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To Sustain Yourself on Hearts

Everywhere around me, I see death.

I don’t necessarily mean death as in, there are dead bodies around all the time (though there is a lot of literal death on this planet, too), but a death that is a bit more metaphorical: people who are living, yet very much dead inside. You know the call signs: you hate your job, you hate being alive, you live to escape into a book or tv, you drag through the motions of life without engaging with those motions. I think we’ve all been there. I think it’s impossible to live a full life and not spend some time there, but it’s not healthy when you stay there for too long.

After my last post, Sat talked to me about how it reminded her of her Inert Ones post, saying that “Maybe that’s part of why there were Inert Ones in hour 2. They had eaten their hearts to the point where there was nothing left to move on.” This hit several notes for me including a mixture of my own experiences with being inert for extended years of my life, combined with my experiences through the spirit work I’ve done with Osiris — a person who also spent a fair amount of time being inert. Shortly after Osiris is felled, he is said to lay on his side, inert, and unaware of everything going on around him. When O walked me through Rosetjau a few years ago, he reminded me that when you die, your energy becomes still and the energy around you (loved ones, people you knew, people who process your body, etc.) becomes active as if transferred from one party to another. He told me that this is how the dead are supported — the energy shifts to those around you, and they take care of everything while you adjust to your new existence.

Ideally, it’d be that way in real life, too. That every time one of us falls off the radar, we’d have people to help up find our legs again, to help us slowly move back into Being. However, that’s not how things work. Instead, we often left on our sides, left in the stillness of death. Eventually you’re gonna get hungry in that place, and you’re likely going to eat your heart.

In my experience, being among the living dead makes you hate yourself. You see all of these people who are Actually Living, and you feel bitter and angry. Sometimes you’re angry because you can’t feel what they feel. Sometimes you’re angry because no one will help lift you up so that you could attempt to achieve what they have. Sometimes you’re angry because it feels Too Much, and you’re certain you will never ever move from that space.

I have lived my entire life with one foot in that space. I determined at a very young age that happiness was not a thing for me. That I was not put on this planet to be happy, and so I shouldn’t even bother to seek it out. I felt that I was put here to help others, to build and create and work for others. To help others find what I could not. If you remember in my last post, a lack of perceived options often keeps us stuck, and I was very stuck.

This was further complicated by the years of neglect I had endured with my family. I was made to believe that I was unimportant, unworthy of love, and since my family didn’t love me, I didn’t love me either. I think a lot of us struggle with both of these thoughts — that we can’t achieve happiness, so it’s not worth seeking out; and that we aren’t worthy of the happiness, even if we could obtain it.

Despite living like this for many years, my inertia reached its climax, starting in late 2015. Which shows you that it can always get worse (lesson 1.)

Picture it: it’s the eve of the month of Halloween. The air outside is still in the triple digits. You’re freshly widowed, and you’ve taken on about $30k in debt over the course of a month (not even an exaggeration) on top of everything else you’ve still got to pay for. Your job is pretty awful and you’ve been working 60 hour weeks since the beginning of the year. You’re about to get surgery on your face, and it’s supposed to be painful. There is the double-digit possibility that your surgery could go south, meaning you will have wasted about $25k of your time and money. Surgery is fast, but when you come out of it, you’re in level 8 pain and it stays there for about a month. You don’t sleep at all for the first week and a bit and you can’t eat anything solid for the next three months. And about three weeks in, you realize that you can’t really remember anything from the past 6 months. That’s how 2015 ran into it’s final quarter for me.

Meanwhile, I had been locked in a dark space for months on the astral. I was kept there with a man who was hellbent on keeping me there, using my dulled senses to his advantage and making everything going on in the physical realm infinitely worse. I felt like I had no resources, that no one was really there (except my SO) to catch me. I was as inert as humanly could be — both here and on the astral. I could barely care for myself, and I looked for the light at the end of the tunnel… because surely there was an end to this, right?

I continued to drag myself along as best as I could. I was able to break free of the astral abuse I was suffering in April of 2016, and I thought that for sure I was going to be able to make headway now, right? But the damage had already been done, and by May my health completely bottomed out. Or so I thought.

Then I was able to get a new job in the summer. So now I’ll totally get better, right? Yeah, no. The new job ended up being about as bad as the previous one, and when I was finally laid off in 2017, I was thankful for it, because that’s how much I hated it there.

At each stage in my journey, I seemed to expect that with each arrival of something new, that I’d get better. There always seemed to be this overlaying notion that if I just get this one thing fixed, I will be pulled out of my mire, and things will go back to how they used to be. But the way it used to be honestly never came for me, and I’m now in a place where I can be thankful as I say that, because I don’t want to go back to how I was living before.

At the worst parts of my inertia, I felt like I was drowning. I used to describe depression as being in a room that is slowly filling with water. That some days you wake up and the water is to your ankles. Other days, it’s around your waist and you have to stack up the furniture to try and stay dry. But when my health really began to run out, it was like being thrown into the middle of the ocean, and being held underwater by about 30 feet. I went through each day with constant screaming in the back of my head. I was always on the brink of tears, and there were many days when I would lock myself in my office and cry behind my desk because I couldn’t figure out what else to do about it.

To hearken back to the scene from My Heart My Mother in Hour 2 of your trip through the Duat: I wasn’t just inert in the mud. I had been fully consumed by the mud. I had been completely encased in mud, and after 4 different doctors, I was beginning to think that this was all I could ever hope to achieve in my life. I felt devastated. That this was all I had to look forward to — endless suffering while I tried to survive in a capitalist nightmare. I had to give up everything I loved — writing, religion, the gods, most of my astral work, most of my day job, exercising, going places, independence, doing things, eating stuff. I felt like everything had been taken. And with the current events that have happened in our country in the past year, with every passing day I felt surer and surer that I would rather be dead than alive.

To the point that when I did get laid off, we were genuinely concerned about leaving me alone by myself all day. Both my SO and I feared that I’d get so distraught from being alone in the house that I might take matters into my own hands. So when I say it was dark, I mean dark. The darkest I’ve ever been through.

Being stuck in a place like that is awful. Downright. Awful. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I tried to get out, only to slide right back into my mud cavern. I’d muster up the strength to try a new doctor and come home devastated as they ignored my problems. I’d muster up enough energy to try and do something social, only to be bed ridden the next day. I’d work so hard only to end right back up where I had started. Eventually, you get tired of that. You get tired of gathering up the last of your resources for “one more go” only to end right back where you were.

After a point, when you can’t get out, you turn your anger inwards. You begin to hate yourself, and hate the world for putting you there. You get mad that no one can seemingly help you, and you question if they are even willing to help you. You get mad at yourself for not being able to pull yourself out of it, and with each failure, that hatred grows. You begin to eat at yourself until each tiny morsel is gone. In many ways, it reminds me of a wild animal that’s caught in a trap. You’ll lash out in fear at anything and anyone that comes around you, and you’ll get so desperate that you’ll eat your own limbs to get free (except you won’t get free because the limbs seem to grow back.)

In the worst of this, only O would come to mind. I hadn’t heard from my gods in months (last contact was… sometime in 2016,) and I felt abandoned. The reason Osiris ever popped up in my mind was because he himself had been through death. He was the only one I knew that had been inert like this and lived to tell the tale (though for those of you keeping track, Ihy is the deity par excellence for this sort of situation.) I questioned what he would do, how he would handle this. I was reminded of how he was kept in a safe space by a snake, and when O finally reached a point where he wanted to move on, to pick up his limbs and more forward, the snake wouldn’t let him. He would ultimately have to force his way out of the snake, cutting through that barrier to get free. And as much as I hate to say it, it’s technically the answer to all of this: you have to keep trying.

And for those of you who are in this state, I can’t urge enough how important it is that you keep trying (lesson 2.)

You’re not going to want to. It’s not going to feel good, and it’s probably going to be messy. My recovery has taken three specialists, which took about a year and a half of searching to really find. It’s cost me hundreds (if not thousands) of dollars and lots of my time and patience to get there. And I know that I’m one of the lucky ones because I had the ability and resources to even attempt to get to where I am now. For those with less income, time and resources to work with, it’s even harder to find your way out. But what I am trying to say is that there is a way out, and it’s worth it to keep looking for it.

For me, the major headway was made when I added my final specialist to my team of physicians. She has me on 48395746 different supplements, and has forced me to change my diet significantly to combat the inflammation and histamine overload that is happening in my brain. It’s not perfect, but I can keep my head above water and most days are better than not. Arguably, it’s the first time I’ve felt what happiness might even feel like (which shows you how important the right diet and supplementation can be for depression.)

Working with my therapist has allowed me to process a fair amount of issues. It’s given me more space to react to triggers and has allowed me to be more objective with my emotions. It’s also allowed me to take a lot of what I’ve learned and apply it to my SO so that they can begin to move forward too (because we can’t afford to have both of us at the therapist right now.)

And working with my DO has allowed me to finally fit into my body better. I actually feel like I live in my form now, as opposed to being only a fraction of the way in. It’s also because of him that I found the therapist, and because of the therapist that I found the doctor.

In Egyptian funerary texts, you often see passages that urge the deceased to pick up their limbs, gather their pieces, and to ultimately pull themselves back together so that they can move forward. I think it’s useful advice for those of us who are stuck in the mire. It’s hard to keep yourself together when you’re strewn about on the ground, but what is important is that you try, and that you keep trying. Finding a fire and motivation to keep doing what you can. Grabbing what limbs you can, attempting to find little ways to improve your situation, to gain some headway with yourself, and to ultimately stop eating yourself alive. Finding the right people who can help bring your limbs closer and help you to find other sources of food that aren’t your heart makes this process easier, and I’d argue that to some extent having that external support is necessary to getting out, but at the end of the day you have to want to get out.

To sum up this hodge-podge of a post, I give you this, a quote from Hathor Rising by Roberts:

To “become Ihy”, a person must be prepared to experience the raw materiality of existence- blood, feces, and bodily fluids- all the messy substances and liquids which are there when life is pushed forth from the womb.

To tread this path to new life a person must also be prepared to seize and take possession of Ihy, for he eludes those who wait passively, afraid to summon up his zestful powers: ‘I show the paths of Khepri, the Netherworld dwellers follow me, this Osiris N takes possession of Ihy, this Osiris N captures Ihy for eternity’

His zest for life drives out all fear […] has an ability to entice others into making difficult journeys.

And to bring it home with what O told me all those years ago as I was thrown head-first into Rosetjau: you can be passive in your death, but you can’t be passive in your rebirth.

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The Fight For Yourself

Before I start this post, I wanted to thank everyone who gave me feedback from my last post. It’s great to see that I still have a readership despite being awol for the past year or two, and I’m glad to hear that people like my less informative posts, and were still down with seeing more of my shadow work stuff. So a lot of love to all of you ❤ and with that, now for the actual post…

Being chronically ill is frustrating.

Of course, many of you reading this know that, but it bears repeating all the same — being chronically ill is frustrating. It’s a constant uphill walk, filled with schedules and things you have to do, along with a lot of not-doing things that you want to do. It requires a lot of will power and discipline, which illness loves to collect from you as though it were extracting a fee. It also costs a lot of money and time to be sick all the time. I’ve lost track of how much dough and how many hours I’ve dumped into various doctors appointments, prescriptions, supplements, etc.

When you consistently hate yourself, this battle becomes even more difficult. You end up burning the candle at both ends — telling yourself that you need to do something, because its good for yourself and will make life more bearable, while simultaneously hating yourself for being sick all the time, for making your own experience on this planet even more difficult and frustrating.

Or at least, that’s how it has always been for me.

When I first started therapy, one of the first things that we discussed was the fact that I was so super mean to myself. I was always super critical of everything I did. I was very much like a non-stop version of this:

There is a reason why so many of us end up with this sort of negative internal self-talk. To pull from someone who knows more about this than me:

A flashback-inducing critic is typically spawned in a danger-ridden childhood home. This is true whether the danger comes from the passive abandonment of neglect or the active abandonment of abuse. When parents do not provide safe enough bonding and positive feedback, the child flounders in anxiety and fear. Many children appear to be hard-wired to adapt to this endangering abandonment with perfectionism.

A prevailing climate of danger forces the child’s superego to over-cultivate the various programs of perfectionism and endangerment listed below. Once again, the superego is the part of the psyche that learns parental rules in order to gain their acceptance.

The inner critic is the superego gone bad. The inner critic is the superego in overdrive desperately trying to win your parents approval. When perfectionist driving fails to win welcoming from your parents, the inner critic becomes increasingly hostile and caustic. It festers into a virulent inner voice that increasingly manifests self-hate, self-disgust, and self-abandonment.

The inner critic blames you incessantly for shortcomings that is imagines to be the cause of your parents rejection. It is incapable of understanding that the real cause lies in your parents’ shortcomings. […]

A traumatized child becomes desperate to relieve the anxiety and depression of abandonment. The critic-driven child can only think about the ways they are too much or not enough. The child’s unfolding sense of self (the healthy ego) finds no room to develop. Their identity virtually becomes the critic. The superego trumps the ego.

In this process, the critic becomes increasingly virulent and eventually switches from the parents’ internalized voice: “You’re bad” to the first person: “I’m bad”.

This is unlike the soldier in combat who does not develop a toxic critic. This process whereby the superego becomes carcinogenic is a key juncture where ptsd morphs into cptsd.

(you can read more quotes from Walker’s CPTSD book here.)

In Kemetic circles, you will often hear about how one should “not eat their heart.” In a way, its saying not to devour yourself, to destroy your own essence. Arguably, it’s working against ma’at to eat your heart on a regular basis. It undermines your health, your life, and what the NTRW have given you. Yet for someone like me, eating my heart was all I seemed to be doing. It didn’t look like it on the surface, but deep down, I have always been mean and nasty to myself. I’ve always been bitter at my own limitations, at my own body, at not being what I thought I wanted to be (truthfully, I don’t think I even know what I wanted to be… back to not really having a clear goal of where I’m even going.) I think chronic illness adds another layer to all of this hell because it gives you even more “reasons” to hate yourself, and the society we live in often reinforces that hatred (because western culture doesn’t seem to like disabled people much.)

If my body is a microcosm of my world, and I were to translate how I treated myself to how the NTRW run the Duat, it’d be a case of only going to battle a/pep whenever it suited me. The citizens would cry out in the streets about how isfet was devouring the outer edges of our land, and I’d begrudgingly pick up my spear and bemoan about how I have to go do this yet again to keep our land safe. I’d be the most obnoxious “savior” anyone had ever met. And because of my lack of speed to even help battle a/pep, I’d then have to spend more resources cleaning up the damage after the fact. All because I wasn’t really in it to win it. My heart was gone, for I had eaten it. I wasn’t really fighting for myself as much as I was just… going through the motions and hoping it would work out.

And if we flip that narrative, how would you feel if you saw the gods drag their feet and get huffy every time they needed to go smite isfet? Would you have a lot of confidence in them? Would you want to put your energy into helping or backing them? Or would you be more inclined to not get involved? I suspect a lot of us would waver at the sight of our gods acting like that, and on an internal level, the same thing happens to our neglected selves, our inner children that watch our adult selves shirk off responsibilities and only half-assedly dole out love to our own beings, our own selves. As my inner child told me very early on in therapy, “You care more about your astral self than you do me. Why should I even talk to you.”

If there is one thing I could stress to everyone reading this, it’s that you have to be on your own side in order to win a fight against yourself (and by that, I mean, win a fight against your inner critic.) You can’t be passive in your love of yourself and expect to make headway in loving yourself.

I’m sure many of you are now saying “well that’s all good and well, but I don’t know how to stop hating on myself.”

The method that we used is rooted in the notion of having options. A major factor in PTSD and learned helplessness is the feeling of having no options to take. When we don’t perceive ourselves as having options, we feel like there is nothing we can do, that we are powerless; and often times it means that we don’t even give it an honest shot to try and be successful. The perception of having options (and therefore control in your life) is vital to moving forward.

We often generated options by asking ourself “well, what else might be true?” To give you a more concrete example, we often call ourselves lazy. When you find yourself saying “I didn’t finish it because I’m lazy”, you could ask yourself “what else might be true about that statement?” And you may very well realize that you’re not actually lazy, but are downright tired from a spoon shortage.

Another example might be “everyone hates me” converted into “I feel like everyone hates me.” One is a statement of absolutes, the other allows the possibility that maybe it’s not as bad as it feels right now.

The way that really made this concept stick for me was to step back from myself and go “if I was someone else looking in on me now, would I believe this is true?” Usually I am more forgiving of other people’s shortcomings and problems. I’m more able to be understanding and be lenient, to remind someone that they’re going through a lot, that they’re doing the best that they can. And in turn, I should be doing the same with myself.

I’ve found that this method works best with multiple people to help point out when you’re being mean to yourself. Very often, me and my SO will quip “what else might be true” or “why are you being so mean to yourself” whenever we start with the negative self-talk. It’s been very helpful for noticing those behaviours so that I can work to correct them.

If we believe that heka is an Important Thing, then we believe that our words have power and weight. And as such, we should therefore believe that mean words to ourselves are essentially our own internal execrations thrown against our own hearts. The more we execrate ourselves, the more salted the ground becomes, the less effective we become at everything. We are all amazing hekau — when it comes to execrating ourselves.

I propose that 2018 become the year that we master our internal heka, you know, the internal messages that we tell ourselves. That we truly start to fight for our own well being, for our own needs. That we open up to the possibility that we are not the pieces of shit our world has taught us to believe that we are. That we hold each other accountable, and ask each other to not be so mean to ourselves. That we help each other see our goodness and strong points. That we quit using our energy to break ourselves down, and instead utilize it to build ourselves up.

What untruthful things do you say about yourself? Have you considered whether negative self-talk could be damaging your relationship with yourself and your life? Will you end up working to create more options about how you talk about yourself?

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Questioning Your Way to a Solution

In terms of my religious practice, I have spent the better part of the past year aimlessly wandering. This may surprise some people (maybe?) as I’m sure that most would consider my conviction in regards to Kemeticism to be pretty rock solid. But the fact of the matter is that sometime in the past year or so, my interest in most things suddenly disappeared without a solid reason, and as a result I have been left with a void where my passion for religion used to live. This has caused me to spend a lot of my time questioning what this means and what I should do about it.

I have seen people suggest that having periods of questioning (or perhaps better referred to as “crisis of faith”) is somehow bad, as though you’re personally offending the gods by examining your place within your religion or relationship with them. However, I personally think that there comes a time in everyone’s practice where they run into a period of being lost or unsure; where they aren’t sure why they’re doing something or whether they should continue to do it. Like many topics that are considered “bad”, I find the lack of resources for sorting such a situation out to be unhelpful, not to mention that the semi-taboo nature of the topic doesn’t allow for people to openly search for answers. This is a problem.

Over on Tumblr, I will regularly get questions about how to handle situations where a god isn’t responding, where a practice is no longer fulfilling, where a person is unsure how to move forward, and each time that I receive such questions, I often tell people to self-reflect to see if they can better ascertain an answer for themselves. My logic behind this has always been a case of “how can you know what to do if you don’t know how you got here?” If the religion used to fulfill you, what happened that caused it to become unfulfilling? Examining where you started and comparing it to where you are can often times be enlightening.

That being said, I have been doing a lot of self-reflection this past year as I’ve looked for answers to my suddenly disappearing enthusiasm.

When I first noticed that I suddenly gave zero cares about Kemeticism, my gut response was to freak out. I think any of us would initially become concerned if something we used to be passionate about was suddenly of no interest to us, and I was no exception. It’s not something that usually happens overnight, but for me it felt like it did. As though one week I was interested in doing the things I had been doing for years, and the next week I suddenly no longer cared about any of it.

On the other hand, I wanted to ignore that I noticed a shift in things. I wanted to believe that it was a temporary issue that would resolve itself over the course of a few weeks. This is not uncommon for me, as I often burn out on a lot of what I do on a regular basis. However, as the weeks dragged on and nothing changed, I realized that something was definitely up. I now knew that I needed to shift gears to figure out what was causing these issues.

The Process

For me, there is a process that is involved with picking apart problems:

  • First is to notice that there is something that is off or different.
  • The next thing is to stay calm about it. This doesn’t necessarily mean ignoring the issue (as I had) as much as it means not running around like a chicken with your head cut off. Remember that these issues can happen to anyone for any number of reasons, and nothing says that the current feeling or situation is permanent or necessarily indicative of a problem. It’s easier to troubleshoot something if you’re calm.
  • From here, I recommend a potential period of observation to make sure that what you are feeling or perceiving isn’t a momentary sort of thing. Things you could think about include: What do you notice about what you’re feeling? Does it come and go with your mental health, mood, or stress levels? Or is it consistent? I always find its best to wait and make sure that it’s a long term “thing” and not a spur of the moment misunderstanding.
  • Once you’ve ascertained that the issue is not going away, then you move into the questioning phase.

It’s also worth noting that I will often switch between periods of intense introspection/questioning and observing/waiting. I don’t think it’s mandatory to do everything in one go, and I think it’s very likely that most of us won’t find all of our solutions in a singular round of questioning. Being able to pick up your “problem” and inspect it from a bunch of angles, and then set it back down for a while before coming back to inspect it again allows you to process and consider other angles you didn’t think of earlier. Just like any sort of shadow work, none of this needs to be absolutely linear; I’m just trying to give some general guidelines for those who are new to this method of working.

Asking Questions

When it comes to reflection on a particular topic, problem or situation, I don’t think that there is necessarily a right or wrong way to go about it. You can sit and mull on all of these questions at once, or you could mull on them one at a time. You could try writing down answers to these questions or simply go through the answers in your head. You could even pose these questions to a sort of divination deck to see if you’re overlooking something about the topic in regards to the situation.

This is definitely not an exhaustive list of what could be asked, but is simply a place to get started on mulling your way to a possible answer or solution to any particular situation you’re in. I have organized the questions based off of general topic, and as such, some of these questions are redundant. However, I find it easier to mull when I’m not trying to parse apart several questions that have been stacked into one.

Questioning a deity relationship:

  • What first attracted you to this particular deity?
  • What about the relationship did you enjoy? What didn’t you enjoy?
  • Has anything changed recently in your life or in the relationship that may be causing a shift in feelings?
  • How often do you reach out to this god? When was the last time you attempted to communicate with them? What was that communication like?
  • What is considered a normal level of communication with the deity? Has this changed recently, if ever?
  • Has the deity expressed any signs that would signal that there were any issues present? If so, what were they and did you ever ask for further information from the god when it happened?
  • What sorts of things are you looking for in a relationship with a god? What are you hoping to achieve by developing a relationship with a deity? If currently in a relationship, what of these things are not being met, if any?
  • What does your deity expect of you, if anything? How does this make you feel? Are the expectations realistic or feasible?
  • What feelings do you get when you think about said deity? Are these feelings different from when you first started out, or when you felt the relationship was stable (if applicable)?
  • If you could tell your deity anything about your current feelings/status with them, what would it be? Why would you wish to convey these emotions/thoughts to them?
  • If your deity could clarify anything for you about your relationship, what would it be and why would it be helpful?
  • When you think of no longer having a relationship with your god (or when you think of changing the nature of the relationship with your god), how does it make you feel? What could that indicate?

Questioning your place in a religion:

  • What first brought you to your religion?
  • What do you enjoy about your religion–whether the religious practice, community, or structure, etc.? What don’t you enjoy about it?
  • When did your feelings about your religion change? Was anything going on at the time that could have caused the shift in feelings?
  • What do you hope to get out of your religious practice? Is your current practice meeting your needs? If not, what could be done to help your needs be met?
  • Are there any external factors that could be causing a shift in feelings about your religious practice?
  • Have you talked to the gods about your shift in feelings? What have they said about it?
  • What makes you hesitant to leave or join [insert particular religion]? Why?

As I had stated above, this list of questions isn’t exhaustive, and they may not cover exactly what each person who reads this is looking for. However, I feel that they indicate the nature of the questions I typically ask when I’m trying to figure a situation out, and as such, can be used to formulate other questions of a similar nature for other situations.

I’ve answers some questions… what now?

This is the hard part, in my opinion. Its easy (sometimes) to sit around and mull on some questions, but figuring out what to do with the information you uncover is a different story. Generally speaking, I like to ask questions so that I can get a feel for my thoughts on a situation, and then use that information to make an informed decision on what to do in said situation. However, it can sometimes take several rounds of questioning and mulling before I actually arrive at a decision that I’m comfortable with. Remember that none of this has to happen all at once, and sometimes you may ask yourself a question and find that you don’t have an answer to it. The whole point of the questioning is to really get to the heart of the matter to better inform yourself on what you really think or feel about a particular situation. And then to use that information to make a better decision.

Do you find that questioning helps you arrive at a decision in a difficult situation? If so, what sorts of questions do you typically ask yourself?

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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When One Door Closes…

I think it’s pretty obvious that I have fallen off of the wagon this year. I don’t even know if I could call it falling off the wagon, as it feels more like falling off the wagon and log rolling down the hill next to the wagon and into the bottom of the canyon that lies below. And then I fell into the river at the bottom of the canyon, and floated three states over.

I’m at that level of falling off the wagon.

As with most fallow times, I quit doing a lot of my work for the gods. I haven’t really done any work or rites since Wep Ronpet, and I’ve even gotten bad about opening my shrine so that I can at least look at the gods (and so the gods can look upon my wreck of a life house in return.) Over the course of the year, I’ve done less and less in regards to religious stuff.

So imagine my surprise when couple of weeks ago I got the urge to give an offering. It was an offering of cookies to O, and at first I thought it was more myself being petty at a past slight over cookies and Osiris, and so I ignored it. But the urge didn’t go away, and eventually after a few weeks of ignoring it, I decided to give in.

cookies_osiris

I’m sure many would expect that in this paragraph, I would talk about how I gave these offerings and suddenly felt the love of the gods. That they rushed forward to me and said “finally, you came back, we’ve missed you” or something equally pretty, but it would be a lie. Instead, I laid the offerings out, wafted the incense inside of the shrine, told them about what had been going on with me, gave well-wishes for their current affairs, and stared at the shrine box for a while before moving onto other things. I know this sounds boring, and it is. But it’s also realistic.

If I could sum up 2016 in terms of my Kemeticism, I’d say it was largely uneventful, just like my offerings above. It wasn’t uneventful by choice, but my body decided earlier in the year that it was Not Having Anything, and everything had to be put on hold in the wake of my health deteriorating. I’ve dealt with having spoon shortages in the past, having to muck through weird new health “things” while I held down a job and continued all of my extracurricular activities such as religioning, astral work, writing, etc. But this year was different. This time, my body went headlong straight into the ground and took me along for the ride.

By the time the summer hit my ability to do much of anything was gone. Not even gone like it used to be, where I mentally was ready to do everything but my body or time limits were preventing. Oh no, this is full on gone. Where even trying to construct sentences or read paragraphs of text is challenging. Where there are virtually no ideas in my head to even mull on, let alone the energy to mull upon them. Where trying to do housework is hard. Where trying to do much of anything is proving to be challenging. This is a whole new level of gone for me. This is completely unexplored territory in my life.

At first I tried to fight it. I figured I just needed to will up the nerve like in the past, and that I could push through it. “You can do things, just do them slower!” I’d tell myself. Until I found that just doing meant that I literally could barely function for a few days after the fact. “You can do things, just start the process and the rest will come!” as I try to write, but three paragraphs of barely legible sentences was enough proof to show me that it wasn’t something I could push through so simply like I could in the past. “You can still interact with the community if you just limit how often you go online!” as my eyes continued to glass over at the words on my screen, none of which were actually being processed. Every work around only succeeded in making my situation worse. Eventually, I had to give into the fact that this was my new normal for the time being, and that fighting it was doing me no favors.

They often say that when one door closes, another door opens, but that’s not necessarily true. Sometimes one door closes, and you’re left in a room with nowhere else to go. Sometimes life throws you a sucker punch, and your only option is to lay passed out on the ground for a while.

To put it in a more Kemetic context–sometimes your ma’at is running around smiting isfet all the time. Sometimes your ma’at is doing daily shrine work. Sometimes your ma’at is just surviving. Not everyone can do everything all the time. Sometimes we must retract ourselves from the world around us while we sort things out. Sometimes we need to prioritize meeting our bottom line of survival before we worry about other things. Sometimes a fallow period is very much a part of maintaining balance.

At the end of the day, this post has no real point to it other than to illustrate that “nothing” can happen to any of us. That life can throw a wrench in the works and sometimes we need to step back, and that that is okay. And further, that sometimes you will take a step back towards the gods, towards your religion, towards what you used to do before and not find an immediate reaction, and that that is okay too. A lack of response doesn’t necessarily mean that you messed up. The gods know, too, that fallow times have a place and a purpose. They know that sometimes we truly need a drop-everything-and-do-nothing sort of break.

This post is a reminder to be gentle with yourself when life hits you in the face and sends everything to a grinding halt. It’s a reminder that sometimes we have no choice but to sit down and be patient while we do next to nothing. A reminder that Kemeticism will still be here when you get back to it. That the gods will still be here when you get back to it, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

It’s a reminder that sometimes surviving the day to day is all that we can muster, and that there is no shame in that.

Relevant Posts:

 
8 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Kemeticism

 

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The Only Choice

This week has been a long, hard week.

Like many of you, I spent Tuesday night pensively watching the election results flow in. Like many of you, I spent Tuesday night feeling worse and worse as more and more of the US map was painted red. Like many of you, I woke up Wednesday morning concerned and afraid about what the future would bring.

Like many of you, I am still concerned and afraid about what the future will bring.

At first I found myself in shock. I’m not surprised that Trump won, but I was holding out the possibility that he wouldn’t (hint: there is still hope that he won’t, however faint it might be.) And so when the news came in that he was officially our elect, the shock set in that this was really going to be something I had to live through. Something that we all have to live through. I won’t try and tell you that things will be okay, because they won’t be for many of us. Many of the people in our country have a hard road ahead, and I know that some of those people won’t make it.

Some people do believe that this sort of response is overreacting, but I’m going to assure you that it isn’t. This isn’t a petty case of “oh no, we didn’t win and now I’m upset.” This is bigger than that. This is a case of someone who built their entire campaign upon hurting others and spewing fascist rhetoric left and right now having the loudest voice in the country (with a VP pick that is almost worse, if you can believe it.) This is a case of someone whose follower base is going and committing hate crime after hate crime after hate crime after hate crime. All within the first 72 hours after the announcement was made.

fffffffff

For many people in our country, this is just a small taste of what we can expect to come in the future.

As my shock gave way to wanting to take action, I realized that I should probably be saying something, even if it wasn’t much. I know that sometimes people will look to others for comfort or direction, and all things considered, it probably would make sense to at least attempt to offer one or the other. I feel that trying to comfort people at this point would be disingenuous. As I mentioned above, there will be people in our country, and possibly even our community, that don’t make it through the next four years. To tell people that “we’ve made it through worse” is a lie, and I won’t disrespect you with such things.

Since I can’t really offer comfort, I’ll opt for direction instead.

In the final hours of the election, posts began to roll in about what we should be doing if Trump actually wins. What would the NTRW do? What is the correct action in regards to ma’at? What does Kemeticism say about moments like this?

If I had to sum it up succinctly, I’d say that it’s this: Don’t give up. Don’t stop trying. And look after one another.

We all know that the gods fight isfet every single day. Every night, they climb onto the barque to drive back a/pep so that Creation can be renewed and start the next day over again. The gods continue to fight even when they are tired, even when they want to give up. They never stop, and they never back down. If we are to emulate their actions, then that means that we, too, should not give up or stop.

building a new boat(source)

 

divinek(source)

nasadii(source)

There was once a time when I was feeling particularly beat down. I asked Osiris where he found the urge to continue to push back isfet day after day. He returned my question with a question. He asked me “what choice do we have?” To him, the only choice forward was to fight. To give in and to give up was to die or stop existing. He knew that it was hard, but that he had no other options that were worth considering. I believe that this is the same for us. We have to keep moving forward, we have to keep fighting, and we have to take care of one another. It is a core tenet of ma’at to take care of those who are oppressed. Those who are without. Those who need assistance.

As we move forward into this uncertain territory, I ask that each of us do what we can to assist those who need help. Particularly those who belong to marginalized groups.

In the spirit of helping with this, I’ve gathered a bunch of links and other resources to try and help us to push forward. If you happen to have good resources to add to this list, please let me know.

How to be an ally, things you can do to help moving forward:

Charities that have pledged to fight the loss of rights, healthcare, etc. and/or need donations to continue to do so:

Resources for people who are at risk:

Protest Organization and Attendance Resources:

Other posts about this topic from other Pagans/Polytheists:

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Lights in the Dark

Once upon a time I wrote about how accessing the astral is a bit like punching a hole through a membrane. In this metaphor, I had created a scene where the Unseen and all of its trappings are on one side of a very thick membrane, while we all live in the Seen on the other side of the membrane. And when we humans go to try and talk with any beings that exist in the Unseen, we are essentially playing a drawn out game of charades with this membrane in between us and those we’re hoping to speak to. In the case of astral travel, you’re essentially puncturing a hole into the membrane so that you can begin to access the Unseen more readily. Sometimes this hole is gigantic and easy to pass through, sometimes it’s more like turning the membrane into something that is permeable, but not removing it entirely.

All of these metaphors are still accurate, but they are all coming from the perspective of a human trying to get to the Unseen. That begs to ask–what about the gods who are trying to reach us through this membrane? What is it like for them?

While it’s entirely in the realm of UPG, it’s my belief that the gods are also living inside of a membrane just like we are. They live in whatever place that they happen to reside (for us Kemetics, that’s the Duat), and they go about their daily lives just as we do. They may be aware of the membrane that separates us from them, but they may or may not pay a lot of attention to whatever is going on on the other side. To draw a more physical parallel–I’m aware of Mexico being to the south of where I live. My state even shares a border with this country. But I have little to no in-depth understanding or knowledge of what is going on there–political or otherwise. Just because two planes, countries, or civilizations are close to one another doesn’t mean that they are actively paying attention to what is going on outside of their immediate sphere of influence.

There are times when I think the gods aren’t paying a lot of attention to us (whether that be humanity as a whole, a specific group of people such as religious practitioners, or earth in general). This is especially true after the religions and civilizations that pre-date us fell. I imagine that the gods paid a fair amount of attention to at least some of the goings on here on earth, but after their devotees dwindled down to nothing, they quit paying attention to us. It’s like watching a tv that is showing nothing but static–how long before you get bored and do something else?

That, of course, isn’t to say that all of the gods quit paying attention, but I think many of them started to pay less attention to what was going on with us. As such, we’ve got a lot of gods who don’t know a whole lot about the current state of affairs in our world. Much like astral travelers having a learning curve in regards to acclimating to whatever plane they’ve landed in, the gods are likely experiencing some level of learning curve with us.

Unlike us, the gods can’t punch a hole in the membrane and start walking around here on earth. They can do that in the less-physical layers of our existence, such as dream states or things like that. But to take on a physical form and start walking around like they’re one of us? Not likely to happen. So if the gods can’t break through the membrane in the same way that we can for them, how are they ever supposed to learn about how earth has changed in the past 839586 years?

I ended in up a conversation about this with O a couple of years ago. I didn’t really care about how the gods got their information at the time, but he was insistent on me listening to him and understanding the role that devotees can play in a god’s reality. The theory I’m about to posit to you is what he told me.

We all have a perceived reality of what kind of world we live in. We have a perceived reality of how others live, and all of the biases that can come along with both of these things. In many ways, a lot of us tend to have a small circle of people that we frequent and discuss things with. And this circle tends to form a basis of our reality.

When the circle of influence is small, the reality stays small with it. You don’t know what you don’t know. But if you push yourself to widen your circle of influence so that your horizons are broadened, you may find that your reality shifts with it. The more views and information you take in, the wider your understanding tends to become, and your perceived reality of the world and its workings will shift with it.

The gods can’t punch a hole in the membrane that separates them from us. But they can utilize us, the humans and devotees that live in this world, to widen their circle of influence and broaden their horizons. By interacting with humans across the globe, or from different backgrounds, they can begin to get a better understanding of how our world works, and what our world (and therefore it’s residents) needs in order to improve. In many ways, we can become a vessel for the gods, we can help them to better understand this world, and help widen their perceived reality.

In the imagery O showed me (because there is always imagery), our world was nothing but a big vat of darkness. You don’t know what you don’t know, and when you don’t know much, it can seem very dark. But then these tiny little lights started to pop up in this darkness. Each light was a devotee that had dedicated time, space, or something else to the god in question. The more devotees the god had, the lighter the world got, and as such, the more their understanding of the world deepened.

I recently talked about how we can create stability for the gods so that they can better exist within our plane. I feel as though this takes that stability even further, because our perceived reality of this world influences the reality that the gods have of our world. They learn about this place through us both directly (such as through conversations with us, through listening through our ears, etc.) and indirectly (by being given stable places to manifest, it’s possible that non-physical entities can manifest in a house and soak up information that is nearby, or listen in on conversations, etc.), and as such, I began to wonder what sorts of messages I was sending to my gods when I talked to them. Was I telling them important stuff that would help their understanding? Was I bringing up important information about the state of not just my life, but the world around me? Was I doing enough to explain to them more complex or nuanced situations that are occurring so that they can have a better grasp of what is going on around me?

If you found out that your reality directly influences the gods’ reality, and that your conversations with them help to round out their understanding of our world, what would you change? Would you talk about different things? Would you include more peripheral information to widen their understanding? Would you include topics that you didn’t consider originally?

What do you think about the concept of a god’s reality being influenced by our reality? Do you like the idea of the gods utilizing devotees to learn about our world, or do you find the concept to be too much pressure? Do you feel that there are other ways that non-physical beings learn about our world?

 

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The Importance of Stability

I feel that all of my astral travel has really given me an appreciation for some of the difficulties that gods and spirits probably face when trying to interface with our world:

  • “I’ve finally managed to get to the other side, and now I can’t get anyone there to pay attention to me. How do I talk to people?”
  • “I figured out how these beings communicate, but I can’t get any of them to listen to me. What am I supposed to do?”
  • “Why am I in this house, this is not where I intended on showing up.”
  • “Oh where did all of the doors in this house go? Why did all of the furniture move?”
  • “What the hell is that? And will it hurt me if I touch it?”

I feel like all of these statements could easily be uttered by a god trying to get some human to listen to them, and they are all statements that have fallen out of my mouth at least a few times while trying to travel. I’m sure that interfacing with foreign planes is probably not as challenging for some non-physical beings, as they have more power and practice than I do, but there will always be challenges when you’re trying to interact with beings on a foreign plane.

As I’ve worked to get better at my astral travel (and with communicating with my menz and gods over here), I’ve found that there seems to be something that helps everyone get on a little bit better, and that is stability. I mentioned in my post about working with unknown beings that stability can be useful for establishing a solid connection with non-physical beings. However, I didn’t go too terribly in-depth on what I meant by stability, or how to incorporate it into your practice. Today, I’d like to talk about two kinds of stability–stability that we can create for non-physical beings here, and how we can incorporate stability in astral travel to better our success rates while traveling.

Stability While Traveling

I feel that it’s better to start with stability as it applies to astral travel, because I think that it helps to round out the picture about how stability here can benefit beings that don’t really live here. You see, when you’re traveling in the astral, you’re effectively doing what the gods do with us: you’re taking a non-physical portion of your body or Self, and taking that portion to places that you don’t (typically) fully live in. While it’s true that I have a form that lives with my astral household 24/7, the human portion of myself doesn’t really live there 24/7. That portion comes and goes as I split my focus between here and There. And while the gods may indirectly always reside in our physical layer of earth, on the by and large, they aren’t living here fully, either (which is why Open statues are helpful, which I’ll cover in another post).

While I don’t pretend that my experiences are the same sort of experiences that all travelers have, I wouldn’t be surprised if my experiences aren’t entirely unique, either. And with that being said, my experiences have shown me that the process of getting from here to There can be convoluted. Sometimes it’s really simple, and I look inside, and I am instantly there and ready to move around. But most days, there is a sort of acclimation process that occurs as I move from here to There. For those who have never traveled, imagine waking up in the dead of night after having taken some medication. Someone flicks the light on, and your eyes haven’t fully adjusted to everything. You can’t really see well, you’re not very steady on your feet. You’re not sure where anything else because your brain is still fuzzy.

There are days when “waking up” Over There feels similarly.

And when you wake up in the middle of the night and need to move quickly, part of the reason you’re able to move quickly at all is probably because you know where you’re at. You know that you’re in your bedroom, and you subconsciously have an idea where the furniture is, and where to move or not move, etc. Your pre-existing knowledge of your house gives you the stability to know where to go, even when your brain isn’t running on all cylinders.

Now imagine that in an astral setting. You finally are able to connect in, but you’re not sure where you are or who is around. Your hearing is doing pretty poorly, so even when your bestie reaches out to talk to you, you don’t necessarily hear it or register it. The house shifted while you were gone, and you’re not sure where any of the furniture is, or where you’re supposed to go. You may not even be certain which room you fell into when you woke up.

You have no stability to know where to go or what to do.

Stability is key in these examples for being able to hit the ground running. In my household, we know that I have certain things that need to be done in order to visit regularly, and all of these things lead to more stability for me as a traveler. For those who might be interested in incorporating some of these ideas into their astral households, here are some of the things we keep in mind:

  • Keep some of your housing the same. The rooms that I get put into always have beds and doorways in similar or the same locations. That way, I always know which way to head to reach a door. Similarly, keeping the furniture to a minimum can be helpful.
  • Keep walls and/or space to a minimum. Whenever I’m having issues with connecting, we will remove walls, or shrink the size of the room that I’m in. That way, I don’t have to try and process as much information when I come into the room. Just like with video games, I can usually only process so much of a given space at once, and if the space is smaller, it’s much easier to move around because I can process the entire space in one go.
  • Keep a schedule, and utilize a partner. One of the best ways that I’ve found to make porting into the astral easier is to keep to a schedule. If I tell my menz that I’m going to be arriving at XYZ time in XYZ location, they know to keep an eye out for me and can assist in helping me to acclimate to the location that I’m shifting into. This also helps because you’ll know exactly where you’re going, and you won’t have to utilize as much energy or time trying to figure out your surroundings.
  • Get physical. I’ve found that when I’m having a particularly hard time hearing, seeing, or just being in an astral space, that touching someone’s face, or holding something and focusing on the physical sensations that I get can help to ground me into my body well enough that I can start to move better.

Stability for the Unseen

As you might have noticed, most of these things involve giving the person who is traveling some predictability in where they are going or what they will be doing. And when we are trying to facilitate stability for our non-physical compatriots, you’re essentially trying to do the same for them. Obviously, some of the situations listed above don’t necessarily happen all that often. We don’t have to worry about walls appearing or disappearing here. We don’t have to worry about rooms being reorganized, and most of us aren’t moving every few weeks like some nomadic astral people might. However, there are still things that we can do to help make our experiences more stable and predictable for the entities we’re reaching out to.

  • Create a space that is just for them. This is usually going to be your shrine area, but it doesn’t have to be a shrine per se. Having an item or a space within your home that is specifically for the entities you’re hoping to interact with will help to give them a solid place to settle in whenever they come over. This allows entities to saturate items with their energy, or place markers and other identifiers into their space that will allow them to transition into our plane much smoother. Using items that they readily identify with will help make it easier for them to ground into the space, and settle into their “body” or a vessel/item that can contain a portion of their energy.
  • Keep a schedule. Just like with my family preparing things for when I arrive, it can make it easier for the entity you’re trying to communicate with to manifest if you’ve got a regular schedule. When some sort of schedule is kept, it makes it easier for them to time their efforts for trying to communicate with us, and it makes it easier for us to hear them because we’re both working towards the same goal at the same time. I often feel that devotees end up playing this never-ending game of phone tag with the gods, and figuring out a schedule for everyone to work around can help combat that.
  • Start off sessions or rituals with similar dynamics. These dynamics can be any number of things. It can be playing the same song before your ritual. It can be saying the same words at the beginning of each ritual. It can be wearing the same thing for each ritual. Or sitting in a certain way. Anything that can be repeated regularly can help create a trigger that can help both you and any spirits you’re working with transition into a different mindset before communing begins. In the same way that a bell primed Pavlov’s dogs to be fed, starting off your sessions or rites with the same thing can prime your brain (and your gods or spirits) for astral work.
  • Provide energy. Traveling across planes takes up energy, so if you can give some sustenance to your spirits or gods to utilize during travel, it can help them to become more prominent within the space. Energy can be in the form of food, but it can also be the energy you raise in ritual or energy you give of yourself, etc.

When all of these things are met on the regular, you essentially create a predictable schedule that the entity can plan for, which will occur in a predictable space that the entity can settle into when they arrive. By having familiar items and sounds around, the entity should be able to grasp onto these things and settle into the space with less issues. And the easier that it becomes for the entity to settle into our physical world, the more likely they are to do it more often. And further, I believe that it helps the gods to better understand us the more often that they come here.

While this is certainly not a definitive list, I feel that these are the staples for creating more stability for non-physical entities to alight within a space, and if you end up trying any of them, I’d be interested to hear how they work for you.

 

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