“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.