Yesterday Z asked if he could pray with me. Obviously I didn’t mind, especially since part of the reason he wanted to do so was to be supportive. It was fun, though I forgot to warn him that frankincense can make you loopy. He borrowed one of my free candles and prayed quietly while I made offerings of water and ma’at to Aset and Anpu. They were looking at him though. It didn’t occur to me why for several minutes as I made my basic prayers. I also didn’t notice Dapper nearby until later. Basically, all the Others in my house were paying attention to Z and it flew right over my head.
Afterwards I noticed he was taking a little while to pray, so I waited and then proceeded to ask Anpu if He wouldn’t mind helping Z with whatever it was he was praying for. Said Jackal said He didn’t mind and would think about it, but also had to ask “his maker”. I didn’t really know what to make of that. I knew Anpu wasn’t going to tell me anything about this “maker” because He had told me to mind my business the last time I asked about who was watching over Z.
Z and I talked for a little while with the candles and incense still burning when he was done praying. He revealed an interesting tidbit about his beliefs. I think it’s really cool. Essentially he feels like you should always pray with lit candles because the fire is alive. It represents the spirit’s life force and energy. He pointed to his candle which was flickering wildly and joked that he was mad at that one because obviously it had a lot to say. I mentioned that maybe everyone was talking to each other since Aset and Anpu’s candles were also wavering and flickering vigorously.
He then mentioned that he hoped the candle was Dapper. Well, Dapper was on the bed behind him so I asked him why he hoped it was the wolf. “Well I asked him for help.” Z proceeded to explain some of the things he had prayed about. Work, being unsure, trying to become sure (in his beliefs). Dapper likes Z so I didn’t think that would be a problem (though Dapper finds him to be a very strange human) and my gods were interested it seemed.
We talked for a little while longer, including my finally informing Z that frankincense has been scientifically shown to affect the brain a little like getting high (Z’s complaint about feeling “elevated” and spacy is what started that). He followed that with jokingly accusing me of trying to make him crazy. Finally we went to bed with him complaining that he was now cold with the candles put out, specifically his candle. Before bed I mentioned that Dapper would probably help, especially if he shared some food.
Z went to sleep quickly and true to His word, Anpu showed up. He grabbed my hand and pulled me right into the temple and towards one of the mystery doors. I immediately started looking for Dapper and calling to him. I even asked Anpu where he was. Dapper showed up, smiled at me and kept right on walking.
“He’s got other things to do. For you and Z. He did ask for help after all, you’ll be fine.”
I frowned at Anpu’s comment, but it stopped mattering at the door. It was completely dark beyond the doorway and I was frozen. Now it was in front of me, the start of my shadow work. I didn’t want to move.
“Come on, we have things to do.”
I stepped back. “I’m not ready.”
Anpu turned me around, to see the boring and empty space where I had been for the last year. I could see Aset watching us from the chair.
“Do you really want to spend more time here, in this boring place?”
I shook my head.
“Come on then.”
“I don’t want to.”
“I don’t care. I told you this was coming. I gave you warning. I didn’t even bother you when you slept earlier, I let you rest and you slept deeply.”
Z shifted in his sleep and pulled my attention back to this world for a moment. When I turned back to Anpu I was through the door. Dammit. I looked around and saw three corridors. One to the right, left and straight ahead. All were dark.
“Go on, follow your heart.”
Such a sappy thing to say, but I was a sappy person, so I started walking to the right. I thought to myself, of course, how nice, a labyrinth. The right corridor got light as a door appeared. Inside was, predictably, a labyrinth. However, it was one where the walls only went halfway up. You could see the entire thing and the other side. It was also small, about the size of an apartment. Whatever Dapper had to do it wasn’t so important that he didn’t show up for my first task. It was sweet that he was worried. On the other side of the labyrinth I could see a throne on some raised platform steps. You know what I mean, I just can’t describe it.
Instead of going through it, I climbed it. I could practically see Anpu covering his eyes in exasperation. Climbing the walls and walking across the top of them probably wasn’t how he saw me solving this puzzle. Maybe he expected me to whine or stand there trying to figure out the path for a minute before walking through, but I’m the sort of brat who would rather circumvent the rules. The whole “well you didn’t tell me I couldn’t do that!” excuse.
“Be careful.” Dapper said. He walked through the labyrinth so he could catch me if I fell.
“That’s kind of cheating isn’t it?” Anpu said.
“Nope. You didn’t say I had to walk through it.”
“It kind of is cheating though. You know how these work. You’re so damn stubborn.”
I got to the other side and jumped down. Dapper looked me over and walked through a door to the side of the throne. By the throne was a small fat Buddha statue. I picked it up.
“What’s with the fat Buddha?”
Anpu said nothing, and again my attention broke momentarily to check on Z. And again something changed when I turned back. The statue was a crown instead. I put it on my head and sang a song about being a pretty princess. I imagined an oversize robe and scepter like I had seen in an anime and sat on the throne. Then I unceremoniously chucked the crown to the floor. I was no princess.
I turned to see Anpu sitting on the wall of the labyrinth. He shifted his form to better match one of my favorite representations of him, drawn by an artist on deviantArt.
“What? You like this one better don’t you?”
I ignored the second question. “I’m just not. I don’t deserve to be.”
“Why is that?”
I didn’t answer. I already knew where this was going.
“You’re thinking about high school already.”
“I had a lot of problems. I shouldn’t have even graduated. I didn’t try hard enough.”
“Really? You had other problems, you tried plenty hard.”
*some dialogue is redacted to protect privacy of myself and others*
“It’s hard, when you’re constantly told that you’re smart. Now you have to live up to the expectation, to stay smart, to be smarter and then maintain that.”
“You realize that your insistence that you didn’t try hard enough just illustrates that unjust pressure right? You did what you could.”
I lay down on the floor in a huff, picking at the gems on the crown.
“This isn’t even a proper princess crown. It isn’t pretty enough, it’s a generic boy’s crown.”
Anpu snorted, suppressing a laugh. “Gods you are spoiled. How are you so stressed?”
I ignored him, using a knife to pull the crown apart.
“You are a princess though.”
“Well, you’re my daughter aren’t you?”
I looked at him in confusion.
“You wanted me to be your Father right?”
I hadn’t asked Him that in a long time. I hadn’t thought about it very deeply either. He had never answered me on that point, so I let it go. He got up and spun a mirror into existence. He literally put his hands out like He was holding it, and the mirror spun into existence in the space. It was some cartoon nonsense for sure.
“How do you see yourself?”
I got up and looked in the mirror and was supremely startled at the reflection. This was the part where I began to wonder if I was really talking to Anpu, really starting shadow work, really in the astral. It was so…entertaining that I wondered if I should take this seriously or if I was just making shit up or getting conned. The mirror reflected not me, but a wolf. The wolf I always imagined myself as since I was a little kid, the one I always wanted to be. If I ever became a werewolf I would look like this. It was profusely confusing. I didn’t think Anpu knew how strongly I wanted that. Of course, magic mirrors being what they are, when I stepped back on the wtfness I was that wolf.
Anpu patted me on the head, an expression of pride on his face. He picked me up in His arms and walked out of the labyrinth, no physics necessary.
“Who am I?”
“The Royal Child.” I said. It had come to mind right before I asked, that one of His epithets was such.
“Well, don’t I also embalm the King?”
“So, what does that make you?”
Annoyed. I thought. He set me down outside and shooed me on. I couldn’t decide where to go next. There were things down all the halls that I needed to see, including a door in the labyrinth we just exited.
I huffed. “Don’t rush me.”
After literally spinning in a circle trying to decide where to go I decided on going back down the hall towards the original door. I could come back to that door in the labyrinth room later. The hall didn’t exactly pass the original door back to the temple. It did, but it was blurry and backlit with white light. I couldn’t go through it even if I wanted to. I made a right down the hall directly in front of said door and found Z. It was vastly unexpected. He wasn’t moving, and I ran around him checking for any issues or injuries.
“Keep going.” Anpu urged me.
“I can’t, he can’t be alone here. What if he gets lost?”
“Dapper is nearby, besides he can’t move. He is safe.”
I curled around Z’s feet for a few minutes before getting up and continuing down the hall. I tried not to fret, Dapper had been nearby. I found myself in a room and regained my human form. Inside this room was a screen. It was completely dark and various slides were flickering across it, all of them showing a woman and child shortly after birth, though each was different.
“Planning on showing me some past life stuff?” I asked as I examined the pictures, recognizing myself and [privacy] in the photos.
“Yes, but I haven’t decided yet.” Anpu said.
Then a giant steel arrow hit me in the chest. This was yet another moment when I questioned my sanity and the events. It’s just so over the top to me. Which is really a ridiculous thing to think because I’ve honestly heard about even more “ridiculous” proceedings before. It didn’t hurt per se, and the arrow was very pretty (can you see my priorities). I didn’t really know what was going on, I was just startled and on the floor. So startled that I got knocked back to this realm (the fact Z was stirring in his sleep didn’t help). I managed to reconnect and felt my mind dripping through the floor with my blood. Anpu was in the room below, and I said to him that this doesn’t seem much like shadow work. It wasn’t supposed to be fun and painless right?
He frowned, annoyed by that for some reason. He grabbed me and yanked me and my body through the floor/ceiling and let me fall roughly by his feet. It was majorly uncomfortable, especially since the arrow came with, but it wasn’t exactly painful. The most painful thing about it was having my brain so roughly shoved back into my body.
I glared at him, rubbing my chest underneath the arrow.
“What’s with the arrow?” I asked, looking around the room. There was no door, nor were there windows. It was black and dark, with a weird false light that made it possible to see without fire. There was also a black bookshelf and a couch. An amorphous table and TV were in here too, shifting in and out of existence.
“It’s to hold you together.”
“The soul is made of multiple parts remember? The ren, the ib, the ka, the ba, and the shadow.”
“You had every word except for shadow.”
“Yes, go look it up, I want you to know these things.”
I thought about where I had last seen the word for the shadow. Someone’s blog. Anpu nodded, confirming that I could find it there.
“You have a bad habit of splitting yourself off when you’re in pain. That’s not very useful for shadow work. You can’t repair yourself if your soul is in pieces.”
“Oh. I didn’t know I did that.”
“Writer’s tend to do that a lot. You can create worlds for your pain-ridden pieces to go. Your feelings become your characters. You don’t have to feel them.”
“Shattering yourself is why you sometimes can’t feel like you want to or don’t understand what you’re feeling or why. Some other piece has the information, but it’s off somewhere else.”
“Interesting. So, what are we doing here?”
“Waiting.” Anpu said, sitting on the couch.
I sat next to him, feeling awkward that this giant arrow adjusted itself to not be in the way of sitting.
“Your soul pieces to come back. Other people have them.”
“Some were taken, but most you gave away. It isn’t so strange, everyone has a piece of some other person’s soul.”
“Hmm, what about [name redacted]? Does he have a piece of my soul?”
“Your interesting gay friend? Yes, of course. You have a piece of his too.”
I giggled. He was my interesting gay friend, but hearing anyone, much less a god, refer to him that way was funny. I examined the arrow as my thoughts turned to someone else.
“What about Z?”
“He has many pieces. He also tries to give you his ib. He doesn’t know he’s doing that. He breaks himself up a lot too.”
“Is that a bad thing?”
“His ib holds all of him together. He doesn’t understand this, so I stop him. You realize the arrow is through your ib don’t you? The center of your soul that holds all the pieces together. Only I can take whole ibs.”
Anpu then handed me what looked to be a glass shard. It was brown on one side and perfectly reflective on the other. I knew exactly what this was, as soon as I touched it. It was a piece of Z, and although the reflection looked normal, I caught a glimpse of how he saw me by looking at myself in it. Even just that second was overwhelming. I pressed it to my chest protectively. I could never let anything happen to this.
“He’s very stubborn. He insists that you at least have a piece.”
I looked at Anpu, feeling overwhelmed and frazzled. There were no words to describe the wave of feelings that I sensed by looking at myself through Z’s shard.
“How can I protect this? I need to keep it safe.”
Anpu handed me a box from off the black bookshelf. “Put it in this.”
I took the box and placed the shard inside. The box was cushioned and lined with soft, red fabric. Anpu had already placed protective spells all over it and I whispered over the box. I have no idea what I said, it was more direct emotion and what little knowledge I had of protective magic and symbolism.
I hugged the box to my chest, knowing I would never let anything happen to it. Anpu shook his head, muttering something about stubborn humans. I told him to shut up because it was hardly mere stubbornness from either of us.
Our dialogue was interrupted by a sudden pain I had. I usually don’t have strong physical sensations from an incorporeal being’s presence, but this time I did. It was a pressure against my head and back and I rolled over to check on Z who was still asleep behind me. I embraced him and could “see” him standing in front of a being with a shifting form. It’s form settled on that of a seraphim, with wings covering its face and feet. They were talking and the angel hugged him and turned to me. It smiled at me, saying nothing. I asked what it wanted and told it to leave Z alone. For some reason I thought it was trying to guilt Z’s soul into staying attached to a religion that didn’t help him.
“Don’t disrespect it. Leave it alone, it means no harm.” Anpu said from behind me.
I did as bidden and stayed quiet. I realized I still had the box in my hand, and the arrow through me. I was back on the astral. The angel did eventually leave, with one last smile to me. Anpu commented that for someone with so much patience I could be rather short tempered. I told him my patience is only for kids and He could stuff it.