I lit the candle, which heated the incense. I put half a beer and a chocolate chip cookie on the shrine. I said my Hotep Netjer*, and started up the music. I’m back doing shrine, but it’s nothing fancy.

I sat down and soon got the impression of Heru-sa-Aset sitting across from me. He wasn’t doing anything fancy either. He appeared in my mind’s eye as a young skinny guy wearing a white kilt and the double crown. Basically just enough for identification purposes. For those who have been curious about deity communications, this really wasn’t much different from having a conversation with an “imaginary” friend. How do I know that it was really Him? How do I know I wasn’t just talking to myself? I don’t really. I just roll with it. If the info is good, I go with it. If it’s unclear or obviously wrong, then I brush it off.

First we talked about the issue some have with the power balance between gods and humans and the “work with” debate. He pointed out that it doesn’t really matter if he’s bigger than me or not. What really counts is that I’m the only one who can handle my boat. My boat belongs to me. The gods can’t steer it for me. They might help smooth my way or point me in a better direction, but ultimately, it’s up to me. Our relationship is not equal. I’m the captain of my own ship, as small as it may be. I could stick my fingers in my ears and not listen to him at all if I wished, but experience has shown that I’m generally better off when I work with my gods than against them. No doubt, they do have more influence over the weather and sailing conditions than I do. It’s still my boat though. It’s my journey, not theirs.

After that, we talked about my fear of greatness. I could have been a professional concert musician. My tutor, who was a professional musician, said so. Right now, I have access to some of the best Tai Chi instructors in the country. I do have talent, and that’s not an idle brag. So, why am I not doing anything with it of note? Why do I turn away just when it starts to get good?

I sat there in the candle light and gazed at the empty space supposedly occupied by a god. He waited patiently for an answer, a real one. “I don’t want them to own me,” I finally told him. How many times have I heard “if I had your talent, brains, etc…I would…” Well you’re not me, so kindly fuck off. I wasn’t interested in the same things they were.

“So what were you seeking?” he asked.

What was it about immersing myself in music and finding a pure tone that meshed with the music of my friends, my band? What was it about feeling the smooth transitions of weight and form, discovering the inner secrets of this body? What was I looking for? Why do I study the world around me and try to understand everything? Why am I here? What sustains me?

“Divinity,” I told him.

Greatness has never been my goal. Divinity can lead to greatness, but greatness by itself does not lead to divinity. It can become an obstacle if followed for its own sake. I saw how I’d been mislead. How discounting my own feelings had left me stagnant. I forgot what brought me to those things in the first place.

I said I wanted to be a mystic, a monk. I tried to find the definitions of these things and what I read didn’t make much sense. Are you a monk if you seclude yourself from society and practice aestheticism? Are you a mystic if you go on astral journeys and talk to god? No, not really. It’s not the outer practices that make the difference. They’re just tools to be used as needed. The real thing is something you cannot see. It doesn’t matter where you search. It’s everywhere.

Divinity is light and love and fellowship. It is also darkness and pain and anger. As a polytheist, I see all of these things reflected in my gods. You find divinity by saying “It is here!” You don’t find it when you say “It is not there!” You find it in every creature, every thing. You find it in yourself. You find it in your love and in your hate. You find it in those whom you love and also in those whom you hate. You find that it remains, at the core, unchanged by love or hate.

“We are a way for the Universe to know itself.” -Carl Sagan

But it’s still your boat.


* Hotep Netjer em shabu en imenet her iabyt. “May Netjer be satisfied with the repast to the right and to the left.” -The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook, Tamara L. Siuda, p.84

Out of the Shallows

He called me shallow. Instead of rolling my eyes and ignoring him, I’ve tried to understand what he means. Among other things, I think it means that the work I need to do is going to be more below the surface. It means that my normal cleverness and logic will not be of much use.

It’s one of those things where we both know what it takes to get better, but there’s a large gap between knowing and doing. It’s like trying to float down a river, but your hull keeps getting stuck on things you can’t see. How do you solve that? Get down in the water and guide the boat while taking a chance with the river’s inhabitants? Dredge the river? Watch the water intently and try to decipher the subtle language of ripples and currents? Some of all three probably. ¬†However it happens, you have to resign yourself to the idea that progress will not be as fast or as easy as it looks from above.

I’ve done shadow work before. I have a pretty good idea of what’s hiding in this particular river. I’m even pretty good at swimming. I’m used to the unnerving screech of submerged branches against the hull. I cringe, reposition my weight, and keep going, while hoping that the scratches weren’t too bad this time. All in a day’s work, right?

Every obstacle we get past is one less in the way. With that attitude I can almost look forward to them. That doesn’t mean that getting over one sand bar means sandbars are defeated forever. I guarantee there will be more. But that one, on that day, is over.

But there is more to this than defeating the negatives. The more water there is, the easier it is to navigate. We’re less likely to get stuck on every little thing. We pray for rain. We try to keep the boat in good shape. We practice and build up our skills. We look at the map and take note of what progress has been made. We learn to appreciate the river itself.

He told me to cut my hair short. I used to associate putting my hair up with getting things done. Now it’s always up. He told me to build virtual homes and landscapes. I always put gardens in. I don’t think it matters what it looks like or who sees it. Embedding the concept of building in my subconscious is what he’s after. Life, beauty, light and shadow. What do I create? What do I want? What do I need? How do I start over again? (We seem to be going for the benevolent mad wizard aesthetic.)

I managed to get Clifford off the cliff and into the boat. I have a feeling that if I can get him to reestablish his place in the Duat it will end up being both freaky and fun. Expect gardens, and fire, and water, and probably some bending of the laws of  physics.