Be Faithful in Small Things…

The first two weeks of school herald a sort of liminality between good health and illness. You always assume that someone in your household is going to end up with a head cold, or worse, but you’re never quite sure who is going to be unlucky enough to finally come down with whatever illness has been foretold by the smell of back to school sales.

My son came home a week and a half after the first day of school with the obsessive need to blow his nose every five minutes. I side eyed him and muttered about keeping his germs to himself, but it was a foregone conclusion. He was sick and it was only a matter of time before I joined him.

The scratchy feeling in the back of my throat began Friday afternoon and developed into a full head cold a few hours later. As my S.O. tried not to laugh as I ripped open a box of tissues before officially buying them so I could blow my nose as soon as possible, I knew my nice relaxing weekend had gone out the window. I was officially sick.

I spent much of Saturday mumbling in melodramatic cadence about wanting someone to cut off my head at the neck. I felt awful and no matter how faithfully I followed the prescribed DayQuil/NyQuil regimen, nothing was making me feel better. As I looked over the paraphernalia of illness, I realized something key was missing.

I had gotten the tissues and the medication. I had gotten the chapstick and my pillow. I had my stuffed animal (don’t judge) and my dog. I had shows to binge watch on Netflix and a book to pick up when I got bored with all of that, but there was something missing: the chest rub.

As a kid, it was one of the first things my mother pulled out after I came down sick. I can remember her rubbing the camphor-scented grease on my chest when I was young. I remember following the same prescription when I got older. But I hadn’t thought to grab some when we were restocking on illness ware.

I got some that night and immediately applied it. I felt better of course; good enough to eat something besides Ramen. (Don’t talk to me about soup. Ramen is as close as I’ll ever get to soup.) It was probably a psychosomatic feeling of general wellness but it was exactly what I needed to stop being so melodramatic for five minutes.

And the realization that the scent of camphor could do more than the liquid medications, the box of tissues, and even my beloved Professor who has seen me through many illnesses over the years, it got me thinking about the little things.

Maybe everything really does come back down to the little things…

As polytheists, the push of advice from any quarter can typically be summed up by the necessity of doing ritual. We read the posts of those more advanced on their path about larger rituals that they undertake for some reason or another. And in the minutiae, they mention the daily rites that they undertake for their gods, their spirits, and for their ancestors: offerings and libations, dedicated moments of prayer, etc.

We are constantly being shown that it is by the very act of ritual that we will forge the relationships we seek to make. And in turn, we will grow ever further on the paths that we have chosen for ourselves along with those relationships. We will find things that work and things that don’t, but at the very foundation of it all, it is in ritual that we should begin.

We are instructed by our elders, and those of us who have been around long enough have regurgitated the advice, to start off small with daily action and then to work ourselves up to the big. It is the same advice that we give children: baby steps with a few or many stops and starts before the child is walking. This methodology is pushed out into our communities to the neophytes who join us.

But the bond is more than simply built upon ritual. Yes, it is important, but it is not the only thing necessary.

Ritual can be considered the bricks, perhaps, that we use to build up those relationships with our gods/spirits/ancestors. However, any bricklayer can assure you that bricks are only part of the whole which is necessary to create a building. Between the bricks, they lay mortar to bind the blocks together in their efforts to tease the building into the sky.

Ritual cannot be the mortar if it is already the building blocks that we are using. There must be the binding paste that we can lay between each brick, on top of each layer, to add onto our relationships with our gods/ancestors/spirits. And it is through the small things, the tiny things that may not necessarily occur to us in the moment, that we bind the bricks and mortar together.

These small things that we use as the mortar of our relationships are inherently personal. They will never look the same between one individual and another; and they shouldn’t. They should be as individual as the relationships we are building with our ancestors/gods/spirits.

And as the weeks, months, and years pass by, we may find that some of the mortar has rotted away or perhaps been chiseled down over time. It is through yet more smaller moments that you restore the edifice to where it needs to be to continue the process you began when you started to build these relationships with your ritual building blocks and your small moments mortar.

But all of these things are just as integral as the necessity of ritual because without them, you will never get beyond the first few layers before what you have built crumbles around you.

Remember the small things

Though the story I told above about being ill may have come across as a non sequitur, I can assure you it served a two-fold purpose. The first was to give you a little background before I began to discuss mortar. The second was to give you a hint as to what some of my mortar might look like.

A tub of mentholated grease may not seem like a clearly obvious bit of binding I can use to cement my ritual blocks in place, but it is. My mother instilled in me a need for the chest rub as a child, which was in turn instilled in her by her mother who has been in the west for many years. It is through the bond I have with my mother and this family connection that I take my veneration of my grandmother out of my offerings, out of my rituals, and bring it and my love for her into my daily life.

It is through this small act – and many others – that I have forged the bond beyond what is typical, beyond what is often advised, and into the realm of the workable. It is this realm – the mix between ritual and the little things – that we must push ourselves towards if we are to succeed.

And it is these little things that will cement things more firmly in place than merely through the act of ritual.

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All Other Ways of Mortification are Vain…

A friend of mine posted a link last month on their Facebook that I found particularly thought provoking. The original author, whom we all know as “the Henadology guy,” has a particular way with words that will make your sluggish brain move whether you want it to or not. I definitely had no intention of falling into a pit, following thought process after thought process as they circled down the endless drain of my internal meat space. Unfortunately, one’s intent is not always the way of things.

After hours spent feeling both irritated and thoughtful, I came to a single conclusion:

Way to call a girl out like that.

Sometimes, my life is little more than an old meme come back to bite me in the ass.

The exploration of the polytheism hemisphere can often start out with almost a lackadaisical sort of defiance. Raised as many of us are nowadays in a stringent monotheism that pollutes the civic world as well as our personal lives or in a laissez-faire environment where a lack of belief can be seen as currency, the profession of belief in the many can be titillating.

We move from a world of seeming absolutes – a single deity or none at all – into a realm which offers up a platter of possibilities. Gods and nymphs, ancestors and demons, guardians and spirit: they are all there for the taking. Not all fruits of the tree are ripe, but they are all there nonetheless for people who have found the status quo of their parents’ religious lives (or lack of) stifling.

At the beginning, it is frustrating or exciting or frightening. In many instances, it is all three at the same time. As we explore religious dynamics hidden from us, we run the gamut of emotions while trying to decide what works best. We try things we shouldn’t and go down rabbit holes that lead to dead ends. But it is oft-times the act of exploration that is the most exciting of it all because we are looking outside of our cultural norms for something that may or may not be missing.

We have all looked elsewhere for answers and sometimes, those answers lay in the shadows of polytheism. Before the Internet truly took off, it was a quiet place peopled in small groups of like-minded individuals looking to find something that felt right. With the Internet surrounding us, we have found more people like us and created virtual communities so that even the misanthropes like me can occasionally feel like we belong. We have found something that feels like it could work.

But in the background, we have basic programming instilled in us that we must recover from. A tag was once used on Tumblr – maybe it still is – for those indoctrinated in their culture’s or family’s staunch monotheism to reprogram themselves from that life. It is a paradigm shift for all of us going from the one to the many, the none to the many, or the possibility of one to the many.

Some shifts are easier to make than others. Some can bounce back from that programming easily. Others find it harder to break the cycle that may in fact be generations old. I’ve always been somewhere in between, but then, I’m hardly an example to live by.

As we de-program ourselves into better devotees, we find what works and what doesn’t. We all give the same advice for new people that worked for the generation preceding them: research as much as you can, find time to introduce yourselves to the gods, develop discernment for both resources and experiences with the gods, give stuff to the gods, and don’t be a dick for fuck’s sake. With various other underpinnings based on religious preference and the like, the advice is much the same (except for maybe the dick part).

But we forget sometimes to stress how hard this will most likely be. Each relationship and path is individual even within a group dynamic. What some found easy to reprogram in themselves may be the breaking point for others. As much advice as we can give, it doesn’t usually matter to the individual burning out the cancer of a religious doctrine, or no religious doctrine, that they always found to be lacking.

We all burn through what came before, building something new out of the leftover pieces of ourselves, or we don’t. We either succeed or we don’t. And sometimes the seeming failure in assimilating ourselves into a polytheistic religion can be enough to do what we wanted all along: to laugh in the face of preconceptions that always annoyed us.

And sometimes my life is a more recent meme, busting through the door and ready to kick me in the face.

As a child, my poorly defined idea of God had metastasized into the idea of a person living in the sky. He looked down on us on Sundays because those were the days that we went to church, but he mostly went about his life doing whatever it was that he wanted to do for the rest of the week without really taking a look to see what was going on. I’m not sure where this particular idea stems from (though I could take a few guesses) but that was what I had worked out on my own.

It was with this general idea in my mind that, as a pre-teen, I decided that I wasn’t interested in appeasing this idea anymore. I didn’t want to go into a very old building (without air conditioning in the summer and not enough heat in the winter) to pray to a being who lived in the sky. A being who didn’t seem overly interested in what I had to say when I did get around to praying. In addition, I had come to finally understand the Methodist sermons and was insulted often to be told that I was a sinner and had to work hard to be saved.

It always seemed to me that if this being had my best interests at heart, in some form anyway, he should reach out to me to tell me what I needed to do to get right with him. Instead, I was being told by a man (or woman) in a pulpit that I had to work hard to be saved. The Bible and the teachings of Jesus Christ weren’t sufficient in my opinion to tell me how to go about getting salvation. The whole thing annoyed me and I decided that I was kind of done with it.

The general issue I found was that I had no personalized relationship with the deity in question. I waffled often as a child between belief and disbelief. When I believed, it was a disinterested human-shaped person living in the sky who watched my life with his own disinterest. When I didn’t believe, nothing happened and we were all going to die. I suppose one could say I was a dark kid.

In any case, finding polytheism was exactly what I felt that I needed as a child. It came years later and with it, I was able to develop that personal relationship that had so eluded me as a child. Instead of being told via a book and a man or woman in a pulpit, I could go direct to the source and we could game plan together to figure out what I needed.

But the overall issue was that I needed to like… do stuff… to make this happen. Before, I had sat down in an uncomfortable wooden pew that had probably been there since the church I went to had been built and listened in barely veiled boredom to someone talk for an hour. The idea that there was some quid pro quo that needed to happen was weird, but I went into it.

And I was embarrassed.

As I cleaned off flat surfaces and purchases statues and bowls and cups, I had to like bring food to them. They needed milk or water. They wanted honey. They wanted to hear my voice. They wanted to listen to music. They wanted so many things that I was okay with doing, but there were other people in my house. They could walk in on me doing this and maybe they would make fun of me?

This was another change that I had a hard time with. I had to go about my business, doing what I did, and maybe I would get laughed at or maybe I wouldn’t. I didn’t have to worry about that when I sat with glazed over eyes in church; everyone else was just like me. But now I was entering into a realm where not everyone else is just like me. And there would no doubt be questions.

How do you answer questions that make you feel like an idiot? After going through years and years of semi-belief in a dude in the sky to no belief whatsoever to an idea that maybe reincarnation is a thing to okay so all gods are real and I’m worshiping some of them, how do you speak to what you now believe? How do you adequately explain the changes over the years to someone you care about or a complete stranger? I kept everything closeted and private out of nothing more than the possibility of being embarrassed.

This is no way to go into a new relationship with the gods, but Mr. Butler is correct.

Often, we come into this with our baggage and we find it simply more believable to go through what we think of as a mortification in a large, over-encompassing way. I’m not sure about the vanity part though that makes sense. I can say that I would be more than willing to go through with something large and dramatic than something simple and small.

I can dress it up however I want. I can make it seem like this overwrought thing is more important because it shows the level of my devotion. I can make it seem like it is more important because I need to show the gods that I am all in and the only way to do that is in big, dramatic ways. I can and would dress it up in a way that I was able to feel good about it, to agree that this was the way of it and there was no turning back.

But the smaller mortifications that encompass the profession of belief and the requirements of that belief, I.E. putting out offerings, were too difficult to even by considered. Someone might see. Someone might talk to me about it. Someone might laugh at me. How in the world could I possibly do something so small, so simple, and so less-dramatic than a near death experience especially if someone walks in on what I’m doing and demands to know what’s happening?

Well that seems like a little too much, don’t you think?

How many more times am I going to see my exact thoughts in a popular meme?

The melodrama seemingly inherent in the ecstatic moment of one’s near death experience is a fairy tale we all tell ourselves. We see these posts and comments from others, wondering how we too could have our religious lives broken down and rebuilt in a single night, a single experience, instead of asking ourselves if we cannot achieve the same thing by pouring the libations, offering the food, and playing the requested music.

It is possible to live in a state of ecstasy in the minutiae that one’s religious practice requires. The rapturous joy of those moments are as few and far between as we allow them to be, but they are there. We are too busy looking outside when we should be looking within, listening within to the emotional connection these daily sacrifices foster between the gods and ourselves.

Not everything that we do for the gods will be big, glorious sound bites fit for public consumption. Sometimes it really is as small as placing offerings at the feet of a statue, but that makes it no less important.

(The title for this entry stems from this quote by John Owen.)

God Bothered: A Guide.

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

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

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

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

Boundary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yes/No

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Reading

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

On the Periphery.

My relationships with my gods used to fit in neatly confined spaces. I used to have a box for Sekhmet and a box for Hetheru. I added a box last year to include my relationship with Heru-Wer. They were all separate and unique things. While looking deeply into the history of Heru-Wer, I began to catch glimpses of both Sekhmet and Hetheru. It was like those moments when you see something in your peripheral vision. It’s there for a second and you’re so sure that it’s there that your heart starts pounding in double time, but when you look for real, it isn’t there.

Day 188: Gleaming Peripheral Glimpse

Like whispers ringing in one’s ears, it was never really there. It was only a split second occurrence. (Image by Snugg LePup.)

Consciously, I recognized that the gods probably had interactions outside of whatever bits and pieces of our relationships were there. I mean, they had been around a lot longer and there are so many myth cycles out there, detailing all of the things they have done before I came onto the scene. There are probably myth cycles lost to us, too, which detail further shenanigans between them all. I’ve found this within most of the epithets listed for my main deities in their LAGG entries: tantalizing glimpses of things that make me go, “what is this? why is this?” And of course, I am left knowing that I will probably have nothing concrete to say except to add some UPG to my lexicon of unverified personal gnosis.

However, I am one of those people who must define something concretely and it must be defined as its own thing. Suffice to say that I was quite comfortable with leaving the relationships of my gods within their own little niches in my life. Perhaps this was a byproduct of being such a devout hard polytheist for so long. I honestly cannot say, but when I found that glimpses and pokes from the sidelines were coming, seeming to herald a more soft polytheism than I had previously been comfortable with, I kind of shut it down for a while.

I didn’t want to see Hetheru and Heru-Wer together, or Sekhmet and Hetheru together, or Heru-Wer and Sekhmet together. I didn’t want to see the invisible webs that kept them bound by some indefinable force that worried me. Part of the reason I stayed as far away from the hawk-headed Heru deities is because of all of the squishiness going on with them: they’re all the same and yet all different; puzzling out their differences can be a career unto itself.

As I explored Heru-Wer more and more, I found bits and pieces of Sekhmet, which in turn, of course, led me back to bits and pieces of Hetheru. It’s not surprising: Hetheru’s very name means “mansion of Heru.” We know that just be speaking her name, either aloud or in our minds, we are paying homage to the connection between Hetheru and [one of the] Heru. In my brain, this is Heru-Wer – not as the seeming forgotten child of Nut and Geb, but as the child of Ra and Hetheru, and as with Heru-sa-Aset in later myth cycles, overtaking the realm and place of his father, Ra, to become the husband-son of Hetheru.

The longer that I spent time with that derpy hawk brain, I found Hetheru in the little places. It was like she was the cracks of gold between his broken pieces. She fitted together with him in a fluid sort of reality that I cannot even begin to say it or write. The Japanese practice of kintsugi comes to mind as a perfect visual representation. Hetheru was there in the in-between, healing the cracked parcels of Heru-Wer so that he could be the derpy hawk bird the Kemetic fandom knows and loves.

Cleaned up seams

To me, she was like kintsugi: the golden aura used to fix the pieces of this veteran back together. (Image by Pomax.)

I found that the bits of my relationship that were specifically about Heru-Wer began to envelop Hetheru without my asking. It was like, one moment, Heru-Wer and I were in a relationship and there we were, two meteors crossing the sky of my own inner rebirth. Then, in the distance, a third meteor streaks along with us and joins our group. Before I could even map it out in my mind, it was the three of us, like a triad of sorts, just hanging out and poking fun. Sekhmet was there, in the background, but less like the streaks of meteors and more like the golden sun that creates the gravity that we need to complete our path.

Their relationship affects me on so many levels. I see it as one of those like epic love stories that overwhelms the consciousness and creates a longing in the heart. Maybe their relationship isn’t necessarily like that, but I think it is. If you look at the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion and the journey that Hetheru undertakes to get back to Heru, then you can kind of see it as an epic love story. Just knowing that after 300-plus days of being apart that a four-day journey is all they need to be back together again for 2 weeks or thereabouts… yeah, maybe you can see what I’m talking about. A love story beyond the piece of Romeo and Juliet; that puts Lancelot and Guinevere to shame; something beyond the mere word “epic.”

I can feel it like the pulse point at my throat, wrapping itself around me and threading itself through my veins. It overwhelms me a lot of the time, to the point where I can only scream internally from the feels of it all. For someone who is not used to that much emotion in a single day, having it thrust upon me and unable to properly speak on it can be hell. But I muddle through with all of my rants and raves and internal screams, hoping that someday someone will understand what it feels like to have your veins on fire because of someone else’s love.

I have come to find that my relationship with Heru-Wer is nothing without Hetheru. Sure, we have our bits together where it is just the two of us. But there is always the overwhelming knowledge that the Lady of Dendera is there as well, a sort of background hum if she isn’t in the middle of us and then another limb to our conglomerate body when it is the three of us.

You know, there’s an epithet in the LAGG entry for Hetheru that I found amusing, “Who Brings Along Her Heru.” Only in my case, or I should say in our case, I think it’s a bit backwards. It wasn’t Hetheru who came to me and brought along her Heru. It was Heru-Wer who came to me and forged a bridge to renew the relationship that I had let fizzle to near nothingness with Hetheru. Really, the epithet should be: “Who Brings Along His Hetheru.”

Sekhmet: So Much More Than Meets the Eye.

Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
She wages her battles to destroy the evil forces of isfet!
Sekhmet! Lioness in disguise!
Sekhmet! More than meets the eye!
Sekhmet!

– A modern day hymn as ripped off from based off of the Transformers theme song

When I look back on my early days with Sekhmet, those days when I was very frightened and I had people telling me to stay away from her, I look back now rather fondly. Even though I understand the reason behind why people told me to stay away from her and even though those first few steps towards Sekhmet were some of the biggest and most frightening steps I had ever taken up to that point, I have to admit that I made the right choice.

Sometimes, I sit around and try to see what my life would be like without her… if I had ignored that call all those years ago, and I have to admit that what I think my life would be like is paltry at best and a fog of unending torment at worse. With my entering into this realm with Sekhmet’s open arms ahead of me, I’ve become maybe not the best person I could but I’ve become a pretty damn awesome human being.

As is the case with probably a lot of the netjeru, I’ve noticed this sort of trend that comes and goes in spurts. People seem to get stuck in this particular mindset about Sekhmet and I’ve realized how much it frustrates me, especially now that I’ve begun to actively explore her other aspects and facets. It’s almost as if people can’t even begin to fathom that Sekhmet is an individual with individual wants and desires, hopes and dreams, feelings and regrets. I don’t know if that’s always true of course, but as someone who has begun exploring all the various realms that Sekhmet ends up, I have to say that it appears that way.

Lately, I’ve seen people say things like, “it’s such a hard time working with Sekhmet because she makes me want to kill people” or “I’m such a destroying motherfucker that my spirit guide must be Sekhmet” or “I’m going to burn down everything around me just like Sekhmet did, LOL.”

This mindset really frustrates me as a devotee of Sekhmet and as someone who actively seeks out those other parts of Sekhmet’s soul, those parts that hardly ever get talked about in public. I also think this mindset is incredibly problematic. Let’s talk about that, shall we? (As if you had a choice.)

  1. Tell Me Things Because I Don’t Know How To Research.

I think a lot of people want to be spoon fed and to an extent that’s actually not much of a problem (thus why resource lists are so great). I fully remember how daunting this whole historically informed path was all those years ago and I often felt like I was completely out of my depth when discussing anything with people who had been doing this a while. I often found myself freaking out because they had access to things that I did not or because they seemed to understand the texts that we all had read far better than I. They were able to discern the information out there on the Internet – separate the wheat from the chaff – and that made me feel very insecure and very, very incapable in my devotion to Sekhmet.

I know I spent a lot of my first few years doing this reading and re-reading the same type of things over and over again with regard to Sekhmet. I wanted to understand what it was that I was seeing from those who had been doing this a while and because I wanted them to tell me what I needed to know. I felt disparaged at the thought of all of the resources that I couldn’t fully understand (because let’s face it, a lot of the academic resources out there are not written for the layperson) and all of the resources I wouldn’t be able to get my hands on because they were in other languages. I wanted someone to take me by the hand and explain it to me.

Now that I’ve been at this a while, I’ve found a groove with resources. I’ve been able to better to toss aside the chaff and focus on the wheat. And while I will admit to still feeling upset that there are places I will not be able to go unless someone translates French and/or German texts for me, I would like to think that I’ve finally gotten a good foothold on what I’ve read. And I try very hard, remembering the fear and worry and anger and hopelessness, to explain to people who are new and who may not be aware that Sekhmet is more than a deity of destruction.

However, you can only say the same things so many times before you finally get to the point where frustration takes over. As someone who only minutely associates with the boat paddling phenomena, I probably get far more easily frustrated than those who have been doing the community building longer and more thoroughly than I have.

And that frustration leads me on to point number 2…

  1. Pigeonholing Makes Things Easier for Me

Quite often, I remind people that Sekhmet is more than just a destructive deity. That little check box next to the word destruction? It isn’t the only one that’s been checked, but it seems to be the most often cited. I truly believe that a large part of this, beyond newbie ignorance, is because human beings tend to pigeonhole. It’s almost as if we must always attempt to qualify something within a very strict rubric, which oft-times doesn’t do anyone or anything a damn bit of good.

Let’s be real here: in this day and age, pigeonholing should be jettisoned into space and burned upon reentry into some planets atmosphere. In a day and age where we’re beginning to realize that being uptight about everything and the requirement to shove everything into an “it is this” or “it is that” bullshit dynamic is a complete delusion, I think it’s safe to say that we can do the same with the gods.

Look, I get the whole thing when it comes to Sekhmet. We know she was sent to destroy humanity. Anything that has ever been created about Sekhmet (unless people are just blind and unable to properly read Wiki, which is where 95% of their ignorant information is going to come from) talks about how she destroys some shit. That’s all there is. Like if I had to make an art picture of every damn webpage that pops up when you type in Sekhmet’s picture, it would look like this:

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

The orange are all the flames she has and the red is the rivers of blood and of course, on her back, she carries DEATH.

(Photo credit, bee tee dubs.)

I rather feel as if the reason behind this is because people are too worried and scared at the prospect of looking outside of preconceived notions.

We have the mindset of the early Egyptologists who were really fond of pigeonholing the netjeru into predefined [usually Christian] terms that have no bearing on ancient Egyptian religion whatsoever. We have the mindset of people who cannot or are unwilling to do the research. We have the mindset of people who are too stuck on archetypes that they don’t bother to look into the minutiae. And of course, we have people who just want to blame the gods for all of their issues so they hyper-focus on a single detail of the painting instead of looking at the whole damn scene.

If we have any or all of the above possibilities, it makes it that much easier to not have to think critically about the gods, about their roles in our lives, and how their relationships with us impact us on a grander scale.

We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet is a destructive force that is why we, as devotees of hers, behave as such. We can state, emphatically, that because Sekhmet raged at people, then that explains why we feel the need to rage utterly at others. We are stating with these types of reasons for our actions, our thoughts, our feelings in regard to various things is only because we decided to develop a relationship with her… When in fact, it may simply be that the relationship with her is helping us to delve deeper into our own psyche, our own souls to figure out who we are as people, how we actually feel (as opposed to the feelings we couch in terms that polite society can/will handle), and find better ways to handle those things.

  1. I Don’t Need to Explore Our Relationship Further

Above all, I think this one is my biggest pet peeve about the whole thing. By refusing to look beyond that destructive aspect that we all see next to Sekhmet’s name, there are so many rich and rewarding aspects to her that people are missing out on. Yes, that’s right. My biggest problem with all of this is that by doing this, there are so many different parts of Sekhmet that people are not able or not willing to discover because they are too busy thinking of her as C instead of the whole damn alphabet that she entails.

I will admit to a little bit of selfishness with the above, too. It can be really difficult to find people willing to explore their relationships, like me, with Sekhmet. And because there are seeming so few of us out there, it becomes difficult to be open about the changes, the new things I’ve discovered, and all of the UPG that it corresponds with.

I know that sounds weird, right? Since I don’t see people out there who are explorers, so to speak, with Sekhmet, then I don’t want to talk about it. That’s right. I want to be able to express myself in more than simple key smashing (which, I will admit, is how I’ve felt a lot lately regarding her) and I feel that if I could just talk to someone who has experienced even a little inkling of what I’ve found lately then it would help me to crystallize and define things that I’ve discovered.

And it’s exciting.

And it’s neat.

And it’s interesting.

And it’s scary as shit.

Do the thing, you guys, so I can figure shit out.

Let's get some learning on!

Let’s get some learning on!

As bitter as I have been with regard to my relationship with Sekhmet in recent months, looking back, I can see just how much she has truly enriched me as a person and me as a devotee. I want this for everyone who looks in her direction and I definitely think it’s a good course of action to stop thinking of her as belonging in this one box because the myth we have that seems specifically about her discusses her function as an irt-re. Not only is it detrimental to us as people but it is detrimental to her as our goddess. Sure, the ancient Egyptians were scared of her and the netjeru, too, but there is so much more out there. And we, as devotees whether they be long term devotees or passerby devotees, have an obligation to her, to the new people who discover her, and everyone out there who fail to look deeper, to fill in the blanks.

A Bitter Pill.

Last year, quite a few netjeru and I went toe to toe over a ton of things that were, in my opinion, none of their fucking business and were seriously crossing the line. While that sentence may sound a little weird to some, that’s almost exactly what happened. I left the whole situation hanging like an elliptical sentence for the last eleven months. Having the blinders ripped from my eyes in a very not-nice way had left me shattered and angry. Having to deal with the ramifications of that shattering was not something I was capable of and I have suffered for my cowardice.

I found it easier to ignore the reality in front of me than to actively pursue it. While I don’t recommend this for anyone, honestly, it’s part of my modus operandi. I tend to do this for a lot of things and I can openly admit that it is very unhealthy. I’ve brought this bad habit, unfortunately, into my religious life and suffered for months because of my stupidity and cowardice.

The terrible thing (though, in all honesty, it wasn’t particularly terrible in relation to the world, but only in relation to me, myself, and I) that took place from September to November of last year was harrowing. I learned a lot of things that I didn’t particularly want to learn and it changed everything entirely about my practice. Even months later, thinking about that moment when it all boiled down and everything came up to slap me in the face, I want to clench my hands into fists and snarl with the best of them.

For all of that, I am much calmer now. While putting things off with no particular interest in picking them back up again to make a decision regarding them is unhealthy, it certainly allows for being able to make rational decisions later on. Part of the reason why I tend to push things off is because I tend to react hotly in the heat of the moment. It didn’t seem like a very good idea, at the time, to react in the heat of the moment since my initial reaction was to give everyone the finger and walk the fuck out on everything.

Eleven months is not as long as all of that, but it’s still enough to give me perspective and to give me a cool head. It helps, I think, that the scars from that episode are mostly healed and even though the flares of anger can still be palpable if I wallow too long, there is nothing I can do about that right now. It has happened and I must live with the decisions that I unconsciously made at the time. However, what that means is that I have to also come to terms with the subtle changes and the not-so-subtle changes in my religious life and the path I’ve been on.

I think we can all safely say that I can no longer count myself as a deity collector. That’s the gist of the moment, the culmination of it all, but it still wounds me to have to admit that to myself. It galls me to no end to have to say that out loud, to have to type it on this blog, to have to announce it to the wider world (or to anyone who cares about what the fuck I’m up to).

I always feel this way, though, when things change. I always like the idea that I can be a vocal voice for a minority that is discarded or looked down upon… and then it feels like once I am comfortable within that role, then I am cast off into the sea in order to determine what the next step is going to be. I really fucking hate how it seems like being comfortable with things after months of discomfort over it ends up, invariably, leading to changes that I’m not ready for.

Maybe that’s the point in having a religion, though. You aren’t supposed to remain static in a single place for an extended period of time. Perhaps that is why people become unhappy and unfulfilled with religion often enough: they have become so comfortable with the status quo that the idea of pushing off and looking for more is too much.

It doesn’t seem to me like I get the luxury of relaxing for an extended period of calm in the status quo, though. It feels very much like once I consciously have decided that I can be comfortable at this point, then I have to start looking elsewhere. I don’t know if that’s just my particular flavor for this particular path or if I’m reading too much into something. Whatever the case may be, I often feel that I achieve a comfort level and then end up being pushed off without an inkling of where I’m supposed to end up.

The thing about going toe to toe with the gods is that, sometimes, you’ll learn things that you weren’t expecting. I learned a lot of things and none of it was something I wasn’t to learn. I ended up realizing how drawn into that bigger picture fiasco I had been and that, when it came down to it all, the deity collecting would have to go. By that time, I had amassed a large following, so to speak, and I found myself frozen with the knowledge that I could choose Sekhmet or I could choose… anyone else. But in the end, I had to make a decision.

I went with the deity that I’ve known and felt the closest to for years… and lost everyone else.

That’s a bit of an overstatement, but that’s how it feels.

My decision was, mostly, acknowledged politely and the rest moved on. I still have passing relationships with some of those deities – Djehuty is always available for a laugh; I see Geb and Mut in the natural world as I always have; Hetheru periodically comes to me in dreams and we talk. Everyone else has disappeared. Sometimes, when I look for them around me, I realize how much I miss them. Other times, I recognize that I did the right thing and as nostalgic and lonely as it is now without them, I know that things have worked out better this way.

I think, in a way, this is why I have had some issues when I recognized that Heru-Wer had made an appearance. Hadn’t I just done this song and dance months before and ended up as [mostly] a one-deity marching girl parade? Evidently things are changing yet the fuck again, but that’s an entry for another day. Maybe.

For the last eleven months, I haven’t admitted that things have changed at all. I have refused to rename myself except for in quiet quarters amid friends or in the embrace of my netjeret. I haven’t wanted to openly admit that I was holding on to the last vestiges of hope with scrabbling fingers, praying that what I had learned in November of last year was wrong. The thing about growing in our own path is knowing when it is time to admit things to ourselves and to the wider public. Another thing is knowing when to admit that whatever you are hoping to achieve isn’t going to fucking happen and it’s time to stop hoping and give in to the reality.

Last weekend, I cleared off my household altar space. I had Aset, Djehuty, Heru-Wer, and Hetheru on it. I kept three out of the four, but placed the icon I had purchased for Aset away. It’s in a box, awaiting someone who needs it badly. Her icon was, in a way, the very physical representation of my attempts at keeping the old way alive and well. What it also signified was inertia: mine, hers, theirs… take your pick. I put her away and bid farewell to the old way of life, officially.

It only took me eleven months.

Hawkish Shenanigans II.

I wasn’t going to actually talk about this until I had something more definitive but it bares discussing, if for no other purpose than to marinate on the prospect further.

So, last year, I found myself surrounded by hawk imagery in June. I broke down after a few weeks of constant push and finally wrote about it. I mentioned in that post that I had no idea what was going on and it was seriously starting to piss me off. I did my usual, hey, if you need something, make yourself plain. But nothing came of it. I ended up actually giving up on the entire experience because I couldn’t make sense of it.

There were some ideas that I tossed around, but to be perfectly frank, there are so many hawk deities out there that it’s next to impossible to put a name to what may or may not have been coincidence. And that was the fundamental problem: it could have just been all coincidence. The imagery on my dashboard; the birds in the sky; the screeching cries of birds that weren’t real… It could have all been easily explained by things. This is the problem, I think, when it comes to discerning what is and isn’t actually happening: things can easily be explained by happenstance.

And in every instance, I felt that it didn’t necessarily mean anything. Maybe I was making it up.

At the end of the day, I decided that I was probably being called toward Khonsu. He was the only hawk deity that I could think of in which I would have any sort of tie whatsoever. While my relationship with his mother is very akin to the relationship I have with Geb, it didn’t used to be. However, as time has gone by, things have cooled drastically between myself and the plethora of deities I’ve had active devotional relationships with. As Mut became relegated to a more background role and something akin to my relationship with Geb, it made sense that I would assume the hawks were because of Khonsu… mostly because the first time I saw one was in an area where I see the wild turkeys that made me think “Mut.”

So, I dropped the issue and gave it up.

Thing is… I think I may have been wrong about the identity.

About a month after I really started paying attention to this, it was the epagomenal days and I ended up having a pretty pleasant time with Heru-Wer. No big, right? I’m the deity collector and I try to be friendly towards many of them, most especially if I’m honoring them in some way. Since then, I’ve thought of him fondly but in that, “oh, that was a nice experience to have with a god,” and left it at that. Of course, the thing is that, you know, he’s kind of got a hawk association, doesn’t he?

But I was so intent on the idea that the hawks and related imagery were because of Khonsu that I was just like, “I’ve figured it out; he doesn’t want anything apparently. We’re done here.” So, each morning, when I would see a hawk on my way to work, I would think about Khonsu and that was it.

Thing was that it wasn’t actually it. The feeling wasn’t the same as I would get from the turkeys and their association with Mut or the Canadian geese and their association with Geb. When I think of those two and the wild animals I associate with them locally, I get… well, I get feels, I guess. I don’t really know how to describe it other than to equate it to that meme phrase: feels. Those moments where I associated the turkeys or the geese were intense, microscopic moments in time in which I felt the deity. They may not have been with me but I could feel them and I was overcome with the emotional backlash of that association. (I’m probably not explaining this right and I do apologize.)

What I found with the hawk thing was that I didn’t have that sort of intensity. So, I just left it alone. I figured that either I was (A) wrong about the association or (B) Khonsu wasn’t really interested in me as he thought. I don’t know why he would reach out to me, at all, other than he’s not very popular amongst other Kemetics, or doesn’t seem to be. And I seem to associate with some of the known names but not the names that are associated with actual devotees (Geb is a clear example; all Kemetics know who he is, but they don’t really have relationships with him).

The hawk shenanigans faded out because winter hit or because I had misinterpreted. Whatever the case may be, it became less of a thing to see hawks. Winter hit; I saw one periodically; spring happened and then there they were again. I decided that, maybe, they didn’t really need a single association. As I said, there are a lot of hawk deities out there and, you know, I could just adapt to the times. The other day, I saw a hawk and I was like, “That’s Montu, motherfucker, because why the hell not?” It works for me, but now I’m beginning to wonder if, you know, I’m just as dense as they come.

So, this past week for Wep Ronpet, I did the same thing I did last year and reached out to all of the kids of Nut and Geb. No big, right? It’s their birthday; we should party to the max. And you know, I had Heru-Wer feels. It was beautiful reading others’ experiences of him and it was just as wonderful feeling like I was honoring deities who weren’t well known or very popular. Yeah, man; I’m awesome; look at me, honoring all the deities…

Thing is that the Heru-Wer feels haven’t really gone away.

And the hawk imagery is popping back up again in unexpected places.

I can easily explain it away on my dashboard. I follow a couple of bloggers who randomly reblog bird pictures. (I have a friend who has an affinity for chickens.) And everyone likes hawks because they’re majestic birds of prey, so they reblog pretty pictures of them.

I can easily explain seeing them all over the place (now) in my area. The population has benefited from the loss of local farmland and they’ve become more frequently observed in the suburban and urban sprawl of the city I live in. There’s a red-tailed hawk who lives in TH’s aunt’s tree line. I’ve seen two of them fly across the river between me and the city next door on a regular basis. The article I found on it explained it away.

It was all just so believable, you know?

Rationality won out for a bit as I began to explore this sudden upswing.

The time frame for reblogs coincidences almost to the time frame as the year before. It kind of makes sense that people who consistently reblog certain types of bird imagery would do so in patterns: specifically, in the months where such animals would be most commonly seen. Hawks are out and about all the time (since I’ve seen them in the winter) but they seem to be most often seen and paid attention to in spring/summer.

The time frame for my having personally seen them made sense, too. And the fact that I was seeing so many more than I had when I was a kid made sense, too, especially after seeing that article (from four years ago). And then I had a similar discussion just this past weekend with TH’s aunt’s boyfriend as he explained to me how to tell the difference between turkey vultures and hawks (I had no idea we had turkey vultures around here). It makes sense that birds of prey would proliferate even with the loss of farmland. There are still creatures to be eaten in the urban sprawl…

What a nice neat package I have.

I hate neat packages, but rationality is hard to fight back against when the explanations just make so much sense.

So, of course, the feels happened around Wep-Ronpet, which culminated in my hilarious “operation get Heru-Wer drunk” when it was the KO peoples’ time to honor his birthday. I figured it would all fade, just like last year, and we’d be fine. Except that I’m still having those feels things, which, even though they really can’t be explained and really can’t be understood in any rational context, should probably be paid attention to because, you know, instincts and whatnot.

I figured I would just peek around into the Heru-Wer thing and got not a lot of information back. Apparently, no one really gives a shit about Heru-Wer except for the single kid I know who was divined his child when they did the RPD for KO. Even Henadology’s page on the guy was mixed in with the other Herus. Seems kind of sad and depressing that, you know, there’s not a lot out there for me to look into in a better attempt to figure out what the hell is going on.

And then, last night, I dreamed about him. I saw just flashes of imagery, mostly, but it was Heru-Wer iconography and images from the temple of Edfu with his hawk statues in the forefront. Then, I saw his name flash across a white background, like I was writing about him in my blog, but the font of his name was gigantic, maybe like 24 or 26 point font? And then, I saw more images of his iconography in my mind before I went back to sleep.

Thing is, I’ve been researching him, you know? So maybe that explains the dream away, too. Rationality can easily win out here, too. But I have to wonder if I’m just a complete dunce, unable to fully comprehend what the hell was happening last year so it’s kind of upped its “fuck with you” game this year?

I legitimately have no idea. I don’t mind adding [yet another] deity to the grouping. I will admit to being concerned, considering where my loyalties currently lie (with Sekhmet and the intensity of our relationship), and bringing on someone new. But of course, I’m even more concerned that I’m off my game (it’s been over a year since I’ve had to play this who is it game). And if I was wrong last year… maybe I’ll be wrong this year?

Discernment is a bitch.

Jealousy.

I woke up this morning at a little after 6AM. I had no reason to be up so early, either, so I wasn’t overwhelmingly happy with this current chain of events. I had a three day weekend ahead of me, last night, which meant that I could use today to sleep in if I so desire. I had some ideas about what my day would entail today and waking up at such an asinine hour was not a part of those plans. But, my eyes opened and I was fully conscious within a few minutes. This is abnormal. I usually need about forty-five minutes in order to fully and consciously wake up when an alarm isn’t going off or about to go off. If I have no plans, I can laze around and normally do. Stubbornly, I lay there and glared at the ceiling, demanding my body to shut the fuck up and get the well-needed rest it fully deserves. This week, at work, has been completely full of bullshit and I have been on an emotional roller coaster for a little longer regarding religious things. I need to rest, I told my body. I curled up beneath the blankets more, rolled onto my side to spoon the dog, and glared at the wall in front of me.

Sleep, evidently, is for fucking losers.

Still, I refused to get up and make coffee or set out offerings or even remotely consider what the next steps were. I had woken up, not just early, but with a nagging need to get up, turn on my laptop, and go. This, also, is uncharacteristic of me. I am not that kind of person in the morning. I sit around and relax, drinking my two cups of coffee (only two throughout the week except on Sundays when I break habit and allow myself three) in mostly peace and quiet. On the weekdays, this isn’t always the case because, well, life happens and I have to get myself and my son up and ready in the morning. But since today is Good Friday, there was no school and there was no work, so I didn’t have to do anything. I could have sat around and had my cups of coffee, casually walked the dog, and did some cleaning (the house is in sore, sore need) before I even bothered considering turning on my laptop. But no, I remembered suddenly. I had said I would read the links that Desh and Fjothr provided to me “in the morning.” Evidently, “in the morning” meant that I had to be up at fucking 6AM and get to reading.

So, I turned on my laptop and made a huge mess on the counter while I was preparing my morning coffee. You ever just have one of those moments where you are so caught up in what you are thinking about that you don’t realize what’s happening right in front of you? Yes, it was like that. I had finished setting out the daily offerings to the gods and spirits who demand daily observances and I was making my own, first, cup of coffee. And I was thinking about the conversations I had seen that happened further after those links were provided to me and mulling over what I had seen therein, thinking about how those discussions impact me and how those discussions don’t impact me. And I was thinking about how all of that is just a muddle in my head and how, probably, no amount of reading is going to clear it up (spoiler alert: I was right). And I made a large mess on the counter with my coffee and my first cup tasted incredibly weird because I didn’t sign into my laptop like I said I would or because I didn’t add enough sugar, whichever the case may be. And then, somehow, after reading a few of those links, I ended up making a second cup of coffee and I couldn’t even understand how in the world I had enough left in the pot for a full cup of coffee after dumping half a cup on the counter.

Whatever.

My life is fucking weird.

After reading a couple of posts, I began to think, actually about one of my online friends. (I won’t mention names because I’m uncertain if they would like me to call them to the forecourt with this.)

Their life is weird. I always end up reading their posts, in the quick of the night or early in the morning, on both Tumblr and WordPress. I rarely comment on them, but I read them. Everything they have ever written about their life and the intense devotion and relationship they have with their deity, I absolutely fucking read it. And I was thinking outside this morning, after reading a bunch of those links and feeling as if my head were going to explode, and I realized why I don’t say anything, usually, when I read their posts and why I keep it quiet how completely in the loop I am about their life and their relationship with their god. I’m jealous. But what does that have to do with anything, right? Well, their life is something that the links I was given is about. It’s a life of devotion and that devotion governs many, if not all, of the life choices they have made in the last year. I have watched as they moved across the country, watched as they were shown where to learn things and how to learn things and what things to learn about, and watched as their life became almost entirely devoted to that deity.

I’m jealous.

I thought about what this jealousy stems from. Whether you realize this or not, I was an intensely and disgustingly jealous person for many years. I did a lot to break myself of that habit because, to me, jealousy is one of those emotions that will rule us and we will never rule it if we let it stay. I did a lot of work on myself in an effort to curb that jealousy because I saw how it made me behave in my relationships with other people, I saw how it made those people behave with me while we were in those relationships, and I saw very clearly that I would end up as a sharp-lipped old harpy if I kept that shit up. It was a years’ long process that was aided and abetted by various factors in my life until I was finally at the point where even the possibility of having a significant other who may “window shop” while we are out and about together gave me hardly a quiver. (Let’s face it: my eyes roam too.) I have moments now, of course, where I end up feeling really jealous, but normally, it’s about stupid things and I can easily and quickly trace where that jealousy stems from and then shut it up, stop it, or destroy it, whichever the case may be.

However, I have noticed that, on occasion, I can have such a deep and abiding jealousy laden moment in my religious life that I can find it difficult to breathe from all of the emotional upheaval. I find it interesting that my lack of jealousy in one arena – mundane matters – seems to have overdeveloped in other arenas – religious matters. But no matter from whence the jealousy stems, I still live by the adage that this isn’t a good idea and I need to discover the source of that jealousy in a better attempt to get a handle on what’s going on, internally. So, I sat down and pondered what it was that I was seeing that was causing such jealousy. I think, and I’m not sure yet and I probably won’t be for a while, if it was caused by the fact that they have let their religious path, in one form or another, determine their life or if it’s merely because it feels like their relationship with their deity is more intense and far more easier than mine.

In thinking about it further, I have to admit that I think it is the latter as opposed to the former.

This person to whom I know has a life dedicated to their gods. I’ve seen other people with similar lives, but this person lives it in a way that makes me envious. The other people I’ve seen in similar situations don’t seem to live their life in the way that this person does and their interactions, choices, and many of the statements that stem from either of those cases leaves me cold inside. I definitely do NOT want to have a lifestyle like those others. But this person whom I’m friendly with, who has watched my posts and my own comments about things in recent weeks and has given me words of encouragement the likes of which I cannot even convey in the last few months… that person has a life that I am envious of. They live a good life. Their deity pushes them in directions that are baffling to me, and occasionally baffling to them as well, but it’s the fact that their deity pushes them the way that the deity does… That’s where the jealousy comes from.

After having identified the basis for it, I could come to terms with it and let it go.

But I have to admit that I’m beginning to feel that I want… this other that my friend currently has. This friend of mine has done a whole lot in their life based entirely on what the deity in question has asked of them. And in that, there was a lot of fear. I can remember one post that they wrote, clearly delineating what could possibly go wrong with their life if they did the thing. And they ended up doing the thing and thus far, things seem to be going very well with their life. Things may be a lot more confusing now because they tend to listen to those nudges more often than they used to, but they seem to be having a very decent life. I understand, consciously, that if I were to attempt to follow suit in my relationship with Sekhmet, I wouldn’t necessarily get the same things or the same impressions or even have the same end result(s) that my friend has. But sometimes, I wonder what it would be like to give up control, just enough, to feel as though a deity is actually pushing me in the proper direction. (I don’t doubt that my friend is living their life according to their deity’s wishes, by the way. In case that came across as what I was saying, I didn’t mean it that way. I’ve tried to re-word that sentence a lot and just ended up going, “fuck it.”) But I have so much fear on that front that I honestly don’t think I could do it.

Besides, I am a control freak, in case no one was paying attention.

But as I thought back to this morning and this wakeup call at 6AM… I wondered if maybe that wasn’t Sekhmet pushing me… I honestly don’t know if that’s the case, but the links I was given are in relation to where things could possibly be heading when it comes to Sekhmet in future months. Things have come to a head and I’ve… finally gotten to the point where I am accepting of the initiation that I went through and even having the rug pulled out from beneath me. I’ve even noticed that, emotionally, I feel much more on proper footing than I did before my break. Sometimes, when I think about it, I’m still really pissed off, but mostly, I’ve accepted that things went down the way that they did and that there is nothing I can or should do about it. I can either accept it and move on or I cannot accept it and leave. I decided that I wanted to stay in all of this, so acceptance is where I went. And with that acceptance, I’ve begun to look to other possibilities – avenues that I never fully understood or only ever thought about – and I’m beginning to wonder if maybe…

Jealousy is that type of emotion that is based, in my opinion, on something that we see that we want very much. And I’m wondering if my jealousy was due to my own blindness. I’ve felt nudges and emotions and had ideas that seemed to come out of nowhere, but later as I began to put the puzzle pieces together, I realized that maybe it didn’t all come from seemingly nowhere. Perhaps my jealousy was out of a deep miscommunication with myself. I was so blinded, mayhap, by the emotional construct of my relationship with Sekhmet in the beginning that I was happy even in her disgust with me. And later, as I began to fight back and then even later when I realized what sort of fucked up shit was coming down the way, I realized that I wanted to be like that friend of mine. I was perceiving what the relationship they have with their deity was and wanted it.

Nudges.

Pushes.

Confirmed divination sessions.

But I am beginning to wonder if I haven’t always been guided, in a way. And that my jealousy is based out of a misconception. I began to pick up pieces and put them down this morning as I went through those links provided me. Later, I went back to a few places I used to haunt and saw some things that had me laughing at my own naiveté and my own… blindness. I think the jealousy I was feeling was based on a definite issue I, myself, was having but not because I wanted what I was seeing. I wanted what I thought was happening to that friend of mine. I was always guided, I just didn’t quite understand where that guidance was leading. I think I understand where that guidance was headed now. I believe I know what’s heading my way and I’m pretty sure the next few months… they’ll be interesting.

Now, if only Sekhmet could teach me how to cook properly…

The Relationship II.

I’ve been putting off this entry, hoping that I could write it when my mind was far clearer than it is now. And I have to admit that my mind is definitely not clear in any context. Every day finds me lost in a hell of my own devising if I’m not busy elsewhere. And whenever I ruminate heavily on what I have gone through in the last few weeks to the last few months, my reactions vary but they are all the same: hurt, pain, bitterness, tears. It’s all fine and well, but it doesn’t really help me to write this post at all. However, right now, I feel like it’s time to get this out.

This entry is dedicated to everyone who said they wanted to know what changes my relationship with Sekhmet has gone through. I hope this entry lives up to what you were requesting.

3. Love.

I honestly don’t know if I would be where I am today if I had stayed on that forum. I honestly don’t think so. I think I would have been too busy holding myself back from whatever direction I felt the need I wanted to go in. While on that website, I realized a lot of things about myself, but I also attempted to become what others should expect when they saw me. Or, more like when they saw my username. I wasn’t really being true to myself or to what I wanted to be. I also wasn’t doing anything more than attempting to fluff up whatever I saw from others and utilizing it in my practice. What I kept forgetting was that I wasn’t their path. I was on my path. And I was terrified at all that was going on around me, but I had to strike out on my own in order to understand anything about me, my path, and the relationship I was attempting to have with my goddess. So, again, I have to think that I was so busy holding myself back with trying to be what others expected from me and that if I had stuck around long enough, I would be a wallowing, pithy little shit who is nothing like I am today.

I fell in love then.

Falling in love with a god is, in my experience, not very different from being in love with a human being.

It wasn’t like I was working my way forward to becoming married to Sekhmet. (I think godspousery is real so if I sound like that I don’t mean it that way.) I think that’s kind of weird. I’m very straight and very ace and very aro so it was a big muddled mess for a very long time. I never really said anything on my blog because I was very much confused by my own feelings on the subject and I was very much confused by what it meant for our relationship. I try not to be bitter about it now and I’ll continue to try not to be bitter about it in future (either in this entry or otherwise). All I can say is that for a good portion of what I wanted to say when I talked about my relationship with Sekhmet, I kept my trap shut. I mean, how do you explain to your friends and family that you’re in love with a god? And that it isn’t even a god with a penis but a god that has a womb that can create life? And a god who is also kind of like a mom figure? And also how do I just say that at all without sound weird and incestuous and strange and fucked up?

But it’s the truth.

I was in love with her.

I viewed her on this pedestal. There is no other way to explain it. I absolutely put her up on this pedestal. It’s very much like those busts that people have of the gods in museums. There they are on this big, beautiful, white pedestal and they’re up high. And they are above everything else. And that’s where I placed her. I placed her up so high and so very far away from me that it became okay to be the lowly, pitiful, disgusting human being I was pretty sure I was. I absolutely adored her. I adored everything I read about her. I adored everything that I was learning about her. I adored every little nuanced communication we had together. I felt like I was skipping through a field of beautiful flowers all the time. I was in the sunlight for the first time in my life and it was so powerful and entrancing. I was back in that euphoric stage, only it came out in different ways. I talked a lot about faith, or more specifically, about blind devotion. I was a lovesick puppy dog who just couldn’t get enough of the scent, the feel, the intensity of what I felt and I needed more. No. I was a drug addict here.

But really, it was a giant confusing mess. It still is. Sometimes, I came really close to saying it on my blog. But mostly, I just muddled it all up by saying a million other things. There’s no denying it now. I was a drug addict and I needed more Sekhmet to fulfill me. I was so involved with her that a lot of other things that were important got shunted aside. She forced me to work on those things that I had been so busy ignoring, knowing that I was too caught up in the emotional entanglements that I didn’t know how to fully voice and that I didn’t fully understand. But how does anyone understand any of this, really? How can you say, clearly, “I’m in love with a god,” not believe, somewhere, that you are fucking crazy or wrong? I was pretty sure my discernment was off – and I don’t doubt that it was, partially, since I was too busy being in love to see clear indicators I probably should have – but it was so nice to feel like I was something worthwhile. For a while.

But, I didn’t just love her because I was in love with her. I also loved her fervently because she was my mother. During a dream sequence with Hekate, she explained to me that Sekhmet had always been a constant in my life. And I began to realize that, in many instances, she had made me what I am today. It became easier and more clearly obvious that she was a mother-figure of sorts. This was born out in other UPG experiences with her, but was never clearer than when Dusken went to my soul palace/heart palace. While there, she told me a lot of things of what she saw and in that moment, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was truly a child of Sekhmet. It was always her influence, wasn’t it, that I had been pushed to? And whether she was around in a life or not around in a life didn’t matter. She was always the driving force in my lives whether I understood that or not. And it was then that I began to feel as if she were my mother – as though she had been working diligently on creating my soul in each next life until she would have what she wanted.

And as weird as this sounds, this made me love her more. I was never more blindly devoted to her than I was then. When I realized that she had been working on me in each life, creating and taking away, helping and pushing so that I could achieve the goals that she wanted me to achieve, I felt so much more in love than ever before. I felt that it was her love of me that pushed her to do these things. And because I felt so assured that she was doing these things for my benefit, I fell so much further and deeper in love.

A part of me thinks this is a loud of bullshit. That part that is always there, doubting, says that I’m so crazy right now, saying this. Another part of me is just shrugging my shoulders like, “who the fuck cares now?” All I know is that this whole experience, this part where I was in love with her and where I felt she was my mother in many aspects, was very strange to me. I still don’t know how to feel about it all now. I do know that things have changed, of course, but there’s no denying this part. I was blindly, totally, and wholeheartedly in love with my goddess and was blindly devoted to her.

That’s probably why this stuff hurts so much.

4. Now

In July or August of last year, I made a very conscious decision to ignore the godphone that I had been nurturing for years in an effort to focus more intensely on Kemetic laity. I don’t remember what the turning point was in my love-fest but there was something that made me realize that was something I needed to focus on. I wasn’t a priest and I wasn’t going to be. I had to move forward with the laity and the focus that it really does need. Contrary to popular belief, most solitary Kemetics are not priests and they probably won’t ever be. I knew very much that this was something important to cultivate. And that was what I realized that I had been wanting for a while. I wanted to be a simple, quiet person with a blog who knew what laity was about because I was a part of that laity. So, I began doing what research I could and I began thinking about things as based on what modern-day Kemetic laity would do in order to recreate a religion that was pretty damn focused on the priesthood and the ruling class.

Best laid plans, I guess.

I was also given an edict just before Wep-Ronpet – shadow work. I had a lot to do. Instead of doing what I thought I was supposed to do, I moved in a different sphere. And that’s where I kind of damned myself. I moved forward with something else entirely and I ended up moving in a direction I had never fully intended or ever really wanted. But, sometimes I think it’s because those of us who do this sort of shit aren’t interested in the next phase of the relationship that makes us more likely to fall in that trap. And that’s when I made a not-really-conscious decision to forsake all gods except for Sekhmet. I didn’t mean to. I didn’t know that’s what I was doing at the time. But that’s the thing about the gods. Sometimes, they make you think that this is all about you and what you need, but it’s not actually. It’s more about them and what they want out of you.

And now I’m bitter and hurting.

You know what it’s like to be in love with someone and then fall out of love? It’s very much like that. All the previous ideas I had held regarding Sekhmet went up in flames in a matter of seconds. I realized that it was my blind devotion that made her interested in me. Or, maybe, it was just a part of it. Maybe she was really just always interested because of all the machinations she had taken upon herself when it came to my soul. Whatever the case may be, she wanted me and I ended up playing into her hands. I ended up moving forward with what she wanted of me without even realizing what the fuck she wanted of me. I know now, of course. I know what she needs me to be and I kind of understand why. But most days, I just wish she had asked me or let me take my time with coming to the decision on my own instead of her Machiavellian machinations that have led me to where I am today.

I made a deal and I intend to uphold that deal.

But in the meantime, I find myself very often hurting because of what has happened. I’ve gone from the fluff and the uncertainty to the bitterness and hurt. I feel, most days, very much as though I am on the verge of a crying jag that won’t stop if I let it out. On those days, which as I said is many of them, I keep to myself and I keep my trap shut. I don’t discuss it for fear of making others scared of what she could do to them. I keep my mouth shut because I don’t even know how to explain all of this. But now that I’ve explained that I was in love with her and that it is because of my love for her, in many ways, that led me here, I think maybe people will begin to understand the tone changes in my entries, in my little snippets, and in my lack of speaking on many things in the pagan community.

Things have always been heading in this direction, I think, but I just didn’t realize what it would take out of me.

Sometimes, I think that what we have going right now is very much in tune with an emotionally abusive relationship. But what makes it all the worse is that I am always questioning as to whether it’s even real or not. Have I been so abused in my life on a physical, mental, and emotional level that when things are going smoothly with my partner that I have to invent an abusive relationship to feel like a real person? This is a question that haunts me. The dreams that I have – the ones that I detailed in last week’s entry fest – I have to admit that it all feels very real to me. And I have to admit that even if I am delusional, none of this should even remotely be okay. None of this should even remotely be fucking happening because this is not what I had fucking envisioned for my religious future. And now, now I am stuck in this fucking bullshit because I made a damn promise without knowing what the hell I was promising and because I said things to the other gods in my life, not knowing that I was in fact swearing them off while she did what the fuck she wanted with me.

I hate her. I love her. I hurt because of her. And I am now just a desiccated tool that she is recreating for her own benefit.

I have to admit that as I look back at all the changes in our relationship, I go back to that conversation I had with the EM. The one where she was horsing a deity, supposedly, and that deity said, no matter what I did or who I approached, Sekhmet would come and I would destroy everything around me. It’s funny because after a while, I thought that advice was a bunch of bullshit. I didn’t trust what the EM was saying because I, like the Sister, believed her to be making shit up as she went. The thing is that the advice I was given wasn’t specific enough. We all thought I would destroy my life – my relationships, my friendships, my family, my work, etc. – but that was probably not what that deity, all those years ago, meant. They probably meant just what is happening now. And now here comes the mind fuck that I have:

Was it really prophecy or was it self-fulfilling prophecy even if I thought it was a bunch of shit six years ago?

I don’t know. I just don’t know anymore.

The Relationship.

I’ve been putting off this entry, hoping that I could write it when my mind was far clearer than it is now. And I have to admit that my mind is definitely not clear in any context. Every day finds me lost in a hell of my own devising if I’m not busy elsewhere. And whenever I ruminate heavily on what I have gone through in the last few weeks to the last few months, my reactions vary but they are all the same: hurt, pain, bitterness, tears. It’s all fine and well, but it doesn’t really help me to write this post at all. However, right now, I feel like it’s time to get this out.

This entry is dedicated to everyone who said they wanted to know what changes my relationship with Sekhmet has gone through. I hope this entry lives up to what you were requesting.

1. Denial.

Honestly, denial is an active state of being that you have to keep up in every aspect in your life. When it comes to religious matters, it’s pretty easy to deny what you already know as the truth because there are so many open avenues to explore while actively denying what you know is right. I spent, probably, the first few years of this pagan shit actively denying where I wanted to head. At first, it was just because I was almost positive that my discernment was off and that being crazy didn’t really work for me. So, I ended up heading in various other directions, many of the Wiccan in nature, while I ran the fuck away from Sekhmet with my eyes wide open and my fingers plugged in my ears, singing stupid little diddies in horrible Technicolor. I spent so much time running away and listening to the wrong advice that I made things harder for myself. But, honestly, I’m such a stubborn asshole most of the time that I have to wonder if things would have been easy at any given point… and I have to admit that the answer to that is “probably not.”

While in the land of denial, I made a lot of stupid decisions based on really stupid emotions and then, later, based on really stupid advice.

You see, I coveted. I coveted what I saw happening with my “coven mates” and their relationships with their gods. I wanted so very desperately what they had. I can remember listening to the Sister tell me about what it was like to have a relationship with Brighid (I think it was she) and I can remember wanting that so desperately. I remember all those telephone conversations with the EM and her horsing deities to offer advice. (Whether or not she actually did horse anyone, I can’t say. All I do know is that she is a liar, to this day, and that perhaps the whole thing was a sham.) But I can clearly remember seeing it and feeling so strongly. It wasn’t hate. It wasn’t just jealousy. It was coveting. There is no other word for it – I coveted what they had. I wanted those intense connections with gods. I just … I coveted.

Let me tell you that starting out the search for deities based on coveting something is a very bad idea. I see a lot of baby pagans and baby polytheists asking, so often, on how to find a deity for them because they see everyone else having them and they want that, too. And every time I see those questions or those statements, I look back to my own memories of that shitty year where I coveted so badly and I think, that is just not the way to start anything. I learned very quickly that I was doing something wrong, but it wouldn’t be until a while later that I realized that my jealousy was probably causing a huge problem when it came to finding a deity to call my own. Besides, to be perfectly frank, since I was still actively denying what was so obvious in front of me, you know, maybe that was the cause.

What made denying where I should have gone easier was when I had gotten some truly horrible bit of advice from a “friend” of mine. That advice was to stay away from the netjeru. During that conversation and many others that ended up pretty much the same way, that friend said that, no matter what I did or who I approached, Sekhmet would come and I would destroy everything around me. Whenever they told me that, I had visions of flames around my ears and my entire life falling apart. That advice was something that frightened me more than anything else that could have been said to me. By that point in my life, I already considered myself a very destructive individual and I didn’t want to harness that power any further or give that power to Sekhmet in any context. So, I traveled all across the globe, searching for gods that spoke to me, and nothing ever fit.

Sometimes, I think that it is because of the jealousy that I felt for those coven mates that caused the issues while I was stupidly, studiously, and forcefully denying Sekhmet. At other times, I have to assume it’s because Sekhmet could not and would not be so easily thwarted.

Whatever the case may be, and I have my theories here, I still actively denied her. Even when I decided that maybe, just maybe I should seriously look to ancient Egypt, I still ignored her. I knew so much about her and it felt so… good in this creepy way, but I still turned my head when she appeared. I ignored the dreams. I ignored the feelings. I ignored everything.

I’ve thought about this a lot and I have to wonder if it was the advice I was being given or just my own fear that led me to deny her for so long. There is something incredibly frightening, I guess, about the knowledge that everything will come tumbling down around you if you head in a direction that felt like it was “meant to be,” if that isn’t ridiculous enough for anyone reading this. But I don’t honestly think it was fear that led me down that way. I think it was because of my desire to please those people around me. The EM and the Sister meant a lot to me at that time and their opinion of me meant more than anything else. I think I debased my desires to keep them from leaving me. I felt, though this was probably wrong, that if I went in that direction that I would lose their friendship, their love, and that worried me more than my own religious health. And that’s the gist: it was fear of losing people over the fear of being off-balance in my religious life that kept me from moving in a direction that felt like I needed to head in.

I lived in a world of denial for so long. I got messages wrong in that time. I got a lot of messages wrong, in that time. Every dream I had left me feeling weird and fuzzy. Everything I tried to glean from those dreams got put into practice, in some way, and it all ended up coming out incorrectly. There is only so many times that I can hang around, getting shit fucked up, while I lived in denial though. After a really unhealthy and painful time when I was very much not doing anything with the religion I felt would work for me, I threw my hands up in the air. I dedicated myself to deity after deity, still based on all of that coveting, and shit got messed up worse. I actively tried to work spells for my benefit and shit got even fucking worse. I was at the end of my tether in that land of denial when I finally sat up one day and said, “Enough is enough. I can’t do this anymore.”

It was at the end of that year of shit and shit and yet more shit that I, finally, said “fuck the advice. Fuck everything – I’m important too.” It’s nothing that I really consciously said, honestly. I remember having discussions with both the Sister and the EM, together or separately, about how I felt like I was missing something and I was pretty sure I had to go in the direction of Sekhmet. And I remember those conversations always led me away from what I had intended. It was only at the end of that year, when I moved into my own place and nothing else mattered but my religious path and how it impacted me that I went in the direction that I had always been pulled.

I ran to Sekhmet. I don’t think I looked back.

2. Insufficient.

There is something really weird when you start walking in the direction you’ve always felt like you needed to go in. At first, it’s almost euphoric. And I think that really got me through the first year, or so, of not really knowing what the fuck I was doing. Euphoria is a very powerful drug in and of itself. I found myself excited and thrilled to have a relationship with a deity who had made themselves quite plain: I was wanted. I think, honestly, that the feeling of being wanted by a deity can be more of a mind fuck and more of an excitement than even having another human being desire you. Don’t get me wrong; in both instances, it is all very thrilling and overwhelming and did I mention thrilling? But knowing that a being who is older than you, more powerful than you are, and everything else we have come to believe about gods desires you and wants you for whatever purpose… Well, it’s all very intense. It’s almost a feeling beyond description where we can at least attempt to describe the very same feelings when it comes to another human being.

So, for a whole year, I was ecstatic in my practices much of the time.

But, the niggling doubt that has always been my companion on this road was there even then. I don’t know if it something that we ever really jettison – the doubt – no matter how long we’ve been at this. Point of fact, I’ve been doing this now for six years or so and I still feel very doubtful a lot to most of the time. Even with all of that euphoria pounding through my veins and stimulating me in ways to grow and ways to move forward, I still felt very much like I was not enough and that I would never be enough for what Sekhmet wanted. There is something difficult here to clearly explain why I felt so insufficient and I’ll attempt to put into words why I felt this way despite the euphoria.

Some days, I felt like I wasn’t enough because I was a mere human. While I consciously knew and understand that her devotees in antiquity were also human, it seemed to be me like I had a very long, very hard, and very weird path to go down if I ever wanted to be as proficient, knowledgeable, and capable as they were. Back then, I wasn’t sure if that was something that I ever wanted. But I did know that I felt that I was a very fractured, broken down, and used up human being who was probably not going to be capable of whatever innovative and interesting ways that Sekhmet wanted me to serve in her name. There was a lot of doubt caused by words from my ex-husband and caused by experiences that most people can glean from the words I’ve said, by reading in between the lines. Very few people have ever known me very well and can’t guess at what words, what actions, and what things I have done that would make me feel as if I were incapable of doing whatever it was that Sekhmet wanted. But believe you me, there were many things about me that I felt came up as wanting for whatever future she had in mind.

I have always had a self-esteem problem, which is partially why Hetheru and I worked very hard on this issue last year. I honestly can’t remember a time once I hit middle school where my self-esteem wasn’t some all-pervasive issue. And these issues continued to hound me in a new and innovative ways even onto my religious path. I think part of the reason why I was such an issue for me was because I felt like I was a very terrible person. Partially due to my self-esteem issues and partially due to the fact that I was on the learning curve that all teens are on, I made some very fucked up decisions. Based on those, I ended up feeling as if I were less than deserving of anyone’s attention, especially a deity. Hell, I felt that way with my partner, TH, and sometimes I still do. Whatever the case may be, and I’m really not lying when I say a large part of these feelings stemmed from shit I did once, I often felt very much as if I were out of my depth and incapable of giving Sekhmet what I felt that she deserved. Why she deserved more than myself or my human partner, I can’t say. All I can say is that I just felt like I would never be able to give her what she needed.

Another reason why I honestly felt insufficient is because, in my attempts to figure out what I needed to do, I began networking with other people. “Oh, no, not people,” right?

When I began feeling lost and alone, I began haunting some forums. I read everything I could find and found a lot of interesting information. This was, actually, part of the reason why I decided to just run forward and embrace Sekhmet. There weren’t a lot of other Sekhmet devotees that I found, but if there were people who could have relationships with the “big bad” Set, then why not Sekhmet for me? So, I began networking. And that was an added bonus because I got to read other peoples’ takes on things and that I also got to probe people for resources and get their takes on various questions I posed. And I posed a lot of questions at first because, well, who doesn’t want to know all the things when they’re starting something from scratch like an entire religious path?

But the problem is, hearkening back to my self-esteem issue, I kept comparing myself to all of these new people I was meeting. And in every comparison, I felt very much as though I were lacking. I wanted to emulate those people. I wanted to know as much as I could and none of the answers were directly in front of me. It wasn’t so much an inability or an unwillingness to do the homework and to do the research I felt was necessary to be able to compare myself to those people. I actively purchased the books they recommended and devoured most to all of them once they reached my doorstep. It was just that they seemed so knowledgeable and they seemed to be able to find whatever scrap of information someone else was looking for so easily. I was never good at studying at school or memorization for that matter. What I forgot was that the knowledge I had regarding ancient Egypt – specifically the heretic of the 18th Dynasty and his family relations – had been built up over years and years and years and years of reading and re-reading everything I could get on the topic.

It was kind of as if I felt like I should become an insta-expert and that is not possible.

But mostly, I just felt like I would never become as informed and capable as all of those people. I kept going round and round and round some more to the fact that I was a horrible human being. And in those moments, as I saw how seemingly capable all of those people were, I felt like would never be able to give Sekhmet what she needed.

Here’s the thing I learned from that time, though. I’ll impart some information upon all of you: just because someone looks like they have their collective shit together doesn’t necessarily mean that they do. There is probably something new and frightening to come around the corner that they’d like to be able to reach. There is probably some aspect to a person’s practice that will make them feel like they’re doing it wrong, whether they are or not. No matter what it is that they are doing and no matter what it is that they think they need to achieve, I strongly believe that there is going to be something, either big or small, that eludes them, that makes them feel inferior, that makes them feel like they’re doing it wrong. Sometimes, it’s just because they’re so busy trying to meet the expectations that others have of them and sometimes it is because they are attempting to meet the expectations of what they believe someone else’s practice is like. Whatever the case may be just because someone looks like they know what they’re doing doesn’t mean that they do, no matter how long they’ve been doing this shit. It doesn’t really matter, in my opinion, there is probably something that pisses them off and makes them feel like they’re doing something wrong.

So, for a very long, long time… I just felt like I wasn’t able to meet the expectations that I thought my goddess had in store for me. I was a terrible person – why does she want me? I made awful decisions – why does she want me? I didn’t know how to religion properly – why did she want me? I didn’t know what kind of religion I really wanted – why did she want me? I sucked at everything I had ever tried before – why does she want me? I am not capable of being the devotee she needs or wants – why does she want me? There was no way I would ever be as good at things as other people – why did she want me?

Insufficiency fucks everything up, whether it’s real or perceived. I fucked a lot of things up in those years. A path is not truly yours if you only ever succeed, in my experience. It is only truly yours when you fall to the ground and cry upon it. It is only truly yours when you scream your rage, your anger, your pain, your excitement, your exhilaration, and everything in between upon it. It is only ever truly yours when you stop trying to be live everyone else and do what the fuck you want upon that path. It is only then that it truly is yours.

Part one of two.