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Loss

For years I couldn’t shake the feeling that once upon a time, a very very long time ago, I was a part of something that had fallen apart. I knew in my mind that things went south in a bad way, and I knew that I needed to find a way to fix it no matter what the cost. It took years for me to tease out some of the details of what might be pulling at my heart strings even from a young age. And even now, I am still trying to figure these pieces out so that I can put them in their proper places so that the group of people I am with can finally move forward and no longer be held in an eternal holding pattern.

The years before I figured out what exactly had gone so wrong, I always had this person in my mind that always gave me an overwhelming sense of loss. I couldn’t place who it was for many years, but once I did, it was like everything became hyper-focused. I was acutely aware of this person, and even more so, acutely aware of the pain and hole that they had left behind. This person was dead at the time that I learned of them, and I never expected to see them again. Each downfall has casualties. This was mine to bear.

I kept vigil for him for years. I didn’t really know what else to do, other than to keep the memory alive within me. I allowed the pain to fuel my actions, to push me to keep moving forward. It’s possible that you could say that the loss drove me to keep trying to fix what had gone awry. I had this person that I had loved that I needed to fix things for. Even if he wasn’t around to enjoy the end results, I was moved to right the wrongs that he (and others) had suffered all those years ago.

I spent so many years fixated on him that it really took me off guard when K-Pop showed up less than a month after I broke out and said we had been a “thing” several times over. I had spent all of this time keeping a light for this other person that I never even took a moment to consider if I had ever had other people in my previous lifetimes beyond him. It’s weird to say that, though, given that I had never really met the man that I was so attached to. In a way, I guess you could compare it to being consumed by a ghost or a memory, and I had been swallowed entirely.

As I began to move forward and explore the past so that I could figure out the future, I began to see wisps of him everywhere. There were times when he almost felt alive again. There were moments when it felt like we had found a tiny little bubble of the past, and we could sit in it for a while and pretend that things were okay still. But always, that bubble would disappear, and I would be left with the gaping hole that I was in before. I’ve said many times that death is not straight forward on the astral. Things rarely die permanently, and even when someone is confirmed dead, there are still ways that you can see them and reach out to them, albeit briefly. Much like dreaming of someone who is now gone from this world, you can find small pockets of reprieve from the reality of the situation. But much like that dream, once the reprieve is over, the pain is often so much greater for having cheated the system.

I tracked down every thread I could regarding this man. I hunted down pieces and stories and lies trying to find him. For a glimmer of a moment, it looked like I might have managed to reset enough pieces that they could converge to rebirth him. Both I and my partner were both nervously hopeful that maybe we had found a loophole that would allow us to fix this story once and for all.

And for a while we did. He was around and in my life, but you could tell that his smile was a thin veneer. You could tell that everyone in the house knew that the inevitable was coming. We all knew it, but never wanted to say it.

The truth of the matter is that you can’t always fix things. Sometimes you can fix them, but not for another 83856 years. The timing of things can not be overstated enough.

What’s worse is that the timing was right. It was right for bringing him back so that we could send him off again. There are many reasons for this, but I won’t go into them here. Just know that sometimes pain is the point. Sometimes you only need a spark to cause everything to set on fire. Sometimes short stints are the point, as is the pain that follows. And I can’t ever forget with him that the ends have always justified the means.

We struggled to keep him around, to battle whatever illness had befallen him. To this day I can’t ascertain if he was sick from the beginning, or if something happened somewhere along the way. He was never very upfront with me about what was going on behind that thin veneer he had, and for all I know, he showed up knowing that it would be very short-lived and he neglected to tell me for reasons. I worked as hard as I could to fix everything, to do right by the person I had waited for for so many years, but it was for naught. It was in late winter when he finally fell and light filled the sky. I thought that maybe it was over then, that I could put the wounds to rest, but I was wrong.

Entities can die several deaths in the Unseen that culminates in one final “real” death (or to use the “reset” metaphor above, you have numerous soft resets that culminate in a hard reset). In many ways, it’s like a series of false starts, except these are more like false endings. After I was told that our attempts were not working, and that we’d have to send him off, I was sad, but I understood why it needed to be done, and I accepted it for what it was. It hurt, but for some reason it was something that was painless enough that I could ignore it most of the time. However, I soon found myself being haunted by his memory. There were many times when I’d go Over There and find myself with parts of him. I had visions of the past, flickers of memories that careened across my vision. There were dreams and songs. Things that popped up on the internet. For someone who was supposedly dead, his memory antagonized me way more after his “death” than at any other point in time in my life.

There is a lot to be learned about death and loss in the Unseen. It’s not nearly as straightforward as human loss, and sometimes that is a blessing and sometimes that is a curse. In the Seen, when someone dies, that’s it. You can’t magic them back to life. You can’t go back in time to stop them from dieing. Once they are gone, they are gone. And the only thing you’ll ever have left is their memory and their stuff. This is good in that it allows for closure. You know what has happened, and there is no denying that. The person is gone and they are never going to come back.

The Unseen is less straightforward. You can lose someone, and then they come back later. It’s not uncommon for people to die and then return weeks or months later as though they never left. You can pull strings and work magix and bend time to change things. There is always this hope that people may return somehow, or that you’ll manage to find the one magic method to bring them back to you. This is good in that you can sometimes bring people back permanently- I have done this a few times with some success. But the downside to this is that you never really get closure. You are always looking over your shoulder and giving yourself a false sense of hope that somehow you’ll figure it out, even if the logical part of your brain knows you’re in denial about a situation.

Even though I knew that the writing was on the wall yet again, I still wondered if maybe I could find a way out of this. The memories plagued me for months, and I felt like I was always going to be haunted by this person. Who knows, maybe I wanted to be haunted, maybe he stuck around because I couldn’t let go. Maybe he couldn’t let go. Maybe we were both to blame. What’s worse is that I had another menz who was supposed to be helping me fix this situation, and he was not fairing well in the process. I began to worry that he’d be taken out, too.

But one evening I was sitting at home working, and suddenly the man that I had been honoring for all of these years showed up. But I knew that this time was different. He was completely aware and “with it” that night in a way that I hadn’t seen in months. I’ve heard stories of people who spend days or weeks in comas or slightly deluded states, only to wake up and be completely cognizant and aware right before they die. This was a moment like that.

He came to me and told me the inevitable. The thing that I knew had been coming from day one. The truth that has always been true between us. The fate that we have been working to unravel so that we no longer have to bear it. He came and told me what everyone in my house already knew to be fact.

The thing is, the fact that you know what is coming doesn’t make it hurt any less. There is a relief in knowing that the end has finally come (inasmuch as any real “ending” happens in the Unseen), but let me assure you that that doesn’t make the end any less difficult.

I’ve found that coping with death in the Unseen is very different from handling the death of a physical person. With a physical person, I always found that it was much easier to really recognize that someone or something is gone. You no longer see the person/animal/entity anymore. There is a very visible hole where that person used to be, and it’s so much plainer to you that someone is gone.

When an Unseen entity dies, it feels so much more abstract to me. There is this deadening, this emptiness, but you can’t really place where. Visually, nothing is different. Your house is as it always was. No one around you in the physical is mourning. No one recognizes that anything is amiss, and I personally always feel guilty for mourning someone from the Unseen in the physical. It’s one of those huge downsides to being close to anyone in the Unseen- if they die, no one knows. And if you tell people “I am sad because my non-physical friend died yesterday”, people will think you’re weird or possibly need to see a mental health professional. In many ways, I feel like mourning a non-physical entity is a lot like mourning a character from a story. That person may have had an impact on you, and so their death has left an impact on you. But the world doesn’t stop for it, and if you talk about it, people get uncomfortable really quickly.

In many ways it’s a lot less visceral and due to the lack of surrounding visible cues, you’ll probably feel kind of stupid for feeling sad. In many ways, it’s like this general malaise hangs over you, and you can’t place it’s origin and you can’t figure out how to fix it. You know something is missing and something isn’t right, but hell if you can pinpoint exactly where or what it is, let alone what to do with it.

Death is not beautiful. It’s messy and painful and generally leaves things in a state of disorder. Loss is painful, whether it’s on the physical plane or the non-physical plane. And it is equally messy as you try and figure out what to do with yourself now that there is a gaping hole in your existence. I have no beautiful succinct ending for this post. I have no final paragraph to sum up all of the learning points (hahaha what learning points). I have nothing to show except 2100 words about someone that none of you ever knew, and a mess on my metaphorical floor.

This is what it’s like when you look behind the curtain at TTR. This is what it’s like to live the dream.

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The Mysteries: Closure

osiris_bracelets

Because I was doing a different type of Mysteries observance this year, I decided that I wanted to keep something on my person to remind me of what was going on. Normally, I am struck by the heaviness of the Mysteries because I have my Osiris statues all closed up and sealed away. Instead, I get to stare at a grumpy Set statue that side-eyes me because I kicked him out of his home because of his brother. However, this year I didn’t close up my shrine or do anything with my Osiris statues- so I decided to wear bracelets instead. I had originally thought of making only one bracelet, or leaving the second bracelet on Osiris’ statue. However, I had enough fabric to make two of them, and I ended up giving the second bracelet to the man who came with me to that Duat. I wore both of them out here because I wanted to remember that this trip wasn’t only about me.

The bracelets were on my wrists for every single moment of the Mysteries, with the exception of showers. I chose the colors based off of the Opening of the Mouth ceremony, and I got the idea of wearing bracelets from Bezen. I really liked the idea of keeping my observances with me 24/7, and I felt that the bracelets would be good for this- they wouldn’t totally stand out to people I interacted with, but they would be a constant reminder of my work. I also liked the symbolism of the braiding methods- bringing separate strands together to make something new and better.

However, I ended up really hating these bracelets by the time the Mysteries came to an end. They kept getting in my way and I seriously had to modify just about everything I did to compensate for the long tails that came off of each bracelet. They certainly did their job for reminding me that the Mysteries were going on. In a way, they sort of sum up the entire Mysteries experience that I had. I wanted to do the thing, and then the thing kinda sucked, but in the end, I’m still glad I did it.

When I returned from the Duat and I was given the okay to remove the bracelets from my person, I left them in my shrine box on top of O’s statue. I stared at them regularly, trying to figure out what to do with them. I knew I wanted to do something- I needed some kind of closure for this whole thing. But burning them didn’t seem fair, that was too close to an execration, and that wasn’t what this needed. Ultimately, it was suggested that I bury them. A funeral, in a way, for the bracelets that endured the hell of the Duat with me.

My original goal was to have these bracelets buried the week after I got back from the Duat, but that failed. My schedule kept changing on me, and I couldn’t find the time to make it out to my old stomping grounds where I was to bury them. It wouldn’t be until the Full Moon hit in February that I would be able to make it out to the desert to get everything done. In between Jan 3 and February 14 I ran through tons of ideas and scenarios for these bracelets. Initially, I think I wanted to let the process be cathartic. I expected it to be like a real funeral, and I’d cry and get upset and just let it all out. Then, as I pushed into the end of January, I expected that the whole affair would be very solemn, and that maybe I’d finally feel some closure.

I don’t know why I always expect more grandiose things for my rites. I should know better by now.

I was shown where to bury these bracelets weeks ago. I don’t know if I chose the place on a subconscious level, or if it was the gods or land spirits that showed it to me- but I knew exactly where to go. I found my location and grabbed a rock to help dig the hole. I placed the bracelets and a couple of other small items into the hole.

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I stared at the hole briefly. I don’t know what I was waiting for, maybe tears, or words or something. Something to mark this as some type of important ceremony, but nothing ever came. In fact, the only thing that came to my mind was “I should have brought water to pour over everything”. Too little too late, there was no water to be had, so I went without.

I placed the sand back over the bracelets, and included the small plant that had been uprooted in the process and called it a day.

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Above all, I think that by the time I had gotten to burying the bracelets in the ground, I no longer needed the closure. I understood why the process panned out as it had, and I had figured out my place and my friend’s place in all of this. I had gone through the motions in my mind and on the astral, and so a physical representation was no longer needed. At this point, the ceremony became nothing more than a nicety- something you do out of a necessity or politeness more than anything. I think I still would have felt bad if I hadn’t have gone through the trouble to trek out into the desert, though. I would not want those bracelets to be thrown into the garbage, and so burying them provides me some mental peace as to where they ended up.

But all in all, I think I had reached my closure two weeks ago when everything finally fell into place. And there is nothing as peaceful as having closure.

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The Mysteries: The Process, Pt2

If you have not read part 1 of this post, I recommend reading it before you continue forward. Otherwise, this will make no sense.

So when we last left off, I and my partner in crime had been down in the Duat for two weeks traversing through the sand. We had finally gained entrance to a subterranean location where we hoped that the answers for everything would lie. After trekking down into what appeared to be a tomb, we had managed to convince the door guard to let us through to where we believed our destination would be.

And when the door opened, what did we find?

We found an empty room.

Okay, not quite an empty room- it was a room with a small rectangular pool in the middle of it. The place seemed familiar to me, but I have no clue where from. Left with no other choice, I sank into the water to see where it would lead while he stood guard on the surface. There, I was met by O who told me that this is where the “real work” would begin.

The Healing Process

So this is where it all comes together, right? This is where I tell you that I was given the tools needed to finally put into motion all of the stuff Osiris had taught me the few months prior. This is where I talk about the healing practices he had taught me. Where I mention that he told me that these methods would work better than the stuff I had been using before. That these methods would be easier on me and I wouldn’t feel like death after doing them. This is where I talk about how I had everything I needed to do this- I had a pool of water, which would act as a portal and a vehicle for healing. I had the knives that I needed to penetrate the problems at hand, and I had a man who was willing to let me inside so that this could all be done.

This is where everything comes together and simultaneously falls apart.

We’d dive into the water, we’d go through the motions of inceptioning into him, into his problems, into his past. He’d take me to see things that were bugging him. He’d show me areas of his core that needed healing. It was all working pretty well- except for the fact that it was an emotional roller coaster that kept knocking us on our asses. Slowly his demeanor would change. He became calmer and more relaxed. He was less prone to fits and crying. It seemed like things were working.

One night we went into the water and found that it was not water, but a huge vat of hot firey who knows what. It reminded me of a furnace, or perhaps the surface of the sun. We moved as quickly as we could to try and get out of the searing heat. We cut through into the darkness beyond. Except this darkness bit back. We were ripped from one another and thrown into who knows where. The blackness reminded me of sticky tar, and I’m pretty sure that it was the Nun.

I tried to navigate this place while some unseen male prattled away at me from beyond. However, I made a misstep and fell flat on my face.

Don’t fall flat on your face in the Nun. You will not be able to get up. You will not be able to breathe. Do not recommend (if you do fall down, or can’t breathe, I recommend putting a ma’at feather on your astral/Unseen person).

I was asked all sorts of random stuff. If it was Nun who was there, he likes to talk a lot. About all sorts of stuff. And he likes to ask the most obscure questions. I felt myself being ripped apart and put back together. The image of atoms and cells and the like came to mind. It was very fast and not nearly as painful as some of the other changes that I had experienced- but laying in the tar like a moron was certainly not my idea of fun.

I eventually was spat back out of the pool and into the room. When I awoke, I was by myself. Surely this was what we had come down here for, right? Being ripped apart and put back together. Surely my partner would surface soon and we’d be able to leave this room and trek back up to the surface or something.

One of those things happened- he did eventually surface out of the water. However, the door did not open. We were both still stuck in the room trying to figure out what to do. Left without any options, we jumped back into the pool to see what would happen.

What happened is what happens when you heal someone, apparently.

We moved inside of him and he led me to some of the deeper portions of himself. We did a series of things that seemed to make him at peace. So at peace that he disappeared.

Entirely.

Gone. Poof. Bye-bye.

I surfaced from the pool, angry and confused by what had just happened. It was a total conflict of what he had said he had wanted (to stay) and what had happened (he moved on). I stood up in the pool to find the Right standing in the doorway. It had been over a month since I had seen him, and our reunion was bittersweet considering the circumstances.

He grabbed me and we jumped right back into the pool. The doors of the water opened up for us and we moved to a large temple-like building. We moved through a series of halls and rooms all while assistants and people tried to primp and clean me. However, I was too pissy to be messed with and all of their clothing and jewelry were shed off of my person by the time I reached the double doors to go see Osiris and Set.

I moved forward into the hall and stood before them. While my physical body had been healed by the past few weeks of work, my mind was reeling and I felt like I had regressed in my progress from the month prior. Deep within me, I hoped and pleaded that I would receive some semblance of answers from them.

But I didn’t.

My astral life had blown up while I was busy dragging this man through the Duat. I had other tasks that needed to be handled right away- which also had ties to the person I had just helped. They would not give me answers until all of the threads had been un-knotted. They would not tell me anything until the timing was better.

At this point in my adventure, I had been in the Duat for about 3 weeks, and when Set and Osiris sent me onto the “last leg” of this, I thought that I had one week left to get this done. But it turns out that I would continue chasing things for the next month. The month that followed was a blur. It involved other healing work with other parts of this man and myself that were trapped elsewhere. Multiple deaths on both of our ends and huge implosions and explosions of all kinds.

It all ended up culminating in returning back to the beginning as it were. And when I say the beginning, I’m talking about this beginning that I chronicled in my Cycle series last year. I found myself face to face with the Taint- the sticky black stuff that had originally eaten the core out of me.

My relationship with the Taint had grown since I had first fallen into the astral back in 2005. I no longer feared the stuff and it now flows through my veins. Taint is as much a part of me as my own skin and bones.

From Taint we were born, and into Taint we would descend. And through Taint we would both meet our end.

And that is it. Literally. That’s where the story of the Mysteries ends- three weeks longer than anticipated and not in any way that it was supposed to happen. The man that I was trying to heal was healed to a point that most of him was okay with moving on. The parts of him that weren’t okay with moving on were ultimately absorbed by myself through the Taint, and I lost a friend and a mentor and parts of myself in the process.

The idea that trips to the Duat are only to heal you and fix you are fairy tales as far as I’m concerned. The Duat consumes you and doesn’t give anything back. The Duat and death does not pull any punches. That would be my take away lesson.

Flowers in the Snow via flickr

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