When I was younger, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved animals, and I thought it would be a nice idea to help heal and save the animals that I loved. That is until I realized that in order to be a vet, you must be willing and able to also kill animals when treatment was not available or working. And with the mention of that, I decided the profession was not for me. Life’s funny like that, because despite my best efforts to move away from death and destruction, my life Over There landed me neck deep in both. Over the years I have made a lot of vague passing comments about the nature of my life Over There, but I’ve never really gone into any amount of depth or detail regarding the work I do. As with most everything I do, this has been done on purpose, as I’ve always felt that talking about it would result in one of two things: people looking at me like I’ve lost my marbles while they whisper “special snowflake” to their closest friends, or people looking at me with horror while they call me a monster. Both options lead to suck so I’ve never bothered.
However, recent discussions about the nature of ma’at and the nature of the gods has led me to decide to finally open up about some of what I do Over There. I guess we can consider it getting an early start to the work Set has laid out for me this year.
Usually when I sum up my work Over There, I de-fang and sterilize everything down to “I heal and destroy”. It sounds pretty simple and straightforward, but it’s honestly anything but. I’ve noticed over the years that many people seem to have troubles understanding how these two things can live so closely together, as seen by goddesses such as Sekhmet. However, let me assure you that the two are opposite sides of the same coin, as with the veterinarian mentioned above. In order to be able to heal, you must also be adept at being able to kill, and one can easily lead into the other.
I never expected to end up in this role, and taking up this sort of “work” happened very organically- at least on my end. I still can’t tell if Set and Osiris came to me because they foresaw what I was capable of doing, or if this is all just icing on top of their already made cake. At first I tried to escape the role that lay before me. However, the more I ran, the faster it caught up with me, and eventually I ended up embracing what was laying at my feet. Anything else resulted in more discomfort. Sometimes it’s easier to find solace in what you are than to continually deny what is written in front of your face.
Much like with my gods where Set came first and Osiris followed, my work started with destruction and I didn’t learn some of the finer points of healing until much later. Destruction came very easily to me from a very early point in my astral work. This is mainly due to my ability to access the deeper points of people Over There. I don’t even have to really try, and I can fall into some of the deepest darkest parts of a person or a plane (because planes can have embodiments and cores, just as humanesque entities do), places where it’s very easy to do damage. Waking up neck deep in astral fuckery meant that I had to kill sometimes in order to survive. Sometimes I needed to destroy a place, person, or item in order to get away and restore some semblance of balance or totality to my existence. Destruction was very necessary when I first started out. I had to clear out the wreckage of my house in order to actually address the foundations below.
The need to heal people was pretty quick to follow, though. Turns out that when you’re popping up in these horrible places to collect parts of yourself, you often find other people who are just as screwed up as you are. I found myself wanting to help these people, and wanting to help heal them as best as I could. I also think that I secretly hoped that I would be able to avoid killing things because healing them was the solution to everything. I didn’t realize at the time that this isn’t really the case- healing is not always a solution, nor is it always the best solution.
Shortly after, Osiris began to teach me how to use the river to heal myself and others as well. We’d branch from using my particular river to using vats of water in general. I learned various methods of picking nasty bits out of people’s energy lines, and I began to work on learning how to heal cores and core spirits. I felt as though I might have found a solution to everything- I would heal whatever I came across instead of killing it.
The problem is, healing doesn’t really work that way.
Death and destruction are part of a healer’s arsenal. When someone from Over There opens up their proverbial medical bag, death and destruction are one of the first things to be pulled out. The first method that Osiris showed me, after all, involved drowning in order to facilitate the ability to heal. It doesn’t get much more morbid than that.
And even if you’re not using death or destruction to heal, sometimes killing is still an unavoidable side effect. Sometimes you work your ass off trying to heal someone, and the healing still does not stick. The healing doesn’t work because the person isn’t ready, or in some cases, the person doesn’t even want to be healed anymore. I had a man that I ended up calling Waffles because he kept waffling in his healing so much. Some weeks he wanted to live and wanted to stay with me forever. And then other weeks he’d withdraw entirely, and wish for death.
Eventually, the death won out. Part of being the healer is being able to put someone out of their misery if you need to (or if they want it). Another part of being a healer is being able to put someone down if they are becoming a serious danger to you or others. Sometimes death is the best way to facilitate the healing. And of course, we can’t forget the other popular end result- which is when the healing works out so well that the person passes on by their own choice, leaving you with a surprisingly empty room one morning. All of these results are not only possible, but common when it comes to healing Over There.
To bring this into a more mundane aspect, you can even see destruction in the healing we perform here on Earth. Ever taken antibiotics? That involves killing bacteria in your system in order to get better. Destruction facilitates the restoration of balance within your system. Destruction can sometimes lead to ma’at – which is exactly why we have less than peaceful deities in our pantheon. Sometimes peace and passivity are not the answer.
And perhaps that is why I have ended up with the selection of gods that I have. Set’s destruction and Osiris’ passivity give me the best of both worlds, and in many ways both of their tasks fall into the same category: healing, or the restoration of balance for a person, plane, or realm. Sometimes killing and death are required in order to restore that balance. Sometimes good old fashioned nurturing and healing are required to restore the balance. Sometimes you need both in equal measure.
I was once hopeful that I could use all of what I have learned regarding healing to wipe away all of the red on my hands from everything I have destroyed or killed. But since then I have learned that healing doesn’t wipe the red away. It simply adds to the richness of the color. Life without death does not exist, nor does healing exist without destruction, as both are inseparably linked.