Lessons from the Water

(Journal dump incoming, full of astral and woo. They’re usually not this long, but I guess that’s what too much caffeine and a disturbed sleep schedule will get you.)

Last night was long and rough. I should remember to skip the large chai tea after five in the evening.

I found myself in my temple garden in the unseen staring up at the lattice over my head. Someone approached and I heard a voice greet me and call me “Son.” Heru-wer? A heru bigger than my shardly self who brought me into being? No, it was Wesir. I thought about how their voices could be confused for each other. They were brothers afterall. I had a hard time seeing him. I put on a blind fold so I could hear him better. I tried my best to hear that voice and not just listen to the words in my own head, but that is a difficult thing to do.

He took me on a boat on the river. I knew where we were because I have a sense of the place even when my eyes are covered. We made landing on a beach and walked into his temple. I knew there were commoners around, but he warned me not to remove the blind fold. The gaze of my eyes should not fall upon them.

I followed him down a hall, but stopped as we reached a certain room. There was a sarcophagus in the center of it, and wave patterns rippled across the walls and ceiling. I refused to enter. We talked about my fears that kept me from moving. I felt trapped. He wasn’t holding me there, but I knew I had to go forward, but at the same time, I couldn’t. I talked about my daughter. I wanted to give her everything, but I feared it would not be enough. I couldn’t leave her. Then I looked up to the god who had called me “son.” I thought about how trapped he must have felt. It never feels like enough, but children are stronger than you realize. I remembered how Sobek had tried to show me the same thing when he drowned me in the river. That I had to trust the future to the future. It didn’t belong to me.

Somehow as we talked, I moved closer to him, until I found myself standing in that room with the waves on the ceiling. He held me tightly and we talked about feeling trapped. My rage comes from feeling trapped. It comes from frustration when someone prevents me from acting as I should or would. I wondered about his rage at Set. How could he seem so calm about it now? I thought about my rage at Ra. I felt that he did keep me against my will. I thought about the wound that would not heal as long as I carried that rage within me. I thought about all the time I felt trapped but didn’t feel rage. What was different then? The difference is that I thought I had done it to myself. Turned inward, it became depression. I wasn’t sure how I could be free of it.

He asked me if I remembered how to fly. I used to think about flying a lot, but these days, my wings are more like shields that cover me. I tried to remember. I started to glow brightly. I started to remember my own power. I felt my anger leave my body. I felt sick and spat it out. My wound was emptied, leaving broken shards behind.

I cried to him, telling him that my Name had cracked, maybe not broken completely, but that I wasn’t the man I used to be. He asked about who I am now. I couldn’t go back, only forward. Then I realized what had gone wrong with Ra. He kept calling me by the old name. I remembered that name. It was close, but not quite right. I tried to answer to it, but the difference was agony. The name was wrong. After I had felt my own power again, my rage at Ra began to feel irrelevant.

I asked him about my new name. He told me that Set had seen it in me. I remembered how Set stood between Ra and I on more than one occasion, defending me. I remember him smiling at my rage and saying that he liked me better this way. What way?

I met him at an oasis in the desert, his land. He knew what I wanted to ask, and he wondered why I hesitated. I wasn’t sure that he’d tell me. I wasn’t sure that I’d hear him right. I wasn’t sure that it would help. Then he just said it, “Who Stands Back Up.” The wording of it acknowledged my fall. It recognized that I’d done it before and probably would do it again. It echoed Ra’s declaration of “Life Rising” but Ra’s version didn’t recognize that anything was wrong. I leaned back against the tree and gave voice to my pain. I told him I felt that my body was full of glass. Such a name meant that it might always be so. He said nothing, but I felt a sense of kinship with him. We don’t really get to choose our names. We just wear them as well as we can.

I went back to my temple. Soon, I heard a feminine voice. I tried to determine who it was. It was Bast. She snuggled up with me. I was attracted to her, but at the same time, too worn out from my ordeal to do anything about it. I felt a little ashamed of my preoccupation with sex. I’m a godslut. I’ve called myself that many times. She said that wasn’t entirely true. It wasn’t the sex that I needed. It was the closeness to those I loved, and I loved all of Them. I thought of Captain Jack Harkness, the character from Dr.Who and Torchwood. He might be thought of as a manslut, but really he didn’t care as much about getting in everyone’s pants as getting into their hearts. They were always getting into his heart. He was one of my favorite fictional characters. He is also one Who Stands Back Up. I thought of Jamie, the character I wrote and how my original idea was that Jamie would essentially be in love with everyone. I’ve been taking my love and allowing it to be cheapened and maligned, and therefore denied. I was using communion as a euphemism for deity sex, when in fact, it is really the more accurate word to use.

Then I told her about my realization that Ra had caused me trouble by calling me the wrong name. She said I should go tell him that.

I arrived at the sun boat and went inside. I had a hard time seeing Ra, and I wasn’t entirely sure if he was there and listening, but I spoke anyway. I told him that the name he had been using was wrong, and calling me by it would not magically turn me into that person. I wanted to be the person he thought I was, but wanting did not make it so. I wondered how he didn’t see it when he’d been so close to me. I told him that if he did not see me (as I am) now, that he would not see me at all. I kept repeating that to him. It seemed important. He was silent as if he didn’t know what to say. I went back to the apartment then. After awhile Ra came to see me. I still had a hard time seeing or hearing him, but the fact that he came made me hopeful that he would at least try to understand.

Later, Djehuty came to comfort me and check on my healing. I heard another female voice, but I was tired of playing that guessing game with the voices.

This morning Aset was with me before and during the sunrise. I asked her to help me. She asked what I wanted to be. I told her I wanted my roots in the ground and my head in the sky. I wanted to give shelter to those near me. I said it sounded like I wanted to be a tree. As I reached out with my roots and branches I didn’t get very far. I didn’t have the energy. I said I needed water to grow. I felt like a charred and cut off limb, but I knew that with water I could grow to be that tree. How do I get enough water?

Lake of Fire

This is sort of a continuation of the previous post, but also a different subject.

Last night I woke up, wide awake at four in the morning. I zoned over to my astral apartment, but I was not feeling well. I walked over to the counter and made a sandwich. I cut it in half, and left it there uneaten. I slammed the knife into the cutting board a few times. I wanted to blow something up.

I checked on my energy body to see how it was doing with the changes. It was heating up. I didn’t really want to destroy anything in my house, so I flopped down on the couch instead. My wings sprawled over the back and down to the floor.

I felt someone standing near. At first I thought it was Djehuty. He often checks on my health. This time it wasn’t him. Wepwawet examined me. I knew I was in some kind of transition, if he was the one who came. He told me to get my butt over to the lake of fire, immediately.

There was no sense of travel. I soared over a volcanic field and dove in as fast as I could. Lava erupted all around me, exploding at my touch. Brilliant fire fountained into the sky. It felt good to let go. It felt good to let the rage escape. I was the volcano.

I remembered the old dreams. I was terrified of volcanos and lava. The red death would seep across the land, preventing all escape. I ran. I panicked. I froze in fear, praying for escape. Sometimes I remembered that I could fly. Sometimes my mother was there, always denying that any problem existed as I urged her to get away from the rumbling earth.

But I am the volcano. Maybe I always was. Maybe it was my rage all along, lighting up the ground with fire. Rage would not have served me at all back then. It would have made everything worse. I ran from it, avoided it. I knew it would burn and consume me if I wasn’t fast enough. I denied it.

I don’t have to be afraid any more. It belongs to me. It always did.

Assembling the Eye

It ended with Ra because I was weak. I wanted approval to come from outside myself rather than trusting my own center. I say I was weak not as an accusation, but as a starting point. What do I need to do to be stronger?

Heru-sa-Aset showed up. I had been talking to Heru, but that was a different Heru. They are branches from the same tree, but the branches aren’t all alike. He would teach me to recover from this. He’s the only one of Them who can. My apple fell from his tree.

He’s not as chatty as his brother/uncle. I hear that a lot about him. It concerns me sometimes that he’s a quiet one. I see in his haunted eyes the reflections of all he has lost. He tries not to talk about it. He doesn’t want to disturb anyone by it. He lets the others speak for him when he can get away with it. You can’t hide it from me, Dad, as much as you might wish. We have stuff to do. His hesitation disappears and I can feel his love, so great it might sweep us all away if we let it loose. Yeah, I know, Dad. Let’s get on with it.

Roughly once a year, for the past few years, I would find and absorb another fragment. These were echoes of himself that he left behind. Or maybe they were my echoes in disguise. It’s not easy to tell what is his and what is mine. There was the child who carried lost knowledge with him. The one who started harming himself when I wasn’t looking. There was the one made of stone who hungered for touch. There was the warrior who lost himself on the field. There was the one who exiled himself with his mourning. One by one, I brought them in and gave them a home, such as it was.

A friend who did reiki once asked me if I was a multiple. Not exactly. They’re all me. But it’s not enough simply to hold them. They stack like transparent film, making my color go outside the lines, blurring the lines, shifting and never being very solid. I need to be solid if I don’t want to lose myself again.

Heru-sa got to work. He aligned the pieces as well as he could and he pinned them together. Yes, it hurt. They didn’t line up perfectly. He reminded me of when I was younger and had braces on my teeth.

I saw myself lying on the stairs practically at my dog’s feet as she tried to comfort me, feeling that I absolutely could not do another day. I remember the tree I used to hide in, next to the lake as the sun went down, feeling like everything was gone. I remember being stone, feeling nothing but walking through each day anyway out of habit. I remember the monster under the surface who might snap if given enough reason, hoping for a reason to go out in a blaze of glory. I named them by their faults.

But no. I’m doing this to get stronger. Every one of them Survived. Every one of them were tough motherfuckers who chose not to stop. “We’ve been drowned in the well, left to die, burned in hell, but you just don’t get the message, we are immortal!” (The Smashup “Never Gonna Kill Us“) That has to count for something.

So I bring my pieces together. I try to get the lines to match up. And I am One. One person. One strength. One focus. It’s a challenge to keep it that way. It’s a challenge to see strength instead of weakness. It’s a challenge to accept and not reject. I am a tough motherfucker, and no one can touch that.

It’s a work in progress.

Sunset

I followed Heru down the winding stairs. He brought me to a room where the other gods waited and watched. He handed me a blindfold. Did I trust him? Of course. I put it on. He told me to follow him. I could feel his presence leading me as I put one foot ahead of the other. I couldn’t see with my eyes, but I knew where we were going. I crossed the chasm on a narrow plank. Honestly, if my eyes had been open, that crossing would have been much harder to handle.

In the next room, he removed the blindfold. I saw my heart set out on a platform. Then it was sliced in two. He handed half of it to someone I couldn’t see at the time. He kept the other half. He and I couldn’t do it alone. That other person I couldn’t see was part of this too.

That’s why I was not surprised when another name, Ra, followed Heru’s during my Rite of Parent Divination. I hesitated a moment because I had a history with him, and not exactly a good history. Still, I could not deny that he’d had a major role in my life. It seemed inevitable. So I went along with it. I made the promise to serve them both.

I tried hard to keep that promise. I worked to get past my anger and my lack of trust. At first it was duty, nothing more. Then I started opening up to him. Then I loved him. I wanted his approval. I wanted to serve. He got me through a difficult time and made me stronger. I became dependent on him.

A couple days ago, he asked me to use that strength. I didn’t think about what I was doing. I only thought about serving him, gaining his approval. I was proud to be able to do this for him, but the usual safeguards and worries and concerns were absent. It seemed ok to put those aside for him. Not just set aside, because that assumes I thought about them at all. I didn’t. I was just following orders, nothing more than an extension of his will. Isn’t that what all servants are after? Erasure of self for the greater good?

Yeah, Heru was pissed. He said it was time to leave. Djehuty explained to me that it was a breach of contract. Heru’s claim came first, and what happened tried to negate that. No worries about repercussions from the promise made. I did my best. My legal backside is covered.

That’s the easy part. The hard part is that I loved him, or I think I did. Our relationship was never very clear. It was wrapped up in a tangle of duty, and service, and being angry for what he took, and being grateful for what he gave. And being ashamed of requiring what he gave. How did I get to the point where his approval meant more to me than my own values? Because that’s where we ended up.

I was addicted in a way. Heru and the others threw me a cold turkey party. I wrapped myself in a blanket on the couch. I felt cold. They hung around, offering comfort, reminding me they would still be there for me. I looked over at Sekhmet and I saw it. I wasn’t the first, or the only, or probably even the last. He just does that to people without even realizing it. I hope he doesn’t realize it. I don’t think he meant for this to happen. He actually apologized for a change. He is the sun, a star, a giant gravity well that turns us in circles. Not one of them blamed me for getting sucked in.

So, what now? A name change might be in order. Shezep is still just as true as ever. The dawn is still part of me. The bright white light is like the white fire I wield in the astral. The white fire deserves more respect. It is a tool for purification and healing. It is not for indiscriminately rooting out the source of paranoia. The white fire deserves more respect. Shezep deserves more respect. I deserve more respect. But the Shuty part is no longer valid. It’s not Two Feathers anymore.

Why am I telling you all this? Is it a cautionary tale about blind faith? No, I still trust Heru that way. He’s never given me any reason to doubt him. Ra gave me plenty of reasons and I tried to work around them. I succeeded, and that was a bad idea. It’s not a cautionary tale at all, because those don’t work. I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping my promise. Maybe I shouldn’t have made the promise? I wouldn’t say that either. The struggle itself taught me a lot that I wouldn’t have learned any other way. I think I’m just writing to say that there are no easy answers. Life happens.

Back to Zero

Last year, I decided I wanted to be a monk. One year later, and I’m still a bit fuzzy on what that means.

The first part seems to be about reducing distractions and recognizing the patterns that send me in the wrong direction. Some monks take a vow of silence, poverty, or celibacy. This year, I’ve mostly been getting nudges about stepping away from the community. This is a hard thing to do. I think community is important. I admire people who go out there and wade through the trenches to keep it going. I feel guilty that I’m not one of those people. However, I say “trenches” because a lot of the time, such work feels like a never ending battle. There has to be a better way, just don’t ask me what that way might be.

I tried joining groups and following their rules. I kept waiting for it all to make sense. I waited for that sense of peace to settle in while knowing that I was doing it right. That never happened. I claimed that I had no idea what I was doing. I didn’t know where to go or what to do, when in fact, my spirit did have an idea of what it wanted. What it truly wanted wasn’t found there. No group or person that I’ve seen has what I’m looking for. All these advertisements for this path or that one, and none of them satisfy.

I feel like Jack Sparrow staring at his wildly spinning compass. All I can think is, “Get your damned magnets away from me.”

What of your “community” then? Fuck the community.

But, I do like people. Community is a big ugly brush that smears across a canvas and blurs all the interesting details into a glob. I like people. I like stories, personal stories. I like experiences. I don’t give a shit about your judgments or advice. Tell me about your day. Tell me about the little thing that happened that made you smile, or cry. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. Tell me about something real that happened. I like those.

I came to WordPress for the Pagan Blog Project. I spent a year doing that, and then a year not doing that. WordPress is more formal than other places. It makes you feel like you should dress up a little. Like being at a party, sipping at drinks and nibbling hors d’oevres, making the kind of conversation that you would expect to find at such a venue. It shows others that you can clean up nicely and speak in complete sentences. You can even make mention of that charity work you’ve been doing, and you probably will at some point. Then the “likes” show up in the email, or not, and you think about why, or why not.

I turned the email thing off. The “likes” still happen. I can see them when I log in, but they won’t intrude on my day outside of here. I’m sure we’ve all had that experience of getting lots of likes on some little fluff piece, and a definite lack of them when we write something of personal value. What will I write more of next time? What will I keep to myself next time? Magnets.

It’s not that the generalized pieces are better, they’re not. It’s not that people are stupid, they’re not. Generalized pieces are simply more relatable to a larger segment of the population. Everybody eats food. Not as many people have conversations with gods. Sometimes it also happens that a story touches deeply, but is difficult to “like.” The reader might have thoughts, but can’t quite make the next step of turning those thoughts into words, and turning those words into a comment. Feedback on the internet is misleading. It’s also irrelevant if I’m writing because I like to write, if I simply feel like these thoughts need expression in some way. Maybe one person who I’ll never meet or talk to will find some meaning in it.

Maybe these ones and zeroes are like writing in sand. Sand painting has a nice tradition among Tibetan monks. I watched them make one once. All that skill and artistry, then it blows away. But I was there, and I saw it.

I don’t know what the heck I’m doing, and I kinda like it.

The King and the Land

(Land work is not PC, or rated G, or safe.. But here it is.)

I stood in Heru’s temple. He sat on his throne, watching me. I picked up the cup of clear water and drank. Over there, you are what you eat, or drink. I became clear again. I don’t know how long it’s been since I could just relax, get myself out of the way, and let his power flow through without obstruction from my errant thoughts, motivations and “shoulds.” No, let them stand aside, be nothing, be myself for a change. The power and clarity descended, filling my body, flowing through the spaces in between. It hurt. So free, so pure, suddenly restrained, contained, forced into a shape I didn’t choose. It felt…good, like something else. Divine energy entering the material, two worlds joining together to make something new, like sex.

I went to see Ra. His golden light poured into me too. I basked in his golden glow. I drank it in. I…wanted. Too bright. Too full.

I landed back in my world, on the mountain. My mountain, my Lady, my goddess. My gods given power flowed into Her. Millions of roots spread outward, veins, arteries. My essence spread out for miles, touching exploring, sinking into the earth. I went as far as I could go, pushed as hard as I could. Climax means you’re done. It means you have to let go. I slumped next to her altar, dim in the darkness. I gave it all away. I told her I loved her. I prayed for her strength. I prayed for the strength of her children as the dark winter night had them slumbering, waiting for the spring. I…

Back in my bed, Heru sat near. I groaned. I looked to him. My eyes said it all. So weak. So tired. It hurts.

He half-grinned. “You know what you did,” he said gently.

I nodded. Gave away part of my soul. Don’t worry, it will grow back. …still hurts. So tired.

Ra came by. He warmed me up, made me feel stronger. Still hurts.

Djehuty dropped in. He smoothed out the imbalance in my energy body. Then I slept.

The next day, dark clouds hid the sky. It felt like time outside of time. I hated it. So tired.

I drove across town today. I could feel Her pressing in on me, like a giant invisible bear hug. Love you so much. Lady, I’m driving. I have to pay attention to the road. Love you too.

False Mirror

Oh, is this thing still on?

One of the most visible attributes of monkhood is seclusion. I seem to be doing a good job of that. I still read my Dreamwidth account, but I rarely post. I still check in on Facebook, but my friend count is deliberately low, and it’s a more informal atmosphere. Tumblr was, fun, but overwhelming.

I started getting the message to back off, from everything. It wasn’t what I wanted to hear. It wasn’t the first time I’ve been told. That advice is easier to follow in the winter. I started writing less.

This morning I went to the gym with my mother. This is a thing we’re trying to get into three times a week, though one of those times is when I teach tai chi. Tai chi is not really cardio or weight training. I’m not too large, but I definitely could be in better shape. My mom is in her seventies. I want her to go and it’s easier if we both go together.

I teach tai chi at a gym. It’s not the best arrangement. I can’t promise any sort of a beach body unless you happen to already have one. I can teach you how to knock down those who do have beach bodies, but if you were that kind of person I probably wouldn’t want you as a student anyway.

As I waited for my mom to get done with the bike, I did a few tai chi exercises. I felt horribly self-conscious while doing my tan tien exercises. I’m sure they do look weird. I stand still and my midsection moves just a little bit. My mom said something about dancing. I agreed that yes, there were some similarities to belly dancing.

Surely everyone thought I looked weird. Surely they had no idea what the heck I was doing. I was tempted not to do the exercise at all. But how do I know what they’re thinking? I don’t. Does it matter anyway? I knew what I was doing and why.

This would be the point at which a person might start explaining or getting defensive or getting into an argument with no one at all. I’ve had many imaginary discussions in my lifetime. They’re a complete waste of energy. That jerk you’re arguing with, yourself, will never let you win. You may even feel so silly arguing with yourself that you’ll look for a fight with a real person in order to prove that the argument is worth having. You have all those great comebacks saved up. It would be a shame to let them go to waste.

If you look at yourself in the mirror and imagine what someone else sees, that image is almost certainly false. Even if someone agrees with your distortion that doesn’t make the imagined vision true. They make assumptions, and you make assumptions about their assumptions. How does anyone ever get anything done?

How do you throw out the false mirror?

Seclusion does have one thing going for it. If I’m not seen as often, the mirror doesn’t have as much influence. It takes the pressure off. I know that’s only a temporary fix. I’m not here to escape. I’m here to learn. I have to do no less than change my thought habits in order to defeat these various snares. Where is the trap? What can I do differently so that I no longer fall for it?

What would it be like to go to the gym or hang out in a community without constantly checking myself in the mirror? It sounds a lot more relaxing and productive.