The Foundation. 

It’s been nearly a year since I was told that I had built myself a solid foundation but that I had stopped working when I reached the interior. During that conversation so many months ago now, I was told that the foundation for the metaphor building that I am was solid and strong. I just had to continue that trend when I continued building the rest of the house.

The kind woman who told me all this wasn’t the only one who remarked on the foundation. She was just the only one who said it to my face.

house foundation long abandoned

“Home can be anywhere, for it is a part of one’s self.” – quote from The Butlerian Jihad by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

During many divination interludes within the last year, my cards have mentioned “foundation” in some context or another. Every time my cards have brought it up, I assumed that the metaphor was in the same vein as the one used by the nice woman across the state. Too often though, the context didn’t make complete sense to me in relation to the overall reading.

What foundation was so strong? What truly made up this alleged foundation of mine? Why are we so heavily focused on this? Is it simply because someone mentioned it heavily in a private reading done almost a year ago? It seemed a little too odd for it come up this often and for it to not mean Something. It was just a matter of figuring out what that Something was.

Whenever “foundation” would come up in a reading, I usually focused on the traditional image of a foundation for a house, before the rest of the house has been built. Around where I live, they will typically use a concrete base and reinforced concrete blocks to form the base of a house in the shape the plans call for. We have basements here, which form part of the foundation as well, hiding away family mementos and washing machines when a family moves in. That was the image that came to mind when my readings would go off on these tangents.

As the cards came up more and more often, leaving me frustrated with the constant reoccurring yet seemingly oblique message, I couldn’t help but think of that phrase about strong foundations.

People will remark that a house may be in bad shape, but that so long as it has a solid foundation, everything will be okay. From what I’ve been told on the subject of house rehab, this basically means that while the house itself may need an extraordinary amount of work, the very base of the house won’t need work done at all. It’s still solid enough, no matter what was left undone upstairs, to withstand the test of time.

I couldn’t be sure if this was really what all of these readings were about, or even if that was the basis of the message from last December. Was it something as simple as a metaphor? Or was there more to it than all of that? Whenever I asked for clarification, the readings grew hazier than they had already been and I got frustrated more often than not.

What was the point in having this form of communication what the gods, the spirits, the universe, whatever, if it wasn’t going to explain what pet peeve it was on about?

Sometimes, you just want some straight answers when everything’s gone to hell.

A Firm Foundation

“Endurance. Belief. Patience. Hope. These are the key words of our existence.” – quote from The Machine Crusade by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Not that long ago, I pulled out one of my lesser used decks. This is a deck that I tend to use only for things related to a general spiritual check in. When I pulled out the deck, I was more focused on looking to see what my future would look like since things had, well, strayed a bit in the last few months.

In about August of this year, I felt like everything had just gone to complete shit. I still felt my gods, but because of all of the other things going on related to the stagnation, I was angry and frustrated. I told my gods that I couldn’t do this anymore, that I was running ragged with their needs and my needs and I couldn’t figure out a good way to work it all out.

So, I made up my mind for ill or good. I walked away from my daily offerings, from my altars, and kind of just spent my time winging it. In effect, I did nothing but sit quietly beneath altar spaces and stare moodily at my fingers. Then my gods disappeared and well. It occurred to me that this was probably all related in some form or another.

After nearly two months of doing nothing but languishing in a sort of dark haze, I finally pulled out that spiritual check in deck, thinking about what things are going to look like with my gods in the future. I’ve sort of come to a quasi-plan as to how to proceed in breaking through the lethargy. I wanted to at least get some good feedback as to what I could expect, if nothing else.

What an odd coincidence when one of the “foundation” cards of one’s spiritual practice appeared front and center.

In this particular deck, that card is heralded by an image of an altar. And in fact, that is exactly what the card is listed as, “Altar.” Looking at the image of the card, I glanced at the dusty altars that I had been neglecting for two months. I might have in fact felt some guilt. I didn’t have to read the accompanying text to know what this card meant. It all kind of clicked right then and I wouldn’t even remember the rest of the reading if I hadn’t written it all down for later review.

Here it was.

Here was my foundation.

This was probably what the nice lady across the state meant. And this was most likely what all of those little foundation pings that I had been frustrated with were talking about.

I had finally gotten my straight answer, at least.

DSC_3874

“When others place impossible expectations on a man, he must redefine his goals, and forge his own path. That way at least someone is satisfied.” – quote from The Battle of Corrin by Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson

Looking back over the last year, I can see where this makes sense. In fact, I can even understand to an extent what I was told in December.

Even at the worst of it all, it wasn’t until I stopped tending my altars, until I stopped giving offerings, until I stopped thinking about them in some small way every day when everything felt completely insurmountable. It wasn’t until I stopped all of that with no intention of going back did my gods disappear. It wasn’t until I was spending all of my mornings in a sort of fog with no seeming routine because an integral aspect of my morning routine had been cut from the cloth did I start to feel as though I was truly losing a battle that I could never, ever win.

I don’t know what it is about the stability of tending the altar, about giving the offerings that really helped here. Maybe I’m just one of those physical kind of people who needs that physical reminder and the act of maintaining that physical reminder that keeps things balanced and stable. Or maybe it’s just one of those things that gets caught in your head, a feeling you can’t shake or whatever, and I believe it so heartily that it is in fact true.

Whatever the case, it is true. When I wasn’t tending to those things, I felt like everything was bullshit. When I started back up again, I began to feel a little less like everything was bullshit. Everything isn’t perfect and maybe things are still going to suck for a while yet, but it doesn’t feel like the battle is a lost cause anymore.

Hindsight is 20/20 of course and now, I feel a bit of a fool for not realizing all of this before now.

But maybe it was necessary for me to stop tending the foundations, ensuring that they are strong and maintaining them, for me to see it properly. There’s always the possibility that this isn’t about hindsight in so much as a necessary learning stemming from a necessary, but recoverable loss.

Semblance of Life.

Change is a cacophony.

It is ten different music scores playing all at once and just slightly off-key and/or off-tempo. It is the pounding of a waterfall with a motorcade of motorcycles and every high-pitched dog barking at the same time. It is a garage band practicing some new song while you’re passively aggressively playing Alice Cooper at top volume while trying to carry on a conversation. It is a category 4 hurricane wailing into the world with freight train cheerleaders leading the way.

Change is neither easy nor quiet. It is loud and boisterous and oh, so very painful.

It is tumultuous and wild.

The thing about change is that you know that it’s all flaming towers and being kicked over the cliff. But they forget to mention how painfully, how headache-inducingly loud it can be. And when you’re sitting in the midst of the maelstrom, trying so hard to concentrate for five measly seconds because otherwise you could probably end up dying or worse, and you just simply can’t because it’s all so fucking loud.

I don’t know why no one ever thought to mention this before. I think, maybe, it would have been nice to know before now. I think I could have appreciated the head’s up even if only after the fact.

But even in the middle of the screaming, screeching, horrendous noise, the worst is yet to come. It’s the loud wail of silence that follows the cacophony of change that should cause the most concern. It’s when it all goes quiet that you have to wonder what the fuck is coming next.

Changes

“Alone. Yes, that’s the key word, the most awful word in the English tongue. Murder doesn’t hold a candle to it and hell is only a poor synonym.” – ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I can’t feel my gods.

I haven’t said anything before now because I didn’t want to listen to the unwarranted advice that would head my way. I don’t want advice. It’s not that I don’t appreciate what anyone would be willing to say. Sometimes, I just need to stew in the juices, sit in the thick of it for a while.

And I didn’t want to see what sort of pseudo discourse that would probably wind up getting shut down because of misunderstandings or miscommunications. I’m tired of seeing a subject that looks to be interesting getting shut down because of people looking inside from the outside and not fucking getting what they’re reading. I don’t have the patience for this to get shut down anyway.

But to be the most truthful, to be the most honest… If I didn’t write it down or say anything to anyone then I could say it wasn’t real. At the heart of all this, I’m a coward first and foremost.

I’ve always just been able to feel my gods. I can’t even really describe it, oddly enough. I just stretch internally and there they are: sun and fire is Sekhmet; soft things and dew covered grass is Hetheru; wide blue sky and gentle breezes is Heru-Wer. There are others that are there when I stretch out but those are the three I look for most and…

They’re just not there.

I can remember the last time I felt them, each of them. They were like pieces of jewel in my hands, in my heart. I could touch them practically and they were just there. It was a comfort, like wearing your favorite pair of sweat pants and T-shirt on a cool fall day. I could feel them and everything was all right.

And then one day, I woke up and they were gone.

Sometimes when I look to see if they’ve returned and I find that place empty, I get angry. Like how the fuck dare they disappear? How in the hell do they think this sort of behavior is okay? What sort of bullshit is this, damn it all, and how dare they?! 

And other times when I look and find that they are just definitely not there, I get sad. What did I do wrong? How could I have dropped so very low in their estimations that they would do this? How can I possibly right the terrible wrong that I have clearly done?

But most times, I don’t feel anything. It’s just another coat of gray on the dull gray box that my inertia lives in, breathes in, grows in, devours in. It’s just another knot in the noose that my stagnation ties around me. It’s yet another bundle of wood upon my own funeral pyre.

“It was to be expected,” I tell myself as I wait another month, another hour, another second for the wavering half-light that’s supposed to see me out of this fucking shit show that I’ve been in for almost two years.

“But how did I get here?” I always ask in that drab grayness. No one is there to answer, just the echo of my own words whispered back to me.

one more show down... lost count of how many more to go.... :-)

“It knew about the darkness that comes on the land when rotation hides the land from the sun, and about the darkness of the human soul.” – ‘Salem’s Lot by Stephen King

I was angry a few days ago. I screamed and hollered and gibbered and whined. I demanded that they show up, that they stop fucking around for two little minutes and just tell me anything instead of this fucking grayness, this silence and horror. No one answered; I didn’t figure they would.

I don’t know. I guess I just figured that if I vented how I felt, then maybe shit would be easier or I’d feel better. I’d get like a game plan or something and you know, shit would like flow. But like the river that’s dammed up, it all just got stagnant and nasty and nobody said a word.

Loki keeps popping up; I get it. Oh boy, howdy, I fucking get it. Do the work. Stop self sabotaging. Get out there and do it all. Yeah, yeah. I hear you.

But I have to ask if he, or they, hear me. Don’t they know how scared I am? Don’t they know that I spend most days in a haze of my own insecurities, shaking and worried? Don’t they know that sometimes I need someone to hold my hand and not to push me into the conflagration at my feet?

The hooting and hollering of the years before last were so loud. I can remember the dizziness that the sounds caused and I can remember wondering how much worse it could possibly get, asking when it would all just fucking quiet down and stop for five fucking minutes.

Famous last words, I guess.

Came Out West Just to Break the Spell.

Six months ago, I became yet another face in a long line of faces who got Loki’d. After a while of dithering around as to whether or not this was something I needed to pay any attention to, I decided to go for broke. While the idea of actually working with him wasn’t something that I was thrilled about, the positive feedback I kept getting from my gods seemed like a good enough reason for me, and I agreed to a partnership.

Perhaps that’s not the best word for it though. A partnership would denote a form of equality and while I do believe that I am just as divine as any god, I rather feel like I am the one taking chances (because I am) while Loki gets to do whatever he does in the background. Maybe I should say it was more along the lines of a caustic sarcasm fest that occasionally yielded results. That’s a bit more like what actually happened.

Key West, Feb 2012 - 32

Sickness and healing are in every heart. Death and deliverance are in every hand. – Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

For years now, I have been reading a lot of stuff about Loki. I have been following Lokeans and reading the discourse quietly on the sidelines. It was the Loki who told Fools to cut the shit about pagan island that I could feel close to, but that wasn’t the Loki that my stagnation and I needed. And that was one of the most terrifying realizations to come to.

I never wanted to get to know Loki. In fact, the idea always left me feeling vaguely nervous in a sort of “never; no fucking way” kind of way. Even with all the demystifying that the very kind Lokeans do on a regular basis, I still figured that Loki (and the Norse as a whole to be honest) was a sort of No Man’s Land.

Besides, Loki seemed like the kind of guy who would turn your world topsy-turvy, tell you it was for your own good, and be on his merry way. Maybe he’d check back in a few months later just to see how many fires he had started, but he didn’t seem like the kind of guy who’d stick around to clean up the mess. I didn’t think I needed that.

The thing is that I did kind of need that. As irritating as it is to say, I needed someone who I didn’t really trust to fuck with things just enough to help me through the inertia. With all the issues with trust I have had with my gods, I can admit that outsourcing was a good idea. I can even admit that they chose the right patsy. Loki seems perfectly okay with being the anti-hero.

I had a vague and outlandish idea about what to expect but the reality was different.

Working with Loki has felt a little bit like chewing on Legos while simultaneously banging my head into a wall in the hopes that one day I break through. I don’t know if this is normal, but that’s rather what it felt like when we would sit down together and discuss what was going on. The worst part is that he was always solicitous, always nice about everything. He would quietly heave a sigh when I was nasty and bitchy or just go with the flow when I told him that there was absolutely no way I could possibly achieve any of the six points in our scope of work.

Honestly, I was so very scared at the idea of having him around. What I said above about fucking things up just enough has always been my fear. As a control freak, the idea that I had to give some partial control up to a god who has a history in fucking shit up was just too much. But I knew, too, that if I continued to ignore the situation I was in for a world of hurt.

Sometimes dealing with the gods is a damned if you do, damned if you don’t kind of situation and this definitely qualified. I had choices even if I felt backed into a corner about it. Out of it all, Loki was well-mannered and not unkind about it. I think that was the most surprising thing about it all.

Wild & Wonderful

This is how humans are: We question all our beliefs, except for the ones that we really believe in, and those we never think to question. – Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

I remember sitting at my kitchen table in March, going line by line through the contract I created at Loki’s request. I had, in my opinion, covered all the possibilities with thick legalese. Loki laughed when I confidently told him there weren’t any loopholes. The laugh was clear: he’d find them if and when he wanted to.

I was kind of pissed at that honestly. He knew how worried I was about all of this and yet, it felt a little like he was playing with my head. I will admit that I went into this because of that laugh and his kindness towards me, feeling a little like he wasn’t going to help, that this was all a waste of time.

I went in not knowing what to expect, but following the rules that we had worked out.

For the first two months, I sat down every two weeks to chat. We discussed how to get movement and why I felt like I was a failure. I kept racking my brain, trying to find the source of all evil that caused me to resemble one of the inert ones. He kept telling me that this would take time, that patience was a necessity. He said rushing in was no way to go.

It took three months but we finally got there. And we came up with a tentative sketch of how best to proceed. The overall goal was still there, but I had to be even more patient before we could finally get to a point where it seemed like I was getting somewhere. Even knowing that I had to wait a while longer, I still felt good. I felt like we had accomplished something together. He was happy that we were going forward and things were looking up.

After that, I started to fade. I know that I was fading. But whenever I sat down to talk it out with Loki, I heard all about how I had to trust and that trust was integral to what we needed to be doing together. I began to grow bitter with the trust talk, I began to get angry with him. It was always the same. Even though he told me that things were progressing as quickly as they possibly could, even though I had felt good for a little while there like we had accomplished something important together, I began to feel like this was just another long line of gods who was failing me.

For almost a year now, I’ve been told to do the work and that the work requires trust. I get what that means, but like I said above, I have trust issues. Everyone, god or human, tells me that I have to get over it, that it’s all in my head and that I’m letting those trust issues crop up and get in the way. Subconsciously, I was sabotaging the work by letting my own brain get in the way. But how the fuck do you tell your brain “shut the fuck up” long enough to trust in the plan you had already created?

How do you start to trust again when everything went to shit because you trusted?

Every two weeks, I would sit with Loki and the conversation was a rehash of the last one. It began to feel a little like auto pilot. I stopped caring. I stopped doing. I just sat in a gray bubble and stared off into space most of the time. I stopped talking to him, to my gods, to everyone. It wasn’t really a fallow time. It was more like I had become so overwrought with everything that I couldn’t actually do anything.

Loki seemed to tell me that he understood but this was no way to make a living, for either of us. I told him to go suck a banana.

Sometimes I would finally get so irritated that I would achieve a goal, accidentally, in our scope. I managed to mark off four of them before the end of our time together. I think he was probably irritatedly amused that I just went ahead and did something that we had decided to work on together thinking, “well, this is probably how Loki would handle it so let’s just fucking go, man,” and do it.

Our six months are up.

I don’t know which way to go now.

The Spell Is Broken

The truth is a beautiful and terrible thing, and therefore should be treated with great caution. – Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

A few weeks back just before our six month contract was officially up, I was talking to someone who I haven’t really spoken with in a long time. They used to be someone that I looked up to, that I wanted to emulate. Things have changed since then; it’s not like they’re a terrible person or anything because they’re not. Things just diverged a lot since the last time we spoke to each other, so it was a little like a learning curve when we met back up.

It was a little relaxing, it was a little nice. I couldn’t believe that they understood some of the things that I couldn’t even say out loud. I forgot what that was like.

When we spoke, this person mentioned that I should be cautious around Loki. They indicated that things may not go well for me if I sign back up with him for another six months. The exact wording discussed the possibility of crashing and burning, the indication that Loki may just bring in some frightening One-Eyed help to see the job through. That certainly got my attention.

I had to admit that I was both skeptical and worried. I had been sitting around, dithering on the idea but had made the not quite official decision to go for it. I mean, while things weren’t so great this last round, we had at least managed to get somewhere together. The fears that had eaten away at me six months back before I was told to go for it or die trying came back in force.

I decided to talk it out with a lot of the people in my community, get some feedback, and determine how best to proceed.

I have nothing against this person or their advice – they mentioned protection at one point and I think that’s a fabulous idea to see to – but overall, while the concern I have is there, I also had to admit that I kind of felt like I was doing okay. I had created a contract, I was very careful about the terms, and part of those terms were very crystal clear about not crashing, about not burning, and about not bringing anyone new on board to see this through. While Loki has a habit of slipping out of his leash, I rather accepted that possibility and just had to hope that the terms were stuck to.

When I reached out to my go-to on the subject, his advice was a little worrisome. Looking back at it now, I can see why the reading came back as harsh as it did (didn’t I need that anyway?) but I wasn’t exactly happy about it. After a lot more discussion and some more irritating back and forth between the two halves of myself on the subject (the one that still wants to use that old friend of mine as a go-to resource and the one that needs to do all this on my own), I realized that I had come pretty far in all of this.

It might not seem like it when I look back across these past six months and see that nothing has overtly changed. But I can also pick out the smaller bits that have. I know what’s the root cause of the problem and how that cause feathers out to each facet of my life. I know what the plan is to get to the root cause and try to get some of that alleviated. I also know how to push the envelope a little so that I can lace some heka into the approach of it all.

I have a plan and none of it includes crashing and burning. Loki may not be as dismissive or nice about things this round; I honestly don’t expect him to be. But I think I’m okay with that. I mean, I know where my faults are when it comes to this shit. And he knows where they are now, too.

Sometimes, you have to set aside the safety harness that you’re tethered to when you have to go cliff jumping. I don’t want to do that of course and I certainly don’t want to wind up splattered across the ground. But I also know that I don’t have a lot of choice. I also know that even if I did have a choice, I’m kind of fed up to be honest.

Here’s to at least another six months.

Let’s get serious.

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016: Mourning. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I can handle going numb.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-Ashes of Eden by Breaking Benjamin

The Propitiation of Sekhmet 2016.

July 24, 2016 – August 19, 2016

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

That shit gets boring.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This Is Gospel for the Fallen Ones.

Months ago, I jumped awake from one of those half-asleep dreams. In the dream, I was coursing through my dash when a certain user, who knows who they are, appeared to stare at me in an intense and disconcerting way. It made me uneasy. Upon waking, I immediately demanded to know what they were up to.

Later that night, they were rummaging in my attic, clearing shit out and tsk-ing at me. I neglected to mention this follow up to that person for Reasons. If they didn’t know what mess they were cleaning or that they had started the cleaning, then maybe I could ignore what was happening. I will tell you what, if you don’t want to get called on your shit, don’t dream about said user.

I knew the moment I woke up, based on the sinking feeling in my stomach, that I was slacking. I’ve mentioned it before and I will probably do so again, the stagnation bit is a heavy load and it’s difficult to find a starting place. “I don’t want to, though! It’s always a problem on the horizon, not to be dealt with now,” I said. They told me to cut the shit. I pouted for a bit, but I knew the advice was sound.

That was the second time in the last few months that someone has told me to get my ass in gear. “Do the work, or else,” the nice lady on the other side of the state told me. “It’s no longer a problem on the horizon,” the nice weaver across the country pointed out.

If you know me well enough, you know that I ignore signs and portents with my breath held, fingers in my ears, and a determined “no” glint in my eye. Apparently, I had held my breath long enough.

It wasn’t long after the dream with a certain dream walker friend that Loki appeared. I went back through my blog and was able to confirm that the dream with that weaver seems to have been the catalyst to bring him over to my corner. When I realized this, I was, as I find myself most often nowadays, completely unsurprised.

I supposed claiming that the work is always on the horizon, not to be worried about now, is a pretty big indicator that help is needed. That online friend of mine got it all started; Mr. Trickster came over to keep the momentum going.

Maybe it was all just a coincidence, but I would hate to think my gods missed such a prime opportunity to hit me with a clue-by-four.

I’ll level with everyone here, including that user if they’re reading this, it’s not even the wait that’s the problem. It’s the feeling that if I begin this and find that the stagnation is bigger than I can fight against, then maybe the “inevitable” win isn’t actually how the ending will go. What if the stagnation wins?

I guess that’s what fighting against the A/pep must be like.

Anxiety

Their gnashing teeth and criminal tongues conspire against the odds, but they haven’t seen the best of us yet. This is Gospel by Panic! at the Disco

A few weeks ago, I began noticing that my anxiety was getting worse. I’ve been coping as best I could, but I came to the realization that things have only been getting worse. I mentioned this to a coworker friend, who also has anxiety, and before I knew it, I had an appointment with their psychologist to get the ball rolling.

I asked Loki, at the time, if this was him. It seemed odd that he would help me, not because it’s not something that he would do, but because it seemed to have nothing to do with the contract we had in place. He didn’t answer my question, but I wondered if this experience was a coincidence or something other leading up to the appointment.

The appointment was almost ridiculous in its simplicity. I spent 45 minutes with the professional and came away with two diagnoses: one for depression (well that was unsurprising) and one for panic disorder (that was shocking actually), which I knew nothing about. I met every single one of the symptoms on the little chart except two for panic disorder and the psychologist and I discussed possible treatment options with both weekly appointments and medication.

As I was leaving the office, I asked Loki again if this was on him with silence greeting me. He hasn’t emphatically said it was him that caused the appointment, which finally told me what was wrong with me, but he also hasn’t stated that he had nothing to do with it either. The next dream I had with him in it, he came off as pleased and I’ve tentatively determined that this is, in fact, his fault.

I try to get my gods to be clear when they maneuver things for me. I give them instructions to meet with their messages simply because mundane life messages can be a crap shoot when trying to figure them out after the fact. Was it coincidence? Was it the gods? Who the fuck knows? I dislike not knowing and doubly dislike the implications, but it is what it is I suppose.

It occurred to me that this diagnosis made things much more clear regarding the stagnation I’ve been going through. While I never doubted my mental health had some impact, it occurred to me that the coping mechanism I had been utilizing for my undiagnosed panic disorder and diagnosed depression may have finally failed me when the stagnation began all those months ago. And I’ve been steadily worsening, not knowing the cause, since.

And one of the important items that Loki and I are to work towards was discovering the root cause of my issue before determining the best course of action to eradicate it. Seems like panic disorder and depression are pretty good as far as root causes go.

The only problem is eradication, as I had initially thought, isn’t in the cards, only management. Living with a mental illness, no matter how well we manage the symptoms and take the medication, if necessary, means that there’s no magical cure. It’s not a take these 5 pills and you’re done; it’s a revamp your whole life and make it through as best you can.

I had gone into this, perhaps naïvely, assuming that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. No, no. I went into this with Loki assuming that there was an end that I was going to be working towards. I thought that, eventually, the chasm of my own stagnation would be behind me.

I’ve come to realize that grandiose ideas are well and good, but they don’t necessarily work out.

This sounds more and more like what fighting A/pep must be like.

Depression.

Don’t try to sleep through the end of the world and bury me alive ’cause I won’t give up without a fight. – This Is Gospel by Panic! at the Disco

One of the reoccurring themes in many, though not all, of the books of the afterlife is the ongoing battle between various deities and A/pep. In the books that continue this theme, each evening, Ra goes into the underworld and invariably finds himself locked in battle against A/pep. It doesn’t matter what the gods do or how many times they have won the battle in the past, A/pep comes back every night and tries to prevent creation from continuing.

It seems to me like mental illness is very much the same.

This isn’t the first time the topic has come up, but it’s the first time I’ve felt confident enough to remark on it. My mental illness isn’t necessarily personified by the image of A/pep, the face of the uncreated, but more the battle between creation and uncreation. As I went through the various books of the afterlife discussed by Erik Hornung, the theme became more and more personalized for me.

Every morning I wake up and I tell myself that I am not my anxiety or my depression. Every day, I assure myself that I will manage to best the symptoms and have a good day. I remind myself that the anxiety ridden asshole comments in my brain aren’t true and I’m not what my anxiety makes me think that I am. Sometimes, I manage with flying colors. Other times, I’m scraping by with the skin of my teeth. But I’m always alive and ready the next day at least.

While not everyone would like to view their mental illness in the guise of isfet, which I can definitely understand, I have to admit that it helps a little to know that the same battle I go through every day is something akin to what the gods go through. It makes me feel, sometimes, that I’m more connected to my religion and my gods because, upon waking in the morning and throughout the day, I am undertaking a battle that I will fight daily. No matter how yesterday turned out or the day after tomorrow, the battle will still be there, just like the battle my gods fight nightly.

To be perfectly honest, if I’m not able to view it along similar lines to the maintenance of the cosmic order, I would have to ask myself what the whole point is. If I’m never going to win, technically, why would I even try to manage the symptoms? It makes far more sense to see myself in the mythology, emulating the gods in the solar barque while they wrangle the face of the uncreated away so that the sun can continue its journey.

They fight their battles; I fight mine.

We will never truly know success, but at least we will know tomorrow… and the day after that… and the day after that. Not all of those days will be perfect, but we will all live to see them.

Further Reading

  1. Ma’at Shines Through my Body
  2. Slaying the Demon-Serpent
  3. Is Illness Isfet?
  4. Musings on Isfet and Ma’at
  5. Can Mental Illness be Isfet?

The Burning One.

I often wonder if my default setting is, “angry.” I know it’s not true; I can list half a dozen instances where I wasn’t actually angry in the last week. But sometimes I think about that trope of a short, angry, petty girl and I think, “wow, that really is me.”

I can remember a friend of mine telling me that the anger was killing me slowly, years before the shadow work and the release. They told me that it lived within me and had molded itself to my soul so much that it would be a long time before I carefully removed it all. I can remember the reaction I had to what they were saying – LIAR! – and I can remember wanting to prove them wrong.

I was protective of my anger. I wanted to keep it. I had lied to myself or it had lied to me, whichever. It gave me a purpose, it fulfilled me, it kept me going when all I wanted to do was keel over. I thought that being angry all the time was an asset, not a setback. I always thought that friend didn’t know anything if they could say that about my anger, which was definitely and obviously integral to my very existence. They wanted me to die because, of course, I would cease to exist if that anger was gone.

Though I didn’t realize it until much later, my precious anger was not a parasite that would kill me upon removal. I wasn’t like the hapless colonists in Aliens whose facehuggers killed them when removed. I thought it was though. I truly believed that if I started getting rid of it, I would be nothing. I wouldn’t be me.

Sometimes I look back and find myself wondering if the anger lied to me or if I was merely inventing out of fear. It doesn’t matter; it’s idle curiosity. I have often come to the conclusion that it was one and the same; the end result was anyway. I sat around and let it grow, feeding it the choicest bits like it was royalty or as hallowed as the gods themselves.

I figured it was best not to look too closely in how I reacted to things or in the knife sharp words I used on stranger and friend alike. None of it was real, none of it was a problem, if I didn’t go looking. I could live in blissful ignorance if I forgot that conversation entirely. The anger continued to grow and the person I was becoming was someone who child-me would have been embarrassed to know.

I can remember the poisonous fury I had when I got fired for no reason. I can remember how I waffled between white-hot heat and inappropriate amusement while I fought for months for unemployment benefits. It fed into the anger just like everything else. But that was the turning point because I began to identify more with my destructive goddess as those months passed. And hadn’t that been why I had been warned away from her in the first place?

I couldn’t see the rest of her through the blinding ball of rage destroying my insides. I’ve gone back to posts written during that time and older ones, and noted how big the blinders I was wearing were where she was concerned. And as the months of my unemployment stretched into a year, the identification with her began to worry me. She had been created from rage and anger and knew not reason. I didn’t want to destroy everything around me, wooed only by strong drink after everything lay in ruins at my feet.

My fear of blowing up my life, as piteous as that life seemed back then, overpowered my fear of not being me if I chipped away at it.

I discovered a lot about myself, mused on that friend and their words, and delved into shadow work. Maybe the Lady of Slaughter recognized herself in me and that’s why she set me onto this task, laying the path open for me to follow straight into the arms of pain-filled healing. Maybe she didn’t want to see me turn out like her either.

It seems like the anger had been an underlying pathology of mine for years. I never really saw it like that before then. I knew I was wrathful, but it had never occurred to me that anger was a default setting for me for years. As I parsed through various shadow work escapades over the years, I’ve determined the cause for it: the starter pack and the subsequent additions over the years. And as each escapade nears an end, I’ve felt a little bit more of it release. I’ve felt more and more calm in my life at least.

It’s been almost peaceful.

The Forest Fire

Behold, my word is spoken: so says the god who was angry with me. Wrong is wash away, and it falls immediately. O Lords of Justice, put an end to the evil harm which is in me. – excerpt from Spell 14, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

The Destruction of Mankind myth has always been a myth cycle that I could relate to. I can’t recall which translated version I read first since it was so long ago, but over the years I’ve found different versions each with their own interpretation. Most of the versions I found identified Hetheru as the avenging goddess in some way, which made sense of course but never quite worked for me.

When Ed Butler wrote this piece about interpreting the myth cycle, I was pretty much sold for a variety of reasons really. But I have to admit that there was something that I could connect with even more when he stated that the creation of Sekhmet took place during a conversation between Hetheru and Ra. It made more sense to me that it was the heka laced within the conversation itself that caused my beloved goddess to be.

As the article indicates, it was the repetition of power that brought Sekhmet into being. Maybe this particular creation circles back to the magical words we find in fairy tales and folk stories. There is a key phrase or a specific word that one must say in order to bring something or someone into creation. As a more modern example, it is the word shazam that allows Billy to become Captain Marvel. There are other key phrases throughout various tales and historical anecdotes that foster the creation of something though.

In this particular case, it was sekhem and the repetition of it that caused Sekhmet to come to life. And frankly, it seems more in keeping with Ra that he would simply create another being to do his dirty work for him since he seemed rather fond of sending various gods out to destroy his enemies. The only thing here is that, maybe, with the depth of his anger at the human populace, he didn’t take the possibility of limitations into account. He seemed to be solely focused on making them pay and thus, the goddess who elicits fear in the hearts of humankind even to this day was born.

It was actually this particular interpretation that felt, in a way, as though it represented me and by extension, the anger that had made itself comfortable within. While the cause of my own rage were actions, so too was Sekhmet’s even if she was created from words. It was the humans plotting against Ra, by their deeds and words, that caused him to bring her into existence. My particular creation was a lot less grandiose, but the end result was the same: a being soaked with layer upon layer of anger.

I saw myself in her actions, too. Upon being unleashed into the world, Sekhmet slaughters the enemies of Ra. I could carefully pinpoint where I had created a facsimile thereof in my own life with my personal experiences. That point right there, I could say, was my version of hunting down and killing the bastards who dared to speak out against the rule of Ra. There was no blood soaking the ground in my particular instance, it was all metaphorical after all, but I could see the wounds I had created in those around me.

And like a shark scenting blood upon the waves, just as Sekhmet turned her unquenchable rage upon the good followers of Ra, I continued to slaughter those around me. I can see my past self, with glee and joy and laughter, bringing destruction upon those who did not deserve it. There’s a phrase about burning bridges; I didn’t just burn them, I nuked the site from orbit every time.

Sometimes I think Sekhmet had it easy. She had Ra to help bring her down from the high of her rampage. While the conversation with my friend could be viewed as such, she wasn’t around when I realized I had to do something. I had no one to do likewise with me. I wound up seeing what I was doing and was appalled by what was happening, thanks to that long ago conversation of course. I internalized my rage instead of drinking myself to sleep. Although perhaps, in a way, internalizing the anger is just the same.

Instead of lashing out, I drank of my rage deeply and let it pass over me. I let it lap at my feet and take root in other ways. But the senseless slaughter that I had been used to doing stopped. I was cognizant of my actions and my words. I patted down my rage and worked on it a little bit at a time. Just as Sekhmet had calmed, I had the semblance of calm.

I had years to go before all that rage wouldn’t impact me as much. I often wonder if it was the same for Sekhmet.

sekhmet

O Egg, O Egg, I am Horus who presides over myriads, my fiery breath is in the faces of those whose hearts would move against me. I rule from my throne, I pass time on the road which I have opened up. I am released from all evil… – excerpt from Spell 42, The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

In the myth cycle I discussed above, we are told that after Ra has tricked Sekhmet with the laced beer, her anger recedes and seems to disappear. After this episode, Ra eventually leaves humanity behind.

While I couldn’t be sure, I have often wondered if the rage really did dissipate from her simply because she fell in a drunken stupor. From my own experiences with anger and fury, I have to wonder if that’s even possible. I suppose it could be, of course, as she is a deity who is probably better at controlling this stuff than I, but I somehow doubt it.

The sources are clear: the ancients appeased Sekhmet often so as to prevent the destruction from occurring again. They gave amulets to one another, laced their workings with heka, and provided extravagant offerings to her, ever fearful that a repeat of the myth cycle would take place. This doesn’t say to me that her rage was gone; it was just under leash for a while.

On the other side of this, I could see her priesthood promoting the belief she would rise wrathful again as a form of scare tactic. “Give us all the good treats, or else the Lady of the Slaughter could destroy everyone again.” Maybe parents used the lie to keep their children in line, just like the priests. A cosmic knife held to the throat of a fearful populace.

But no. I think she truly had to keep a lid on all that anger, no matter how much of herself it may have eaten up.

One thing I’ve always wondered was if they had a way to teach her to deal with all that bottled up rage. Did they push her towards shadow work and say “heal thyself” and then wipe their hands of it? Or did they ignore the volcano living beside them, ready to erupt at the slightest provocation, and merely tiptoed around her to prevent the inevitable? I always figured it was the latter, not the former. It makes more sense to keep the indomitable on a leash for possible future use than to fix the underlying pathology.

I know; people used me like that too.

Being angry all the time is simply exhausting. There is always that possibility that you will blow your top like Mount Vesuvius or Mount St Helens and the ensuing destruction will sweep up the innocent and the guilty in one fell swoop. I have often wondered if, after years of rumblings from the volcano she had become, if Sekhmet went on walkabout in an effort to work on her inner demons and found out who she truly was at the end of it all.

Maybe that’s why she tends to push many of us in the direction of shadow work, saying, “heal thyself.” She sees herself in many of us and knows the consequences of living like that.

I have to admit that, years later, I feel less like I’m a pending volcanic explosion puffing ash into the atmosphere and more like a dormant volcano. All the fixings for an explosion are there, but not right now. I couldn’t say if I will ever be able to fully hollow out the magma chamber my friend said is beneath my shoulder blade. Maybe Sekhmet didn’t either; maybe we’re not meant to go into this with the idea that one day we’ll be normal.

Just calm. Just dormant. Just mostly whole.

Excerpt from Spell 83 – For Being Transformed into a Phoenix

As for him who knows this pure spell, it means going out into the day after death and being transformed at will, being in the suite of Wennefer, being content with the food of Osiris, having invocation-offerings, seeing the sun; it means being hale on earth with Re and being vindicated with Osiris, and nothing evil shall have power over him. A matter a million times true.

Came Out West to Find the Sun.

Fairly often, I find myself dealing, in some form or another, with contracts. While my job doesn’t necessarily revolve around them, they’re required in various instances for different reasons. Sometimes they’re specifically for the relationship between my company and the client while at other times, they’re between my client and another company. I don’t spend my days reviewing contracts but I do have to read through them now and then.

Some days, the contract language gets stuck in my head and I’m living off the careful wording people throw in to contracts to protect themselves. Other days, my mind sort of tunes it all out and I move on with my life.

I fucking hate contracts, man.

Since I have the contract experience through my job, I kind of knew what needed to go into the crafting of a contract between Mr. Redhead and I. I needed a period of time, the services to be completed for both parties, termination conditions, and fail safes in place to protect both of us. Intellectually, I was sure I could pull this off without any problems.

I still quailed when it came time to write it all down. Experience or not, I didn’t fully understand what the hell I was supposed to be doing with him. Oh, I mean, I got that he was around to help me, but that doesn’t actually tell me anything about the actual work being completed really.

It was almost as if the whole concept was two dimensional. I could see what the outcome was intended to be, but I couldn’t see the actual steps needed to get there. I realized that I needed help.

Hallway

You think you know someone. But mostly you just know what you want to know. – Horns by Joe Hill

When I need help, usually I will begin with an in depth Google search. I was hoping someone had written a very careful and concise tab A into slot B instruction about creating a contract with a deity. I found legal contract examples and only a small smattering of posts referencing contracts with deities. It occurred to me that I was (a) out of my depth and (b) this contract stuff was probably private between the individuals for a reason.

I turned to the Trickster Guy himself, hoping for some little bit of information. I probably should have known better. I got a lot of conflicting responses, reminders that I couldn’t actually keep loopholes out of the contract so stop freaking out about it, and told to go it alone. My gods said the same damn thing when I turned to them.

I got kind of huffy, honestly.

If one needs to create something at the behest of a deity, wouldn’t they be willing to give some sort of clue as to what the fuck needs to be included? Don’t answer that. It’s rhetorical.

The thing that I kept getting stuck on was the loophole gambit. I’m fully aware of loopholes and I have exploited them myself in my work. However, loopholes with a carrier versus loopholes with a deity are two very separate categories. Even though he told me not to get hung up on it, I was. That’s my thing; I get hung up on the details.

I talked the situation over with someone who gets this Loki business better than I do. Their advice was to sit on it, mull it over, and come back when I was calmer. Well yeah. That made total sense after my freak out. So I left it alone for a few days, fuming about all of this like the snot nosed brat that I am.

When I had more time to devote to the project, I thought about the contracts we use for our clients and the contract examples I found online. I decided I needed to be clinical about the situation. Instead of focusing on what needed to be done, I removed myself from the equation and viewed it from a distance. I took more advice on items to add in – placeholders to prevent true destruction on me and mine – and got to work.

Foundation.

It was something… the way a person’s life picked up speed, the way a life was like a bullet aimed at one final target, impossible to slow or turn aside, and like the bullet, you were ignorant of what you were going to hit, would never know anything except the rush and the impact. – Horns by Joe Hill

I spent an entire afternoon on the project, weaving back and forth between my personal knowledge of contracts and the legal templates I found online. It took me a few hours; longer than I thought it would. The whole time seemed to fly by. One minute, the sun was bright and cheery; the next minute we were on early evening and I was printing out the document so I could read it over later.

Not long before I was informed I needed to create a contract with Mr. Trickster, a fellow Kemetic on Tumblr put out a blog post about contracts. The post was good stuff and I followed that person’s advice: instead of signing the thing immediately, I sat on the terms for a week and a half, making sure I was really going to do this and that I was willing to agree to the terms.

It was a bit like reaching a foregone conclusion though. My gods had been clear: this way or no way. Loki had said the same thing and as much as I find everything suspicious where the gods are concerned, I could feel the truth inside that place where my intuition resides. It was this or nothing – a last ditch effort to make sure the tool that I am doesn’t break.

I had my gods review the contract just in case and everyone seemed okay with it. I reviewed it myself a few times and had to admit that it wasn’t half bad for my first attempt. Like a reed on the wind, I counted down the days until I was ready to sign off and get this party really started.

I chose the Ides of March as the sign date. It was a possibly poor attempt at dark humor: Caesar was told to beware the Ides and I felt similarly myself. I figured it was the best date for all parties involved.

No one complained anyway.

Since signing aboard, I have felt a little more even keel. Things feel manageable, even if they’re not specifically related to what we’re supposed to be working on. I guess it kind of feels like I’m finally standing on land after weeks at sea. The rocking of the boat is a memory, fading as I move forward.

Maybe I’ve just finally added furniture to the empty house that I am.

Raise Hell and Turn It Up.

It’s not unheard of for me to dream of my online friends. Over the years, I’ve cultivated a very good personal community and the bonds of those friendships have twisted enough to include an occasional visit via the dreamscape in some form or another. There are some people who seem less like dream visit friends than others, of course, but on the whole, it surprises me not one wit to wake up from a dream with one of my friends in it.

Last week, a Norse friend of mine showed up to take me to a bank to discuss getting a car loan. All very odd but not overly interesting. Two days later, they showed up again, but this time, to physically pull me from a dream about work which had no clear exit. (I have become adept at pulling myself from dreams I have no interest in continuing but this one was impossible until they showed up.)

Another friend of mine mentioned that these instances could be something Other. They mentioned that a certain, very well known Norse trickster was a fan of showing up in dreams wearing the skin of their followers. A little concerning, I suppose, but I didn’t start to worry until the friend who had appeared twice in dreams mentioned they don’t dream walk.

Damn.

The icing on the cake came when Seth fucking Rogan appeared in a dream to show me condominiums to buy. At one such place, the guest book had LOKI in very ornate calligraphy across a page. When I looked at Seth, he grinned and nodded. The game was over; I had figured it out (with help) and it appeared as though Mr. Trickster had something up his sleeve.

Rain

I wanna wake up; can’t even tell if this is a dream… – Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time by Panic! at the Disco

All of the people who have commented have been remarkably nice about my ambivalence. Every single person has remarked that, as it stands, Mr. Redhead is very well and good for initiating change. This actually only causes me to actually have concerns about his appearance. I definitely need a change, what with all of the inertia, but is it truly so bad that I need the assistance of Mr. Wears-People’s-Faces-for-Funsies?

The first reading I did when I had a chance to calm down seemed to indicate that I was relying more on hope than doing to get through the situation in question. The card wasn’t wrong; it just crystallized something I had been unable to verbalize to myself. The second card in this reading remarked that the existing traditions were broken and unusable. I swore a little bit and walked away.

As additional information comes trickling in piecemeal (mostly because I have made no time, on purpose, to look deeper here), it all relates back to the stagnation, to the inertia. It pops up when I least expect it and while I haven’t thrown a tantrum at my gods yet, who have been curiously silent in all of this, it’s rapidly coming down the pike.

I can’t help but feel a little betrayed: the very traditions that they have coached me in are somehow failing? The very message of hope that they have harped at me is now causing further damage? Well, for fuck’s sake, what the hell am I supposed to do here? Apparently, pay some tiny attention to Mr. Becomes-a-Mare-And-Has-a-Foal.

I don’t even know if my complete lack of interest is due to the fact that I feel this insurmountable mountain should, in fact, be surmounted with my Kemetic background or if it’s the fact that Mr. Has-a-Wolf-for-a-Kid has been steadily tossing “helpful, friendly” vibes in my direction. Hasn’t he figured out that the nicer you are to me the more distrustful I become?

Beyond the feelings of betrayal and irritation and distrust, I have to admit that I’m a little curious. I have followed and paid enough attention to Lokeans for long enough now to know that he’s really maligned by the wider community. I don’t doubt that he would prove useful in the fulfillment of getting out of the rut. I just have to wonder what the methods would be and how deep down the rabbit hole I would find myself at the end of all this.

Bad plastic surgery

Champagne, cocaine, gasoline… And most things in between – Don’t Threaten Me with a Good Time by Panic! at the Disco

I did, eventually, sit down and pull a few cards to mull over the situation. I may not jump to the task immediately, but I recognize that sometimes I need more than dreams and arm flails. Unfortunately, the readings made complete sense and induced more arm flails. At least I have a better understanding though.

The gist seems to be that, while the work I’ve slowly been doing with Ptah is sufficient to meet the expectations there are, hm, fears that it won’t be enough. Ptah is stability and silence for me. Since I have an ability to ignore the work under the existing tradition and gods who I have relationships with, it’s been decided – not by me – that I need an outside assist in order to truly be successful.

To be clear, this decision was undertaken out of love for me even though it is without my knowledge or without my direct input. One of those, “I’m only doing what is in your best interests” things without talking to the person whose best interests are being taken into consideration.

I get… the need for it. During the moments that I am being rational about the whole situation, I can even agree that what’s being said is correct and that someone to push me off the cliff is probably warranted. I can also agree that a person from outside of my home base is more likely to get results if for no other reason than I don’t want them around and will work harder to make them go away sooner. That doesn’t mean I’m thrilled by any means.

It seems as though I will need to determine a contract between us. It was made quite clear that guidelines and rules need to be determined (I am not surprised) and that the “finite timeline” needs to be built into this. My one concern is that I’m going to not think this contract through clearly and wind up accidentally stuck with Mr. I-Turned-into-a-Fly for more time than I am willing to endure. I fucking hate contracts, man.

All in all, I have more concerns regarding how all of this is to come about: loss and isolation. I didn’t ask for clarification on this (mostly because I was already upset and forgot to ask) but the idea of both loss and isolation is concerning. He was quite clear that this is what would be needed to get me through the bullshit morass I’ve been doing through. Another concern was the hint that poverty was going to cause problems.

Not a horrible start, I suppose, but not exactly thrilling either.

I keep coming back to the nice old woman who read the cards for me in December though. The description that I was a house with a solid foundation and nothing going on inside because the work hadn’t been done. And the warning that not bothering would cause things to get worse.

I know that my choices are limited and it’s my own inaction that’s brought me to be here. But damn, man, why did it have to be him?

The Inert Ones.

When I was a senior in high school, I thought it would be a great idea to take physics. I honestly don’t remember why I thought that was such a good idea because I had bombed out of chemistry the year prior and I had barely passed my physical science course my freshman year. I was much more in tune with the biological sciences – anatomy and physiology was my favorite class, to be honest, and while I barely passed astronomy, it was way up there, too.

In physics, the professor talked about inertia before I dropped the course and moved on with my life. The sum total of my knowledge prior to my senior year was an opening line during the theme song portion from Bill Nye’s television show for kids: inertia is a property of matter. What else does a 17-year-old need to know about such things?

I have never once, to my knowledge, applied anything related to physics in my adult years. I’ve applied knowledge from other science courses, usually not in direct relation to my life though. But right now, as I look at the Wiki page for inertia, I am beginning to see why a 17-year-old may need to know about it.

As seen in the First Law of Newton’s Laws of Motion, “When viewed in an inertial reference frame, an object either remains at rest or continues to move at a constant velocity, unless acted upon by an external force.” I’ve been thinking about this law quite a bit the last few weeks, reading and re-reading Wiki page after Wiki page. I keep clicking through to other semi-interesting pages, but I always head right back to the First Law of Motion.

Sometimes even science can be a sign that your ass needs to be paying attention.

inert

O you falcon who rise from the Abyss, Lord of the Celestial Waters, make me hale just as you made yourself hale. Release him, loose him, put him on earth, cause him to be loved: so says the One-Faced Lord concerning me. – excerpt from Chapter 71 of The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

When I was reading through My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts, I was particularly struck with the imagery of the hours as she brought them to life. Part of the reason I got so hung up on the imagery she described was the simple fact that I had already started dreaming about this stuff.

Perhaps it was a push from Hornung’s book that caused the dreams where I was sucked into the mouth of the primeval goddess, Nut. Or perhaps it was more a metamorphosis that needed to be embodied in the imagery of my religious shenanigans. In either case, I spent a long while reading and re-reading through the hours of the night as Roberts described them. I seemed unable to pull myself away anyway.

It is in the second hour of the night that the deceased find themselves at her mouth. This hour is overseen by the gateway guardian, the Lady of Trembling, and it is here that the deceased watches Sia overlooking transfigured ones. They are mummiform upon beds and Sia commands them to: “Count your hearts, receive your offerings.”

Further in the scene, there are other beings that one can discern. These beings are known as “Inert Ones”, “Punished Ones”, and “Those of the Opposite Sky”. As Roberts writes,

… they are swimming and lying, caught in various phases of a renewal process – like the process which Hathor’s child, Ihy, endures as an ‘Inert One’ in the primal waters before being reborn as a radiant child of the goddess. Sunk in their dead sleep, they lie there, passively surrendering to their fate, some in a state of great suffering, watched by the king who appears behind Sia here in the lowest register. Again the god commands them, this time saying:

Measure your banks, lift up your legs.

I found the entire concept of beings lying around, waiting for the next hour to just sort of show up kind of interesting. It seemed to suggest that one’s metamorphosis through the hours of death wasn’t always a sure-fire bet. You could know the spells, say the right words, but sometimes it didn’t really matter. It’s possible that these are beings who got trapped within the confines of the Duat, failing to use the correct words or maybe they are just persons who had given up. I just found it rather intriguing that there were nooks and crannies, places to stop for a bit because the momentum of the deceased’s journey wasn’t up to snuff. After reading through the rest of the hours, I promptly forgot about this section.

After being told about my own stagnation, I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps my journey through the body of Nut had all been a sham. After the original dream, I had some others that appears to correspond with other hours, but I couldn’t help but wonder if perhaps I had never really progressed beyond the second hour gateway. It was that gateway, after all, that has stuck with me through the last year. The rest was almost ephemeral.

Perhaps my mind had made up the rest, borrowing heavily from the book I had read and whatever appearance of my forward progression was all a dream-within-a-dream, a sort of lie to myself so that I wouldn’t ever see that I was, in fact, stagnating. I honestly haven’t come to a satisfactory conclusion about all of that yet.

Did I move on?

Did I not?

Who knows?

I have to consider the possibility that through the trappings of one’s own metamorphosis that they could go back to a particular area of the Duat/night that they would prefer to be in.

I mean, look at it this way: if you had progressed beyond a specific hour and you found that the rest of the shit heading your way was too much, who is to say that you couldn’t force yourself back a few steps? Or perhaps just like when we eat our food, wouldn’t it be possible for the peristalsis of Nut’s digestive tract to send you back from whence you came?

Maybe it’s an internal reaction of Nut’s to force you back up to where you truly belong because you either lied or actually weren’t ready for what was next. Or maybe you make the decision all your own. I have to consider the fact that maybe I did get far and said, “fuck this shit; I’m out,” before heading back to the one hour where I wasn’t required to do a fucking thing. I have to also consider the possibility that Nut was just like, “ha ha, no,” and sent me back there.

I may never come to a good conclusion on what happened, but I can assert that I definitely feel like I’m right there in the second hour.

Since finding that section of the book again, I keep going back to that quote in Roberts’ book and focusing on the bit about the Inert Ones passively surrendering to their fate. That is precisely what this stagnation thing has resembled since I recognized that is what was happening. I have been allowing the ebb and flow of life to shift me wherever it wanted me to go versus swimming against the currents.

Rebirth

May he knit my bones together, may he make my members firm. May the Sistrum-player, Lord of Hearts, be brought to me that he may shape my bones and establish the Wereret-crown of Atum. – excerpt from Chapter 149 of The Book of the Dead translated by R.O. Faulkner

After re-reading the section of Hour Two in My Heart, My Mother, I found myself particularly interested in Ihy. It’s not really all that surprising, really. While it could have been expected that I would develop an interest in him prior to now, I can honestly say that I only gave him a passing glance. My relationship with Heru-Wer and Hetheru has had little to do with the side-lock bearing youth of their union.

I pulled up my resources and went to town. There wasn’t that much that I could really learn since Butler’s entry had citations that were heavily from the CT as opposed to either the PT or BD, both of which I have copies of. Still, I pressed on and considered the words of that little old woman who told me to do the fucking work or else. Luckily enough, I have the great resource that is TTR to aid me when I’m kind of like, “the fuck?”

TTR pointed out that Ihy had mentions, especially regarding birth, within Alison Roberts book, Hathor Rising. Since I was nowhere near my copy during the time of our conversation, they graciously typed up the pertinent quotes. I kind of checked out a bit after the quotes because they were all so fucking relevant. I went back to them in my own copy of Hathor Rising a while later:

To ‘become Ihy’, a person must be prepared to experience the raw materiality of existence – blood, faeces, and bodily fluids – all the messy substances and liquids which are there when life is pushed forth from the female womb. Such a birth is graphically described in Spell 334…

My awesomeness precedes me
As Ihy, Son of Hathor,
I am he who begets a begetting
I flowed out from her thighs
In this my name Jackal of the Light
I broke forth from the egg…
I escaped in her blood
I am the Lord of blood. I am turbulent bull …
I came into being, I crept, I travelled around.
I grew, I became tall like my father.

I went through this particular section a few times before I felt like I had grasped what it was that I needed to do.

I had left the little old lady’s house feeling less like I knew what to do and more like I was in another round of perpetual Kermit Arm Flail. After that visit, I was left wondering if perhaps I should just give up and let the passive surrender I had been living in keep on, keepin’ on. None of my gods had felt the least bit like helping me out in the months preceding; they had disappeared for lack of a better term.

While the person I spoke with seemed to indicate this is because I wasn’t doing my part by reaching out, I have to also point out that sometimes, relationships even with the gods are two way streets, man. And it’s never really been my way to beseech them unless I’m backed into a fucking corner. And honestly, being passive about the fate I was in looks absolutely nothing like being backed into a corner.

But as TTR wrote out each particular passage associated with Ihy and as I re-read them again later in my own copy of the book, it kind of crystallized that I could absolutely let the fate that I had been living have me. I could definitely allow the world around me to continue in its perceived shades of gray and drown from it. Or, I could puncture through and be born into the world anew.

No one ever said rebirth was easy. They just never mentioned all the blood and guts you have to go through in order to make it manifest.