Milestones

Well, I did it. I finished my master’s degree in counseling. I also passed my licensing exam. Now the only thing standing between me and my dream job is a boatload of paperwork — and hopefully not too many job applications.

I’ve been longing to do this work since before I even knew what it was. My youthful drive to be a teacher was spurred by my desire to be a source of support and an open ear to my students. It wasn’t until I had already sent applications to get my bachelor’s degree in music education that I realized that what I really wanted was to become a therapist.

I didn’t know what that meant when I started my undergraduate work in psychology. I figured I’d learn what I needed to know by the time I got to the end of my bachelor’s degree. I didn’t. I took a year off to get my ducks in a row, and took up a master’s program in mental health counseling.

Through it all, I knew that the work I was learning to do is the work that I was meant to do. Even as an undergraduate, I felt driven towards this goal. It feels like a service to my gods, to heal and to serve. I walk with my clients as their guide through their troubles, and I show them compassion and help them to heal. I see this as the greatest offering I could make – to give my daily work in service to my gods. And now here I am.

Doubt, existential crises, and choosing faith.

I suck at having faith. I joke to myself that I am one step away from being an atheist; if it’s not the gods of Egypt, it’s no gods at all. I disguise the seriousness of that feeling by calling it a joke — but it’s 100% truth.

I don’t know how I got to this point, honestly. One day I went to bed full of wonder at the Unseen world that surrounded me;  in the night I was gripped with terrifying doubt that left me disturbed for days straight. I shook it off, only to face it again a few years later, this time so intensely that I became physically ill for weeks, unable to eat or sleep as I grappled with the question of what happens after death.

Eventually I became distracted enough with the demands of daily life that my angst faded into a quiet hum of “what if” in the background — but it never dissipated, and I doubt it ever will. I consider myself a scientist at heart, and I am constantly trying to break my beliefs against what can be measured and tested in the lab. The evidence for atheism is strong. The chemicals released in the brain at death are the right ones to induce the feeling of religious ecstasy reported by so many people who have near-death experiences. All signs point to no. And yet I still practice. Why?

It’s a choice. If I live my life serving the gods and there are none, what have I lost? Perhaps time spent kneeling before Their shrines — but is time spent in peaceful reflection really wasted? If there are no gods, then the purpose of life is what we make of it, and I have chosen to dedicate my life to seeking moments of peace and awe, and to helping others. I have chosen to do something that makes me feel better now, instead of dwelling on what might come later.

9.

You have two parents and two beloveds. Would you like to guess?

For the self-discovery;

For the connections and relationships;

For the self-improvement and crucial lessons;

For opening my eyes to everything I needed to see but hadn’t;

For the last nine years living deeply as Your child;

Thank You.

All images from my personal collection.

Fighting for Her

Presently, I find myself in a position where I need to assert myself rather strongly in order to receive the professional respect I deserve, as well as resources and opportunities that were agreed upon at the outset of a professional undertaking. I am being necessarily vague. The details are not important, but the subsequent result is: I need to fight for myself.

This is not a battle of human rights; I have not been oppressed or abused (although there may be some questionable gender and age dynamics at play). I am a successful, professional woman, and I am not being afforded the respect, honesty, or ethical treatment I deserve by my professional superiors. And so I will fight for it.

I offer this fight to my Mother. I offer my righteous indignation to Her. I offer the straightness of my spine when I walk into a superior’s office; I offer the friendly smile I flash at those who I know have tried to stab me in the back. I offer the carefully constructed cadence of my speech and every contact I make in trying to make this right. I wear Her colors, Her sacred jewelry, the cosmetics and perfumes I have offered to Her in the past.

You do not mess with a child of Sekhmet the Queen.

Featured image: “Lioness with bloody muzzle” by Tambako the Jaguar / CC BY-ND 2.0

The crash.

I remember being new to Kemetic Orthodoxy. Everything felt exhilarating. For the first time in my life I had a direct line to communicate with the gods. I felt when They were near me keenly, as vividly as I felt any human presence. I could hear Them speaking when I calmed my body and centered my mind. I was feeling things I’d never felt and experiencing things I’d never experienced. I loved Them deeply, and I was overwhelmed to feel how much They loved me.

Time passed. My relationship with the gods began to normalize. When Wepwawet’s voice spoke through the songs on the radio, I was first thrilled, then touched, and then… mildly bemused. The things that once caused my breath to catch and my spine to tingle were suddenly a part of everyday life with the gods.

And it sucked.

I felt abandoned. The excitement was gone. I began to wonder whether the gods were angry with me. Were They pulling away from me? Had I done something to offend Them and make Them withdraw? Was I losing my ability to communicate? All I knew of religion was ecstatic intensity, and suddenly I couldn’t feel that anymore.

Any new relationship is exciting, and religion is no exception. It puts us in dialogue with something greater than us, and calls to our deepest self. It is more powerful than any secular relationship — and yet it is not immune to the same pitfalls. As time passes, the thrill we feel in a new relationship fades into something calmer and more constant. We don’t live with our friends or romantic partners eternally giving us butterflies the way they did when we first met. So, too, do we not live in the same intense space that we occupied when we first met our gods.

When I felt this natural ebb for the first time, I panicked. I blamed myself. I frantically tried to reach for the powerful joy that They had brought me, and — finding only contentment and happiness — felt lost. It was frightening to think I had lost something that had brought me so much joy already.

I write about this now in an attempt to reach those new to the worship of their gods, to head off those fears and normalize this natural experience. It’s normal to lose the intensity in your relationship with the divine. It’s normal to go through cycles in your devotion. Just breathe and let it happen, be as present with the gods as you can, and keep moving. It’s a process.