Chop Vegetables, Build with Water

I’ve been spending time with Clifford lately. Clifford is not his real name, but I needed something to call him. Clifford is the big one. He’s my life’s work, or maybe I am his. He was the first Heru I ever met, Heru-on-the-cliff. He is a branch off of Heru-sa-Aset, who became Horus, who became that broken mess of a god who watched it all fall down and drown under tons of blowing sand. What good is a king when the country is gone? The Apocalypse has already happened as far as he’s concerned. Of all the great and mighty gods out there, how did I end up with this one? That’s a stupid question. Remember the post about shards? Mine came from Clifford. If I was in it for the ego boost, I really should have “chosen” someone else.

What am I going to do with Clifford? What is he going to do with me? I invited him into my house (More like kidnapped and dragged back, but he let me do it.) awhile back, and I remember seeing him there, dressed in casual jeans and a button down shirt with his dark curly hair, chopping vegetables at the counter. He seemed quiet and interested in grounding himself in mundane tasks. What was he thinking?

I jumped inside his head recently. The clothes, the vegetables, they were just empty gestures, but he wanted to appear “normal.” His mind was deep and quiet, and not very human. (It was this same inaction and passivity that allowed me to drag him away from his cliff. He didn’t lift a finger to stop me.) He saw me desperately flailing around, trying to fix things while having no idea what the hell I was doing. He thought I was a lunatic, but that wasn’t necessarily meant as an insult. I caught on to his word game. Lunatic came from “moon sick,” being affected by the phases of the moon. Heru’s wounded, and healed, left eye is also the moon. I see what you did there.

He also said that my thoughts and ambitions were too shallow. Too shallow how? He saw me as this chaotic flash of colors near the surface, while he sat below the ground like the giant magma chamber under Yellowstone. Up here on the surface, all we’re able to see is the occasional plume of steam. (To think that I “dragged” him anywhere! Ha!)

So answer me this, if the gods were there the whole time, biding their time underground, then what’s with the whole depression act, Clifford? Obviously I’m still missing something.

We’ve been dealing with themes of destruction of home and rebuilding. He can’t go back to his wasteland because I planted trees there and told him not to go back. He remodeled my apartment, and I’ve been having trouble getting back there. Fair is fair I guess, but there’s more to it than that. He wants me to explore these lessons further. I started playing Landmark again, which is a building game like Minecraft, but with better graphics. I had been working on an ocean resort, but then he told me to delete it and start again somewhere else. He wants me to practice this. Build, destroy and build again. Another place, another cliff, this time with a waterfall. More green, more gardens. Playing with light and shadow. Why destroy? He doesn’t want me to get attached to the wrong things. The right things will come back in the next build. What is worth rebuilding and what isn’t? We’ll study this together.

 

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The Mirror

UPG astral post disclaimer, blah, blah.

This story was stuck in my head this morning. It’s something that happened years ago, but if I’m revisiting it now, it probably means I should write it out and reexamine it.

Back then, I was training with Wakinyan, the Lakota Thunder Being. Sometimes Waki* is called a Thunderbird, but I find that if you get your cultures mixed up, that the Thunderbirds that other nations talk about bear little resemblance to the Thunder Being. S/He technically has wings but that’s where the resemblance to birds, or anything else, breaks down completely. Or, Wakinyan can look and act like a guy, even though he’s really a she. The lore says that if you see a Thunder Being’s true form, it will drive you insane. This explains much. Though honestly, I don’t think I had far to go in the first place.

Waki had me do this thing where I’d fly to the top of the mountain where I could look over my city. It was MY city. I had bonded with it. If anything went wrong, I could feel it like an itch that had to be scratched. If you hurt my city, you hurt me. I would feel compelled to fly down and do battle with whatever was causing the problem. I would fight spirits and constructs. Then I’d spend a few days to a week, healing from my injuries. Then I’d go out and do it again.

One evening I was hanging out in Waki’s house. His house is a wreck. There’s papers and stuff scattered all around the place. I noticed that the closet door was left open. I went to have a look. There was a full length mirror on the inside of the door. Astral mirrors have this nasty habit of telling the truth.

In the mirror, I saw a handsome young man. I can’t really tell you about any specific features, except that he appeared “golden.” I remembered what Sekhmet had told me a long time ago about my connection with Horus/Heru. I saw him in the mirror, and I knew exactly how bloody, freakishly, violent he could be. Like a lot of pagans, I started out with Wicca. “Harm none” had been thrown out the window and trampled to death a long time ago. I felt that he had no right to look that pretty. If he was going to act like a monster, he should have the courtesy of looking like one. My fist smashed the glass.

I often get the feeling that people don’t know the real Heru. I can’t really blame them because I don’t think he wants them to. I’ve met a lot of veterans with PTSD. I even married one. It’s complicated.

*Waki is not just a shortened nick name. It has a double meaning that is highly appropriate. I used to take an Iaido (Japanese katana) class. In it “waki gamae” was an upside down and backward hidden sword. Since Wakinyan is backward and contrary and Thunder Beings hide in the clouds, the name stuck. My friend used to always think it was pronounced like “whacky” which in terms of silliness and strangeness is also appropriate. It’s more like (wah-kee) the full name, Wakinyan, is more like (waw-kee-yaw).

Added:

I lied down on the mountain top, sprawled out on my belly. My awareness spread across the land, across dry, jagged rocks, between scratchy creosote, yucca and sotol plants, across pavement and houses, north east to the desert, and southwest to the river bed. Waki walked up and stopped a few feet away. “Are you ready to love again?” he asked. He came close, but I knew he wouldn’t touch me. I wasn’t his anymore, and my energy had been changed by Ra’s fire.

Love, so that’s what this is about.

Heru and Set

Set is on my mind this morning. I’m not sure exactly why. Keep in mind that I’m writing from a UPG perspective here, based on my own experiences with both deities. You probably could find ways to disagree if you looked for them. There are many different versions of the stories out there.

Team Set seems more popular on the internet these days than Team Heru. (You’re slipping, man, you really gonna let that donkey beat you in the polls? Heck, the Jackals and the Felines get more attention than you! Get off your feathered butt and get back in the game!) I’m joking, sort of.

We all know there’s that rivalry going on, a rivalry that got pretty ugly. How could they not hate each other? I’ve noticed that followers of Set can get nervous in Heru’s presence, and vice versa.

I’ll let you in on a secret that might make things a little easier on both sides. Heru and Set love each other. That doesn’t mean that everything is instantly OK between them. Love can exist in the same space as hate, jealousy and ambition. They don’t cancel each other out. As a follower of Heru, I can honestly say that a world without Set in it would be a far less interesting place. Then the old curse “May you live in interesting times” springs to mind.

My personal belief is that one reason why Heru and Set ended up in bed together was that when Set said “I love you,” he wasn’t lying. Heru was just too naive to realize that didn’t automatically make it safe. Young people have been making that mistake forever. Love does not always equal “happily ever after.” Just because someone loves you doesn’t mean they won’t screw you over. I believe that story wasn’t about rape, more like bad judgement. Heru’s hand was back there. Blunt fingernails could have become talons in an instant, but they didn’t.

My personal experiences with Set are a mixed bag. We always seem to say the wrong things to each other, little barbs and insults. I remember slapping him across the face once, talons out. He just laughed as the blood dripped down. He was proud of himself for getting me to react. And yet, he has helped me out a few times. When I’m near him, his energy reminds me of home and of family.

So, what about those accusations of homosexuality? They are completely not true! Heru and Set both enjoy the company of women. By today’s standards they would qualify as bisexual. Back then, it wasn’t really an issue. Sexual orientation wasn’t really an identifying trait. It was more of something you did, not something you were. Just because a man took what was offered didn’t make him less of a man. (It still doesn’t.) Now, the offering…there’s a different issue. Heru’s real problem, from a political standpoint, was that he didn’t insist on being on top, and was therefore seen as less dominant.

These days, after so much has been lost, family is more important than ever. They’ve had their differences, but, for now at least, it is in their best interests to work together.

(Another NSFW song for you.)

…And then I can almost hear Set saying:

UPG

Note: The original questions also refer to doxa. This is not a term I’m personally familiar with. I read the dictionary definition of it, but for lack of my own experience in using the word, I’m going to skip that part.

What is UPG?

UPG stands for Unverified Personal Gnosis. “Unverified” means that it is not something you found in a book or heard from a reputable outside source. You are admitting that it is a guess, and you may be wrong. Maybe later you will verify it, but that hasn’t happened yet. “Personal” means that it is yours. It might not apply to anyone else. On the other hand, it might also mean that it fits you more precisely than the generalizations you find in public practices. This is something “custom made” for your situation, not “off the rack.” “Gnosis” is spiritual knowledge or insight.

UPG refers to a kind of spiritual knowing that is gained by your own experiences and thoughts. Your experiences and your thoughts are unlikely to be the same as anyone else’s. UPG is modern spiritual shorthand for declaring that what you are talking about is your opinion. It may be deeply held by you, but it might not mean much to anyone else.

What are the rules on UPG?

The rules are that there are no rules. Anyone can make a spiritual guess about anything. That said, there are a few guidelines for improving the respectability of your guesses.

First, is to remember the U and the P. You might be wrong, or, the information might apply only to yourself and not to someone else. No one else is required to believe in the same thing you do. Their disbelief is not always the same thing as disrespect. Remember that others have UPG too. Yours and theirs might not agree. If someone tells you that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is allergic to purple, you can have respect for the person’s right to hold that belief without sharing it. (Maybe The Great Noodly One, just didn’t like that guy’s sweater.)

Second, research is not required to have a guess, but it will make your guesses better. You don’t have to believe in, or agree with, everything you read, but having some background helps to put ideas into relevant context. If your UPG contradicts prominent sources without an intrinsically explainable cause, you may find a few eyebrows raised in your direction. What you do about those eyebrows is up to you. Maybe you’ll ignore them and go on your way. Maybe you’ll start second guessing and lose confidence in your faith. Maybe you’ll find a way to incorporate the new information. You can’t really control what others think about your stuff. You can only really control your own reaction to it.

Third, take a moment to check whose toes you are stepping on and if it is really necessary to do so. You probably already know that you should be careful what you say about another person’s friends or family. Keep in mind that some people have relationships with their gods that are just as close as family. Controversial things sometimes do show up in UPG. Try to have the sense not to broadcast those things. It can’t always be helped. You might offend completely by accident. If it happens, apologize for causing offense (not necessarily for having the belief), and watch your tongue in the future. This is what private journals and friend locked blogs are for. Get the controversial UPG off your chest there and not in public.

How important is UPG?/Should we rely on it?

UPG exists in the space outside of standardized ritual. That’s a really big area to fill. Any time your gods speak to you directly, or through various signs, that’s UPG. Your negotiations with them, your images of them beyond the standard iconography, or even random jokes and trivial likes and dislikes are UPG. It’s difficult to have a meaningful relationship without relying on some UPG. No academic can tell you how to nurture your personal relationship with the divine. They can give their own ideas about how other people used to do it, but they can’t tell you about your specific situation. It’s imprecise. It can get messy, but you can’t really get away from it.

Should we pay attention to others’ UPG, or let it influence our own UPG/practice?

You don’t have to pay attention to what someone else is doing unless you want to. If solitary practice is your thing, then go right ahead. If you want to work within a community, then it helps to have an idea of what’s going on in that community. Personally, I enjoy hearing UPG stories from my fellow Kemetics. However, there shouldn’t be any great pressure to make all the stories agree. The old myths don’t even agree with each other. Why should we start trying to create a monoculture now? There is a fuzzy line between influencing each other and creating an atmosphere of clone consensus. I take that second one as a warning sign. Influence is ok, but not to the point that you stop having your own ideas.