Tuesday, November 7, 2006

The Papyrus of Kalibhakta, Part One

The other night I had the privilege of dying and being reborn; this took place in the local Unitarian church under the auspices of Isis, Osiris, and other members of CUUPS. An acquaintance of mine, Holli, who is big into the Mysteries of Khem, staged the event, inviting one and all--who turned out to be me; an ironic gay couple; an aggressively pagan straight couple; a sullen yet rubicund middle-aged man; a mysterious black-caped guy; and a wheelchair-bound older woman and her [son?] [paramour?]—anyway, a Renaissance Faire-clad young man who happily did her bidding.

We approached the event with varying levels of seriousness. Those putting on the ritual, even those with the smallest roles, were wonderfully centered, kind, and serious, without being overly serious. The loyal reader will already know that I treated it as a life-or-death matter (I guess that should be “and death”), being bound by terrible oaths to taste communion with the Goddess in every breath mint. The pagans mostly dwelt in ritual-crit mode, a meta-mindstate in which commentary upon the proceedings is more important than the proceedings themselves. (Is this why paganism enjoys such a following in academe and in the military?) The gay guys were complaining about the cold, and hadn’t had dinner, and thought the whole thing was a bit silly anyway…

I figured, I’ve never been through an Egyptian death and rebirth ceremony, so I’m going to do this right. While I waited for Anubis to appear in the doorway and point his fatal finger towards me, I stared into a tiki torch flame and put myself in an alpha state. I was one of the last people in line, and so had opportunity to think about how I would face my actual death: would I look at it as an adventure, as I did this evening’s ritual? Would it come as suddenly as a masked figure in a dark doorway? Would I be afraid, or would I trust Kali?

When my time came, I was fully in a trance and thus tuned into the ritual’s intention; I was afraid on a mild but visceral level and part of me believed I really was facing death. As I was led down the hall by Anubis, in the darkness, not knowing what was to come, I felt that giddy free-fall of the unknown.

Suspension of disbelief is as important as skepticism to the spiritual seeker. They are the water and oxygen that allow all life to flourish. So after I’d passed through the labyrinth of the Duat and stood facing Osiris, I fully believed it was a God into Whose eyes I gazed, and even when Thoth’s cell phone went off and Osiris very slightly blinked in surprise (but quickly got back in character), I wasn’t thrown off too much. I felt myself start to drift back into beta consciousness, aided by the most potent mind-contracting substance known (righteous indignation), but pulled myself back into alpha, back into the sacred.

After my soul was weighed by Thoth, I was led down another, darker corridor, and into the church’s main worship hall, which this night looked and felt as alien as a cavern on an undiscovered planet. It was lit by a single candle and at the front of the imposing, utterly silent room sat enthroned a dark, powerful figure: Isis. In my state of mind it was the Goddess...a tiny recess of my mind cradled the thought it was Holli, but this point seemed hard to grasp and so I let it go.

I walked down the aisle, in the gloom and hush, and knelt before the Queen of All.

to be continued...

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