The Fourth Month & The Fourth Hour.

I knew what I could expect from the month of April before it even arrived. My research into the fourth hour told me so and my own past hinted at it. I wasn’t wrong about just how chaotic I was going to find the fourth month, but it did manage to surprise me time and time again.

As I came out the other side of all of this, I had to stop and think about it seriously. I spent a lot of the month feeling very much like I was a chicken with my head cut off. I was constantly feeling as if I was running around with no real destination in mind; just little pit stops as I went round and round in circles.

When I finally had time to think about all of it, I had to ask myself if the chaos I had experienced was necessarily a bad thing. Often within the Kemetic community, the idea of chaos is seen almost as antithetical to ma’at with the word’s association with isfet. In the Western World, we are also led to believe that chaos goes against the norm and while it can definitely feel that way while you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t necessarily equate to a bad thing.

Was everything that I went through really, well, a negative?

Confusion and disorder; lack of organization and lack of order can seem to be a negative but sometimes you need to feel pulled in a 100 directions to figure out what the right direction is. It’s only when you have that lack of organization and a constant feeling of vertigo because of it that you finally take the time to figure out where you need to actually go. Or sometimes, life really does just mean that you have to be pulled in so many different areas at once in order to move ahead to the next step on the journey ahead.

It’s not fun.

It’s nerve-wracking.

It can be frustrating and irritating.

But it’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The Fourth Month

April started dark and somber. I was depressed and moody. I didn’t feel like things were working out well and as I mentioned in my last entry on this topic, I was beginning to despair. It’s easy to fall into despair and let it eat at you, but I have more than just myself at stake at the moment, so I kept going forward.

Work is always chaotic in April. It’s the first real month of spring so we get new clients, new employees, and new projects to contend with. This year was no different, but the promised “reprieve” from the boss has yet to manifest. I think I spent much of my first two weeks of the month in back-to-back meetings or training sessions, occasionally with calls regarding new requests. It was stressful.

It still is, actually. I don’t remember the last time I left the office on time. I keep getting overtime, which is useful I suppose, but I long to be able to leave with the rest of the staff. I can also admit that I’m a little bitter; I seem to be the only supervisor who consistently has to stay late. What am I doing wrong, I sometimes ask myself. I must be unable to manage by time properly if I’m always having to stay so much later than everyone else.

But when I start to think that I must be horrible or insufficient for the demands placed upon me, I look back at all of the emails I’ve sent. We track our time for our clients for billing purposes and I can look at our little time-viewing gadgets. I surpass everyone in the office when it comes to the time entered in for our clients; I hardly ever have internal time where I’m doing a specific thing related to the company. All of my work is client facing and while that’s pleasant to know, it’s certainly tiring.

As I mentioned in my Nephthys entry, early on in the month, I took the advice from a long-term friend of mine and approached her about something Very Important and a large source of my stress, my depression, and the chaos. I asked her to help us to pull one of our irons out of the fire, an iron that’s been sitting in the coals for… well… years now.

After twenty days, she came through and we pulled the iron out of the fire. The last two weeks of the month have been spent trying to get everything lined up so that we can move on to the next step in our lives. This is Very Good and Very Exciting, but it is also Very Stressful. I’m not even doing most of the footwork on this either as I’ve asked the SO to take on that mantle and he has. But I know how chaotic and stressful it is when my down-to-earth Taurus starts stressing about things and he certainly has been.

But when things start to get overwhelming for the two of us, we remind each other that this is where we want to be. We wanted to be here before now, but we’re finally at this stage in the game. So, now it’s time to move on and move forward. We’ll know for sure that everything is buttoned up by the end of May.

And of course, the chaos of April wouldn’t be complete without something coming completely out of left field: my last remaining grandparent past away at the end of the month. He was 97 years old and lived a very long life, so in an abstract way, I can say that this wasn’t unexpected.

But it was unexpected because he was alive at Christmas and he was happy at Christmas. And it was unexpected because my last surviving link to my grandparents, to a generation that lived through A Lot of Tough Shit has past on to the West. My seventy days of mourning has begun and I have a lot of feelings to parse through on all of this. Eventually, I’ll discuss it but for now, I’m wrapping myself around my sadness while I try to come to terms with the fact that he is gone.

The Fourth Hour

The fourth hour begins at the throat of the goddess Nut, the point where true digestion begins. I always found it very interesting that the middle hours of the afterlife that tend to be the most stressful correlate with the body parts that are used for digestion. I get focused on the idea of peristalsis and the idea that one’s rebirth is no different than what we humans do every time we eat a meal.

To move the soul forward, one must be devoured whole. There’s chewing and mashing once the soul has been taken into the mouth, but there is also swallowing. And amid all of these parts, the soul is in a constant state of chaos. It is frustrating and emotional; it is painful and distressing.

No matter how green the fertile land looks and how pleasant it may all seem, there are enemies all around, looming in the darkness that surrounds. It’s a test, really. A test and a testament to whether or not you come out the other side. It’s partially all yourself and partially the forward progression as the soul is digested by Nut.

And at the basis of it all, the very real plea that you will be able to come out of it all reborn:

O you hawk rising from Nun, Lord of the Great Flood, make me flourish as you make yourself flourish.

I have felt the threat of tears just as the deceased are wont to do in this hour. An emotional response to an overwhelming situation, but a true response all the same. One can only hope that, once this has all been completed, one will flourish once more.

Conclusion

I thought that this hour would be difficult and I was right, but I didn’t really consider where the difficulties would lie. The chaos of the month was only exacerbated by the chaos of the hour. The lesson of taking a few steps forward and stopping to internalize the lesson from hour two is still very present but nigh on impossible to do with so much going on at once.

Roberts states that the turbulence of the last few hours is preparation for the upcoming hours where regeneration and life are to truly begin. The chaos of the preceding hours is a test to ensure that the deceased is truly ready for what comes ahead.

I don’t feel ready necessarily but I’m moving ever forward, just like the year has been doing. The first four months of 2019 feel very much like a steady earthquake meant to test and prod and pull apart what’s already been established so that new forms can be made and old forms that work well can be reawakened.

The next few months should prove interesting.
Further Reading

The Third Month & The Third Hour.

The word, elemental, was a good choice for the word of the month. Elemental has a number of meanings that we can look to, but the specific meaning that I felt most appropriate was: “starkly simple, primitive, or basic.” I had made my word-of-the-month choice early on, assuming that I would be broken down again on this journey forward. And this past month honestly felt like I was broken down into constituent parts to build myself back up from the basic layout that was me.

But another word that could have been used for the word of the month could have been emotional. I was “subject to or easily affected by emotion” all throughout the last thirty-one days as I continued forward on this journey of mine.

I assumed that this month wouldn’t set the tone for the rest of the year, just like the last two. This month is a long one, longer than the quickly passing second one or the liminality of the first, but I assumed that nothing about this month would linger. Maybe in another month, another thirty days, we’d see what the rest of the year would look like. But March appears to be when the road map starts to take a little more shape, a little more appearance than the last two months combined.

After being broken down into your emotional pieces, being split apart and fitted back together like a puzzle, it’s easy to come to the conclusion that you know what’s ahead. You feel like you have a level of control you didn’t before, a level of certainty that you didn’t before.

But no matter how many times you look forward with your divination and your emotions finally centered, you never truly know. You can only catch little glimpses. The map has shape and outline, but the specifics are still missing.

 

The Third Month

I had no idea what to expect for the month of March. I had gone into the previous month with a general idea, but nothing specific ever came to me for March. I even pulled cards to try to see something about what was coming, but it gave me only very vague ideas. I felt stumped and a little blind; couldn’t someone give me a little peek about the month ahead?

The first major event of the month was a Positive and a Negative: we finally hired new people to train up and help take some of the edge off on our work load. I was tickled pink because, so long as the person I am training in what I took over after we fired two people in January, this means I can move back into the position I had taken up in November of last year. The other reason I was so thrilled was because new work keeps coming in, but with the same old faces to take it on, we were all feeling the pinch.

While hiring new people is in fact a good thing, it’s also a bad thing. It means that I spend more time focusing on what the new person is doing and capable of taking on. It also means that I have to stop what I am doing so that I can make sure that they are doing things within our standard protocols. So, work has been stressful as I take on back-to-back-to-back calls and meetings to ensure that my primary resource will be able to take on the work I’m training her for and also ensuring that someone who will only slightly be touching things I oversee is capable of taking that on as well.

Some nights, after a long day of training and my own work, I would sit at my desk for a half hour or more to catch up on things that I couldn’t deal with during the business day. I can’t remember the last time I actually made it home from work on time: I never leave at 5 anymore. Most of the other leads are feeling the same way as me and are also stuck in the office afterhours. I keep telling myself that this is just for a little bit longer, but we’ll see if that’s true.

On the heels of the good news, and the actual negative thing related to the above, we lost one of our supervisors. It’s a good thing for her to move on, but the game plan the boss came up with to fill in her role is a nightmare. The supervisor who took over my position last year so I could move into my new position is basically doing exactly what I was doing six months ago. She keeps forgetting that I know exactly what she’s going through, but I won’t remind her until she snaps at me again.

We all keep telling ourselves that good things are coming: new business, new employees, new directions. It still feels like we’re all being flattened under the weight of it all though.

The other good thing this month was that I got married! I am lucky that I didn’t have to actually like plan the wedding itself or the small reception that took place afterward. My SO’s mother, who had talked us into more than just walking into the courthouse, took care of all of that. It was very low-key and very nice. I’m glad it is finally over though. Weddings – even small ones like ours – are expensive and time-consuming.

Even with the things that I needed to see through with the SO, I was more excited than stressed out about it. I tend to be the opposite: stress about it all first and then get excited just before the new thing happens. It was weird having the complete opposite reaction to all of this.

The last thing that came about this month is that I started focusing on the advice I was given last month about Nephthys. The problem is that I knew very little about her. After researching her a bit, I realized that I still didn’t know a whole lot about her. The source material for her is very small and this seems to relate to the fact that she tends to be tied up alongside her sister, Aset.

I began coming up with a ton of ideas to do what I was advised to do. I would throw them around my head just to see where the thoughts would end up. Eventually, I mulled enough on it to come up with an idea that I think would work. When TTR and I kind of discussed it once I felt like I knew what I was trying to do, they seemed to agree that this could work out.

I have to put it into practice now, so we’ll see how well this turns out eventually.

All in all, this month felt like a roller coaster ride with no way off. A lot of the roller coaster stuff was work related, but not all of it. No matter how many times I wanted to stop what I was doing, thinking, or feeling to give me a few minutes to myself, I couldn’t. I was constantly on the go. I had to complete a number of items on my checklist for my wedding at the end of the month and so did the SO. I needed to get things lined up at work for new hires to be trained properly. Every day was a long day and in the middle of all of this, my emotions kept see-sawing back and forth.

March was an emotional month. I would find myself snapping at people for no reason; they didn’t upset me or annoy me or make me feel as tired as I felt. It wasn’t their fault and sometimes when I followed the threads of those emotions, I couldn’t quite figure out where all of it was coming from. Was it really just stress and frustration? Was it something more? Was it just because I had been going a hundred miles an hour and needed to take a fucking minute without being able to do so?

But it was still emotional. I found myself breaking down sometimes in a crying jag, overwhelmed with my emotions. Most of the times I broke down, I was in the car and there was no one around to ask me what was wrong. I couldn’t have explained it all if I wanted to. I wouldn’t have wanted to anyway.

I got through it all. After the wedding and the third week of training, I was able to say that I was feeling a lot more stable. The ups and downs of the roller coaster ride were either easier to get through or they weren’t as high anymore. I may even be able to get off of the damn thing some time next month!

 

The Third Hour

The third hour is about the deceased declaring that, after passing through a gateway of fire and pain, they have become one of the Shining Ones, or Akh. The part that was conspicuously missing was that in order to become transfigured into one of the Shining Ones, not only do you have to work on getting your body in line to wake up from its inert state, you also have to force your emotions to wake up as well.

The body isn’t the only part that requires movement forward; the pieces of one’s soul also have to move forward so that all pieces can be codified back into a single unit before one can declare that they have become one of the akh. To me, the pieces of the soul relate more to one’s emotions than to the body. The body houses all of these pieces of the soul in some form or another, but one’s emotions are also tied to those pieces. And you can’t move ahead until you’re all right in the head.

It often felt like my emotions were being broken down into their component or elemental pieces to force an integration together. I had major ups and downs as my emotional being passed through the fire and pain of the gateway and moved every forward until the parts of my emotional self could integrate back into who I was.

It hurt; all of it hurt. I could feel parts of myself breaking off and trying to run away from it all while the rest of my reached out for those pieces to bring them back to bear. The emotional roller coaster that was happening in real life followed me into my dreams. I couldn’t escape it.

And the lesson I learned last month about taking a step and then stopping to allow the re-integration of the self was difficult to put into practice when I felt a little like I was all over the place, trying to snatch back pieces of myself that wanted to flee. But after all of the constancy of being on-the-go in March, I finally was able to get to the point where I could at least declare that I had been transfigured. It just took longer than I expected.

 

Conclusion

The third hour is more like a footnote in My Heart, My Mother. There is little to give the hour substance in the book beyond the words that the Pharaoh would say after passing through the gateway:

O Bull of the Two Lands… I am divine, I am an Akh, I am powerful and I am seated on the throne of Atum… make a place for me amongst you so that I may sail with Re in the Duat.

I thought that this hour would be easy. It’s about passing through the elemental fire of the gateway and declaring oneself as having been transfigured after passing through the second hour. I was wrong. It didn’t occur to me that the inertia of the second hour was from a physical standpoint; in order to truly become transfigured, one’s emotional well-being needs to be taken into account as well.

This, more than anything, explains why Roberts mentions that there are still being in various phases of transformation in the third hour as well. This never made much sense to me, but now it does. You can’t move forward just because your body is whole; you have to make sure the entirety of your being is whole too.

 

Further Reading

The Second Month & The Second Hour.

I thought that if I had to choose a word to describe this month, it would be inert. The second hour of the Netherworld highlights the Inert Ones, those who are in stasis before they can move on to the next hour – if they even are able to move on at all – and so I assumed going in that “inert” would be my word of the month.

But I found that the real word, the real descriptor for this month, was fortify. If we look at the definition listed at Dictionary-dot-com, we find:

I thought that the second month of the year would begin to set the tone for the rest of the year, but I found that I was wrong. The second month passes by too swiftly for any sort of tone to be enacted, or to even be felt. From one second we are walking the line into February 1st and before we know it, we have passed by 28 or 29 days and see March on the horizon. Nothing concrete truly happens this month; it just provides a firmer road map of what the future will hold.

In the capture I provided above, I found that the phrase “increase the effectiveness of” was also an appropriate descriptor for this second month. At the end of all of this hard work in this year of rebirth, an increase in my own effectiveness could be seen as the sum total of the whole undertaking. It is interesting to see that this increase in effectiveness begins so soon.

This isn’t to say that the second hour of our journey isn’t fraught with inertia, or inertness. It is merely that during the rest period of that inertia, there is also a fortification or building up of oneself going on at the same time. While this may seem dichotomous, it is only through the inertia that we are experiencing that we can sense where we must focus our attention to fortify ourselves.


The Second Month

The end of January gave me a glimpse of what I could expect in February. Three major events have happened this month that are interrelated in a Big Picture kind of way, and of course relate back to my personal rebirth journey.

The first major happening was a Disappointment. As I’ve mentioned, I have a number of irons in the fire and have been working on these irons for a long time. The SO and I decided to try to pull one out to see what happened, but it ended up not working out so the iron was put back in place.

But even though this wasn’t the ending that we wanted, we realized that this Disappointment actually worked out in our favor. This gave us more time to add more heat to the fire that this particular iron is in so that it will be warm enough when we’re finally ready to pull the trigger. I was able to fortify on my end and he has been as well so that when it finally happens, we won’t have to worry nearly as much as we were when we first gave it a shot.

The second event of the month was also a Disappointment: the cracked tooth in the back of my mouth that had been hurting off and on for months had finally come to roost. I had a cavity in that cracked tooth, an absence which had caused an infection, and on top of everything else, the wisdom tooth that was never supposed to come in was sitting behind the cracked tooth, all impacted and shit.

I do not have dental insurance because I am an idiot, so I spent about half of February trying to find an oral surgeon to deal with this issue. Since my roots look like two clawed fingers and are inordinately long, the dental clinic I went to thought it best if a surgeon deals with it. But do you know what? Oral surgeons are not fans of people without insurance and not fans of payment plans. They are also not willing to donate their time to dental clinics.

I spent two weeks working on this health issue nearly non-stop as I found out that I have a higher pain tolerance than most people. I went to work every day while I tried to find someone who would be willing to take a payment plan or cut me some slack on the costs to remove a tooth. Of course, none of them were surgeons.

This time helped me to strengthen myself in a health sort of way. I often ignore my health in favor of everyone and everything else, but I learned that focusing on one’s health is just as important as everything else.

It was a horrendous ordeal removing this tooth. I spent two hours in a dental chair and spent two days recovering from it. While this was a learning experience (AKA, I found a loophole to get me dental insurance since I have other Major Dental Issues that need to be addressed and as TTR pointed out, tooth health is Very Important), it also helped me to jump over a hurdle that I had placed in front of myself.

This experience helped me to reach out to Nephthys as a friend of mine had indicated I should last month. In a fit of pique after spending two hours in a dental chair and emotionally wrung out, I promised her anything if she would just get the damn tooth out of my head. The roots popped out shortly thereafter, which means… I should probably start looking into her a bit more.

The third major event from this month is actually a Positive. After spending twelve years together, the SO and I finally figured we should get married. This is also going to help us with the irons I talked about above probably, so we may as well. I have found out that planning a wedding, even something as low-key as what I want, is A Thing and I don’t recommend it.

If you have to plan your own, find someone to do it for you as much as humanly possible.

While this may not seem like it relates, it is also a way for the SO and I to fortify ourselves especially after the Disappointment we had experienced early on in February. It will be a benefit in a lot of ways and of course, I guess there’s the whole thing about love and stuff.

 

The Second Hour

The second hour has been far more eventful than the first. As I worked on the above things to see me to the next hour, I found that I had to do the same thing. Everything going on this month has had rapid periods of movement as I work to bolster something forward or get something done, but there have also been long moments of inertness.

The periods in between where I am able to stop, sit back, reflect have been useful as I work on the fortifications that one needs to take on to pass through this second hour. You need to be able to reawaken yourself as Sia whispers to the Inert Ones lying passive in this hour. But you also need to take the time necessary to figure out how you’ve reawakened yourself and fit it into the place where it needs to go.

In order to move on, one must be capable of full integration with oneself. The only way that will be possible is if you also take the time to focus on the task and then sit back for a bit. Going full tilt will get no one anywhere for long. It’ll wind up looking more like you’re running in place than anything else. And then there will be no ability to move on.

I think that may have been what happened the last time I tried this. I think I was so focused on the journey that I didn’t stop long enough to absorb what it was that I was trying to do. I didn’t take the time to reflect on the parts of myself that were reawakening or awakening for the first time. And I didn’t let them situate themselves in place before I kept going.

So I’ve learned a lesson: moving forward is necessary, but a need for rest after the movement is also necessary. It is only through this quiet time afterward that you are truly able to put the pieces together, to truly integrate with what has happened.

 

Conclusion

When I first read through My Heart, My Mother, I was more focused on the idea of the Inert Ones in the second hour. It was a focal point for my mind and I wound up sticking on their appearance within the hour. The parts that I failed to integrate when I read through the book originally was that the second hour does more than just show up as a memorial for those who haven’t moved on to the next hour.

As Roberts states:

What we are seeing here in the Book of Night is a renewal of bodies, the reawakening of inert, lifeless forms. They are being told by Sia that they have not died when they entered the mother goddess, but rather that they have to take command again of all of their bodily functions. Hence, as each person begins the journey in the West, their first experience is a renewal and strengthening of all parts of the body…

The second step on this odyssey of the soul has been only a single step, a pause as I integrate what has happened, and then a few more steps forward. Less the phrase “two steps forward, one step back” and more a phrase I came up with earlier this month, “one step forward, pause, two steps forward, pause…” There can be no progression without the ability to fully come to terms with what has happened.

I am excited to see what comes next, when the irons will get pulled, when I will hopefully be able to say that I am noticing the progress I am making and seeing it in the world around me. We’ll see what comes next month, I suppose.

 

Further Reading

The First Month & The First Hour.

If there was any word that we could use to describe the first month of the civil year, and in conjunction with the first hour of my personal journey through the Duat, I would say liminality would be the most appropriate. When you look up the word, liminality on Wikipedia, this is what the first paragraph has to say:

…liminality is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rites, when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete. During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which completing the rite establishes.

The first month of the year doesn’t necessarily set the tone for the rest of the year. We may think that it does when we see the ongoing 24-hour news cycle and our constant connection with what’s happening in the world. But the month of January is merely a signpost, a herald advising that the year has begun and things are coming but we’re not quite there yet. Nothing concrete truly happens in the first month; it just provides you with hints as to what you can expect for the future.

In that quote that I provided from Wikipedia, they talk about “disorientation,” which would also be an adequate word to describe the first month of the New Year. It is disorienting moving from the death of the old year into the birth of the new. It is a tumultuous time, which is why we can often misinterpret the first month as the part of the year where the tone for the next 12 months is set. But again, January does not do this; it only hints at what is to come.

We can say this is true for the first hour of the journey into the afterlife. As my research into various netherworld books seemed to indicate, the first hour is what I referred to as a “non-hour.” It is a signpost and a herald for what is to come, but the work and movement won’t begin until the solar barque passes through the gateway into the Second Hour. And then, things will truly begin.

The First Month

I had my suspicions about what I could expect from the first month of the year. There were a few hints and a few pushes that I would see a lot of changes on the real-life front. However, I wasn’t really expecting that things would be this tumultuous. Even with the above research into liminality and my attempts at philosophical discussion on the topic of said word, I can assure anyone reading this that I didn’t expect shit to get this real so quickly.

Work has been one of those kind of nightmare places where you’re trying to figure out if you’re alive or dead. The first bang went off at work and was followed by two more. The first two bangs were big loud, nuclear fall-out cloud explosions. All of us are still trying to pick up the pieces from those first two bombs. We told ourselves that by mid-February we should be good to go, but with the way things have been going, I don’t really see us un-burying ourselves until March.

The thing is that my boss keeps reminding us that this was a necessary change, a good change. From a holistic point-of-view, her assessment is correct. We did need to make these changes and they are for the betterment of the office and the company as a whole. However, we have to slog through the ash that we ourselves caused by burning shit down around us. And we all voted for it; we all agreed to this change knowing that it needed to happen. And I can say that these changes have caused betterment even though we’re all up to our eyeballs in bullshit every day.

The third bang was a smaller bang and more personally impacting. It frustrated me but I knew it was going to happen long before it did. I had expect the bomb to go off and it did. I can admit why it did and I can even agree that it should have gone off. But that doesn’t make me particularly happy about anything especially considering the day-to-day shit I’m slogging through because of the other things going on.

And I’m… well, I’m frustrated. I can see on Google maps what the fuck the forest looks like, but from my personal vantage point, I can’t see the damn forest because of all the fucking trees. And what annoys me the most about all of this is that there are three other people in the office who are at the same level of the job as I am who come across as inordinately selfish for all of this shit.

As I am slogging through this bullshit, they’re whining that I can’t help them with whatever. Well… yes. That’s what happens when you blow shit up in your own damn face, like we all agreed to do. And unfortunately it sucks that you have to take on more personal responsibility that you used to very happily delegate to me and that I, sadly, would willingly take on. But now it sucks that you can’t shove your shit on me because I’m too busy shoveling my own and you have to deal with the consequences of a decision we all agreed to.

Beyond work, which is sadly a large portion of what my first month of 2019 has entailed, I have had some irons in the fire that I have been poking and prodding for… well, years. These irons are finally getting hot and ready to get pulled out for use, although I have a bit more to do before we finally get to there. I can safely say that I am very, very ready to pull these damn irons from the fire.

The First Hour

The first hour has been, well, uneventful in the grand scheme of things. You would think that there would be lights and sirens maybe, just a little hint that the work has begun. But aside from dreams and the ongoing Tarot Card Drama™, there is very little going on from the afterlife front. I suppose I should be grateful that nothing has picked up considering everything else that has been going on this past month.

So far, the first hour has been more preparation than anything else. I’ve been taking the time that I have available to look inward, knowing that once I reach the gateway, I’ll begin moving forward. I’ve found bits of myself, pieces that have been highlighted for the upcoming work that I have needed to look through, to address in some way, shape, or form. None of these things are personal failings – merely things that became highlighted for me as I navigated slowly forward.

I’m not horrible at taking the magnifying glass to myself to poke and prod at the things that need to be reviewed, but I’m not the best at coming out of the look-see feeling like I’ve made progress. Sometimes momentum or progress isn’t necessary, but I always come away feeling like I need to have something tangible in hand after the review. And if I can’t come away with that tangible something, then I feel like I wasted my time and energy in the doing.

After conversing with TTR about something that I needed to look into and their giving advice on how to do this, I was able to at least get some movement on something that needed to be addressed in some way. While I didn’t really come out of that with a solution per se, I realized that this wasn’t really a situation that fell into “I need a solution” territory.

  • I needed to acknowledge what was happening – check.
  • I needed to acknowledge the cause of it – check.
  • I needed to admit how it was impacting me – check.

There wasn’t anything that required a way to fix it. It is what it is. I think the year ahead will probably help in all of this, but I can only really wait and see on that. I needed to admit that this was a thing and I needed to at least understand the cause for it. I was able to do that and in the doing, I feel more prepared than ever for the next step.

Of course, we’ll see how prepared I really am soon enough.

Conclusion

Before completing my research for the first hour of the various Books of the Afterlife, I thought that I would go into the first hour and immediately make some form of progress. I thought the progress would look like something tangible, but I was wrong. My research indicated that the first hour would almost be a sort of interim moment between the decision to move forward and the second hour when movement would begin.

As Hornung states:

The nightly journey of the sun is the focus of all the Books of the Netherworld, and consistent with this, it also furnishes the ordering and creative principle for the spaces in the hereafter. This nocturnal regeneration of the sun demonstrates, by way of example, what powers of renewal are at work on the far side of death. At the same time, the journey occurs in the spaces of the human soul, in which a renewal from the depths becomes possible. That is an odyssey of the soul is emphasized by the Egyptians through the indication that the sun god descends into the depths as a ba-soul…

The nocturnal journey leads through an inner region of the cosmos that was regarded not only as the netherworld and the depths of the earth, but also as water (the primeval water, the Nun) as darkness, and as the interior of the sky.

The first step on the odyssey of the soul is little more than putting two feet on the first step of the bus or train that you’ve decided to take to get to your destination. It is merely a herald, a signpost for the future that this is a moment that Change Is Going to Happen But Not Yet.

I am tired of waiting at least from the spiritual aspect of things, but I am ready for the movement forward to begin to take form and show me the overall outcome. But that could just be my impatience talking.
Further Reading

A Year of Rebirth.

One of my boss’s signature questions when we’re stuck in the minutiae of our work is “what is the bigger picture?” I joke with the other employees in the office that this is her catch phrase, but it’s a good thing to ponder on when you get too lost in the details. Too often, we get so focused on the finer points that we lose sight of the high level goal of what we’re trying to achieve for the client.

On the flip side, I’ve often found myself more focused on the overarching goal of what we want to achieve that I misstep on the day-to-day. It’s easy to take yourself so far out of the particulars that you forget to focus and follow the process that you and the client have cobbled together to get to the end goal.

I got stuck in the mindset of bigger picture in 2015, focusing more on the overarching goal of a rebirth that I didn’t ask for and didn’t want. I’ve given some consideration to the idea that because I didn’t have the baby steps necessary to achieve the bigger picture that this only added to the dog-pile when I finally pulled out and let the rebirth fail. While this is by no mean’s the primary reason why it failed, it’s given me enough food for thought for what I should be working on in 2019 as I go through this again.

Bigger picture is a fine focal point, but the path through the wood isn’t a top-down view when you’re walking it. I need the signposts that I’ll be looking for as the year progresses and I continue this journey forward.

Big?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both. And be one traveler, long I stood and looked down one as far as I could… – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

In prep for the year ahead, I decided to create a map and placed little arrows on that map where sign posts could conceivably be as I move forward. I looked at the project as if I was trying to recreate the app I use on my daily commute to work. While I know the general route to get to work, the app helps me to navigate through pitfalls like traffic or construction to ensure that I get to work in a timely manner. I wanted something similar when I began trying to come up with the baby steps I need to see through this year of rebirth.

A starting point was a high level exploration of the books of the afterlife. While reading through My Heart, My Mother, I took notes on the various hours of the night that Roberts discusses at length in her book. After reviewing my notes on the various hours, I also read through whatever other books I had to hand that discussed the plethora of afterlife literature popularized in the New Kingdom. This way, I could follow the path through the night just as Ra does each evening and have a general idea of where I was headed, what I might come into contact with, and how to move on when the time comes.

After going through everything that I had written down, read through, and internalized, I decided that I would follow through on an old blogging project that never came to fruition: I would follow the nightly path of Ra through the next 12 months, correlating each month with a particular hour. While the focus will be on the Book of Night that is discussed extensively in Alison Roberts book, I have also found other items of interest from the other afterlife literature I was researching and will include that in the blogging project.

On the first of each month, I will write an historical perspective as best as I can on each individual hour with all of the information I’ve been able to learn. I will then conclude my personal rebirth-oriented exploration of the hour toward the end of the month. (For those not interested in UPG, you can ignore the second post that will go live on the last day of the month.)

This map will, hopefully, help me to continue moving forward instead of getting stuck in the peristalsis of Nut’s body as I go through this next year.

Ritual

Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Beyond all of the rebirth connotations and the Book of Night, I also recognized that my ritual game has been… non-existent. I can’t remember the last time I gave daily offerings to my gods or my ancestors. While I do honor them on holidays and the like should I get around to it, my offerings and rituals have fallen off dramatically since my failed rebirth three years ago.

I found it difficult to care about providing for them all when I often felt that I was the one doing the lion’s share of the work. Offerings are hard work; not only are their words and gestures necessary to see it through… The sheer act of taking the time out of what can often be an exhausting day to provide for them when I seemed to get next to nothing in the reciprocity game seemed to be asking for too much from me. So I stopped bothering.

But through all of my research, there is one thing that has been hammered home for me over and over again. The act of ritual is just as important as the offerings themselves. It is more than simply plopping a few things down and calling yourself done. Reciprocity is the name of the game, but in order to be a player in the game, certain standards must be met both in the realm of offerings and how those offerings are conveyed, I.E. rituals.

As part of this, I have agreed to do a daily ritual for my gods and ancestors. The purpose of this ritual is two-fold: to wake both the gods and my ancestors up each morning happily and cheerfully and to give them the libations and offerings that I am putting out for them to feed upon that day. I’m not thrilled that I will be effectively doing this 365 days (the last time I gave offerings regularly, I at least took Sundays off) but this was the deal that I agreed to when I was asked for daily rites.

The daily rite will look something like this:

Purification with water, incense, and fire
Procession of offerings
Opening the shrine bolt
Sprinkling of water over shrine/icons
Ritual words to wake up the gods and ancestors
Ritual words as offerings are provided to gods and ancestors
Offering the whole Eye of Horus
Offering the heart
Reversion of offerings
Closing of the shrine

As this will be my first real foray in doing more than the basic good morning ritual in Eternal Egypt by Richard Reidy, I’m simultaneously excited and nervous. I suppose as time goes by, I will eventually get to an established clear point where I feel, if not content with the overall work, then at least comfortable with it.

In addition, I will be partaking in both the Year of Rites and Making Ma’at 2K19 orchestrated by TTR. (Links and explanations below.)

Rebirth

Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—. I took the one less traveled by,and that has made all the difference. – The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

The year ahead is, most likely, not for the faint of heart. I will be undergoing a deep-seated and necessary change. The overall purpose will, hopefully, be for the better. This rebirth cycle is to better myself, better my gods, and better my ancestors. All of us are putting in a concerted effort to achieve the overall goals we have set for ourselves in 2019.

There are other pushes, other irons in the fire that will hopefully make the next year a roller coaster ride of change. It should certainly be interesting, if nothing else.

Further Reading

Bull of His Mother.

In October of this year, I was handed down a directive to re-read Hathor Rising and My Heart, My Mother. It had been a while since I had been given homework – and by an unknown quarter, no less!, though I suspect I know where it came from – so I didn’t immediately balk at the request.

It was around the same time that I received this directive that I had decided that I would proceed with the cycle of rebirth that I had failed to see through 3 years ago. Considering how thought-provoking and useful I had found both books during the process three years ago, I could see the wisdom in re-reading them by the end of the year.

What I wasn’t expecting as I blew through Hathor Rising was how much of the book I had actually forgotten. There were whole chapters filled with very interesting tidbits that relate in some form to either my relationships with my primary gods or to the regeneration cycle I had agreed to undertake, which were practically brand new to me.

One of the items that I got stuck focusing on for a while as I continued my readathon was about Bull of His Mother, or Kamutef. While this is an epithet that has been associated with other deities, as I will explain further below, in the instance of Hathor Rising, the author is discussing the regenerative properties of the syncretized version of Amun as Amun-Min-Bull-of-His-Mother.

As I researched the name Kamutef further, I found that Amun-Re in the New Kingdom also utilized Kamutef, who has a small shrine space or sanctuary outside of Mut’s Asheru sacred lake at Karnak, in his name as Amenemopet to regenerate himself each year.

While the information I gleaned about Kamutef, and the syncretic Amun-Min-Bull-of-his-Mother all very interesting for what I was going to be undertaking myself, it was the actual epithet “Bull of His Mother” that stayed with me as I researched.

DSC07286 The strong Bull of his Mother

As I mentioned, I was familiar with this epithet to some extent as I had seen it in association with various Horus iterations during one or more of my previous research extravaganzas. It is through this phrase that whichever Horus we are speaking of (both the younger and the elder) assume the role of king from their father. I had also seen it, or dreamed that I had seen it, associated with Geb. (Here’s a link to a conversation about it. Trigger warning for sexual assault.)

The gist of the associations with these gods is that it is through a full assumption of their father’s role – from son to the “fecundator” of their mothers that they take on the role of king. The father and son are the agents of the rebirth cycle while the mother is a seemingly passive vessel in the undertaking. She is providing the necessary environment for the son to be reborn into the role their father has bequeathed to them.

The idea that the womb played a sort of passive role in the rebirth of the king isn’t new to me. Sekhmet plays a similar role in the Pyramid Texts, where it is her womb that allows the deceased pharaoh to be reborn into akh. It is not from her womb that they are born; merely the act of entering the womb that seems to bestow that power unto the pharaoh. (This kind of highlights, in my opinion, the idea that ancient Egyptians knew very little about the bodies of people with wombs.)

The purpose behind this assumption of the father’s role in its entirety is that it is through the mother that the son is to hope for an ever-repeating life. It is this passiveness on the part of the mother in the cycle of rebirth that, I think, is required for the son’s elevation to the role of their father. Their mother must provide a habitable environment for this ability to manifest their own rebirth cycle but she doesn’t actively take part in the act itself.

The fertility that comes through the regenerative properties of one who is a Bull of His Mother is immune to death, so to speak. The person or god in question is capable of renewing himself over and over again and in so doing, also provides the cycle of rebirth over and over again for those who have ruled before. In effect, through the assumption of this role, the deities mentioned above and subsequent human pharaohs, are able to provide ever-lasting life for not only themselves but their forebears as well.

In addition to the hints of a constant and forever sort of rebirth cycle, the incestuous relations between mother and son allowed the sons to fully appropriate the title of ruler from their fathers. It also gave them the ability to deny “linear time”; the role allowed them to change the succession of generations by writing the past and present into a single person unified person. (This concept isn’t so different from the discussions regarding mythic time.)

With the acceptance of this epithet and the role associated with it, there would be continuity without fear of facing chaos like those of the Intermediate periods with the deity or human pharaoh assuming the full role of his father. As mentioned in the entry for Kamutef in The Ancient Gods Speak: “being the father and the son possesses an unquestionable legitimacy.”

So in this way, the epithet lends credence to the legitimacy of the succession. By assuming the role of one’s father in every capacity, the new pharaoh is ensuring continuity and the ongoing rebirth cycle that all pharaohs hoped to achieve.

While this particular epithet seems to be more commonly associated with a variety of gods, there was a specific festival called the Harvest Festival that the human pharaohs would perform so that they could fulfill the role of Bull of His Mother on a country-wide scale.

In this festival, which dates back to the Middle Kingdom, the pharaoh completed a ritual that allowed them to take on this mantle to regenerate the crops of the country. He and the priests would complete a fertility ritual to ensure that the crops for the upcoming year would be abundant.

I suspect that the Bull of His Mother epithet may have in fact had more to do with the consecration of a living pharaoh’s son to take the mantle of kingship upon the death of his predecessor. Based on what I have found during my research into both this epithet and its associated deity, Kamutef, it makes sense that the “Bull of His Mother” function played a larger part than a yearly Harvest Festival.

In effect, the Bull of His Mother epithet is associated with the ability for the sons to fully consecrate themselves in the roles of their fathers. While the epithet can have negative associations (as in the case of the possible association with Geb), it seems that it is more intended as an epithet to engender the vehicle of one’s own ability to renew themselves.

texas longhorn

There can be no doubt as to why I found my exploration of the Bull of His Mother fascinating.

The next year is a year of death and rebirth. I have been asked to die for my gods and I have agreed to go through with this moment of rebirth. Not only will the rebirth cycle I am undertaking benefit myself, but it will also benefit my gods in the long-term. Reading about an epithet and its associative deity that is capable of engendering its own vehicle of rebirth seemed, well, opportune and timely.

It makes sense to me that, in order for me to induce my own rebirth that I should assume the mantle of the Bull of His Mother. This is an epithet, and a deity, associated with the very things that I must undertake. And it would be a benefit to all parties involved if I can use this Bull of His Mother epithet as a sort of blueprint to see through what I need to see through.

As I was discussing the Bull of His Mother with TTR, they mentioned that Mut could also prove useful. “Mut is said to be “the mother who became a daughter,” or “the daughter-mother who made her begetter,” expressing a power of self-creation similar to that expressed for Amun by the epithet kamutef, ‘bull of his mother’, meaning one who is his own father.” (Link.)

While this was an avenue of possibility that I hadn’t considered before, it didn’t feel quite right to me. For some reason, the idea of becoming a god who could help me move forward on my necessary quest for ever-lasting life during my own rebirth cycle just felt wrong. I’ve since come to the realization that for the regenerative properties I am looking for, I need to undertake the epithet of Bull of His Mother to see it through as opposed to becoming either Mut or Kamutef. The assumption of the epithet feels more in tune with what I need to achieve.

So here I am, or there I will be at any rate… Satsekhem-Bull of His Mother. I guess I can only wait and see how far the assumption of this mantle pushes me in the upcoming months as I willingly die for my gods.

Receive the crook of your Father and the flail of Bull-of-His-Mother. You are the seed of the Lord of Abydos. May he give strength entirely.

– p. 95, Hathor Rising

Further Reading

  1. Hathor Rising by Alison Roberts
  2. My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts
  3. The Ancient Gods Speak edited by Donald B. Redford
  4. Temples of Ancient Egypt edited by Byron E. Shafer

Lady of Rage.

Zep Tepi is the moment we all know as the First Time, or the First Occasion. It is that single perfect moment in which creation has been created. It signifies when the world is new and whole and perfect. It is that split second in time where the primeval mound has risen from the lifeless waters of the Nun to announce that the world has been made. It is perfection personified in a single yet brief period of time.

It is also an endless moment. It moves across time and space. It is always happening; it has already happened. Mythic time makes this part of the myth difficult for us to fully understand. We can connect to this concept of mythic time when we discuss the number of creation myths found in ancient Egypt (after thousand of years and varying degrees of import associated with specific cult centers, it’s bound to happen). But when we take a look at it without associating it with the cosmogonies, we can sometimes forget that Zep Tepi has already happened, is currently happening, and is going to happen.

In effect, Zep Tepi is more than just a single second in time from eons back; from before humans walked the earth and before gods ruled. It happens every day. And it will happen again and again every second of every day. And it will happen many years in the future after I am buried and have turned to dust.

But Zep Tepi goes beyond the cosmogony of ancient Egyptian creation myth. It goes beyond simply a focal point for us to dither and reinterpret as we speak with our community members. Zep Tepi happens every day, and it happens to all of us every day.

It is the moment the sun peers above the horizon. The second before you step into an important meeting about a raise with your boss. The decision before you start eating right and exercising. The time you roll away from your desk to take a break from work. The moment after you’ve taken your anti-anxiety medication and they begin to take effect. The moment you put your car into drive. The deep breath you take before you make an important phone call.

Zep Tepi happens every day in a thousand little ways.

This is not a new concept for us. We have had this discussion numerous times. In fact, I think we’ve hashed it out to the point where many Kemetics in the group spaces I haunt can all agree that Zep Tepi is an ongoing renewal on a personal and fundamental level in all of our lives. It encapsulates any number of moments in our day-to-day lives and can be as large as a sunrise or as small as taking one’s medication.

But the portion of the conversation that does tend to get glossed over is what leads up to that moment of Zep Tepi. In the examples I’ve listed above, we do not usually discuss what precedes each split second of Zep Tepi in our lives. In many instances the time before that moment of rebirth hits us is a battle unto itself. And the next second it is just like when the primordial mound raises from the watery chaos of the Nun.

There are any number of things that we may have to go through before we can achieve our personal Zep Tepi, no matter what we may consider a personal Zep Tepi. Any single person who has had to have these types of uncomfortable conversations either with themselves or other people can attest that it is not an easy process. Anyone who has had to work on themselves in some form or another can assert that the way forward was fraught with pain and suffering. There are any number of setbacks that may have or probably did occur before that moment of renewal is upon us.

The path leading us to Zep Tepi is not an easy one.

Here it comes !

O you who consume your arm, prepare a path for me, for I am Re, I have come forth from the horizon against my foe. – excerpt from Spell 11, The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

In high school, there were two distinguishing features that people used to tell the difference between my best friend and I. (We did resemble one another.) The first was that I was the shortest one in our friend group, which was true. I was tiny in comparison and there were a good 2 – 3″ between me and the next shortest person. The second was that I was an angry kind of person, which was also true. Being a short, angry ball of energy followed me out of high school and into other adventures in my life.

Both were a constant and, or so I thought, I could do nothing about either. I wore them like badges of honor. I was a little ball of rage that could make grown men cry; and wasn’t it just hilarious that I was so tiny to boot?

I’ve written about it all before, but suffice to say I was perfectly fine with it for a very long time before Sekhmet took me by the face, squeezed my cheeks together, and said, “cut the shit, and fix it.” I argued about it since this seemed like something I really didn’t want to do and I was given a caveat to the first message. “Or else.” I was never sure what the “or else” could entail, but I figured if she was telling me to fix it, and tacking on something as menacing as “or else”, then there was probably a serious problem.

The irony of the situation was not lost on me, of course.

I railed against her.

I told her that she was a hypocrite.

I whined at her.

I cried a lot.

I didn’t want to get rid of it. I wanted it to remain because it was a part of who I was, it was a part of my very identity. If I were to get rid of it, then who would I be? She should have been able to understand my point of view easily since, I felt, she was in similar circumstances. But no matter how many times I tried to get out of it, I came back to Sekhmet’s message to me: “cut the shit, and fix it. Or else.”

It took me a very long time to work on it. I knew that there was no quick fix here, but I had hoped for one.

As the years had past, the primary moment that the rage began had grown. Instead of it having been created at a single fixed moment in my life and remaining the same size it had been at that moment of its own creation, I found that it had been built up over the years by a variety of traumas until it was very large. It was exceedingly painful to work on. I couldn’t go from 0 to 100 on this. I had to take my sweet time as I slowly peeled back the layers to find the very start, the very beginning.

I had always been under the impression that rage was, well, healthy. I thought that having it was a good thing. But something that I had learned as I worked on this was that anger could be healthy; rage was not. I had to work down the ball of rage until I could manage what was left before I could finally turn to Sekhmet and say, “See what I have done? I did it.”

But I had caused another problem in the fixing. Out of fear, I wouldn’t let myself feel angry. I had spent so much time working on this part of myself that I was worried what would happen if I got angry. I kept my emotions locked up tight until I thought I would break from it all. I finally fell apart and realized that I had gone from one extreme to the other; I had gone from razor teeth and claws to a featureless void of no emotion with periodic explosions.

I had to learn hard how to express myself. I had to educate myself on what was and was not healthy. I had to let myself feel my emotions, but instead of bottling them up into a nice little pocket of rage in my chest, I had to express them in a way that would benefit myself and others. I had broken myself down to fix the problem, but I had only done part of the work to build myself back up.

After working down the traumas, working them all down until I had a functional level of anger that was healthy. Then I had to teach myself how to express these emotions in a healthy way, in a way that would benefit myself, the work that I had done, and the people around me. I’m finally at a point where I can say that while I do experience anger at a variety of things, I can finally express it in a healthy way that doesn’t involve broken things or people.

My first true moment of Zep Tepi was after all the rage had been pulled from its pocket and I could breathe again without feeling like I would melt down. My second moment was being able to express my frustrations and anger in a way that benefited myself, my life, and my goddess.

Rage

I have flown up like the primeval ones, I have become Khepri, I have grown as a plant, I have clad myself as a tortoise, I am the essence of every god… – excerpt from Spell 83, The Book of Going Forth by Day translated by R.O. Faulkner

After I had realized that I needed to build my house back up, I sent myself on a mission to find something that would benefit me in the long run. I had to find a part of myself that had been missing for a very long time. Another piece of me had hidden that part of myself away in a safe place for later because that piece of me had grown tired of the world, tired of the gods, tired of living.

When I finally found that part of me again, I was reminded a bit of the Book of the Celestial Cow where Ra is mentioned to have become old. As quoted from this piece by Edward Butler:

Re learns that there are humans plotting against him because the furthest limits of his realm are far removed from his living divinity. The myth offers two immediate symbols of this distance or gap between Re and his subjects. The first is Re’s elderliness and, the second, the mineral metaphors used to describe him: his bones like silver, his flesh like gold, his hair like lapis lazuli. Re is elderly, not as an absolute quality, but relative to those of his subjects who are much younger in the scale of being.

I could feel the difference between myself and this part of myself. She was elderly in the context of Ra above: she was older than myself and had seen untold things in the time when she had been active. I referred to her as ancient-me, which seems to amuse as well as irritate. I was doing my job at any rate if I could get amusement out of the seriousness of the situation.

What I found when I discovered this piece was that the hard work I had done to myself at Sekhmet’s push had not been done to this older facet. In fact, I would say that, if I had to associate her with my own path, she looked more like 2012 era me than anything else: always angry, ready to pop at the hint of even the slightest provocation.

I also saw in her the same Sekhmet I have seen over and over again throughout my dealings with her: a volcano that has been dormant for years, but that could explode at any moment. The plume of gases that was constantly being released to make room for yet more rage was a miasma. I had to work on that for her so that we could continue on to the next steps in our journey.

The rage that had fostered in her had similar earmarks to my own and similar earmarks to Sekhmet’s, but at the heart of it all, it was entirely her own. She had made of it, just as I had made of it, a core part of herself. And that core part was necrotic from the years of adding to it.

I had to condense years’ worth of shadow work in a limited amount of time so that we could clear out the heart that had gone stale, first after years of disuse and second after years of fortifying it with white-hot anger. In the working, I discovered that, much as I had found for myself, she had never figured out a healthy and proper way to convey her feelings of anger. She had bottled them up until she was ready to break from it all.

As I worked on this other piece of myself, I began to wonder if this, too, was a core issue for Sekhmet. We know her as the Lady of Rage, of fire and fury, but we often don’t ask her to tell us how she’s feeling. Based on the myth I linked to above, at no point did Ra give her the tools she would need to fix herself, much less to express herself in a healthy and constructive way.

Maybe Ra never wanted to give her those tools or maybe he never knew what they looked like because he, too, suffers from the same thing. The whys and what-fors really don’t matter.

All that I kept coming back to as I worked on that other piece of myself was that this was something that Sekhmet could benefit from, if for no other reason than because then, the dormant volcano wouldn’t constantly be spewing ash and miasma into the air. And maybe the eventual eruption would be healthier than the eventual destroy-’em-all eruption that we all fear.

Perhaps in her directives to us, to me and to other me, to the other devotees out there who have anger issues, Sekhmet is looking for the quick-fix or any fix, really, to work on her own issues. Perhaps in the push to “cut the shit, and fix it; or else” she is asking us to teach her how to turn herself into a better god, to work on her root troubles, and come out of it a little less angry, a little less fear-inducing, a little more than just a lioness ready to slaughter at the request of the god who fathered her.

I think, at the very root of it all, Sekhmet is looking for her own version of Zep Tepi. She is hoping for that single moment of cosmological perfection where the world is new, or perhaps merely the renewal that predisposes the many versions of Zep Tepi that we see and feel every day.

Just as this other part of myself both deserves and needs that Zep Tepi, so too does Sekhmet. And as much as I may be jaded by everything that I’ve seen or done, I’m going to continue to work towards that goal.

Further Reading

You Are Not the One You Say You Are.

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

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

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

Saturn Return

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

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

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

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

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

I had faith.

I had belief.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I should have fought back.

Rebirth

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So I did.

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

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

I should have told myself to fuck off instead.

Bees

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chief of the Shambles. 

For the last few months, I’ve been doing nothing but fighting. I’ve been clawing up out of the muck and mire. I have been catching bits of sunlight glinting before my eyes and then, I slide back down in the mud hole. Sometimes it encases me like a body suit and sometimes it’s just a little dirt.

These past four months have been hellacious in comparison to the previous year, year plus.

The previous eighteen months weren’t a cake walk by any means, but it was still … well, easier. It was more like… a well worn groove that I had created by pacing. I could just keep following it. But at some point in the last four months I lost that well worn thread and I can’t find my way back to it any more.

As a kid, my childhood best friend and I would spend hours in the little pool behind her house. We would drift and be mermaids, but a lot of times we would work on creating the most powerful whirlpool we could and then work to break it. No matter how many times we went round and round that pool, we could always break that whirlpool in a matter of minutes.

The last four months have been a little like that whirlpool except that I haven’t been able to break the current. I’m stuck inside that swirl and I can’t find a way out. If I just lie very, very still then I can float along the surface and let it take me wherever it wants me to go. Sometimes, I still fight it because isn’t that what humans are supposed to do? But mostly I just don’t bother.

I know; I know. It’s just depression. I can find a doctor and go back on the anti-depressants that worked the best. I could easily find a solution, but even just finding a doctor is a fight. After over a year of fighting with the state about whether or not I actually had health coverage and then trying to find doctors in network that are actually accepting new patients…

It’s just yet another nail on the coffin.

I’m tired of fighting.

I spoke those words aloud to myself a few days ago and then just kind of stopped. I was a little shocked when they came out of my mouth. It was like a reflex of some sort, though nothing that I could think of really caused the reflex in the first place. I remember looking around as I voiced the sentence out loud again. I don’t know what I was looking for, but whatever it was supposed to be wasn’t there.

After I announced to the empty house that I was so tired of fighting, oddly enough my first thoughts were about Sekhmet. I wasn’t even concerned about what it might mean about my state of mind. I just immediately jumped to thinking about her.

I thought, wow, what a failure of a Sekhmet kid you turned out to be. She hasn’t said anything about it to me though she’s shown up in dreams since then. I have gotten the impression that she doesn’t think I’m a failure, it’s all just my own spin on the situation. But I still can’t quite get it out of my head that, unlike every other fucking Sekhmet kid out there, I’m ready to just fucking give up.

I mean, of all the ancient Egyptian gods to want to emulate, to claim a connection to, I chose the one god who is the most well known for going in fighting. She’s the one everyone turns to when it comes to fighting back, to standing up, for survival of the fittest, and for strength. She is the one that everyone turns to and says, “this is the deity who is going to teach me how to stand with spine straight.”

How many posts have we all seen about people turning to her in their time of need? They reach out when the tide is high and drowning is on the horizon. They turn to emulate her when they need to stand steadfast against the systemic -isms prevalent in this world of ours. They claw at the shit heap that life has thrown their way, spewing the blood and guts of their personal war into the universe.

She is what everyone hopes to one day be.

But here I am, a child of hers, and all I keep thinking is, “I’m just so tired of fighting. I want to stop now.”

Chains

O you who take away hearts and accuse hearts, who re-create a man’s heart in respect of what he has done, he is forgetful of himself through what you have done. – excerpt from Spell 27, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

With Wep-Ronpet nearly upon us, I’ve been thinking a lot about The Distant Goddess myth. I am most likely not alone in this since this myth heralds the inundation and the renewal of the year itself. It’s just that time of the year for Kemetics, I guess.

There are numerous variations of this myth out there. Some of them are little more than allusions, breaths of a myth cycle that have since been lost to us (the Anhur/Menhyt version). Others tend to more prominence and are more often discussed: the cycle indicating that Tefnut was the Wandering Eye with Shu sent out to lure her home or the cycle where Hetheru is the Wandering Eye and Djehuty is forced to cajole her back to her father.

It should truly come as no surprise that I’ve chosen to align the Wandering Goddess myth within the confluence of the Hetheru/Sekhmet dynamic I’ve created for myself over the years.

According to my findings, it is after the goddess flees into the wilderness that the Destruction of Mankind myth takes place at some later date in time. My research seems to show that Re is not yet well established as the premier ruler over the world when the Eye takes off in anger.

Based on the Hetheru/Sekhmet dynamic I mentioned above, the idea that the Wandering Goddess myth takes place before the Destruction of Mankind never made much sense to me.

While most likely the reason I find it difficult to see the timeline in that way is because I’ve lost something in the translations I’ve read, there’s no telling if that really is the case. I will readily admit that it’s also possible that I prefer my own carefully crafted narrative when it comes to my two goddesses. Whatever the case may be, I’ve found a different timeline that sits better in my mind.

In my head, it always made much more sense that after Re tricked Sekhmet into drinking the red beer that she grew upset with her father and the world he had set her mindlessly upon. In the midst of the emotional upheaval that his trick most likely caused, she chose to flee into the wilderness.

Maybe she just needed time away for perspective or to race off the remains of her bloodlust. Whatever the case, she needed to get away.

Upon her leaving, she was still angry but knew that any acts upon the people he had chosen over her could end badly for her. After all, Re had clearly proved that he could outwit her. Maybe she realized that she wasn’t up for the task of trying to take him on. Or perhaps it wasn’t that she just simply couldn’t handle the idea of a full fledged battle against her father.

Perhaps it was necessary for her to rest after having gone balls to the wall against the world Re had created. After all, she was mid-bloodlust before he forced her to stop. Having the wool pulled over your eyes by the very being that called you into being as a manifestation of its own rage has to be something that throws you for a loop.

As I’ve theorized before, it seems to me that rage is most likely not an emotion that you can just drink away no matter how much booze you ingest.

chained

He himself has power over his members, his heart obeys him, for he is your lord and you are in his body, you shall not turn aside. – excerpt from Spell 27, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

How often has something happened that forced us to acknowledge a need to get away from it all? It’s not so much running away or giving up, but a need to take some time so that you can sort out all the minutiae that’s gone into whatever it is that’s upset you in the first place.

As I pondered the mythic narrative I’ve felt more and more comfortable with over the years, I’ve often seen Sekhmet’s version of the Wandering Eye myth much like we would see a mental health day. In her case, of course, it took much longer than a simple day and another god had to talk her into returning eventually, which didn’t exactly go well the first few times. But eventually, she returns.

As I thought about how sick I am of fighting, I wondered if that’s what Sekhmet was aiming for when she ran off. I mean, it makes a lot of sense in my opinion. She went from pure rage to being forced to stop with no available outlet for where the anger was supposed to go. I know that we’re just supposed to believe that all that white hot fire went away with a number of jars of red beer. But it makes more sense that she took off for parts unknown to get her head screwed on straight.

It wasn’t that she gave up necessarily; she stopped fighting.

That certainly sounds pretty familiar to me. After so many months of trying to keep my head above the surface or being shown tantalizing glimpses of the hopes and dreams I have that don’t seem to be able to come to fruition no matter how many times I’ve tried, no longer fighting seems like a pretty decent option. It leaves you open and available to pick up and start fighting again at some future point, but it also gives you the time you need to take stock and figure out what the fuck is going on.

I came out the other side of that sentence, “I’m tired of fighting,” thinking that I was just a terrible Sekhmet kid, that I was doing everything to prove that I was all around a very terrible devotee. But maybe I’m just following her myth cycle a little. I’m going from a need to fight and keep my head above the waves to just letting the damn ocean current take me further out to see. I’ll figure out how to get to shore eventually… probably.

O Lion, I am a weneb-flower; the shambles of the god is what I abhor and my heart shall not be taken from me… – Spell 28, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

Ritual.

Recently, I purchased a gorgeous new oracle deck. This isn’t really surprising news or shouldn’t be. I’m a deck collector and I can’t say no when a deck has eye catching artwork and an exquisite use of color.

I have to say that I truly love the Amethyst Oracle with every fiber of my being. It has been one of the best choices I have made for a new deck in a long time. Beyond how much my heart pitter patters whenever I have that deck in my hand, it’s also helping me a lot through a particularly trying time. One of the regular bits of advice it gives me is Ritual.

This has been something that I have been particularly slacking on for the last two years. When your entire world has stagnated and turned gray, it is particularly difficult to give a tin shit about rituals or holidays. Even though I still give daily offerings, in themselves a form of ritual, it’s so ingrained a thing for me to do that it’s more like background noise than an actual ritual. 

This oracle has thrown this card at me so often that I’ve found myself searching my calendar for ritual type things to complete just to get a new card now and again. There are a number of things coming up this month, particularly the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion, and while I knew I would be celebrating that, it occurred to me that I should get my feet wet with a few smaller things before then. 

Last week, I did a very small celebration for the Day of the Executioners of Sekhmet. This week was the less than descriptive Purifying of Sekhmet. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was going to do but it was going to be something at least.

I tried to remember why I had this on my calendar, hoping to knock loose some idea about what this day was supposed to achieve. I mean, sure the name is pretty clear about the root to the day, but I was thinking along the lines of how in the hell do I purify her? And am I even qualified to anymore?

The last time I spent any time with my gods, Sekhmet included, was during her Propitiation last year. I haven’t felt a desire or need to really do anything heartfelt or expressive. With my days tied up trying like hell just to get through and survive for another 24 hours, the truth is that my relationships with any of my gods is a fairly low priority. With that in mind, I had to ask if I was really the person to do this.

She hadn’t thrown any wrenches in the works. Each new and low impact idea I came up with just kind of unfolded before me. I was in and out of the grocery store in 20 minutes and within budget. I found most other supplies I had in mind tossed behind other junk in my cabinet of religious shit. Even getting the flowers evenly trimmed down for the perfect vase that I had been sure had been tossed out months ago seemed to go smoothly.

Maybe it was the deck spirit or maybe it was Sekhmet or maybe coincidence. It didn’t seem to matter why things were going well just that they were.

As usual, I tried to soak myself in as much symbolism as I could. Sometimes I’m incredibly successful and other times, only moderately so. I looked into creating a sort of quick meal that was generally healthy as well as choosing some foods that have garnered a “purifying persona” according to the magazines.

And then I thought beyond that.

Both incense and flame (candle) are considered purifying in various capacities. So too can colors and scents (aside from incense). I found two leftover ocean scented tealights from last year that I added to the mix since going to the ocean as a kid, for my family, was like a purifying ritual to get away from the drag of the city. The flowers I chose were predominantly yellow and white, colors of life and purity.

I think I did well.

After the simple formalities were out of the way, especially the reversion of offerings, I got a little more serious. 

Most rituals for me tend to be quick affairs. I don’t have the energy or time typically to spend hours in ritual, focusing on whatever needs to be focused on. That doesn’t mean that I am bad at this or that anyone who does likewise is either. It just means that I have a life beyond religion and gods that barges in usually when I’m in the midst of something important. So it was easier for me to just simplify everything down as much as possible.

This meant that I could feel like I had made the time and maybe even felt successful in the attempt while simultaneously making it harder for me to think beyond a 15 minute timeframe. I had more time though this round so I knew I had to go a little further out of my comfort zone.

I ran through a long winded and time consuming ritual. While the ritual has specific aspects and actions described within, I decided to focus instead on myself and my relationship with Sekhmet. After months of ignoring the giant elephant in the room, I was going to face the seeming desert between us head on.

I’d like to say that something clicked and things are already starting to get better. I would like to say that an Arrow came up from the Duat and told me where we go from here. I’d like to say that I did more than get over emotional. I would like to tell you all that the words I wrote in Her journal were received and acknowledged. I would love to believe that everything is back to normal now.

But sometimes relationships are hard. And miracles don’t tend to be the trend. 

I do feel as though I was able to convey my point appropriately. And I think that perhaps I took a right step. I couldn’t say for sure, but maybe this was the right direction.