These posts were originally posted on my previous blog, The Crossroads Forest, on January 16, 2013.
It happened October 2011.
Weeks before it happened, I was sitting in my Archaeology of Ancient Egypt classroom waiting for class to start. We had a few minutes, people were still trickling in, and the professor had only just arrived. As I waited, I was playing with my necklace, wondering if I should replace it with a ankh instead, a symbol that was more “appropriate” for my work with Anubis.
The pendant I had then was a crescent moon I had bought at, of all places, an anime convention years before. I had gotten it at the time because I was searching for something, though I didn’t know what exactly. I’d heard of Wicca by then and it made sense. Well, more sense than Christianity, at any rate. So when I stumbled upon the jewelry booth in the back of the convention, I picked up the moon and asked how much. It was steeper than I had anticipated, but it felt right in my hand, so I went home with it.
It was good silver, tarnished in just the right places, and had a tiny star in the middle, a pentacle. It was a symbol I recognized from my research of Wicca, one that seemed to make sense to me. It was protective to me.
And then I didn’t wear it for the longest time.
It just didn’t feel like the right time. I bought it, so I had it, but wearing it just wasn’t right yet. It was about a year later that I picked it up and put it on, rarely daring to take it off unless the chain was showing wear or my neck was getting sweat rash on hot days. I was happy wearing it, happy to have something like the crosses I saw everywhere. It gave me a sense of belonging, though I knew no one else who was following even a remotely Pagan path.
Originally, when I wore the necklace, I saw it as a connection to Artemis. I’d admired her more than worshiped or worked with her. (The idea of working with a god never really struck me until much later, when I realized that that was what I had been doing with Anubis for all those years. To me, Anubis was an older brother that I talked to when I had no one else, someone whom I could ask for help and he would do what he could.)
It was sitting in that classroom waiting for my professor to set up the day’s PowerPoint that I had a realization: my necklace was not for Artemis.
It was for Anubis. It had always been.
I remembered my research paper on Anubis and Osiris, how Anubis was associated with lunar imagery, most notably the moon or lunar disk. It had seemed odd then, something that was more anecdotal than a note of inspiration, so I filed it away until that moment. I nearly cried in the middle of the classroom, so overwhelmed by the feelings that I had. He’d been with me more than I knew for so long.
And then the days passed, the weeks went by, and soon we were in October. October is my favorite month of the year. It’s the time autumn is the most colorful, the time that all the Halloween stuff I love all year long is finally in stores, the time that ghost stories and horror movies are on TV all day. I love it. I didn’t always get to celebrate Halloween the way I wanted to, but that year, I had plans. A friend of mine, The Boyfriend, and I were going to visit the corn maze the next town over. It was a “haunted” corn maze after dark, and that’s what we wanted. Something a little scary, a little exciting, a little spooky.
So we went, we had a good time, and we came back to my apartment to hang out and watch a movie when I realized something was missing.
My chain slithered from my neck and to the floor as I took off my hoodie, landing in a silver mass on the carpet. My pendant was gone.
I searched my clothing, my room, thinking it had gotten tucked in my shirt or my hoodie or hell, even my bra, or been accidentally flung across the room when I pulled my hoodie off. The car held no sign of it. It was not on the walkway, the stairs, the entrance to my apartment, the parking lot.
It was just gone.
I looked at the chain that had once held my beloved moon and was shocked to see it had snapped almost dead center and in the thickest part of the chain. Broken, just like that. There was no way that could have happened, nothing that could have caused it. I began to shake and then sob, The Boyfriend clutching me. He knew how much it meant to me, had an idea how much it hurt to have it gone so suddenly, so dramatically. I was sobbing like my heart had broken and, in a way, it had.
Later that night, I remembered The Boyfriend’s previous visit the week before. We had been laying in my room, talking in the middle of the night, when I suddenly sat up and stared at the door to my room. It was darker there, like a mass had suddenly taken up residence there. Tall, humanoid, with a long face. I knew exactly who it was: Anubis.
And he was angry.
I still don’t know why he was angry, but the majority of it was at me, with some targeted at The Boyfriend. I tried to ask him why he was upset, what was wrong. It was nothing like I had ever seen before, nor experienced. And then, he was gone. The Boyfriend seemed concerned. It’s a little weird, I’ll admit, to have your partner suddenly sit up in bed and stare at the door like someone’s trying to get in. I didn’t think much of it afterward, figuring that Anubis would come back to me and let me know what was wrong, once The Boyfriend was back in Milwaukee. But he didn’t. And then the corn maze happened.
We called the farm, went back the next day and searched, leaving information on its appearance and how to contact me. They never found it.
I was broken. Abandoned by my god. I felt like I had died and was simply going through the motions, a zombie of sorts. Randomly, I would tear up and have to excuse myself to cry alone. Meetings with my Pagan student group were hardest. Everyone spoke of their gods and spiritual experiences, but I never spoke of mine. I had no idea how. Finally, it got to be too much and I set up an appointment with my spiritual adviser to get advice on what was happening to me. She seemed a little surprised at my situation, but she had gone through something similar that summer at Pagan Spirit Gathering. I won’t detail what happened to her, though. That is her story.
Weeks passed and I began a downward spiral in my spirituality. Nothing made sense anymore, nothing I did fixed it. I prayed, I shouted, I sobbed, but he was gone. He was gone for a long time.
“How I Got My God Back”
My last two entries have detail parts of my relationship with Anubis, from how he first came to me to how he abandoned me over a year ago. Now I want to talk about how I got him back.
In truth, I don’t truly know why he came back. I don’t pretend to know how the gods think and choose their comings and goings. It just isn’t something that I know.
Where I left off, I was a mess. I was abandoned, broken, and spiraling into a depression. It was tough, and for awhile I just felt empty. That Halloween, or Samhain, I tried to do a ritual to get him back, a plea for him to return. I took off work and spent the day gathering supplies all across town for what I had in mind. Before the altar I knelt, lit the candles and the incense. I closed my eyes and prayed.
I think that was the final straw for me, what caused me to feel hollow for so long. After that, nothing really seemed to matter. I went to class, took my finals, spent my winter break with my family or with friends, came back and started the spring semester. I wrote about my exhaustion and my depression on my old blog and I might repost some of those thoughts here again.
I was lost again and there was no one there to help me.
When I think about my spiritual development, I picture myself in a dark forest. I’m barefoot but clad much in the same clothes I typically wear: jeans and a t-shirt. The forest is thick with oaks and pines, the ground littered with underbrush and fallen leaves; ivy and vine crawl everywhere. When I look up, the tree branches block out the sky and the light, but I can still see. I can still see the trunks of the trees all around me; I can make out my surroundings.
In the beginning, there was no path. I was battered, laying on the forest floor, and wailing my pain into the earth, clawing my fingers into the rich loam beneath me. My heart ached, my chest throbbed. I felt like I couldn’t move except to try and grip tighter to the earth beneath me. Some days I could find the effort to walk, to find my way back to the path. Back to my Path. But I couldn’t find it.
One day, I fell to my hands and knees on the forest floor again. Tears left trails down my face and I watched them fall like stones to the forest floor. I knelt there for a long time, not having the energy to press on.
And then something changed.
I felt a tiny spark light within me, a wee flame beginning to burn again. When I looked to my side, I found a lantern there and knew what I had to do. As I knelt on the damp ground, I took the lantern in my left hand and plunged my right within my chest.
It’s an odd feeling, rooting around in your chest for a flame. I felt my fingers curl around it the tiny speck of fire; it was about the size of a pea when I found it and cool to the touch. As I pulled it out, it began to grow until it reached the size of an orange. I lit the lantern in my hand and stood, mud falling from my knees. I began to walk again, my lantern as my guide.
Eventually I stepped out of the woodland and onto a dirt path that ran through the forest. It was rough, tree roots snaking through it, and seemingly abandoned, but it led Somewhere.
I’m still on that Path, lantern in hand, and picking my way through the knotty roots and overgrown ivy and vines.
I don’t know if the forest is an astral location or a manifestation in my consciousness, but it’s where I find myself when it comes to thinking of my Path. I’ll be interested to see where I find myself in the coming years and how the forest develops over time
But you’re probably wondering how this deals with Anubis.
During my depression, I began to get signs from another god. Or, to be specific, a goddess. Crows began to appear to me more often and caw. I would have conversations with them when they visited the Dead Tree in front of my apartment building. The Morrigan kept appearing to me in conversations, random encounters, and under odd circumstances.
I was tentative at first. It felt as if she were reaching out, but my knowledge of her was that she was Very Intense as a goddess, and I was still pining for Anubis. It felt wrong, like I was cheating on my god. But as the weeks and months passed without word from him, I began to feel a stronger and stronger tug to her. And finally, I relented.
I worked with her for a time, but my heart was never in it. Anubis had been with me for half my life and as much as the Morrigan appealed to me, it wasn’t the same. I couldn’t say good bye to her, though. But then, I had developed a relationship with her and we had become familiar with each other. It felt wrong to abandon her as Anubis abandoned me, though I imagine it would not be remotely the same. She reminded me to fight for what I wanted and I wonder sometimes if it was her that helped me light that lantern in the forest. But it was with her help that I began to fight for my relationship with Anubis and eventually he came back. The circumstances of his return are hazy, but one day he was gone and the next he was back. It was like a pressure on the back of my mind, as if he were saying hello again but keeping his distance. Our relationship isn’t the same as it used to be. We’ve grown apart, but I’ve also learned that there is life beyond him and it is okay to work with other gods and goddesses.
It’s okay to be a polytheist.
This post was originally posted on my previous blog, The Crossroads Forest, on January 18, 2013.
“What Happened Last (Monday) Night”
After everything with Anubis, Monday night really threw me for a loop. It was late and I was wide awake. I’d written an email to Satsekhem and decided to read some of her blog before going to sleep, hoping to make a dent in her archive. It’s a long one, so I had some work to do.
I got about three posts.
It’s nothing against Satsekhem. In truth, I love her writing. It’s actually, probably, technically her own fault.
I had just gotten to her post Kemetism is Orthopraxic: Live in Ma’at and had started reading her opening paragraph. She mentions some fellow bloggers and Kemetics who have some expertise when it comes to the Egyptian pantheon. The one that caught my attention, obviously, is Bezen, the individual who runs Per-Sabu: House of Jackals.
Color me intrigued.
So I left Satsekhem’s blog behind, fulling intending to go back to it later that night.
This did not happen.
Instead, I spent much of the next hour or two pouring over the resources at Per-Sabu. From what I’ve seen, it a very well researched and very good resource on jackal deities, like Anubis. For someone like me, it was like finding the Holy Grail or the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, especially after all the nonsense I’d been going through with Anubis over the past year and a half. And the more I read it, the more I realized…
Anubis has been fucking with me since I was ten years old.
I won’t get into too much detail because this is for him and I to hash out, but the thing that threw me over the edge, in the end, is probably the simplest tidbit of what I discovered that night about my god. And to be honest, you’ll probably be demanding to know why I made you wait nearly a week for this revelation.
Regardless, I’ll let you in on the secret.
In the “Aspects and Roles” section of Anubis, Bezen details the different functions that are attributed to Anubis or how he functions in the Egyptian pantheon. Near the end of the page is a fascinating section on Anubis’s role as a liminal god, something I had known before but never really thought about. I began reading the passage and came across this:
Black represents the potential for rebirth, but also risk. Fertile soil is black, but then again so are shadows. Anubis can not only renew life, but he can also conceal corruption. Another thing which should be considered is the fact that his domain sits between the cultivated black lands of the Nile Valley and the harsh red sands of the desert. (And again, everything which they themselves represent.) Indeed his gate, known as Ro-setawe, is decorated with black and red. But it doesn’t even end there because both him and it are also associated with the horizon and twilight. This is why when the topic of his parentage within the context of Osirian mythology comes up, I often say that he could very rightfully be considered the ‘son’ of all involved. Not just existing between the fertile soil (Osiris) and the red deserts (Seth), he is also situated between that which exists above the earth and is seen (Isis) and that which is below the earth and unseen (Nebt-het.) Many of these relationships and connections can be taken yet further, such as if one considers the way Anubis exists at the point between the one who was sundered (Osiris) and the one who did the sundering (Seth), while he himself is capable of both rejoining flesh and rending it.
Now for the “revelation” part: my entire wardrobe is black and red, barring blue jeans. (And, admittedly a few t-shirts and blouses purchased for different reasons, but my everyday clothing is black and red of some variety.)
Yes, that’s what threw me over the edge. You may think it’s simple and you may even scoff, but let me explain.
When I was a kid, my wardrobe was much more colorful. I wore everything from red to pink to neon teal. But this began to change around middle school and, now that I think about it, it probably began to change around the same time I first encountered Anubis. As I grew up, I attended university and began wearing a lot of clothing depicting the school’s colors and logo, as college students are wont to do. Mostly this was because my school gave out a lot of free t-shirts that I collected over my years there. Later on, when I was first introduced to hockey, I began purchasing t-shirts and jerseys for my team, the Chicago Blackhawks. Whose colors are also black and red.
I’ve been wearing black and red almost as a uniform for nearly ten years.
Reading this, you may not be entirely convinced of why this was a huge revelation. And, to be honest, that’s okay. As I’ve said before, this is a spiritual diary. But here’s the thing:
I’m a pretty big believer in the gods and I think that they give us nudges, of a sort, in our everyday lives. For me, the fact that my everyday wardrobe is of the colors that represent my god means that I represent him everyday, but no one else has to notice. It’s a secret, almost, a devotion I can do that’s more or less between him and me. I was upset at first because it felt like he had tricked me, but mostly I was upset because I hadn’t made the connection sooner. I felt the same way when I had the realization about my moon necklace.
It’s just comforting to know that even when he isn’t there, he’s still, well…there, even if it’s just as simple as me tugging on an old college t-shirt.