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.


“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.


Update, March 2018: I no longer put such a big emphasis on separation and visualize it more like a Venn diagram. However, this article still does a decent job of getting the idea across. Yes, The Dark Crystal was one of my favorite movies while growing up and may have influenced my choice of words here. If you remember, the shard in the movie was the same shape as the crystal it came from.