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.

Splitsville

What happens when you can’t make up your mind? Part of you wants one thing, and the other part wants something else? If you’re in a human body, you’re pretty much stuck. It has to be one or the other. You can’t be in two places at once.

Gods and spirits, and people wandering around without their shells, don’t have to play by those rules. They can do both.

(TW: self harm, suicide)

Once upon a time, there was a dreamer who became enamored with the Thunder Being. They say that anyone who sees the Thunder Being will go insane. They say that the Thunder Being is so ugly that s/he was ordered to hide among the clouds. They are wrong of course. The Thunder Being is the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen. They also say that love is a form of madness. But this isn’t a tale of romance.

They talk as if Wakinyan chooses her “victims” at random, but I doubt that’s the case. Lightning appears random, but in truth, it strikes where it is most wanted, where it has an open path. That path may be invisible to us, but she can see it clearly. She found a dreamer whose truth was a lie which was also the truth. That was too bad for her to pass up.

She tried to talk to the dreamer before. She shook the sky on the day when they lit the fire. When steam rose in the darkness, her fire burned within the dreamer, hotter than the glowing rocks. When the dreamer called to her in a dream, she came, threatening to destroy everything false in her path. But the dreamer did not respond. Why not?

One evening, the clouds gathered around. The Thunder Being’s messengers dove in the air, in and out, catching their meals and returning to their nests. The dreamer thought about stories that had the Thunder Being in them, stories written by one who shouldn’t write such things. Would he be punished? Should he? Was it wrong for an outsider to be so obsessed? The dreamer saw the gathering darkness and the flashes of light. If the Thunder Being wanted to kill him, that would have been a good time.

The dreamer smiled. That confused him. He didn’t want to die! But the thought of having the Thunder Being notice him at all, even if it was just to kill him, brought a smile to his face.

I said it was a lie, though, didn’t I? Wakinyan is a healer. Wakinyan destroys things. Both of those are true. The dreamer wanted to die. She hurt him badly and he begged for more. He fought without fear. He was afraid of everything. He acted like he didn’t care as his heart overflowed. She taught him how to be alive. And then she killed him.

The dreamer and the Thunder Being stood together. They had been through a lot together. The dreamer was absolute in his devotion. Then the Thunder Being ordered him to fight. The dreamer was horrified. The thought of raising a had to his mentor was unthinkable! But the Thunder Being insisted.

The dreamer drew a knife against his skin and dropped blood upon the earth as he was taught. You don’t fight unless you’re willing to bleed. He fought with all the love, fury, and sadness in his heart, and when he looked up, the Thunder Being was gone. He fought himself instead. With the battle already begun, he did not back down. If it was a thing he must do, then he would do it. Finally, he killed his other self. He killed the one who wanted to die.

Staring in shock at what he had done, he sat down on a rock. Wakinyan sat next to him and offered the worst, cheapest, dirtiest cigarette he could find. They smoked together as they watched the body sink into the earth. The dreamer didn’t realize it at the time, but their work together had come to an end.

Do I stay or do I go? The answer is “both.”