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.

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Shifty

“Are you sure you’re not a multiple?” she asked while sitting on the floor after doing reiki on me.

“Well, almost,” I replied. I explained later that I shift a lot (in the astral) and that it also changes my mindset, but it’s all essentially still me.

She said there were several of me in there, and one of them kept making fun of her. I can only guess that he was trying to deflect her from getting too deep into the serious stuff that I’d rather not share. She said I didn’t have a well defined shape, but by the end she was able to get me to consolidate into a steady form. She said she thought I was just humoring her.

I did feel more balanced by the time she was done, but I also felt less human. In my mind’s eye, I had feathers sprouting through my hair, and long, three inch talons growing from my hands and feet. The talons were made of blue silver. That shape was not “the” shape. It was just “a” shape, a balance of various forces present at that particular time. Collapse the wave function and that is where it landed.

I examined the feeling. I knew it wouldn’t last. It never does. I live with humans. I talk like a human. I think like a human. It’s just not very balanced for me to maintain that shape all the time. I start to lose track of the other parts of myself. Bast warned me about that not too long ago. I told my friends about the netjeri hounds and how it sounded like it would be really fun to let myself shift and just go run with them for awhile.

Netjeri

I’m a little late this time. The Fourth of July and related fun delayed me a bit. I wanted to do a normal subject, like Names. Maybe I’ll do that one next week. This is the one that keeps coming up in my thoughts. I guess it wants to be told. Yes, it’s full of crack, woo, fluff, etc. You’ve been warned. If you don’t believe or agree with me, that’s fine. That is your right.

It is said that the Nisut, the Pharaoh, is the Living Heru, one who has the Kingly Ka. The Kingly Ka is said to contain the memory-impressions of former kings. That is not what I have. I haven’t made a huge secret about being otherkin, but I haven’t talked about it much on here either. My memory-impressions are not human, other than that they are being experienced and interpreted by a human mind at this time. This most likely colors them. I take them more as symbolic truth than as literal truth. They serve as a starting point for the contemplation of Netjer and netjeri.

Netjeri are usually equated with kemetic spirits, djinn, genus locii and others. It’s a pretty broad term. It can even refer to animal spirits, basically any noncorporeal being that is not human or god. The gods are capable of having a piece split off, either deliberately to make a servitor, or accidentally through trauma. That piece goes on living its own life as a netjeri. The line between netjeri and Netjer can get a little blurry in that area. Sometimes Kemetics talk about a netjeri that lives in a god’s statue that looks and talks much the same way that the god would. There can be thousands of these running around.

I remember a time before I had a form, a time before I had purpose. All my siblings were with me. We didn’t have names, because we didn’t need them. There was nothing to distinguish one from another, and no reason to do so. We flowed together, like in a cloud. It was difficult or impossible to tell where one left off and another began. It was peaceful. The absolute feeling of family and togetherness is difficult to describe. It was the time before separation. Part of me misses it, but the price of going back is the loss of everything I have now. I’m not ready to do that, yet. Another century? Ten? A thousand centuries? Maybe then. We’ll see, but not yet.

The Nun actually wasn’t a bad place to be. They describe it as the primordial waters, a vast ocean. I called it a cloud, but I can see the ocean thing too. It was very fluid with no real sense of up or down. They say it was dark. I tend to picture it as sky blue, but then, I like blue. I might describe it more like Nirvana. They say the gods were inert. Inert is not quite the same thing as dead. I definitely felt alive. You might ask if I would get bored when there’s nothing to do. The answer is no. The human mind is always a little bit unstable. It seeks stimulation to right itself in an ongoing battle. I was at peace there. There was no need to look for something to do just for the sake of doing something.

They say that Shu kicked it all off. He stirred the creator into motion. Shu is a god of separation. He separates the earth from the sky. I’m not sure he realized what he was getting everyone into. I imagine it as if he was saying, “Hey, look what I can do!” We were all a lot more innocent then.

I remember tearing across a battlefield like a horrifying force of nature. The Song flowed through my entire being. My Dance was perfection itself. Any who came near me, fell to my blade. No one could stop me or slow me down. Except…it started to dawn on me that those who stood before me were my own family. I couldn’t stop. The Song was too loud, but the discord of that realization slowed my movements. Finally, someone did stop me. I was glad that they did, but I was never quite the same after that.

Was this Heru-wer’s battle? Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t know why I was fighting, or how it turned out to be against my own people. I was definitely not in a normal state of consciousness.  Athletes and martial artists refer to it as being “in the zone.” It was like that, times a thousand. I was barely aware of anything beyond the dance itself. I know how dangerous “He Who Has No Eyes” can be. I feel sympathy for Sekhmet and her rampage. That doesn’t make it any less terrible, but I see how it could happen.

I remember standing guard in an unremarkable hallway in a divine palace. This time the Song was about doing exactly what I was made to do. I was so proud of my job that I glowed. I could have been standing there for five minutes, or for five thousand years. It would have made no difference to me. If someone who didn’t belong tried to walk through there, I would have shredded them with the exact same sense of pride. The goddess who owned the palace came to see me. Out of the hundreds of guards who were exactly the same, she came to see me! I knew I would do anything she asked without hesitation or question, and I did.

This last one seems more netjeri than Netjer. I knew there were hundreds of other guards in the palace. I couldn’t see them, but I could feel them through the Song. Again, time made no difference to me. I had no idea that violence might be a bad thing. No one ever told me that. I was as happy to see the goddess as a dog feels when its owner comes home from work. I was a simple being back then. Which goddess was it? I’m not entirely sure. I suspect Ma’at. I’m not sure who else would get that kind of starstruck reaction from me.

There was one more. It wasn’t exactly my memory. I did something like a soul-retrieval and ended up with another soul-fragment living with me. Part of the time he had the feel of someone just waking up from a nightmare, a little bit panicked and full of shock. Other times he felt very sensory-starved. He craved music, good food, dance, anything he could get. I asked Djehuty why he was like that. I felt as if my skin were turning to stone and I could feel him panicking in the back of my mind.

I believe he had been a statue netjeri who was abandoned. I know wars and disasters happen, but abandoning an open statue is a bad thing. They need to be decommissioned properly. The smaller ones aren’t much more than a spark, but the larger ones can persist in the darkness. Caring for an open statue is a real responsibility not to be entered lightly.  Treat the netjeri with the same respect that you would the god itself.

Meatsuit

It’s pet peeve time. I cringe every time I see someone use this word. In all, I suppose it’s not a whole lot worse than when I refer to “dirtside,” except that with a degree in horticulture, I actually have a lot of respect for dirt.

To me, the word “meatsuit” shows a lack of respect for our highly complex and hard working bodies. I know where the sentiment comes from. The body isn’t always a match for the spirit inside. I know the feeling well. I am both otherkin and transgendered, or gender fluid, well, everything fluid. My spirit is a shifty one. The face I see in the mirror doesn’t look like me at all. Even so, this body plays a real part in who I am today. It does the best it can, and I am responsible for helping it in that cause. It is alive, an entire ecosystem within itself, and it deserves respect. If you don’t make it your ally, then it will become your enemy.  If it already feels like the enemy, then it’s not too late to try to repair the relationship. It builds character, as my old Aikido sensei used to say. (I was tempted to tell him that I had plenty of character already, but then he would have made me uke. No, not in the anime sense of the word, nice try.)

I’ve always been just a little bit overweight. I never wanted these lumps on my chest that appeared when I was twelve, and where the heck are my wings? I wore baggy t-shirts in high school because I just wanted to hide it all. Now when I wear baggy t-shirts, it’s simply because they’re comfortable. In college, I took Aikido and archery. I began to appreciate the things I could make my body do. I could fluidly roll across the floor, or fall unharmed with a loud BANG against the mat. I could relax, focus, and hit a target with my arrow, except for that one odd day when I’d switched dominant eyes without realizing it. I told you I was fluid. I realized that the “meatsuit” wasn’t half bad, and that I could learn to have fun with it. (Not in the anime sense of the…oh never mind.) I remember going to the bar with my friends and dancing to any song that wasn’t country. There wasn’t anything else to do in that town. Dance is still a big part of my spiritual life. It’s a nice easy conduit for trance and energywork. It’s fun and it’s exercise. Years of tai chi training makes it even more fun.

In tai chi, we learn about three major energy centers, the lower, middle, and upper tan tiens. We focus mainly on the lower one, the one relating to the physical. The middle is said to relate to the emotional, and the upper, to mental and psychic things. We’re always told to work with the lower one first. Like a pyramid, you need a strong foundation before moving up or the whole thing may become unstable. The physical work you do first will give you the strength needed to endure the ups and downs of the emotional, or the surreal abstract nature of the mental. I’m sure we’ve all met people who have skipped straight to the upper work and have suffered for it. In that category, you’ll find those who are too empathic for their own good, and also those who sound like they’re on drugs when they tell you about enlightenment. Tai chi is all about improving the interface between mind, body and chi. You do that with hours and hours of grunt work and repetition. I think everyone should do tai chi, but I’m definitely biased. The truth is, any exercise that is suited to your ability and interest helps in building that connection.

After all that, I don’t have a meat suit. I have a body glove. I have a highly complex and capable tool that actually helps with my spiritual practices. If I treat it well, I can channel more energy without crashing afterward. I can dance and trance longer. I can think more clearly. I can meditate without falling asleep a few minutes into it. If I slack off and forget, don’t exercise, don’t sleep enough, don’t take my vitamins, all of that comes back to bite me in the butt. I can’t afford to pretend that my body isn’t an important part of my spiritual life.