When your practice leaves the beaten path: what happens when the gods throw you for a loop? What do you do when the gods present you with a situation that doesn’t seem “normal” for a Kemetic? How do you handle things when your practice wanders off the map?
Once upon a time I was what you might consider a relatively “normal” Kemetic. My practice was more or less by the books, and there wasn’t anything overly “strange” or abnormal about how I practiced and lived Kemeticism. As someone who has lived on both sides of the “normal” divide, I have to say that the biggest problem with the idea of “normal” is that it is horribly limiting. And when the gods chuck you over the “normal” chasm and you see yourself plummeting into the Valley of Weird, you can’t help but be afraid- or at least I was- of what everyone else is thinking of you. Being thrown into the Valley of Weird is kinda like being thrown into no man’s land, and the territory can seem really hostile and daunting. The first time it was suggested to me that I should write about “not normal” stuff, I feared being ostracized and leered at by the community, and I’d put money down that anyone that has fallen into the Valley of Weird has felt the same way.
I don’t really think I realized what being thrown into the Valley was going to mean for my practice. I think that I sorta believed that I would write a few posts about this “weird’ stuff that I do, and then things would go back to normal. I thought I was going for a visit into the Valley of Weird, only to wake up and find that not only was I now stuck down there, but that I was to set up shop in the Valley and lead tours around the place to show others that the Valley of Weird isn’t really all that weird when you look at it a bit closer (which has now formed what I call my “house burning” season).
In many ways, what I thought would be a one time event has almost turned into the “bread and butter” of my practice. I almost feel that “weird” has become my hallmark.
I will be the first to say that this is likely by design. I have no doubt in my mind that this is part of Set’s planning, part of his “grand plan” about where the larger Kemetic community needs to go. He once called me the “guinea pig” of the community. Well, he didn’t quite word it that way. Instead he told me “I will throw you under the bus, so that others won’t have to be”. That is to say, he purposefully has placed me in certain situations, situations that fall more into the weird or taboo category, so that I can document those situations. Then I can disseminate the information to others, and in so doing, help others feel less alone in their circumstances, and break down the restrictive ideas about what should be considered “normal” in our community.
For those of you who haven’t been in Kemeticism for very long, this may sound a bit strange since many newer Kemetics have stated that our community is really open to new ideas. That’s because what is considered normal now is not what was normal once upon a time. Back when I first came into Kemeticism, you didn’t have a lot of “woo” Kemetics. Astral and Kemeticism didn’t appear to touch. There were no Kemetics that I could find that were discussing things like magix, witchcraft or even heka. It’s as if everything outside of shrine work was considered taboo, and that doesn’t even address the parts of Kemeticism that are still a bit “out there” for some people’s tastes- things like sexual relations with gods, god spousing and other types of non-physical relations that can happen.
Everything that is considered relatively “okay” and “normal” now is only that way because brave people talked about their experiences. The only way that I’ve found to move from “weird” to “normal” seems to be through openness and discussion amongst our peers. But that’s why being thrown into the Valley of Weird is so terrifying. Because in order to actually make things more okay in the wider community, you have to put yourself out there to be judged and possibly ridiculed. And when everyone who is living in the Valley of Weird refuses to talk about their experiences out of fear, newly tossed people have no idea who to turn to or who to ask about their situation. Everyone being closed off creates a bad situation where many people end up being scared, and that serves no one.
This is also why I have worked very hard to push people to challenge their views on what is “normal”. This is why I’ve written about how to break new ground, just in case you fall into the Valley of Weird, and want to try and show people that it’s not such a bad place. But for those of you who have fallen into the Valley of Weird, but don’t want to necessarily write about it- here are my tips for figuring out what to do when you’ve been thrown out over the chasm.
It is challenging to stay calm when you’ve been thrown off of a cliff into what appears to be nothingness, but I have always found that staying calm is the best place to start in any new or unfamiliar situation. Staying calm allows you to think through things more readily, and it will prevent you from acting out in a panic, which can often take a situation from bad to worse. When in doubt, remember to be still and breathe for a bit.
Objectivity, Documentation, and Discernment
The next step that I usually take is to walk myself through what I am experiencing. I document everything that I can recall- even if it seems far fetched or downright inaccurate. Remember that documentation is there purely to capture what it is you’re seeing, feeling or experiencing. Don’t worry about discerning things when you first write them down. Just get them down on paper, the discernment can come later. It’s better to have notes that you write off later as being mental vomit than to be sitting down half of a year from now trying to remember “what that one symbol that he showed me?” Staying calm will make it easier for you to document what you’re seeing, and documentation can help you to better discern what is going on in your particular situation. Remember that it is common for a single situation to have elements that are accurate as well as elements that are being misinterpreted or misunderstood by your brain. It’s normal and to be expected. And the best way to figure out which is which is by turning it over as many times as you can while you’re going through the process. You may not owe an explanation to anyone else, but I’ve always found that feeling secure in my ability to discern my situations makes me feel better about what I’m doing. And that’s always been important to me- trying to find some shred of sanity amidst my chaos.
Remember You’re Not Alone
Whatever part of the Valley of Weird that you’ve fallen into, remember that you’re not alone. I know it probably feels like you’re alone, but I have yet to hear anyone’s experiences of the Valley that really struck me as being odd or out there. Remember that a lot of people are not talking about their experiences, but that doesn’t mean that people aren’t experiencing them all the same. It can feel alienating, but I promise that you aren’t alone in what you’re going through.
Being thrown over the chasm of normal into the Valley of Weird can be daunting. But it can also be very rewarding once you get to the other side. Although the experiences I’ve had through all of my crack have been way out there, and very trialing at times, at the end of the day, I wouldn’t trade them in for a “normal” practice. There are so many things I’ve experienced that I am grateful for, and my life is better for all of the metaphorical crack that I’ve snorted. While it may not seem like it at first, sometimes finding a small place to set up shop in the Valley of Weird can be one of the best things that ever happened to you. And who knows, once you spend some time there, you may even come to enjoy it.
To read other responses to this topic, check out the KRT Master List