthy period of time between uses, I also don’t want them in direct light or in a public area where some yahoo can touch or where a child may break them.

(Magical parenting problems? Parents-who-magic problems?)

I decided to pull out the Tarot collection and toss it over underneath the household altar. I figure this is a good decision because then, I may be more inclined to use them again. My Tarot or oracle deck use has seriously gone down the fucking tube in the last year. I honestly don’t know if this is because I don’t have a lot of time to myself and I tend to need quiet time to read what the cards are telling me, or if it’s because I just don’t want to know what to expect or what could be coming my way. I guess that could be considered a stupid move – head-in-the-sand thing – but it’s kind of my M.O. about these things.

Also, I have decks that I either need to sell or give away. So, by pulling these out and putting them in a [more] public area, I’m kind of helping myself… maybe? I think that if I see the decks regularly, since they are on the second shelf of the bookcase thing, this might mean that I actually do something about all of that? Besides, outside of two decks that I really like, most of the Tarot are taking up space so that I can’t collect the ancient Egyptian themed decks that I actively collect with no purpose other than to own them. By getting rid of decks, then, you know, I have more space for things that take up that space.

Yes, I know these is clearly an issue, but it’s my issue and I like it.

As I began pulling out the Tarot decks, I discovered that I have a metric shit-fuck-ton of candles. I knew I had a lot because I have them hanging out all over the place in my house. This is not, by the way, packrat tendencies but concerns raised when I was out of candles during the entire fucking week my neighborhood was without power after the Halloween nor’easter. But, I have candles that don’t really aid with possible power outages… as in, I found an entire box of tea lights (white) and then random tea lights (four, scented) and then I found a bunch more tea lights (white) in a baggy. I don’t even know what I have all of these tea lights for or when I purchased them. The box has a sticker, though, which says I was planning all of this at a dollar store.

Now I have to decide what to do with them. They aren’t going to help me with this week’s ritual stuff. I have full-fledged candles already set up and I have an entire box of votive candles (white) that I have on hand for just such a purpose… on top of the smaller box of votive candles (also white) that I bought last week, sure that I had thrown out aforementioned large box.

Maybe I have more problems than I’m willing to admit.*

* This is actually quite possible. Hoarding is a family trait from my grandmother whose entire upper story was filled with useless tidbits. My mother and I have both found ourselves guilty of these things, even after swearing we would not be like my grandmother. This is why I go through my stuff, or try to, regularly and throw random things away/give things away because I swear I’m not doing this packrat/hoarder nightmare shit.

I love candles, but I think I’m at my candle limit. Hopefully, I will remember this moment and all of my candle ridiculousness the next time I am in a store that sells candles… even if they’re on sale or something.

After a lot of back and forth, I think I figured out a functional cabinet layout that will allow me to keep ritual items within it until I need them. I was able to clear space out from the drawer that I stash ritual items in (underneath Sekhmet’s space) and move things to the cabinet. Of course, though I have finally managed to get the damn thing closed with a modicum of belief that I was “successful,” I have to admit that I forgot other ritual items that will need to be housed within there. (They’re currently waiting to be cleaned.)

After about four hours of thinking, moving things, debating what can and cannot be kept out, and then re-thinking what I decided, I think I have a functional space. I also think I’m set up, mostly, for the physical things for Wep Ronpet and the Intercalary Days. Hopefully, these rites are successful and I end up happy with the end result.

The Arm Flail.

Yeah, this is about right.

I often wonder if the gods find it amusing to watch their devotees going through the act of, what I deem officially from here unto forever, “Kermit Arm Flail Mode.” Anyone who reads that phrase knows exactly what it is that I am talking about; and for those who don’t, it’s easy enough to search online for the phrase and finding the appropriate image. (Or you can just look over to your right hand side and see exactly what I mean.)

It’s a visual representation that, I feel, encompasses much of the individuals who make up the wider pagan community at any given moment and quite often, it is a perfect representation of both my and other polytheists’ personal practices. I think there may even be a tag, on Tumblr, for just such a thing in the wider community. Whatever the case may be, many of us have moments where everything is melded together to encompass the very act by which Kermit is so well known: the arm flail.

The arm flail can happen because of anything, really, which makes it alarming is the frequency with which I see posts that can easily be encompassed within that phraseology.

I can remember as a newbie pagan, constantly feeling like I was in the middle of the longest and most drawn arm flail of my path. Everything could elicit the reaction: I didn’t hear the gods – arm flail. I wasn’t sure if they appreciated my offering of X – arm flail. I was pretty sure I was doing it all wrong – arm flail. There wasn’t an easily attainable manual that told me how to religion – arm flail. I accidentally tripped over my own two feet and dropped my offering – arm flail. I broke a nail leaving the altar – arm flail. No one could tell me what I was doing was correct – arm flail. People were mean to newbies – arm flail. People were assholes – arm flail. People were talking about frightening topics – arm flail. I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing – arm flail.

Over the years that I’ve been doing this, I’ve become less adept at the arm flail. Or, more likely, I’ve just become used to some things and I’ve learned to adapt because of other things and I’ve stopped allowing shit to accumulate that would frustrate me. Take your pick here because any of them will do. You see, I’m pretty sure that I do still do the arm flail, but the reasons behind it have become more personal and less, “what everyone else is doing.”

If you look at the above examples, there is a pattern. I was so busy worrying about what everyone else was doing that I ended up in the middle of a flail. And then I felt too stupid to live – tripping and breaking nails – in comparison to what other people were doing, thus a good flail was had. And then, as I got more used to what I was hoping to achieve and actually, possibly achieving it, I ended up letting events unfolding around me, and my lack of an adequate response to such things, cause me to jump into the class flail pose.

I think that’s one of the milestones in any polytheistic or pagan religion, by the way: the moment when what outsiders are doing doesn’t really impact you, at all. Now, I’m not talking about wider community impact because, well, assholes being assholes to newbies and fucking around by telling people what to do from their “one twoo path” egotistical trip is a problem and should elicit arm flail procedures. However, what I meant was that when you stop worrying about how your practice adds up and stacks against what everyone else is doing, then that’s the milestone.

Maybe we can think of that as, “Arm Flail Level 2,” or something.

The things that cause you to freak the fuck out and go into “Kermit Arm Flail Mode” are no longer based on what you think your practice should be based on because of what you see other people are doing. Instead, they are based on things you see happening within the wider community that are unsettling or things that are happening to you in a personal devotee capacity.

In my practice, level 2 was officially achieved when I began caring about the community, at large. Part of this was due to the people I hang out with – boat paddlers. I may not technically be one (I frankly don’t know if I really fit that title) but I hang out with a lot of them. I do try to emulate them in various arenas and it is through boat paddling, in my honest opinion, that Kemetics have such really wonderful things as “don’t be a dick,” “two response rule,” and the “don’t be a dick thing.” (I know, I mentioned it twice. It’s important enough to merit a million mentions, in one sentence even.)

But it was because of the boat paddling that I began to become aware of things outside of myself. And sure, being aware of things outside of what I was hoping to achieve is always a good idea. I mean, we should, at least, have an eyeball out there to see what the wider community is doing. Even for those of us niche enough, like Kemeticism, to not really fall under the “main stream” sobriquet should probably be aware of things that are going on. And since I was hanging out with a bunch of boat paddlers, I was intimately aware of what was going on.

And so, I entered “Arm Flail Level 2,” which to me is embodied by wider community ramification and bullshit.

I wrote a lot of community related posts when I entered that particular phase in the hopes of doing some good. However, after a while, it gets to the point where you get burnt the hell out with community and boat paddling. Sure, knowing what’s going on is a bonus but it can kind of eat you alive. This is why boat paddlers should have a hearty constitution. And since I don’t really think I have a hearty constitution, I have since removed myself from the situation.

Thus, I have moved from level 2 to the really awesome phase, “Arm Flail Level 3.”

But this is the really best part, I swear, and this is where I currently reside.

Instead of being sent into flail mode because of what others are doing that I thought influenced my personal practice and instead of being sent into this mode because of what other people are doing that influences the wider community, I have entered the best part. The part where my personal practice and all it entails is the be-all, end-all of everything. There is nothing more important than my personal practice and though I do still do community outreach work and while I do still offer myself out there in a semi-boat paddler capacity, the wider community is no longer an issue. The only thing that is an issue is what my path is, to me, and the odd twists it can take.

And boy, are those some odd fucking twists.

I find myself, not very often, in flail mode, but I have found myself in longer periods of flail mode. It’s not a single action of, “what the fuck now,” but an elongated process that is drawn out for however long before I figure it out. And sometimes, it can take me a lot of months to figure it out. Or, perhaps, it isn’t a matter of figuring it out at all that is causing the arm flail. Perhaps, it’s the simple matter that I have figured it out and I don’t like it. Just because I’m in arm flail mode doesn’t necessarily mean it’s because I’m lost and fucking confused, but it can just as easily mean that I don’t particularly like what the fuck I’m seeing/feeling/doing/being told.

Maybe it’s less arm flail mode level 3 and more like, whining baby hissy fit. In either case, it just means I’m more often just telling anyone who is willing to listen, “I am not this thing. I am not doing this thing. It’s not happening. Are you listening?” And then when it’s painfully clear that they are not, in fact, listening, I am then thrust into the middle of arm flail mode level 3.

I don’t know if this is a contest among the gods, but I’ve often thought that it probably should be: how long can I keep X devotee in arm flail mode? And then, there is a contest once a month or maybe once a quarter or once a year between all of the gods and they point out that they were able to keep their devotees in arm flail mode, level fucking three no less, for so much time. And of course, those of us who are in that mode are on the verge of tears, trying to figure out what the fuck we’re fucking doing.

Of course, the gods are probably laughing it up.

Yes, it’s kind of like this. However, there is usually less of a smirk on my face and usually a blank stare.

In the interim, many people are rapidly beginning to understand the “Kermit Arm Flail Mode” is a normal and safe reaction to any particular deviation that our seemingly obvious paths are somehow taking. And they are rapidly becoming “old hat” when their spiritual lives end up at these deviations. Sometimes, I legitimately just wind up curled in a ball because of all of the flailing – with sore arms no less – and internally scream until I can smile through it all. Most days, I just wind up keeping my nose to the grindstone, hoping that someone will listen to what I would like things to look like.

Then again, I’m used to the “bigger picture” conversations by now and I very much recognize that our wants and desires do not always figure into this. (Let’s be real here: I tend to believe that none of our wants and desires actually figure into anything unless they meet the end game, specifically the “bigger picture” that gods are always on about.)

So, instead, arm flail mode and internal screaming about all the things I’m not doing or I’m not willing to admit is possible.

This sounds about as productive as it obviously is.

Grounding and Centering: A Guide.

I go through periods where I start to feel as if my skeleton is trying to jump out of my body. I’m probably not alone here. I’ve seen remarks on various blogospheres and overheard friends saying similar things, so I can at least admit that I’m not alone when I feel this way. It gets to the point, sometimes, where I am so fucking jumpy and uncomfortable in my skin that I feel very much like I’ve been mainlining caffeine for weeks and am now just rushing around on the high. Days and weeks can pass before I even recognize my own patterns enough to realize that I’m having some issues. When it finally dawns on me that I am falling into old patterns – can’t sit still, nothing sounds right when I write it, everything pisses me off, and nothing I do is seemingly good enough – I realize that it’s been a while since I’ve done something to center myself and I should probably work on that.

The thing is, when I first noticed this issue a few years ago, all of the advice I found on those self-help websites was just a load of shit.

In every do-it-yourself guide or “Seven Easy Days to Spiritual Nirvana” type book that is out there, they tell you to ground and center. They tell you to be with the trees and throw down some roots and just go to town with sending all that wonky energy into the earth. They tell you about how that’s the whole point in Mother Earth and just toss it right on down and bring in the good energy that Mother Earth is surely wanting you to have. I tried absolutely everything I could do in order to get down with some trees and send that useless energy right where it belongs. The thing is that I realized something pretty quickly: while I can visualize this all happening, I don’t want to be a fucking tree. I’m a human being with human emotions, which occasionally get so out-of-control that I end up feeling like I’m going to puke our rainbow chunks of emotional cartilage at the next person who looks at me. None of these are things that, I think, trees go through. Besides, if I wanted to be a tree or at least act like a tree, I would have probably have signed up for being a tree in my next life.

I chose to come out a human being and to be a human being, so why the hell am I going to emulate trees? Sure, they’re nice to look at it. They do really awesome things like purify air (or some shit) and they provide shade in the heat. But, I don’t want to emulate one in any context. I just want to get this energy overload out of me.

With every ounce of advice I’ve seen on websites, in books, and going around Tumblr, I’ve just kind of had to shake my head at all and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I liken myself to Finn the Human from the episode, Up a Tree, I’m ready to make my break from all of that bullshit. I don’t need a bunch of people trying to induct me into their tree-loving cult. I’ll just go right on ahead and find my own way, but of course, next comes the question: if you can’t ground and center like the people who are “in the know” tell you that you should, then what the fuck are you supposed to do?

Quite often, I think we all forget that as children, we would do things that would ground and center us. We would run around with our friends, ride bikes, climb trees, play games, and do any number of things that, upon reflection, can clearly be seen as acts bent on grounding and centering ourselves. I can’t even tell you how many times a week, when my son is running around like a wild child in somebody’s yard or just generally all over the place with the other kids, that I hear someone say to me, “He is going to sleep well tonight.” And it’s not really that he’s going to run himself down, but that he is subjecting the world and his family and his friends unto the energy build up in his little body, sending it out and into the universe to do what it will while it leaves him a fraction at a time.

To me, it seems like the people from that in-the-tree-part-of-the-tree mentality seem to think that we, as adults, can’t do that or shouldn’t do that. We have to send all of that energy into Mother Earth while we take energy in return. And I think, people, as a whole, frown on the idea of adults doing the things that children do in order to release all of that pent up energy. But honestly, I have to say that’s bollocks (both parts). If it works for a bunch of six-year-olds, playing hide-and-go-seek and shouting their fool heads off, why can’t we, as adults, do the same fucking thing but with adult-like things? Not doing that, in my opinion, doesn’t make a damn lick of sense when it did fifteen, twenty, thirty, or more years ago when we were all just children, shouting into the darkness with our friends.

When I first realized that I wasn’t going to be able or willing to follow what everyone always said “worked,” I have to admit that I flailed a bit. There is something almost comforting in the idea of being like everyone else. It means that what they do will absolutely work for you and whatever hard work one must put in to discover what works for the individual is not your problem. However, I am an individual and while I think trees are fucking nifty, I’m not going to act like one because I’m out of sorts and overly bitchy. This, of course, meant that I had to start figuring out how to get to that magical state, or really mundane state, of not-going-to-kill-bitches-today. While killing someone is probably highly therapeutic, the court system highly frowns on such practices. So for those of us – because I know that I’m not alone here – who aren’t down with the tree shenanigans, it means it’s time for some trial and error.

Some good news, though, about my having felt as if my skeleton were getting ready to go around on walkabout is that I have a list of possibilities! The bad news is that it is going to take whatever intrepid reader is interested in exploring these options some trial and error before they figure out what works best for them. Again, as much fun as it may be to be like everyone else, we are all individuals. What works for me isn’t necessarily going to work for anyone else reading this. But perhaps, by offering these suggestions, it will give people worried and freaking out (and possibly seconds away from ripping off peoples’ faces) something to consider before they get to the breaking point (and possibly rip off peoples’ faces).

1. Dancing

I think this is probably one of the biggest suggestions that people of the not-a-tree persuasion recommend. And I honestly have to admit that I don’t listen to this advice very often. I should, though, because there is just something about getting hot and sweaty, heart-pumping and booty-shaking that can really bring things into focus or loose them into the atmosphere to disappear on the a wave of pent-up energy. And the act of dancing doesn’t even have to be anything over-the-top, either. Sometimes, I don’t have the ability to do much actual dancing for lots of reasons: self-conscious, not enough room, stuck in a car, etc. So, sometimes, to me, releasing that pent-up, fuck-off-everything energy is as simple as tapping my feet or fingers to the beat of whatever is on the radio. Or, maybe it’s wiggling my butt while I’m sitting on the couch writing a blog entry (as I am actually doing right this moment). But sometimes, you actually need to get up and just fucking go with it, with a partner or without. Whatever the case may be, dancing should definitely top the lists of all people in the not-a-tree group of individuals.

The song, in my experience, doesn’t even really matter, either. I will dance to whatever the fuck I want to, whenever the fuck I want to. I’ve spent whole days listening to 50s classic rock and dancing the out-of-sorts a way. I’ve spent my drives home from work, overwrought from a long day of intense bullshit, listening to something like Painkiller by Three Days Grace or Desperately Wanting by Better than Ezra in an effort to get that feeling out of my bones. Right now, I’m actually obsessively listening to Timber by Pitbull feat Kesha while I wiggle this shit right the hell out of my system. Whatever the hell you choose is entirely up to you and how the fuck you get your body moving doesn’t matter; the only thing that matters is that you get your ass in gear and start moving.

2. Walking/Jogging

This probably goes hand-in-hand with dancing. I think it’s one of the more popular recommendations out there for those of us who don’t belong to the part-of-the-tree group of people. As with dancing, it is the act of doing something that gives you what you need in order to release all of that fuck-shit-up energy going on with you. I spent a lot of time, for months, just walking randomly wherever the hell my feet were willing to take me. I had no particular goal in mind because it wasn’t the act of walking that was important. The important part was that I was feeling incredibly out of control with everything going on around me and I needed a form of escape. To me, becoming one with the trees doesn’t help me when I want to escape the “rah” screaming fits that I may feel deep inside. However, doing something, like dancing or walking, was exactly what I needed in order to get out from under the pressure of the energy build up.

I would spend hours walking around my neighborhood, just putting one foot in front of the other. Sometimes, I would listen to music as I walked and sometimes, I didn’t. It all depended on how quickly I needed to get somewhere before I felt like I was going to rip someone’s face off or break into a thousand pieces because of the overload going on. Whatever the case may be, it was the act of actually moving that helped me to focus my mind long enough to try and find a way out from underneath everything that was poking my insides and making me feel as if I was getting ready to jump out of my skin.

3. Baking

It was only when I was unemployed that I realized how much I really enjoyed baking. It’s an organized activity that requires (if you’re following a new recipe, at least) exact requirements and attention. This appeased my obsessive compulsive side. However, the act of actually mixing everything together is just a mind-numbing enough project to not really require you to pay attention it. It was a perfect mix to make both sides of my personality feel at peace. And each action – by adding an ingredient – can help to release some of the pent up aggression/out-of-sort/da-fuck-am-I-feeling that’s going on. As the process of baking goes on, I start to slip into the rhythm of it. It gives me something to focus on enough to not feel as if everything I am attempting to do is going to turn into some fucked up piece of shit, but it also gives me enough creativity to allow myself a little free reign with what I’m making. And the more you do it, the more comfortable you get with the overall process, so you’re less likely to behave like a wreck when you’re adding new things.

But each action that is required for the overall baking process can be used to release some tension in specific areas, too, which is why I think it’s such a good way to get my head back to where I need it to be (under my skin). Cracking eggs? Good for being pissed off and needing to take some anger out on something. Need to make sure butter is soft before adding it? Good for staring moodily into space while you get your head in the game. Measuring out enough flour? Good for control freaks feeling out-of-control. You see? Every aspect to baking can be used to help bring your head back under control in some context. If that’s not fucking awesome, then seriously, what the fuck is?

4. Dishes

I hate doing laundry and I hate cleaning, but I don’t actually mind doing the dishes. (Sh, no one tell my ex-husband and my ex-roommate that because, let me tell you, I put up some damn fights about washing the dishes.) During the phase that I was unemployed, it was a simple enough chore to get done early in the morning. And it was during this chore that I found that I had the ability to let my mind wander enough to figure out whatever may have been bothering me at the time. There is something about mindless actions, specifically the repetitive actions, that calms my mind enough to focus on something long enough to start to explore why I may be feeling so out-of-sorts. Occasionally, I’ll find that I have absolutely no fucking reason and it’s because, well, I’ve been so do-do-do that I’ve stopped to take time for myself. And while doing something as chore-like as the dishes might not seem like taking time out for oneself, it is in my book. My hands are busy and it’s something that I can’t really fuck up, but my mind isn’t busy and it’s able to traverse whatever little rambling road it may feel like walking down. It’s actually when I’m doing the dishes that I have some of my more intense epiphanies regarding my religious path, so I suppose it’s something akin to meditating (which isn’t something I am able to do). But it’s also the time when I am able to stop whatever the fuck wildness is going on in my life long enough to come back to myself feeling a little relieved and a lot less as if my skin is going to jump right the fuck off my bones.

And with baking, the very act of cleansing the dishes can be seen as an overall metaphor for grounding and centering. The dishes are dirty – they’re a metaphor for how cray-cray the feelings are getting. The soap and sponge are the act of meditating into the state where you can finally find your center. The rinsing off of the soap is the grounding as you send the nasty fucked up energy off into the sewer system. You see? Even though I’m not a fan of the whole part-of-the-tree cliques out there, I can still find the metaphor useful when I find something much more workable, for me.

5. Card Shuffling

It’s difficult for people, I think, in my particular individualistic ground-and-centering genre to meditate like the be-like-trees group tend to talk about it. They tend to make it seem like a very mystical experience and I get that, to a degree. However, I have found that I can’t really mediate, which may be why I have a hard time with the be-a-tree mentality. Whatever the case may be, I’ve found that many of my grounding and centering techniques are a form of meditation that allow me to let loose long enough to release the pent up energy going on inside. Part of these acts is shuffling any one of my myriad of Tarot decks. The act of actually shuffling the deck quiets my mind enough to settle on whatever it is that may be causing me to feel so out-of-control to finally get it under control.

By shuffling, I’m giving myself the quiet time that my body needs in order to get to where it should be. And the act of actually pulling the cards is me flicking the excess energy into the universe, while also seeking all of the Tarot answers that may be available to me.

This isn’t the complete list of things that I’ve found to aid me with grounding and centering. Depending on the situation, and just how overwrought I may be feeling, I may do something smaller or something more expansive than what I’ve listed here. The point being that it’s not all sitting around and trying to act like trees. Sometimes, it really is just all about getting up and fucking moving enough to unleash the turmoil going on deep inside by whatever [legal] means necessary.

Missing.

In case no one was fully aware, I tend to jump to the worst possible conclusion about things. It doesn’t matter what in the world the thing actually is, but if there is a worst-case scenario, you had better believe that my mind has entertained it. My mind has probably not just entertained it, but invented completely improbable probabilities to go along with said worst-case scenario. I try not to do too much entertaining of said improbabilities, but you know, your mind does whatever it wants. Usually, though, I try not to announce those scenarios until I have something definitive in which to report, which is probably why it took me years to finally say, “Oh, yes, that is Sekhmet calling, isn’t it?”

So, the worst case scenario – let’s entertain you with that first – is that the lwa have all up and disappeared. The best case scenario, as far as I can tell, would be that I am full of shit and just being a dumbass. The middle case scenario is that they need some time away from me, just as I probably need time away from them, and we’ll all come back together at some point in future. But, I actually suspect the worst case scenario is what may be going on.

It started just after Lent. I was pretty busy, of course, with Sekhmet-related things. This was to be expected because I (a) promised, (b) don’t break my promises, and (c) had some bonding to get done for the next phase in our relationship. As much as I may have not wanted to go back prior to Lent, I was willing to get to the new step after having learned what I could throughout Lent regarding Lent. It was easy, of course, to see similarities and to fit the dogma regarding Lent in a Kemetic standpoint and how to fit that into my relationship building exercises with Sekhmet.

Papa Legba left me at the bus stop, so to speak, and tooted on his merry little way.

I haven’t seen him since.

After Lent was over, I went through the motions of giving him his daily coffee. We would share a cup just about every day, either in companionable silence or while talking over things that were bothering me. Whatever the case would be, we would share the coffee. I often felt very upset that I hadn’t the ability to do more, but Papa would always remind me that I am one of those souls that feels the need to be demonstrative with my affections, which isn’t necessarily a good thing. He said coffee was A-Okay with him because he loved coffee and I made it just strong enough for him to enjoy.

But those morning moments, stolen amid getting ready for the day ahead, didn’t return after Lent. Even though I continued to give him coffee, I couldn’t feel his presence. I looked for him on my rides into work, even though they were shortened. I looked for him in the places that I thought he would be after I was bonded. I stole away in the middle of the night, uncomfortable with the golden thing around my neck, and looked in the gardens and forested areas where I thought he would be and I found nothing.

On those stolen evenings, I would look for other lwa who had been companions in this, as well. I often spent whole nights in that other place, going to the place where Bawon’s bonfire normally was held and found the place empty. Or, I would run through the forest, searching for Gran Bwa just as I always had but instead of catching glimpses of him laughing at me always, always ahead of me, there was no one there to laugh. I saw no one and nothing and Papa Legba was curiously missing.

In the morning of those stolen evenings, I would make his coffee and try not to worry that I had done something amazingly wrong by becoming a bonded servant. But it’s hard for me to not go to that worst-case scenario. I started this entry off with assuring anyone who is willingly reading this drivel that is who I am: I think in terms of, “IT IS ALL SHIT.” I don’t know if I do this in the hopes that things aren’t as shitty as I think they will be and so, therefore, am always surprised pleasantly when they’re not. Or if I just like to have worst-case scenarios (even with all of those improbable possibilities in the offing) completely covered just in case.

I was worst-case scenario-ing there. I was beginning to think Papa Legba had left me.

I, of course, went through all of the things that he and I had done together during Lent. Most of it was in dream form. He was always, always nurturing something and making something grow, while I whined at him about all manner of things. He would just listen and that was that. I couldn’t help but go back to that final Lent entry I had written and found something that I had dismissed in the writing:

Sometimes, I would dream of the two of us in a garden or in the forest. He was always making something grow. He’s very good at getting things to grow, as I’ve found out. What I didn’t seem to realize until only just recently that each change in the scenery, the overall goal was the same: he was creating a garden and needed to nurture it. We talked a lot about the nature of what nurturing a garden was like and how that relates back to the nurturing one must do for themselves. He told me jokes and he told me stories. He said to me last night that it’s time for me to go back to where I belong; the lesson is over. And it was a lesson and a half. He wasn’t just giving me a way out of the really oppressive atmosphere I was in, but he was also helping me to grow, my core, my soul, and everything in between. He was busy nurturing the fledgling plants and the older plants that had been accidentally pinched out when I became so angry and so embittered.

In a fit of pique, I cried out to a very small group of friends about this. Someone responded and told me to keep cool. They reminded me that things had been rough and that I was probably worst-case scenario-ing. Of course, of course, that made sense. That’s what I do. I go to the worst possible place in the fucking world and I just live there for a while, moodily sifting through the improbabilities. Okay, I decided, I would just keep at it because, you know, Dory has excellent advice. So, I just kept swimming and kept looking in those stolen moments.

When nothing came of my repeated cries for his attention, I told myself that he was probably busy. I’ve noticed, of course, that the lwa are reaching out more and more to new devotees across the board. Perhaps he had things to do regarding getting those new devotees? Why can’t the lwa and the relationships they develop with various servants also go through a fallow time? How many times had I very calmly explained fallow times to newbies and reminded them that there were so many possible reasons that the gods had gone on walkabout? Of course, I reminded myself, the lwa could just as easily do the same.

But I was uneasy with all of that. I don’t trust my instincts, which is probably why I end up in the worst-case scenario. But my instincts were telling me that my having woken up in the middle of Sekhmet’s palace, knowing that I had been literally dropped at her doorstep, meant something. Clearly, I just had to figure out what that something was. It didn’t necessarily mean that he was gone, but that I had to decide what it meant.

I couldn’t clear my head long enough to come to a conclusion, so I experimented instead.

I “forgot” to make his coffee. I hadn’t had the same emotional willingness to make his coffee anyway. His altar was looking pretty dusty and a bit forlorn. And I had absolutely no desire, whatsoever, to give Bawon a shot of rum on Saturdays, like I had been doing. I also felt no compunction, even though the weather was beautiful, to go to a graveyard for anything. I noticed that everything that I had wrapped up and stamped as “this is something to do with the lwa” had absolutely no fucking interest for me whatsoever. So, I “forgot” to make his coffee and heard nothing.

There was no “honey-child” in that tone of voice.

There was nothing.

I kept “forgetting” throughout the week and when Saturday dawned, I didn’t go to the graveyard. I didn’t even move from my bed for an hour upon waking, glaring angrily at the ceiling. I felt nothing, nothing and yet more nothing. None of the feelings of things that I had to do were stirring at all. So, I stayed at home and no one got any alcohol and I just moped about, doing nothing, while I threw all of the lwa related worries on the back burner.

Guilt-ridden that following Monday, I made a cup of coffee, but no companionable silence or conversations of epic proportions. There was still no one in the garden or in the forest; there was still nothing anywhere. My reasonable explanations were beginning to disappear in the face of all of this fucking nothingness. And of course, it’s not very much as though I could reach out to Sekhmet and ask her what the fuck was going on. I was supposed to be kneeling on a dais, doing nothing, while my body attempted to heal a newly installed seeping wound in my side. She would go on about exacerbating the condition and defying her: two conversations I wasn’t interested in having.

But above all else, I couldn’t have that conversation with her because I was worried about what she would say.

I couldn’t help but think that my bonding had done a lot of changing in relationships and the lwa were affected by it.

I went back through the memories of my bonding ceremony, trying to remember the last time I had actually seen Papa.

The last thing I remembered was crying to Papa, asking him to let me stay for a little longer. I had asked him to let me stay out of fear and anxiety. He, of course, denied my request as I had already knew he would. He could not allow me to stay. I had things to attend to. What bothered me most about this situation was that I had been left on her doorstep – I knew without even remembering that was the case – and now I was here. I had decisions to make, he had schooled me, and now I couldn’t run away to ignore those decisions.

Had those decisions that he knew I had to make changed our relationship so drastically that he was missing? That he, and all of his compatriots, weren’t allowed around me anymore? And maybe, they shouldn’t be around me anymore? Was my tear-stained begging of him my final fucking goodbye? What a shitty fucking goodbye.

So, the lwa have been missing since Lent was over. No matter how much searching I’ve done, either in my soul or in that other place, has brought them to me. I don’t know if my decision making caused this or if this is for my own good. I remember what it was like to say goodbye to Hekate – fear, worry, excitement – and know that other goodbyes with other deities are coming down the pike. I just don’t know if I have the strength and the ability to admit that the worst-case scenario has come to pass. And I just don’t know if I have the strength and ability right now to say goodbye on my end.

All I know is that they’re all missing.

And I have decisions to make.