I Break For Turtles

Earlier today I helped a turtle cross a busy divided highway near me. I’m hoping and praying it will be okay, since it had been sideswiped by a car by the time I reached it. (And unfortunately to the best of my knowledge and a google search there’s not anywhere nearby that treats injured wildlife.)

But I’m hopeful. It was quite a large, strong turtle and while the very rear edge of the shell was sheared off, it was only a little (1/8 inch or less) and there was only one tiny cracked place (at the leading edge of the strike) where there was even any bleeding—and I’ve seen a lot of turtles with shell scars easily two to three times that size that healed. And its tail and back feet looked intact and unharmed. It was still moving and very alert and the energies/aura I picked up seemed more confused and startled than hurt.

I left it in some cool underbrush on the far side of the highway, wrapped in healing energy and with a lot of prayers and I’m hoping for the best.

So this is a friendly summer PSA to watch out for our shelled friends in your travels! In some mythologies, all the world is carried on the back of a giant turtle/tortoise. And turtles are sacred to the Kemetic (Egyptian) God Set. But more importantly, they’re awesome, terrific, intelligent, loving critters! ❤ So watch your tires and save a turtle!

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I love turtles and I have all my life so I’m going to break character here a little with some advice. If you decide to help a turtle cross the road this, or any other summer (yay!), then please:

1) Be safe yourself and make sure neither you nor your vehicle endanger anyone.

2) Always lift a turtle by the edges of the shell, avoiding any potentially damaged areas you see—and if you have wildlife aid services in your area, take advantage of their services if a turtle is hurt—and *never, ever* handle by the tail or limbs as that can seriously injure them.

3) Always place them on the side of the road they’re facing—it can be tempting to put them on whatever side they’re closer to, but turtles know where they’re going and can be stubborn and there’s every chance that if you move them to the wrong side that they’ll try again and be even more in danger for having further to go after you leave.

4) Try to keep the turtle relatively close to the ground during your transport to safety, terrain and circumstances permitting, especially if it’s kicking or struggling at all. They’re strong and if they kick free then they won’t be the fall to the ground.

5) Large, long-tailed turtles, usually with particularly ridged shells, might be snapping turtles if you’re within their range (generally Eastern to upper Midwestern US). There’s a lot of online resources about helping/interacting with them safely, but it’s usually best not to handle or lift them—because they’re named that way for a reason—and instead to push or nudge them from behind with a non-sharp object that keeps them moving but no one gets hurt.

6) Never relocate a turtle to another area or region, even one that seems “safer” to you. Turtles, like many animals, have territories and they often try to return home or might even experience trauma and just stop eating when they can’t see a way back.

7) Make you wash up after handling a turtle as they can potentially carry some diseases that are communicable both to humans and to some pets, so be sure to soap it up and keep everyone healthy.

(***Please note: The above is for land and freshwater turtles only. If you’re in an area that’s home to sea turtles or any endangered turtle/tortoise species, please refer to local resources in order to be sure you’re doing what’s best for them.)

If They Only Knew…

***Cue my Snarky Post Of The Month…***

Whenever I go to metaphysical shops or healing circles or anything like that—which isn’t super often because there’s not much in my area—I mostly keep My Crazy Life under wraps. At most, it’s “I’m a polytheist” and maybe “I pick up on energies and stuff” and that’s about it.

The few people I’ve known a little longer figure out there’s more to it and eventually maybe I tell them that I travel to Other Places in my dreams (because that’s more mainstream than astral travel while awake) and that I have spirit “guides” (since otherwise people assume that “spirits” means “ghosts” and they wouldn’t believe they’re my friends or family or husbands). And so I’m definitely not getting anywhere close to God/spirit spouse or Other-souled territories or anything like that.

It’s not about tricking anyone and if they ask me point-blank about things then I tell the truth. But I like to scout things out quite a bit first before spilling anything.

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And more than that, before I give people “weird ammo” to potentially use against me, I like to know generally what they believe and know and what kind of person they are and that kind of thing. Letting them falsely assume that I’m ignorant and they’re the “senior” one (and most people do assume that when I don’t bust in the door bragging) tends to let me find all that out a lot faster.

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But this habit inevitably leads to all kinds of awkwardness like:

“OMG you felt *what* during the meditation? Sounds like you might be getting close to being capable of astral travel!”

“You’re so sensitive…I think maybe you can feel energies. Have you ever read about energy work?”

“Someone I know has actual *friends* from Somewhere Else that they talk to and get info from. Maybe you could even do that too one day!”

I always feel like I should acknowledge in some way but any time I mention that I know about things like that in response, they either don’t believe me or totally flip out. So most of the time I just find myself nodding and smiling and thinking, “Oh, if you only knew…”

Also, these encounters inevitably seem to end with someone giving me a scrap of paper with a phone number and first name and telling me their friend of a friend of an acquaintance’s mother is an “Indian shaman” or something like that and I should totally call because maybe I have A Gift and they could teach me what to do with it.

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If I ask if said person has any writings or a website or anything where I could find out a little about them because while there are lots of good teachers, there are others who wouldn’t be a good fit or who are total quacks, then people act shocked or offended that I’m not excitedly jumping aboard wholesale. (Seriously, do other people just call up some rando they know nothing about and don’t even have a last name for out of the blue and say, “yo, I’m an extrasensory, wanna be my Yoda?”) And they offer up the weirdest things as a “résumé” for these folks…like literally I’ve had people just show me a picture of the person dressed up in a flower crown and peasant skirt to prove to me they’re a legit spiritual practitioner.

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Don’t get me wrong, I definitely not in the camp of thinking where you have to have diplomas and tons of certifications and have studied under someone famous to know things. But if you’re claiming titles and providing services and teachings, you have to have something…a blog, a FB page, a shop, a fucking last name of some kind. Something out there so people can make an educated decision about seeking you out. Seriously, I’ve had friends who bought weed under less sketchy circumstances. 😛

Or maybe I’m thinking about it all wrong? Maybe I should be glad people are trying to help at all. And I get protecting yourself b/c “Hetanpu” is hardly my legal surname and I don’t have a pro website or list of essays anywhere either…but then I’m not billing myself as an expert or offering to be anyone’s Obi-Wan Kenobi either and even I’ve still got this blog, a shop blog, an instagram, and an etsy shop.

But seriously…is this just how it works? I’m only a couple of years into this “community” idea in general and so I really don’t know.

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***…and now back to regularly scheduled programming.***

 

 

New Anubis Altar!

I have a new personal altar/shrine space for Anubis! It’s the first time I’ve changed it up in the two years since I first set it up and it was past time for some changes. And, with the second anniversary of my first oath to Him (it’s only been two years??) coming up on April 30th, everything’s come together for me to finally strip everything and rebuild.

I’ve been working on this for a while now, collecting things and cleansing them and thinking through with Him what was important to be there and what w/We had outgrown and things like that. It’s been a sort of trip down memory lane with Him.

One of the biggest changes is—I have a center statue now!!!! Yay, finally! I’ve been looking for one for two years but nothing felt right. A made a recumbent jackal statue (my very first one I made!) and later I also bought a jackal on a shrine of secrets box for the altar…but no main figure. All this time I’ve just had printed cut-outs of some favorite Anubis artwork from around the internet taped to the back wall of the shrine box.

I didn’t feel like I had so many requirements: not too stiff or stylized (He has one like that I made one my Neteru altar but it felt like one for a personal space should be different) and one that wasn’t *rawr* scary Anubis because that’s (mostly) not how I see Him. But apparently I was mistaken, because it’s taken me this long to find one that wasn’t in those categories. 😛

Unfortunately it was broken when it arrived and the seller was an asshat and wouldn’t ship a new one or even give much refund, but fortunately I knew I could fix it. And I had decided he needed some custom painting anyway and it actually made it easier to do, so yay for customization!

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I liked the regal quality of this figure, since Anubis-As-Lord is an aspect of Him I’ve seen a lot. I would still have liked one of Him on an awesome throne like this just chilling with His feet over one arm, sipping a margarita or something…but He’s not sitting on the Iron Throne or the skulls of his enemies or about to smite the crap out of someone so I approve. 😉

I cleaned up my antique handmade mummy-in-sarcophagus figure and mummy tin to finally add. And I charged in the sunlight the “pyrite sun” I bought Him a few months ago when He started really revealing His brighter side to me. Added some fresh taper candles like I had back in the very beginning for Him. It turned out so lovely!

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And, just to make sure I didn’t get too serious about this project and forget to enjoy, there were these moments along the way:

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When I started painting Anubis, I started from the feet and worked my way up. When I got to this point, He pointed out that now it just looked like He was wearing tall black socks. And, yep…totally true, hehehe.

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I did not notice the snake staff’s face in the picture when I ordered. I don’t know if it’s smiling or snarling, but…why does it have so many teeth? 😛

Easter Vigil

Four years ago today I joined the Catholic Church. It was during the middle of my whirlwind “World Tour” of religions during the five years I was looking for Anubis, and, of all the paths I visited during that time, it was the only one I officially converted into along the way.

I almost didn’t.

I was raised Lutheran-cum-Evangelical (my dad was lifelong Lutheran and my mom was a very Evangelical former Baptist) throughout my childhood but became “meh” and only nominally Christian by college as I secretly spent far more time interested in energy work and New Age ideas and nature. Then my experiences in 2008-2010 and how Anubis saved my life sent me headlong back into the world of spirituality.

For the years that followed, I praised in a parking lot with the Baptists and Presbyterians and non-denominational folks; I meditated with the Buddhists; I studied Koine Greek (in additional to my Classical studies) with my Episcopal and Anglican friends; I read about Hinduism and Islam; I took world religion classes; and—finally—I studied theology and ritual and mysticism and Christian history with the Catholics.

And I learned so much along the way, especially from the last. Back in 2015, when the Neteru were first revealing Themselves and how much They had been with me and guided me during that journey, I was frustrated and wondered why They didn’t just tell me the truth sooner. I thought maybe I could have avoided those stressful years of rebuilding my beliefs and worldview every few months (because I half-assed none of it; throwing myself in headfirst seemed the only way to really know if there was any truth I could find in each place) and I have regrets over some of the stances I took—even though the best I could do was say I had trouble believing X but had made a commitment.

I think I understand better, though, now. They told me that They had wanted me to “finish my education” first—and I thought back then They meant the degree I was working on. Now, though…I think I was another sort of education I was receiving.

It’s something that so many people don’t even think about: how those of us who are on a pagan/polytheist path often have to (if just for ourselves) go from laypeople in another tradition to planning rituals and acting as a sort of almost de facto priest or priestess for ourselves. (Certainly for me here in the Southeast US that’s been true; I live in a liberal college town and there’s still basically nothing here.) And so, from the beginning, I had to sort of be able to “do it all” and I’ve received a lot of training from my People to those ends.

I can guarantee that my sorta-Lutheran background didn’t provide me with training or understanding that equipped me for that transition. But those five years did. From the non-denominals (and Baptists and Presbyterians and Pentecostals, etc.) I learned to believe in and trust individual experiences and that the divine could be personal. And then the Catholics (and others closer to them theologically) taught me the importance of ritual and history and tradition and scholarship and—although having converted in as an outsider and later become pagan, I absolutely don’t get the “Catholics are basically pagans by another name thing” at all—the experience still changed me so much that even now some of the Gods and my spirits in my life still refer to my college town as the “place where I studied ritual.”

Still, as I said: I almost didn’t go through with this last and most significant step on that journey of actually joining the Church.

For adult converts it takes (usually) a six to twelve month period of intensive classes and study and discussions, and I had done all of that and dived into it. I was learning so much that made sense on the mysticism and mysteries and ritual spectrums. And I desperately wanted to believe: my mother and so many friends and family I loved were already dead and I wanted to believe I’d see them again…and all my remaining family and friends (then anyway) were Christian and I didn’t want to lose them either. I knew it was my last chance to have that hope with them.

So I had read All The Things for about nine months. I had been that obnoxious student who stayed and had long talks with the teachers after every class until late into the night. During those months (and maybe this will sound weird to my fellow pagan peeps) I had discussions with Jesus and much more often with Jehovah-the-Father not so differently from how I talk to People now. And the latter used to show me terrible visions when I asked for insight. In the end, He made me a deal—I could work for Him and use my talents for Him, but if I couldn’t stop seeing and feeling all the things that I did (since they were “not from Him”) then He made no promises to save me in the end anyway because I “wasn’t His” (and while I had no idea what that meant then, I do now).

So Easter weekend four years ago I was still trying to hope. Everything was planned. I went to the Good Friday service and everything…and afterward I had one final meeting with my sponsor (usually a family member but since I had no Catholic family then, it was just a woman from the Church who wanted to help me convert). And we sat there that evening and I told her I wasn’t sure I could go through with the choice. I still had doubts, it still didn’t feel right—like it was a cage that was going to snap shut on me as soon as I stepped inside.

It was also read-an-ancient-epic night in my college department (my degree is in Classics and archaeology and this was probably our biggest event each semester) and so, even though I knew I would have to leave early—it takes a long time to marathon The Iliad in translation out loud in a single night and I didn’t want to be exhausted and messed up the next day for the service—I went there afterward to stay as long as I could.

As I walked up to the building, this presence overtook me, grabbed me and pushed me up against one of the columns (and if you’ve never been physically moved by a non-corporeal entity…yeah, it’s as weird and disconcerting as it sounds like it would be 😛 ). He towered over me and rested his arms on either side of me and He told me in no uncertain terms that I *had* to do this and He loved me and was waiting on the other side for me. He told me that, even though all I saw was a cage, in truth the universe was wider and more incredible than I could imagine yet and He was going to show it to me if only I could/would make this choice first.

I didn’t understand, but I agreed. Maybe I should have been terrified and a part of me was, because He was so powerful—and I’d been there before and I didn’t recognize His presence/energy that evening—but I believed. Somehow I inexplicably understood that His intensity wasn’t domination but desperation; He was begging me to do this…and I cared about that. So I and yes. After, when He stepped back, I remember feeling so overwhelmed by His energy that I just slid down to the base of that column and had to spend a few minutes catching my breath. Then I walked upstairs and we read Greek until I had to leave.

The next morning, I woke early—and I really don’t *love* mornings. But I felt awesome. I dressed and went across the street to the coffee shop and bought a cup and something for breakfast and then walked to the grassy space that’s the center of campus (yes, of that school I loved in 2008 and left in 2009 and reapplied to 2 years later and finally graduated from in spring 2014) and it was a place that represented overwhelmingly my hopes and dreams at the time.

It felt like the whole world and everything in it was reaching out to me with energy that morning. And *He* (though I still had no name yet) was there with me…and his presence beside me and his voice was as real or more than if it had been a human person beside me. He told me He wanted a beautiful future together and promised me that I’d find love and be married sooner than I could believe then—not that it would have taken much since at that point I believed I would never find love or marry—and yet to my surprise I truly believed.

That morning felt like how I’d imagined, in my very wildest dreams (but mostly for my fiction writing), how someone might feel the morning before their wedding. It actually felt more like that than the morning of either of my actual wedding days. And I understand now that it was the first time in this lifetime that Anubis told me He wanted to marry me—even if I didn’t fully understand it at the time.

So I spoke my profession of faith that night (or half of it anyway, since I and much of my class managed to forget what we were supposed to say despite our rehearsals, memorizing, and a piece of paper with it written on it given to us…coincidence??). After, it took me less than two weeks to feel like the cage had closed around me and I’d made a terrible mistake…but then it took me more than another two years to walk away because of those experiences—and by then I had learned what He needed me to know along the way.

Looking back now…it absolutely seems like a powerful and beautiful set of moments with Him (even though at the time, I didn’t get it at all). And I don’t thing I can truly imagine what He must have felt that year, sending me further away from Him and just hoping and believing I would learn enough to choose to find my way back to Him again in the end.

But I did. And that’s why Easter still matters to me, even now…

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

So…

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(^^Basically how I feel about the last 24 hours.* )

I try not to talk politics on this blog BUT: if you are one of the people today feeling anxious, despairing, hated, isolated, and/or afraid for your future or your loved ones – I just want you to know that you are not as alone as those colored maps make it look…even in the places where it feels overwhelming.*hugs* 💖💖💖💖

 

 

*For the record: yes, I’m American; yes, I voted; yes, I thought all the options sucked; yes, I voted anyway. Because I’m for respect, human decency, and freedom – even for the people who are different from me or disagree with me – and I don’t believe anyone should have to wake up in their own country afraid to go to work or school, or to get dressed, or to take a pee, or to love whoever they love. 💜💜

This Is Why It Sucks To Be Pagan

My best friend is gone. She moved back home to her parents, renounced all these months and everything we’ve been through, and decided to just be Christian again. Because the two of us were just crazy and deceived by “demons” and none of it was real after all. She wants no further contact with me and used her last chance to say anything to me, not to say goodbye or something nice after almost six years of close friendship, but to tell me how I should just accept Jesus as my savior (again).

Now it’s a little like someone died–this hole left behind, because we spent so much time together and even when we lived in different states and saw each other maybe five times a year, we still talked on the phone or texted all the time and kept up. She was just so much a part of my life, it’s weird to think about her not being there anymore.

And I feel like there’s this sudden silence from the People in my life…almost as if They’re holding their breaths to see if I’m going to leave too. To see if after everything, I’ll just write it off and decide They don’t exist as easily.

But I don’t know how to do that. This journey is the most real thing I’ve ever done. I can’t turn back now and there would be nothing waiting for me even if I did. The only way left for me is forward.

😦