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Healing and Destruction: Two Sides of the Same Coin

When I was younger, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I loved animals, and I thought it would be a nice idea to help heal and save the animals that I loved. That is until I realized that in order to be a vet, you must be willing and able to also kill animals when treatment was not available or working. And with the mention of that, I decided the profession was not for me. Life’s funny like that, because despite my best efforts to move away from death and destruction, my life Over There landed me neck deep in both. Over the years I have made a lot of vague passing comments about the nature of my life Over There, but I’ve never really gone into any amount of depth or detail regarding the work I do. As with most everything I do, this has been done on purpose, as I’ve always felt that talking about it would result in one of two things: people looking at me like I’ve lost my marbles while they whisper “special snowflake” to their closest friends, or people looking at me with horror while they call me a monster. Both options lead to suck so I’ve never bothered.

However, recent discussions about the nature of ma’at and the nature of the gods has led me to decide to finally open up about some of what I do Over There. I guess we can consider it getting an early start to the work Set has laid out for me this year.

Usually when I sum up my work Over There, I de-fang and sterilize everything down to “I heal and destroy”. It sounds pretty simple and straightforward, but it’s honestly anything but. I’ve noticed over the years that many people seem to have troubles understanding how these two things can live so closely together, as seen by goddesses such as Sekhmet. However, let me assure you that the two are opposite sides of the same coin, as with the veterinarian mentioned above. In order to be able to heal, you must also be adept at being able to kill, and one can easily lead into the other.

I never expected to end up in this role, and taking up this sort of “work” happened very organically- at least on my end. I still can’t tell if Set and Osiris came to me because they foresaw what I was capable of doing, or if this is all just icing on top of their already made cake. At first I tried to escape the role that lay before me. However, the more I ran, the faster it caught up with me, and eventually I ended up embracing what was laying at my feet. Anything else resulted in more discomfort. Sometimes it’s easier to find solace in what you are than to continually deny what is written in front of your face.

Much like with my gods where Set came first and Osiris followed, my work started with destruction and I didn’t learn some of the finer points of healing until much later. Destruction came very easily to me from a very early point in my astral work. This is mainly due to my ability to access the deeper points of people Over There. I don’t even have to really try, and I can fall into some of the deepest darkest parts of a person or a plane (because planes can have embodiments and cores, just as humanesque entities do), places where it’s very easy to do damage. Waking up neck deep in astral fuckery meant that I had to kill sometimes in order to survive. Sometimes I needed to destroy a place, person, or item in order to get away and restore some semblance of balance or totality to my existence. Destruction was very necessary when I first started out. I had to clear out the wreckage of my house in order to actually address the foundations below.

The need to heal people was pretty quick to follow, though. Turns out that when you’re popping up in these horrible places to collect parts of yourself, you often find other people who are just as screwed up as you are. I found myself wanting to help these people, and wanting to help heal them as best as I could. I also think that I secretly hoped that I would be able to avoid killing things because healing them was the solution to everything. I didn’t realize at the time that this isn’t really the case- healing is not always a solution, nor is it always the best solution.

Shortly after, Osiris began to teach me how to use the river to heal myself and others as well. We’d branch from using my particular river to using vats of water in general. I learned various methods of picking nasty bits out of people’s energy lines, and I began to work on learning how to heal cores and core spirits. I felt as though I might have found a solution to everything- I would heal whatever I came across instead of killing it.

The problem is, healing doesn’t really work that way.

Death and destruction are part of a healer’s arsenal. When someone from Over There opens up their proverbial medical bag, death and destruction are one of the first things to be pulled out. The first method that Osiris showed me, after all, involved drowning in order to facilitate the ability to heal. It doesn’t get much more morbid than that.

And even if you’re not using death or destruction to heal, sometimes killing is still an unavoidable side effect. Sometimes you work your ass off trying to heal someone, and the healing still does not stick. The healing doesn’t work because the person isn’t ready, or in some cases, the person doesn’t even want to be healed anymore. I had a man that I ended up calling Waffles because he kept waffling in his healing so much. Some weeks he wanted to live and wanted to stay with me forever. And then other weeks he’d withdraw entirely, and wish for death.

Eventually, the death won out. Part of being the healer is being able to put someone out of their misery if you need to (or if they want it). Another part of being a healer is being able to put someone down if they are becoming a serious danger to you or others. Sometimes death is the best way to facilitate the healing. And of course, we can’t forget the other popular end result- which is when the healing works out so well that the person passes on by their own choice, leaving you with a surprisingly empty room one morning. All of these results are not only possible, but common when it comes to healing Over There.

To bring this into a more mundane aspect, you can even see destruction in the healing we perform here on Earth. Ever taken antibiotics? That involves killing bacteria in your system in order to get better. Destruction facilitates the restoration of balance within your system. Destruction can sometimes lead to ma’at – which is exactly why we have less than peaceful deities in our pantheon. Sometimes peace and passivity are not the answer.

And perhaps that is why I have ended up with the selection of gods that I have. Set’s destruction and Osiris’ passivity give me the best of both worlds, and in many ways both of their tasks fall into the same category: healing, or the restoration of balance for a person, plane, or realm. Sometimes killing and death are required in order to restore that balance. Sometimes good old fashioned nurturing and healing are required to restore the balance. Sometimes you need both in equal measure.

I was once hopeful that I could use all of what I have learned regarding healing to wipe away all of the red on my hands from everything I have destroyed or killed. But since then I have learned that healing doesn’t wipe the red away. It simply adds to the richness of the color. Life without death does not exist, nor does healing exist without destruction, as both are inseparably linked.

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The Value of Being Passive

Alternative Title: Osiris Knows What’s Up

pas·sive  –  adjective
  1. accepting or allowing what happens or what others do, without active response or resistance.

Passivity is not a topic you see covered very often. Most every self-help article I’ve ever seen involves speaking up, grabbing your spine, or becoming more active in your life or your reactions to the things that happen in your life. Our society, and therefore much of Paganism as a whole, has put a stigma on being passive. If you’re passive, you’re likely an introvert (bad!) who often gets equated to doormats and wet mops.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

And it seems to be a common theme throughout all of US culture. We place assertive, outgoing attitudes and stubbornness on a pedestal, and you’re more likely to get praise if you’re constantly making waves as opposed to always going along for the ride (this doesn’t always apply if you are female, in which case you are to be confident, but not too confident). And while sometimes it is necessary to be a wave maker, at the same time, the sweet spot (like most things) likely lies in between the two extremes. That is, being passive sometimes and being more assertive at other times. But since so many articles already talk about how to become more assertive, I wanted to balance the scales by writing about some of the benefits of being passive.

It’s really no wonder that Set (and other hard nosed NTRW) gets a bad rap. He basically spends the majority of his time trying to get people out of ruts and moving into new territory. He is the force that comes in and removes everything that was familiar to you in the name of “change” and “growth”. He is, by his very nature, a very active, assertive deity. He comes in like a typhoon, rips your stuff apart, and then taps his foot while he waits for you to fix it.

And the thing about this type of change is that it forces you to yield. You can’t work with Set without learning how to yield. The idea of an unstoppable object running into an unmovable object results in a lot of pain for both ends. Truly learning to reap the benefits of his work requires you to learn how to be passive.

Despite knowing this, a lot of people seem to have a hard time with it. I mean, how many times have you looked at something that you know you need to do because it’s for your own good, and yet you still fight doing “the thing” with every fiber of your being? It seems that being stubborn is hard-wired into a lot of us.

This was further affirmed in some recent discussions that I had participated in regarding Shadow Work. Shadow Work seems to fall into two categories: the Shadow Work you initiate yourself, and the Shadow Work that gets initiated for you. However, no matter which category each person seemed to fall into, everyone seemed to want to fight it tooth and nail.

And I had to wonder- why is that? What causes us to push back so violently when we realize that the best way forward is to go with the flow?

via wikimedia commons

Pondering this, I looked to one of the most passive deities I know: Osiris. I think he must get it from his father, who is also noted for his passive ways. I’ve seen a lot of people heckle Osiris for being such a “wuss” of a king. For being a deity that doesn’t have the balls, nerve, or gumption to do whatever it is that non-passive entities do (maybe people think he should have strong armed his brother instead of being drowned? Or maybe that he should have been more active in his resurrection?). Again, people often believe that passive is a bad thing, and so Osiris often gets flack for being passive in his nature.

But isn’t that part of the point? He is passive. He has to undergo a transformation through his brother’s methods. And as I said before- the best way to really reap the benefits of Set’s methods is to become passive. No amount of fighting or flailing will actually save you in this case. Much like with quick sand, fighting will only suck you in faster. I, too, had learned this first hand back in 2011 when I was first being shoved under water by a deity – fighting didn’t benefit me in any capacity. If anything, it just made the process more traumatic.

Osiris knew what lay before him. He knew that it would suck. But he also knew that fighting it would only make it worse.

And over the years, I think I have begun to embody that in a lot of ways. With a lot of the work I’ve had to do Over There, I’ve seen that many times you have to roll with the punches and roll with what has been given to you. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have my moments of digging my heels in the sand or moments where I wish everything would just work out for once, but at the same time, I have begun to learn when it’s more effective to hold on and fight, and when it’s more effective to let go.

I sometimes think that a lot of us fight everything in our paths because we are scared, or because we simply don’t know what else to do. And in those moments, I remind myself that letting go can be just as effective as holding on. I remind myself that I am capable, and that I can handle whatever is thrown at me, and that I will figure out a way to make it work.

And then I go with it. I let go and jump off of the cliff as so many people have metaphorically discussed over the years. I give into the unknown (fear and all) and I submit myself to whatever it has in store for me. Because just like with the river, the answers to the problems lie at the bottom, and I have to give into the water in order to reach said answers at the bottom. I have to be passive in order to get to the solution.

This is the value of being passive. Sometimes, being passive is the answer to getting through something with less damage.

Fighting just for the sake of fighting doesn’t necessarily make you strong. Being stubborn simply because you can be, fighting the things that would genuinely help you doesn’t necessarily make you a BAMF, it just makes you hard headed. And romanticizing this behavior isn’t beneficial to anyone. While it’s true that you can be too passive, the truth of the matter is, too much stubborness, too much Setian fire in your gut is not beneficial for you, either. Ma’at is all about being in balance, which balance is usually struck in the middle between the two extremes. Same goes for this. Too stubborn or too passive will likely render you in the same place: stuck.

Learning how to let go and trust in the process can make a huge difference in the experiences that you undergo. Although it is important to be assertive in many things, don’t forget that being passive has its merits, too. And in some situations, being passive is actually the better choice to make.

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A Good Horse: 6 Months Later

Last year I had asked all of my readers to consider what they would do when a god pushes too far. To consider how they would react if the relationships they had with one or more of their deities suddenly fell apart and exploded all around them. How would they rebuild? How would they proceed with their religious endeavors?

It’s not an easy thing to answer. With something like a house, its very straight forward. You clear away the rubble and you rebuild your foundations. In short, you start from scratch. But with a relationship, especially a relationship with a non-physical entity, its not so clear cut. How do you start from scratch with a god? How to you rebuild the trust that was lost? How do you overcome the anger and hurt that you feel so that you can even look at one another again without scowling?

How do we take a relationship that has gone bad and get it back into neutral territory?

Marseille, statue, cheval, stone horse by Jeanne Menj via Flickr

Last year I got to experience first hand what happens when a long term relationship falls apart. I got to be on the receiving end of a deity that went too far and we both got to experience the results of what happens when I’m pushed to my limits. Last year, I got to experience what it was like to essentially be broken. At the time that it was happening, I knew that there was a reason for it. I knew that I needed to go through this first hand so that I could report back to everyone else and teach them how to do it better than I did. I knew that this was all part of a bigger picture plan that Set was concocting and that his words were both laced with truth and falsity all at once. And above all, I knew that there was no stopping it.

I knelt down on the ground and listened to him tell me that I was good at destroying things. I felt the lump in my throat as he told me that the community wasn’t everything that I needed to be doing. I felt that lump sink to my chest in the fall when Osiris told me that he was the other side to Set’s coin, and that their work for me would be in tandem. And then the lump fell into my stomach when fall shifted to winter and I realized that both of them were right in their own ways.

This is a 6 month check in on how I coped with my falling out with Set. This is also a story on how I have attempted to rebuild the foundations of my relationship with Set and Osiris.

_____________________

After Set and I had our initial blow up, things were incredibly tense. The next few weeks were filled with short and snippy conversations. A few weeks after that, those short conversations shifted into yelling matches. And within a month or so, we were almost not talking at all. By the time that I had released my Good Horse post, we were pretty much not speaking unless we had to. Any time I’d show up to work with Set, he’d stand there and stay silent. He figured that opening his mouth meant that he could insert his foot, and so in his eyes, silence trumped speaking.

Truth be told, this was probably for the best. As soon as Set realized he had done some major damage, he stepped back and gave me space. He got mildly better at not reacting if I yelled at him. Instead he’d stand there quietly and keep his comments to himself. I was given space because more pressure on his end would have only made it worse.

So when a god fails you, I would say that the best first step is some breathing room. You and the deity need some space to get your thoughts together. How long this period needs to be will vary. I didn’t start talking to Set again until after I got back from the Duat. That is about 2 months of yelling and barely talking, and nearly 3 or 4 months of not speaking at all.

About the same time that Set completely backed off from me, I noticed that Wpwt stepped forward. I can’t tell if Wpwt has long term aims for me or not, but I certainly know that his sudden appearance was not coincidental. I joke about how Set must have cornered him in a bar and cried on Wpwt’s shoulder about how badly he had screwed up, and how he then begged Wpwt to do something to fix it, and for all I know the joke is accurate.

Either way, Wpwt came forward and began to talk with me about the situation I found myself in. For the record, Wpwt is much smoother with his words than Set is. He offered me perspective about not only my situation, but the situation that Set was in. He highlighted the difficulties that the whole pantheon faces in this day and age, and he gave me other ways to look at things.

In other words, he initiated the process of my shifting of attitude towards Set. Had Wpwt not talked with me, I don’t know how long it would have taken me to realize these things. Even now, I am grateful for his assistance with the whole situation.

So the second step in repairing a messed up devotee/deity relationship is to gain perspective. This can be through other deities or other practitioners. Wpwt talked to me about how Set’s hands are bound in a lot of ways by the upper echelons of the pantheon. He talked to me about how things are not as smoothly running as we’d like to believe. He knocked some sense into my head so that I could, at the very least, start being in the same room with Set without throwing things at him.

He began the process of healing for the whole situation.

By this point, Osiris had taken center stage and I was preparing to fall into the Duat. Due to the circumstances I was in, I wouldn’t see Set at all until I came out the other side, and by the time the “other side” came, I found that I was angry with both deities, and that I’d need to work on figuring out what to do with both of my relationships.

But why was I so angry? That’s probably the question on everyone’s mind. I’ve been dancing around just what Set asked me last year, and what Osiris told me he had in mind for my future with him because I’ve not been sure how everyone would respond to it. But it’s really hard to follow the whole story without having the actual whole story to go off of.

The long and short of what Set and Osiris have asked of me is this:

Set would like to use my abilities as someone who can kill and destroy over in the Unseen. According to him, he is bound by paperwork and red tape, and that there are some places, realms, and people he can’t get to because of it. I would be someone he would send to a location behind the scenes. I’d go in, handle the person, and leave. The downside to this is that it creates a huge target on your back and can create a lot of problems if you realm-jump regularly. Nothing like landing in a realm only to be thrown in jail because you killed someone important. Plus, it creates a lot of mental stress for me, and I’d be neck deep in death, which I don’t like.

Osiris wants me to heal and work with dead people. He says the Duat needs healing, that the land itself needs repair. And that dead spirits need care too. He would like to see me develop these skills both here and in the Unseen.

Both are interested in my community work, but that’s more Set’s bent.

Both deity’s requests center around my ability to tinker in someone’s core. To heal someone effectively, you need to go to their source, their core. To kill someone totally, you need to destroy their source, their core. Both the life and death aspect of things are tied together through one common skillset. Both Set and Osiris are tied together in this, and they know it.

For them, these tasks are not a “you pick one or the other”. It’s more a case of “you get both of us together and you will deal with it.” These two are tied together through a death, and I think in a grand scheme kind of way, it makes sense.

Well great. I understand their link, but both of these aspects still leave me in situations I don’t want to be in. They both leave me dealing with death on a regular basis.

However, more and more I question my ability to escape some of the aspects that I dislike about my astral life. The notion of somehow falling off of the radar to live a quiet life is unlikely for a variety of reasons. At least if I had a god’s backing, it may give me some political bargaining power in at least a few realms.

After my time in the Duat was done, Osiris sent me home to rest. I didn’t leave my bedroom for probably a month while I waited for my body to heal up. During that time, I had a lot of hours to kill, and I killed them mulling the situation I was in. I weighed the pros and the cons, I concocted ways to get out of things, to circumvent things, to find a way to spin this more in my favor.

I started by leveling with them. I talked with them about what I truly needed to make this work. I asked them to give me answers about specific questions (such as: how are you going to keep me from losing my mind from all of this? How will we handle my stress from all of this? What will you do when my anxiety starts to kill me?). I am currently waiting on their responses to these questions. I began to ask better questions about what they are planning. I began to work on handling my anxiety in the Seen so that I could at least consider their proposals, which I still don’t have in a final format.

All of these emotions and anger and frustration and I’m right where they wanted me to begin with. I’m sitting down at the bargaining table, trying to at least get an in-depth understanding of what they want from me.

And that is where I am at six months later. I am still a little bitter and frustrated at them, but no longer seething with anger or rage. I’m beginning to understand that the Unseen is filled with tricksters and tinkerers, and that the gods are no exception. No one is immune to it. And so I’m trying to figure out how to make this work in my favor because I currently can’t figure out a way to get out of it entirely. It will probably still be another year before I make any decisions, but at least I can gather my information now and move forward slowly.

Although the fact that I am considering their offers really makes me wonder if I was actually broken in as a horse would be. Does this mean that they won? Is that even the correct way to look at it? I’m not sure.

_____________________

I get that this post is long, so I’m going to sum up the short version here:

When a god dicks you over, I consider doing the following:

  • Give each other space. This includes from the deity’s side. Ask them to give you time to process things.
  • Get perspective if you can. Whether from other Unseen entities/gods or from devotees or other people you know. Weigh the perspectives to see what you want to do moving forward.
  • Take things slowly. Don’t let anyone bully you into moving quicker than you are comfortable with.
  • If it appears that the relationship is too far destroyed, look into getting some godly back-up and assistance in severing the connection with that god.
  • If the relationship can be salvaged, I recommend talking it out with the god. Being honest and frank with one another with where you are at. This may take months to accomplish, so take your time. Not everything needs to be addressed in one conversation.

As for my own deity relationships:

I was pissed at Set and Osiris for throwing me into things I question if I can handle. However, recent events have made me seriously consider what they have in the future for me, and I am currently working on a number of things to see if its something I can hack. Our bargaining is on-going, and I wouldn’t expect anything final for a number of months.

 

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The Mysteries: Death Lays You Bare

“Desolate” by Michael Chen via Flickr

One of the first things I learned from this year’s Mysteries is that death lays you bare. And what I mean by that is that death reveals truth- about yourself, and about those around you. I noticed it the first time when I kneeled on the ground in the great hall at the end of the first Prologue. As I looked down at my hands, I noticed that all of my bond symbols were completely out and exposed- something that I almost never do.

But at this point, it was beyond my control- in death, everything was exposed. And I mean everything- there are bond symbols on my person that I don’t even know about or recognize.

And as I worked through my death over the following weeks, I noticed that my bond symbols stayed out more frequently- because death reveals the true nature of things. And in this case, due to the significance that I have with my bonds, death was trying to show me a bit about my nature, and the nature of the family that I have.

O talked to me about this one evening as I lay in the river. We were in the middle of a massive situation on the Other Side, and the situation left me with a lot to think about in terms of death. I asked him how he had felt regarding his own transformation. He had told me that initially he felt like he could handle what was coming his way, but that he soon found himself overwhelmed.

“Death is different for everyone,” he would tell me. “And even if you experience it a hundred times- it will be different a hundred times.” No two transformations are alike. He also noted that you can tell a lot about a person based off of how they behave in death. You have nothing left to gain, nothing left to lose- and so your true nature comes out. Additionally, you can tell a lot about your family and kin around death as well. It can be amazing what secrets and behaviours come out of a death that hits close to home. Some families fall apart during the death of a crucial family member.

Death, much like chaos, is not selective. It treats us all equally, and it reveals us one by one in its own time.

Furthermore, he likened life to a series of patterned energies. When we are all alive (as a unit, a community, or a family- as an example), we all hum and move at the same pace. But when someone is on their deathbed, one person stops- and that energy is transferred to the people around them. We see this in funeral plans, people freaking out, hospital visits, discussion- all the energy has to go somewhere- and so it goes into the people around us.

Death also leaves you incredibly vulnerable.

I’ve seen people give O flack over the years for his passive and largely uninvolved process in his own death. People have criticized that he simply laid there and did nothing for a large duration of his transformation. However, after this year’s Mysteries, I can understand why because I was much the same. There were many days when I couldn’t even sit up in bed, let alone get up and fight the good fight that was going on outside of my door. I was completely and utterly taken in by the process and rendered useless and incapable of doing anything about anything. I was reliant upon my family to keep me safe and to help see me through the process.

And by the time that I and another had been thrown into the Duat as a means of working through the Mysteries- there were days when we would lean against one another- unable to sit up otherwise. Sometimes, we’d start to try and move forward towards our destination and find that we could only traverse a few hundred feet before we had to sit down again.

Death rips you a new one. And when you’re laying on the ground trying to cope with the death that you’ve just lived through- you really don’t care about a lot of things anymore. Your priorities shuffle and your attitude with them.

The first night that I and my friend had landed in Rosetjau (best we can figure), we awoke to find ourselves in the middle of nowhere and coated in scratches, cuts and scrapes. We were a complete mess. We sat on the ground bewildered and shared a cigarette. In that moment, that cigarette was the most beautiful thing in the world, because it offered some sort of solace from the situation we were in. Our past suddenly dissolved because in our state, the past was irrelevant. We’d have to let go of a lot of our crap in order to survive the place that we were in- in the state we found ourselves in. In addition to this, our bonds and links and emotions were spelled out on our hands and faces. Our lips said things we didn’t want them to. Our bodies would expose wounds and hurts that needed to be healed. There was no way to avoid looking at the problems that existed between us because they were written on us plain as day.

And as I progressed through the Duat, I believe I began to understand how it was that O could forgive his brother (in time), and why he is so insistent about letting go of the arbitrary emotional crap that I tend to hold on to.

Because as someone who oversees death, he is in a constant flux of alive and not- and sees the process regularly. He watches and experiences people who die and whose priorities shift and things that we think are huge here are nothing but specs in the grand scheme of things.

Death had exposed everything in front of me and I realized just how much time I had wasted. And how pointless so much of the previous year’s crap had really been. I found myself frustrated with how I had handled things as I and my friend worked through traveling in the Duat. He was different as well.

Death had changed everything.

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The Mysteries: Prologue, Pt 2

Nothing ever truly dies.

That is what repeated in my ears for the week following my initial dive into this years Mysteries preparations. I had just finished reading the chat log from KO’s discussion about Osiris and it would not leave my brain- nothing ever truly dies.

Most astral people I’ve met know this to be a “thing”. It’s a blessing and a curse that stuff is pretty much impossible to kill in the Unseen. It’s a blessing when the person that you love comes back to life a little while later, and its a curse when the asshole down the street just won’t keel over. Even when you think something’s dead, it rarely is. It’s either just in the process of preparing to be reborn, or it’s been reborn somewhere where you can’t see it.

But nothing ever really dies.

via flickr

We even see it here on this plane. Even though your auntie might never re-inhabit her body again, she lives on in the stories we tell of her. She lives on through her children, and items that she owned that we still use. She lives on through her famous casserole recipe that we use at family functions. Even though she is a little harder to see now- she continues to live.

This is also true of ideas and concepts. They say that history repeats itself, and I think that that is another formation of “nothing ever dies” or “things that you wish would die rarely do”. We often fall back into old habits and old ways of thinking because true and total death is nearly impossible.

It is with that notion that O sent me onto the next leg of my pre-Mysteries work.

It took me a while to see where this was going, honestly. I knew the concept well, and many of the astral people I had sent to their deaths earlier in the year had undergone the necessary rebirth processes and found their way back to me in due time. I knew what it meant to watch a core explode in my hands and hoping that this person would eventually find a way to exist in a better state. So it’s not like it was completely uncharted territory for me. But in this situation, his applications for me were a bit more abstract.

His applications dealt more with the ways of thinking that I mentioned above. He was hinting at the intangible thoughts and feelings that exist inside of us and how I would handle those things. You see, feelings have a way of growing and consuming us. My anger and doubt from the previous year’s mess had proven this to be true. What started off as something small- a small seed of discouragement or a moment of doubt- eventually grew into a monster that was fed and fueled by the world around me (including myself). His reminder that nothing ever truly dies was his way of noting that just because I beat this today doesn’t mean I won’t have to beat it down again tomorrow.

Those of you out there who deal with mental “demons” such as depression and anxiety can likely relate to this.

This was also his way of telling me not to slack off on my mental and emotional hygiene. I can no longer ignore these things for weeks and months at a time. It’s not healthy.

Every emotion that we feel, every pain, every loss- it resides within us somewhere. All of the turmoil and strife from this past year will reside within me forever to some extent. Even if I am able to cope with it, accept it and grow from it, it will not change that because things don’t entirely die- some tiny bit of that emotion will live within me forever. And this sentiment exists not only for the bad emotions, but the good emotions as well. In situations where I feel extreme rage or hatred for someone, there is still the opposite love and caring that I felt for them beforehand. Just because the anger burns within me doesn’t mean that the pre-existing love isn’t there as well (even if it is hard to see). It is possible that the stronger the love was before, the stronger the hate and hurt will be after the fact.

I mulled on these concepts for a couple of days and mused on what it was I was looking for over the next month. Yes, I wished to heal my wounds, but what would healing look like? Would I seek to let go of the anger and move back towards love? Would I even be able to go back to my feelings before? Should I go back to the feelings I had before?

I wrote down a list of the people and situations I was trying to heal from over the past year and I decided where my end goal was for each. For some people, I wanted to return to a love I felt before things went south. In other situations, all I could ever hope for was a neutrality of existence. Neutral in the sense that when I see them, or their name or words, I would feel nothing, or at least nothing beyond a sense of “this is that person that I know of.” I continued to work through my emotions and keep track of when I was stable and able to let go of negativity surrounding certain people and situations, and on the days where I found that I was slipping into old thought patterns, I sat down and examined why I was falling back into old mentalities.

Even after the Mysteries officially had begun and I had started on my crack-laden adventure at O’s behest, I’d find that I’d have to sit down and re-examine things regularly. Once again looking at where the emotions are coming from and why I am feeling them. Osiris had given me the tools to better understand my emotions, and I found myself turning back to those tools regularly as I worked through all of the relationships I had experienced during the past year.

He told me right before the Mysteries started that he would strip me down to nothing before this was all over. At the time, I didn’t truly realize what he meant, but I certainly would by the time this whole experience was done.

Mysteries 2013:

 
 

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The Mysteries: Prologue, Pt 1

This year’s Mysteries ended up following a different pattern than normal. I came to Osiris shortly after the beginning of November and told him of my desires to handle my anger and cope with the past year during his month. As I mentioned in this post, the past year has been tumultuous. I’ve lost a lot and I wanted to really come to grips with what has happened, and I felt that O could help me with this best.

He simply stared at me. He did not nod or acknowledge me at all. He was busy keeping my river stable at the time, and didn’t see fit to respond at all.

But he heard me.

Two days later, I found myself dead. It was not a shock to me, really. I had been fighting off something for nearly 3 months now, and even though I had seen the warning signs, I wrote them off as something else or didn’t know how to handle or fight off the disease that corroded my insides. My family watched and tried to combat it, but regardless of our efforts, the result was the same.

I fell into the darkness and upon awaking, I found myself limited to a few places- the river, the lake, and a shared space between my two halves which looks a lot like black nothingness. When I came to at the river, I found myself in various stages of “healing”. I would wake up to find O tinkering with my core, or floating in the water with various cords coming out of me. Sometimes the Left would be there, checking stats and keeping an eye on things. Other times I’d wake up to find the Right whispering to me.

But for the most part, I floated in the water and stared up at the stars.

On this side, I worked on processing the anger that I had developed. Luckily, I learned my lessons from Set well and I didn’t need to spend time with him to even address that I had the anger. I could skip that step and move straight onto figuring out how to morph it into something more positive or useful. As I opened up the box that contained most of my rage, I could hear O asking questions to help me develop a clearer insight as to what was actually going on inside of me.

It started with two questions that would be asked one after the other.

  1. Who are you angry at?
  2. Why are you angry at that person/entity?

And these questions played back and forth until I could narrow down my list. As I examined the reasons behind my anger, I began to understand what was really going on in my head and heart.

Once I got a better hold, I started with the “Who”. I made my list of the people I was actually, truly angry at, and I broke that list down into two brackets- people that I was only slightly perturbed with, and people I was genuinely angry at. I then wrote down why I was angry at each person (or frustrated with each person in the case of the second list) in a short-form, bullet point format. I wanted to keep it simple for my brain to keep track of, and I tried to strip as much emotion out of the reasons as I could. In order to beat this, I would need some objectivity.

I then took these items and examined them individually. I looked for trends that were occurring and I created statements that helped to break my thinking and reinforce new thought patterns. Each statement was written down to make it more permanent. Whenever I felt the old thought pattern creeping back in, I’d pull my statements back out and read them to myself as a reminder of where I was heading.

At the behest of another, I also examined the emotions that I carried and determined which of the emotions were mine and which were placed on me. I took the emotions that were mine and put them into one list. I took emotions that were not mine and placed them into another. Most of the “not mine” list were adjectives and labels placed upon me by people who did not know me or had no right.

And I refused to carry those things any longer.

I examined each label and reflected on why each label had been placed upon me and whether that label was accurate or not, whether I should change my actions to change labels (if applicable), and then created affirmations to remind myself of who I was inside. This step was probably the hardest for me because I place way too much weight on others opinions of myself.

But I will not let others define who I am.

With each step I would write my thoughts and affirmations into a book. And with each stroke of the pen I felt better about my situation. I felt like my anger was becoming more manageable, and while it wasn’t completely gone, I felt like there might be light at the end of the tunnel. It was also at this time that I really began to appreciate the act of writing things down, and noticing how I wrote things down. The act of putting pen to paper made things feel more concrete and more final. I suppose in a way, this was one of the first times that I really began to appreciate some of the nuances of heka.

Once I had cut through the bulk of my larger issues, I found that I was no longer floating in the river, but that I had sunk to the bottom. I lay there and look up through the water to see the sky beyond. It was very quiet and still. I didn’t entirely feel at peace, but I felt like I was on my way to where I needed to be.

When I finally awoke, I found myself in a hall with O sitting in a fancy chair in front of me. He wore clothing that was much more elaborate and formal than normal.His kohl was particularly thick that day, and he was 110% serious business while I was there. It was a complete 180 from normal.

He looked down at me and told me to prepare for where I was going. Though before I could get to where I wanted and needed to be, there would be more work yet to do.

 

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A Sign of Stability: The Djed

djed003

From “Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt” by Rundle Clark

If there is any symbol that has become synonymous with Osiris it is the Djed pillar. The connection between Osiris and the djed became so important that by the New Kingdom, the deity would often be shown as a djed entirely.

From Wilkinson's "Reading Egyptian Art"

From Wilkinson’s “Reading Egyptian Art”

But what is the history of this symbol? What can we learn about Osiris through the djed?

Early Origins

According to Griffiths (pg 41), the djed wasn’t originally tied to Osiris. It was its own symbol before it got sucked into the Osirian cult. It is believed that the djed was originally a bundle of reed stalks or papyrus that had been tied together. The four cross-bars that you see on the pillar are considered to be papyrus flowers that poke out from the various stalks that are tied together. It’s possible that the idea came from archaic housing methods, where the entirety of the house/tent rested upon a central pillar that perhaps was made of reed or papyrus.

Before the onset of the use of the cartouche, djed pillars were often used to frame the name of a king. As stated by Rundle-Clark:

There are several stelae in the Zoser buildings at Sakkarah where the djed and tyet are used together as supports. … The purpose is clear: as with Khasekhemui the djed columns are world pillars, holding up the sky and so guaranteeing the space of air and world in which the king’s authority holds good. It is basic for all royal symbols of antiquity that kingship is universal; it means rule over the whole earth and all that is beneath the vault of the sky. Hence the frame of a king’s name is the delimination of the world. Taken horizontally, this is shown by a coil of rope with the ends tied together- in early times the coil is circular, but later it is spread lengthwise to accommodate longer names. this is the origin of the royal cartouche, the expanded oval in which royal names are written. In the Zoser name the djed and tyet signs delimit the world vertically while the coil of rope does the same thing horizontally. Zoser is master of all that is beneath the sky and to the ends of the earth (pg 237)

Taken from "Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt" by Rundle Clark

Taken from “Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt” by Rundle Clark

Throughout the entirety of the symbol’s history, the djed pillar was used in a variety of settings, and in each of these settings the same message shines through: stability, order, durability.

Taken from Wilkinson's "Reading Egyptian Art"

Taken from Wilkinson’s “Reading Egyptian Art”

The Djed in Later Periods

As the Osirian cult grew, the use of the djed pillar in art and relief grew as well. In the later periods of Egypt, it was customary for the djed pillar to be painted onto the back of the sarcophagus to represent the spinal column and strength and stability of the mummy housed within. According to Rundle-Clark, the potency of the djed pillar is activated when the pillar is erect, or upright. He notes that even though the sarcophagus is ultimately laid flat in the tomb, it is standing upright during the Opening of the Mouth ceremony- the points in time which the Osiris contained within the sarcophagus needs all of the strength they can muster. According to Wilkinson:

New Kingdom coffins frequently have a djed pillar painted on the bottom where the backbone of the deceased would rest, in this way identifying the person with Osiris and acting as a symbolic source of stability. (pg 165)

The djed was also a symbol used with the deity Ptah who was sometimes called the “Noble Djed”. This is likely due to assimilation and syncretism that occurred between Osirs, Sokar and Ptah in the New Kingdom. In some cases, the djed is shown behind Ptah and his shrine to evoke the concept of “all protection, life, stability, dominion and health… are behind him.” It is common to have support shown behind you, as seen in a lot of Egyptian statuary and fundamentally means that you have the backing of said deity or item. Additionally, the djed was featured in one of Ptah’s most prominent symbols- an amulet that consists of the ankh, was sceptre and djed (which I’ve mused over in the past).

Taken from Wilkinson's "Reading Egyptian Art"

Taken from Wilkinson’s “Reading Egyptian Art”

The Djed’s Use in Osirian Cult Practice

One of the primary uses for the djed was during the Osirian Mysteries that occur every year around harvesting time. The Mysteries are a week long event that culminates in the raising of the djed pillar which symbolizes Osiris’ rebirth into the Duat. Rundle-Clark says that the ritual goes even further in certain eras and that the djed pillar would be decorated with a loin-cloth and feathers and was treated like a living god. The raising of the djed symbolized the overcoming of decay and inertness. It is essentially Osiris overcoming the limitations of his death.

The raising of the djed is also featured in the rituals for a deceased king and at the new king’s jubilee festival. Raising the djed in these situations likely represents both the rebirth of the deceased monarch (as Osiris is also reborn) ad the establishment of stability in the cosmos/universe by the new king.

Because of the overlap between the Osirian cult and the use of the djed, I believe that a lot of the symbolism of both bled into the other. The stability of the djed helps to make Osiris more stable and steadfast. The rejuvenation that Osiris is known for bleeds into the symbolism of the pillar, and the bleed through of Ptah’s cult and function makes the pillar a creative force as well.

How can we use the djed in modern Kemeticism?

I think that there are many ways that we can make use of the djed pillar.

First and foremost would be to use the djed as an amulet. This can be in the form of a necklace or pendant, or possibly as a tattoo that is placed on or around the back. We can also use the djed as a reminder to work on stability, or to bring support to our lives.

For those of us who participate in the Mysteries, or work with Osiris, there is an obvious choice of bringing the djed into ritual practices as a means of bringing stability to the god in question.

But I also think that the djed can be a useful symbol for meditating or focusing upon when working on shadow work or inner work. Figuring out what brings you stability in your life can be exceptionally beneficial, especially if you have chronic spoon shortages. If you’re lacking in stability, you can focus on this symbol and reflect upon what you could do to help make yourself more stable. Who knows, even Osiris himself may show up to give a few pointers.

Works Cited:

  • Reading Egyptian Art: Wilkinson (pg 165)
  • Myth and Symbol in AE: Rundle-Clark (pgs 235-238)
  • The Origins of Osiris and His Cult: Griffiths (pg 41)
 
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Posted by on December 18, 2013 in Kemeticism

 

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