Compassion and Unification

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Back in the day, Unification rode in on the back of a chariot accompanied by blunt instruments and a lot of yelling. I believe that there are still a few traditionalists around today who would like to maintain that ancient ritual. However, I think it’s safe to say that those days are over. These days, the locals can see you coming from miles away and they will happily flip you the bird. (In ancient Kemet, the bird flips you!)

Blunt instruments and lots of yelling are no longer effective tools for creating or maintaining order.

Without that old standby, it may seem that unification in the modern era is an impossible task. Everyone has a different idea about what they should do and how they should do it. Everyone thinks that their way is the best. They think it is the best, because it works for them. All those varying practices fill various needs. I assure you that if I’m doing something that works that also fulfills my needs, you would need a strong, blunt instrument to get me to stop using it! And then you’d need to keep one eye open while you sleep.

Unification of practice probably isn’t attainable under the current freedoms we all enjoy. However, a unification of spirit is possible. All Kemetics have something in common. They either chose, or were chosen by, the Kemetic deities. These people obviously have good taste! On the other side of the coin, who are we to tell the gods who they can and can’t speak to? They tend to get cranky over that kind of thing. Maybe that newbie, who couldn’t tell a hieroglyph from a wingding if it bit them, has something unique to bring to the table that we know nothing about. We need to have some faith in Netjer’s judgement.

I’m not sure if you’ve noticed or not, but we’re not exactly an overpopulated faith. Every Kemetic is precious. Even that one. Each one of them speaks the Names. Each one of them gives life and breath to our gods. Every person who expends time and energy, in whatever form, in service to Netjer, netjeri, or akhu is filling a vital role in the greater Kemetic sphere. They deserve our respect.

That’s all fine and good, until the next time you read something that makes you facepalm so hard that you think you will see the handprint every time you look in the mirror for the next week. This is where the learned skill of compassion comes into play.

What, did you think you were born with all the compassion you will ever have or ever need? Did you think that this was going to be easy? Kemetics love assigning each other homework, so here’s mine.

I’m not really a Kemetic purist, which means that I have no shame when it comes to ripping off ideas that work. Luckily, the Dalai Lama loves it when people steal this idea. Here’s a Wiki about Compassion Meditation. Feel free to appropriate those ideas and reframe them in a Kemetic setting. They have lotuses. We have lotuses. It’s all good!

“Even as a mother
protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish
all living beings.” Sutta Nipata

(We wouldn’t know anything about that, right?)

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to transform our majestic lions into bleating lambs. It is possible to be compassionate and firm at the same time. My sifu is fond of saying things like “And then you snap their elbow with all the loving-kindness in your Taoist heart.” Now, read that sentence again without the sarcasm. A snapped elbow might be a good alternative to death, or allowing them to use the gun they’re carrying. I’m a follower of Heru. Of course I expect you to defend yourself! Just don’t forget the consequences. A victory won at the cost of a loved one is a bitter one. A compassionate person’s list of loved ones is very long.

Teachers of Compassion Meditation often recommend starting with the self and moving outward. Eventually, you learn compassion even for your enemies. It is better to progress slowly than it is to rush and bring a sense of falseness to your practice. If you really can’t muster up compassionate feelings for someone, then forcing the issue won’t help. Compassion can be learned, developed and strengthened with practice. It is not something you acquire overnight. Be wary of pitfalls such as pity and superiority.

An example of a Kemetic themed verse for compassion practice is given below.

(Name) is a child of Ma’at
May (he/she/they) be free from isfet
May (he/she/they) enjoy all good things
A blessing for (his/her/their) ka!

If you were to start with yourself, you could say:

I am a child of Ma’at
May I be free from isfet
May I enjoy all good things
A blessing for my ka!

You may find that even this first one gives you trouble. You may find that it’s easier to say those words about someone other than yourself. If that’s the case, you could try inserting your name as if you were someone else. Or, if you have a hard time getting through the entire verse, you can stick with the first line for awhile and say, “I am a child of Ma’at.” Eventually, you may recognize that any child of Ma’at deserves to be free from isfet and to enjoy good things.

You can also use this for groups of people such as:

All Kemetics are children of Ma’at
May they be free from isfet
May they enjoy all good things
A blessing for their kau!

Let’s increase the difficulty level, shall we?

All politicians are children of Ma’at
May they be free from isfet
May they enjoy all good things
A blessing for their kau!

That’s a tough one, isn’t it? Remember, don’t say it if you can’t mean it! However, realize that if others are free from isfet, they are less likely to do the things that will land them on your unlikeable list. Just remember that warning earlier about falling into the superiority trap. The verse listed above is probably only suitable for advanced practitioners.

Heru and Set

Set is on my mind this morning. I’m not sure exactly why. Keep in mind that I’m writing from a UPG perspective here, based on my own experiences with both deities. You probably could find ways to disagree if you looked for them. There are many different versions of the stories out there.

Team Set seems more popular on the internet these days than Team Heru. (You’re slipping, man, you really gonna let that donkey beat you in the polls? Heck, the Jackals and the Felines get more attention than you! Get off your feathered butt and get back in the game!) I’m joking, sort of.

We all know there’s that rivalry going on, a rivalry that got pretty ugly. How could they not hate each other? I’ve noticed that followers of Set can get nervous in Heru’s presence, and vice versa.

I’ll let you in on a secret that might make things a little easier on both sides. Heru and Set love each other. That doesn’t mean that everything is instantly OK between them. Love can exist in the same space as hate, jealousy and ambition. They don’t cancel each other out. As a follower of Heru, I can honestly say that a world without Set in it would be a far less interesting place. Then the old curse “May you live in interesting times” springs to mind.

My personal belief is that one reason why Heru and Set ended up in bed together was that when Set said “I love you,” he wasn’t lying. Heru was just too naive to realize that didn’t automatically make it safe. Young people have been making that mistake forever. Love does not always equal “happily ever after.” Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean they won’t screw you over. I believe that story wasn’t about rape, more like bad judgement. Heru’s hand was back there. Blunt fingernails could have become talons in an instant, but they didn’t.

My personal experiences with Set are a mixed bag. We always seem to say the wrong things to each other, little barbs and insults. I remember slapping him across the face once, talons out. He just laughed as the blood dripped down. He was proud of himself for getting me to react. And yet, he has helped me out a few times. When I’m near him, his energy reminds me of home and of family.

So, what about those accusations of homosexuality? They are completely not true! Heru and Set both enjoy the company of women. By today’s standards they would qualify as bisexual. Back then, it wasn’t really an issue. Sexual orientation wasn’t really an identifying trait. It was more of something you did, not something you were. Just because a man took what was offered didn’t make him less of a man. (It still doesn’t.) Now, the offering…there’s a different issue. Heru’s real problem, from a political standpoint, was that he didn’t insist on being on top, and was therefore seen as less dominant.

These days, after so much has been lost, family is more important than ever. They’ve had their differences, but, for now at least, it is in their best interests to work together.

(Another NSFW song for you.)

…And then I can almost hear Set saying:

Blended Identity

The first time I met Heru while in meditation, I met him from the inside. I felt what he felt. I saw what he saw. I wore his clothes. I said his words. I knew that it was him, and not me, performing those actions because the situation was foreign to me. From that moment on, we were inseparable. No, not really. I ran away, partly because I knew how crazy that sounded, and partly because He wasn’t in a good mood at the time.

Much later, I discovered that it really wasn’t that uncommon for Kemetics to take on the roles of various deities in their magic. Some spells have the speaker jumping around, claiming to be several gods within the same verse! In later times, up into the present, it would become unthinkable to make such grandiose claims. But they did it back then.

You could say that those magicians had egos of incredible size. I’m sure that some of them did. You could say that it was a form of sympathetic magic. If I say that I’m DeityX and that I’m doing Y, then maybe DeityX will really do Y for me. Neither one of those explanations apply in the example I gave above. It just happened. If anything, such an experience calls the ego into some serious question. If I’m not always “me,” then what is “me?” This is starting to sound a little bit Buddhist. Was I a human dreaming about being a god, or is the god dreaming about being a human? (Exchange “god” for “butterfly” if you like.)

Common wisdom states that each person is an individual, “one who can’t be divided.” That definition doesn’t really apply to Kemetic deities. Heru once chopped off his hands, and they got along just fine without him for awhile. (That story always has me picturing Thing and his twin scampering along the bed of the Nile and harassing passing swimmers.) Kemetic deities can be divided. They can also merge together. They can shift and change.

Egos are extremely invested in the idea of individuality. I try not to be too hard on the poor thing. It’s mainly concerned with self-preservation, which is a worthy goal. It just doesn’t stand up very well under the light of mystical experience. My definition of the word “I” has gotten soft. Soft like a comfy old couch that He sometimes rests upon, like a house guest who doesn’t leave. Sometimes my ego wants its couch back.

Fortification

Recently Ra told me that he wanted me back in fighting form, and I should consult with Heru to learn how to do that. Heru’s immediate response to my question of what I should do first was “fortify your house.”

First, I rearranged the energy flows in the apartment I keep spirit-side. Then I visualized walking around my earthly house, sprinkling natron in all the corners and next to all windows and doors and vents, etc. While doing such things is good practice, the cards informed me that I was still missing something.

Shortly afterward, lucky circumstances have put the prospect of buying the house, and making improvements to it, back on the table where it had been gathering dust for too long. He wasn’t just talking about spirit-side, apparently.

If I want to get back in fighting shape, without suffering burn out again, starting with the house makes a lot of sense. I need a secure place to rest and recover. I need a place I can retreat to and turtle up if needed. I also need something that is MINE that is worth fighting for.

Back when I did cause trouble, I wasn’t that kind of fighter. I was a crazy-assed warrior with nothing to lose. I hit everything at 100% and I nursed many day-afters. I suppose it was a fast way to learn, but it wasn’t very smart. That’s who I was when I was with Wakinyan, until Waki finally put a stop to my self-destructive attitude. I wasn’t quite sure how to get back in the game after that.

When I talk about fighting, some of it was astral journey work stuff. Some of it was verbal sparring with people online. I was a relentless trouble maker, especially once I caught a whiff of holier-than-thou. (I hear that’s not an uncommon trait for those under the influence of trickster types.) I’m not entirely sure what Ra has in mind for me to do this time around. I’m not as young or dumb as I used to be. Nothing wrong with getting back in shape though, right? (What IS he planning anyway?)

Starting at home does make a lot of sense. It reminds me of that principle that it’s much easier to change yourself than it is to change others. What can I do to my own space to prevent or defend against future “attacks?” Minor adjustments now can avert bigger problems later. Have I been keeping up with repairs? Locking the doors? Is there anything I’ve been putting off that I need to work on? What kind of improvements will make life smoother going forward?

Some Things Should Stay Buried

When you have a created religion, you get to take the moral high road. You get to decide how to incorporate the morality of the day into your practice. You get to pretend that morality is a universal spiritual constant and anyone who hasn’t been doing that way is less spiritually evolved.

If you follow a historically based religion, it’s not so easy. There are thousands of skeletons stored in those closets.

I recently watched a documentary about North Korea. My naive, sheltered self was a little shocked to realize that places like that still exist in the world. At one point, they said that Kim Jong-un was compared to the sun. Get too close and you burn. Get too far away and you freeze to death. Now, where have I heard that before? Aw, crap.

You might argue that it wasn’t that bad in old Kemet, but out of hundreds of kings, it probably was that bad at certain points, if not worse. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the inscriptions on the temples are propaganda. Also, times have changed. A “good” king, as measured by the morality of the day, would probably look like a tyrant measured by today’s standards. (To be fair, they did face greater threats from famine and war than what we enjoy today.)

I could talk about slavery, but what’s the point there? My own country allowed slavery until very recently, by historical standards. Kemetic slaves might have been treated better, or they might not have. Again, with so many years behind it, you really can’t determine what the standard was, or how often people deviated from the standard.

I can talk about the lower classes remaining illiterate, and how illiteracy would doom them to having no idea how to navigate a dangerous and terrifying afterlife. Dante’s Inferno sickened me. Dante’s descriptions weren’t all that far off from what you’d see in ancient Egyptian texts. Apparently, all you’d need to do in order to land in one of the nets of the fishers of souls was to simply be poor and not know how to escape.

As a Kemetic, I really can’t take the moral high road, unless I build that road myself. We really don’t want a repeat of the old times. We need to let the bad stuff rot in its grave and only bring the good stuff into our modern practices. We must redefine Ma’at for our times and build on that instead.

Trombone and the Art of Energy Work Pt. 2

Focused on the sounds around me, I count the silence. One, two, three, four. Two, two, three, four… Focused on the symbols on the page, I quickly fill my lungs like a bellows, raise the comforting brass weight of the instrument to my lips and with a steady controlled breath, I release a power which vibrates the air, perfectly finding its niche within the music of my fellows around me.

After a satisfying practice, I joke around with my friends. My laugh is just a little too loud as my oxygen soaked brain revels in the afterglow.

I sort of miss those days. I don’t really miss the part where I dragged myself around a football field dressed in a ridiculous wool suit in weather that was always too hot or too cold. My band director once told me that a trombone is potentially the loudest instrument in the band. One trombone could overbalance the entire thing. I wasn’t sure if I should take that as a compliment or a warning, but it made me grin just a little bit. One practice, he told me that I was playing like I was possessed. I wasn’t sure if that was a compliment either, but I decided to take it as one. It was a far cry from the timid little mouse who started playing back in fifth grade.

As I mentioned last time, the subject of today’s post is BWAAAAAAAA!!!!! Also known as blasting.

It’s probably no surprise that I’ve hung around the kinds of places on the internet where occasionally someone would ask questions about defending themselves from hostile or mischievous entities. The standard advice tends to run along things like salt or smudging or casting circles. I usually end by saying that I tend to skip over those things and just blast the critter if it doesn’t back off when told.

Usually, the people who have to ask questions like that also have no idea what blasting is. It also made me realize that I couldn’t really think of a good way to explain it to them. I just sort of do it. I asked among my friends who know what blasting is, and they also seemed unsure about how to put it into words. How do you yell at someone? You just sort of open your mouth and do it. It’s instinctive. Even babies know how to yell. How would I explain this to someone who doesn’t appear to have the instinct?

Playing the trombone seemed like one of the closest real world analogies I could come up with. Of course, you don’t always blast on a trombone. It wouldn’t be music if you did. The same might be said about energy work. There are times when a subtle steady tone, or a delicate work of precision is more appropriate. But just as a baby’s cries help develop lung strength to prepare it for speech and singing later, an understanding of how to blast can help you tone it down and learn control later.

The first step in blasting on a brass instrument is the breath. First, you must know how to breathe. Breath is what powers the sound. Everybody knows how to breathe. If they didn’t, they wouldn’t be alive. All the same, the majority of people do it wrong. They think they breathe with their chest and shoulders. A solid deep breath originates lower. The belly and lower ribs should expand while the chest remains relaxed. What does this mean for power?

Power doesn’t come from the intellect. Your skull can’t breathe. It doesn’t come from the heart region either. You can take a breath into your chest, but it won’t be as strong and you will run out of air quickly. Emotions may seem very strong at first, but they are fleeting. Real power comes from the gut, from your center of being. If you can’t find your center, then you’re pretty much screwed. This is why “know thyself” is of such great importance in magic, in anything, really. If the power comes from your center, then it’s much easier to get your heart and head to line up and focus. Everything you have will be in agreement on the subject. When your center gets interested in something, basic survival instinct comes to mind, the energy can seem to come out of nowhere.

The second step is pressurization. When playing a brass instrument, the lips and tongue contain and direct the breath, allowing a controlled amount of air to be released over time. If you want to try it, press your lips together and make a raspberry or farting sound. Brass players do that all the time. It sounds much better when it comes out the other end of the horn. The air inside the body becomes pressurized. With greater pressure, the note can have a greater potential volume and/or a higher pitch. Volume does shorten duration, however. It’s easy to have a short loud note, or a long soft note. If you want a long, loud note, you need to develop greater lung capacity.

This is the part where you have to start being conscious of side-effects. Developing greater lung capacity can sometimes mean actually stretching lung tissue. It’s not a good idea do too much of that. Raising air pressure also raises other kinds of pressure in the body as well. I’ve been told that in ancient Greece, Olympic trumpet playing contests sometimes ended in fatalities when blood vessels burst.(citation needed) The most common side effect for practicing a brass instrument is swollen lips. Practice can help condition the muscles there, but you can’t just play all day. Side note: Brass players make great kissers!

How does this apply to energy work? If you’re channeling energy, you might be able to “breathe” indefinitely. If you want to do that with a brass instrument, learn cyclic breathing. That’s how didgeridoo players keep going seemingly forever. Even if the energy is not coming from your personal store, you can still run into side effects. You’re still the one who has to direct and form the outgoing energy. Pressure can build up. Too much pressure can cause damage to your own energy systems. I’ve done that. Believe me, it’s not fun. The sustained focus can also wear you out and make you get sloppy. That’s why you shouldn’t play at 100%. Back off to about 70%, unless it’s a dire emergency. Another note is that repeated damage builds up over time. It may seem minor now, but it won’t feel that way later.

Finally, there is tone. It’s much harder to get a good tone when you’re blasting. If you play too loud, there’s a little destabilization that sets in because you’re pushing your limits. If you back off slightly, you can get a more focused result.

That’s a lot of theory behind something that takes maybe a second to do. You basically gather energy and release it in force. Most people visualize the energy as a light or as fire, but you don’t have to. You can blast with wind or sand if that suits you better. Directing it out of the hand superhero style seems the most popular, but it’s not the only way to do it. If you’re not sure about the intentions of an unseen entity, you should give it a warning first. Just because something seems strange doesn’t automatically mean it’s a threat. A slow, steady release of energy can also be used to cleanse or bless an area.