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?

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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.

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?

Sunset

I followed Heru down the winding stairs. He brought me to a room where the other gods waited and watched. He handed me a blindfold. Did I trust him? Of course. I put it on. He told me to follow him. I could feel his presence leading me as I put one foot ahead of the other. I couldn’t see with my eyes, but I knew where we were going. I crossed the chasm on a narrow plank. Honestly, if my eyes had been open, that crossing would have been much harder to handle.

In the next room, he removed the blindfold. I saw my heart set out on a platform. Then it was sliced in two. He handed half of it to someone I couldn’t see at the time. He kept the other half. He and I couldn’t do it alone. That other person I couldn’t see was part of this too.

That’s why I was not surprised when another name, Ra, followed Heru’s during my Rite of Parent Divination. I hesitated a moment because I had a history with him, and not exactly a good history. Still, I could not deny that he’d had a major role in my life. It seemed inevitable. So I went along with it. I made the promise to serve them both.

I tried hard to keep that promise. I worked to get past my anger and my lack of trust. At first it was duty, nothing more. Then I started opening up to him. Then I loved him. I wanted his approval. I wanted to serve. He got me through a difficult time and made me stronger. I became dependent on him.

A couple days ago, he asked me to use that strength. I didn’t think about what I was doing. I only thought about serving him, gaining his approval. I was proud to be able to do this for him, but the usual safeguards and worries and concerns were absent. It seemed ok to put those aside for him. Not just set aside, because that assumes I thought about them at all. I didn’t. I was just following orders, nothing more than an extension of his will. Isn’t that what all servants are after? Erasure of self for the greater good?

Yeah, Heru was pissed. He said it was time to leave. Djehuty explained to me that it was a breach of contract. Heru’s claim came first, and what happened tried to negate that. No worries about repercussions from the promise made. I did my best. My legal backside is covered.

That’s the easy part. The hard part is that I loved him, or I think I did. Our relationship was never very clear. It was wrapped up in a tangle of duty, and service, and being angry for what he took, and being grateful for what he gave. And being ashamed of requiring what he gave. How did I get to the point where his approval meant more to me than my own values? Because that’s where we ended up.

I was addicted in a way. Heru and the others threw me a cold turkey party. I wrapped myself in a blanket on the couch. I felt cold. They hung around, offering comfort, reminding me they would still be there for me. I looked over at Sekhmet and I saw it. I wasn’t the first, or the only, or probably even the last. He just does that to people without even realizing it. I hope he doesn’t realize it. I don’t think he meant for this to happen. He actually apologized for a change. He is the sun, a star, a giant gravity well that turns us in circles. Not one of them blamed me for getting sucked in.

So, what now? A name change might be in order. Shezep is still just as true as ever. The dawn is still part of me. The bright white light is like the white fire I wield in the astral. The white fire deserves more respect. It is a tool for purification and healing. It is not for indiscriminately rooting out the source of paranoia. The white fire deserves more respect. Shezep deserves more respect. I deserve more respect. But the Shuty part is no longer valid. It’s not Two Feathers anymore.

Why am I telling you all this? Is it a cautionary tale about blind faith? No, I still trust Heru that way. He’s never given me any reason to doubt him. Ra gave me plenty of reasons and I tried to work around them. I succeeded, and that was a bad idea. It’s not a cautionary tale at all, because those don’t work. I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping my promise. Maybe I shouldn’t have made the promise? I wouldn’t say that either. The struggle itself taught me a lot that I wouldn’t have learned any other way. I think I’m just writing to say that there are no easy answers. Life happens.

Open Your Heart

Usually Hethert gives me that lecture, on those rare occasions when she decides to visit. It sounds like the kind of thing she’d say. More recently, Ra was the one telling me to do this.

My relationship with Ra is complicated, but it really doesn’t have to be. I’m the one who is complicating it. I expect him to be more judgmental and demanding than he actually is. He has already decided that I’m worth his time and his energy. Don’t ask me why. He’s already decided that he likes me. Don’t ask me why. And that’s part of the problem. I’m always asking why. I feel like there has to be a reason. I can’t just trust it and move on. This must get really annoying for him.

Love couldn’t possibly be the reason for anything he does, right? There has to be some kind of big picture objective reason for every single thing, right? The moment I stop being a good servant, he’s going to lose interest in me, right?

Wrong. It really is insulting to assume that he would be such a dick. It’s true that he’s not terribly demonstrative, and it’s true that he does have plans. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t also care. He does care. He tells me so, and in my moments of self-doubt, I (in)conveniently forget that he means it.

“Open your heart,” he tells me, barely masking his annoyance that he has to remind me yet again.

Yes, but if I do that, things might happen, scary things.

How can I play with this fire without getting burned? I can’t. It will happen sooner or later. How do I stand in the presence of the gods without breaking down? I can talk to them just fine with that barrier between us, but once that comes down… None of the rational advice can help me then.

But if my heart is closed, as I’m used to it being, it affects everything. I’m still a nice person, but I’m “just” a “nice” person. I say the right things. I hold people at arm’s length, including my family. I make encouraging faces as I stand on the sideline. I give reasonable advice. I try to follow the reasonable advice. Then I wonder why I feel lonely when I’m never actually alone. Then I wonder why it isn’t working.

It’s easier to talk about things and methods. It’s not easy at all to talk about the love part of devotion. What can I say about the deep, warm feel of his voice? What about how he’s always there when I need him? Even if I seem less than grateful? What about the touch of love, power and eternity? It’s easy to see the stern, authoritative king, and forget about the qualities that have made him one. Ra is love. Every god worthy of worship is love. They each have different ways of expressing it, but if your heart isn’t open, then how will you understand?

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?