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Eating a Mystery: Weeks 2-4

It seemed that a few days into my second week, the concept of contemplating my “father” while eating had dried up. I’d sit at the table and try to think about fathers and what it means to glorify one, and my brain would seem to hit a wall. I can’t tell if this means I’ve properly worked through enough of this topic and need to move onto something else, or if this is just my brain being my brain. Either way, I decided that I should instead figure out what it would mean to glorify myself through eating.

When I think of glorification and what it’s trying to do, I feel like one of the biggest components is making the entity being glorified feel comfortable and content in the space that you’re in. As I’ve stated so many times, I don’t really like eating and I dislike cooking even more, and feeling this way while eating seems antithetical to being glorified. So I began to ask myself: what would make the eating/cooking process more enjoyable? What would make me feel decent while I ate, but also wouldn’t distract me from eating? What could I do that would allow me to feel like I was taking care of myself more?

The tentative answer became “add music.”

Music is one of those things that is super helpful with moderating my emotions. I can use it to keep me distracted from my depressive thoughts while still having enough mental space to pay attention to what I’m doing. If I use the right combination, I can use music to slowly drag myself into a different headspace, and I often use it to pull myself out of deeper depression spots whenever possible. So I started to listen to music while cooking and eating to see if it would help.

I found that by doing this, I ended up taking more time to cook and eat, and therefore would sometimes eat more than I might have otherwise. In this respect, I think music is a successful addition to my eating method.

I also began to ask myself if adding some things that were not on diet could help me eat more. For example, I love croutons on my salads, but they’re not allowed under my diet restrictions. However, I could add a small amount of them in, and likely not incur any major issues with my health. So I began to do this to try and motivate myself to eat more. My hope was that once I was capable of eating on the regular, I could then start to trim out stuff that was bad for me. If eating is more important than eating a specific way, then this seemed like a good interim solution.

Sometime during these two weeks, I received a visit from another NTR. This one is one I could consider something of a father, perhaps, and I was asked to focus on him for a bit, since my situation with O never changed. After working with him for a few days, I began to feel as though my rejection of what had happened between me and O was necessary, a necessary part of healing both of us, and so I began to feel less concerned over whether I had messed everything up or not.

And that’s really all that happened during weeks two and three. I honestly began to worry if I’d have enough to warrant an entire post, because once my PMDD settled down, it became easier to eat and the music helped me not be so bothered by the process. However, on the last day of week three, I noticed that I was beginning to struggle again. I didn’t want to eat anything, I couldn’t bring myself to eat anything I had in the house, and all I wanted was food that was bad for me.

The final week proved to be as disastrous as the first in some respects. I had emotional turmoil trying to force myself to eat what I didn’t want to. I found myself not wanting anything, and I was prone to putting off the act of eating in the hopes that somehow I would be able to figure it out, even though I knew I wasn’t likely going to figure it out. By this stage, the act of eating had become more normalized, and I knew that if I didn’t eat, the pang in my stomach would be even worse than before I had started this jaunt, but that didn’t make it any easier to convince myself that eating what I had in the house needed to happen.

I couldn’t tell you how I managed to do it, but I seemingly managed to force myself to eat despite the hurdles. But what it really confirmed for me is that my illnesses really do inhibit my ability to get things done. Its no mystery why my execrations were the hardest to get done: they always occurred when my PMDD was at its strongest. And when the Monthly Ma’at rituals ended up at the end of the month as well, well, those stopped happening, too.

This, of course, brings up a lot of questions about where the line between obligation and personal needs should be. Whether the NTRW (or frankly, our judgemental peers) understand the need for leeway for those of us who have chronic illness; where there are going to always be periods of time where doing things is just not likely to happen. And, of course, how harshly one judges themselves for having those limitations and how that bleeds into our religious community and expereince. But that’s a separate post for another day.

Right before the very end of my month, I finally was given access to do the work that I had been trying to do for years. I spent three days on the task, and within a few days after being finished, I could feel some things finally settle into place on my end. Does that mean I was successful? Does it mean that I was able to get something done? Does that mean that eating for a month was useful? I couldn’t say.

But at least I can now go back to “normal”? Which now does seem to involve eating multiple times per day. So I guess if nothing else, I can say that this year’s Mysteries might have gotten back into eating regularly again, even if I’m still not sure what purpose this serves to help glorify my “father.”

 
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Posted by on December 30, 2019 in Kemeticism, Year of Rites

 

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Eating a Mystery: week 1

CW: This post gets heavy and may be difficult for people who have issues with suicidal ideation or depression.


The first week has been checkered.

Each meal has been eaten, but sometimes I’ve not been full when I’m done, sometimes the meals are lackluster, and sometimes I’m purposefully distracting myself from eating because its the only way I could find to eat. I’ve had to sort out where the rules can be bent and where they can’t, because trying to eat while teetering on the edge of a meltdown is very challenging. Making the choice between what is more important: being present or being able to eat has not always been clear, and I often erred on the side of eating over mindfulness, and hopefully O would agree to that decision, but I’ve really no way of knowing. Breakfast is usually one of the least-mindful meals because I’m often barely functional at 6 in the morning, and its not uncommon for my depression to be sky high first thing in the morning. In situations where I found myself eating with others, I often decided it was more important to be present than to focus on navel gazing. Hopefully these are the right answers to whatever is going on because no one gave me any guidelines for these sorts of situations.

As it turns out, its hard to want to nourish yourself when you 1. don’t want to nourish yourself and 2. aren’t particularly interested in nourishing the person who directed you to do this to begin with. Every time I’ve sat down to eat, I’ve heard a phrase run through my head, a sort of attempt to put me in the right state of mind for what I’m trying to achieve, and most times when I think about nourishing myself to nourish O, I have difficulties with wanting to.

There is a large rift between us, and I still don’t entirely understand how it got there, but its there all the same. I’ve not trusted him for years, and while I was willing to finish the work I had started in 2016, I ultimately haven’t wanted him touching anything that is mine. I’ve had this inherent desire to draw a very thick boundary between my work and what I do for the NTRW, lest they decide to dip their fingers into my stuff without asking permission. Where did this come from? I don’t know, but its been there and it’s not gone away.

Asking me to nourish my body for a god I don’t want anywhere near me is asking a lot. Asking a god I don’t want near me to potentially draw close to my body because that’s where the nourishment is is asking almost too much, apparently.

There was a bout at some point during the week where I really rifled through all of my memories of O, and our earliest interactions were not what I’d consider to be, uh, healthy or consensual. Boundaries have been crossed by him in nearly every respect, and yet somehow I’m still here, and I’m really skeeved by that. I had an overwhelming moment where I found myself rejecting what he had done, and I think by extension, rejected him. I can’t tell what impact that’s going to have, since my ability to really tap into anything from O since has basically disappeared. For all I know, I’ve broken it or messed it up before the first week was even done. I can’t even tell if I’m bothered by that.

I’d sometimes shift my thoughts to nourishing Father-Lover instead, to see how I felt about my nourishment nourishing him. Parts of me were just as against the idea of nourishing him as they are against O, but my thoughts regarding FL were mostly tinged with sadness over contempt. I found that the biggest hiccup with FL was that I never mourned him in any of the situations where he was, well, killed. Each situation where it happened, I had no way of knowing if he’d show back up again or not. He was so hellbent on not coming back, and yet it seemed cruel that inevitably, he would eventually re-manifest back in the same awful place he tried to leave to begin with. It’s partially why we got on so well together — we could both commiserate about how little we wanted to be alive.

Of course, he eventually got what he wanted, leaving me with one less person in my life.

I made some artwork to try and process the mourning that I never completed. I would be lying if I said I knew if it helped or not. There are moments when I think it has, and there are moments when I’m sure that it hasn’t. Though as the week dragged on, I found that my focus shifted from “fathers” to myself and my inability to want to take care of myself.

Someone had commented on the last post about how the act of making my food could be folded into all of this. I know it could be, but the idea sounds awful to me. Any attempts to really cuddle up with the notion of being invested in my food prep have left me frustrated and against the idea. The thought of investing myself even more into making food that I ultimately don’t like, that ultimately doesn’t seem to ever fill me or sate me just sounds like Too Much. So even though I’m supposed to be really going all in with eating, its just not happening. I don’t like eating, food is not pleasurable to me, cooking is boring and sucks the life out of me, and I just really don’t know how to get around that.

When I went to therapy, one of the first issues she really wanted me to sort out was being invested in being alive. She told me that I couldn’t expect life to ever be worthwhile if I was only half-assing everything I did. Which is fair, I guess. Shortly after I really tried to start going “all in” on life, and I held on to my motivation to push forward despite the odds until sometime last winter. I felt it slowly slipping away from me as the spaces that had been inviting before began to change, and suddenly they became lonely and alienating for me. I lost more of my friends, and with it, everywhere I went just felt all that much more isolating. I pulled back on every social media platform because of this, trying to shelter myself from the loneliness that howls inside of me, and by the time I began having daily panic attacks in March, I knew that “all in” was gone.

And perhaps that’s the largest core issue for me so far with everything tied to this “project.” I’m not invested in living at this point. Its a combination of so many things that have converged to really just suck the desire to bother out of me. I am a burden to myself, a trait I learned by being a burden to my parents and family. I abandon myself because that’s what people do when they are abandoned by others (particularly at a young age). These two things feed into one another — you don’t want to do the work when it feels like a burden, especially because you’re not invested in the person/s you’re doing the work for. I can barely muster the effort to do basics so that I’ll be here for my partner, a person I actually care about, let alone a deity that I feel like I can barely tolerate at this point. Instead of drawing me closer to wanting to sustain myself or sustain my gods, its mostly just dredged up all of the reasons why I’d rather not.

I have no clue if this is what O had in mind when he tasked me with this, but here we are all the same.

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2019 in Kemeticism, Year of Rites

 

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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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Mysteries 2015, Pt 2

A month ago I locked one of my patron deities in a box. Shortly beforehand, he told me to spend the month of solitude “taking care of myself.” I didn’t like this idea, as I had mentioned in my first post on this year’s Mysteries, but I decided to roll with it, as I feared that ignoring his request demand would result in missing out on a learning opportunity of some kind. I’m one of those annoying people that runs headlong into everything that the gods throw at them, even if the task is suckfest, because I’m always looking for the chance to improve or learn.

So I did what he asked. I placed him in the shrine, locked the doors and did nothing for a month. Or at least, nothing overly religious. The ideas I had had about blogging about mourning, the rituals I wanted to do, all of it got put on hold in an attempt to do nothing but “take care of myself” as Osiris had asked of me.

As the month passed, I pondered about whether I should be doing anything more for O while he went through his annual “rejuvenation vacation”. Should I give him incense every day? Should I be actively mourning? Should I be contemplating life and death? And then I’d remind myself that I’m not supposed to really be doing anything that didn’t play a role in self-care. He didn’t give me instructions beyond taking care of myself, and yet all I could think to do was find ways to put myself out in an attempt to honor Him.

I’m not good at this, sometimes.

Even though I was constantly worrying about what I “should” be doing, deep down I knew that I didn’t really want to think about death or mourning. I had had so much experience mourning over the previous year that it was the last thing I wanted to think about. In a way, I was probably a little bit happy that he wasn’t leading me through gut-wrenching adventures this year. It’s very true that I even though I wanted to do more for the Mysteries, I desperately needed a break from everything I had been through. But even though I was doing my best to take care of myself and not worry about Him or what the Mysteries entail, I found myself thinking about mourning all the same. I’d watch something thinking that it would be okay, but then there would be a character who had lost someone- a friend, a family member, their dog- and suddenly I’d be thinking about death again. I’d slip back into the depths of my own mind and constantly remind myself of what I had lost.

Even though he had told me to not focus on the Mysteries, the themes of the holiday found me all the same. If there is something that I’ve learned about death and mourning over this past year, it’s that it finds you whether you want it to or not. In many ways, it’s out of your control.

I want to diver for a moment and mention that normally I wouldn’t have made a second post about this set of Mysteries. My “celebrations” (inasmuch as anything tied to the Mysteries is a celebration) included things like lighting incense when I felt inclined, fiddling with the beads that O made me wear while I scrolled through tumblr, or leaving water in front of Set’s icon so that he wouldn’t get thirsty. And those were only the productive celebrations. Aside from these things there were plenty of days where I did nothing but be a sack of sadness, or where I’d sit in my chair and disassociate for half an hour.

When it’s all said and done, I did very little for this year’s rites. Because I did so little, and because there is no overarching take home point to tell all of you about, I usually wouldn’t bother to even bring it up to begin with. I’d move on to other posts and other topics that might have a more perceived benefit for my readers than telling you about the month where I wallowed in depression.

However, it’s also a pretty well-known problem that a lot of people assume that people like me always have something going on. “Everyone else has more involved practices than I do. They are able to do so much more!” And I wanted to give you an example of what my practice commonly does look like. I have periods of intense work (such as the Mysteries of 2013), and those are often followed up with months of very little- much like what you’re reading about here.

Not every holiday will be spectacular. Not every rite will be mind blowing or eye opening. Sometimes the only point a god is trying to get home to you is that you are worth taking care of, and that you need to take care of yourself. Sometimes doing nothing is good, even if it’s not what we want.

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By the time the month was drawing to a close, I was super ready to open the shrine again. Upon thinking about it more, I believe that part of the reason that I wanted to do so much was because I wanted to reconnect with the gods after having been gone for so long, and I think this played a role in wanting to skip the final day and open everything up early. However, I can understand that those feelings are misplaced when I allow them to drive me into doing too much and losing all of my spoons, and as such, I forced myself to wait the full cycle before opening the doors. I finally had gotten some flowers to place in my mini-vase, and so I adorned the shrine with them in celebration of Osiris’s return.

That is a summation of the Mysteries of 2015. A whole lot of sitting around and doing very little. Sometimes that’s all you can do. Sometimes that’s all you should do. And sometimes it’s a little bit of both.

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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Mysteries 2015

This year I decided that I was going to celebrate the Mysteries like I used to once upon a time. In recent years I have done work Over There with Osiris for his yearly holiday (if it can be called a holiday), but I haven’t done too much out here to mirror that. Due to an inability to do anything last year here or there, I decided that I would make sure that I did the physical trappings of the holiday in my home this year, even if I couldn’t do anything else.

Originally I had wanted to do more, but Osiris wouldn’t let me. He’s been consistently telling me that he doesn’t want me to do anything more than my standard rites. It’s not that I haven’t offered to do more, it’s that he doesn’t want me to do more. “You need to take care of yourself” has been the motto. I’m not really sure how sitting on my thumbs when I could be running some community heka is taking care of myself, but he was very firm in his request. I didn’t want to ignore his demands, as that might be missing the point that he was trying to drive home, but I have been less than happy about being told to do what I equate to nothing.

Nothing is not something that I excel at. Even when I fully want to sit around and be lazy, I have a hard time letting myself indulge in the behaviour. Even when I know that I need to stop and rest, I have a hard time actually following through. I have been raised to always be busy, even when it’s not particularly productive or helpful to me. However, Osiris has told me many times over that doing nothing is important. It’s part of his process, part of his Mysteries, if you will. After you die, you do nothing. You lay there completely inert and helpless. You are at the mercy of the world around you. Your only hope is whoever you have around you to help assist you in the process. In the case of the Mysteries, those people would largely be Anup, Aset, Nebhet and Heru. In a more human sense, it would be whomever outlives you- usually family members and friends.

Nothing is part of the process. In order to really understand and embrace Osiris’ ways, you have to learn to do nothing and be somewhat okay with it.

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This year’s rites were not that different from the ritual I linked to above. I cleaned out my shrine and the surrounding area. I removed all excessive decoration and made sure that everything was clear of dust. I selected a range of re-ment offerings to leave in the shrine box with Osiris for the next month. I focused largely on bread and beer, as they have a lot of significance to Osiris due to his associations with grain. I also included some greenery and placed the bread offerings on top of a lily pad to represent new growth. I included an egg and a bowl of nuts for fertility. Incense in a shade of green to invoke growth and to also bring the gods forward, as they love good smelling things. I included scarabs, which are all about rebirth. I placed a chicken leg on top of the bread because it’s the closest thing that I have to a beef foreleg, and has ties to Opening the Mouth ceremonies and symbolizes strength and power. And a chocolate, because who doesn’t love chocolate.

What is different from past years was that I included myself in the shrine box for once. I placed myself opposite of the offerings and Osiris, as a means to invoke a follower giving things to their god. I’m not sure if that would be historically supported, but he gave me the permission to do so, so I thought I would try it.

I also changed up some of the wrapping style this year. I included my amulets with him. The djed pillar tucked close to his back for stability. The sekhem wrapped up close to his chest for strength. And the ma’at feather to help him achieve balance in his endeavors. You would include amulets with a mummy, so I felt that it was applicable here as well.

I placed everything in the shrine and probably stared at it for 20 minutes before I could bring myself to close it. Once it is closed, you can’t open it until the following new moon, and that weighed on me particularly heavy this year. I asked him if it ever got easier- going through this process of death every year. He told me no, and that that was the point. If I was not being effected by it, then I was not truly open to what I was experiencing.

Myst_002

Once I could finally bring myself to do so, I closed the doors and locked them up. One month of not being able to access anything inside. One month of doing “nothing” or whatever it is that Osiris has tucked up his sleeve.

And it’s not just one month for me, either. It’s one month for Set as well. The downside to performing the rites in this fashion is that he loses his home as well. A yearly reminder that stability and Order come at a price. A reminder that nothing is truly ever stable or eternal, but that only through the consistent work of everyone can stability or eternity hope to be achieved. A reminder that his place within the pantheon of the NTRW will always be a little bit love-hate.

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Although it might seem weird to place Set in front of the shrine, since he was the one who initiated Osiris into these Mysteries, I think that it can be fitting. He stands guard in front of the shrine, protecting its inhabitants in the same way a shrine bolt does every day. He is the one who bore Osiris’ coffin across the Nile to the necropolis, and even Griffiths had surmised that Set felt some sorrow or remorse for what had happened. I think it may seem a little weird from a purely Osirian context, but my experiences with both of these gods together has led me to believe that Set can protect Osiris from harm while he is inert. That which has the propensity to harm us can also save us.

I place Anup on top of the shrine to watch over the process. It is through his skill and knowledge that Osiris can become reborn and whole again. And I include Aset with Set to help with the mourning process. It is through the work of everyone’s hands that Osiris makes it through the tribulations of death and the Duat.

All there is to do now is wait and see what “nothing” brings.

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Posted by on December 12, 2015 in Kemeticism

 

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