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.

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?

Two Roads Diverged…

Some days, I feel like my whole life is a famous poem just splashed out on paper to read. It sits there like a flashing neon sign to me when for everyone else, it’s just a bunch of fancy words on paper. Maybe everyone feels that way sometimes; maybe I’m alone in this.

After the nice woman on the other side of the state told me to get going or else, I came home and ranted for a while. It wasn’t really the message that angered me insomuch as the parting shot, the bit that left me pale and shaking. The bit that, upon seeing me after the reading, my friend asked me if I was okay. I’ve never talked about that part; I probably won’t.

When I was calm enough, I sat down with my gods and asked them what the hell I needed to do. They were all very nice about the situation but it was still a lot to take in. They let me bitch and moan and listened while I railed on about how I was a good fucking devotee who didn’t deserve this next round of horse shit. I guess they understood why I was so angry.

I laid all my cards on the table about how I was angry and how I didn’t know what the fuck I was supposed to be doing. I told them I thought about leaving, just packing it all up and burying myself away because it was all just too damn hard. I wasn’t serious, not really, but they talked me down.

At that ledge, looking down, I realized I was overwhelmed with all of this. I was at the point of being so overloaded that I couldn’t figure out what the hell I was supposed to be doing or why I was supposed to care. My gods told me that my tentative plan of taking a time out was a good one. We decided that I had until March to make a choice.

After that, they showed me two possibilities. Isn’t that always the way though? There are two doors to choose from with the frog that always tells the truth and the frog that always lies. No frogs this time, just two possibilities to choose from with a general idea of where both would lead.

I had three months to figure it all out.

Crossroads...

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

I am the type of person to stick my head in the sand when things are too big. It’s actually a familial trait passed down from generation to generation. Eventually I will do something but when I get to the “I can’t actually form words” stage because there is too much going on, I get overloaded and hide.

My gods may have been kind to me because I was overwhelmed but they kept reminding me that I had a time limit. Arbitrary calendar dates are a thing for me and even though I knew I should probably look a little deeper into it, I chose not to. The partial glimpses of possibilities in December were enough.

The first path looked nice enough. It was calm and quiet with a sense of familiarity that sent shock waves through me. I looked at that possible future and saw that, while things would be dealt with efficiently and relatively quickly, things would change to a degree that I would wind up losing out on what I have established for myself thus far.

It wouldn’t go away, per se, but the dynamic would change. And that was a game changer. I could see my gods behind me, but crowded to the background.

I have worked very hard and gone through a hell of a lot of shit to get where I am today. I wasn’t saying good-bye to it, but I was, in effect, trudging up a mountain and away from my gods, my path, my life. As much as they annoy me, the possibility of that dynamic change was worrisome and confusing. I didn’t like what I saw.

The other way was more frightening. It made my heart stop with its deep, dark places eschewing light and cheer. It was filled with fear and with sorrow. There was nothing recognizable to me there. I looked at that possible future and saw an interim change in the dynamic, but at the end things would be much more manageable.

It would take longer to deal with things, though. Even with the picture drawn before me, the path was filled with unknown pitfalls and I would need to travel slowly and carefully, trudging through the slog and mud.

Knowing how hard I have worked to get to where I am, even if most people don’t recognize that hard work, I realized that while the happier seeming path would be simple, the darker seeming path was more in line with what the end game. I had to take time to look inside and figure out what was more important here.

But as my gods steadily pinged me, reminding me that we did in fact have a time limit, I was depressed for the decision process. Though they kept coming at me regularly with hits and reminders, I ignored them; that whole overwhelmed thing making its debut.

Besides, I had actually made a decision. I just hadn’t announced it yet.

Crossroads

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

In the last few weeks, I’ve been dreaming about various modifications to myself. I think the one that took the cake was the dream where I got a tattoo of the ending stanza to the poem, The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost. I got the gist to a point, but I was still a little confused by the dream. (Not to mention that thinking on it over the last few days has only made me really want to get it tattooed on my forearm, just like in the dream.)

It’s actually a little amusing that the dream took that particular poem and that particular section. I’ve been saying from the get-go that my religious life, and by extension my mundane as well, oft resembles that poem. It’s not just my favorite famous poem of all time. It is me.

It’s taken a little bit of back and forth on my part to confirm what the fuck my mind was telling me, but I got it after a bit. (Still trying to decide if a tattoo is really warranted though.) I got the message; I understood what was happening finally. But of course, the emotional hits are never over with just one final nail on the coffin.

Last night, I stood between Papa Legba and Loki, looking from one to the other.

When I looked at Legba, I could see things so clearly and I wanted so much to walk beside him again. He was a rock in a time when I needed one even while he was teaching me important things. He held my hand and helped me through the worst of the bullshit after my head split further open and the Long Term was explained to me. I cried for months after his door shut on me and still sometimes cry, like I am now.

The sweet filled smell of him was there and I could see him in such a beautiful sun-filled place. Green fields and clear lit paths, birds chirping and the crossroads so clearly marked for the eye to see.

But I turned to look at Loki and the skies were gray. There were storm clouds in the distance. Everything was hard to see and I couldn’t tell what was slog and what was path. I wanted so much to turn away from this red-headed unknown in my life, contract be damned and knowing that the Old Man would get me out of it if I asked, and march the fuck away.

But three months ago, I saw what my life could and probably would look like with Papa. And I saw what my life could and probably would look like with Loki. And I decided then what I had to re-illustrate last night.

Did you know you can grieve for might-have-beens? It’s entirely possible. I wasn’t aware though maybe I should have been.

I had to finally say good-bye to someone who meant a lot to me. It’s not the first time I’ve done it, but that doesn’t make this any easier. Loki’s kindness after didn’t really help, though it distracted me at least. I will miss the might-have-beens, but I need my autocracy as it is now, not what it would become with Papa Legba and his brood. I will miss the relationship and the lessons he set before me, but what ice been working towards is more important than all that.

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

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?