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Souls are like Ceramics

There is a tea set that I use frequently. This set consists of four pieces: a saucer, the cup, a teapot, and a lid. All of these pieces nest together to make a very nice, compact arrangement.

Tea Set

And if you will indulge me, I would like to compare this tea set to a soul.

I know that many of us think that souls are all in one piece, but the truth is that this isn’t really the case. Sometimes your soul line can be in only a few entities, but in many cases, one’s soul is spread out across many many existences, like branches on a tree (see also: Donut Theory). In the case of this tea set, the “soul” would take up four pieces- residing in each of the parts of the set. These pieces work well together and fit well together in order to make a complete setting that can be used for drinking tea.

Of course, each of these pieces could be separate entities- such as bond mates, but sometimes they are “duplicates” of yourself, if you will, which are sometimes called facets by members of the astral community. Soul bits and pieces can be spread apart many different beings, some of which may look like you, and some of which may not. Some of these pieces may work well together and fit well together like the pieces of this tea set. Or sometimes these pieces don’t fit well together at all, and they end up falling over when you open up your cabinet.

via Flickr

So when I got this tea set, it was a whole set that worked well together. Everything fit well together and worked smoothly and everything was great. But one day I was stupid, and I dropped one of the pieces- the lid from the top of the teapot. I remember watching it fall and trying to catch it before it hit the ground, and ultimately failing. The lid shattered into several pieces that flew in different directions across the room.

Souls can do this, too. Souls can be broken, splintered, shattered, and otherwise ripped apart. You can cleave non-physical beings into multiple pieces- both by force and by choice. When a soul is broken apart, its usually not done on purpose (at least in my experience), and just like the shards of ceramic flying across my kitchen floor, so too can soul bits go flying across the universe. These bits can be large or small, they can fly by themselves and land totally separate from everything else, or they can land close together where they are easily gathered back up.

I looked to gather up as much of the broken lid as possible, with the hope that maybe I could glue it back together and make it usable again. But the truth of the matter is, no matter how few pieces a piece of ceramic breaks into- you will always be missing something. There are tiny bits that you’ll never ever be able to get back.

And in this case, some of the pieces went flying under the fridge where they would never be seen again. Some rolled under the stove, and others were just too small to be salvageable. For all I know, the piece under the fridge was picked up by an ant and carted off to be used somewhere else. And soul bits are like that, too. Have a piece that flies off into no man’s land? Good luck getting it back. And if some less-than-savory character happens across that piece where you can’t reach it anymore? Well, that’s how you wake up in the astral with 93858746 years of fuckery to clean up.

Just like with the lid, when a soul breaks, it rarely gets put back together in the same way that it was before the initial fracture. There are ways to “glue” a soul back together. To re-melt it and re-forge it into something new and shiny. But when you do that, it’s rarely the same person, entity, or consciousness that it was before. It would be the equivalent of making an entirely new cup from old materials. The materials of the previous cup may exist within the new cup, but the cup is technically still very different.

Of course, my tea set technically works just as well without the lid (though my teapot may be sad to be missing its companion). I could have decided to scrap the lid entirely, and go from having a four piece tea set to a three piece tea set. You can do that with soul bits, too, technically. You can destroy them, consume them, discard them. But even then, you can only destroy what you have in your hands. That piece that landed under the fridge that the ant got a hold of? I can’t do much about that. Not until I find the shard again. Another possibility is taking the larger pieces of ceramic and using them in another project such as a mosaic. You can also do that with soul pieces. You can meld them together, break them down and reform them with other soul pieces into new souls or beings. You can shove pieces of one soul or entity into another entity (with and without consent, with a variety of outcomes from doing so). There are many options for how you can handle shards.

And of course, I have to decide if I want to move into having a three piece tea set. Sometimes you really really want to salvage whatever you can, even if the “fixed” piece isn’t the same as it was before. Much like with Japanese Kintsugi, sometimes people think that flaws and break lines add character to a person or an item.

tealidIn the case of the lid, I gathered up as much as I could. We worked to glue it back together as best as possible. Of course, there were pieces I couldn’t get. There are now holes in the lid. There are huge chunks missing. The lid works, but it doesn’t really work as well as it did before. You have to be more careful with it. You have to be conscientious of how you handle it. It now has special needs that you have to recognize in order to utilize it. This probably sounds familiar to anyone whose body has broken down on them over the years. Spoonies spend their entire existence catering to the fickle needs of their body.

Souls can get like that, too. The soul can break, it can be thrown across the universe, and you have to go and find as many pieces as you possibly can. Sometimes you’ll think you have them all, but when you glue the thing back together, you realize you’re missing a ton of pieces. You can try to compensate for this with gold or mortar or thicker glue. Or you can just leave the holes there like scars that tell a tale of your past. Sometimes you’ll be living with those holes, and you’ll suddenly stumble across another piece- you know, the one that the ant took. And you’ll take it into you and you’ll feel it click into place. Sometimes you’ll grab a piece up you didn’t even know was missing to begin with, and feel the solidity of having that gap filled.

Other times your “lid” will break and you won’t be able to glue it back together. So instead, you opt to find a new “lid” to replace it, to try and fill the hole that the missing piece has left in your “set”, in your existence. Or you’ll continue on and live with the hole that now exists within you- for better or worse.

In many ways, my work over on the astral has been a lot like fixing this lid. I woke up over there to find that I had holes in my body, holes in my soul line, and holes in my heart. I spent years working to find the pieces to fill these holes. I can’t tell you how many places I’ve been because I finally picked up on a tiny soul shard, and upon finding it, I had to extract my piece out of the situation so that it could be rejoined with the “set”. It has taken years, and my “lid” still isn’t finished. I don’t know if it will ever be entirely whole again (despite the whole “two pieces now made whole” thing). But sometimes that is the best you can do when things go wrong. Much like with my tea set, I have to learn to like the various flaws that now exist within the lid because I wasn’t careful with it. Much like with my body that isn’t ideal, I have to learn to work with the shortcomings that exist in my life. And much like with my soul, there will likely always be reminders of being broken- some of them in the form of holes, some of them in the form of lines of gold.

Because souls are like that. Imperfect. Breakable. And yet strangely durable.

 

 

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All Souls

Prayer Form

Blank Prayer Form

Last weekend I got to participate in a local event called the “All Souls Procession”. It’s a play off of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is a big deal down here in the southwest. The idea came from an artist who was coping with loss of a loved one- and it exploded into this huge thing (as I understand it). People come from all over to join in this procession- walking with hundreds (thousands) of others to remember those who have gone before us.

I joined in with a local taiko group who treats the event very similarly to Obon- a Japanese festival which also happens to honor your dead. Very similarly to Dia de Los Muertos (and Feast of the Beautiful Valley), Obon is characterized by visiting graves of those who have passed and sharing a meal with said people. It is also characterized by dancing- which is what this group does in the procession.

Besides the procession itself, I think the most important part of this festival is the burning of the Urn. Every participant is asked to print out and fill out a Prayer Form. This form will then be put into a huge urn which is burned at the end of the evening. Everything that you were doing led up to this point- the burning of the urn. The letting go of whatever you had put onto the form. Letting go of the past.

To prepare for this, I printed out my form a week in advance. I placed it on my altar (heh) and let Set and Asar stand on it. Giving it their awesome ju-ju. I placed my Obon towel on the form- hoping that maybe something would click for me (I seriously didn’t know what to write). The night before the procession, I offered the gods fake wine, hot tea and cupcakes (which Set is reputed to like). I sat there and looked at my paper- trying to figure out what to write. I’ve had a lot happen lately, and there are a lot of things I want to let go of. With that, there are a lot of things that I want to celebrate and am looking forward to. I’m a very mixed person right now. Eventually, after a lot of thinking, I figured out what to write on the form. I folded it up high school note style and left it at the feet of my gods.

The day of the procession was hectic. I was hoping things would have gone smoother, that I would feel this aweHakama Tying inspiring magic of it all. But really? It didn’t happen. I was rushed, tired, and running on next to nothing. After walking the procession, I was even more tired and low on food options. It was freezing and all I wanted to do was curl up in a nice warm bed. However, this made me think about the recently popular topic of trial work and pain in ritual. Shouldn’t letting go involve some work? Perhaps be a bit uncomfortable? Is there anything really wrong with that? I mean, I am asking the gods to help me unload a bunch of crap off of my chest- the least I can do is keep my chin up while going through the process.

Walking the procession was interesting. There were people who were jerks, there were people who were really awesome. There we a couple of people who started to learn the dance and would dance with us- which is the way Obon should be. In that regard, it was awesome. During the procession, there are two parts where you walk through underpasses. In these sections, people scream and holler. It’s absolutely deafening- but for me, it was the best part. The energy, you couldn’t escape it.

At the end of the night, I was tired and grumpy. I seriously questioned why I would want to do this- freeze my butt off and walk all this way just to watch a big ball of flames. But I told myself to give it time and that perhaps in time things would be better and I would understand more about why I did this. I think that has happened. Since burning my paper (which was so full of energy I could barely touch it) I have finally decided that I need to get my health in order. I’ve worked on a list of priorities for things I need to get done. I feel like things are moving, however slowly, and that somehow burning my paper really did help me.

All in all, I do think that this was a good experience. I learned that I will be doing things a little differently next year, but the fact that I say “next year” says something, I think. I want to continue this, I want to make this a part of my yearly ritual calendar, and I want to be a part of something larger than me. I can’t wait to walk next year.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Kemeticism, Shintoism

 

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