So Tell Me ... What's The Weather Like on YOUR Planet?

21 February, 2013

The Yellow Wood

I was thinking about this before I read Dver's post on Choice, but I think I have it articulable now.

People talk about the price that comes of doing intense spirit-work, the obligations and taboos that accrue if one pursues that as a lifework.  And it gets talked about because there are people who will treat their community's medium as a public service, who are enraged that the local witch needs to pay the electric bill, who are consumed by fits of jealousy and want to know why someone else can pierce the veils between worlds and bring back messages and not them.

And a while back when people were talking about god-slavery as a practice/calling, there was one coming in with a great deal of, "Well clearly my gods do this much more seriously than yours," as if there is only one way to do it, and only a particular set and flavor of framework for devotion (one tending towards the ascetic, the henotheistic, the heavily taboo-bound) was relevant.  (I was a touch nonplussed by running into subbier-than-thou-by-proxy, but such is the nature of religion at times?)

But everywhere is a complicated network of choices, and I can trace back through mine, and see each decision, each angle, even at times when there was no choice possible, no other option: to do otherwise would be a betrayal of myself or my vows or some other principle I held dear.

I recall a night looking Neb.y in the eye and seeing before me the grand fork, one way towards Little Foot and family and the life I was urgently trying to build and had been seeking for a long time, the other towards ecstasy and transformation and vast unknowable deeps on the far side of the dark.

I reached into the future and put my arms around my child, and I said, "You cannot have this."

And the god laughed at me, a long and hearty laugh, and He said, "Prove it."

So I did.

And that has made all the difference.

20 February, 2013

Nome for the Holidays

I've been thinking a lot about nomes.

There's this illusion, you see, of a unified religion in discussions of ancient Egypt, usually a variant on the Heliopolitan cosmogony, with Amun-Ra instead of Atum-Ra, and sometimes with bonus Ptah in around the edges.  The different myth cycles of each nome vanish in a kind of vague, generic lens of past culture unification.  (Much like, I imagine, the particular mythologies of Athens dominate discussions of Hellenic culture, though for different reasons in that case.)

But each region had its own myth cycle, its own stories, its own emphases, its own take on things.  A book I'm reading at the moment had a Roman-era mention of a fight breaking out between delegations from two different towns on the subject of crocodile veneration or crocodile smiting - the subtext of which was "honor Set" vs. "execrate Set".  And that isn't, as is usually handwaved, the "Oh, Set's reputation tanked as one went on in Egyptian history", that's two contemporary groups with profoundly different theologies.

And every so often I run into someone who is deeply agitated about some bit of myth - often Set, not always - and I am coming to think that the perspective of "You have to be okay with this god, here's why" is a bad idea.  Or at least an unnecessary one.  The ancients certainly never sorted that shit out, if they were having slapfights about it while bemused Romans took notes.

Here's a complete approach, entirely supportable by mythos:

The regular workaday patterns of the world are a seamless whole which must be preserved.  Into that smooth fabric of being, disruptions are introduced, things that do not need to happen: the storm blows your roof in, or someone dies, or some other needless and painful moment happens.  This happened in the sacred stories, too, and restorative justice only goes so far: Wesir was not returned to his wife and family, but was established in the Duat.  Set becomes the beast of burden, confined to the polar stars so that he may not threaten the fragility that he created, one whose name is cursed.

Not only is this or something like it functional, supportable, and findable in multiple places, it's something that satisfies most people's needs.  Wrestling with the question of those unnecessary disruptions does not require tangling with grey areas; they did harm, so we cast them out, we curse them, we make wax figurines of donkeys to go with our wax figurines of snakes, trample them and burn them.

Here's another complete approach, also supportable by mythos:

An unchanging system is a stagnant one, a vulnerable one, and its weaknesses will reveal themselves in time.  To be powerful, it needs to be tested, prove itself, and overcome that which challenges it, and thus the function of challenge is essential to the health of the system.  Whether it is Heru-Sa-Aset winning the potency, cunning, and self-determination required to become an archetypically powerful king, or Wesir himself learning the secrets of rebirth rather the hard way, the road to revealed power cannot go the easy route that has no conflict.  The workings of Set, while not necessary to the functioning of an ordinary stable reality, are signposts marking the way to a change of condition.

This is a road for revolutionaries, for kings, for spirit-workers in the shamanistic style who are torn to pieces and put back together by the spirits, for those who can afford to imagine a different world and for those who can't afford not to.  Those are the people who need Set, or something like him.

I tend to figure most people don't fall into either group, and they can choose which they feel more aligned with - or something else entirely.  Theological conformity isn't that important.

19 February, 2013

The Physical Possibility of Gender In The Mind of Someone Watching

Last week my liege and I took the kids and went to visit his grandmother.

This is always an exercise in barely-contained chaos, really, and at one point the three adults were sitting in the kitchen while the kids chased each other around the loop of the house, shrieking and bellowing with glee.

"They're so girly at this age," commented his grandmother, perhaps because Little Foot - upon hearing a comment on her shock of hair - paused in her orbits and brushed her curls forward into her face to show them off, before of course whooping and charging off again like a very perky hound of hell.

At least, that's our only possible guess as to what might have been meant.

It's stuff like that that makes me feel like an alien anthropologist.  "Tell me about the customs of your quaint little planet...."

13 February, 2013

Summoning the Irony Demons

Because really, having my previous post about my state of crisis being constantly barraged with the sort of spammer who shits on the most recent post is bothering me.

I am making a post just for the spammers for a bit.  Maybe I will be less personally disconcerted by spam here or on subsequent posts when I have something of substance to say.

05 February, 2013

Once Upon A Time

Sometime, a lifetime ago, I was severely depressive.

I know, I know, a big shocker that.

But one of the things that happened with that depressive episode is, basically: I never fully recovered from it.  I spent a lot of time denying that, and it didn't do a whole hell of a lot of good, because it wasn't actually true.

(Reality is what doesn't go away when you stop believing in it.)

Life has changed a lot from the late nineties.  I am not sure I entirely recognise who I was then.  It's a complicated old world, and a lot has happened between then and now.  But there are scars.

I'm a whole lot healthier, in so many ways.  Having an assortment of medical conditions that can be treated with pills and potions treated with those pills and potions can do a lot for sheer physical resilience.  The kids don't seem as heavy as they used to, even.  (Well, Little Foot feels like she weighs about a fucking ton, but she's a big kid, and it's a smaller fucking ton than it used to be?  Dunno.)

Maybe I can dig back enough to unearth those old wounds and try to heal them true this time.

Maybe I can forgive myself for who I used to be.  And for the years of denying that it mattered.

(That's always a tough one.)

Just pinged a therapist.  We'll see if she works out, eh?  Or I can try another.  But inertia is the thing, and I kicked inertia by writing the one.  (I still like my old therapist but I have moved further and further away from her, and with the kids the transit is just unworkable.  I would like to drop by and see her sometime, introduce Little Foot, but when the fuck am I anywhere near Brookline?  Never.)