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On Making Entities Smaller

Recently there was a post that circulated on my dash that was called “Making the gods smaller?” I didn’t read it and I don’t know anything about what the post entailed, which is why I haven’t linked to it here. It played absolutely no role in this post except that seeing the title got me thinking about what it means to make gods, or other entities, smaller, and how that affects a relationship with them.

Working through all of my crap over on the astral has given me the opportunity to see entities of many scopes and sizes. The variety of what I saw, and how each of these entities interacted with someone such as myself, is largely what skewed my views of what we call “gods,” because I found that many of the entities I encountered were just as big and powerful as our gods, and yet were not called as such. It also taught me that size and power aren’t always directly related, and are usually not static.

The more I mulled on it, the more that I decided that for me, when it comes to an entity’s size, most of us (physical and non-physical entities alike) are All Encompassing, and incredibly small and shallow all at the same time. Allow me to attempt to explain.

I think one of the easiest ways for me to explain this is to use my own experience with myself as an example. As you all know, I am a human stuck on this planet just like the rest of you. However, when I travel in the astral, I can connect with other parts of myself. Some of these parts are very “small” and contained in the same way that my human self is. However, there are times when I will come across parts of myself that are vast and feel very “big” in comparison to who and what I am here on earth.

On the surface, the “bigger” parts of myself may still look very much like the smaller parts. We take up the same amount of space physically, and the representations of choice tend to look more or less the same. So it behooves me to say that on a visual level, you’d never know I was smaller, that she was bigger; though you may guess we are the same in some way or another.

I know that most people seem to look at “making entities smaller” as a sort of bad thing, as though becoming smaller and more human is some awful horrible act. But the truth of the matter is that it does have its place, its benefits. When you talk to the larger form of myself, you’ll note that she behaves differently. She has different priorities and different ideas on how to handle things. In many ways, she’s colder, more calloused, less understanding, and can seem like she doesn’t care about the suffering of anyone or anything. I’ve found that many times “larger” entities are so busy looking at the bigger picture that they forget that the entities they’re sacrificing are living, breathing things with their own autonomy. They’re so busy looking at how everything is going to “come together” that they can become very much the mindset “you have to break eggs to make an omelet.” As though living beings are just pieces on a chess board. A means to an end.

Sometimes those traits are useful. Sometimes you need someone who is capable of seeing the big picture, of not getting caught up on those details. In order for many cycles to complete, you’ve got to sacrifice some things. The same way that none of us would be alive if not for the death of other living things. It makes sense that we sometimes need someone Big to carry out bigger things.

However, those traits aren’t always useful. When I and my partner were first brought into a series of events over on the astral, it seems as though we were both fairly “large” in comparison to humans. However, in order to be able to get out of that situation, we desperately needed to find a way to be smaller. There are certain benefits to understanding life on a physical level. There are certain traits you pick up as you become reduced, as you become more humble. There are certain things you just can’t do when you’re so large.

I believe this can be true for our gods, too. That there is a benefit to being reduced in some capacity. They can learn new skills and traits. They can relate to their devotees in new ways. They can develop a better understanding of our needs, our existence, and incorporate that into their own activities. This can, in turn, effect how things happen on the Duat. They may be better able to relate to the residents of the Duat, to be able to better govern them or help them in their needs.

In many ways, I believe that being able to be both Large and Small at the same time is beneficial. If you’re a fully-connected entity that is tapped into both ends of the spectrum, you can shift your focus from large to small, from big picture to small detail. You can see how to best get from point A to point B (large) while also understanding that minimizing the sacrifice of smaller entities needs to remain a priority (small) — because you’ve been there, you’ve seen it, and you understand that smaller entities matter, too. You make yourself more well-rounded and connected to the world at large.

In a way, a dare say that being able to make yourself smaller makes you bigger — because you can reach things you couldn’t before.

Being made smaller doesn’t mean that you can no longer access your larger self ever again (though its possible to be blocked in your ability to do so.) If anything, it just means you’re able to tap into both, and utilize the skills and knowledge of both.

At least, that’s how I’ve come to understand it.

I think the thing I wish to know most is why is everyone so afraid of coming to meet the smaller parts of the entities we interact with? What is it about being “small” that is so detestable?

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To Sustain Yourself on Hearts

Everywhere around me, I see death.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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The Fight For Yourself

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

Being chronically ill is frustrating.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant Posts:

 

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Carving Out a Space

I had an awful dream last night.

In this dream, I was taken place to place by other people, not exactly following but not exactly leading, but ending up in situations not of my choosing where I always seemed to meet pain. Sometimes this pain was the form of people trying to get me to leave. Other times it was a more literal pain where I was being made to carry something with pins sticking out of it. In every situation, I may initially try to fight back, to draw a boundary out for myself and declare my needs and safety, but every time that declaration was ignored and met with more testing of those very same bounds. While the dreams were largely nonsensical, when I reexamined them upon waking, I found that there was a lot of my own experiences in them. A lot of me wandering around life, being forced to exist in a way I didn’t like, and never finding a way to really claim or enforce what I’ve needed.

When my health tanked, it took my ability to dream with it. I mean that in about every sense of the word “dream” — in that I no longer dreamed while asleep, and I no longer had any dreams while awake. I lost all purpose. I lost all direction. Upon starting EMDR treatment, my dreams returned to me, albeit in a patchy sort of sense. And upon switching over to Brainspotting therapy, my dreams have turned this sort of hectic mess of pieces and parts all taped together in a slightly incoherent fashion. I believe it’s my brain trying to grapple with the situation that I’ve found myself in. I think it’s trying to process while I’m asleep, to find a way to accept what is around us.

Acceptance is a common theme in therapy as of late. My therapist urged me to consider finding a way to use my voice to find some acceptance with my past. I’ve never really liked the word acceptance — it’s often been used as a bludgeoning tool (right up there with ‘forgiveness’) where people are actually less concerned with my acceptance of a given situation, but are more concerned with me being quiet so that they can be comfortable again. They don’t care if I actually accept a given situation, they only care that it appears like I’ve accepted it so that they can move on.

Further, the off-shoot to “acceptance” is usually “letting go.” “We need to find a way for you to be able to let go of your past trauma,” she’d tell me. However, the notion of letting go of something I’ve kept so close to my chest for all these years invoked a panic within me. The idea of losing the only thing that I do have, however painful it might be, was too much. And some portion of myself just couldn’t bear the notion of letting go as being a good thing.

In light of this, we have begun to call it “changing my relationship with” or “coming to terms with” instead. How can I find a way to change my relationship to what I’ve experienced. How can I come to terms with what I’ve been through, and yet still make a path for myself that is more enjoyable and content than where I’ve previously been. There is no pressure to feel things I don’t feel (acceptance) and there is no pressure that I’ll have to endure more loss through “letting go.”

Of course, the next question stirring in my brain was: how can I find a way to enforce those boundaries that I tried so very hard to grapple with in my dreams? How can I find a way to reject the pain that others repeatedly thrust and forced upon me while still maintaining some amount of relationship with them?

My therapist suggested that instead of focusing on the how, I spend more time looking at what it looks like and feels like to be in that space, that space of acceptance and understanding. I thought about that for a couple of weeks and came up with an incomplete list of what I imagine it would be like to be free of my past:

  • I would no longer be bound by fear and anger from my past.
  • If confronted with similar abuse or situations that mirror my past trauma, I would be able to maintain a clear head and stay present in the moment with minimal inner turmoil/upset.
  • I would be able to interact with people who are similar to my abusers and not carry their baggage home with me.
  • I’d be able to define my needs and enforce them. I’d be able to enforce boundaries as needed and leave situations that don’t serve me without guilt.
  • I’d be able to live the life I want, without feeling pressured to be what my abusers wanted me to be.

While I expect this list to grow and become more involved as I get further on this path, it at least gave me an end goal to reach for. It gave me a sort of destination or target to try and hit.

And more importantly, it gave me a mental image of where I want to be, and I’ve been using this mental image when I feel myself becoming worked up by my trauma. I’ve found that when I start to get caught in old trauma-based patterns, I can ask myself “is this where I ultimately want to be? Does this look like what I expect my new relationship with my past to look like?” and if the answer is no, I can try to realign myself to what I am looking for in myself. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but all in all, it seems to be helping.

Ultimately, though, this is leading up to what I am calling “carving a space.”

In an attempt to figure my own situation out, I have been watching other people’s experiences in regards to changing their diets and dealing with depression and chronic pain. A set of videos that has stuck with me are the few that Simona and Martina have released about her chronic pain and her subsequent depression. In her mind, there is a practice that she calls “building a ladder,” which is basically where she wakes up in massive pain, and tries to build herself a ladder out of the pit she woke up in. I could understand what she meant, even if it didn’t quite work for me. But as the weeks have gone on since watching that video, I have found what has begun to work for me — carving a space.

In my dream, I was a passive participant in everything going on. I only chose to speak up or act with initiative upon receiving pain, and with any amount of pushback, I would quickly devolve into sadness and anxiety. I was never good at enforcing what I need in the face of adversity. In many ways, my life has also been this way. I have felt like I’ve had no options, and that I was always stuck to the whims of the world around me. And while it’s true that children often don’t have options, as an adult, I have more choices and more freedom to create a life that I want, not one I was thrust into.

Of course, there are some things that can’t be changed very readily. For instance, I can’t easily move from this location. The idea of being in a place that is near the ocean or green and wet has always appealed to me, but I will likely never be able to do that on a permanent basis. The most I can hope for is to visit such places. Similarly, I am stuck in my body, for better or worse. While the difficulties that come with having this body are challenging and frustrating, at the same time, I need to find a way to work with my body because it’s the only one I have. Or in other words, I understand that I have options, but sometimes my options aren’t feasible or reasonable anytime soon. As such, I need to learn to work with what I have to get what I want.

Carving a space originated (for me) during a session with another person, wherein they were shown an image of their body. Their body was not shaped in a way that made living inside of their body easy. It was the equivalent of trying to fit your foot in a shoe that is 3 sizes too small. The metaphor here was trying to communicate that this person needed to find a way to make their body fit them better — through whatever means was best for them. Whether that meant exercising or taking better care of their body, or decorating it in a way that felt more genuine — they needed to find a way to mold their body to fit their actual shape.

I began to look at my life in the same way. It’s a shape that has been partially formed by others, and is partially beyond my control. However, I am able to work to carve out a me-shaped space in my life that makes life more bearable, more livable. This began with looking for things that made me happy, and partaking in those joys whenever I could. I began drawing again simply because it brought me joy. I began to do things that were only for me, and didn’t necessarily suit anyone but myself.

I have slowly begun to expand this practice to things I don’t necessarily want to do, but know that will ultimately help me do things that I want to do. For example, I want to begin backpacking so that I can go to parts of the state that are greener and have more water. And to be able to do that, I need to work on improving my health and stamina so that I can walk longer and go further. In the meantime, I visit smaller places that have things I enjoy, such as ponds that have ducks and other birds, to keep my brain happy with what is readily available to us in the here and now.

I feel like I have spent the majority of my life building things for others. Working to help others improve their lot and get to better places. For once, though, I am taking the time to improve things for myself. In a sense, it’s a matter of committing myself to the fact that I am alive here in this place, and that this is a life worth investing my time into.

For years, I have pondered on the notion of using the Self, your own body, person and life, as a shrine to devotion that can ultimately serve the gods. In a way, I think this is a part of that. I can’t claim to be a shrine for the gods and not take care of that shrine. I can’t claim to be living to the fullest for their sake if I’m not even willing to invest in myself, in my own life. I can’t expect to serve as a useful shrine, or even devotee, if I’m spending every day miserable, wishing my life was something that it’s not (or wishing that I was dead). Nor can I wait anymore for the currents of life to take me to a destination that is better. Instead, I’m finding it’s easier and more fulfilling to try and get there myself. To carve into the life that I have, and make it more livable and suitable for my needs. In a way, it’s like decorating my house, finally putting some paint on the walls and investing in furniture. It’s reminding myself that life doesn’t always have to be awful, and that I don’t have to always take what is thrust upon me.

I’m not entirely there yet, and I’ve still a long way to go to really truly embracing that on all levels, but I think I’m at least taking the first steps to getting there. And every journey has to start somewhere.

What do you think about carving space into your life to make it more enjoyable? Do you find it hard to invest in yourself or your life? What ways or methods could you use to change that?

**As a post-script, I would like to know if any of my readers would find any benefit in more posts like this that discuss either where I’m at along this journey, or what I’ve learned from therapy that you yourself may find useful in your own life. Or would you rather things stay more Kemetic/pagan driven? Thoughts?

 

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Questioning Your Way to a Solution

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Process

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

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

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

Asking Questions

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

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

Questioning a deity relationship:

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

Questioning your place in a religion:

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

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

I’ve answers some questions… what now?

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

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

 
3 Comments

Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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When One Door Closes…

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

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

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

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

cookies_osiris

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Relevant Posts:

 
8 Comments

Posted by on January 5, 2017 in Kemeticism

 

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The Only Choice

This week has been a long, hard week.

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

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

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

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

fffffffff

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

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

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

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

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

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

building a new boat(source)

 

divinek(source)

nasadii(source)

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

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

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

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

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

Resources for people who are at risk:

Protest Organization and Attendance Resources:

Other posts about this topic from other Pagans/Polytheists:

 

 
6 Comments

Posted by on November 11, 2016 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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