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Each of Us, Kings: A Paradigm Shift

Ever since I came back to things, I’ve found myself thinking about kingship a lot and what it means for our community and our religion. I think there are several reasons behind this, not the least of which is a seemingly new trend that I’ve noticed, where people will literally find any means to get out of having to critically examine their ideas about ma’at, which includes the common practice of writing off kingship.

To be fair, I more or less admitted a few years back that I involved the king in virtually no capacity in my religious practice, but at the same time, I’m not running around assuming that because a directive of ma’at was aimed at the king, that its somehow not relevant to how ma’at pertains to me or others like me. And I think between this influx, my astral BS, and my direct workings with O this year, kingship and all that it entails has been on my mind.

The Prevalence of a Nisut in AE

It never fails that virtually every single book on ancient Egypt has some amount of information about the king or pharaoh in it, and for good reason — nearly every single bit of relief that we find in temples, and so much of what we even have left to find in the sand to begin with, was inevitably tied back to the office of the king in some capacity or another.

According to most of these books, the king was largely regarded as the primary priest that was supposed to perform the daily rites to the gods to maintain ma’at. But because the king can’t be everywhere all at once, he delegates those responsibilities to the priesthood spread throughout the country. The “Good Shepard” that he is supposed to be, the king was meant to direct the entire “flock” that was Egypt, both in terms of international relationships as well as keeping the gods happy. Because of his stewardship, the land of Egypt would flourish, and the gods would smile down upon everyone.

Or something like that.

Given that the king is the Biggest, Most Important Priest and is supposed to be the main person who knows what the gods want and expect, I feel it could be argued that the king is quite central to the State side of the religious structure of ancient Egypt. Of course, this is really only important if you’re a priest and worried about your practice mirroring what went on in temples, but given that modern practitioners are stuck using mostly state-sponsored materials to recreate their practices, it might be said that the king is actually more central to our modern religious recreations than it appears at first glance. I say this because we have very little left to work with from individual “everyday” practitioners, and most of the information we do have is from temple relief or funerary texts. All of which feature the king heavily.

It’s because of this overt positioning of the king at the center of everything that I honestly feel that we Kemetics do ourselves a disservice by ignoring what Kemeticism meant for the king. We almost never see anything about ethics, morals, or preferred behaviors and practices for anyone except for the king. Even in Sauneron’s book on priesthood, he mentions several times that priests were not held to any known ethical standard beyond what was required to perform the job (aka ritual purity.)

And yet, if we’re trying to figure out how to live in ma’at, who better to reference than the very person who was responsible for maintaining it for the entire nation?

Why a Paradigm Shift?

Study of ancient Egyptian myths and themes may be complicated by their focus on kingship (Diakonoff 1995, 124; Spalinger 2007). Rather than just a distortion, the prominence of kingship can also be read as a story of reception (or democratization), with the gradual adoption across the society of certain models first developed for kingship.

Yet Diakonoff raises the question, whether it is possible for us to see an ancient Egypt outside kingship. Writings tend, then, to obscure any parts of ancient Egypt prior to or, more neutrally, outside kingship.

One of the primary reasons that I feel a paradigm shift is in order is because of the fact that most of what we’re working with focuses on the king and his relationship to not only the gods, but with ma’at in general. I feel that if we were able to develop a better way of interpreting and applying the aspects of kingship that are brought up and referenced time and time again in relief and writing, it would help us to obtain a deeper understanding and usefulness from the materials we’ve got to work with.

I think what’s even more important than giving us a better ability to utilize the materials at our disposal, is that by viewing ourselves as being kings of our own selves, we begin to have a litmus of how to better hold ourselves more responsible to the ethical system we claim to participate in. When ma’at is left as some sort of vague, nebulous “well just do ‘right'” or “doing what is right” it becomes really hard to concretely determine what actually constitutes as “right.”

You can see it in several circles where people will almost purposefully find a way to make it so that no one can be held accountable based off of anything objective. So many interactions where people bring up that something isn’t within ma’at, people will almost do backflips to try and find a way to prove that their behaviour is actually in ma’at. Because “we’re not kings” or “we don’t have anything concrete to base this on.” As they say in business management: you can’t manage what you can’t measure.

Shifting the Paradigm

In my mind, I feel that this new paradigm would have each of us viewing each other as being a king or participating in the office that is kingship. A couple of posts ago, I talked about how everyone is their own self-contained pattern or system, and how that system has edges: 

For instance, as a person, I am made up of cells, each of which contains several patterns or similarities. I am self-contained, and yet I exist inside of an even larger pattern — a desert. And that desert is made up of its own components, each made up of their own patterns, and all of these entities is constantly interacting with the other entities and patterns around them. To take it a step further, this desert sits inside of a country, which is in many respects its own pattern that interacts with other counties (aka other patterns.)

You notice at the end of this statement, I mention that countries are their own pattern/system, and by extension, that basically means that they are essentially the same as a person in that they are both a semi-self-sufficient pattern/system. The only real difference is that a country is more complex and larger in nature than a person. We are all made up of systems that are stacked and nested inside of one another.

And in the same way that countries need leaders (or kings, for the sake of argument), I think its fair to say that each of us needs to be a leader to ourselves. No one will be with us forever, except for ourselves. And as I’ve mentioned several times over the past year, it’s imperative that we all choose to actively participate in our own lives.

In the way that a leader is supposed to foster growth, improvement, and a healthy environment for people — whether that’s a country or a company, we should all strive to improve ourselves and our lives. If we take it as seriously as the Nisut in antiquity was supposed to, wouldn’t we all end up in better places? Doesn’t it make sense to cultivate those very values in ourselves, especially since ma’at is supposed to be at the core of this religion?

In closing, I would like to post a portion of another post that I rediscovered when flipping through KRT responses. Turns out that this idea isn’t a new one:

And so the call to Kingship is for everyone; we are each to be as much a king as we can be. It is the call to fulfilling your potential. Expanding your own boundaries and ensuring that others respect them. Ambition is as much a part of kingship as altruism. Being a learned person and citizen is as well. Giving back to your community, whether by helping a sick family member, working hard at a career, helping a lost stranger, working on a campaign, or organizing a coat drive, are all ways we can embody kingship, but so is growing your assets, mastering your talents, and making sure you c.y.a. Traditionally, lusting after expertise, discipline, and wisdom are traits of good leaders. Ethics and morality, faith and values should be central as well.  Determination is also key, as is a sense of vision.

The call to kingship is similar for us. We have a call, despite our shortcomings, to improve ourselves and our world. To bloom our potential. For some, the call may be more communal than for others. Everyone is different, but we can all be a king.

What do you think of viewing yourself as the king of your own life? Does this change your perspective about how you view yourself, your religion, or your life?

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Posted by on November 14, 2018 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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Edge Effect

As I’ve been learning about permaculture, I have found that many of the concepts presented often line up with aspects of Kemeticism. There is one section that discusses the idea of “patterns,” which is a sort of self-contained entity that often exists inside of another system that is often its own kind of pattern. And because of the nature of these patterns, you can often see similarities that unite many patterns in unique ways.

For instance, as a person, I am made up of cells, each of which contains several patterns or similarities. I am self-contained, and yet I exist inside of an even larger pattern — a desert. And that desert is made up of its own components, each made up of their own patterns, and all of these entities is constantly interacting with the other entities and patterns around them. To take it a step further, this desert sits inside of a country, which is in many respects its own pattern that interacts with other counties (aka other patterns.)

The author then goes on to discuss how the boundary between patterns and systems is an area where events love to occur, simply by the fact that two separate “things” are being forced to interact together. This creates a space that is nothing but an overlap between two systems, and yet is a system unto itself. As described in the book: “Special physical, social, or chemical conditions exist on the boundary, because of the reaction between the adjacent media. As all boundary conditions have some fuzzy depth, they constitute a third media, the media of the boundary zone itself.” Because of this, boundaries are considered to be species-rich and usually have more resources available. Put another way, it’s a liminal space.

For example, where a forest meets a pond, there is a border where you’ve got both land and water. Because both ecosystems are represented in this singular area, you’re going to have a more complex system that combines both. “At interfaces, species of both systems can exist, and in many cases the boundary also supports its own species.” He calls this concept the Edge Effect.

Due to how special boundaries are and how beneficial they can be to an ecosystem, the author instructs the designer to create as many boundaries as possible. This way, you are increasing the amount of diversity and resources available. And while this was originally created for a natural/outdoor space, I personally think that it can apply to our own lives in many ways.

I’m sure to some extent, many of you are scratching your head (as I certainly am on my medicated reread of this post) as to what boundary interaction has to do with anything beyond agriculture. What I’m trying to suggest is the idea that if you consider the personal boundary that is your self, and if you make your boundary interact with lots of other boundaries, you might see an increase of resources or benefits within your life.

Put another way that is specific to my genre: I question that if you are struggling with interacting with the Unseen or its inhabitants (which live on the other side of a very thick boundary) that by going out and either increasing the amount of times you attempt to interact with the Unseen or their structures (aka, religious materials, rites, rituals, etc.) or by going out and having new experiences in general, that you might have an uptick in ability to interact with the Unseen.

First of all, I’d like to say that this concept isn’t new or original by any means. Therapists suggest it to depressed people. Life coaches suggest it to CEOs and creative types. If any of you watch Steven Universe, you might even recognize this concept already:

 

Though from a permaculture standpoint, it’s less about being random, and more about increased frequency of interaction.

This increased interaction can happen any number of ways, mind you. You could attempt to increase the amount of times you try to interact with the gods or the Unseen, and see if that helps you to get a better feel for them or have more interactions with them. It stands to reason that by doing more of a thing, you’re going to increase your chances of success at it, and rites and rituals are no different. Several authors have talked about the idea that by doing rituals in the same way over and over again — whether it be years or generations, that it helps to build up a sort of “Unseen Highway” that you can tap into and touch some deeper meaning or energy from those who came before. And while I can’t say that I’ve ever somehow stumbled upon some sort of arcane, unknown knowledge by doing rituals, it doesn’t change the fact that by doing, you’re genuinely increasing the likelihood that you’re going to have an interaction with those you are dedicating your time to.

But I would also like to posit the idea that increasing your interactions with other experiences in general could also help in this matter — even if the experiences aren’t directly related to your religious practice.

The main reason behind why is the simple fact that experiencing new things changes our brains. Simply by actively engaging with something, you are causing your brain to change, and those changes can lead to new and unexpected places. This is partially why its not unheard of for therapists to recommend those with mental illness get out and do something — because it’s going to force you and your “boundary” to interact wit others and their “boundaries” and those interactions can improve mental health, even if you’re not entirely thrilled to be doing stuff.

I think that this is also why so many of us recommend reading books or doing things that make you think about the gods/religion during fallow periods — because it allows your brain to learn new things, and make new connections. And that can not only refuel our desire for practice, but it can also lead to an increase in participation or interactions within a practice.

Have you ever considered making “outings” a part of your religious practice? Have you ever noticed an improvement in mood or creativity after a break from daily pattern? If you could use this method, what sorts of experiences would you want to explore or try?

 

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Aimless

This post was originally a part of last week’s post, but because of length, I decided to break the post into two with last week focusing more on my mundane life, and this week focusing more on re-entering Kemeticism. If this post seems somewhat repetitive, that is why.

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One of the most interesting and oh-so-fun side effects of my health degrading is my complete and utter lack of memory. I honestly can’t remember most of 2015, 2016… and to some extent, 2017. When I went to start writing posts in August, I realized that I had forgotten that I had posted in April. A lot of what I used to know about Kemeticism still rattles in my head, but I don’t really have access to it anymore.

Because of this side effect, all I could really remember thinking about Kemeticism since my health tanked in 2016 was lukewarm “eh” ness. I mean, when I moved, my shrine sat on a shelf for weeks and collected dust with its doors taped shut while I lukewarmly looked for a place to put it. I couldn’t care less about the gods or the community, and for all I could remember, this had been the case since my “A Good Horse” era.

But recently I found a planner from 2016 that I stored all of my little tidbits in. As it turns out, early 2016 me was very much still jonesing for Kemeticism. I have pages of notes for my book. Pages of notes for how I wanted to release it. Topics that I wanted to write about on WP. Tagging phrases I wanted to use over on tumblr to make resources more searchable. Initiation tidbits that O had pinged for me while I was still able to read (another fun side effect — I can’t read or write very well anymore.)

But between the gap of what was and what is, I lost something. I lost a lot of somethings. And part of that was my original love affair for the NTRW. I don’t know when it happened exactly, but I’m pretty sure it started in the fall of 2016, when I was told through a third party that I should step back on all fronts related to Kemeticism, for my own health, and co-signed it with Set’s name. Regardless of what I wanted or what I felt was the proper handling of such a situation, the writing was pretty apparent on the wall, and it said to gtfo.

I had to be dragged and kicked away from my work. Within a month or two of fully walking away, you couldn’t drag me back to it. I began to find absolute liberty and freedom in being able to see that drama was occurring, and not feel obligated to do anything about it. It was amazing to not have to deal with writing schedules, constantly checking social media platforms, having to field drama or requests to handle drama, etc. I loved being able to just… exist without worrying about this religious community.

But even as I drifted away from Kemeticism, I found that I was often still going back to it. As I began to study permaculture and learn more about the processes that occur in nature, I found myself comparing them to ma’at, to the NTRW, to Kemeticism. Even if I never wanted to see Kemeticism ever again, I couldn’t seem to break free of it, either. It was built so heavily into my worldview that I had nothing else to put in its place to compare new concepts to.

As I began to play with the idea of writing again, I found myself mulling more and more about how I actually felt under the surface about my religion. I knew that I still liked the religion itself, but that my strongest emotions were towards the gods and the community specifically. In many ways, I was content to keep ma’at and pitch the rest–other Kemetics included.

So when grandma died and everything was thrown onto the floor, I really had to figure out why I should even bother to come back to writing at all. Because of the need to be present and offline while handling all of the aspects of cleaning her house, moving in, caring for grandpa, etc. I really got the chance to 100% forget and remove myself from the trappings that used to be my daily life. My shrine was packed away. All of my books were out of sight, and I went months without checking WP and days without checking Tumblr. I completely and totally fell of the map.

And I liked it.

I’m sure this is leading a few of you to ask yourself “well why are you even here, then, if you liked it so much?” And my answer to you is

 

To some extent I can’t justify entirely walking away from what I’ve helped to build, but on the other hand, I’m not as committed to the sparkle motion as I used to be. Or at least, I’m not as committed to the sparkle motion that the gods seemed to want for this community. Part of why I am here is also spite — spite at the gods for their treatment of myself and others, spite at the people who wish I’d just disappear.

So far, the only thing I can really say with any certainty is that becoming more active on discord is probably the main reason I decided it was worth coming back. Being able to talk with other people was what really sold me on doing this work many years ago, and to some extent, its what’s bringing me back now (and frankly, I’m not the only one.) Time and time again, love it or hate it, its those pesky human interactions that seem to bring a lot of us back.

That and spite.

The more I get to interact with people again, the more I remember that it used to be this way before I lost a lot of my friends, and before I became too ill to really bother with talking to anyone anymore. I have no clue how widely-known it is, but when my health tanked and I suddenly stopped posting or doing anything online… almost no one came to check on me, and I know for a fact that that has weighed heavily on me since 2015. When you’re trying to hard just to scrape by, and no one even seems to notice you’re gone, it makes it hard to convince yourself its worth going back to. I’ve realized since that it’s not necessarily that people don’t care, but it’s that people don’t know what they don’t know. And many of us (myself included) really suck at letting people know that we’re thinking of them, or checking in on people.

As I slowly sifted back through the posts that I forgot I wrote, I began to realize that ultimately, I’m in the same position that I’ve always been in. My love for the gods is about a lukewarm as it’s seemingly always been. It’s the people that have always brought me back around and kept me here.

And I think I’m okay with that.

 

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The Problem is the Solution

They say that recovery isn’t a straight line.

They’re not wrong.

Back when I was in therapy, I often found myself back in a portion of my past, somewhere starting in 4th grade, spanning through to the end of 5th grade. During this time in my life, I had experienced a lot of changes resulting in a loss of stability, structure, and trust btwn me and, well, everyone around me. While everything that was going on seemed doable from the perspective of an adult, the younger parts of myself felt as though I had experienced the end of a way of living. To elementary school me, it was almost like I was living through an apocalypse, and trying to find a way to continue on despite the fact that only a husk seemed to remain of my former life.

I think about this part of myself often. I think because I can relate to it in a whole new way than I could before. It’s not that I haven’t had to shift my way of living regularly as new health issues or losses of resources have occurred… its that I’ve never actually achieved any level of stability since my youth to actually lose. Until now.

People may have noticed that at the end of last year, it seemed like I might start posting regularly again. If this was you, then congratulations, you were correct. That is, until my grandmother died. For those of you who have been hanging around for a hot minute, you’ll know that our past was checkered in both amazing and equally awful ways. Our relationship was complicated, though it had mostly worked itself out as I became an adult.

With her death, everything about life changed. I had to move into her old house so that someone could keep an eye on my grandfather, except to do that I needed to clear out enough of her belongings to actually be able to move in (can you say “hoarding”?.) In the process I had to break my lease and pay for that. I had to give up job opportunities and accept the fact that holding down a full-time job again was no longer in my future, for better or worse. I had just gotten my diet, and to some extent, my health, under control only to have that blown apart because I now have to provide meals for another person whose eating habits are completely antithetical to what I need to be ingesting.

So in short, everything has more or less changed in the past 6 months. My living situation has changed. I’m no longer living in town with my SO, but instead in the sticks with my SO, grandfather and all of my grandmother’s hoarded animals. I’ve got to not only take care of myself, but the house, the animals, and my grandfather. And while my family had originally made it sound like they were going to be helpful, the truth has shown to be quite the opposite.

As such, in a matter of a few weeks, nearly all of the progress that I had made in improving my health has completely been sunk. Symptoms that had left have slowly started to return, and I’ve noticed that my lack of being able to maintain all of my specialists and dietary needs has taken a toll. And I’m likely only just getting started. In so many ways, I feel so much like my younger self, standing in a wasteland of what used to be my life. Unlike 4th grade me, I at least have more tools now to get myself back to where I want to be, but it doesn’t change the fact that it really sucks to have your recovery shot in both of its kneecaps and left for dead.

Everything that has happened in the past few years has left me with conflicting emotions, and this final turn of events has been the cherry on top. I titled this post “the problem is the solution” in an attempt to remind myself that even though things are challenging, they are ultimately what I need in order to get where I want to be. And that while I may feel several ways about something, that I am still heading in the direction that I ultimately want to go.

While the timing of being forced out onto this property is not ideal, I know that it will ultimately be better for me to be here sooner over later. This will allow me to start moving forward on my long-term future plans sooner over later, and it allows me to stop my future house-to-be from becoming completely unlivable, as my grandparents weren’t doing any of the major maintenance needed to keep things running well. While the existence I’m eking out right now isn’t great, I know that I ultimately have the capacity to turn my situation into a boon if I play my cards right.

But it also means the passing of an era. I know that I’ll never be able to go back to how things were, and while I know that that ultimately isn’t a bad thing, it still makes me a little sad. Especially because it means that getting my health back on track is going to now be that much more difficult and challenging, and that while I know opportunity exists at some point in the future, I still have to get there from where I’m at.

Of course, I am also changed from this experience. The person I was three years ago really kinda no longer exists. Running the gauntlet of having someone die, becoming a caretaker, and dealing with the drama and fallout that occurs with that sort of process all while trying not to die on the daily has changed me, for better or worse. As you will likely see in the coming posts that I’ve got scheduled, I’ve lost parts of myself, cast parts of myself aside, and am still not entirely sure where I’m at or what I’m doing–especially when it comes to Kemeticism. And while things are still up in the air, I’m certain that it’s only a matter of time before those changes affect how I look at Kemeticism, or handle my community work, as well.

Everything I did with this blog before I left was mainly aimed at obtaining Set’s objectives for the community. I no longer have to adhere to that, so I guess let’s see where it leads us, shall we?

 
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Posted by on August 22, 2018 in Hypnosis & Inner Work, Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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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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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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Questioning Your Way to a Solution

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Process

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

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

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

Asking Questions

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

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

Questioning a deity relationship:

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

Questioning your place in a religion:

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

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

I’ve answers some questions… what now?

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

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

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2017 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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