The Reboot

Anpu grabbed my hand and led me away. I knew the way it would start this time would be different than how it started before, but I asked anyway.

“We’re not going to the black room again are we?”

“No, you’re pretty much all here.”

I thought about what had happened before. My ka, my ba, my ren were all back. My shut wasn’t but “shadow work” so it was around here somewhere. What was missing?

“What about my shadow?”

Anpu chuckled. “What were you just thinking?”

“And my ib?”

He didn’t quite answer me. He didn’t exactly say where it was, but he did say he essentially had it, except for a shard which Z has. Instantly I thought of the box with Z’s shard in it. It appeared in my hands, perfectly safe and firmly locked and sealed with magic. I waved it away to wherever it had been hiding.

“Smart girl.” Anpu said cheerfully, pleased that I had opted to hide it than carry it.

He led me into a hallway and then into a room filled with water. The floor of the room was three feet below the doorway, creating a pool of glowing water. Anpu waltzed into it as if it were nothing. Truly the Jackal was cheesy, stealing ideas from other gods, but he knew me well enough that I was more likely to try something I had seen others do than something new. Hence the creation of the black room and now this pool of water.

Of course, there were other reasons for the water, reasons that were uniquely mine. I stared at the water, worried. For one thing, it was cold. It wasn’t frosty or slushy but I could just tell that it was freezing. Anpu had told me earlier that he wanted to teach me strength and bravery first and compassion and empathy second. Passion and drive, the mars to match Pluto. He wanted Sekhmet to teach me, but he was considering Serket instead. I still didn’t know why.

“Come on then.” Anpu coaxed, holding out his arms like a father to a small child. I could almost hear him coaxing me in other ways

Water is your friend. You have a connection with it. You always have. It is soothing to you, healing.

They weren’t lies. However, all I could think of was drowning. I’ve had a fear of drowning for a long time. Some people who have tried to teach me to swim scared me by accident. The cold water often shocks my asthma and I can’t hold my breath very long when in water, and I greatly dislike being splashed or having my face covered with water. I also have sensitive ears, so water in them is painful and disorients me. This all adds up to panicking, which isn’t very useful for trying to swim. My endurance is also low, so I can’t get the hang of it.

Anpu could see my terror on my face. I had told him before I was afraid of drowning, of suffocating in any fashion.

“Do you really think i’d drown you?”

“I don’t know.”

“I swear that I won’t let you drown, and if you do it won’t be because of me.”

I took one step forward, and then turn around and ran. The hallway looped right back to the room.

“Come on now, you didn’t think this would be over that easily did you?” Anpu shouted from the room.

“I’m patient but I won’t wait forever.”

I stood in the hallway, annoyed at the bright blue light of the doorway and took some deep breaths. I called to Dapper, who appeared behind me, amused.

“Yes?”

“I’m scared.”

“I know.”

“Come with me?”

He grabbed my shoulders and marched me back to the room. Anpu was waiting patiently.

“Come on then.”

I backed away, but Dapper held me and gently walked me forward. I dipped a toe in. It was cold, as I expected.

“It’s what you’re expecting. Come on, it isn’t even deep.” Anpu said, losing some patience.

Dapper pushed me more, forcing me down the steps into the water, it was freezing and froze under my feet. I was walking on ice. Anpu rubbed his face, exasperated that I was so desperate to stay out of the water. He grabbed my arms, waiting for me to relax. The ice broke apart and I sank slowly into the water. It wasn’t icy anymore, but it was still chilly. It occurred to me that I was in a dress, but it didn’t float up, it absorbed water and clung to me.

I turned around, Dapper sat on the threshold, curled up so as not to get wet. He smiled at me and I turned back to Anpu. Anpu helped me to float on my back.

“I can’t do this in real life you know.” I said, staring at him.

“No?”

“I get scared.”

“Right, fear of drowning, which is really being afraid of suffocating.”

“Mhmm.”

“For someone so afraid of suffocating you don’t take care of your asthma very well.”

“Well, that’s because I’m used to my asthma. I’m used to it not being a big deal, to being able to fix it, to have easy and fast access to medical intervention.”

“Why does your fear prevent you from floating?”

“I don’t like feeling water on the sides of my face. It’s like it’ll come up and cover me. If I sink I’ll drown. And my ears are sensitive, I feel like they hurt more than other people’s when they get water in them.”

Anpu nodded. “Maybe this irrational fear is rooted in a past life.”

“Who knows.”

Later that night I would dream of being drowned in a barrel while a baby, my baby, cried and was stolen from me. It was scary.

Talks with the Jackal

Everyone knows Sunday was Easter. For most this means chocolate, special Easter church services, fancy clothes and misinformation about Ostara and the pagan origins of Easter. Oh, and ham, because that’s a big thing. Personally I don’t eat much pork, don’t really like the smell or taste, but everyone else ate ham. It’s a little sad because with my family of bakers there was way more desserts than real food.

Anyway, Easter is a day focused on family and rebirth. Ostara is a holiday celebrating spring and the rebirth of the land, Easter is the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. So, of course the Jackal has an opinion too. Anpu isn’t just a god of funerary rites, primarily because He’s just boss like that, but also because in ancient Egypt the funeral and the rites that go with it weren’t about the end of life but about rebirth into the next life. It was all about being prepped for the next life. As such, Anpu wants me to write about rebirth and resurrection and his role in it. That’s gonna take a few weeks because I need to do actual research instead of talking out my ass. And I still have homework.

Yesterday I came home from school and heard Him from the shrine. I was tired and didn’t feel like kneeling, so I just reclined on the mat on the floor. It was absurdly comfy for being the floor, I probably could have fallen asleep if I wasn’t chilly. I closed my eyes and there he was in the temple.

“What’s up?” I asked.
“How are you feeling?”
“Tired.”
“Yes, well, that would be because you aren’t sleeping.”
“That’s not my fault.”
“Are you done being babied yet?” (He said this in reference to my break after being hospitalized)
I scoff, my feelings hurt. “I’m not being babied!”
“I know.”
“So why did you say it?”
“Because I need you to be driven.”

I got a flash of the anger I felt and the purpose with which I moved after finding a cockroach in my kitchen.

“I’m not driven like that. I’m not a very driven person.” I say sourly, avoiding the word “ambitious” because that’s what I actually mean.

“Yes, well you need to be. You need to get over this avoiding your anger. Scorpio has Mars in it too. Serket is not a harmless goddess.”

I raise an eyebrow. That was a very interesting and specific reference to make.
“Are you into astrology Anpu? That’s new.”

He puts his hands on his hips, frowning. “Not the way you humans are. Of course the stars do have some influence, but I see it differently. You take something with a lot of nuance and subtlety, something that is complicated, then you overcomplicate it while missing all the details and over apply it in a simplistic fashion.”

I know what he’s getting at, but I poke fun at him anyway, until he manages to make his sentence shorter and clearer.

“I want you to learn about being driven. About your Mars.”

I shift uncomfortably. “Who would teach me?”

Anpu crossed his arms. “I’d like Sekhmet to teach you, but she has her own agenda and can be greedy.”

I yawn, mentioning again that I’m tired.

“Well, perhaps you should pray to Aset or Serket before bed for restful sleep.”

I squint at him. “Why Serket? I tried before and it didn’t seem to go anywhere.”

“You weren’t trying for long enough, and for a specific reason, for heka. I always wanted you to talk to her.”

“Well you certainly didn’t say one way or the other when I was asking you.” I snap.

He pets my head and takes my hand in his, drawing shapes on my palm with his thumbnail.

“I’d like to restart your shadow work.”

“That’s fine.”

“And you promised me a blog post.”

“I know.”

He called Dapper, who appears from above me. The wolf loves to come down from ceilings.

“I’d like you to teach her shielding and energy work.”

Dapper hums to himself, looking at the floor. “I’d rather teach her healing.”

“I think the first two are important for that don’t you think?”

I could see that Dapper wanted to disagree, but he said nothing, just nodded.

Anpu turned back to me. “I also want you to start working with your tarot cards again.”

“I’m not very good with that.”

“That’s because you ignore your intuition for the book instead.”

“Well why wouldn’t I? I can’t confirm my intuition.”

“Then practice, and make sure you thoroughly examine your intuition. It doesn’t need to be so complex. You think too much. Besides, would you rather go back to trying scrying?”

I shook my head, thinking of how hard it was. I got a vague feeling the tarot issue was related to something else, to other Jackal kids.

I change the subject. “I want to work on bonds I think.”

[Portion of conversation redacted for personal privacy]

“So, you want to sever cords of attachment but keep bonds of affection?”

“Yes.”

“I think we should also consider why these things bother you so much. You have quite a few irrational fears.”

“Yeah I know. I can’t help it, some things I had ingrained growing up.”

He sighed. “No wonder humans are so myopic. You can’t take the long view if you’re so busy worrying about what’s in front of you life after life.”

I shake my head. I can’t really argue with that. Instead I ask about something else.

“Where is Aset?”

“I don’t know. Her actions are her own.”

I narrow my eyes and he rolls his.

“Listen, you are mine. You dedicated yourself to me first and I intend to honor that. I don’t know yet if I’ll go as far as Sekhmet with her.” (I would later find out what he meant by that.)

“You’re not kicking her out are you?”

“I promised you I wouldn’t if she didn’t violate my claim to you.”

“You promised me you wouldn’t period.

“Yes, but she is not respecting me. If she leaves it will be she can’t cooperate of her own accord.”

“Why is she so upset anyway?”

“She doesn’t like how I plan to go about your shadow work. She thinks I’m going to be too harsh. After you got sick she was very upset.”

I folded my arms, half pouting. I didn’t like this. Why couldn’t these two play nice?

“You’re not kicking her out right?”

“Like I said, I’m not sure yet if I’ll go so far as Sekhmet.”

“What are you even having me do anyway?”

“I can’t say, but shadow work is good for you in general. I need you to be more stable.”

“Well no duh, but what are you trying to prepare me for?”

“It won’t matter if you’re not ready in time now will it?” Anpu said impatiently.

“And if I’m not?”

“We’ll see. It depends. You may end up pushed into it anyway, but I can’t say for certain.”

I scoffed, of course he couldn’t. I wondered what he could have planned and if Aset would ever come back. If she couldn’t abide by Anpu’s claim he would likely push her away and it seemed a lot like she couldn’t. I felt a vague sense that this might have been what happened with someone else’s goddess that I had heard about. I also wondered if Serket would actually answer me this time if I reached out to her.

“You could always reach out to Aset as Serket. They do syncretize sometimes, Aset absorbs her as it were.”

I had read somewhere about that, but I had a more pressing question. “Would you even want that?”

Anpu looked away from me. “No, I’ll be honest I’d prefer you not deal with Aset at all. I have staked my claim on you, I can’t have others disrespecting that.”

I didn’t answer, instead deigning to go to sleep.

Apparently the New Thing is Saving Kids from Zombies

I don’t usually have recurring dreams. Apparently my brain seeks to change that. Despite not watching any horror movies (cry) or playing any horror games (tears) I keep having dreams about zombies. Not just zombies, but trying to live around zombies and rescuing kids from zombies. I don’t know what it is.

 
This dream that I had last night started out with me in a school. It was a weird and kinda cool school, but the weird part is that I wasn’t really me. I was this girl who was white and blonde, and I was half her and half me. Like, I was part of her, and we had some separation, but it was weird. I was observing her just as much as I was her. Anyone, she’s in this school and people make fun of her because she’s a spiritworker. The main thing she does is help stuck ghosts move on, a real Sixth Sense sort of deal. I remember having to hold her back from cursing and beating down these three girls who were being rather vicious to her. At one point they were purposely messing up her bookshelf because she was OCD about it (I can’t blame her there). I remember telling her to stand back and taking over her body so she could take her anger out as a half detached spirit. She scared the shit out of them but couldn’t really hurt them.
 
It started to get dark as she left and we met with this guy. I don’t know who it was, but she knew him. They were walking around the city together and passed this dilapidated building and started exploring it. That’s when we saw the first zombies. Lots of running and clever hiding to kill or trap them. Including tricking one into a pit and putting some metal sheeting over it. The guy rejoined up with her because they got separated in the building and was like, exit, now. During this whole escapade we saw that zombies were showing up outside too. There was a family in the building next to us, an apartment with a store, both owned by the family. There were four children, two or three teens and three or four adults. They sent the kids upstairs and were talking about what was going on. I don’t know what happened to them because a zombie came and chased us away from the window. When we left we checked to make sure the various zombies were dead, though she made a big mistake. When she checked the one in the pit, because she didn’t see it, she left the sheeting off. I mentally called her stupid and was like, just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it isn’t there and you can leave it uncovered.
 
Next we ran out into the street. The guy was trying to get the door to the house open. It was gated. We came over and managed to get it unlocked and ran upstairs. Now, I don’t really know what we had for weapons, maybe a pipe and a bat from the abandoned building. Anyway, we called up to the people inside as we cautiously climbed the narrow steps. It was quiet despite having seen people go in earlier. We got to the top and the place was sparsely furnished and a wreck. Two kids, girls, were cuddled together against the window wall with a body near them. They looked terrified and told us to be quiet. We found out from them that their family was turning and that the older one had managed to kill one to protect her little sister. We told them we’d keep them safe.
 
Of course a family member came out. I believe the mother, the father and one of the teens came charging at as, zombies. I took one out and so did the girl and her friend. Even the little girl came and helped. We threw them out the window so as not to have dead bodies around. I explored the house while the blonde and her friend comforted the girls. Since I wasn’t entirely solid I wouldn’t get hurt if a zombie attacked me, at least not in a way that make me a zombie. The house was mostly clear, and I could see the fenced in, but severely overgrown yard and thought about food farming and fortifying the fence. I also found a little boy and his sister, who were not part of the family.
 
I went back to tell everyone what I had found and my ideas and asked the little girls if there was a way into the store that didn’t involve going outside because I needed seeds. They thought there was and we managed to find it. However, after getting into the store it changed. Instead of just the store it expanded into this underground workshop. Apparently I knew the people there and they were happy to see me and keep an eye on the kids we had just saved. They were building weapons and vehicles. They built some toys for the little girls and I and the blonde went back to the house. Now, this little boy and his sister were still there. Turns out they were ghosts. The sister wasn’t actually one, but I didn’t realize that until later. She knew they were stuck, because her little brother didn’t realize he was dead and was expecting their parents to come back. I was trying to help them move on, which is how I figured out the sister was actually alive, or at least not completely dead. She was only stuck because he was. I don’t know if I helped them get to the other side. The last thing that happened was that we were trying to make the boy realize that he was dead and needed to move on because that’s where his parents were and the guys in the workshop making him a really weird yet awesome toy car. 

Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex: A Guide

MystikNomad

Many of us grew up hearing every variation possible of “sex is bad for you and will turn you funny colors”. There was guilt and shame associated with having sex, with our bodies, with our pleasure. Most of this sex negativity was community-enforced and dumped on teens who were already flailing around trying to figure all this crap out anyway. There was no defense against it, so most of us absorbed it to greater or lesser extents. It’s not like we had another viable model to follow!

Sex Negativity 101. Sex Negativity 101.

And then came Paganism. For many of us Paganism was our first exposure to a sex positive environment, where sex wasn’t feared but embraced. Doesn’t The Charge of the Goddess explicitly state that “all acts of love and pleasure are My rituals”? Sex went from morally reprehensible acts done in the dark to sacred celebrations.

We all know what Beltane's maypole represents! We all know what Beltane’s…

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A Short Encounter

I backed into the wall as he approached me. My heart raced with excitement as I felt the cool surface meet my back. He placed one hand by my head and another by my shoulder and leaned close. He smelled strongly of water, like he had taken a walk in a light rain and rolled around in the grass and earth. He might very well have done so today. It was a sweet smell, like flowers.

I tried to steady my breath as he put his lips to my ear.

“I need you to understand. This is no game. Do you know what you’re getting into?”

His body gave off an absurd amount of heat inches from my face. I could sleep naked with him and not be cold, even without a blanket. I tried to fight back the blush creeping up my neck at the thought. He chuckled, putting his face into the crook of my neck and inhaling deeply. He then pulled back to reveal his face.

My eyes went wide. His eyes were a vibrant orange-red, like a smoldering charcoal. They seemed to be alight like charcoal, as if they were literally lit. I could taste a hint of magic, it prickled my tongue like PopRocks and washed through my body like adrenaline. Holy shit.

He smirked. “You’re such an interesting human.”

Something about that smirk and that statement set my heart down a racetrack. Suddenly all I could see was danger. Here was someone who could destroy me. Not just maim, or kill, but destroy. He could annihilate me and feel no remorse. Not because he was cruel or sick, but because animals don’t have morals like humans. Yet, he would likely never do such a thing. I was too valuable, for now at least.

Epiphanies

I can’t remember if I specified in my last post that I was taking vocal classes. Well, I am. I’ve realized some things about me and singing. For those of you who might not know, I actually adore singing. I sing a lot. I hum, I whistle, I tap, I dance. I fucking love music. I also like making music, I just don’t have the skillset, yet. But, the passion of music I have has always been for singing. I don’t know why I like singing so much. Some people love playing instruments to make their music. I happen to love singing. I make up random, one line songs quite often. If you recorded me for a day you’d see I sing a ton when I’m by myself and when I’m not. It’s fun, it’s soothing, it’s cathartic. Blasting some music and belting it out can really relieve stress. It’s one of the first urges I get when I’m pissed off or upset. I also know I have no control.

Something you all might not know about me though, is that I have a massive insecurity about my voice and a huge fear of performing. Doesn’t matter what it is, or how well I know I can do it. People love my writing, but have someone stand over me while I’m writing or ask me to read said writing and I will run away. There is this picture of my twin and I when we were about five. In this picture we are backstage at a pageant or talent show or something (we were adorable if I do say so myself). In this picture I am crying hysterically while my twin hugs me and gives me a kiss to make me feel better. Apparently my theory of mind had kicked in and I realized that I was going out in front of a big crowd of strangers to do something. It was terrifying. I have been seriously and chronically stage fright since. Even when I know I can do it perfectly, and was perfectly calm beforehand, the thought of performing is painful.

I’ve figured a few reasons why. First, that initial realization that performance is scary when I was five has stuck. I’ve always been a touch shy, being strongly introverted only made it more likely that I wasn’t one to enjoy being the spotlight. I don’t need or like extra attention in the form of more than ten people paying me any mind at once. I am not a performer in the sense that I perform for others. I perform for myself. As an added bonus I’m just sensitive. I’m easily overwhelmed by stimuli, both internal and external, and adrenaline rushes are the bane of my existence. I hate getting them, it’s like using a nebulizer. It is pleasant and fun for some people, but not me. I don’t want any part of that crazy train. This is why I dislike roller coasters and don’t go on many rides at theme parks. I know, I’m boring, but so what? If you need a well written essay or a long hug or someone to get the snacks after the ride, I’m your girl. This is why I crochet, or do photography or write, this is why I play mostly solitary video games or don’t play video games at all. Low stimulation, from inside and out, with the ability to have others join me if I so choose. Seriously, my idea of a good time is having all my friends in the house at once, entertaining each other while I bask in their noise in the corner chair with a book or something.

Second, I realized that I have an innate fear of my own voice. People have been very critical of my singing before. Some were purposely being mean or nasty, others (like my family) were trying to be helpful, but keep overlooking how intensely sensitive and emotional I am. To be fair, they usually try very hard to be aware of that, but teasing is still something I get defensive about. As such, I’m typically very self-conscious about my voice and my very imperfect control over it. My range has changed since I last had voice coaching (that would be middle school, so, something like 10 years ago) and I’m not really sure where it is. I’m still a soprano, but my voice does reach down into alto a little so it can be hard for me to modulate my pitch. As a bonus, the fun of breath control as an asthmatic. I’m afraid of messing up, and of butchering a song. I can’t even sing loudly in the shower without worry.

Third, is this fear of being loud. I don’t like when I have to be loud. If niggas is actin stupid and I gotta get loud I get upset about having to shout or get angry. Believe me, I will shout you down the street if I have to, but I don’t like doing it, nor do I do so regularly. Even when I’m hanging with my friends, I’m only loud because they’re loud and humans naturally modify their behavior to match their group. So, singing loudly is hard for me. Not only because I’m sensitive to criticism and fear butchering a song, but because being loud isn’t particularly appealing to me. It smacks too much of performance. Of course, one cannot properly sing if one does not project, but given my other worries it makes sense. Not to mention I’ve had plenty of times where I’ve been told to quiet down. Badly practicing an instrument to get better is more acceptable than badly singing to get better.

Yet, I truly love to sing. It’s quite a dilemma. I also find myself wishing for more songs I could sing in devotion. I write poetry, but I’m not much for song writing. A friend told me it’s just poetry set to music, but I beg to differ. There’s a different structure to poetry compared to songs. While they are certainly related, I would say no more than close cousins, maybe siblings or half-siblings. At least, that’s how I was taught. Not to mention, I’m not much for puzzling out music and rhythms for music. I need more practice.