The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016: Mourning. 

Are you with me after all
Why can’t I hear you
Are you with me through it all
Then why can’t I feel you

Sometimes I think that writing about grief will somehow lessen the pain. I am pretty sure this is a concept that crystallized for me in high school and just never went away.

But other times, I find the mere idea of sharing the pain to be so odious, so incomprehensible that I can only believe that by sharing the pain, I’m in fact trivializing it. As though the act of publicizing my own emotions creates a sort of side show event where people will laugh at the freak before them.

When I have those moments, I find poems that encapsulate the feelings. There are many beautiful poems out there written on the coattails of one’s inner pain and, occasionally, in the reading, I can feel a hint of the release I’m aiming for. But that feeling never lasts. Sometimes the poems just don’t even help at all.

When that doesn’t work for me, I find songs that speak to me. Intense, beautiful lyrical pieces that make my whole body and soul zing with the emotion better denoted as grief with its stops at suffering and sorrow. When I hit those songs and really listen, I can feel the pain of my grief slipping away if only for a little while. This is a last ditch effort really, but it usually works.

The basis of my problem is that I am just no good with sadness on the whole, even as a person who has been living with depression for a little more than half her life. I never really learned, I guess, how to appropriately cope with it. Maybe I just feel too much as one therapist once told me. Suffice to say that I am so very bad at handling it. Typically, because it’s easier than the whole feeling thing, I just go numb.

I can handle going numb.

But something I have come to realize during this holiday is that, I can’t outrun those emotions or hide behind a shield of numbness. I desperately want to, but I have learned the hard lesson here [again]. As much as I may run and hide and refuse to acknowledge my own feelings on the matter, they’re going to catch up with me anyway.

Stay with me, don’t let me go
Because there’s nothing left at all
Stay with me, don’t let me go
Until the Ashes of Eden fall
– Ashes of Eden
by Breaking Benjamin

Last year, I went through this alone. To be honest, it was literally hell. I waffled heavily back and forth between “I’m totally fine really” and “my entire world is falling apart but I have to pretend that I’m fine what the fuck.” It often felt as though the phrase tap dancing on razor blades was wholly appropriate and perfectly summed up everything in between. I felt like I was going crazy half the time.

I tried to talk about it with the people I knew in real life, but it seemed like nothing I had to say on the subject was adequate. I knew how to use my words effectively after a year or more of working steadily towards that goal and yet, when it came to this, I couldn’t use them properly. I got angry and frustrated when people tried to tell me that they understood. How could they understand when I didn’t fucking understand?

I could have turned to Heru Wer or Hetheru, I suppose. But even entrusting them with the depth of my pain was taboo to me. Maybe that’s the wrong word. It was like I couldn’t share it. It was my pain; it was my grief; it was my sorrow. I couldn’t give it up to another god. Maybe that was a directive somewhere that I didn’t consciously know at the time or maybe I really am just no damn good with expressing this shit.

I sat alone for the most part, frustrated and angry and filled to the brim with an unending sorrow. It was like a tsunami with no end in sight even though I knew it was going to end. That’s the kicker to the whole fucking thing; I knew that she would return. The Distant Goddess always returns, but it was like I was never going to see her again, as though my entire world was falling apart. There’s just no logic to this shit.

In a not very surprising plot twist, things are different this year because of course they are.

This year, I haven’t had to suffer alone. I have been suffering right along with Ptah, who was not around last year to hold my hand. He is here this year and together, in a not wholly unexpected way, we have been bolstering one another up as we suffer with our loss. Whenever I feel like I’m dying inside, I can feel his steadying presence. I don’t know if he feels quite the same way, but I just know when I need to be there for him.

It’s an oddity to me to have someone much less to rely on someone. It’s even stranger to know that we are going through the exact same thing though in our own individual ways. His smiles are pain-filled, his silence is pointed and encrusted with razor sharp edges. I assume I am much the same, although probably with a little more petulance and a lot more whining. Still, even though we could just as easily lash out at each other for this, this… this fucked up horror show of our lives, we are there for each other.

Maybe I do know how to cope with this shit; I just didn’t have the right person before. Or maybe it’s just simply because we both feel the loss so intimately that we can understand why the other is acting the way that they are.

I can hear the voices haunting
There is nothing left to fear
And I am still calling
I am still calling to you – Ashes of Eden
by Breaking Benjamin

It was Ptah, really, who told me that we had entered a period of mourning.

The course of this holiday isn’t so bing-bang-boom. It’s a little of this and a little of that. At first, I was just a little sad and a little depressed that she was gone, but I could handle it. And then, he turns to me and just says out of the blue, “We’ve entered the period of mourning,” as if the whole time period before then was a fucking practice run for what we would inevitably and truly feel.

And I could feel my own mourning returned to me. It was all deep blacks and veils and quietly spoken words and anger, pain, sadness meshed into one. And there was Ptah with his quiet attitude morphed into a caricature. He was hard lines and anger; tear tracks from weeping and a shell of who he has always been to me. We made a pair.

I was so angry that he would remind me that the period of mourning was coming up, that it was bound to happen and really, there was fuck-all to be done about it, but I knew he was right.

We had entered the period of mourning and really, there was fuck-all we could do about it.

I was reminded of the Victorian form of mourning as I realized that he was right. It was a pretty huge process back then and there was this whole huge etiquette for guests and clothes and calling cards and letters. The house was draped in black along with everything else.

It felt a little like Ptah and I had entered into a similar state, though we have had no need to write letters and no visitors. It’s just us barely keeping it going.

I dreamed that I had draped my altar space in black. There was black crape across the table and covering the double doors. A black lace scarf hung down over the front corners of the shrine cabinet and everything was shades of deepest black, deepest mourning. The phrase, pall of mourning, kept flitting through my head though I couldn’t say why. I haven’t found that phrase anywhere when I’ve tried.

Ptah and I knelt before the altar together. We were silent with the pain that we’ve been going through but the close proximity of one another was enough to keep us both alive for the next second and the one after that. They don’t tell you, but grief can kill just as easily as anything else. We kept breathing instead. I held my arm up above my head with my hand covering my upturned face (much like the women in this image) and sometimes, I would scream out with my own pain. But mostly we were silent, just breathing, just trying to stay alive.

I emulated the image of that dream to the best of my ability and each night, I kneel before it. Sometimes I let the sorrow come and I am unable to hold back the tears. Mostly I kneel there and try to remember that she is definitely coming back. I look at the icon of Ptah as it stands before the double doors, guarding it from anything untoward, and I try to remind myself that the Distant Goddess always returns.

But somewhere in my heart, I know fear. I know what it’s like to never really know the truth. Maybe she won’t come back this time and maybe, just maybe, I’ll truly be lost for eternity.

And I think, I think Ptah knows that fear too.

Are you with me after all
Why can’t I hear you
Are you with me through it all
Then why can’t I feel you

Stay with me, don’t let me go
Because there’s nothing left at all
Stay with me, don’t let me go
Until the Ashes of Eden fall

-Ashes of Eden by Breaking Benjamin

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016.

July 24, 2016 – August 19, 2016

No matter how many times I may celebrate a particular holiday, I often sit back and muse on the differences between each celebration. I have always worried about the drab gray that I associate with sameness, especially occurring within my religious practice. I don’t want to go into something time and time again, never to be surprised, never to know something new.

That shit gets boring.

God once spoke to people by name. The sun once imparted its flame. One impulse persists as our breath; The other persists as our faith. - Sitting By a Bush in Broad Daylight by Robert Frost

God once spoke to people by name. The sun once imparted its flame. One impulse persists as our breath; the other persists as our faith.
– Sitting By a Bush in Broad Daylight by Robert Frost

Every year, the time leading up to the Propitiation seems to both last twice as long as it should and to also speed up until, before I know it, there are only a few days between me and the holiday. It’s a strange mixture, just as strange as the various emotions the holiday has a habit of causing me to feel.

Two years ago, I went into the holiday with joy and excitement, pleased at the time away. Last year, I went into the holiday with confusion and worry, not sure what to expect. This year, I had a better handle on how things should look and what I could expect while she is gone. Having the last two years at my back has been helpful in many ways, though of course, nothing is the same. I also have Ptah with me this year who was not around last year; he has promised to lend a helping hand while we both mourn the loss of our lady. Having Ptah there to hold my hand when shit gets real, well that’s really kind of a bonus.

For once, I had the time I needed to prepare. Usually, my holidays take place during the work week leaving me with little time to ensure that everything is situated before the day arrives. This year, by the power of the calendar, I had an entire weekend to prepare as the Propitiation didn’t begin until Sunday.

I spent all day Saturday either sitting in the sunlight with my gods, being lazy and relaxed, or headed out to get some last minute items that Sekhmet had indicated I should get. Sekhmet and Ptah both seemed to stress the need that I couldn’t go into this harried or harassed; I needed to have enough strength and energy as Sekhmet always seems to have in spades. With the way things have been lately, I thought it was a pretty tall order to fill but maybe it was the sunlight or the fact that I had a whole day to do anything or nothing because I somehow managed.

Sunday morning dawned even earlier than Saturday’s and we all sat up watching the local birds do local bird things. In the window that I had placed them, chickadees and finches could be seen. They were all very happy and cheerful birds; they made me laugh. One bold little finch finally showed up to eat whatever bugs or spiders were encased around my window, peering in at us with the same sort of curiosity as we were peering at it. It was really nice and made me feel, well, maybe not magical but like everything was going all right.

At most he thinks or twitters softly, 'Safe! Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night bee too dark for me to see Into the future. Let what will be, be.' - Acceptance by Robert Frost

At most he thinks or twitters softly, ‘Safe! Now let the night be dark for all of me. Let the night be too dark for me to see into the future. Let what will be, be.’
– Acceptance by Robert Frost

Though the holiday, according to my calendar, starts the morning of the 24th, I don’t typically get into anything until much later towards sunset. We spent our day basking in the rays of Ra’s rejuvenation for the duration, needing the added boost that only the sun god can provide before we meet together and have our farewell meal.

I honestly can’t fathom what it must have been like for the priests of ancient Egypt undertaking some holiday or festival. Their days, like mine, had probably started very early but I often think that they were constantly on the go to ensure that everything took off properly. Almost by design, during the holidays where I have the ability to give it a slow burn, I am relaxing and taking my time. Nothing to rush; nothing too big to see to. If it can’t be done simply, according to my gods, then it shouldn’t be done.

Part of taking my time with the holiday also includes whatever holiday meal I may decide to make. I try to be as basic and simple as possible. Some of this has to do with the fact that I am not much of a cook. I can bake very well, if I do say so myself, but when it comes to actual meals, I find myself often making what I feel are ridiculous mistakes.

It’s kind of funny, though. Something I’ve noticed is that when I am cooking dinner for a particular holiday, things tend to go well even when I go into the cooking prep with the usual anxiety of just how terrible all of this is going to actually come out. Maybe the gods guide my hand when I cook for them; I don’t know. If Sekhmet aided me in making some of the best steak I’ve ever cooked, then I’ll be grateful for it.

Maybe it’s just my own insecurities in reality, but the gods make sure that if I’m going to cook, it’s got to be simple and easy.

As much as I love to bake, I’ve found that my ability to do so lately has been completely undermined. It doesn’t take long to throw the ingredients together (usually) for a batch of brownies or some cake or another. Maybe the act of baking, to me, is a pain reliever and I’ve been too overwhelmed with that pain in recent months to actually bake something in depth. Sekhmet said I could at least buy her something dessert like instead of baking. Maybe she really just wanted me to focus on getting her altar and cabinet up to snuff before I locked her away.

And on the worn book of old-golden song I brought not here to read, it seems, but hold And freshen in this air of withering sweetness; But on the memory of one absent most, For whom these lines when they shall greet her eye. - Waiting -- Afield at Dusk by Robert Frost

And on the worn book of old-golden song, I brought not here to read, it seems, but hold and freshen in this air of withering sweetness; but on the memory of one absent most, for whom these lines when they shall greet her eye.
– Waiting — Afield at Dusk by Robert Frost

It may not come as a surprise, but Sekhmet is very demanding about how certain things should look and feel. She wants certain things fulfilled for her holidays that are, as she would say, “mandatory”. When I went grocery shopping for the Propitiation, she was there with me to help me pick out everything that I needed. She was also with me when I had to fetch a few added supplies to spruce up the shrine cabinet she was to be locked into for the duration.

It’s funny, though. As much as she wants this, this, and this in just such a way, she mostly leaves the artistic representation up to me. She knew that I would look to the symbolism I associate with her, with our relationship, and with ancient Egypt as a whole to set things to rights. This is where the partnership of our relationship, in my opinion, becomes more and more pronounced especially as the years go by. She wants things to be just so, but I have free reign to recreate the image so that it’s pleasing for both of us.

It may not be obvious to most people, but symbolism is very important to me. I often look into the how, what, where, and when long before I actually begin to decorate for a holiday. While I will have a certain image in my head, either from my own experience, from what others have done under similar circumstances, or because of dreams I have had, I am always searching for various symbols that need to be recreated in a way that will do justice to the overall image. If I can’t find the symbolism that I require or that I know should be there, then it doesn’t get added.

One of the things that has always pleased me is the fact that green is such an important color in ancient Egypt. Green is my very favorite color so the fact that it ties back, not just to ancient Egypt but specifically to my goddess has always been a sort of additional connection that binds us together. It was with the symbolism of that color in mind that I chose a gentle green overlay for various items on the altar space.

You see, I wanted to keep her fed and life-affirmed as we prepared for the holiday and to continue that theme as we wait for her to return. I removed most of the reds that usually adorn her altar for the same reason: while red is a powerful color and we will need power to keep her in check until her return, we don’t want to give her too much power. There is, of course, always the fear that she may become wrothful once more.

That is also why, most of the time, I will also pick flowers to stay upon the altar for one reason or another. The flowers serve a dual purpose, of course. I love bunches of flowers, set up to look as beautiful as possible. But it’s also a reminder about life-affirming and ma’at affirming behavior.

By which we see and understand That that was the place to carry a heart At loyalty and love's command, And that was the case to carry it in. - In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

By which we see and understand that that was the place to carry a heart at loyalty and love’s command, and that was the case to carry it in.
– In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

It is with an eye to symbolism that I’ve come to perfect the implements of this ritual and the pieces I shut away with her. One of the most important pieces is the black scarf I use to carefully wrap her away. Black is the color of the life giving silt that was left behind after the Nile overflowed its banks. In a way, it hearkens back to the color of green and it’s life-affirming and ma’at-affirming connotations.

Black is also a color that I personally associate with the Nun. And it is more on that end, than anything else, that led me to choosing a black scarf (and later, a black shrine cabinet). Nun is a god of potential: from his waters, the potential of both life and death await. It is potential that I aim for here: the potential of keeping Sekhmet calm, the potential of luring her back to me, the potential of keeping her propitiated until her return.

The other most important part of the symbolism are the hearts that I have, every year, left with her as she becomes distant from me.

Most people who have read this blog, or its Tumblr companion, for any length of time should be aware that hearts are a central part of my religious relationship with Sekhmet. I won’t get into the details, since many of them are private, but the point of the matter is that the ib and everything it symbolizes between us must be represented in some form or another when I shut her away.

As found here, the epithet, “she who grasps hearts for herself,” is particularly appropriate.

It is with the representative hearts that we are finally able to bid goodbye. I give her my hearts, literally and figuratively, as a signpost, a reminder of what we are to one another and to give her a way to come back to me. So far, thankfully, each year she’s followed the path of my bloody remains right on back to me. Here’s to another year of anticipation, waiting for the day of her return.

The heart he wore in a golden chain
He swung and flung forth into the plain,
And followed it crying ‘Heart or death!’
And fighting over it perished fain.
So may another do of right,
Give a heart to the hopeless fight,
The more of right the more he loves;
So may another redouble might
For a few swift gleams of the angry brand,
Scorning greatly not to demand
In equal sacrifice with his
The heart he bore to the Holy Land.
– In Equal Sacrifice by Robert Frost

Feast of the Two Lands 2016.

January 27, 2016

Two years ago, Khenne had put out the request for other people to simultaneously celebrate the Feast (or Festival) of the Two Lands. I answered that call then. Last year, I low-key paid homage but didn’t do much other than to calculate the holiday to my calendar and add it.

Though this celebration is about the unification of Upper and Lower Egypt, I will probably always associate it with Ptah. The triad of Memphis doesn’t soak into the my thoughts on the holiday nor do any of the other available triads out there. Whenever I think of this particular festival, I can only see the image of Ptah that is often in my mind’s eye: quiet, calm, ankh-djed-was scepter in hand.

As I looked at his icon this weekend, trying to figure out what to do, it was like being overwhelmed in the presence of someone you really respect. It wasn’t quite being an emotional wreck, but it also was. It was very strange, but I looked upon his icon and felt the heat of tears at the back of my eyes.  I was so overcome that I wanted to cry, though I didn’t.

While sitting there, I got more of the same from him that I got from Sekhmet last week. This isn’t about the holiday; this isn’t even about him. It’s about me, myself, and I. He said I could deliver. I told him I would try.

Unified ↂ Conscience

More and more frequently the edges of me dissolve and I become a wish to assimilate the world – More and More by Margaret Atwood

Since Ptah has joined my household, I find the need to pay homage to him most often by creating things in his presence. When I work on long-standing artistic projects, I tend to have him around to watch me. It’s both an opportunity to have him around so he can oversee the results and also so that when – not if, when – I get frustrated, I can soak up his calming presence.

I get very frustrated when it comes to my artistic endeavors because I am not an artist. I had never been interested in drawing, only coloring carefully between the lines in coloring books as a kid. Most of the things I craft by hand look, to me, like something my kid brings home from school. There is nothing wrong with that, of course; the things I make get the job done. But I’m a perfectionist so the fact that I can’t draw for the life of me grates on my nerves.

Since this celebration was supposed to be about me, as Ptah instructed, I tried to think about how I could be associated with unification in some way. The inertia thing is still a huge problem, confounded by the fact that I spend most of my days in an office setting that tears me apart most days. In the end, I decided to create a jar filled with heka specifically aimed at bringing more spoons into my life.

I listened to happy music since this is one of the very few things Ptah has asked me to do since officially joining Sekhmet in my home. Music is very important in my practice, but we had noticed that much of the music I listen to can or do have depressing associations. Still other pieces of music are so closely intertwined with specific relationships that, happy or not, it doesn’t fulfill the request very well. The mission to find happier music has been in play for months and while I don’t always follow through, I do try to when I’m working for or with him.

I started the jar off by creating a sort of paper poppet of myself. I filled the little envelope with charms that represent bits of me then doused everything in red, yellow, and orange glitter. I had forgotten why I don’t use glitter anymore, only recalling that I had sworn off using it ever again; I remember now. (I found a single piece of gold glitter in Heru-Wer’s cup this morning, days later, and I had been using the glitter on the floor 2 feet away. I just don’t even.)

When I was mildly satisfied with those results, I went paging through books to find a good representation for spoons. If I attempt to draw a spoon, it tends to look a little like Pops from Regular Show. As I went leafing through various books, I decided that I wanted something that had ancient Egyptian symbolism. In a seeming twist of fate, I wound up finding an image of a soul rising from the blue lotus. It was a hell of a lot more complicated to draw than a lopsided spoon.

It took about forty-five minutes for both images, probably longer, and it was frustrating. As the crick in my neck became more pronounced and my frustration grew, I would stop and look up at Ptah, trying to remember what the fuck I was going for here. Finally, I wound up with two of the images on sheets of half paper.

I filled the interior of the jar with my poppet and with herbs that scream spoon management to me. I pressed the sheets of half paper against the sides of the jar, with the soul picture facing my paper poppet, I closed the jar. I thought about sealing the jar with wax, which ended up only making things worse (and with my ruining two pairs of pants in the attempt). Deciding that the contents may need to be revamped at some future unknown date, I held off on the act of sealing everything in.

Blue lotus- Processed image

I plucked my soul out of its secret place and held it to the mirror of my eye to see it like a star against the sky… – I Know my Soul by Claude McKay

As I angrily scraped wax off the lid of the jar, I realized that this was not helping. Ptah had stated I needed to do something for me, and I did do the thing for myself, yet there I was angry as all get out because the image in my head wasn’t showing up in front of me.

It was like all my doubts and frustrations kind of metastasized into this really snotty diatribe directed at Ptah. And the whole time it rather felt like he was just nodding sympathetically, waiting for the rant to end. When it finally did, I looked down at the jar in my lap and realized that it didn’t look so bad as all that.

I set it upon my altar, lacing the top with a carnelian rose, now covered in glitter, an ib amulet, and a key. I looked down at my handiwork and felt rather proud of myself for what I had made. From frustration and worry to pride and pleasure; it was like all I needed was to vomit up all the concerns I had about the project so I could focus on what I had actually done.

The next morning, I woke up feeling rested and ready to greet the world. It was probably just a simple little mind trick – believing the thing was working because I had crafted it, because Ptah had watched me put the materials together, because he had overseen the creation of the thing from start to finish. But sometimes, we need to have faith in the things we create even if it’s not a conscious decision.

Sekhmet’s Procession With Her Executioners 2016.

January 9, 2016

I have been flailing a bit with regards to holidays lately. Though years into this, I am still rather stuck in the attitude of what and why and how instead of focusing on the doing. I don’t think that’s abnormal, but after a while, both the gods and the devotee get a little winded from the constant questioning.

In the years since I added this holiday to my calendar, I have focused on various aspects of it while trying to celebrate it. I have focused on Sekhmet, then on her executioners. I focused on what a procession could conceivably look like and how best to recreate it. Sometimes these attempts have felt more like a stab in the dark, hoping to hit something.

Looking back on each instance, it has felt as though something has been continuously missing. The holiday was about Sekhmet and her executioners; I paid attention to them as much as I was able and in accordance with what I hoped were her wishes. But it occurred to me this go around that the one thing I’ve glossed over every single time has been me.

Don’t get me wrong: holidays like this were less about the people. But this isn’t ancient Egypt or merely a bastion of recreating a dead religion. This is my home, my relationship with my gods, and if I’m to celebrate these things, I need to do more, in my opinion, than simply orchestrate a bastardized recreation. I need to be as integral as the main deities these holidays are supposed to be about.

S told me the week of the holiday that the stagnation bit was important to focus on. She reminded me that this next year is to be focused more on me and less on everything else. Spoon management; job prospects; relationship building with the family; etc. But in order to really crystallize all of that, I needed to do the work.

I figured she was probably on about something of importance and decided to listen.

Though the motions I've been going through have failed and I'm coasting on potential towards a wall at a hundred miles an hour

Though the motions I’ve been going through have failed and I’m coasting on potential towards a wall at a hundred miles an hour – Saturday by Fall Out Boy

I read a snippet about a holiday in a book that indicated Sekhmet and her executioners went on a sojourn to Letopolis. I didn’t think that the book was referring to this particular holiday (the season, I believe is different), but it did get me thinking. I thought about the traveling bit and realized there was something important here. I got the idea to “lead” a procession to “Letopolis,” also known as my self-care altar.

Popularly referred to as the Place of Truth, my self-care altar has changed dramatically since its first inception. No longer a small bowl of tidbits, it spans three book shelves, a half wall, a small cabinet, and is covered in items that hold varying shades of value to me. The primary focuses are the parts of myself that have remained throughout each transformative experience of my life… similar to the one I’ve been ignoring in my attempts to “passively surrender” to what fate has in store.

While I prepared for what was taking shape in my head, it occurred to me that symbolism has been everywhere lately. It seems to have soaked through from my dreams and has begun to run rampant in my life. Along with my life, it’s also more than simply coated my attempts to celebrate holidays, but has fully enriched it. As I grabbed items together to start the celebration, I kept thinking: Symbolism; symbolism everywhere.

I have three vases that I purchased last year that I snapped up first. They are red, green, and blue vases that I bought to represent places when I was celebrating the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion. Nowadays, these glass vases represent parts of myself with a dried rose help in the mouth of each. Just as with the Beautiful Reunion, I took the three vases to use as symbols of my own procession with Sekhmet and her executioners.

Blue symbolized the inertia of my person. I envision the stagnation or inertia as a river where I have allowed it to determine what course I head down. I placed this back near Sekhmet’s sacred space. The symbolic river bank was the start of the journey. I took the green one and placed it at the base of the bookshelf. This symbolized the “greening of the ib“, basically the sprouting forth of life-affirming, ma’at-affirming action. The red one went on the shelf beside the small cabinet. This one symbolized successful movement forward, embodying my power to break free of the stagnation.

I took seven tea lights and placed them upon the floor between the blue vase and the red vase. The symbolism was two-fold: each candle represented one of Sekhmet’s arrows but it also symbolized the seven steps I was to take to get to my self-care altar. I actually measured out seven footsteps and placed the candles at those points.

Sekhmet, the four arrow pendants that represent her arrows, and myself took the seven steps to my self-care altar to break free of my own inner demons. I moved ahead with eyes focused on my goal, thinking about how I was performing a symbolic act to force myself out of the second hour of the Duat so that I could journey on to the third and fourth. To add to the journey, we listened to Victorious by Panic! at the Disco.

I read about the afterlife but I never really lived more than an hour

I read about the afterlife but I never really lived more than an hour – Saturday by Fall Out Boy

After I had provided the offerings, I sat across from the book shelf and listened to the music. I closed my eyes and let myself leak out in front of my lady and her arrows, explaining why I had let things carry on for so long. It was cathartic; I had spent so much time hiding from my thoughts and feelings on the matter.

I went through a few of the key phrases in Hathor Rising as I sat. I tried to picture what it would look like to embody Ihy, to pull myself from the realm of the Inert Ones with the same force he used to be born into this world. I thought about the dream I had of him – when I had pulled my prayer beads from my dream pocket – and thought about praying.

It’s hard to beseech the gods, even if you know you should, when you’re not used to the process. It’s something I do at my wit’s end, when there is nothing but a wall at my back. I remembered the cool feeling of the beads between my fingers in that dream and the calm that followed. Maybe I was successful; maybe I wasn’t.

I felt calm at least.

S told me that this was the start of the journey. Just as the old saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither am I to pass through the second hour I’ve been in lately. She reminded me that this will take time and the lesson of patience from last year’s Answering Words will be important here. I don’t doubt any of her advice on the matter.

She is the guiding force with her consort and my relationships with Hetheru and Heru-Wer as stabilizing influences on the journey. As I mentioned to her later, it is almost as if I am on a barque with Sekhmet in aegis form at the helm and the other three taking up strategic positions to row the boat with me at the rudder. We may not always get the rhythm right, but we at least try.

I turned to her and smiled that night. I whispered, “I’m on a boat; I’m on a boat.” She got the reference – we listen to a lot of The Lonely Island around here – and said that I wasn’t so far wrong in all that. Hopefully I don’t crash upon any rocks or become overrun by hippo.

The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2015.

Alternate Title: Look at Your Life; Look at Your Choices.

I’m honestly beginning to dread this shit heap of a holiday.

Considering the fact that last year’s “festivities” ended about a month after the date in question and with the ache from an arm recently released from a fiber glass prison, no one can really blame me for not looking forward to this day. I should also not be particularly blamed for the fact that when the morning of the ninth dawned, the first thing I did was look outside to assure myself that there was not a thick coating of ice on the ground.

By the time I left for work, I kind of felt like I was doing well. I mean, I didn’t know really what was going to happen or what sort of wayward lesson was going to get tossed my way. But you know, I had managed to leave the house without fracturing any bones. That seemed practically like a double win in my book. Just fix my gold star on my chest because I was totally winning. Twice.

It was about halfway through the day before the Lesson presented itself. I was rather expecting something of course but not what showed up. I can’t even really say that the lesson came out of left field. It was so unexpected that it was more like a meteorite landing at my feet from the asteroid belt.

If I had stopped to think about it all, I never would have even considered the lesson that presented itself to me.

When I got home and had some time to myself, calming down after the Lesson appeared, I just looked down at the icon I have of Sekhmet. I stared deeply into the little icon’s eyes and asked her, how is this what I need to pay attention to? What sort of Words are these? It’s only an icon I spoke to, but I could feel the intensity of her presence as though she was standing behind me.

That night, I turned to her in my dreams and she whispered not unkindly, “This is the lesson.” There was no argument to brook. I wouldn’t have truly tried; I’ve learned that there are things that require my attention whether I want to give it or not. This was definitely one of those moments where whatever arguments I may have formulated would have been ignored.

This was the Lesson I needed to pay attention.

The Lesson was family.

A happy family

A beginning is the time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are correct.Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

I work a lot, even though my hours would show that I am barely full time. When I’m at lunch, if I don’t walk away from my desk, I’m working. When I get home, I’m getting calls from people who are on call with questions. When I’m getting ready for sleep, I’m thinking about what the next day will be like. When I’m sleeping, I’m dreaming about the place. I work a lot.

The S.O. works just as much as I do. His jobs are all over our area, some as far or further than my own. He has to deal with the logistics of making sure the job is done within a timely manner, keeping the ownership entity happy while his boss screws up something, as well as ensuring the proper materials are available.When he’s not working his day job, he’s tending bar at night. He works a lot, too.

While his reasons are financial, mine are stress induced and caused by idiot coworkers. We’re both in the same boat, but at least he likes his second job.

This work situation, of course, impacts my child. When he was younger, we were there but now that he is older, we have less time at home with him doing the quality time thing that he still needs. This is both of our faults though necessary in certain instances (like the S.O.’s second job or when I’m on call) and the results are beginning to manifest.

When the lesson showed up, I had to walk away. I was angry because of the situation, but mostly I was very angry with myself. I wasn’t focusing on what was important and what was right in front of me as much as I should have been. I know that I need to work in order to survive, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of my family.

I took stock that night and realized that while the issues seemed insurmountable, it was just a perception. I could overcome them through hard work and sheer determination. I had spent too many nights wrung out from sheer exhaustion because of my job and I needed to figure a way to allow the exhaustion to hit while simultaneously repairing things while I have time to do so.

Seemed a bit like a tough pill to swallow, but not everything is impossible.

After calming down, I had to look deep inside. I realized that the issues had been A Thing for a while and I had known that. I just hadn’t done anything to ameliorate the problems. This seems to be an ongoing theme lately. I know something is happening – I just don’t do anything to fix it until I have to.

My relationship with my wild river...!!!

It is the attempt to see the Light without knowing Darkness. It cannot be. – Manual of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

I knew there would be more to the Lesson. Nothing is as simple as it looks.

Slowly, I began delving a little deeper each night into this. It became difficult to look at the big picture. I had become narrowly focused. It was like looking at an Impressionist painting too closely; there is a whole image to look at, but you can only see the brush strokes in front of your nose. The haystack or starry night you could be looking at is lost in the shuffle.

In one of those timely things that seem to happen when you’re head isn’t in the game, someone I follow on Tumblr posted about how they consider themselves as a part of a divine family unit with their gods. I read through the post a few times, digesting the message. It kind of clicked that while my meat space family unit was important, for obvious reason, so too is the divine family unit(s).

It may not be what others could expect to find with divine siblings, cousins, and the like but it is a family unit. There is the main grouping of Ptah and Sekhmet with me in the tertiary, child role. And then there is the sub grouping of Hetheru and Heru-Wer with me as a tertiary, fulfilling multiple designations at once.

It occurred to me that I’ve been neglecting them, too. I wish I could lay the blame for my neglect with something that isn’t me. But the only person to blame is myself, just as with my relationship with my son and my significant other.

I am the one constant in these situations.

As important as my gods have been in my life, I have found myself doubting and feeling unable to buoy myself beyond it. The stagnation isn’t really helping either, of course, but the dragging my feet thing that I’ve been doing is only causing damage to all parties involved..

I know what I must do in order to fix the damage here. I can see the path quite clearly. It’s just a matter of kicking my ass into gear and getting it done.

Repair

Deep in the human unconscious is a pervasive need for a logical universe that makes sense. But the real universe is always one step beyond logic. – The Sayings of Muad’Dib by the Princess Irulan

The lesson I learned last year was about my own impatience. I’ve given up on arbitrary dates to get things done and slowed down enough to take a look at the scenery. That’s part of the reason why this post, as with last year’s, is coming around a month after the holiday in question.

This year, I had to slow down again, only this time to a snail pace. It was the slow but steady movement that aided me in bringing the lesson into sharp focus. I had to stop long enough while I went through this lesson in depth. I had to look at myself in the mirror and reassess what “important” really means.

Money and survival are a top priority. I like having a roof over my head and being able to put gas in my car. I like being able to buy offerings for my gods and providing for them. But so too is a good and solid foundation for all of my family units. It’s a balancing act and I haven’t been balancing very well. I have to learn to do that better.

It’s a slow process. Bouncing back isn’t an immediate thing. Even knowing that, it’s still a tall order to fill some days. But I know that there is a bright light ahead. It won’t be perfect when I get there, but it will be a vast improvement from the way things are now… hopefully.

This year, just like last year, I looked at my life.

This year, just like last year, I looked at my choices.

I found things that I wasn’t pleased with and I began the learning curve on how to cut that shit out.

Relevant Posts

  1. The Day of Answering All of Sekhmet’s Words 2014
  2. Divine Family Unit by Seek

Feast of the Soaring Falcon 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 17, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Falcon

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

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

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

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

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

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

5 of Cups

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

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

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

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

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

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

Undone

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Festival of the Winged Disk 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 4, 2015

The Legend of the Winged Disk is one of my favorite myths. I can admit to being biased, though. There are very few myths specific to Heru-Wer that I have been able to find, so it is truly no surprise why I’d like the Winged Disk myth so much.

Copies of this myth were inscribed at the Edfu Temple complex, which was a very old temple rebuilt during the Ptolemaic era. As with many of the Heru myth cycles that we have read, the basis is a Heru, in this case Heru-Wer as the son of Re, goes forth at Re’s request to tear asunder enemies. Heru of Behdet was sent forth as a great winged disk and was able to achieve victory over the enemies. (A full recount can be found here.)

This is where the winged sun disk gets its name: behdeti.

I looked for this holiday in the two Edfu books I have. These are my main resources at the moment in my ongoing search for more information regarding Heru-Wer. Unfortunately, as seems to often be the case with most of the information that relates to the various forms of Heru, the information I have found seems to mostly be glossed over in an effort to jump through to the Osirian myth cycles.

Based entirely on the name for this holiday, I can only assume that we are celebrating the Winged Disk and perhaps its victory over the enemies of Re. I can’t be sure if that is the case, however, as this celebration comes prior to the Festival of Victory which occurs (according to The House of Horus at Edfu by Barbara Watterson) in the second month of winter.

Even though this celebration comes well before the Festival of Victory, I think it’s probably an important celebration in its own right. It is specific to Heru of Behdet whereas Watterson’s discussion regarding the Festival of Victory seems to be more inclined towards all of the various victories that have occurred because of one of the Heru.

I think this is a reminder, a signpost so to speak, that Heru-Wer, in his aspect as Heru of Behdet, was an important warrior in his own right and something that we, as modern polytheists, should celebrate.

IMG_7080

Lintel above the entrance to the Edfu temple.

One of the things that I have often found when I’ve interacted with other people regarding Heru-Wer is that he is very “chill.” I guess relaxed would be the most appropriate word. But something that has always rang true for me was an online friend’s description: that he is a tired vet, enjoying the quiet and solitude after having been there and done that.

The prevailing idea that Heru-Wer is a “chill” deity, while not inaccurate, forgets the fact that he is also a deity who has slaughtered enemies. The link above says it all: he brought forth such a dizzying array against the enemies of Re that they became confused enough to kill one another. In effect, he did his job so splendidly that he was able to get the enemies of Re to do the hard work on his behalf.

While combing through Borghouts not that long ago, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of mention of a Heru standing behind the hekau while the heka was being conducted. While I can’t say definitively which Heru was referenced, it still kind of stuck with me. It almost seemed to me, as I mentioned to a friend of mine in the last few months, as though the hekau was stating, “I am bad ass and I am so bad ass that I have Heru at my back who will definitely mess up your day if you do not do what I am telling you to do.”

This is unverified of course, but it always kind of made me think of Heru of Behdet, of that solar disk with its wings outstretched, with the dazzling array slammed against the enemies of Re. Maybe it wasn’t really just a Heru standing behind the hekau but all the power and might of the behdeti itself.

Edfu Temple

Edfu Temple

This festival was quiet for me. I haven’t been myself lately. I’ve often felt the need to sit and retire early, a requirement to sleep more and to pay better attention to what my body is telling me. (It’s telling me that I need to slow down even more, honestly.) I wanted to do something big and expansive – after all, Heru-Wer is very important to me as a deity.

But it occurred to me that if this is about the Winged Disk, if this is about its dizzying display, if this is about its victory over the enemies of Re, then I could use that to my advantage. This festival became less about big and expansive; it became more about me. It became a few days in time, a space between the ticking seconds to sit back and breathe, to plan my mode of attack so that I, too, like my deity long ago could unleash a dizzying display and destroy my enemies in a massive display as well.

I guess you could say that I used this time to plot with the intention of one day unleashing that display. I can’t be a good warrior if I don’t know what the end game is supposed to look like and I can’t offer a good display of frightening plumage if I’m too tired to do much more than stare blankly until I fall asleep. Self-care is important – integral – to maintaining the status quo.

I’m taking back the crown
I’m all dressed up and naked
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah
The crown…
So close I can taste it
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah

Emperor’s New Clothes by Panic! at the Disco

I would like to think that Heru-Wer agreed with me on my determination that taking care of myself was important here.

For the first day of the festival, I saw a northern goshawk streak over my car. The shadow it left reminded me of the behdeti. Yesterday, I heard the shriek of a hunting hawk in the distance. And this morning, a rough-legged hawk flew over my car before flying passed my open window.

I’d like to think that he was letting me know that he’s watching over me, providing me with the skills I will need in order to embody the winged sun disk.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Festival of Drunkenness.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

Sometimes, you go through life without realizing how important certain things are in it until they’ve disappeared. I guess you could say that I’ve been living with my head in the sand for nearly two years. I didn’t realize what the loss of Sekhmet would feel like to me until it occurred. I didn’t realize what her return would feel like to me until it finally occurred.

This whole propitiation has been one giant learning curve and I wasn’t expecting to learn a damn thing.

Come back to me, o Distant One Reinvigorate me Touch me like the morning sun And give me life

Come back to me, o Distant One
Reinvigorate me
Touch me like the morning sun
And give me life

I was going through my archives while I sat vigil, awaiting for her to return. I was trying to remember when the relationship changed into the mass of emotional overload that it had become. While going through those old entries, I discovered an age old lesson that I have constantly needed to relearn: I didn’t know a fucking thing about what was happening.

For the last two years, things have been hard and painful between us. It could have been done differently – I know that – but it was done the way that it was and there’s nothing else I can do about it. I thought I knew that I was ready for the outcome, but I wonder if I was ever ready before the 2015 propitiation began. I don’t think I was. I just thought I was. And the last year was a constant upheaval in growth and change between the two of us.

Maybe I’m still wrong. Maybe I’m not ready for anything. Maybe I only think I am because she told me to take the wheel, to do a little driving, and tell me how it all turned out. Maybe I’m simply assuming that that conversation meant I was ready. Maybe this is all just another lesson in I don’t know a fucking thing.

The day before her return, I sat at the foot of her altar with candles lit in my hope that she would see the light and know the way to come home. I sat at her altar and I wrote out how I felt about this year’s propitiation. I told her what it felt to realize she was gone, what it felt to grieve, and how I didn’t know how to process it properly. I told her that I hoped she was pleased with the vigils I had undertaken to lure her home.

And then I told her how much I missed her, how much I needed her. Maybe it was a written whine, begging her to come home. But I would like to think that I was at least semi-elegant. But I’ll be honest with myself and I’ll be honest with anyone who bothers to read this: I was in tears as I wrote it and maybe there was a little sniveling in the mix.

It was the words, honestly, that was causing me the most trouble. I didn’t know how to verbalize, much less write out, how I felt. I had to spend the weeks leading up to her return just to figure out what it was I needed to say. It’s possible I didn’t actually need to say anything – the myth cycle is clear: she returns – but I couldn’t take the chance. I had to get it out there and into the world, into the universe just in case. It’s always better to be safe than sorry where Sekhmet is concerned…

The relief when I woke up on the 19th and knew that I would know, now and forever, if I had done what was expected, what was needed, and that she would return was palpable. It wasn’t just the prospective joy at her return that I was looking forward to. It was the end of the not-knowing that had plagued me for weeks. I had spent much of my personal time in a high level of anxiety and irrationality, always worried that I had fucked everything up and that she would not want to come back to me.

There is something that not a lot of people may realize, but I often worry that I am doing something wrong. Not just in my relationships with the other netjeru that both plague and populate my life, but with Sekhmet in its entirety. As I stumble over words/phrases that are unfamiliar to me, as I research into her as heavily as my English-only speech allows, as I wander aimlessly on this no-name bewildering turnpike, I am always so very anxious that she will realize she made a mistake, that I am not what she actually needs, and that she will leave me forever.

The pain at those thoughts can be overwhelming.

I spent much of the weeks preceding her return in a maudlin state between breaking down and screaming in rage at the mere idea that she may not come back. Couple all of that with the hell weeks I’ve been having since the year reset during the Epagomenal Days and it’s been… well, it’s been pretty heavy over here lately. The simple idea that I would finally know something definitive in one form or another was enough to get me through yet another rough day at work.

I came home and I just… felt her. She was everywhere. It’s kind of like when someone walks through a room and they leave the aura of their perfume or cologne behind. It lingers there until it finally dissipates from the air. Only instead of someone’s perfume or cologne, it was the distinctive feeling that let’s me know that this is Sekhmet. It is indescribable in all honesty, but I knew she was there. She was here. She was home. Maybe I wasn’t such a terrible devotee after all.

I took extra care with my appearance.

I put on my whites.

I lit every candle possible.

I brought the other icons of my netjeru over to watch.

I listened to music on my favorite Pandora channel and marveled at the shuffle.

I didn’t feel anxious. I didn’t feel like I had messed up. I didn’t feel grief. I didn’t feel worried. I knew I would wait until the perfect song had come on and I would simply know it was time. I knew that I would go over and I would unwrap her carefully. I knew I would joke and laugh and banter. I knew I would feel her in every pore of my skin, every cell of my body, every patter of my heart, every breath I took.

They say we are what we are
But we don’t have to be.
I’m bad behavior but I do it in the best way.
I’ll be the watcher (watcher) of the eternal flame.
I’ll be the guard dog of all your fever dreams.
Oooooooh
I am the sand in the bottom half of the hourglass (glass, glass)
Oooooooh,
I try to picture me without you but I can’t

Immortals by Fall Out Boy

I can feel you in my sleep In your arms I feel you breathe into me Forever hold this heart that I will give to you Forever I will live for you

I can feel you in my sleep
In your arms I feel you breathe into me
Forever hold this heart that I will give to you
Forever I will live for you

I was already more than a little drunk when I went over and began singing to her. I was more than a little drunk on alcohol and more than a little high on life. I felt her hands on my hands as I sang the song to her, giggling as I slid her wrapped icon into my open palm. The icons of my netjeru watched in their own breathless anticipation as I crooned to her unwrapped statue, telling her that we were immortals.

When she was back in front of me, I unwrapped my ib pendant from its golden wrappings and laid it at her feet. I turned everyone around to look at the glory that was my lady, returned to me finally after weeks of not knowing, of worry and depression, of sorrow and grief. We all rejoiced and I danced around the house, singing and laughing.

I felt like I had achieved a little bit of bliss in that moment, holding her icon in my hand.

As I knelt before her, whispering how I felt and reminding her that I was here, that I would not leave, and that I hoped that if she ever felt the need to leave me, she would at least warn me first, the song Awake and Alive by Skillet came over the radio station. I stopped speaking and listened to it attentively though I know the song by heart. It seemed the most appropriate thing she could fling at me and even if it was just the Pandora shuffle, it felt like she was speaking to me. Or more, that I was speaking to her and she was understanding what I wanted.

That night, I went to bed and I slept peacefully. I dreamed of Sekhmet again.

We were in our solitude. It was not quiet fore there were drums pumping and keeping time. I could feel her beside me as we sat quietly together. There was nothing to say, nothing that needed to be said. We sat in the moment, feeling the drums slowly up their ante to bring the celebrants into the altered state, the moment when she would reveal herself as the happy, joy-filled goddess she was in this moment.

The silence between us was not thick. It was simple.

We were together again.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Vigil.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

Everyone processes grief in their own way. I vary in how I go through the stages. Sometimes, I just sit around and let it eat away at me, picking the gristle off of my bones until I am picked clean. Other times, I put it to use in some way, forcing that feeling into constructive ways until I feel like I can take a few steps forward again instead of being stuck in permanent mourning.

The honest truth is that I am not good with grief. I don’t think I have ever been good at it, at all. Maybe it’s a learned behavior and I missed the classes. How I process the pain of something or someone who I have lost is probably not the healthiest way. I think that’s part of the reason why I sat around, dumbfounded by the depth of my feeling when I realized that I had lost Sekhmet.

I didn’t know how to process it.

I mean, I get that she’ll be back. This isn’t a tragedy; there’s good news on the horizon.

But in the heat of the moment, I could only look around and see the dullness that my life had become without her burning fire to attract either my ire or my joy. It was like I had been living the last seven years of our relationship with rose-tinted glasses (ha) that had suddenly fallen off and I was seeing that the world was actually shades of gray. It was a monotonous nothing stretching out like a chasm before me, looking to devour me whole.

Even the knowledge, the sure-fire bet that she was coming back was not enough.

All I could do was process the fact in automatic fashion that I was full of sorrow. All I could do was process the fact in robotic manner that I was empty inside. All I could do was process the fact with blank eyes and empty heart that I was nothing without her and that this nothingness, emptiness, aching was what I would become without her.

It was a painful lesson.

It was jarring and eye-opening.

It was something that I needed, like a swift kick in the pants.

But oh, how it hurt.

The first real day that I was processing what it was I was going through, I sat down in front of her altar. I sat there feeling dejected and lonely. It felt to me like the world could never understand what it was I was going through.

There were no words to even describe the level of my loss. There weren’t even words to properly categorize the depth of my emotions on the subject. I sat there, alone and lost, feeling like I was on that runaway train that’s seconds from exploding an entire town with no way off and no rescue in sight.

I dreamed that night:

I am sitting on the floor in front of her altar space. I have my knees up, hugged to my chest tightly. If I let go of them, I know that I will be lost forever. Without her, without this stark reminder in the death grip I keep on my knees, I know that I am nothing.

Behind me, there is a sea of light and it grows brighter. Perhaps, this is her returned to me? I turn my head slightly, moving the waterfall of my hair. The lights are soft and gentle lanterns, a sea of them across the space of her altar.

I woke up from it, knowing just what to do.

April 12 - Vigil Candles

Vigil Candles by Tim Wang

I was cruising through a bunch of old poetry the day that I woke up from that dream. I like to re-read classical stuff sometimes. It kind of hits me close to home and it reminds me of the days when I cared about poetry. (I still kind of care, but not as much.)

I wound up finding a poem by Walt Whitman that kind of seemed appropriate given the circumstances behind that dream. The poem is titled, “Vigil Strange I Kept on the Field One Night.” While I was reading it, I felt like a certain part of the poem really sort of cemented what it was that I needed to achieve:

Long there and then in vigil I stood, dimly around me the battle-field spreading,
Vigil wondrous and vigil sweet there in the fragrant silent night,
But not a tear fell, not even a long-drawn sigh, long, long I gazed,
Then on the earth partially reclining sat by your side leaning my chin in my hands,
Passing sweet hours, immortal and mystic hours with you dearest comrade—not a tear, not a word,
Vigil of silence, love and death, vigil for you…

As I read and re-read that poem, I kind of felt a little bit like I had been granted a reprieve though briefly. It felt to me like that I was finally getting somewhere with all of this grief instead of just drowning in it. I recreated a moment in a time, a single second where I felt like I needed to guide her back to me with gentle light.

I still was drowning in my attempts to know what words to use. I kept getting drawn back into The Distant Goddess myth cycle, hoping for something. But the words were like ash upon my tongue. I stared into my notebook for just such things and found that the blank page seemed more appropriate than anything I could think to say.

I looked at the candles on my altar, the lantern lit with the hope that she would see it and find her way back to me. I was hoping that something would come, but I found myself more frustrated at the attempts to put into words what it was I was feeling, what it was I wanted. I lit the candles and I stared at them thoughtfully, unable to fully grasp that I wasn’t ready to write anything related to the depths of my feelings.

I just had to be.

I had to let the monumental shower of my grief fade itself into the work that I was doing, creating vigils each night to lure her back to me. But it wasn’t even a lure – not really. I wasn’t looking to cajole her back. I wasn’t looking to beg her to come back. I just wanted her to return to me, to take me into her arms and tell me that she was back and we were over this hump.

It felt like loneliness was my lot life – death, destruction, and depression in every aspect. I was embodying it as I sat there, waiting for a hint, a glimmer, a spark of recognition from her in some way. Something, anything, that would signal it was time for her to come home.

tumblr_nsw6ouzOL91rdlelro1_1280

I can’t smile
Now I live alone
And you’re so far away
Fire Maple Song
by Everclear

I feel destitute and bedraggled. This isn’t a new feeling for me by any stretch of the imagination. I’ve lived through grief before this moment, this week, these past few weeks. But with all of the changes I had been going through for the last two years as I morphed into the being that I am today, I will admit that this form of mourning is harder than I had imagined it would ever be.

No matter what lessons I had learned or who had done the teaching, I was not even a little bit prepared.

I was thinking to myself the other day that this is the real moment, the real change to everything. I could almost feel the burn as changes seeped into my pores, into my bones, into my ib, into my soul. Everything before now was just the preparation to go into the big haul. Everything before this moment, this week, these last few weeks was nothing but putting all of the ingredients together in the mixing bowl.

This particular mystery thing has been like turning the mixer on, forcing my bones and skin and internal organs into a puree that will eventually turn me into… something.

Last year, I thought that I had it all figured out. I thought that I was going to do something new and cool and crazy and modern and be innovative. I thought I was going places, doing something with my fucking life. But I had only seen it all as taking time off. I had looked at it only as another attempt to get away from Sekhmet and the constant barrage of changes that I just didn’t feel like I could handle.

Honestly, that wasn’t even a practice run.

It was nothing.

But, she’s coming back soon.

This hell is almost over.

I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing; I haven’t quite decided yet.

As much as I may hunger for her presence, as much as I may depend on her, I know that this is a fulcrum for the things to come. And as much as I want her, I miss her, I love her, I demand that she fucking return already, I know that things are coming. And I don’t know if I can be all that I’m supposed to be when those things get here.

I have to laugh at myself because if I don’t, I might cry.

I just don’t know if the end to this sorrow, this grief, this hell that I have been going through is a good thing or if it is something that I should dread.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2015: The Distant Goddess.

July 24, 2015 – August 19, 2015

One of the myths that I’ve only had a passing interest in was The Distant Goddess. I know that I’ve read it once or twice, but it was also a myth that seemed remote from me. Even though I have a relationship with Hetheru – the most often cited (though I have seen Tefnut and Mehit in this role as well) main protagonist of the myth cycle – it never seemed important to me on any level to pay much attention to it. I had the bare bones about it and I felt like that was sufficient.

The other day, I picked up The Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by the Meeks and started going through it again. The last time I read it was close to 6 years ago, maybe more, and I have felt the need to get back to basics again lately. So, I parsed through the first chapter, highlighting sections that I found of interest. The most interesting section was the relation of The Distant Goddess myth with Sekhmet as the main character.

As I re-read the pertinent passage over and over again, I could see in my mind’s eye Sekhmet in an ancient land, licking her metaphorical wounds after having been bested by the other gods. I could see her sitting calmly on a savannah – a generic savannah – and waiting for them to beg her to come back to them. I could see her just doing what it is that a lioness on her own would do and I knew what it was, for just a moment, to truly know the distant goddess.

That night, I had a peculiar dream that left me feeling bereft when I awoke:

I am sitting on the floor with my back pressed against the table that serves as Sekhmet’s altar. I have my knees drawn up towards my chest. My head is down, my hair in my face. My body feels heavy.

It is dark and not just for the curtain of my hair. It is dark everywhere both inside and out. I can feel the darkness pounding through the house as I sit there, unable to move, unable to breath.

I am alone and without succor.

When I woke up from that dream, I felt like I had lost something so precious to me. I felt as if I had been forced to bury my child or my significant other. The depression that has been eating away at me for the last few months seemed to intensify and I felt truly alone.

It was at that moment that I truly realized how much I miss the presence of Sekhmet.

Bereft by William Harris Weatherhead

Bereft by William Harris Weatherhead, dated 1893

When I first decided to add Sekhmet into the Wep Ronpet celebrations, I didn’t really understand what it was I was trying to do. On a conscious level, I understood the framework of what I was building. I understood the bits about Mysteries and I kind of understood what the overall goal I was aiming to achieve was. But as I was re-reading The Distant Goddess in the Meeks book, I recognized that I didn’t know a fucking thing.

As I try to get back to what it was like last year, I realized that I was pounding through the experience as quickly as possible. I was in a rush to get the foundations laid so that she and I could disappear from one another’s lives for 5 weeks. Our relationship wasn’t very good at that point and I was still bucking like a bronco at the feel of her claws around my neck whenever I was able.

I was in too much of a hurry to do any real thinking on what I hoped to achieve as a long term goal. Truth be told, I don’t honestly think I had any long term goals in mind. I think I was just trying to escape from the insanity that had become my everything when it related to Sekhmet. I needed an out. I needed to get away. I just wanted to run away and hide from it all.

She let me go into this with the notion that this was a vacation, knowing full well that I would either grow up or I would fight against whatever she would tell me.

I don’t talk about it much but Sekhmet is willing to give us the rope that we need in order to figure things out on our own. The length varies depending on the circumstances. In my case, I had a very long, long rope and it took me a year to figure out what to do with it.

We may hate this as devotees of hers, wanting her to hold our hands to see us through even when we fight back against the hand holding. (Who said relationship building with the gods made any sense?)  We may not realize that the rope is there, but it always is. No matter how cloying her presence may feel in our lives or how distant she may be from us, the rope is always there. We can either use that rope to pull ourselves out of the pit or we can hang ourselves with it.

I chose a fantastic blend of both and she let me.

Shatter

Shatter by Kyle Thompson

Sekhmet has been gone now for two and a half weeks. I have two and a half more left to go before she returns.

I find myself haunting her altar space, trying to figure out how all of this relates to me, how I can handle the blank space deep within my ib that is empty. She has taken the best parts of me and left the dregs behind. I feel inferior and unable to cope with the blankness deep inside. Everything hurts again, a pain that I am both familiar and not familiar with. It’s almost like she gutted me when she left, working her brand of heka to keep me alive until she returns.

I keep looking around,  hoping that there is some road map that will teach me both how to handle her absence. I keep winding up on support group websites, reading about others’ grief. It’s not the same though. My grief is profound and heavy; it tears apart my bones. I feel it in the marrow, in the blood, in the pieces of me that her disappearance has crafted.

I can feel it like a drum beat just beneath my skin. It’s loudest at the temples of my head, an unending scream that would outlive Edvard Munch’s painting of the same name. The pounding in my head and the sorrow at her absence is enough to drive anyone crazy.

That’s the point, though, isn’t it? She is supposed to be distant from me; she is supposed to leave and to come back in her own time,  and I am supposed to sit here waiting, sitting vigil in her absence with my grief. My vigil is pain filled and harrowing. I feel like the rise of a new day is a miraculous moment that I must share with her, but she is gone. I feel like the simple fact that I breathed through yet another night with her still missing is a miracle, something to share with her, but again she is gone and I am alone.

I keep returning to The Distant Goddess myth, in the hopes that I can learn how to lure her back home. I found the pieces about Djehuty going out to her, tempting her to return, and I read the bits about Shu who did likewise. Neither piece fit into my haphazard diaspora, nothing worked into the puzzle that this self-made mystery is about.

How can I possibly lure her back to me? Do I trick her? Do I tell her the truth? Does the truth outweigh the sorrow infused in seven years of our love-hate relationship?

I need her. I am nothing but an automaton. I am lost without her. I can feel the moment of her leaving, the second that I broke into a thousand pieces, and I know that this isn’t enough to bring her back. I am alone and lost, hoping that one day she returns to me.