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Category Archives: Rambles

Random stuff that doesn’t really belong anywhere.

Redefining Order

Truth. Order. Justice.

The three words that I’ve seen used the most to describe ma’at.

Out of these three words, “order” always sticks out to me as potentially being a bad choice to describe ma’at. Why? Well, in short, I believe its because we tend to use one variation of “order” at the exclusion of other possible definitions. As an experiment to start the conversation off, what do you think of when you think of the word order? Maybe some of you think of

or maybe

Or maybe it’s

Even if you didn’t think of these specific examples, I’m willing to bet that whatever came to your mind shared some of the same underlying associations as the gifs above. That’s because our culture has a specific inferred meaning when we use the word “order” — whether we acknowledge those associations or not.

Whenever the word “order” is used, it’s almost always in the context of a very clear difference of power. It’s often used in terms of schools, where teachers demand order. Or in the military, where soldiers are given orders. Or even in more harmless situations, where you place an order at a restaurant. All of these things imply a situation where the person receiving the “order” is not allowed to rebuff the order. The soldier is not allowed to tell their commander “no,” students can be heavily punished for telling their teachers no, and can you imagine what would happen if a waiter told you that your order was not going to be followed or not allowed? Even when a waiter has to tell someone that something in their order isn’t available due to circumstances beyond their control, people lose their minds.

In our cultural lexicon, order usually means that you’re doing something without question. It’s a directive that you must follow, lest you get into trouble. For most of us in the US, “order” is essentially authoritarian in nature — to the point that the word “authoritarian” is used in the Oxford definition for “order.”

While there is second definition for “order,” I don’t think that most of us are using that definition when we tie the word “order” to ma’at. I’ve watched people dictate that authoritarian order is inherently implied and mandatory with ma’at simply because the Egyptians engaged in a form of it, and it overlaps with our preconceived notion of order and what it entails. Which is to say that since they so readily line up with one another via authoritarianism, I feel like most people are lazily assuming that one begets the other (authoritarian order begets ma’atian order.) What I’d really like to do with this post is challenge that notion by redefining what order could mean for us when associated with ma’at. And to also buck the idea that authoritarianism is inherent in, and therefore mandatory to, our religious structure.

A New Frame of Reference

The less-often cited definition for order usually entails things such as “a specific pattern or sequence,” such as alphabetical order, numerical order, etc. I believe that this definition is closer to what we need, but I feel that it could use refinement for our specific needs.

I would like to posit that for our needs, order would mean something along the lines of “a predictable rhythm or pattern.”

Every single living thing/system on this planet has (ideally) a rhythm, a pattern to their existence. You wake up after sleeping, you do the general same routine after you get up, you might do similar things Monday through Friday, and then do a secondary set of “similar things” on Saturday and Sunday. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west. The night follows the day, and the moon is constantly shifting between being visible and completely non-existent to the naked eye.

These patterns form the basis of our existence, and the nature of our patterns often determines whether we’re healthy and having our needs met or not. In the last post about determining ma’at from isfet, I mentioned that the frequency of doing something can often turn innocuous acts into something more isfetian in nature, and this plays into the idea of regular habits and patterns. If you do something that is unhealthy once in a while, its usually not a big deal. Do it all the time, and it becomes a pattern that can slowly unravel your life.

When we’re talking about ma’atian order, we’re talking about having rhythms that help support living things. When you’re acting in ma’at, you’re acting to maintain these beneficial rhythms, while also acting to destroy, alter or remove patterns that hurt living things.

When viewed from this perspective, it explains why the Egyptians crafted tons of holidays, rituals, and actions that were consistently enacted upon to help ensure that the patterns of the Duat and earth alike were kept in regularity. Because anything that could be done to make sure that the patterns of the world stayed as consistent as possible should be done as a part of maintaining ma’at.

I also think it should go without saying that making these regular patterns as predictable as possible was also on the agenda. Humans tend to do best with a certain level of predictability in their life, and I feel like including this in the understood meaning of ma’atian order only serves to help us really understand and appreciate how important the consistency of it all really is.

The rhythm should be dynamic in the sense that it has diversity and harmony, but it still needs to have some level of regular occurrence in order to be stable. When examined on a whole, it becomes easier to see how the diversity and harmony feed into the stable complexity of it all. Everything feeds into everything else, and when the rhythm of it all is maintained, everything more or less gets its needs met.

When Authoritarian Order is Conflated with Ma’atian Order

From this perspective it becomes easier to see how authoritarian order really doesn’t synergize well with ma’at. Authoritarianism seeks to control (create “order”) everything it touches, and severely punishes anything trying to resist its control. To this end, it often seeks to divide people into two groups: and in-group (us) and an antagonistic out-group (them), and they basically use the in-group to keep the out-group in check as much as possible. You can see this in America right now in the form of loosely-made militia groups that act out a sort of vigilante justice wherever they’re allowed to.

Because the in-group always needs an out-group, authoritarianism will consistently find new demographics to attack, and in the process usually ends up eradicating the harmony and diversity necessary to keep ma’at in place. People are usually forced to live within strict confines and regulations at the risk of extreme punishment, with no real recourse to punish those who are putting the regulations in place. Ultimately, there is no means to change your fate or change the world you live in, you’re ultimately forced to deal with whatever you are given because there is little-to-no alternatives available to you. This, of course, is mentally taxing and degrading. The system as a whole may continue to exist, but its parts and pieces are not healthy, and thus are living in a form of chronic disorder (isfet.)

When you start to really examine how this system can destroy people’s health, it becomes painfully clear that by its very nature, authoritarianism does not foster ma’at. Only a tiny percent of the population really flourishes under authoritarianism, leaving the rest of the population to wither and rot.

And for those of you who are wondering if I feel that the ancient Egyptians were doing things outside of ma’at, I would say that based off of today’s standards, the answer is yes. Plenty of their population lived in unnecessary squalor due to inequality at play within the society, and I can’t say that I believe that to be within ma’at. Yes, upper class people were to look after their subjects and provide them with what they needed, but its been shown time and time again that people who are in positions of privilege and esteem typically aren’t willing to give what they have away unless they really really have to.

While I understand that a couple thousand years ago was different, and that we shouldn’t necessarily judge ancient cultures based off of today’s expectations, I also feel its our job to reflect critically on the past, not to assume that the movements of the past are inherently superior simply because they’re old. The Egyptians committed all sorts of brutal acts in the name of ma’at. If we’re able to deem these acts as being not-within-ma’at, I’m pretty sure we could find it in ourselves to do the same with their governmental system, instead of blindly trying to recreate it in the here and now.

Ma’atian Order

At its core, ma’atian order strives to bring balance and health to all of its individual components. It is a bottom-up mentality, ensuring that the smallest, yet most foundational parts are taken care of, with the understanding that healthy foundations allow everything else above it to thrive. This format allows for (relatively) predictable patterns to emerge that allows for all of the parts of the system to synchronize together. It is through the harmonization of all of the parts that allows the system to really thrive and creates the predictable “order” that everyone seeks.

It is my hope that moving forward, if the word “order” is used to define ma’at, that this is the definition that comes to mind, because this is the only definition of “order” that really makes any sense within the ma’atian paradigm.

Relevant Posts:

 

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2020 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Rambles

 

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True of Voice

We are often raised with fundamental “truths” that are established by our caregivers. These truths are bestowed upon us from the moment we are born, and they are reinforced regularly so long as you are around those people. Sometimes, these truths are healthy, accurate, and useful to us. Things like “you are loved by your parents” or “the world is safe” or “you can rely on your caregivers” are truths we all want to be instilled within us within the first few months of being born. This is because the truths that are given to you at that tender age will often play a significant role in how other aspects of your Self are formed and defined.

However, if you are like I am, you were raised with a lot of less-than-healthy truths. Truths that I would be willing to wager you speak to yourself everyday. This is a post about heka and truths, and how abuse distorts our truth, and therefore our heka. This post will discuss many aspects of verbal abuse, so this is a massive CW/TW to anyone who could find these topics upsetting or unbearable at the moment. Please proceed ahead with caution.

Before I dive fully into this, I want to talk about what I mean by “truths.” In this case, I’m talking about any bit of information that we have been taught or learned and have then internalized and have now accepted, without any question, that this information is the honest-to-goodness truth. Truths of this nature may be good or bad, accurate or inaccurate, depending on what you’ve experienced in your life. Many of us are carrying around a lot of systemic truths that are perpetuated by our culture. Many of us are carrying around a lot of abusive truths that were pushed on us by our immediate family. Both types of truths often feed into one another, wherein the truths given to you by your family are reinforced by your surrounding culture and vice versa. Of course, the “truths” that hurt us are false, but they often feel very very true, even if we don’t necessarily realize it, so when I am using the phrase “false truth”, what I am meaning is a truth that is unhealthy for us, a lie that has been sold to us as truth. You’ll see me using “trauma” pretty regularly alongside “false truth” because you’re most likely to receive false and unhealthy truths from abusive people and traumatic situations.

So let’s get into it.


The worst part about how humans develop is how long it takes our brains to finish developing. It doesn’t help that our brains are something like “a sports car that has been given to a three year old,” especially because these sports cars take about 25 years to finish growing, and if you experience any sort of trauma or abuse before those 25 years are up, you’re more likely to have that trauma hardwired into your sense of self. Which means you’ve got 25 years to learn a lot of garbage that you then have to unlearn again in order to be healthy. Although most of us consider ourselves to be very objective and rational and removed from silly things like ideas we absorbed in childhood and never really outgrew, the truth of the matter is that most of us have a lot of ideas we absorbed in childhood and never really outgrew. If we were all truly rational and capable of removing ourselves from emotional hard wiring, cognitive dissonance wouldn’t be a thing, nor would racism. The cold hard truth of the matter is, we are not separate from our emotions, and our emotions can cause us to lie to ourselves regularly in order to protect our sense of self. It takes constant and diligent work to push back against our own ability to lie to ourselves.

The cherry on top of the “takes 25 years to finish growing” thing is that that some of the most important years for our development are the first few years. How you are raised by your caregivers will usually determine core aspects of how you view the world. Whether you think the world is a safe place or not, whether you feel nurtured and loved or abandoned, whether you can trust people or not. If your parents manage to mess up the first five years of your life, you usually will have resulting mental health work that needs to happen once you’re an adult. To quote someone who has done more work in this field than I have:

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 (read: truths) 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 it imagines to be the cause of your parents rejection. It is incapable of understanding that the real cause lies in your parents’ shortcomings. 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”.

You can see some of these false truths that many of us get saddled with in the quote above. Core ideas about whether you’re lovable or not, whether you’re fundamentally good or not, whether you can trust people or yourself — all of these things take root in your first few years. All of these truths will play into how you behave towards others, how you behave towards yourself, etc.

There is a saying that always reminds me of heka: it’s like playing a guitar, everyone can do it poorly, and only a handful of people can do it well.

The best and the worst parts about heka is that it is something that is very accessible to everyone, and we all have the ability to utilize our words, our body language, our actions to influence the world around us. In antiquity, we have stories of the lowest classes of society being able to bring the king into a swoon because their heka was that good. We’ve got stories of gods changing key aspects of the cosmos with their fine-tuned heka. It is everywhere, and it is free for the utilizing if you want to.

But its best selling point is also its downfall. Everyone can utilize heka, and everyone does utilize heka whether they realize it or not. It’s very easy to have the subtle, abusive heka of your childhood manifesting in the very heka you use as an adult. It’s so easy to carry false truths in our words, and it can be very hard to unroot those truths from our minds.

If the very things we tell ourselves daily are not true, how can we really know that we are true in our voice, or that our voice is carrying truth upon it? Humans often engage in daily dialogue that is based off of these falsehoods we were raised to believe as truth, and I can’t help but wonder how it influences the very heka we construct, and by extension, how we construct the world around us. I mentioned in my inertia post that people often behave based off of their expectations, and if our inner dialogue expects us to eternally suck, then how will our heka have any truly lasting power? If you’re getting in your own way before you’ve even tried, how can you hope to succeed?

There are many ways to un-knot false truths that are stuck in our minds. The path to fixing such things is not straightforward or easy. For most of us, we don’t have the resources to really tackle these issues head-on in a way that makes the work timely. Gods know that I have regressed on this issue many times in the past, and will likely regress many times again in the future due to lack of resources and fucks to give. However, that doesn’t mean that the work shouldn’t still be done, even if it will be a grueling task along the way. This post is less about solutions (I could write those posts in time, if people wanted them), and more about opening the table for discussion, so if you’ve got thoughts, I welcome them.

When you look at the things you tell yourself, the truths you have been fed throughout your life, how many of them are true? How many of them feel true, but probably aren’t? How do these things influence your daily life? Do you think it influences your heka? And of course, most importantly, when you do come across these false truths, do you want to do something about them? Why or why not?

 

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Ancient Egyptians Didn’t Have Disordered Eating

If there is a problem that has plagued my ritual work for years, it’s my disordered eating. And while I know that there is no absolute way to determine whether ancient Egypt had disordered eating present or not, I feel pretty confident in my guess that it wasn’t a prolific problem, if it existed at all. For those of you who are unaware, disordered eating is technically a sort of eating disorder, its just that there isn’t a particular name for the way that your eating is not healthy or “normal.” Many people have disordered eating and don’t realize it — potentially as many as 3 out of every 4 Americans have it, and for many of us, its a byproduct of our mental health and the unhealthy culture that we’re forced to live in.

For me specifically, my disordered eating is often a byproduct of my depression and stress levels. When my depression skyrockets in a particular way, I often don’t feel like eating — even if I’m hungry. Most things sound completely unappetizing, and when I force myself to eat I often end up with stomach aches or meltdowns as a result. This, of course, is a problem if you’re doing ritual work because our ritual structure mandates that you offer something to eat to the NTRW. I have yet to see a single Kemetic ritual that doesn’t include food offerings as a staple chapter.

And I mean, why not? Food is great (I guess?), it’s what keeps us alive, and supposedly the NTRW help us to grow is so that we can sustain ourselves with it. But it’s a huge problem if you can’t bring yourself to eat.

Years ago, I sought to bypass the disordered eating by using votive offerings instead. I bought a bunch of ReMent and used that to fill my offering plates for many many years. Even if I couldn’t bring myself to eat, I could bring myself to give the NTRW replicas of what I was supposed to be eating. I could offer them more in terms of number and quantity than I could ever do with actual food. It allowed me to let go of the stress around food and just focus on being present.

Of course, people did not like the idea. I’ve read everything from “that’s half-assing it” to “if you give the NTRW ‘fake’ offerings, they’ll give you fake blessings in return.” And so I’ve always ended up having a mixed relationship with my votive offerings because years and years of being told that they aren’t good enough will eventually leave you feeling like they aren’t good enough.

And so when I finally could eat again, because my health issues had reached a certain level of improvement, I told myself that I should try to use real food and not votive offerings. I created a sort of “rule” in my head that votive offerings are only for people who can’t offer “real” food (not that I’d ever place that rule on someone else. It was only ever directed at me.) And so I packed them away and tried not to use them. Fast forward a few years to my Year of Rites project where I told myself I would use real food for the entire thing because I knew I should eat, could eat, and needed to eat. And therefore, should try to use my ritual work to motivate myself to eat better and regularly.

And I guess it’s worked so far. If you read through what few updates I’ve given, or parse through the images that I used to take, you’ll see that offerings were still a problem for me. I can’t tell you how many rituals get put off until the end of the day because I couldn’t force myself to cook or eat early enough to do things at a reasonable time, or how many times I just grabbed a piece of convenience snacking material to offer instead. But the more important point is that I was managing up until August.

I want to preface this with a certain level of “I knew this would happen.”

As my grandfather lay on his death bed, I could overhear my mother telling the handful of people that were there with us that she really wanted to make sure that people checked up on me for the next few weeks. She was worried that I would fall apart after he died, and seemingly was trying to be proactive or something. I remember trying to meet these people halfway, letting them know that my depression would likely stave itself for a month or two, and that if people were really concerned, they’d make sure that they came around in a month or two, because that’s when I’d likely actually need the help. My emotions take time to process. My disassociation takes time to wear off so that I can feel what I’m actually feeling.

It took a while to kick in, but I noticed that by the end of August, my eating was beginning to slip. I blamed it on a new medical protocol I was trying, and hoped that my appetite would return.

But it hasn’t. And I’m not really surprised about it. Just as I had told those people — it takes time for my grief to process, and so the depression took a bit to really settle in.

Each day that there is a ritual scheduled, I feel this sort of dread or aversion in my stomach. To know that not only do I need to come up with something to offer the gods, I need to actually eat it, and I need to prepare it at such a time that I will have the time to perform the ritual, but also won’t lose my desire to eat whatever it is by the time my ritual work is done (for example, if I take a break while eating, I often lose all desire to finish my meals. I eat to reduce my stomach pain, and once that’s even mildly resolved, I often quit eating.)

When you combine this with how much I absolutely can’t stand this last batch of rubrics I made, you’ve got a recipe for not doing many rituals. So far I’ve only missed three rites this year (they were all execrations. Execrations feel like the world’s biggest waste of time and involve finding a place to start a fire and smelling like smoke and I’d just rather not most days,) but I can tell that this last quarter will be the hardest because I hate the words and I hate the food. There are other factors at play as well, but I still feel that these are the largest components to why I’m avoidant of doing ritual work right now.

So this begs to ask — what does one do about this? After this year’s worth of work, I honestly have a lot of criticism of people’s assumptions about how rituals should be set up, how often one should be able to do them, what they should consist of, how much we should be maintaining ancient practices, etc. But even if we don’t get into analyzing traditional ideas of what Kemetic rituals entail, it still really needs to be asked: what do we do about disordered eating? It’s quite clear that the ancient Egyptians didn’t have this particular hurdle to overcome, and so it’s something that we modern practitioners need to answer for ourselves, and possibly for our community.

Votive offerings seemed to be a solid alternative, but at the same time, there is a lot of moral baggage that comes with using them. You risk being ostracized or criticized by your fellows, and that just leads to more dysfunction for a person. The other alternative is to not offer food at all, or perhaps give only a voice offering — but both of these are also rife with chastisement and belittling within our community (have I mentioned recently how much I hate our community? I hope this post gives a little peek as to some of the reasons why) and I know that I often feel like voice offerings are not “enough.” It would feel weird to sit at my shrine and just say words and not perform any ritual actions that mirror the words. So, from what I can tell, no clear alternative exists that won’t evoke feelings of shame because it results in at least a portion of our community putting someone down for using it or doing it.

So I ask you all, how do we get around this? What is the best solution? How do we modify ritual structures for modern problems such as this? Is there even an alternative that anyone can take that doesn’t result in being shat on? Because so far, the answer feels a lot like a no.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles, Year of Rites

 

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Ma’at was Always Political

This week sat received an ask, wherein the inquirer states that “Ma’at was made so political.” It really stuck out to me, because as far as I can tell, ma’at was always political. When you look at the definition of “politics,” at the very very bottom, you get “use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control, as in business, university, etc.” which might seem antithetical to ma’at, right?

I don’t know many folks who would think it is within ma’at to “obtain any positions of power or control.” I say this because it’s not uncommon for members of our community to assume that anyone with any amount of social following or clout is somehow looking to become a megalomaniac or a cult leader. The mistrust that our community has with power is warranted, but it’s not historically informed when it comes to ma’at itself.

Ma’at is intrinsically tied to kingship in ancient Egypt. There are no two ways around that, and I don’t think I should have to lay out historical data to prove that the king used legitimacy and ritual to show the whole of Egypt that he was the divine ruler, the Horus here on earth that was meant to maintain ma’at for the entire country. So if we’re looking from a historical aspect, ma’at is defacto tied to politics. Sometimes ma’at was used to do good things, like help members of other countries in need, and other times she was used to do bad things, like start wars to gain control of people’s resources.

Of course, just because ma’at was tied to politics in the past doesn’t mean that it has to be tied to politics now, right? Well, I think it depends on what you’re cherry picking from our resources in order to form your argument. To make it easy, let’s pick one of the most widely-accepted tenets of ma’at: giving food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, a boat to the boatless. All three of these things are considered very ma’atian acts to perform. Did you know that giving food to the hungry is an arrestable offense in many places? Same goes for clothing, if you’re giving it to the wrong person. Your “not political” act just suddenly got political. It’s almost as if living under an authoritative government means that politics has a say over almost all aspects of your life, it’s shocking.

So that got me thinking, if anon wasn’t trying to say that ma’at was political, what else could they be trying to say?

If I’m being honest, I don’t think it’s that our anonymous asker was somehow lost on the fact that ma’at was originally political, no. I think it’s that this anonymous asker believes that people like me are politicizing ma’at, which is a very subtle, but important distinction. Because when most people think you’re politicizing something, they believe that you are taking something and trying to use it to gain power and promote a specific bias.

You see this in our society through things like the anti-vaxx movement, climate change, reproductive rights, etc. where a particular group tries to call into question the validity of data or information presented about a topic by going “but they’re trying to politicize it so that they can push their [inaccurate] bias.” What’s interesting is that most of these things are slanted towards the right side of the political spectrum. Which is to say that it’s mostly right-leaning people who have taken these topics that apply to everyone, and decided that they’re not actually that important to fight, fix, or fund. But instead of being honest about it, its sexier to imply that the “other side” is just politicizing (read: lying about) the whole thing. Yes, these things could be considered inherently unpolitical, but because of the world we live in, they are anything but.

So ultimately, when you see someone trying to tell someone else that they’re politicizing something that isn’t “inherently political,” you’re likely watching someone indirectly try to shut down the conversation about a topic (because it makes them uncomfortable.) To pull a good quote (cw: rape mention, victim blaming used as an example):

Words like “political” then are a means of controlling when (perhaps even if) we will allow discussion of some issues and what the nature of that discussion can be. Silence on issues like homosexual rights, sexual assault, climate change, and war all promote the status quo. If we don’t talk about homosexuals, then they remain deviant. If we don’t talk about sexual assault, then it remains a private problem of a few isolated women (who might have been “asking for it” anyway). If we don’t talk about climate change, then we can keep consuming and polluting without feelings of guilt. If we don’t talk about war, then the gears can keep spinning. In addition, by limiting tax-exempt organizations to discussing things that are “not political”, we keep them from pointing to problems in society as the cause of the issues they address. They can feed the hungry, but they can’t call for the end of the root cause of hunger in an extremely wealthy nation: wealth inequality. (x)

And therein lies the crux of the problem. Our anonymous asker is assuming that people like me have taken ma’at, an innocent pure bystander, and turned it into a weapon to convert people to our way of thinking. But the truth of the matter is, ma’at has always been what she is, and most of those who aren’t living on a couch of privilege understand that that means she’s political and that the concept ends up being inherently politicized. If anything, I didn’t change ma’at, ma’at changed me — which is how its supposed to work when you convert to a religion.

Existence is inherently political for all of us (only if you care about the health and well-being of other people, of course.) Our governments can, and will, do horrible things to people if left unchecked. We are all overseen by governmental structures that can do said horrid things, so to be able to be blind about what is going on on a governmental level (aka “not political”) is a luxury that only the most protected members of society can rely (aka rich white people, if you’re living in America.) There is a phrase that says that the ability to “not be political” is a sign of privilege, and this is exactly why. There is only a small, narrow portion of our community that isn’t a part of a marginalized group, and as such, it should be a given that politics will bleed into discussions on how best to live one’s life in ma’at. The marginalized members of our community shouldn’t be asked to hide parts of their lived experience simply because more-privileged members of our community are being made uncomfortable. Nor should they be forced to share their religious community with people who deny their (marginalized people) lived experience simply because they don’t want to explore how their own inherent bigotry is actually bad and should be changed.

So in conclusion, if we are to use ma’at to inform our decision-making and actions in our lives, and if most of us are living inherently politicized lives, then it stands to reason that ma’at was destined to be tied to politics, even in the modern era. Yes, you can choose to ignore this fact because it makes you uncomfortable, but I think the bigger question should be: why would you want to?

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2019 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Rambles

 

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Isfet as a System

Before you read this post, you absolutely have to read part one first. Otherwise, nothing will really make sense.

In the last post in this series, I left off with discussing why ma’at should be considered a regenerative system, but in order to explain why we should view ma’at in this fashion, we really need to discuss isfet, and then place both concepts side by side in order to see how they function together. In many ways, in order to understand one, I feel you really need to look at both at the same time.

So to get this started, let’s talk about the harbinger of degeneration: disorder.

The role of disorder

Ironically, we have a definition for disorder within natural systems: any resource that can not be used productively by an organism. That is to say, if you get too much of a Thing, even if its a Really Good Thing, you are being thrown into disorder. In terms of keeping natural systems healthy, any natural system really needs to have moderation in all of its parameters, which often times will be summed up as “a healthy level of stress.” Key word here being: healthy. In the same way that our muscles atrophy without use, other parts of systems begin to fall apart if they are never remotely pushed, challenged, or introduced to change (in nature, this usually is changing of seasons, fauna, etc.)

You can see what disorder in natural systems looks like by looking at the weather patterns of 2019. The midwest got too much rain and too much snow. The southwest hasn’t gotten enough heat or rain. Texas has gotten too much rain too early, and is not getting enough now. All of these are examples of ecosystems getting too much or too little of a resource; they are all examples of regenerative systems rubbing against disorder (which is a nice way of saying climate change.)

Too much of something will always result in disorder. Disorder and dysfunction are the gateways to a regenerative system becoming degenerative (isfet.)

We see this time and time again within our own mythological stories, where excess often results in harm or bad things happening, even if what you’re excessing on is not inherently bad. For example, Re’s excessive fear and pride led to his releasing his Eye out onto the world. Her excessive blood lust caused a lot of destruction that Re then had to go and remedy (with more excess — drinking, in this case.) Osiris got a big ol welt on his head from his Atef crown because he was being so vane and arrogant.

When viewed from this lens, it stands to reason why Set often gets classified as necessary chaos or necessary change (he is also a god of excess, showing that the NTRW can also waver in terms of their own balance and moderation.) As I mentioned above, systems need to be pushed sometimes in order to stay healthy. Nothing lives in a vacuum, and so all systems must continually grow and adapt to the ever-changing world around them. When properly handled and balanced, the chaos that Set brings is supposed to be this sort of stress that allows things to grow into something more than they currently are. When the deceased talks about Set “serving [me] above and beyond his own powers,” they are talking about the fact that Set’s service to all of us is supposed to be that useful, healthy stress that pushes us to level up.

The problem is, we don’t live in a healthy regenerative system, and so this disorder often hits harder than it should, and if left unchecked, it becomes very easy for a regenerative system to recoil from any contact with any disorder, ultimately pushing it closer and closer towards becoming degenerative.

Isfet: degeneration in action

If you are continually given more of a Thing than you can handle, it results in disorder within a system or systems. Disorder is what happens when we stray from the moderation and predictable cycling of nature that is necessary to maintain all regenerative and natural systems. In this respect, frequent or constant disorder is a symptom, a warning sign that you’re beginning to slide into isfetian territory. That something within your system is not jiving with some other aspect of another system, and as a result, the quality and health of that system is slowly shifting towards becoming degenerative.

For better or worse, it’s pretty easy to map out what a system starts to do when it begins to slide into degeneration:

  1. Reduction of predictable cycles and resources, causing general disorder within the system.
  2. As general disorder increases, lack of proper synchronization between members of the system occurs, exacerbating the resource distribution further.
  3. Lack of resources leads to excessive stress on all organisms in the systems
  4. Critical mass is reached, and parts of the ecosystem begin to collapse, biodiversity begins to drop.
  5. Reduction of keystone species causes widespread collapse. A single member of a keystone species often supports (usually) hundreds-to-thousands of other organisms at any given time.
  6. Once keystone species begin to disappear, the entire system faces a reduction of resiliency overall. If left unchecked, the system will completely disappear or become “dead” for all intents and purposes.

To see how this sort of situation pans out in real time, all you need to do is look at climate change and desertification. Human activity has caused too much stress to be put onto too many natural systems, and now those systems are slowly (and yet oh-so-quickly) shifting into disorder. As the disorder increases, the cycles that mark stable regenerative systems become more and more out of alignment and out of sync. From there, systems begin to fail. Forests turn into scrub land, scrub land into desert, desert into dunes. The soil supports less and less plant growth, so less and less organisms can be supported by the same amount of land. You get increasingly bad natural disasters and you begin to have winter in May.

For examples on a smaller scale, it’s that moment when you grab a cigarette instead of handling your feelings. It’s when you stay up late on your phone instead of going to bed at a healthy time, or choose to escape into the television instead of handling problems. It’s all of those small little things that detract from our overall well being that we do because we think its harmless.

All of these things are examples of a system being dragged out of regeneration into degeneration. And it’s affecting all of us, because we’re all natural, regenerative systems relying for our survival on a much larger series of natural systems that are being dragged into isfetian territory.

The importance of scale and context

One of the biggest things I wanted to make sure to clarify is that in many situations, isfet is not a singular action, but a series of actions or a trend that occurs over a period of time. Disorder is often like a crescendo: it starts off small and quiet. A few things here, a few things there. But then it slowly builds until it becomes a pattern, a habit, a trend. Something that happens consistently time and time again, which slowly takes a toll on the resilience of the system it is antagonizing.

To pick on climate change again, it wasn’t just one farmer that caused our soil to degrade. It wasn’t just one car that polluted the air. It wasn’t just one billionaire or CEO hiding key information about how we’re destroying the planet. No, it was millions of cars, hundreds of farmers and fields, and many many years of people in positions of power purposefully choosing to ignore the writing on the wall while the planet slowly degraded in the background. It’s not just one action, its lots of little actions that have built on one another to create a wave.

Similarly, the solution to something like climate change won’t be one simple action, either. It takes many many actions to degrade, and it takes many many actions to rebuild.

This is vital to understand because we must always examine situations within their wider context. We must always look at trends, because while exceptions to a rule can exist, it also belies that there is a rule, a trend, that this exception is pushing against.

This is why the balance of ma’at is so necessary. Regenerative beings need specific things in order to survive, and when that balance gets thrown into disarray, everything that system touches is effected on some level. While it’s not just a singular action that will cause a system to degenerate, at the same time, it is still very easy for things to quickly degrade and shift from bad to worse. It’s why the gods would have needed to be persistent and diligent with fighting back isfet.

I mentioned in the first post that in this modern era we have built up this sort of facade that we are somehow separate and untouchable from the natural systems we were born into, but its simply not true. The more degenerative the system we live in becomes, the more necessary and, frankly, involuntary it’ll be for people to participate in fixing the problems at hand.

Maintaining ma’at is the responsibility of all of us. Even if you’re avoiding it now, eventually you may not have that luxury.

In my next post, I’ll discuss how to apply this model to aspects of our lives to see if it is harmful and isfetian in nature, or if its helping to sustain or increase ma’at in the world.

 
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Posted by on August 12, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Lord of Edges

Edges occur where one thing ends and another thing begins. Where land turns into ocean. Where the base of your offering cup rests against the shrine’s surface. Where doorways are. All of these things create edges or boundaries between two things. An edge denotes that you’re shifting from A to B, regardless of whatever A and B might be.

According to edge effect, an edge has an increased biodiversity because it combines elements of both systems that create the edge itself. It becomes an entity unto itself that is different from everything around it. In many ways, I consider this a sort of chaos —  there are so many things occurring and going on from all sides that it can be challenging to tell where the edge begins and ends exactly, much less how all of the moving parts and pieces exist within this narrow ledge of space.

Slowly I’ve become to view Set as a deity of edges. He is the entity that you call (or don’t, honestly) if you’re stuck in a place where you no longer should be, it’s his domain and expertise to know not only when, but how to drag someone from the center of that system and then yeet them across an edge into a new system that is better for them. Of course, the act of transition is rarely that simple or smooth, and that’s what makes it something of a specialty. Osiris demands that you want to be there, but Set will drag you kicking and screaming, whether you like it or not, and that’s where he’s most comfortable. The uncomfortable space where things come together is what he’s used to and best suited for.

Butler refers to Set as “all the wild elements of human nature that resist civilization. Especially in his animal guises, or as the God of storms, Seth embodies the points at which nature itself comes into conflict with the human world, resisting domestication, or the points at which humans seek justification for their exploitation of nature.” In this description, you can begin to see how systems are coming into contact with each other (nature and humans, disorder and order, predictability/control and lack of control)  and how Set shows up in any of those situations where contact occurs. The very touching of two systems creates a space that is ideal for his energy. When humans decided to utilize that energy, they ultimately developed a loophole wherein all of their exploitation can be pinned on Set, which wipes their conscience clean.

I believe that his role as an initiator, a bringer of chaos, a being who brings forth transition, a moving from point A to point B not only involves the manipulation of edges, which is to say that he is able to bring a state of transition closer to a person, but that he’s also able to create edges where the person already is, if needed. If someone is really stuck and refuses to move closer to the threshold of growth, perhaps its within his wheelhouse to be able to bring the threshold of growth to the person.

I expect that these are the moments when he comes in like the Kool Aid Man and just breaks down your living room wall so that you have no choice but to do what is needed. When left unchecked and unbridled, Set’s chaos has the same force that nature has, and it will sweep you up in its current and take you where it wants to regardless of consent. In essence, that is what it’s like to be pulled up into his movements and trials. You’ll be carried along this liminal space between what you knew and what he wants you to know. You’ll rub up against all sorts of new concepts and ideas. You’ll be uncomfortable for a long time. Ideally, you’ll eventually stumble your way through to the other side, stronger for the ride.

In permaculture, maximizing your edges is vital to creating resilient designs that withstand the oncoming horrors of climate change. The more biodiversity that you can introduce into an ecosystem, the better, and you do that by creating as many edges as possible. I spoke in my post earlier this year about how we should increase the edges in our lives so that we could have more diverse experiences and expand our horizons. But I would like to add onto that now to include that I feel that doing so is somewhat leaning into Setian energies, and there is useful heka in that knowledge.

Earlier today SGI wrote about Set and his associations to survival as it relates to climate change. Climate change, in a nutshell, is going to make our weather patterns unpredictable, and it will, by extension, effect every other aspect of the natural world around us because nature uses weather as a form of cyclical regulation. Plants require certain amounts of heat and freeze at specific times in order to produce fruit. Animals rely on markers of humidity, heat, or coolness to determine when to hibernate or mate or what have you.

By shifting the weather, we will be destabilizing and unpredictably altering the systems that we live in because we’re removing their baseline for homeostasis. In many ways, the edges that are familiar to us will become distorted and unfamiliar. Sure, some parts will likely remain somewhat familiar, but we will also be living in the equivalent of nature’s uncanny valley as the patterns we knew change and wobble year to year.

SGI suggested that Set would be the deity par excellence to help get us through these tumultuous times ahead. I agree. Set is all about survival, and he has the capacity to teach a person how to survive. The key here is that I expect that the surviving and the teaching will be more effective and smoother if all of us were more open to being yeeted across those chasms that keep us locked in our inertness. Most of us have no means to fully stop or avoid what is coming in terms of climate change. We can only change how we react to it.

How do you feel when you think about being yeeted into transition? Do you fear it or embrace it? How could you make yourself more open to transition and change?  

 
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Posted by on July 31, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop

I felt bad for Heru-Wer as I went into the epagomenal days. I knew that his day would be chalk full of tasks and errands that needed to get done, and so I knew he wouldn’t get the same level of time or dedication as everyone else, and I felt bad about it. I wanted to try and get a head start on things by working on his stuff yesterday, but O was very big in the “live in the moment, quit trying to work ahead” shtick, and so I waited.

And cue this morning where I’ve been running non-stop and still have barely done anything for Heru-Wer’s birthday.

But sometimes things come in mysterious ways, and here is how today’s arrived: I was sitting in a restaurant and doodling in blank spaces in my bujo. I was working on something that I had placed on July 3, the day grandpa had his stroke. While I had originally considered the text “You can’t stop what’s coming” as being purely related to grandpa because I couldn’t stop the stroke or the incoming downhill slide that occurred, I noticed partway through inking it that it took on a very Setian tone. I joked that perhaps they had swapped days so that Set could minimize any interaction we might have because I’d be too busy to spend time with him. Even though I couldn’t place if it was from a NTR, something about it stuck in my mind. Conveniently, Sat had started to respond to my questions about Heru-Wer around the same time, and the more I mulled about what I associate with Heru-Wer, the more I began to believe that perhaps it was from him.

The best part being that when it was finally all colored in, you get a secret message:

I don’t really work with any of the Herus (Horii?, so my perceptions of him and his associations are pretty limited. The only real things I associate him with are losing an eye, kingship, and protecting the Two Lands. Boundaries and defense are the two words I would use to sum up my knowledge of Heru-Wer specifically, and that is exactly what I wanted to originally talk about today regarding him. But after having drawn this, I want to hone in on what it’s like to be in a position of defense, and knowing you’ll need to defend in the near future.

While I know that most of us are not in any sort of military position that would often be labeled as “defense,” I think that all of us come to points in our lives where we have to defend ourself or others. Ultimately, part of being a healthy and balanced person is knowing when you defend your boundaries and when to draw a line in the sand. If you never defend yourself, you will ultimately end up in unhealthy and abusive relationships. It’s mandatory to know how to defend yourself (and others, in my opinion) properly.

That being said, I think that the worst thing about being in an actively defensive position, or being someone who knows they must defend someone or something else, is that you fully realize that something is coming for you. Even though you know it’s coming, you can’t leave your position, you can’t necessarily avoid it outright. No, instead you must stay the course and wait for the impact that inevitably will occur.

I admit that I hate waiting for the impact. I hate knowing that an impact is coming because my anxiety ramps up in an attempt to prepare for it. I begin to try to think of ways to out maneuver whatever might happen. Ways I can protect myself or others against some semi-unknown future foe. I catastrophize and lowkey panic about what might happen. I waste precious precious energy embracing the idea of the impact instead of just waiting for the impact to arrive and embracing that.

The idea of “you can’t stop what’s coming” was ultimately kind of freeing to me. I found myself in a similar place as when I read the Litany Against Fear: “I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.” In a way, it forces me to not only reckon with the fact that something is coming, but it also reminds me of the fact that there’s nothing you can do about it. It reminds me that there is a limit to what I can do, and that there is nothing wrong with accepting that limitation.

In a way, this is a similar conversation to something me and Set used to talk about. He always framed it as “there will always be wolves”, which is to say, there will always be things that seek to hurt you (and so you must always be prepared.) But its rooted in fear and an expectation that there will always be things that are actively coming after you. For me, it makes me feel I need to prepare for everyone to be a wolf. It constantly puts you in a state of hyper-vigilance.

This reframing shifts that perspective for me, though. It puts me back in my body, back in the place where I always live. Back in my skin where I am reminded that limitations are a thing, that we can still have our pleasures (the highlighted text of “can’t stop coming”) despite the fact that we can’t always prevent bad stuff from showing up at our door.

Ironically, its a different aspect of yesterday’s conversation about being inert. Except this time, you’re simultaneously inert and moving. You’re inert because you’re always stuck in your body or stuck in whatever position of defense you need to maintain. And yet, while still being inert in that position of defense, you’re also being moved — usually by whatever you’re defending against. To bring it back more to what I expect would be historically Heru-Wer’s territory, you may need to move around a lot to chase down an infiltrator, to help stop incoming armies or enemies. You have to be agile and quick to get where you need to be to defend whatever needs defending.

But at the same time, everywhere you go, there you are. To some extent, there is a portion of us that is unchanging since our birth. A part of us that is static or inert if you will, and that part will always be carried with us wherever we go. Regardless of what fray we get thrown into, we’re all stuck in our bodies, stuck in the thick of this thing called life. The things around us may change, but we are always stuck where we are — in these really fancy meatsuits.

Ultimately, the thing we (probably should) defend the most in our life is ourselves, the most static and inert thing we own. We can’t stop what’s coming, we can only do our best to prepare for it and have some pleasure in between the waves of life. And there’s probably nothing wrong with that.

I have no clue if that’s what he had in mind when he sent me the doodle, but that’s what I got out of it.

 
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Posted by on July 30, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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The Inert One

Today is the first epagomenal day, and because I felt the urge, let’s talk about Osirian change as it relates to one of his epithets: The Inert One.

I have been thinking about the Osirian cycles of rebirth a lot this year — specifically the second hour. The second hour is where the deceased, now being inert, has to choose to move forward or to stay in their inertness. I’ve mentioned several times these past two years about how the inert ones have seemingly captured my attention (because I’ve felt inert for years now), and they are still pretty centered and focused in my mind.

In this specific instance (at least), I do believe I know why my brain is so heavily focused on the inert ones, and that is because everywhere I look, I feel like I am constantly seeing people stuck in inertia. They may not entirely be inert, but they are inert enough that they aren’t moving forward in the ways they want to, and every time I see it in action, a part of me gets really upset/sad.

Just like in my last post where I mentioned that while I understand that these Osirian rebirth texts are supposed to be for the dead and not the living, I can’t help but draw parallels between them. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time being inert, I know what its like to have a blind spot, to not realize that despite all of the ground you think you’re making, you’re actually not making ground at all. A house built on sand will not last long, and I have made plenty of houses on malformed foundations in the hopes that it’ll work.

I find it interesting how often my work with both Set and Osiris brings me back to foundations. Set was always very big into telling me to build solid foundations. While most of you know that it was in relation to building our community — that only strong foundations would allow a community like ours to last — I have also had to sit through plenty of pontificating and lecturing from him (and others) about how my own life needs to be built on a solid foundation in order for other parts to function properly. To use the metaphor above: the doors in your house won’t work very well if everything is cockeyed due to uneven foundations. If the foundation is made poorly, everything else above it suffers.

On the flip side, I have always talked about Osiris being the tree outside that secretly grows its roots into your foundation — that by the time you realize what has happened, its too late to do anything, and now you need to call a repair person to fix your house. Even though Set is known for his chaos and destruction of bad habits to lay way for better habits, I think Osiris and his methods of rebirth are an under-sung variation of what Set does.

The key difference being that Set is like the Kool Aide Man, and doesn’t care if you want him there or not, where as Osiris mandates that you have to want to be there. Roberts talks about it in her book:

“Osirian renewal requires a conscious and voluntary entry into the underworld realm, and active desire to fulfill the unification of the living and the dead.”

So one of the key components to overcoming the inertia of hour two is to actually want to overcome it enough to actually move forward. Osiris has this in his own mythology, where he is being kept safe inside of a space enclosed by a snake, and Osiris has to gather enough gumption to force the snake to let him go because all the snake wanted to do was keep him there safe forever (sounds like a coming-of-age trope).

We have to want it. And sometimes it seems like we really do want it, and still can’t seem to make it happen. What is it that stops us from moving forward when we believe we do actually want to?

It’s been my experience that a lot of people stay stuck because of avoidance. You avoid doing the work that needs to be done in order to move forward, so you stay put. Turns out, psychology has a lot to say about what causes people to avoid things. In short, its because your body doesn’t feel like it can handle whatever the doing will bring forth for you to deal with. Sometimes that’s something like a fear of failure, other times it might be a worry that you’ll lose something important, or perhaps that you can’t handle the idea of losing your cool in front of someone over it (notice the common themes of fear and loss of control in all of these.)

It also turns out that we typically behave based off of what we expect, regardless of whether we’re conscious of that expectation or not. So if you expect it to be a shitshow that you can’t really handle, you will essentially avoid it as long as possible. If you’re living with three spoons and you expect it to be a five-spoon task, you may never actually get around to doing it.

For example, I avoided going to the doctor for months while my health degraded because I was worried that it would be way more work than I could handle. I expected that most of the doctors would be useless (they were,) and I worried it would be more emotionally draining and taxing than beneficial. I expected not to receive help, so I avoided even trying because of how daunting the whole ordeal felt it would be.

Avoidance tactics are largely used by people who are completely overwhelmed and burned out. When your body is on its last legs and feels like everything is just Too Much, you will start to avoid things almost reflexively because your body is trying to protect you from taking on more than it can handle. Likely because you are already taking on more than you can handle. This is further entrenched because we often will side with whatever is familiar over whatever is unfamiliar — especially if we’re burned out. So even if its uncomfortable and Awful, you may still stay right where you’re at because at least its familiar.

My grandmother used to have a little quip for these sorts of situations: a dog is laying on a nail poking out of a step, a guy yells at the owner for not making the dog get up off of it, and the owner replies, “I’m not making him lay there! When the nail hurts enough, the dog will get up on his own.” She used to sum it up as “the nail doesn’t hurt bad enough yet, does it?”

And its pretty true. Most of us move because we’ve been forced to move (hello Setian change) or it got bad enough that we are finally motivated to make the choice to move (hello Osirian change.) It’s difficult to enact large-scale change when you’re living in a constant state of near burn out (which is why you should start out with small-scale change,) and so it often takes outside forces to push us to do whatever needs to be done. It’s a shame that so many of us are stuck in these cycles.

As we move into the new year, I think it behooves us to ask ourselves about our state of inertness:

  1. In what areas of your life are you currently inert? What are you avoiding working on or addressing?
  2. When you think of these things you are avoiding, what comes up? How does it make you feel? What is holding you back?
  3. What can you do to address these feelings or things that hold you back?
  4. What are you giving up in order to stay comfortably where you are?
  5. Where would you rather be instead? What can you do to get there?

Maybe by becoming more intimate and aware about the things that keep us inert, and why we let them keep us inert, we’ll be able to overcome our inertia and actualize all of the rebirths that we’re aiming to experience.

How often do you examine your inertness? If you took the time to try to answer the questions above, what did you find?

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Carrying My Father; pt 2

I have been doing akhu rites for the better part of six months now. Every time I have written the rubrics or performed the rites, my mind has always pictured me doing work for Osiris, the deity that pushed me to do akhu rites to begin with. But this month shifted my impressions of these rites as I got to experience a “slow” death first hand. Suddenly, more and more of the words were describing actions I was doing here in the physical for a man who was in the dying process. This post is to document the parallels I found between caregiving and ritualized tidbits I found in the Coffin Texts about tending to Osiris.

Hail to you who mourns the Bull of the West, who folds her arms on account of the Inert One within the secret place of the Great Hall; who knits up the soul, who builds up the shade and who gives breath to the Inert One in this her name of ‘Her who is in attendance on her lord’.

I’m semi surprised that I didn’t notice it before, but it wasn’t until I had to start doing 24/7 levels of caregiving that I really realized that caregiving is ultimately one of the biggest forms of “attending” to a person that you can do. While I understand that a lot of these rites are meant to be for someone who is already dead, and that the attending is more about preparing the body for funerary rites, in this situation it felt very applicable. When someone moves into pre-active, and finally into active dying, the caregiving you must give them is almost a full-time affair.

In the case of my grandfather, it got to where you had to assist him with almost everything. Getting out of bed. Going outside to smoke. Getting to the bathroom. Getting to the kitchen. Putting on clothing (if he bothered to change at all.) Drinking. Sometimes eating. Your life suddenly revolves around one other person because they’re not able to do very much for themself anymore. I can’t imagine a better picture of what it means to “attend” to someone as you’re facilitating almost all aspects of a person’s comfort and needs.

I belong to the House of Osiris, I watch over it; I veil his limpness, I ease his severe suffering for him; I know what Sia knows, and a path is opened for me, for I am the Lord of Air.

Nobody told me how much laundry you generate when someone is dying.

As much of a difficulty as it was to keep the house clean before things started to really ramp up, the pre-active dying process makes taking care of your “house of Osiris” all the more complicated. Because you’re busy helping a person get around, you find that dishes pile up, that things don’t get done, and slowly everything starts to look a little sad.

But the laundry. You see, when you start to really die, your bowels kinda do their own thing. You’ll relieve yourself in bed on accident because some part of you never got the memo to wake you up to go to the bathroom. There were days when we went through three or four pairs of pants and underwear. Where we needed to replace the sheets in the morning and again in the evening.

Another key job was to “veil his limpness” by making sure that he still looked presentable right up until the bitter end. To me, this plays right into “ease his severe suffering for him,” because you’re not only easing the physical pain via helping administer medications, but you’re also easing the pain of the ego from all of the inability to function. I remember one of the last days my grandfather was alive, I asked him if he was hurting anywhere, and he told me the only thing that hurt was his pride.

Due to my chronic conditions, I’m more or less used to having to give up parts of my autonomy to get things done. I’m used to needing assistance for a fair amount of things. However, for people who have never had to experience such a thing, it’s not easy to not be able to care for yourself. It’s not easy to lose your autonomy. It’s not easy to not even be able to go to the bathroom alone. And part of easing that pain, in my experience, was to create as much normalcy as possible. Treating him like a full-fledged adult up until the end, and never forgetting that there was a person with emotions still resting inside of the body, even after he had gone into his final coma.

To me, it was vital to achieve these things in order for him to have a relatively smooth time of processing the death he was about to experience.

I will not be ignorant of my path to the realm of the dead, for I am a spirit whose mouth is hale, and magic is what equips me according to my desire. I have come free from corruption, I have poured away my foulness.

Despite it being a well-documented thing, so very few people actually know what happens during the dying process. There are tons of web pages that outline what you can expect before you die, and its very unsettling how predictable and “expected” some aspects can be. Many of these things are more neutral-to-positive in nature including giving away of possessions, writing letters or tying up loose ends with other people, and having dreams about dead relatives/friends or your life.

While there are no proven reasons behind why some of these things happen (beyond “its your body shutting down”), there are a lot of people who believe that so many of the steps that a dying person goes through is simply their body trying to prepare them, and make them okay for the death they are about to endure. In many ways, you are “pouring away your foulness” by overcoming hurdles that prevented you from accepting things in your earlier years. Sometimes people will have a complete 180 in their attitude towards dying once they start to have these events happen, and in a way, it is sort of it’s own “magic” that your body equips for you.

Lady of All in the secret place; to whom Osiris turns his back in these his moments of inertness;

However, not every aspect of the pre-active drying phase is seen as being beneficial or even neutral. As it turns out, when your brain starts to shut down and misfire from your body slowly going, you might begin to do all sorts of things. Night terrors, screaming, agitation, and anger are all things that have been reported during the final phase of life. There is even something called “terminal restlessness” that often gets assigned to people who are particularly, well, restless throughout the process.

As I watched my grandfather muck through these particular aspects of dying, I couldn’t help but think of the statements about how Osiris is a Lord of Terror, how it is terrifying to be dying. How someone who is becoming increasingly restless and foreign can be a semi-scary thing to deal with day in and day out. That no amount of happy hormones from their brain can erase the fact that sometime in the near future, this person will no longer exist as we know them to exist. And that further, throughout these periods of difficulty, its not uncommon for your soon-to-be Osiris to completely forget who you are. And yet, you still have to take care of them and deal with whatever shows up.

Hail to you, Mourner of Osiris, Companion of the Bull of Nedit who makes the mummy-wrappings to breathe, who veils the limpness, to whom Osiris has turned his back, helper of the embalmer Anubis when treating the body of the Inert One.

When using this metaphor, I would say that I am Aset, my grandfather would be Osiris, and hospice would be Anup. By far, I would encourage anyone who is coming into the final cusps of death to reach out to hospice or palliative care, because they were very helpful in getting me anything that I needed throughout the process.

I will be frank and mention that two thirds of my family believes that hospice somehow made my grandfather die sooner, but I honestly think it couldn’t be further from the truth. They gave us access to so many resources we would not have had otherwise. It was great to have an RN that I could ask questions to, because when you start to really get deep into caregiving, you end up taking on a lot of responsibilities that you’re not trained for.

Have you ever been taught how to properly fold and place a draw sheet on a bed? I certainly wasn’t, at least not until hospice sent me someone to teach me. Even though I was the one dealing with everything on a daily basis, at the end of the day, I felt like I was more of an assistant, relying on people who knew more about this than I did, to help guide me through the proper care of someone who was dying.

See that I have come to you so that I might see your beauty, So that I might serve you and restore your body.
I have come to you so that I might greet you daily as your son, For I am your son, the Protector of his Father

When my grandfather was still relatively “with it,” I let him associate with whoever he wanted, however he wanted. Most everyone that he had contact with had been informed that he had dementia, and that his behaviours could change or be out of character periodically, they technically were prepared for any oddities that he displayed (I say technically, because they were still mostly in denial up until the bitter end.) However, when my grandfather entered into dying, he was no longer able to make those decisions. Instead, those decisions fell to me.

One of the last days that my grandfather was still able to semi-function, I asked him about whether he wanted certain family members around. I mostly wanted to do this so that I could get a good idea of whether any of these people was vital to his ability to have a peaceful death, since some people do request time with specific folks before they go. However, grandpa wasn’t particularly interested in some folks, and when I discovered that, I knew that I would need to consider what role, if any, they played in his dying process.

Relations with my family have been strained throughout the entire caregiving process that has occurred over the past year and a half, so I’m sure you can imagine how mixed it got when it came to light that I didn’t involve certain people in the final 48 hours of life. For me, this was about protecting my “Osiris.” It was about making sure that none of his last conscious moments was filled with stress or drama. As I tried to explain to my relatives, my job was to facilitate his peaceful passing, not their ego.

Just as Osiris, when my grandfather entered the final stage of his life, he had virtually no ability to defend himself or make choices for himself. He had wholly become the Inert One. It is vital to be careful in who you select to oversee those final moments of your life.

Hail to you, Lady of offerings at whom Osiris rejoices when he sees her, whose great wall is an owner of possessions; who brings air, who gives offerings, who presides over the throne in the secret places of the Netherworld; who clears the vision of the Bull of Djedu, who split open his mouth and split open his eyes when the Inert One asked; who gathered together his arms and legs, who laid Osiris down in [ … ,] who gave abundance to the Lord of the Flood on the desert plateau; who gave offerings. Open a path for the Inert One to the abode of embalming, the pillared bark.

One of the benefits of utilizing hospice was that our “path” to the “abode of embalming” didn’t involve an ambulance. Instead, they will send someone out to collect the body and take it to the morgue. You are asked to give any specific instructions or items to be left with the body during the processing of the body, and then its more or less out of your hands.

It’s a surreal feeling going from doing nearly constant work for someone, only to have the entire space vacant and empty. Figuring out what to do with your time, how to refocus your life, is a little bit daunting. The process leaves not only the Osiris changed, but the Lady of Offerings is changed as well.

O my father Osiris, here am I; I have come to you, for I have smitten Seth for you, I have slain his confederacy, I have smitten them who smote you, I have cut down them who cut you down. I am one who overcomes with strength, the heir of everything; I myself have guarded my body, I have felled my foes, and I have created it, this new state(?) in which I am.

 
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Posted by on July 22, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles, Year of Rites

 

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In a World Full of Yes

Deciding to finally live for myself couldn’t have been more timely. I knew within a matter of days that the situation I found myself in earlier this year would have done 2016-era me in completely. This is largely because I was suddenly finding myself dealing with my family on a daily basis in ways that I hadn’t had to in the past. I never had to get into it with an aunt about finances or with an uncle about caring for their elderly father.

As the weeks dragged on, I found that most of my family hadn’t changed much from my youth, and that most of them were just as shifty in their behavior as they had always been. With each new round of drama that would crop up, I found myself having to choose between keeping the peace and actually protecting myself. In my youth all I had ever done was work to keep the peace. I chose to make myself smaller so that I might not get ousted from the group, and what I didn’t realize when I decided I was going to go “all in” with life is that you can’t really take the path of least resistance when you’re actually trying to take care of yourself.

With each new experience where I felt like someone was taking advantage of me or trying to hurt me, I could suddenly see my younger self looking back at me, asking me why I was allowing this person to hurt us, to hurt them. I noticed that I was always more willing to put myself in the line of fire for others, but not for myself; a well-known trait for those of us with anxiety. Which meant that if I wanted to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, I’d have to start sticking up for myself in the same way that I would for others, and drawing boundaries in the sand as to how I would allow people to treat me.

For someone like me, this is actually quite terrifying.

Of course, when I talked with my therapist about boundaries, some part of me knew that this was going to happen eventually. She told me that I wasn’t very good at drawing boundaries to keep myself safe. She said that this was partially what caused the violent emotional responses that I was prone to. Because I couldn’t separate myself from everyone around me, I couldn’t help but feel their feelings as though they were mine. I almost felt like I wasn’t being a good person if I wasn’t flinging myself headlong into everyone else’s issues so that I’d know what it felt like to be them in that moment.

And in those moments, I seemed to imagine that drawing boundaries would be empowering. That I’d basically be learning how to cordon myself off from things that would hurt me. That I’d make sure I was safe. I think that my initial concepts of drawing boundaries banked on the notion that I’d be able to actually disengage with anything I didn’t want near me. Which, in its own way, means I was planning on drawing my boundaries by running away.

But what if running away isn’t possible? As is the case when you’re being a caretaker for someone who still has living family that they want in their life. I hadn’t thought about this until I was already in it. You see, for all of the years of being labeled as being aggressive, mean, bitchy, overbearing, etc. I actually do not get off on telling people what to do. I feel uncomfortable asking for simple, basic things, and when I have to do so regularly, it can cause me to have anxiety attacks. But in order to actually protect what I had managed to cultivate, I had to find a way to tell people — family — no.

And so I tried. At first I often would try to soften anything I said. “Could you maybe, possibly think about how that might have come across. It was kind of mean.” or “I’m not really comfortable with that, would it be possible to maybe do something else?” And you know what happened?

People got mad anyways.

[[image of quote that says “If I say no to someone and they get angry, it does NOT mean I should’ve said yes”]]

If there is anything that 2018 has taught me, it’s that you can be as accommodating as humanly possible. As nice as humanly possible. As non-intrusive as you can possibly be. And people who are committed to not meeting you halfway will still call you Too Much, Extra, and my personal favorite, Bitchy. People who are not interested in developing healthy relationships with you will never acknowledge or respect your boundaries without a fight, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have set those boundaries.

Above all, I’ve learned that setting boundaries feels less like taking care of yourself and more like fighting a war against people who won’t take no for an answer. The problem being that as awful as fighting a war everyday is, fighting this war is necessary, if not mandatory in order to be healthy. The more I found myself not defining what was okay in terms of how people treated me, the more I found myself not saying no, not standing up and speaking my needs, the more miserable I became.

So it begs to ask — which is worse? A slow death by suffocation via those around me because I was too scared to stand up and say no? Or a slowly-fought battle where I potentially lose people, but can ultimately breathe?

[[image of a quote “It is crucial for deeper level recovery that we learn that feelings of fear, shame and guilt are sometimes signs that we have said or done the right thing.They are emotional flashbacks to how we were traumatized for trying to claim normal human privileges.”Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, Pete walker, pg 78”]]

In Kemeticism, we talk about how isfet has to be battled back every day. The gods have no choice but to engage in this daily battle, or be destroyed by the thing they fight. Every time I’ve talked to the NTRW about fighting back isfet, they don’t seem to be too distraught over it. It’s just a thing that they Have To Do if they want to live a certain quality of life, and there is very little baggage tied to it at this point.

As I continue to work on drawing boundaries for myself, I begin to think more about this comparison, and how if I allow other people to constantly take advantage of me, how my life will be overrun with isfet. How I can’t, in good conscience, tell myself that I’m trying to live in ma’at while not actively trying to dispel the isfet I’ve inadvertently let in my life. I remind myself that anything worth having is worth fighting for, and if I’m not worth fighting for, then what is?

And so the battle continues. May it get easier to do, and feel less like a battle in time. For all of us.

How do boundaries play a role in your life? How do you create boundaries in your life?

Resources for developing boundaries:

 

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