Originally published at Ekunyi's Embers. You can comment here or there.
Something about me and stasis: Netjer doesn’t let me dwell there terribly long.
I’ve been quiet. This is in no small part because the past several months have seen me taking some necessary steps to resolve various issues with my health, my personal life, and my career. I’ve had to make some hard decisions, and while there is much more to be done in seeing those choices through to their conclusions, I am doing far, far better for having started the process.
It feels like another cycle to me, similar to the one Set expedited almost three years ago now, coming into my life in a whirl of change and refusing to let me back down from my problems. This new beginning has been gentler, more of a slow rebirth than a swift destruction of who I once was that I might replace her with the me I wanted to be.
Much as I could not have expected Set to be the god to lead my initial charge, I have been equally surprised and grateful at the force with which Heqat has entered my life. She was hardly on my “god radar” before this year’s Wep Ronpet, but at the end of Retreat Maret placed a small handcrafted statue of her Mother in my palm and suddenly I found myself talking about all sorts of creative works I could accomplish in the next year. I babbled on about new projects while Maret and my sibling Tenu, standing nearby, just grinned at each other at the immediate shift in my demeanor.
I placed the tiny frog on my shrine during my first senut back home and have done so ever since. Her voice, sometimes coming in words, but often images or sensations, was almost immediately a presence as readily accessible as the primary gods I worship. She asked me to paint the statue, and I did so, marveling at how it turned out before She gently chastened me for my surprise at creating beauty.
She had me acquire a small protective pouch for the wee frog, and then told me to take Her with me on several of the medical appointments that I had been putting off for months but had finally scheduled, at the urging of several gods (Sekhmet sort of leading the charge.) Only a few days later I received a gorgeous statue of Heqat in the mail from a UK friend. This one’s for the shrine, She said, so do not feel bad about bringing my smaller form with you.
It was a comfort to have Her small, physical incarnation at the subsequent appointments. Holding the little pouch in my hands, I found the courage to stop one medication I’ve been on for over a decade and begin another with possible side effects that terrified me. (Being so unnerved by changing medications may seem a strange thing, but when you have cared for your body and mind in a certain way for so long it can take a big leap of faith to make those shifts. But who better for the “leap” than a frog goddess, ne?)
She wants me to keep creating things, encouraging me to get back into fiction, to try my hand at digital art, and to let it be a joy rather than belittling myself for things not being “good enough.” She also has taken on my issues with anxiety, as every time I enter shrine, She asks me to meditate. It startled me the first time She requested it. My other gods want me to make offerings, read a prayer, or sing a song for Them in shrine. Not Her. She had me take her statue off the shrine, kneel with the statue resting in my palms, and focus on the weight and sensation of it while I settled my breathing.
I had not meditated since my trip to a spiritual retreat in Ohio about two years ago, where one of the panels focused on different Buddhist meditation techniques. It was extremely difficult, trying to remember how to settle my breathing, how to stop thinking in words and just focus on the nothingness, accept the quiet of simply being and not worrying. But it forced me to calm myself, forced me to let go of whatever was bothering me that day, and after about two weeks of doing it, I realized that no matter how badly my anxiety had been triggered that day, the meditation helped. Substantially.
The meditations became more detailed as I progressed, the skill of visualization gradually returning to me. At first I was sitting beside a river, then in later meditations I settled on the river bed itself, resting in a bed of underwater grasses, somehow breathing through my neck as fish swam around and even through me as I let my body drift away and become the water. In further meditations still, around the time I could sit there for a solid ten minutes without needing to “think” or worry, the river slipped away and was replaced by stars. Water and the universe became one and the same, the low thrum of frogsong the only sound I ‘heard’ as I wordlessly admired the cosmos which I was part of and apart from at once. Heqat would appear before me when it was time to go, human bodied and smiling, offering gentle hands to pull me to my feet and out of the calm of the meditation, bringing me back to myself.
She amazes me. She requested that I commission a statue of her in human form to complement her theophany statue, directing me to a particular artist with no small amount of insistence. I had to grin when the artist was thrilled at my request; unbeknownst to me he is apparently a Heqat devotee, and always wishes that there was more interest in Her because He’d love to sculpt Her more frequently. After finalizing the request, She insisted upon my completing senut, telling me that I should look at the Kemetic calendar for the day’s holiday.
“Taking to the River” festival. I just laughed again and went through the standard process with a stupid grin on my face, lighting candle and incense, pouring water, offering bread. After prayers were offered to my Parents and Beloveds, I settled into my now familiar meditation stance, and waited.
To my surprise I was not in the river of stars to which I felt I had “advanced,” but back at the side of the river. Heqat stood before me, offering Her hands out to me.
Do you trust me?
“I… think so?”
I walked into the river, acutely aware of my body, the lack of the tiny gills She’d granted me. I took her hands and together we submerged beneath the waters. It was so much harder to keep walking, to see the water come up over my eyes, my head, than to just “appear” there as I have in the past. I struggled to sink, frustrated with how realistic this felt, how difficult it was to stay below the surface.
You have been a child of Netjer too long now to continue to doubt. Must I keep proving myself to you? Trust me.
I recalled the previous times when I’d let go of the need for worries, recalled the thrum of frog song and clung to that sound so as to release the need to maintain the human body which kept floating to the surface. With some effort, I became the river as I had before, and She nodded Her approval with a wink.
We sat together: She in a human form before me, yet also surrounding me with the vastness of her age and presence, and simultaneously still existing within the tiny weight of her statue. The stars began to reappear, as though in one night I was reminded of my progress over the course of months.
“Lady,” I asked of Her, “How have you come to be so dear to me, in such a short time?”
Think, and you will remember that I have been here far longer.
With a start, I recalled one of the most powerful and insightful moments of my time as an animist, which took place some six or seven years ago. I felt a bit foolish, for I wrote of this on this website some time ago, and indeed this return to meditation is quite close to the “journeys” I used to take as part of that practice. I’ll re-post that moment from an old journal here:
“We landed in a marsh, where Bullfrog was croaking quite loudly. He looked at me, expanded his massive throat and croaked what seemed an invitation. I sat beside him and though I was distinctly myself, my throat bubbled up like a frog and I let out a croak — which suddenly sounded like music. We were singing.
And so were the crickets. I shrunk in size and rubbed my back legs together to try to mimic their song as well, but in an instant I had been swallowed by Bullfrog. I felt no pain, but watched as I was dissolved and spread throughout Bullfrog’s system. Part of me nourished Bullfrog, part of me went to her eggs as she laid them. I grew in many eggs, some of which were eaten by fish, which in turn were eaten by hawks. Other tadpole-mes grew to adulthood in the blink of an eye, and became other Bullfrogs who croaked as well. Frogsong pulsed through me in millions of places, me interconnected throughout the chain of life and death and life again.”
Frog has been an incredibly important teacher for me in the past: how could I have missed this?
You were not yet ready.
You needed force and fire to bring you back to belief. Now that you believe, you can accept the more subtle lessons. But I have been here, and here I will remain.
I sincerely hope so. In so few months I have somehow found another Lady to which I find myself utterly devoted. Dua Heqat, Creator of All Things. I am glad to be re-created, reborn in a healthier life.