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Eating a Mystery

A few weeks ago I was getting ready for my shower when I suddenly got this memo that went something like “don’t forget that you need to be preparing for the Mysteries this year.” It struck me as odd, since I haven’t really done anything for the Year of Rites since October, and for the NTRW to not harp me on that, but instead decide I needed to perform the Mysteries really seemed out of character.

I asked the “memo” what I needed to focus on for the Mysteries, and I received one line, it said “Glorify your father.

In the matter of a few seconds, my brain raced in several directions with this. First off, the word father really seemed highlighted to me, and there are two reasons for that. First is the mythological component. Osiris’ myths are frequently centered on Horus and his quest to avenge his father and take back what’s his. Second, you’ve got the historical context in that every Osiris relies on his eldest son to give him a proper funeral and to maintain his cult to at least some degree. Both of these aspects would place me in the role of Horus glorifying my father, and have fairly straight-forward heka connotations.

But what really caught me was the third place my brain went.

While I understand that the NTRW can use familial terms for some people, it’s never been the case for me. Further, if there was a NTR out there that I would use familial terms with, it certainly isn’t Osiris. But there is another person that frequently gets labeled specifically as father (as opposed to “dad” or some other similar label, it’s always father) and that would be good ol’ Father-Lover. Would I need to incorporate aspects of my rebirth/rebuilding process into this? Or perhaps more accurately — had the NTRW decided to insert themselves into my process without letting me know? I wasn’t pleased with the idea.

Between all of these concepts, though, there is one vein of similarities: you become your father.

Ultimately, the reason Osiris gets it on with Aset is largely to make sure that he continues on through his son. Ultimately, the son and father overlap and become one mythologically speaking (hence Bull of His Mother) and so in some respects, I would argue that you could potentially interchange the two to some extent. And when it comes to Father-Lover, well, its just that we are literally the same being spread across two forms. We are ultimately one and the same on some level or another.

So I began to mull on this. If glorifying my father ultimately ends up glorifying myself… what would glorification look like? The word “glorify” means to praise or present admirably, perhaps unjustifiably so. It is what nearly every Kemetic ritual aims to do — to beautify the NTRW in the hopes that they will remain gracious to us. It is also through this process of glorification that we ensure that the rhythmic needs of the Duat are sustained and maintained. Re needs to go into the Duat each night, he needs to push back a/pep each day, he and Osiris need to meet in order to revitalize the Duat and its residents. Just like nature, everything has a rhythm and a cycle. Part of our end of the deal is performing the rituals and doing the acts that sustain these cycles.

To consider this concept on myself, we all need a healthy attitude about ourselves. We would all lead more fulfilling and less-miserable lives if many of us weren’t constantly being self-defeating or putting ourselves down. To glorify yourself would ultimately mean to feed into your inherent regenerative nature. And so I asked myself what would help sustain me most?

I then switched back to considering the historical contexts of glorifying your father — what do akhu value most from their families? What do we often see most often for helping the akhu? And the answer I came back with was:

The voice offering, in my opinion, is the quintessential akhu rite out there. There are lots of people who know nothing about Kemeticism, but know about the “thousands of beer, bread, and every good thing” voice offering that was left to the akhu of the necropolis. The most important thing a son could do for his father was to offer the basic necessities of life so that his father could continue to live in the Duat. And when I think about what the best offering that you could give would be, I thought of the foreleg. The foreleg is, by far, the piece de resistance in the Opening the Mouth ceremony. Everything in the ritual crescendos when you pull out the choice cut of meat and offer all of its contained vitality to the statue/mummy.

I thought to myself, could I offer myself the foreleg instead? Could I offer it to both of us simultaneously?

One of the suggestions after my post about my eating issues interfering with being able to offer to the gods regularly was the idea of drawing foods, and offering the drawing. In response to this, I began to offer my paper foreleg amulet to the NTRW as a stand-in meal. And so the connection between the foreleg and the offering of foods went full circle, and I thought to myself “what if I offer a meal to myself every day? So that instead of doing offerings at a shrine that are couched inside of a larger ritual, the act of feeding myself becomes the ritual.” And in response, I heard “what if you did it three times per day?” (since, you know, we’re supposed to eat three meals a day.)

So I guess that means I’m eating three times per day for the Mysteries.

I admit, this is strange to me. It feels like a cop out, like I’m just using something I “already do,” and saying that it’s a good replacement for “proper rituals” at a shrine, as I have been doing all year. But to cite that post I mentioned above: I don’t really eat regularly. Or at least, I don’t eat as regularly as I should. So it’s actually quite a challenge for me, since I won’t be able to eat depression meals and call it a day. Even though it feels like a cop out, it’s going to actually be a challenge for me to do this for any length of time.

I decided I needed to check through other means to make sure that I was on the right track, and the response I got was so direct and straightforward that it was hard to deny the answer, so I guess this means I’m eating three times per day for the Mysteries. Which O dictated that it’s to be a month, as it’s always been. So I’m eating three times per day for a month. I’m sure that’ll be riddled with success.

The general idea of how this is supposed to go is that I’m to treat each meal as an event that requires my full attention. I’m to focus on myself, the food I’m eating, and try not to let myself get super distracted by the Internet, my phone, thoughts, or what have you. The meals need to have enough substance to them that they can be called meals. So for example, just eating a piece of bread and walking away is not good enough. It needs to big enough to fill me up (a challenge.)

The biggest question I am left with when it comes to doing this is the following: when we typically do rituals, there is a layer of separation involved. You offer to the gods, separate from you, and then you take the food into yourself afterwards. The path is outwards (to the gods) then inwards (when you eat it.) But what happens when you skip the outwards part? What happens when both the offering and the consuming are done in one step, at the same time, with both parties being overlapped? And is O doing this because he wants me to take care of myself, or is he wanting me to do this because of the overlap I just mentioned?

I guess we’ll see.

 

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The Inert One

Today is the first epagomenal day, and because I felt the urge, let’s talk about Osirian change as it relates to one of his epithets: The Inert One.

I have been thinking about the Osirian cycles of rebirth a lot this year — specifically the second hour. The second hour is where the deceased, now being inert, has to choose to move forward or to stay in their inertness. I’ve mentioned several times these past two years about how the inert ones have seemingly captured my attention (because I’ve felt inert for years now), and they are still pretty centered and focused in my mind.

In this specific instance (at least), I do believe I know why my brain is so heavily focused on the inert ones, and that is because everywhere I look, I feel like I am constantly seeing people stuck in inertia. They may not entirely be inert, but they are inert enough that they aren’t moving forward in the ways they want to, and every time I see it in action, a part of me gets really upset/sad.

Just like in my last post where I mentioned that while I understand that these Osirian rebirth texts are supposed to be for the dead and not the living, I can’t help but draw parallels between them. As someone who has spent a fair amount of time being inert, I know what its like to have a blind spot, to not realize that despite all of the ground you think you’re making, you’re actually not making ground at all. A house built on sand will not last long, and I have made plenty of houses on malformed foundations in the hopes that it’ll work.

I find it interesting how often my work with both Set and Osiris brings me back to foundations. Set was always very big into telling me to build solid foundations. While most of you know that it was in relation to building our community — that only strong foundations would allow a community like ours to last — I have also had to sit through plenty of pontificating and lecturing from him (and others) about how my own life needs to be built on a solid foundation in order for other parts to function properly. To use the metaphor above: the doors in your house won’t work very well if everything is cockeyed due to uneven foundations. If the foundation is made poorly, everything else above it suffers.

On the flip side, I have always talked about Osiris being the tree outside that secretly grows its roots into your foundation — that by the time you realize what has happened, its too late to do anything, and now you need to call a repair person to fix your house. Even though Set is known for his chaos and destruction of bad habits to lay way for better habits, I think Osiris and his methods of rebirth are an under-sung variation of what Set does.

The key difference being that Set is like the Kool Aide Man, and doesn’t care if you want him there or not, where as Osiris mandates that you have to want to be there. Roberts talks about it in her book:

“Osirian renewal requires a conscious and voluntary entry into the underworld realm, and active desire to fulfill the unification of the living and the dead.”

So one of the key components to overcoming the inertia of hour two is to actually want to overcome it enough to actually move forward. Osiris has this in his own mythology, where he is being kept safe inside of a space enclosed by a snake, and Osiris has to gather enough gumption to force the snake to let him go because all the snake wanted to do was keep him there safe forever (sounds like a coming-of-age trope).

We have to want it. And sometimes it seems like we really do want it, and still can’t seem to make it happen. What is it that stops us from moving forward when we believe we do actually want to?

It’s been my experience that a lot of people stay stuck because of avoidance. You avoid doing the work that needs to be done in order to move forward, so you stay put. Turns out, psychology has a lot to say about what causes people to avoid things. In short, its because your body doesn’t feel like it can handle whatever the doing will bring forth for you to deal with. Sometimes that’s something like a fear of failure, other times it might be a worry that you’ll lose something important, or perhaps that you can’t handle the idea of losing your cool in front of someone over it (notice the common themes of fear and loss of control in all of these.)

It also turns out that we typically behave based off of what we expect, regardless of whether we’re conscious of that expectation or not. So if you expect it to be a shitshow that you can’t really handle, you will essentially avoid it as long as possible. If you’re living with three spoons and you expect it to be a five-spoon task, you may never actually get around to doing it.

For example, I avoided going to the doctor for months while my health degraded because I was worried that it would be way more work than I could handle. I expected that most of the doctors would be useless (they were,) and I worried it would be more emotionally draining and taxing than beneficial. I expected not to receive help, so I avoided even trying because of how daunting the whole ordeal felt it would be.

Avoidance tactics are largely used by people who are completely overwhelmed and burned out. When your body is on its last legs and feels like everything is just Too Much, you will start to avoid things almost reflexively because your body is trying to protect you from taking on more than it can handle. Likely because you are already taking on more than you can handle. This is further entrenched because we often will side with whatever is familiar over whatever is unfamiliar — especially if we’re burned out. So even if its uncomfortable and Awful, you may still stay right where you’re at because at least its familiar.

My grandmother used to have a little quip for these sorts of situations: a dog is laying on a nail poking out of a step, a guy yells at the owner for not making the dog get up off of it, and the owner replies, “I’m not making him lay there! When the nail hurts enough, the dog will get up on his own.” She used to sum it up as “the nail doesn’t hurt bad enough yet, does it?”

And its pretty true. Most of us move because we’ve been forced to move (hello Setian change) or it got bad enough that we are finally motivated to make the choice to move (hello Osirian change.) It’s difficult to enact large-scale change when you’re living in a constant state of near burn out (which is why you should start out with small-scale change,) and so it often takes outside forces to push us to do whatever needs to be done. It’s a shame that so many of us are stuck in these cycles.

As we move into the new year, I think it behooves us to ask ourselves about our state of inertness:

  1. In what areas of your life are you currently inert? What are you avoiding working on or addressing?
  2. When you think of these things you are avoiding, what comes up? How does it make you feel? What is holding you back?
  3. What can you do to address these feelings or things that hold you back?
  4. What are you giving up in order to stay comfortably where you are?
  5. Where would you rather be instead? What can you do to get there?

Maybe by becoming more intimate and aware about the things that keep us inert, and why we let them keep us inert, we’ll be able to overcome our inertia and actualize all of the rebirths that we’re aiming to experience.

How often do you examine your inertness? If you took the time to try to answer the questions above, what did you find?

 
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Posted by on July 29, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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How to Build a Heart: Carrying My Father

Father-Lover proved to be a surprisingly easy task.

When I first realized that I would need to still do work with his remnants, I was daunted. I expected to be overwhelmed by the emotions and trauma of our past, of his past. I spent weeks avoiding putting his stone into the heart jar where it needed to go. And then I spent weeks ignoring the fact that I needed to pull it out again. And then I spent days doing everything I could not to touch said stone, for fear of what would come rushing forth. Each step seemed to inch me ever closer to resolving the situation at hand, but each step also evoked the deep-seated fear I ultimately have of the man that I once called father.

It was early morning, and we were having tea at the table. I found myself staring at Father-Lover’s stone as it rested on the table. There was a pull in me, a desire to touch it, but the desire was always tempered by fear. But because I had enough substances rolling through my veins, I guess I was in enough of a mind space to ignore my baser fears, and I found myself flipping the stone between my fingers, rolling through black fabric in my mind’s eye as I floated forward towards some unforeseen ending to the tunnel that the stone was pulling me down.

This was the first time in years since the stone had anything active in it. While it had always continued to carry its feeling with it, touching it up and to this point hadn’t rendered anything of note. But now? Now I was going somewhere.

I sat there for a while, waiting to reach my destination, and when my feet finally hit the closest thing I can consider ground, I saw that someone was sitting there waiting for me. I’m sure everyone can infer that it was Father-Lover sitting there in the backlit darkness, waiting for me to find him. However, he felt nothing like the versions I had been forced to interact with all of these years. In this crystallized moment, he was so close to who I had always been told he was, but had never gotten to witness on my own.

With his form as I knew it removed, it barely felt like Father-Lover. For a brief moment, I could look past the trauma, the hell we had been through together. For a moment, there was the tiniest possibility of healing. You could see it in his eyes, the sorrow, the unfairness of it all. In this section, he was neither Father-Lover, nor his predecessor. He was somewhere in between.

Of course, this place was not to last. Like so many other healings I have worked on, once the person in question gets what they need, the blockage is removed and everything starts to flow again. The problem being that flow usually means a lack of direct access like this, and so I was no longer able to find him again. All in all, I had less than an hour to soak in the emotions before I had to let go again.

But at least I could handle the stone freely, and I was no longer afraid of its contents. Though the trauma of Father-Lover still exists, I no longer seemed to fear that he would show up and wreck my life again.

And as soon as I had finished that bit of work, the next bit rolled in. And this time, it was my old pendant that I used to wear to represent Set and O as a sort of singular unit. My Ptah pendant that has skeeved me out so badly that I’ve barely touched it in years. It’s spent a lot of its time living in my heart jar, where I could forget that it exists. Every time when I would go to check the contents of said jar, a small part of me would be like, “Oh yes, this is a thing that exists, I forgot.” but I never felt inclined to pull it out or wear it. And as the years have progressed and my love of the religion and its gods has waned, my desire to wear the pendant has diminished greatly.

By the time that Someone was trying to convince me to bring it out and work with it, I didn’t want to touch it at all.

I have toyed for months now as to whether I should be opening up about it or not. Truth be told, most of the times I mentioned my growing issues or complications with the NTRW, I ended up with people either telling me its my fault for things being as they are, or to quit complaining, and so I’ve mostly been keeping it to myself. But when they made me pull the pendant out, and then made me wear the thing, it became much harder to ignore, and has since been very hard to ignore.

For whatever reason, I was inclined to hang it on two different strands of yarn, which you may recognize from this old post. And then I wore it for a few days until the feelings about the pendant itself started to float away. So I can touch it now without feeling completely put off, but I still don’t want to wear it.

Throughout this time, I received a handful of visions or experiences, and one of the most notable things that occurred during this time is that  the nerve damage that is present in my physical body began to show up as a sort of scarring on my skin in the astral. It’s not something I’ve had happen very often, and I’m not sure what working on these two items might have done to cause it to occur, but here we are.

Slowly, I’ve also noticed that I am sorta being dragged away from using my heart jar shrine as a sort of living shrine, and have instead been encouraged to co-opt a pre-existing setup that was in another part of my room. It’s left me wondering if the jar is meant to be temporary and not permanent, and honestly, I’ve always had this nagging question in the back of my head as to whether a heart jar would be a permanent fixture in a person’s self care, or if its something you only need during times of healing.

As this progressed, I began to question if maybe I should scrap my entire heart jar heka idea all together (though I am still using aspects of the shrine, albeit, sparsely), not to mention the slowly-rising anxiety about how I’d even begin to put into words what I was experiencing. It can’t be ignored that this series is now six posts deep, and I have no clue how much closer I even am to finishing this project, much less if this will ever reach any sort of logical conclusion. It has led me to feeling like the work will never be done, or that the hope of being healed is some sort of unattainable dream. It’s why I don’t usually write about a project until after its done, because if I can’t wrap it up in a pretty, edible package for everyone, then it usually never sees the light of day. But now that this is out in the daylight, it also feels weird to not write about its progress.

I guess if it does say anything about rebuilding your heart, its that the process is long, messy, and rarely feels productive.

Previous posts in this series, for those who lost count:

 

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How to Build a Heart: Devo Adultmenz

Late in the summer of 2018, everything started to slowly flood back into my head. I could feel my menz more. I got more visions. I had heard from O out of the blue. I found myself wandering back into this space. Like spring thawing the earth out after winter, its as if everything started to wake up all at once.

But things were not the same.

Instead of going over to an astral location and being able to see people separate from me, I found that most of my menz were… inside of myself? I have no clue if it’s close to what it’s like to be in a multiple situation, but around that time I began to joke that I was three people in a trench coat because I could feel two of my menz always hanging around in my periphery, as though they were stuck in my body. Ever since I more or less left the void, the astral has largely been this way. Where I sense what is going on inside of myself, but I don’t really exist Over There in any real way, and I can’t interact with anything Over There in any real way. Its as though I am stuck out here fully, can’t really see or sense anything around my astral self (if that even exists), and everyone has to seemingly center onto my physical location to really communicate with me.

The gods aren’t quite the same as my menz, in that they aren’t fully in my form when they talk to me. But at the same time, I also can’t seem to separate from myself enough to see who is talking to me or what things look like where said god is at. It’s like they leave a memo to the back of my head, and that’s all I can ever discern of what they’re wanting or what is going on.

There have been some exceptions to this, where I can travel in the same way that I used to, but its been limited. Very limited.

To reflect this, I changed out the jar that I was using for my heart shrine. I picked a donabe that I had around the house as my main vessel to replace my old jar. I chose a donabe because it felt like it would incorporate room for more people — the same way that my body seems to have. Eating a meal from a donabe is usually done with multiple people, and since I was no longer “riding solo” anymore, I felt like it was fitting to try it out.

I found a wooden base hidden in my grandma’s stuff, and I placed everything on top of it — thereby giving my heart a “firm base” to rest upon. I also cleaned out a lot of the stuff from the inside of my old jar. And as it turns out, I had hit more of my goals than I had realized. I guess I had made more progress than I expected.

Most of my focus from there has been on my own body. Watching different menz roll in and out. Watching them work on things, how their behaviours effect my own, how we overlap and how we don’t. The assets they have that I could fold into my own behaviours vs. the things that we could all do without. Bringing the experience to my body like this helped me to understand a different side of my menz, and it helped me to see how we all fit together as an entity.

In this time, all of the fragments and stories and experiences I had collected from the astral slowly began to fall into place. Holes were filled, and suddenly the story began to make a lot more sense. As I began to fold people into myself, the gaps began to disappear.

In many ways, this reminds me of the work that therapists often assign people who have experienced trauma. When we are young, we have no concept of ourself as being separate from the world around us. As we develop, we will start to explore ourself, and in the process, you begin the process of separation from those around you (mainly, your caregivers/parents.) When the process is done correctly, you are supported and loved while slowly branching out from your caregivers, and eventually, you are able to fully explore your entire self and become whoever you want to be.

But for those of us who were told directly or indirectly that our genuine selves were bad, we are inherently taught to reject parts of ourself. When you’re a toddler and your parents consistently shun things that you do, you’re taught that some part of you is inherently bad or wrong. This will ultimately lead to you rejecting parts of, or even all of, yourself.

One of the ways to heal this sort of splintering of the self is to slowly learn to love and embrace each of the parts of yourself that you’ve been taught to reject. There are many ways to do this, but it generally seems to follow a trend where you will find a part of yourself that you have been told to reject (and you’ll know it because this behaviour, desire, or action will usually feel weird or wrong somehow, and often will bring up feelings of discomfort.) And when you find this part of yourself, you should do your best to fully embrace what you feel and experience, without judgement. Accept it for what it is, and don’t criticize what you experience. Doing this will often heal the judgement we have for ourself, and allow us to reincorporate all of our traits back into our person. Ultimately, it allows us to continue the growth process that was interrupted as a child. It allows us to fully explore all of ourself, and to become whoever we want to be.

And this is what the past year has mostly consisted of for me. As I and my menz share a physical space (my body,) we are allowed to experience all of our emotions (because they can feel mine, too) and as we work to embrace and accept these hard truths about ourselves, we’re more able to merge into one cohesive entity.

Which is not where I expected this to go. At least, not really. I expected that some of us would merge over on the astral plane, but I never expected this to manifest so strongly within my own body.

Of course, it begs to ask, why would I be trying to merge with these people? Wouldn’t that erase them? Doesn’t that mean that my astral family is now gone entirely because I gobbled them up and meshed with them? For most of my time doing this work, my answer for this felt like a resounding yes. That by bringing these parts of myself that I have lost back into the fold that is my personhood, that I would be losing them. But now that I’m halfway through the process, I don’t know that I feel the same way about it. Of course it’s scary, of course I worry that I’m ultimately going to end up closing myself off from the astral by doing this. Of course I worry that this is all just some weird psychology thing where menz are aspects of myself and that this is all “not real.” Of course I worry.

But the process of coming together happened so naturally that it couldn’t fully be stopped. Or stopping it felt wrong.

Some of my menz blended with me very easily. Some of them didn’t need any work at all. But some of them took a long time to make any progress. Before they could come to do their work with me, they had to iron out the kinks between themselves. It turns out that when you’re doing deep-level bonding, you absolutely have to work out the finer details between people if you want the bonds to be strong. One of the many reasons we had issues perfecting this healing earlier on is because small discrepancies between people kept eroding at connections we’d make.

It’s a lot like working with a coworker you can’t stand. Eventually, the tiniest minutia become obnoxious, and we needed to find a way to heal or harmonize those issues out in order to finish the work at hand.

Slowly, one by one, each of us managed to fix our connections. Slowly, we were able to seamlessly shift together. Slowly, I felt less and less differentiation between those of us who had come forward.

But there was still one left. Father-Lover.

 

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Connected in Loneliness

I have been lonely for as long as I can remember, and I’ve handled it in various ways throughout my life. When I was younger, I disassociated all of those feelings away. As I got older, I found the “better” method of handling my loneliness was to funnel it into work. Because if you’re busy, you don’t have time to listen to the feelings gnawing in your stomach. Over the years, I’ve found that I could combine my incessant need to drown things out via work while also trying to fix my constant loneliness. Which is probably why TTR as you know it even exists.

In recent months, I’ve found that the topic of loneliness has been on my mind again. Due to the current circumstances of my life, I find that the feelings of abandonment and neglect that I would have experienced in my youth frequently bubble up to the surface. Because I’ve gotten better at being able to look at my feelings and remain somewhat detached from them, I’ve found that I’m able to actually inspect them before being overwhelmed by them. This has resulted in a fair amount of navel-gazing about loneliness and how it relates to a person’s personal religious practice. And by extension, how it relates to the gods, and whether they get lonely or not.

I suspect that being a member of a more “fringe” religion leads to loneliness playing a larger role in our community’s experience as a whole. Unlike being in the dominant religious group of wherever any of us is living, where you can find physical places to worship with other human beings, most of us are stuck creating our own religious experience in our own homes. I think its all very foreign, this trying to allocate resources to concoct, conceptualize, and implement whatever brings religious meaning to us while still engaging all of the other aspects of our busy lives. It’s a lot of extra work, and I think many of us don’t take the time to consider what impact that can lend to one’s religious experience. It’s a lot easier to build off of something that already exists than to have to figure out how to create it yourself from scratch. It’s a lot more motivating to participate in your religion if it is socially fulfilling or enriching.

In many respects, our choice in religion others us to a degree. And in that sense, our religion creates an ideal space to be lonely.

On a whim. I asked about loneliness and religion over on tumblr. I wanted to see how others relate to loneliness, and how that influences their religious practices. I left the question vague, as I wanted to see how people interpret loneliness without a wider context. I would say that most of the responses fell into a few categories:

  1. Loneliness is an act of being alone. This can allow for greater freedom to connect with the Divine, because there is no one around to interrupt you.
  2. Loneliness as a necessary tool or experiences. That some of our experiences are going to be inherently lonely, because we experience things differently as individuals. In most of these responses, the othering that comes with loneliness is temporary or situational, and not all-encompassing.
  3. Loneliness that separates a person from other people, as in being the only participant of your religion that you know of, or being the only non-white participant in your religious circle. This loneliness is pervasive and persistent.
  4. Loneliness that separates a person from the gods, as in not being able to connect with a deity as much as one would like, due to the fact that they aren’t living in physical forms we can interact with.

In these responses, I would argue that there are two over-arching relationships to loneliness. On one hand, it seems that people equate loneliness to being alone, nothing more and nothing less. On the other hand, it seems that people equate loneliness to being disconnected from others who are similar to themself, which is the definition I tend to err towards. From a mental health perspective, loneliness is not about being alone, it’s about being disconnected from other humans–regardless of how many humans are in physical proximity to you.

The ability to feel connected with people comes from a sense of someone being open and available to you, and by extension, you being open and available to them. It’s an open-door policy that works in both directions, respects both people’s needs and boundaries and leaves both people trusting the other with vulnerable aspects of themself. You can’t be connected with others unless you’re comfortable being vulnerable with them.

When you read that paragraph, how many people come to mind? How many people are you really connected with? How about your gods? Does the definition of connection apply to your relationship with them? Do you think that the gods feel connected with you?

Connection is ultimately the “cure” for loneliness, especially if its chronic in nature. And yet, according to most research, most of us do not feel connected with anyone. I might go so far to venture that many of us don’t even feel connected to ourselves. In recent months I have come to understand isfet as being “stuff that tears at the social fabric of human society,” and by that definition, loneliness might as well be a type of isfet because not only does loneliness make us miserable, it literally cuts your life short.

And if that’s the case, wouldn’t that make connection a form of ma’at? The balm that eradicates isfet from your life and restores the social fabric that us humans require to survive?

If 2019 is the year of making ma’at, then it stands to reason that this should be the year we start to tackle the loneliness that permeates our community. I don’t have any concrete solutions, but this is a call to action for anyone reading to start pondering about how we can work on helping members of our community to become more connected. Not only with each other or the gods, but also with ourselves. Figuring out who we are, making ourselves a priority allows us to give more space to other people when they are in a time of need. Treating ourselves as an important member of our own life helps us to form deeper, healthier relationships with others. Learning about yourself also teaches you how you want other people to treat you, and by extension, helps you create better boundaries, so that you can learn to trust people better. Which ultimately leads to… more ability to connect with others.

When you think about the loneliness that is in your own life or religious practice, what comes to mind? What helps you to feel connected to others? What steps are you performing to create more connection between yourself and others? What are you doing to help yourself become more connected with yourself?

Some resources to get the conversation started:

 
 

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How to Make a Heart: The Void

The void is, by far, the longest, most awful part of this entire “journey” that I have been on these past few years (though March 2019 gives this a run for its money.) I call it the void because it was, for all intents and purposes, the closest to being cut off from everything that I could have ever imagined. It was the absence of all that was familiar, and it was devoid of what felt like any true growth, change, or improvement.

It is, for all intents and purposes, what it’s like to be inert.

I’ve mentioned being inert several times now since trying to scrape my life back together, and I sort of feel silly every time I bring it up, because I feel like I’m constantly bringing it up without ever really being able to grapple with what this inertia actually means for my journey. It’s a thing that I notice, but I never know what to do about it, or with it. And I think that that is partially because I feel that, even now, I am just as inert here in 2019 as I was back at the end of 2016. Even though I know that this isn’t true (read a post from 2015 or 2014 and tell me that the cadence even sounds the same,) it still feels true. It feels as though I’m in exactly the same place I was then, and it feels awful.

Nobody likes to be inert. As humans, its antithetical to what we need to thrive. We’re not meant to stop, to be stagnant, to remain static. It’s not good for our mental health, and yet many of us are stuck throughout our entire lives being effectively stuck in our past. Ideally, you want to be cognizant to your ever-changing surroundings, and remaining open to new possibilities until the day you die.

However, I have come to believe that sometimes you need to be inert. The same way that we need to rest a broken limb, or sleep in after being sick, sometimes we need to slow down and stop what we’re doing. Because if we don’t, we’ll eventually be forced to stop. Or as I liked to call it, being curb checked. My time spent in “the void” was life’s curb check for me. Every post so far in this series contains a number of subtle warnings about what was going to eventually happen. I wanted to try to prevent it from happening, but the bottom fell out anyways. What started as a steady decline ultimately turned into a complete nose dive towards the ground.

And that’s when the screaming began.

One morning I woke up, and I could hear a part of myself screaming and wailing from somewhere. Nonstop. I’d get up and get dressed and go to work and be trying to pay attention all while this consistent, constant AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH went through the background.

I had issues with crying almost all of the time anymore. The tears would just flow and wouldn’t stop. It was as if it was beyond my control. I forgot what time of year it was, why I walked into rooms, where I left things. I dealt with heavy depersonalization combined with dysphoria and derealization. I looked in the mirror and felt this vague sense of “who is this person I’m staring back at” with side elements of “I am a man in a dress” (which is new for me, I’ve never felt this before.) All of my clothes quit fitting because my body ballooned from whatever was going on with it. It became hard to get up. Hard to move around. Hard to walk.

It was as if everything had finally decided to shut down. All the while AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH just kept playing in the background. Is this a bad time to mention that screaming can border on being triggering for me?

One of the strangest things that happened during this time was that I would frequently get visions of being drowned. I could never tell who it was that was doing it, as the distortion from the water I was submerged in masked too much. But I knew that they were familiar, and that it wasn’t right, but I could never seem to stop it.

I lost contact with everything. Religion, astral, myself. At the end of it all, the only thing I could find any solace from while in this darkness was my art. More specifically, my traditional art. Even though I was a designer by trade, I hadn’t touched traditional artwork since college. This is largely because it costs money and supplies to be able to do traditional art, and that was a luxury I didn’t want to afford until I had nothing else to do with my time. Can’t walk? No worries, you can take a drawing pad with you wherever you want. Paint all of the pretty colors you want to ignore the fact that everything in your life feels a shade of grey or black.

Slowly, things began to leak out. Experiences from the astral suddenly spilled out on the page in front of me. My therapist would later tell me that art therapy would be ideal for me (it is,) but it turns out that I had been trying to come to grips with everything that had happened long before I even realized it was a “thing.”

The largest thing I took away from my time in the void was my art. Because I was forced to stop doing everything, I finally made enough space for art to exist within my life again. And even though I can do much more now, I still make time for art because I feel its an ideal processing method for me. I also think it makes for great heka — which is something I’ve been toying with as I (hopefully) move in the final phases of this heart building that I’ve been trudging through.

The second thing I learned from my time in the void is that there is a real raw grittiness that comes with reaching the bottom of your depth as it currently exists. When you’re being drug along the bottom of your life and you can barely tell where you’re at or why you’re even bothering to continue to draw breath, your priorities shift massively. You learn to accept the help that you’re given because its impossible to do everything by yourself anymore. You learn to accept that things will not be to any sort of preferable ideal because you’re so short on energy that you truly have to accept that “what you can do” is better than not at all. Something I tell people all the time, but never really wanted to tell myself.

The third thing that I learned is that the void is sometimes unavoidable. To some extent, if you don’t stop, you will be forced to stop. Even if you feel you can’t stop, or shouldn’t stop, we all have our limits. We need to pay attention to those limits before we hit them.

The screaming did not stop until after I got into therapy, almost a full year after it had started. When I was finally desperate enough to try an SSRI, I found that the ocean that I had been drowning in for a full year suddenly dried up, and that I could no longer access the water anymore. In a lot of ways, the SSRI cut me off from my emotions too much (a sign that it’s not the right medication for me, but alas, I’ve not been stable enough in the past year to wean myself off of it…), but at the same time, I was desperate for any reprieve I could find, and so I relished it.

The void is an awful place to be. It’s a place I’ve spent various phases of my life in, and this particular session pushed me to my limits in every capacity. If there is anything I could tell anyone about their own time in the void, it’s this: don’t give up. As uncle Iroh said:

“Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel. You can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving… you will come to a better place.”

I can’t say that where I’ve ended up is currently better, but the place I arrived at the beginning of 2017, after ages in my own void, felt amazing. It was a beautiful place where I was even capable of feeling happiness — something I have woefully little experience with. Sometimes life is absolute shit, but if you can remain curious about what the future holds, you will always find reasons to keep going.

I am glad I kept going. Even as I sit in a new void, hoping that I will eventually find a way out again, I am glad that I kept trying.

 

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How to Build a Heart: The Maze

The last post that I released in this series is the last bit that I had written back in 2016. Which is to say that everything you read moving forward was written in the here-and-now in 2018.

I bring this up because when I first started this project in April 2016, I had some weird idea that this would all wrap up and be finished around the same time I celebrated Wep Ronpet (early August.) It was an ideal goal because it would be finished around the same time that my astral work would be finished (late July.) A death and a rebirth that coincided on both planes. If timed out well, it’d synchronize perfectly… right?

The problem being that rebuilding yourself is not something that can be rushed. It’s not something you can really control or hold onto tightly. It’s a process that largely is passive and occurs to you — until it doesn’t anymore (see my late 2017-era posts.) And while I felt a burning desire to process what I was going through (hence the tiny bit of writing from 2016,) I quickly realized a few months in that there was no way that this process would be over soon enough to draw any conclusions on what I was experiencing. I usually like to wait until a sequence as complex as this is finished before I write about it, because my perspective and understanding of things often changes as I am, by effect, changed. And once I realized that I wasn’t going to be finishing anytime soon, I stopped trying to write about it all together.

I often question if I did myself in by not writing throughout the entire process. On one hand, I feel like something was gained by completely immersing myself in the process and losing touch with the world around me (this blog included,) but I find myself questioning if I would have saved myself some hell if I had been letting everyone else know what was going on while it happened…. as opposed to two years after things got started.

And I suppose the answer doesn’t matter anymore, since that time has come and gone and my decisions have already been made. However, two years later, I decided that writing about this process was more important than waiting for it to finish — and that’s if writing about it doesn’t turn out to be completely vital for the work to be able to be finished at all. And so here we are — with me trying to remember and make some sense of what all transpired during the past two years of murky transformation.

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When I first started this project, I decided to use a physical representation of myself wading through this mess. I had a copy of the maze used in Westworld, and I moved a small marker representing myself each day through this physical copy of the maze, hoping that somehow it’d help me figure this mess out. I remember being told which ways I could move my marker, in that I wasn’t allowed to cheat and just head for the center. Whoever or whatever was directing me initially made me go the longest route we could find. So I feel like on some level, doing this accomplished something, but ultimately I couldn’t really tell you what exactly it accomplished. If anything, I could only come to assume that perhaps I was teaching myself a path, a way out, that would play out in the here and now over the next few years.

Each time I came to the center I spent a few days there, trying to figure out what to do. And when nothing happened and I couldn’t figure out if I had done something wrong, I started the maze over again, but decided to run it as fast as I could. I reached the center at a much faster rate this time, and once again, I sat in the middle and waited for something to happen.

And eventually, something did. Was it due to being in the maze? Probably not, but I feel like sitting in the epicenter was probably the best place I could have been when it happened.

I feel like I’ve only mentioned it in vague references and passings, but my astral work over the past 5 or so years has been specifically to reach a particular goal. And in the summer of 2016, in the midst of me trying to figure out how to secure a solid state of existence after doing myself in a fit of spite, this goal finally reached its climax.

And it was a messy one.

I’ve found that you can have the best-laid plans, but sometimes things don’t pan out well. I mean, it was well in that we were successful. But if we were going to get a grade for the level of success achieved by our endeavor, I feel the grade would be pretty low. C level if we’re lucky.

In the process of securing my goals, I managed to get myself done in again. This time, it was a complete reset, which is good, but it wasn’t done with an anchor, which makes it risky. I got lucky in that I came back with most of myself intact, and for about a week or so, things were amazing. I felt like I could connect in a way I hadn’t in months. I could see my family, I could be with everyone.

But then everything cut off again, and I was back in the same old darkness I had spent the previous seasons in. I was sent notes about how things unraveled, and I was being assured that everyone was doing as much as they could to speed things along, but ultimately we all knew that this was going to be a long ride.

Eventually, I decided to move the maze under my heart jar. I felt like I was showing that I had conquered that which sought to conquer me. That I would build a better version of myself on the ruins of what I had been through, and that maze was the base of my heart until I moved in 2018.

But as summer faded and I realized that this process was not going to be triggered by completing my astral goal, and that my ability to rebirth myself was in jeopardy for reasons that I didn’t fully understand. Fall finally settled in and the world slowly started to get darker.

And it was about that time that the screaming started.

 

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How to Build a Heart: Creating a Base

If there’s one thing I can say about this entire process that I’ve gone through, it’s that you can’t and shouldn’t underestimate the power that physical items can have on the Unseen. I usually felt like a lot of physical items were there to mainly help myself visually make connections with what I was doing. But that ultimately, a lot of the power was coming entirely from me. However, as I’ve gone through the process of trying to heal Father-Lover, and upon failing that, pushing Father-Lover out of my life, I’ve found that items can definitely do a lot more than I had originally given them credit.

The more I looked through comparisons between what was going on astrally and the items that laid around my house that were connected to astral people, I found that moving items in the house could have an effect on what was going on Over There. So as I began to move forward with rebuilding myself, I knew that I needed to be particularly careful about what I did with the items that I was attaching to myself and to my purpose/goal. To treat the items carelessly could very well undo a lot of the work we were undertaking.

When I first decided that I was going to rebuild my heart, I was pretty excited. I thought the notion of being able to rebuild myself into whoever or whatever I wanted to be was pretty cool, and I looked forward to tailoring who I was into someone more like what I wanted to be. However, I found very fast that this is an incredibly daunting task, and once my health tanked a month after starting this project, I found myself bitterly hating even coming up with this thing.

The first thing that I did was work to establish my ib jar in some capacity. Since it still smelled of weird cherries, I decided that the scent was the first part I needed to work on. Smells are important in Kemeticism, after all. The fine scent of incense is what draws the gods close to us, and I felt that having a nice-smelling heart might help to attract my inner divinity back in.

So first I placed a bunch of coffee beans in the bottom. I was hopeful that they would help to neutralize any remaining cherry smell that was in the jar. I then ground up several flavors of incense and placed them in the bottom of the jar as my base. On top of that, I added some salt for purity purposes, and some of my MMJ tea to help keep myself calm on all levels. I let this steep for a week or so and eventually added another kind of tea that reminds me of my family and considered the scent portion good.

I also added a ma’at feather, to keep myself balanced, and I placed my Ptah pendant in the bottom. I felt that both of these items could help to keep myself more balanced, and to help drive myself to become better at handling my various moods and emotions.

But then I was stuck.

On the astral, we had run into hiccups with my healing. There were several reasons for this, most of which are irrelevant, but the main takeaway was that I should have either woken up and “resurfaced” into my body by this point. Or I should have been able to create an interior space for myself where I could begin to heal. I was still sitting in a black void, though, which meant something wasn’t quite right.

I was urged to embody myself in some capacity. Take a form (whatever I’d like!); create a space to call my own (it can look like whatever you want!); or make some sort of item that reminded me of myself (any shape! any size!). But in every attempt to do these things, I found that I couldn’t. The more I tried to figure out who or what I was “supposed” to be, the more upset I got. The notion of trying to create a space that was all to myself sent me into a panicked frenzy, and it got to a point that even bringing it up made my chest tighten. For someone who knows themself so well on the physical, I apparently don’t know much about myself on the astral. Trying to recreate myself after eons of being merged with someone else was causing me a lot of mental hell.

And I stayed in that hell until the middle of May.

I got so frustrated with my project that I had to put my ib jar away for a while. The simple act of looking at it would make me so upset that I couldn’t stand it. So I thought that some space would be helpful. I still couldn’t see anyone in the Unseen, either, and that was not helping. Usually when I get stuck, I go and talk with the gods or converse with one of my menz or contacts to see what they’d suggest on the matter. But I was still locked in the darkness with everything cut off from me. I would have to figure it out on my own somehow.

Some how.

I would love to tell you that I pushed myself until I really got a deep understanding of who I was or what I wanted to be, but that’s not really how everything went down. It happened very suddenly one day without a whole lot of explanation, when I was kicking around ideas about how to proceed with all of this. At first, I was telling myself that creating my own space wasn’t really that bad, and that I should look at it like being moved from a cubicle jungle to my own office. It’s really not that scary, and nothing says that I have to spend the rest of my time alone because I’ve made my own space (a huge fear I seemed to carry was that I’d be all alone). So think of it like a new office! I just need to figure out what I want my desk to look like.

I continued to kick this idea around until I could suddenly find myself standing in the darkness. Once there, I almost forced myself to envision what I thought my core might look like, and I fine tuned it until I could at least tolerate what I was looking at. And when I finished, I was pulled into that item into an interior space. It wasn’t much, but it was a start.

I also got very lucky while out shopping one day, in that I found a piece of jewelry that screamed “this is it” to me. And by this is it, I mean: this is the piece that will represent yourself. I wasn’t sure if it was correct, and I worried and stressed that I was picking up the wrong thing. However, I was pushed to get it anyways, and so I did. While I still wasn’t sure what exactly I was doing, I at least had enough to get going.

And so the building actually began.

For this project, I decided to take a multi-pronged approach to rebuilding myself. First was to create a sort of “trap” jar that would capture anything harmful that was coming after me. I was in a period of instability, and I wanted to make sure that I protected myself during this time. This involved taking a black jar and filling it with grounding materials and a magnet, and then placing an item inside of the jar that is “like me, but isn’t me”. I then placed it in a safe spot to attract all of the negativity away from me. This way, I wouldn’t have to worry about dodging punches while I healed.

I then made another container that allowed me to let go of some of the negative stuff that was happening around me and stressing me out. I used some of the basic ideas in the post that I got the idea from, but modified it a bit. I chose to use salt and rice as my base, as I consider both to be soothing. This would hopefully allow me to stay calm while I worked on letting go. I used hematite beads that I had laying around in a craft bin, and then I wrote things that I wanted to let go of on paper strips. This included things like the names of people whose negative words needed to leave my mind, bad anon-hate, negative things I tell myself, doubts I had, etc. I left this out in an open place so that I could shake it whenever I felt these things taking hold of me.

grr_jar

Through making both of these items, I felt like I had made a level base to get started on the real work at hand.

I took out my ib jar and added several more things to my scent and ma’at base. I added in pieces of paper that had phrases and sayings on them that I wanted to keep in mind as I moved forward. Things like “You exist beyond someone’s perception of you” or “I am able to connect with myself and those around me”. Things that I felt would help keep the negative self-talk down, and allow me to better exist in the world around me. I also added origami stars to my jar that had dreams and things I’d like to achieve written on them. And for a final touch, I added in a small (fake) fish to eat any negativity that happened to slip in.

I then created a shrine for the jar to rest upon. Everyone needs a place to rest and to recover, and that’s what the shrine was meant to embody. As such, I was careful in what I chose to place in the area, trying to keep in mind that everything here could have some sort of unforeseen effect on the work I was doing.

And with that, the first phase of recreating my heart had begun. But how far would it actually carry me?

 

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In a World Full of Yes

Deciding to finally live for myself couldn’t have been more timely. I knew within a matter of days that the situation I found myself in earlier this year would have done 2016-era me in completely. This is largely because I was suddenly finding myself dealing with my family on a daily basis in ways that I hadn’t had to in the past. I never had to get into it with an aunt about finances or with an uncle about caring for their elderly father.

As the weeks dragged on, I found that most of my family hadn’t changed much from my youth, and that most of them were just as shifty in their behavior as they had always been. With each new round of drama that would crop up, I found myself having to choose between keeping the peace and actually protecting myself. In my youth all I had ever done was work to keep the peace. I chose to make myself smaller so that I might not get ousted from the group, and what I didn’t realize when I decided I was going to go “all in” with life is that you can’t really take the path of least resistance when you’re actually trying to take care of yourself.

With each new experience where I felt like someone was taking advantage of me or trying to hurt me, I could suddenly see my younger self looking back at me, asking me why I was allowing this person to hurt us, to hurt them. I noticed that I was always more willing to put myself in the line of fire for others, but not for myself; a well-known trait for those of us with anxiety. Which meant that if I wanted to walk the walk and not just talk the talk, I’d have to start sticking up for myself in the same way that I would for others, and drawing boundaries in the sand as to how I would allow people to treat me.

For someone like me, this is actually quite terrifying.

Of course, when I talked with my therapist about boundaries, some part of me knew that this was going to happen eventually. She told me that I wasn’t very good at drawing boundaries to keep myself safe. She said that this was partially what caused the violent emotional responses that I was prone to. Because I couldn’t separate myself from everyone around me, I couldn’t help but feel their feelings as though they were mine. I almost felt like I wasn’t being a good person if I wasn’t flinging myself headlong into everyone else’s issues so that I’d know what it felt like to be them in that moment.

And in those moments, I seemed to imagine that drawing boundaries would be empowering. That I’d basically be learning how to cordon myself off from things that would hurt me. That I’d make sure I was safe. I think that my initial concepts of drawing boundaries banked on the notion that I’d be able to actually disengage with anything I didn’t want near me. Which, in its own way, means I was planning on drawing my boundaries by running away.

But what if running away isn’t possible? As is the case when you’re being a caretaker for someone who still has living family that they want in their life. I hadn’t thought about this until I was already in it. You see, for all of the years of being labeled as being aggressive, mean, bitchy, overbearing, etc. I actually do not get off on telling people what to do. I feel uncomfortable asking for simple, basic things, and when I have to do so regularly, it can cause me to have anxiety attacks. But in order to actually protect what I had managed to cultivate, I had to find a way to tell people — family — no.

And so I tried. At first I often would try to soften anything I said. “Could you maybe, possibly think about how that might have come across. It was kind of mean.” or “I’m not really comfortable with that, would it be possible to maybe do something else?” And you know what happened?

People got mad anyways.

[[image of quote that says “If I say no to someone and they get angry, it does NOT mean I should’ve said yes”]]

If there is anything that 2018 has taught me, it’s that you can be as accommodating as humanly possible. As nice as humanly possible. As non-intrusive as you can possibly be. And people who are committed to not meeting you halfway will still call you Too Much, Extra, and my personal favorite, Bitchy. People who are not interested in developing healthy relationships with you will never acknowledge or respect your boundaries without a fight, and that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have set those boundaries.

Above all, I’ve learned that setting boundaries feels less like taking care of yourself and more like fighting a war against people who won’t take no for an answer. The problem being that as awful as fighting a war everyday is, fighting this war is necessary, if not mandatory in order to be healthy. The more I found myself not defining what was okay in terms of how people treated me, the more I found myself not saying no, not standing up and speaking my needs, the more miserable I became.

So it begs to ask — which is worse? A slow death by suffocation via those around me because I was too scared to stand up and say no? Or a slowly-fought battle where I potentially lose people, but can ultimately breathe?

[[image of a quote “It is crucial for deeper level recovery that we learn that feelings of fear, shame and guilt are sometimes signs that we have said or done the right thing.They are emotional flashbacks to how we were traumatized for trying to claim normal human privileges.”Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, Pete walker, pg 78”]]

In Kemeticism, we talk about how isfet has to be battled back every day. The gods have no choice but to engage in this daily battle, or be destroyed by the thing they fight. Every time I’ve talked to the NTRW about fighting back isfet, they don’t seem to be too distraught over it. It’s just a thing that they Have To Do if they want to live a certain quality of life, and there is very little baggage tied to it at this point.

As I continue to work on drawing boundaries for myself, I begin to think more about this comparison, and how if I allow other people to constantly take advantage of me, how my life will be overrun with isfet. How I can’t, in good conscience, tell myself that I’m trying to live in ma’at while not actively trying to dispel the isfet I’ve inadvertently let in my life. I remind myself that anything worth having is worth fighting for, and if I’m not worth fighting for, then what is?

And so the battle continues. May it get easier to do, and feel less like a battle in time. For all of us.

How do boundaries play a role in your life? How do you create boundaries in your life?

Resources for developing boundaries:

 

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How to Build a Heart: The Curious Case of Father-Lover

This is a series that I have been working on since 2016. Some of the parts of this series were written back in 2016, and other parts were written here in 2018. This series will focus on astral work and the heka I’ve been experimenting in tandem with said work. Abuse will be discussed, as such, viewer discretion is advised.

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There is a saying about times and measures and desperation. In the astral, it seems like rocks and hard places are always the norm. This is a story of when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object, and the aftermath that comes with it.

This story is long, and so I am breaking this into a series of posts for your ease of reading. This work is still ongoing, and as such, it may be a while before I am able to draw any heavy or final conclusions about certain aspects of what will be discussed and its possible that there will be long breaks in between posts in this series as I wait for things to develop/happen. In many ways, you can consider this series to be similar to my Mysteries and Cycle series back in the day.

Late in the summer of 2015, I wrote about losing an astral partner that was close (and yet oh, so, far) to me. I bring this up, because as it turns out, there was another part of this person running around on the astral at the same time. Lo, this other shard had been around just about as long as the person I lost (about ten years our time), and was still hanging around when my partner finally passed on. The biggest issue was that I didn’t realize what or who he was until after the other piece had passed on. I didn’t realize a lot of things until after that person passed on.

Nothing brings families together or tears them apart quite like death.

I had learned that my mentor was not only a shard of the person who had passed, but was in fact the creator and source of that person. To say that the man we eventually called “Father-Lover” was a shard of the person who had passed was technically incorrect–the man who had passed was actually a shard of Father-Lover.

As I began to sift through the history between all of us, I found that this goes deeper than just that. The mentor that I had been working with since college was far more than just a father-figure to me once upon a time. Oh no, just being a mentor is not enough for this dog and pony show. We call him Father-Lover for a reason, for he was more than just my “father.” He had been a lover of mine once upon a time, too.

But wait, there’s more!

It turns out that he and I used to be one, except at the time, he was whole and complete and looked like someone else entirely. But after he lost too much of himself, he changed. The problem being that we were still attached at the hip and technically have been ever since. My musings about my heart feeling literally broken after Rosetjau suddenly made sense to me: when I had “reset” my mentor, I had inadvertently reset part of myself. Killing him meant killing a part of myself.

There are many take-away lessons that I could pass on to you from trying to heal Father-Lover.

One is that you should never place your most important bits into someone else. It’s a surefire way to be screwed over. If not by you, by someone else. Ultimately, you need to be responsible for your own well being. No one else should do it for you because eventually that someone else will be compromised, and its just easier to keep track of yourself when you contain your most-important pieces.

Similarly, cutting yourself off from yourself doesn’t work, either. Like magnets, eventually you will attract yourself back into yourself, and if you’ve been trying avoid that scenario, the results are usually pretty catastrophic when the inevitable comes to pass. For those of us who can’t literally cut ourselves into smaller beings that are separate, the equivalent would be ignoring parts of yourself that need addressing. Repressing feelings and issues that need to be worked on only works until it doesn’t anymore. And by the time that it doesn’t work, things are usually going to be in shambles.

Another lesson is that you should never put all of your eggs into one basket. Trying to push off the work because it’s too painful only goes so far. As I found out, Father-Lover had been banking on my partner to “succeed” him, but when my partner firmly refused because he didn’t feel it was his place (him being a shard, he felt it was more proper for the source to have that honor), two wills clashed and my partner’s won out. Father-Lover had spent so much time banking on this other person doing the heavy lifting that he was nearly crushed by the weight of his choices.

And keep in mind that if he is crushed, I get crushed, too. Being one person will do that to you. His actions not only affected himself, but myself and others that are contained within me or attached to me. That’s a lesson, too: things rarely just affect you. There is always collateral damage. You should be considerate of who you are screwing over in the process of saving your skin or avoiding work. The main reason my partner could never heal is partially because his source refused to heal. None of our attempts ever took because we were treating symptoms, but never addressing the source. Separating himself (my partner) from himself (Father-Lover) wasn’t stopping the bleed-through from occurring. If anything, it just made the healing process more difficult.

Once I knew who Father-Lover actually was, and what role he played in all of this, I set out to finish what I had started with my partner. To an extent, my partner’s death didn’t change anything–we still needed to fix the source of the problem in order to un-knot all of the threads keeping us here. My partner dying didn’t relieve Father-Lover of his duty. Instead, it forced it upon him.

I began working on him at the end of 2015. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to suddenly learn that someone you’ve thought of as a father was actually your lover before Things Happened, but it makes for awkward situations and tension. Even if Father-Lover had been intent on fixing himself (he wasn’t), I think we would have had issues doing the work simply because his facade had been destroyed. He could no longer hide who he was, or what we were “supposed” to be. It’s like when Christine pulls the mask off of the Phantom. By removing his veneer, I had changed the relationship permanently.

While our relationship as mentor-mentee was pretty smooth and drama-free, as soon as we began to shift into whatever-this-is-supposed-be, I found that he became drastically more and more unstable. As he worked to take up his “proper” role (that is to say–as an equal, and not so much as a mentor–the lover stuff was only as relevant as we wanted it to be), I found that he began to bleed into every other area of my relationships. He’d co-opt songs and symbols that had already been claimed by other menz. He’d infect, claim, and overlay onto others bond lines without consent. He’d have bouts of jealousy and anger where he lashed out at my other menz for being around me, or at me for being around them.

For all intents and purposes, the act of healing him was doing the exact opposite. But as I’ve mentioned before, if you don’t want to heal, odds are you won’t.

As the weeks began to span into months, his actions got worse and worse. I soon found myself locked in a black space where I couldn’t get out and no one else could get in. His being a part of myself was becoming my downfall as he had access to every part of me. It wasn’t hard for him to control things from a deeper level because he had his hands in nearly everything, and to a degree, knew my innards better than I did.

By the time that April 2016 rolled around, I knew that something needed to give. I just wasn’t sure how it was going to give. This is that rock and hard place, those desperate times and measures. In the same way that the unstoppable will of my now-dead partner collided with the immovable will of Father-Lover in 2015, my unstoppable will to survive this was about to collide with Father-Lover’s immovable will to heal or let go.

I took actions into my own hands. Well, asleep me took action into my own hands.

I went to bed on Saturday night, and everything was fine (as fine as being locked in an endless vat of black can be), but by the time Sunday morning rolled around, I had found that I had had some sort of altercation while asleep. There were Taint stains on my hands and shirt, and it was obvious to me that something had happened.

It would take most of the day for me to figure out what exactly, though. The short version was that I was tired of Father-Lover’s waffling on the issues at hand, and in order to force a change, I removed all of his pieces from myself. Now, for those of you who don’t know much about bonding, this process is usually not easy or fun. After my partner died, I had to go and have everything removed from my person for safety reasons, and it was a thoroughly-planned week-long affair. This, on the other hand, was done very haphazardly, and it wasn’t just bond lines. As I had mentioned above, we were merged on a core level. Which means that removing him from my person involved removing the bulk of my core and giving it back to him.

I had essentially ripped the heart out of my chest and given it to him. That way, he had everything that was “his” (what truly is “his” or “mine” when you are technically one being…) and I was no longer liable to fix his problems. And before I even hit the floor from the pain, he had left.

Ultimately he never came back. He drew his final breaths a few months later when things truly drew to a close for us.

This, of course, left me wondering what to do about my missing core-bits. Losing small chunks of yourself is not a huge deal, but this was probably well over 3/4th’s of my core that I had forked over in a possible fit of spite. I had people who could help me on the astral for stabilizing myself out, but the bulk of the work would fall to me. You can’t rely on someone else to make you, after all.

It was on the very same day that I had woken up a complete Taint-stained mess that my partner (in the physical) had found an old jar in the cupboard. When I looked at it, I knew that I wanted to use it for an ib project of some kind. And by the end of the day when I had figured out what all had transpired, I knew that which ib project I would be relegating it to. Now I just had to figure out how to actually make it happen.

 

 
 

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