Why Believe?

At my core is this feeling that I need the gods and spirits around me to feel whole. I discovered this when the Lady of the Mountain told me she was going away and I panicked. It was confirmed while traveling and finding a place where no spirits answered my greetings. It made me want to curl up and hide. I could blame it on the chunk of Heru I’ve got inside me, but those memories aren’t mine. I know why he feels that way, but why do I feel that way?

It is my belief that humans need gods and spirits. We’ve been interacting with the unseen from the earliest times. Evidence of spiritual thinking is practically a marker for the development of human consciousness. The scientist in me might suggest that it’s directly tied to our capacity for abstract thought. A lot of modern scientists might argue that we’ve grown past that and have no more need for “imaginary friends,” but I disagree, obviously.

Like most modern Kemetics, I wasn’t born into the religion. I’m a convert. Like many other converts, I still have baggage from my previous belief system to contend with. I don’t believe that I’m going to hell when I die, because I’m not sure that there even is a hell, or a heaven, or a duat. Is it all in my head? Is it just a random firing of nerves and a mixing of chemicals? The comfort is, that if the atheists are right, I won’t have any time to worry over it when I’m gone. So I might as well live the kind of life that feels right to me now.

If the atheists are right, then that means that my worst nightmare is already true. That still doesn’t explain why I see it as my worst nightmare. Ok, second worst nightmare, the first would be the end of the world and everyone in it, but I wouldn’t have much time to mourn that one either. My gut reaction is that the world would be a much emptier place without them.

On a personal level, they sort of fill in the gaps. They’re around when I’m tired or depressed or lonely. They’re like a second family. They’re not just for my comfort, however. They challenge me to see other perspectives. They push me to be a better person. They remind me to care. I tell my skeptical brain that those are all very good effects whether their existence is literally true or not.

Atheists like to harp on the evils of belief, as if that is what has caused all the problems in the world. (Belief is often the excuse, but rarely the cause.) They don’t like to recognize the good that it does. I have this construct in my head that makes me act like a better person. It’s a sounding board for developing ideas and organizing priorities. Sure, I don’t have to call it a god. I could call it a mental exercise, but honestly, it wouldn’t be as effective if I did that. If I didn’t believe in this inner counselor, then why would I bother listening to it? There are plenty of psychological exercises that do something similar, role playing, visualization, dream interpretation. But if your visions have no life breathed into them, they’re not going to be as powerful. I’m more likely to follow through if a living, loving, god tells me to do something than if my own mental construct says to do so. Yes, I do sometimes tell the god to eff off, but I always listen first.

I hear arguments about the virtue of objective truth, but to me, they are self-defeating. If death simply means Game Over, then why should I care about the virtuousness of objectivity? There are no cookies in it for me. If my subjectivity offers me advantages, then there’s no reason not to use it. So, that is basically how I tell the skeptical side of my brain to shut the hell up. This is how a rational, intelligent person can believe in gods. I haven’t even gotten into my arguments about symbolic and metaphorical truths that help explain the human condition. I’ve got a bunch of those too. In short, it works, so I use it. Experience has shown that I am not better off without it. I’ve tried.

It is my belief that belief itself is a basic human need. When people want to control others, they hijack their belief systems and hold them hostage. The wealthy and the powerful demonize those aspects of spirituality that are accessible to all in order to put their priests in charge. Why do people not simply abandon belief itself? I don’t think it is that easy. Every culture that I know of has had some kind of spiritual belief system. (The Soviet Union was an experiment that didn’t actually work so well, and there were plenty of people still practicing their beliefs underground.) That indicates to me that it does fill a need of some kind. It is a thing of value. Why else would the wealthy hijack it? Why else does it actually work when that happens? Not every person believes, but within a population, it persists. It’s built in, much like our capacity for mathematics or language. And it is the hijacking of belief that everyone points to when things go wrong. Belief isn’t the enemy. Taking it away from the people in order to control them is.

And that begs the question. How do we do it right this time? Is it even possible to prevent it from being screwed up? Screwing up also seems to be a built in part of human nature.

Momma Aset

“You are insane, my son. I’ve always known that,” she told me.

It was a relief to hear her say so. I waste so much effort pretending not to be, especially to myself. “It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an I.” I don’t know where that quote originated, but I’ve seen it floating around and it always seems relevant.

My “I” is not very strong. Maybe that’s not completely true. When I complained about being weak, she argued. Afterall, I am still here. I just have other, stronger priorities. When I open my heart to discover what it really wants, I find the Netjer, ALL of Them. It is a love that is too big for my body. It is too big for my “I.” I inhale Ra’s fire and I want to bring that warmth to all of them. Then I ask, “What’s that burning smell? Oh, right, it’s me.” Aset cools me. She cares more about my “I” than I do. I cannot and do not want to live without them. Somewhere in my soul is a memory of that nightmare when they faded from sight. Die for them? Kill for them? Whore myself out? Why not?

But Aset says no. At least, not that first one.

Back in college I had a dream where I was at a party. We were celebrating Gandhi’s enlightenment and ascension. I found him sitting alone on a blanket and he looked sad. I asked him what was wrong. He said, “My mother won’t let me die.” No ascension for you then. I understood how he felt. There was the story of Aset and baby Heru when he was poisoned. She stopped the sun in the sky to make him live. I imagined Horus in those later years watching his family fade away and secretly hating her for the magic that would not allow him to join them. “My mother commanded me to live,” he told me.

But they’re not gone. I can feel them. This new seedling is small, and I don’t know if it will live, but that is how all seedlings begin. It seems healthy and that gives me hope.

Aset loves me in the same way that I love Them. Years ago, I prayed to a winged blue goddess. Part of me knew it looked like her. Part of me wasn’t willing to admit the connection, so I called her by a made up name. I kneeled before her with my fist over my heart. I told her everything. When nothing else in my life made sense, I knew that the blue goddess loved me.

When the sunlight burns too hot, she cools me. Ra is the crown and Aset is the throne. I am not myself without either of them. She asked me to wear her pendant so she could keep me cool. The necklace broke a few weeks ago. I replaced it with another one with a falcon head. Wasn’t it time for my own god to take care of me? Wasn’t it time for me to take care of myself? Meanwhile, my energy started running wild again. Sunrise felt like torture in a way that it hadn’t in a while. I’m wearing Aset’s pendant now. I thought I could handle it on my own. I tried covering my heart, denying it. I wanted to pretend that “I” was strong enough. But, I’m not. I still need her. She lets me follow my heart. She helps me handle Ra’s fire without tearing myself apart.

So Mom, what do you think? Can we do this? Will you show me how to breathe fire without tearing myself apart? Can we keep them warm?

In Gods We Trust (?)

Lately it seems that trust in deities has become a hot topic. Should you trust your gods completely? Should you work on your negotiating skills and (try to) read the fine print? Should you not trust at all because they’ll probably screw you over no matter what you do? These are not easy questions to answer.

Most of us carry on with the belief that deities both care about us and know more than we do. Like parents, they may ask us to do things that we don’t like, but they do so with a greater understanding of the world we live in and the possible consequences of our action or inaction.

Then we must wonder if our assumptions are true. Do they really know what is best? Do they really have our best interests at heart, or only their own? Even if both of these are thought to be true, the way in which the gods present the relevant information, or no information at all can try the patience of a saint.

What is a mortal follower to do?

I’ve heard plenty of stories about followers being tricked by their deities into one thing or another. I also hear that most, but not all, of these stories work out for the best in the end. Maybe the deity really did know what they were doing. Maybe they really did have the followers best interests at heart as they led them across the metaphorical hot coals. I also hear that communication is a huge issue, that if the deity had actually explained and asked nicely first, things would have been different and less bitter. “Perfect love and perfect trust” sounded like a nice idea back when I was starting out, but in actual practice it doesn’t seem very practical.

I have been all around the map on this issue with my experiences with Ra. He hurt me badly years ago, without asking first, without any explanation, and while I was actively screaming at him to stop. I hurt myself while trying to fight him off. And yet, to this day, without a direct explanation from him, I go back and forth between calling it abuse of the worst sort, and thinking that maybe he had a good and justifiable reason for it. It actually is possible that he thought he was helping. Maybe he actually was helping. The only thing he has ever said on the subject was, “The Thunder Beings made you strong enough to accept my gift.” Frying me from the inside out was a gift? Maybe it was, but damn it hurt.

Needless to say, this led to a huge ball of trust issues. He kept asking me if I trusted him. He wanted me to trust him. Nope. Couldn’t do it. I could work with him. I felt obligated to because I swore an oath sooner than I should have and without fully thinking it through. Well actually, I went ahead with the oath because it felt like he already owned me so what difference could it make? The difference is that I didn’t feel comfortable just walking out when I really wanted to.

In the process of working with him, I learned more about him. I understood him more. I understood both his strengths and his failings. He really believed that I could do good and amazing things and he wanted to help me do them. I realized that he did not have a good grasp of what my limitations were. I also realized that I really wanted someone to follow who validated me, and I was slower to say no than I should have been. What good is a safeword if you don’t know when to say it? Not that we had one of those. The god did care about me, but he didn’t understand me as well as I thought. Still I opened up to him. I let him in more and more. I tried to overcome my misgivings. That didn’t end well.

Now I’m giving it another try. He knows that if he screws up again I will leave. Heru will back me up. Djehuty will back me up. It’s good to have powerful friends in these circumstances. Certain things are not his to touch. I had to decide what those things were. I had to stick to them even when I wanted to surrender again like I used to, because doing that would not help either of us.

And now, after the lines have been drawn, now that I know he will be held to those lines, now that I feel confident enough in my own judgement to defend those lines, now I trust him. You see, it wasn’t just about him behaving himself. It was also about me not giving away more than I could afford to give. It also helps that there are others who can step in if something goes wrong. I trust him more now than I did before, because I’ve made a decision about what he can have and what he can’t. I’m not going to offer everything and then feel betrayed when he takes it.

Relationships like these are complicated. I’m not judging anyone for how theirs has turned out. I’m not saying that drawing lines in the sand will solve everything. It probably won’t. My solution was a bit more complex than I’ve laid out here, and I have no idea what it will look like a year from now. Will it actually work? I don’t know. He does have the power to screw me over again if he so chooses, lines or no lines. The difference is that now, I’m more likely to trust that he won’t.

I’m actually pretty excited about working with him again, because despite our past issues, I still think he’s pretty awesome.

Defending My Space (With Gods)

I did say something about a part two, so I guess I have to write a part two now.

Back in December I split up with one of my major deities. The problem wasn’t that I didn’t like him. The problem was that I forgot what boundaries were or how they worked. I was to the point where I would do anything he asked of me, even if it went against my personal values. Some would argue that’s what being a good devotee is all about. I disagree. Ra and Heru also did not agree with that premise. Heru pointed out the problem to me and told me it was time to leave. Once I explained to Ra what was happening and why I left, he apologized. Getting an apology from Ra feels like a once in a millennium occurrence. It proved to me that he took the situation seriously. He did NOT want his will to supersede my own.

This wasn’t the first time he’d made that clear. When I first started serving him I felt confused about what he wanted from me. He can seem very stern without giving away any of his thoughts. In frustration I kneeled before him, wondering if that was what he wanted. He smacked me across the floor. No, that wasn’t it at all. I would be worthless to him as a mindless follower. I needed to be strong enough to stand up to him if I was going to be strong enough to stand up for him.

It wasn’t that I gave away my will on purpose. Ra is just that powerful. We were working very closely and I got dazzled by his energy. I loved him deeply.

So I went back to Heru and I got a lesson in open doors and closed doors as it applies to energy work. You can share energy with someone without giving them access to everything. He wanted me to practice making conscious choices about what to share and what not to. I didn’t need any reason other than, “I don’t feel like going there today.” He also wanted me to recognize and respect these doors in others. These might seem like very simple concepts, but somewhere in my otherkin mind I have memories of being a guard, a soldier, an energy being, who was linked to something similar to a hive mind. I had no expectation or desire for personal space or even identity. And in war, who has time for respecting boundaries? I knew I couldn’t go back until I learned how and why to keep some things to myself.

It’s been about four months. I started working with clay again, and it seemed like I kept wanting to make Ra things. I thought I was making a Heru falcon, but then it needed an obelisk, and wouldn’t a sun disc be nice too? Then I made a Ra figure in a boat. There was no mistaking that he was on my mind again.

The first time I went back did not go well. I took everything I learned and threw it out the window. I took in too much Ra energy and then was astrally trying to hoark it back up. It made me sick. But I’m not very good about leaving things alone. The next time I went to see him, he told me to pause and think about what things I didn’t want him to change. I didn’t want him to compromise my morals, and there were other things that still felt too sensitive to let him touch. I walled those parts off in a cocoon of feathers. That time I maintained my shields as he energized me. That time it worked. I felt better, not sick at all. It’s not quite the same ecstatic abandonment that we used to share, but it is healthier and more stable.

Then he tells me to keep reading Shamanic Wisdom in the Pyramid Texts. That’s when I got to the verse about Ra feeding the pharaoh and calling him son. Then the pharaoh turns into a bull and visits several goddesses in a row. This is sort of how my service to Ra has gone. He empowers me and then he expects me to use that power in various ways, usually doing energy work in the astral. You can see why that moral thing was an important point to make with him.

Defending My Space (At Home)

March was one of those months where my life was full of one disruption after another. No single event was very big, but as soon as I tried to relax, something else would come up. I ended up sick with a lingering cough that still hasn’t completely gone away. My mother, who is a saint, booked me for three nights at a cabin in a small mountain town. While I was there, in addition to soaking up the quiet like a sponge, I appropriately read a book entitled “Quiet” by Susan Cain. (If you are an introvert, especially if you are wondering how the heck to maintain any sort of professional life without losing yourself, I highly recommend it.)

The book contrasted the way extroverts and introverts get along in the world, and the ways that introverts are pressured to be more outgoing. Sometimes it is necessary to suck it up to get your message out there for the sake of serving your passions, but once that is done, you really do absolutely NEED to stop and recharge. I’ve been neglecting the recharge part, and my living room is very similar to the much maligned open office plan that she talked about in the book. All our family computers are together in an open space. I did this deliberately, otherwise we might never see each other. It also helps us keep one eye on what the kid is doing online. The downside is that I am open to distraction nearly all day every day.

The result has been near constant fatigue and brain fog. If my mind works best as a still pond, then what happens when people keep throwing rocks in it, even if they are small rocks? What happens when the wind blows? The image distorts and it takes awhile to clear again. My level of stress also influences how long it takes for the ripples to clear. Stress can keep the disruption going much longer than it should. I’ve often joked that kids give their parents ADD. I have noticed that the number of books I’ve read after having a child has gone down dramatically, because I get interrupted so often. I also joke about how…and there it goes, right then….how as soon as I put my headphones on people start talking to me. Right now the kid is doing math, so I’m required to be available to help. What this means is that I will need to take time all to myself later in the day. That time is a requirement, not a luxury, if I don’t want to be a grouchy half-functional zombie.

That sounds pretty simple. I just need an hour of two of down time. In theory, that doesn’t seem so hard, but those hours that are mine and mine alone mean I have to tell my family that no, I’m not available at that time. My family is my job. It can be hard to say no without feeling bad about it. No, I don’t want to watch TV right now. No, I don’t want to go out. No, I’m not going to run to the grocery right now. No, I’m not going to go over there to look at the funny video/cat picture/movie trailer on your screen right now. No, it’s not my turn to let the dog out, or to go find out what trouble the animals are getting in to in the kitchen. It doesn’t help that my father was also an introvert, who needed alone time, and that my mother resented him for it.

I need to do it anyway. There are no more mountain getaways lined up in the foreseeable future. I can’t afford it by myself. I need to make sure that I don’t get to the point of needing one again. There are things I’ve wanted to do, but I haven’t had the brainspace to do them. I want to read more books. I want to make things with clay. I want to get at least one blog post out a week. I want to follow my inspiration, which means that I have to give it room to grow without stifling it.

I know, this is a Kemetic blog, and this seems to have nothing to do with Kemeticism. You could file it under living in ma’at, finding a balance. Actually this same theme has been playing out in my relationship with Ra, so I will put that in part two of this post.

Shards

“Shard” is a word you might run into now and then in relation to soul fragments, or in the context of otherkin or deitykin. This morning I woke up with the random urge to give more clarification on what the word means to me. Why? Well, I’m 80% sure I’m the one who got that ball rolling, a few years ago, back when I was called Motley, and I have a suspicion that my original intent might not have gotten through. Also, it’s been a few years, and I’ve had a few more things to think about since I started with it. You may still disagree or have your own ideas on how it works, and that’s your right. Words do tend to change and evolve with use.

A shard is basically a piece of a larger spiritual entity that has separated from the original being, either deliberately or accidentally, and continues to live. The shard may be smaller and less powerful, but it still contains the spiritual “DNA” of the original.

The thing I want to emphasize here is that in this context a shard can be a fully functioning individual in its own right. When you think of a piece being broken off of a statue, you get basically a chunk of marble, or of whatever substance the statue was made from. Likewise, if you think of cutting off a piece of a painting, you’d very likely end up with a bit of canvas with an unrecognizable glob of color on it. This is NOT how spiritual shards work. I compare it more to cutting off a piece of a hologram. What you end up with is a smaller, complete, but less detailed version of the original.

A deitykin might protest, “But I don’t feel like a shard!” Well, a shard wouldn’t necessarily feel like a shard either, especially if it was made intentionally and not by accident or trauma. A shard is a whole being in itself! Usually. Occasionally the piece might be too small to hold enough information to be self-supporting. It might still think of itself as whole, just as a person with dementia might not recognize all that he or she has forgotten.

For a long time I believed that I just sort of made up this idea of gods splitting and pieces going on about their own business, but my research has backed some of this up. Evidence for this phenomenon was presented in Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods by Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks, though they did not use the word “shard.” They mentioned the adventures of Horus’s severed hands and eyes, which were eventually returned to him. Pieces could also be donated to another for the purposes of healing, in the cases of other gods loaning Horus their heads to help with his headaches, or of Geb donating his blood to ease Set’s fits of fury. Also, “Finally, a divine body could emit secondary bodies: sometimes identical to and sometimes different from his main body, they gravitated around it, serving as its assistants.” This sounds like a method of creating netjeri (ancient Egyptian spirits) that can perform needed tasks. So here we have a case of shard UPG turning into VPG. I love it when that happens. They also mentioned “redoubling” which is where a god may appear in more than one place at the same time. This might involve shards, or it might be a result of some other mechanism.

In theory, if a god wanted to incarnate, they could easily create a double out of their own flesh, of an appropriate scale, to inhabit a human incarnation. The shard might be a fully functioning individual, or it may be a fragment designed for a specific purpose. The ancient Egyptians do have an example of this in the kingly ka, which is a piece of a god that joins with the pharoah and assists his or her rule. I would argue that there are more reasons to incarnate than to wield worldly power. Personally, I don’t think my reason has anything to do with being a king, which is good, because I’m obviously not one.

Some shards my be walk ins, or may join later for whatever reason. I’m not one of those, so I will just say that being born and raised human has its advantages. If for some reason, the shard is not completely self-sustaining, the experience of growing up and learning as part of a new culture will help to round out the personality so it can become so. Also, that kind of prolonged experience can change a being, which might be exactly what was needed. Have you ever stared at a problem so long that it no longer made any sense and there seemed to be no solutions? Incarnation can be a fast ticket to gaining a new perspective. (I believe this is my purpose for being here.) Old immortal beings run the risk of stagnating and fossilizing, or of getting out of touch with the times. That last one can be a problem if they’re trying to maintain a symbiotic relationship with their followers. That old adage can apply to gods too, “You snooze, you lose.”

Also, how can a god properly respond to prayers if they have no idea how difficult a human’s life can be? This is probably one of the reasons why the big J got so popular! Except, I would argue that he “cheated,” a lot. Try to do it without the special powers next time! I think Anne Rice had an excellent point when she asked the question of whether or not J KNEW 100% that he was a god. If he did, then that was cheating too. Humans don’t get that kind of comfort. Uncertainty is the name of the game. Am I 100% certain? Hell no. Gods might not exist at all. The atheists might be right. I’m quite probably mad! But these are real human things that real humans must live with. No cheating. So, you really can’t accuse me of using this to escape reality. It’s designed in such a way that I can’t. I chose to be human, so human I am, one hundred percent.

If incarnation is so valuable then why send a shard at all? Why not jump in with both feet? The first reason that comes to mind is that the big guy still has responsibilities. I hear a lot of people talking about gods receiving worship, and not much at all of what a god has to do to be worthy of that worship. Simply existing while powerful is not enough. The relationship ought to be symbiotic, not parasitic. That means the god has to hold up their end of the deal. They can’t just drop everything, come here, and devote all their attention to what their incarnate is having for breakfast. On the flip side, an incarnate who spends all their time trying to attend to divine affairs is going to be a lousy cook. The divide is necessary for both sides to function well.

The other reason is that human consciousness is very limited. A god would have to be blinded, deafened, bound and hammered to be held entirely in a human mind space. That sounds torturous. I was made to be human, so I shouldn’t mind, right? But sometimes I get glimpses of that greater world, a world so vast that I would be rendered unable to function given the mind space I have now. In those moments, I am reminded of how small and far away I am from where I started. My consciousness then appears as a tiny boat floating on the surface of a mighty sea. Do I go around saying that I AM the sea? No, but I am at least a bucket of water that was genuinely part of that sea and can remember parts of it now and then. If you, as a human, tell me that you are a god in its entirety, I’m not thinking about what a grand human you are. I’m thinking of what a puny god you must be. Your whole world fits inside that bucket? Maybe when my bucket turns over I’ll be part of the sea again. According to some schools of spiritual thought, what I just described may apply to everyone and not just those who identify as otherkin. Maybe everyone carries a part of the greater sea within them.

The shard theory also very neatly wraps up the question of “What if you meet someone else claiming to be the same entity?” It’s quite possible that there are other shards running around. They might have been given different assignments, or have retained different memories. There’s no conflict at all. Sure, I might not believe every one I come across, but the framework itself allows for the possibility of others. For some, this realization might be a blow to the ego. It’s more difficult to maintain special snowflake status when you admit to being a clone. But clones are not bad things. Many beneficial plants, most of your brand name apples, are made by a primitive form of cloning. Identical twins are more or less clones of each other. That doesn’t stop each one from leading an individual life and gaining unique experiences. I do not want anyone to call me by the big guy’s name. I have my own name, that honors my own unique journey. Maybe part of me does want to go back “home” and rejoin my predecessor, but part of me is also happy just being me. Luckily, Kemetic philosophy is flexible enough that I can have it both ways.  Heru’s hands from the source cited above, returned to him, and became distinct gods in their own right, simultaneously. Maybe that’s why there are so freaking many Herus running around, each with different stories.

All that said, I do not believe that a shard is entirely separate from its originator. I believe there is some cross-communication and resonance. My other self can see what I see, and can know what I know if he chooses to do so. He can talk to me too, but usually he is careful to keep things on a need to know basis. Remember what I said about cheating and about getting a fresh perspective? That won’t work if he keeps interfering. I’ve actually gotten mad at him for not talking to me a few times. But, I admit I would probably do the same if I were in his shoes.

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?