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Healing and Destruction: Two Sides of the Same Coin

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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A Good Horse: 6 Months Later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He began the process of healing for the whole situation.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_____________________

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

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

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

As for my own deity relationships:

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

 

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Modern Mythology: I <3 Balls Day

Gather around the camp fire once again as we delve into the myths and stories of our religion!

Set

During the ongoing battle for the Kingship of Egypt, Set and Horus found themselves in a large predicament. You see, each deity had been damaged from this battle – one losing his eye, and the other his testicles. It’s very painful to lose your testicles, you know! Through a series of wiley tricks and maneuvers, however, both were able to get their missing pieces restored to their former glory.

What Set didn’t know at the time, however, is that Thoth – “Astute in His Plans Who Fashioned All Things, Including Set’s Nuts” – gave him an even better set of balls as a way of saying thank you for taking the bad rap for the whole “felling Osiris” thing. When Set received his new shiny set of testicles, he was amazed at their awesomeness. It was like having a disco in his pants.

He was so ecstatic about his new hardware that Set ran to the highest point of Egypt and yelled out across the land “These are the best balls ever! Look at how amazing they are! I will surely be able to use them to smite apep every day!” Everyone was so happy for his new shiny testicles that a festival was proclaimed in their honor. And in our modern calendar, that day is February 14th- the day of <3-ing Your Balls.

You can see the effects of this festival almost everywhere you look! There are stands of balls in grocery stores. Ball shaped candies and candy containers. Ball shaped jewelry. Ball shaped everything! All as glorious and magnificent as Set’s newborn testicles.

When celebrating this holiday, it is customary to deck out your shrine is as many ball-shaped items as possible. Set loves the color red, so the redder, the better. However, he does has a soft side and can appreciate balls of other colors. Be sure to spend some time reflecting on your own personal badassery and taking the time to remember just how great you really are. You can also use this time to ask Set and Thoth in assistance in making your own balls better- as a means of seizing your potential and making tough choices that require balls to make!

With the proper heka, Thoth can assist you in creating a disco in your pants, too!

___________________

Every year around February we see nearly every grocery store in America fill up with tons of pink and red Valentine’s Day stuff. Usually, this is a holiday I don’t participate in at all. I’ve never cared for the concept behind it, and I’ve just never really gotten into the habit of doing anything for V-Day.

However, my foray into Kemeticism has changed my perspective on this holiday. Set’s main symbol is his balls. For most of us, we take a standard heart and turn it upside down to make it into a set of balls (which may not be too far off of what the heart used to mean). So now the second half of January and the first half of February is nothing but balls for me. It’s turned from a holiday about romance into a holiday about Set.

And his balls.

I feel like this can be shifted into a modern festival or rite that we can use within our community for seizing the day, taking hold of our courage and reminding ourselves of our greatness (in the same way that Set reminds me of his greatness all the time). If you’d like to give it a shot, there are two methods for this particular heka. One version, which involves a large chocolate heart, can be found here. The second, which involves good old fashions paper, is below:

  • Sheet of paper- 8.5″x11″. Any color will do, I recommend red or purple.
  • Writing utensils of whatever color you’d like.
  • A situation or trait you need to find some courage to tackle.
  • This tutorial about folding.

Start with your paper- figure out what situation you need some courage with. On the inside of your paper, write the situation down. You can be as specific or generalized as you need to be. Feel free to use sigils or different colors for different things. Get as creative as you want.

Then, fold up your paper into the shape of the balls using the tutorial above. If possible, place your balls in a location where you can see them regularly. If your situation is at work, perhaps leave them on your desk. If it is something to do with money, maybe leave it in your wallet. If you’re unsure, leave them on your shrine for the gods to keep an eye on.

Hopefully the heka provided in this post can help you to gain some courage and celebrate your awesomeness this Valentine’s Day! If you have any questions regarding these rites, or try these rites out for yourself- please let me know!

Other Modern Mythology Posts:

 
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Posted by on January 21, 2014 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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A Good Horse

I don’t know how many of you out there have ever had horses. Or more specifically- have raised horses. But for those of you that haven’t, there is a concept that a horse is useless to a person until they are broke.

Yes, broke.

When you take a foal and “train” it to wear saddles and tolerate bits and halters, the process if called “breaking” the horse. And one of the selling points of a horse is that they are “broke”. You can’t usually ride the horse or do anything with the horse until this process is finished, and there are a variety of methods for breaking horses – some being very humane, some being very very cruel.

This is a story about a horse being broken.

_______________

“There will always be wolves” he tells me after the fact. That is his justification for all of this. “There will always be wolves, and I need to make sure that my children (his word, not mine) can handle that.” You see, to him- raising strong, self-reliant people outranks anything else. The idea that wolves will always be present apparently drives him to break you in. Because I suppose once you’re broken enough and yet are still surviving- that means you can survive anything.

In short, he likes to make “mini-Sets”. But to understand how we got here, we’ve got to go backwards to where this all started.

You see, I hail from the astral-ghetto. I wasn’t always in the ghetto, but sometimes bad things happen, and bad people cross your path and screw up your existence for the next 3457459823484957 years. It was that kind of situation for me. I originally began to work with my astral existence only because I knew I had fallen into trouble, and I feared that my life here would be shortened if I didn’t straighten out some of the crap in my astral life.

Knowing the why behind a situation can really set a scene. It would be years after I started working with Set when I’d be kneeling down on the stone floor of the Pit, contending with all of the trappings of the astral ghetto and losing my patience with this deity. You’d think after all of the hell he had led me through that I’d be okay with anything at this point, but we all have our limits.

I have honestly forgotten how this particular conversation started, but I do remember the hard floor in particular. I know that many people know me for not being someone who worships the gods, but I do know when kneeling is appropriate. And I have spent more than my fair share of time in front of He Who Makes the Sky Shake on my knees. I remember staring at the floor when I lost my patience with him. My patience because he was slowly taking everything that he had pushed me towards in the 4 years prior and throwing it out the window.

That’s how it starts, when you break your horse in. You ween them. You ween them from all of the comfort that they knew.

Set started it with the community. This boat paddling venture is my baby. My whole life revolves around Kemetics and paddling my tiny canoe between as many Kemetic islands as I can muster. And that is where he started.

“That is more my brother’s thing” he told me that particular evening. “I really don’t care too much about what happens with all of that. I don’t need followers. If anything, you pushing more people towards me means I’ve got to fill out more paperwork. I’d probably be better off if you just stopped with that all together.”

I could feel the first cracks in my practice forming. This boat paddling, pot stirring adventure that Set had been pushing shoving me into- was suddenly not his idea or concern.

I remember the hard floor under my knees. I drag my fingers along the grooves in the stone as I try to find some semblance of sanity in that particular moment. I ask him what on earth he wants me around for- if its not to help promote the ma’at sharing between devotees and gods. That reciprocal back scratching that we’re all supposed to be aiming for.

And as though it was nothing he states his case for me. His future that he sees for me. A future that is completely separate from anything Kemetic related. Something that would, indeed, make me into a ‘mini-Set’. A job that has been known to eat me alive in the past and would shove me ever further into the astral ghetto. A job that would keep me up at night and possibly ruin what little shred of normalcy I have in my waking life.

He looks at me as the smoke wafts up from his pipe. He’s frustrated because this isn’t how he wanted to broach this topic. No no no, he wanted to paint it into something far prettier so that I would be more inclined to say yes. But in this moment- this is how the cards played out, and this is what he has to work with.

Angry at the audacity, I ask him why on earth I would do that for him. And the conversation degrades from there.

And so I left.

Now, when things like this happen, they kinda happen slowly- in ways you don’t realize. I didn’t notice it, but Set had been chipping at this for a while. Little comments here. Little nuances there. Little things that escaped me at first. I think I sped up his timeline by forcing the issue, and so I was no longer allowed to ease into the notion, but instead had the whole house collapse on my head and around my feet. I rolled around in my anger for a couple of weeks. I quit showing up to see Set, and when I finally did speak with him again, I no longer provided offerings or incense upon arrival. I was furious at him, and refused to give him anything but the bare basics of civility.

We’d play this game for a while. We were still on talking terms, but we were nowhere near friendly. He promised to help me figure some stuff out because my life was falling apart- but he’d fall through on that, too.

It was during these months that I really began to question why we worship gods at all- when they seem to be incapable of doing anything worthwhile for most of us. Set would slowly continue to tell me things that broke apart what most of us believed made up the Kemetic practice. He’d slowly unpick every bit of religious structure that I thought was important until there was pretty much nothing left.

And one day I woke up and decided I wanted to burn what was left of my metaphorical house down.

“Match” by Ian Hayhurst

To me the Kemetic community and my Kemetic practice are like living in a house. This blog is part of it, my Kemetic groups and Tumblr associates are a part of it. And with Set more or less ripping apart everything I thought I had known, I felt entirely ostracized from everyone and I felt like my whole “house” might not last the storm. So in order to cut it to the chase- I decided I would burn the whole damned thing to the ground.

I did this in a series of posts that I expected to completely and utterly bomb and fail because they contained hard truths within them. If you’ve been reading for any amount of time, you probably recognize them, they are: The Nuances of Non-Physical Relationships, On Being Broken and Musings on Pain and Astral Travel. Each post has documented my slow breakdown and unlearning of what I thought I had known.

In Nuances, I set up the notion that perhaps gods could overstep our boundaries and push us in places that we shouldn’t go. I set the stage for the next post where I mused over what we should do when a god fails us. These musings were largely ushered in by Set’s seeming disregard for my sanity or lack of concern for my general well-being, I fumbled around with what the hell to do if he pushed me to a point that I could no longer work with him. I rounded this out with the final post on the astral and pain where I mentioned that large chunks of my own life have been destroyed by astral work and that you should consider whether you really want that in your life, lest it consume you entirely.

With each post I worked through my anger with him and grappled with what had happened between us. What the worst part about all of it is – its exactly what he wanted.

And I knew it. I knew from the get-go that this was part of what he wanted.

As he handed the matches to me and told me to torch the whole place, I knew I was playing right into his hands, and it pissed me off even more. “I am going to destroy your stability and your life so that you can go out there and write about how horrible we gods can be.”

The thing about it is, we all “know” that gods can be jerks. We all “know” that they will push us to reach potentials and goals (sometimes our goals, sometimes their goals) and we all “know” that we can say “no”. But sometimes no matter what you do, you are playing right into their hands and there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it.

The deity in question shoves a bit in your mouth and straps a saddle onto your back and you can crowhop and buck and roll around on the ground, but at the end of the day you’re going to succumb to the fact that you are being broken.

Because you’re useless if you’re not broken.

And so in my anger of being the Tesla of Kemetics and the fact that Set gave no fucks about anything, I lit my house on fire and I watched it burn as I released each post. And the weirdest sensation overcame me. I felt liberated.

Liberated. Free. Totally and utterly free of everything as I watched with eagerness over what would happen with each post.

To go back to Blacker’s book, she talks about undergoing gyo, or trials and hardships, when you’re working on your ascetic powers. She says that many people who undergo gyo end up being pushed to a breaking point and when they can no longer take it anymore- suddenly they are filled with renewed vigor and strength- and this is how they manage to get through everything.

I don’t know if that’s what I experienced, or if it was just a case of complete dissociation with everything I had worked to build over the past few years. But either way, I was elated to announce every post that would burn down my house. I was ecstatic to see what would happen.

And now I am at the end of the venture. Despite worrying that I would alienate every other Kemetic and polytheist in a 10 mile radius, my “house” still stands (if not a bit stronger for the adventure). However, despite having come through the house-burning intact, I can’t help but feel like something is still broken.

Because much like with the membrane mentioned in my Astral Pain post- sometimes once the blindfold is ripped off of your eyes, you can’t unsee the blinding light. And even though people have appreciated what I’ve written and I understand why Set led me where he did- at the end of the day, the basics still haven’t changed. He still wants me to do things that I’m not okay with doing, and because of the mental wringer I was run through my Kemetic practice will likely never be what it once was again.

I am, for all intents and purposes, broken in some capacity or another.

I suppose that makes me a good horse in some respects, but now it begs to ask- what do I do from here?

 
 

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KRT: The Importance of Mythology

Mythology: How necessary is it? Does it affect your practice? Should it?

If there is one thing that ancient Egypt has a lot of- its myths. Myths of all shapes and sizes and variations- some of which are zaney while others are completely mind boggling. Mythology is one of those great topics that can spawn off lots and lots and lots of interesting and thought provoking conversations. However, mythology can also be a source of headaches and rage amongst Kemetics because many times, we don’t see eye to eye on the myths at hand. I personally find it very interesting to see how other Kemetics use mythology because it really runs the gamut. Some Kemetics don’t use mythology at all, and some take it as a sort of gospel truth.

I, personally, lie somewhere in the middle.

Mythology is very important to me. I feel like myths help us to understand the nature of the deities that we work with. Only by understanding the Osirian myth cycle can I even begin to understand how Set and Osiris might function together and why they might put aside their differences to work with me. I also find that a lot of the symbolism and actions that both gods use with me are heavily tied to their own myths.

Because of this, I feel like if I didn’t know the myths surrounding my gods – to some extent, I’d be missing a huge chunk of what makes up both Set and Osiris. It’s kind of like not knowing your spouse’s childhood, or what your best friend’s favorite foods are.

But its more complicated than that because Egypt’s mythology changed over time. The Osirian myths that I focus on changed multiple times over the course of 3,000 years and it can create so many problems. Most of us know Plutarch’s version, but its entirely inaccurate in comparison to the Egyptian version – and even the Egyptian version changed over the centuries. For just this myth alone, there are probably 4 or 5 versions. So as you can see, it becomes very murky very quickly. Its because of this that I can’t take the myths literally, and I feel like picking one myth while throwing out all of the other variations misses the point all together, because each version of the myth holds some truth to it.

So how does myth come into play in my practice?

Well, sometimes myths will help me to form rituals for holidays. The Mysteries ritual that I use stems from the mythology and symbolism surrounding the felling of Osiris. As he fell into the water and sank into nothingness, I wrap him in blue, watery fabric and store him away in the kar shrine for a month- so that he can come out whole and new again. Mythology also teaches us important concepts such as Zep Tepi- which comes to play in my Osirian ritual (as well as my shrine setup and shadow work).

I also use a lot of mythology in what I offer to the gods. It is said in the Contendings that Set’s favorite food is lettuce- so I am always sure to have romaine lettuce on hand for him. Other myths discuss how Set is related to the foreleg of an ox, and that links to the Big Dipper- which ultimately links to meteors and iron- so I offer him pieces of iron and iron pyrite because the mythos and symbolism tied to him says he would like it.

But above all, I use the myths to understand how these two gods act.

Osiris’ role in his own mythology is very passive. He undergoes his felling with minimal confrontation. He succumbs to the water, he lays inert. Only in a few versions does he actually free himself- instead its always his son who gets him out of the mess he’s in. The mythology tells me that Osiris is likely to be a more passive deity. He will likely be calm, quiet and understated- because that is how the myths present him.

But he is more than that. In the myth where he coaxes Ra to give up his Atef, we see that Osiris can be petty and egotistical- by not only seizing a crown that he is ill prepared for, but also by forcing his brother to give up his lands and bow down to him. Osiris isn’t always the shrewd man that we make him out to be. He can aim high and miss the mark, too.

Set is a very violent and forward god in most of myths. He goes after what he wants and he gets it – provided the other gods actually allow him to. According to Griffiths, he also shows remorse for what has happened regarding his brother, and both Meeks and Naydler mention that there was more going on than meets the eye- so it’s possible that Set carries guilt and can understand hard choices and making mistakes. His myths also indicate that he understands what its like to get the short stick or raw end of a deal- as he has had plenty of those in his own time.

The mythology surrounding these two brothers also reveals that there is a hard past that exists between them. And that when you first approach them, you should likely take it into consideration. The myths tell us a bit about each of these deities. They reveal small truths that might go missed if you didn’t read the stories that form their past. Even if the mythologies are purely fictional- there are still small truths to be seen- both in how the gods act, and how the ancients perceived them.

I think there is power in that.

And I think that power can reveal things about ourselves, too.

And as the myths slowly bridge the gap between ourselves and the gods, we slowly begin to live and understand the essence of mythological time and how that can affect us. We get intimate with these myths because they are suddenly tied to ourselves and a part of ourselves. And through getting intimate, we can learn even more about the gods we interact with, and the varying levels of complexity that exists within ourselves.

I can take a story about Set felling his brother in a river, and see how sometimes life forces us to make decisions that we don’t like. I can see it from Set’s eyes- how emotion, anger, guilt, and duty can mix and mingle and drive me to make hard decisions because they have to be made. I can understand how Osiris feels as I succumb to the water because there is no other way. Because sometimes life crushes us- and that’s okay- but it is a part of life. I understand the nuance of making the hard decision to succumb to the water because I know that is the only way out of the situation. I learn about being passive and active all in the same moment and how that dichotomy – which seems contradictory at first – can actually benefit me if used properly.

I begin to see myths not only as simple “stories” but as useful tools to understand the world around me. The myth quits being words on paper and actually becomes a living, breathing landscape I can learn in. A safe place to let my mind work out problems and understand things that I might not have otherwise.

Myths are important tools in my practice. Even if its not evident or obvious, the myths surrounding Osiris and Set permeate my practice on every level, because I have picked these myths apart and lived them. I continue to reevaluate what I think each round of myths means and what it means to me and my life and the relationship I have forged with my gods. And every time I think I’ve learned all that I can about the Osirian myth cycle- I turn it a few degrees in a different direction- and I see something else that I had missed entirely before.

The myths keep me learning- not only about the gods, but about myself.

To see the master list for this topic, please visit here.

 

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The Necessity of Death

I’ve been reading Carmen Blacker’s “The Catalpa Bow” recently, which is a book on shamaism within Japan.

In this book, Blacker goes over the practices and rituals that a medium or ascetic (her terms) must go through in order to gain their abilities. One of the most common themes within these regimes is pain that would break an “ordinary” person. Pain comes in many forms including a very strict, malnourishing diet, cold buckets of water poured over a person- regardless of the temperature outside, sleeplessness and repetition of numerous norito and sutras. According to the people who practice these routines, they describe the experiences as excruciating- but at the very moment when they think they can’t hack it anymore, they suddenly find themselves filled with renewed energy and gusto.

One evening, after a night of pot stirring, I was musing on the nature of death. It’s very common for me to hit rock bottom regularly, and I had been teetering above that point regularly at the time. I noted that, despite my recent low- that evening I was particularly focused and clear. Things made sense, and I felt as though my fire and clarity had returned me- however brief. While I was thinking over this, Set shows up and asks me if I had ever considered that perhaps it is death that gives me my fuel and drives me forward.

Or perhaps it could be phrased if I had ever considered if death gives me my sekhem.

And that’s when I connected the dots between what Blacker had described in her books, and what I had been experiencing all along in the Pit and the River. Whenever I hit the bottom of the bottom, I find myself in these places and I die a little death. And in the convulsions of death, I am ripped apart and I shed my old skin, and I resurface, filled with more energy to continue on another day.

Sometimes the death isn’t small. Sometimes its really really big.

Sometimes I will find myself laying in a mental anguish for weeks wondering how the hell I’m going to figure a way out of this mess that is my life. There are many times when I lay there and think that I seriously have hit rock bottom and I just can’t do this anymore.

And it never fails that when I hit the lowest of the low that somehow I am reborn. Much like the mythos surrounding Osiris, I mentally rip myself apart until there is nothing left, and then when I can’t even find myself anymore, I am hit with a sudden onset of clarity and find it within me to step forward and keep moving onward.

Tonight is one of those such nights. After weeks of rolling around in a mental and physical fog- I am struck with such clarity that my mind feels like it’s going to break open at any given second because it just makes that much sense to me. Much like the people in Blacker’s book who go through weeks of hell as a means to strip their bodies of any excess so that they may be rendered barren to be reborn anew, I have wallowed in my own mental filth long enough to break free and in so doing, have hit a type of epiphany for myself.

In this, I research about the Sekhem Scepter to further understand what Set is referring to when discussing the source of my sekhem. And it is during this search in my Reading Egyptian Art book that I find out that Osiris is heavily tied to the Sekhem Scepter. In fact, one of his epithets is “Great Sekhem” or “Foremost of Powers”. Combine this with Set’s inability to ever die and it becomes even clearer how these two form the duality that is not only my cracked out practice, but myself.

One never dies. He constantly becomes reborn and in so doing, knows how to show another how to consistently claw your way back to the surface. The other can show you the ins and outs of the process of dying and being reborn because he had to go through it himself. In fact, if you will remember – it is the undying Set who pushed Osiris into the transformation that is death. Osiris can show you the ins and outs because his brother gave him the literal shove into the process.

My new thinking is that if you work with both and you can become adept at both. You can learn how to die and yet never die. You constantly become the person to initiate the death, work through the death and come out of the death still breathing, but better for it. An endless cycle that perpetuates upon itself.

He tells me that this is the source of my Sekhem, my power. That it is a part of me. Vital to me. That it is me.

I’m not sure what to make of that.

 

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The Cycle: Making the Halves Whole

 

Let’s go back to Set for a minute. I mentioned back in the first post that Set had given me instructions about making my halves whole. He was never very specific about what he meant by this. I took it to mean something fairly ‘fortune cookie’ in nature. Quit being at war with yourself. Make peace with yourself. Make your dark and light sides balance… make that stuff whole.

Which, is partially right.

But now we’re back to layers again. And how everything has layers in Egyptian religion. And sometimes something is as straight forward as it sounds (at least on one layer or another). And in this case, Set wasn’t being entirely vague in his statement. He was being quite literal for once.

Allow me to explain.

Back in college, I ran with a group of entities on the astral. Although I’ve been only recently discussing astral stuff, I have had my fingers in the astral pie in some form or another for many years now. I had trusted these people, they were like family to me.

Well one day, something changed. I don’t entirely understand what or why, but I woke up one morning to someone that I would equate to my father standing over me. I was on the ground, unable to move. He smiled, said something about ruining me, and then slammed his whole hand into the center of my chest. The reverb was so painful- it’s one of the most painful things I’ve experienced in my life. It felt like someone had literally ran a hole punch through me. It had quite literally created a black hole in my chest. He had taken a part of me away and ran off with it.

Its because of this black hole that I stepped away from astral crap in general. I could feel that pain everywhere- waking or asleep. And over time, this darkness, this taint would seep from it. In many ways, taint is a lot like isfet. It corrodes your body, your mind, your will to do anything, and over the years, that taint began to consume me- to the point that my brain was nothing but negativity- it was this black ooze that existed in the Pit that Set sent me to. Whether Set actually sent me to the insides of the physical hole in me, or a metaphorical version- I can’t say, but the parallels are obvious (plus, who better to send me to fight something that is very isfet in nature, but the deity who is responsible for handling isfet every night). The layers of meaning and symbolism are miles thick. But there is more to this.

As I had mentioned- that person ran off with a piece of me. And then someone somehow got that piece from him, because I guess it contained something he wanted. He then took that part of myself, and beat the crap out of it- trying to get at whatever was inside. As he would do this, I would see visions and flashes of myself being bound, beat up, smacked around, you name it. And as it turns out, when Set was telling me to make my two halves whole- he was literally saying- get this part of you back. Reclaim it. Take up your pieces and make yourself whole again.

I couldn’t really appreciate that until I started to work with O in the river. Truth be told, I expected to never get that part of me back. I expected to live the rest of my life with this huge hole in me, and part of me being man handled by someone else who was out of my reach.

Turns out Set and O had other ideas, other plans. I would be useless to them long term with such a large wound in me. For them, there was no other option but to fix this.

Through the help of some other friends, I was able to have that piece of me freed and returned to me, where I drug it back to the river to be cleansed. As I had written at the time:

I’m standing on the banks of the river, and I run down to the waters edge, where this huge ball of light comes flying out of the sky and lands in my arms. Like a falling star, but much bigger. I hold this portion of me. This beat up, pathetic looking, dead, sad portion of me. I speak some words to her. Healing words. Words of happiness. As I start to enter into the water, O appears behind me, telling me its safe, and handing me my stone. I go into the center of the water and fall back. We fall into the water, and I give her more words. More peace. And slowly the water turns into blue and gold… a lot like lapis. I then see that both O and S are standing on the river banks. And after a little bit of me floating in this lapis, they come into the water, and pull me up and take me to the bank. I’m laying there, O to my right S to my left, and they are drawing stuff on me.. it glows gold. They say some stuff I don’t remember and O places his stone in my right hand and S places his stone in my left. They say some more stuff and take my arms up and clink the stones together, which causes some sort of light show on me and around me. Set tells me that the two halves are now whole. And then I’m told I should go home and rest. At which point I’m plopped back into the Room, onto the bed, soaking wet.

Suddenly, things made so much more sense. And with that, the Cycle had ended, well at least the first round had. Cycles are never ending- and as soon as you finish one, you’re just as likely to be sucked into another (which I have). This cycle took 3 years to complete, but I came out the other end much better for all of the strife I endured.

I don’t really know what the moral to this long story is, other than to keep your mind open (and that O wanted me to tell it to you). Many of us have preconceived notions on what the gods will do for us, and its entirely possible that one day you’ll wake up, and find that a god is throwing you down a rabbit hole that leads to somewhere completely different and better (and off of the history books). Many times we try to claw our way back up, instead of riding the chute down, but if you ever do find yourself being hurdled towards something crazy and different, and there just so happens to be a god along for the ride- I urge you to consider riding it out, to see where it takes you. Odds are, its somewhere filled with crack, but still pretty awesome.

Other Parts of This Series:

 

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