The Gods Can Handle Our Anger

It’s okay to be angry or upset with the gods, and it’s okay for us to tell Them so as well. 

A very good friend of mine occasionally becomes profoundly angry with Set and/or the other Netjeru for not saving them from the horrific things they endured as a child. When this happens, they put away every religious icon they own. When they are especially upset, they might even smash these holy images in a fit of blind rage. Then they feel guilty and anxious afterwards, fearing the Netjeru will punish them for being so disrespectful.

(I will not go into details, but I do wish to be extra super double sure I’m making myself absolutely clear on this point: these behaviors are coming from a place of pain and fear, not from a place of pride or insolence. Any comments that assume otherwise will be removed. Thank you.)

When my friend confides in me about these occasions, I do what I always do. I gently remind them that no, they are not bad for feeling anger, and no, they are not bad for expressing their anger to the gods.

The ancient Egyptians got angry with the Netjeru all the time, even threatening to withhold offerings from Them if They failed to answer certain prayers in times of great need. Here, the god-and-worshiper relationship is symbiotic and reciprocal. We must give to the gods, but the gods must also give to us. If the gods give and we do not, They can condemn or abandon us; and if we give and the gods do not, we can condemn or abandon Them.

Mind you, the Netjeru are not mere genies who exist just to grant our wishes. It is unreasonable to condemn or abandon Them for not solving all of our problems for us. But it is at least reasonable for devotees to expect some kind of benefit from worshiping Them. We deserve to at least feel guided or supported by our gods somehow; and if a deity can’t even seem to deliver that much for whatever reason, it is only natural for a person to stop worshiping Them.

The idea that we are obligated to continue worshiping a particular god no matter what They do or don’t do for (or to) us is profoundly un-Setian. I would argue it is even un-Kemetic, since each of the Netjeru can potentially receive angry tirades or threats of abandonment from Their followers. Besides, even if you scream obscenities at a Netjer, you are still communicating with Them in a heartfelt manner. You are still engaging Them in a kind of prayer. You are just praying a prayer of grievance rather than gratitude, if you will.

So I tell my friend it’s absolutely okay for them to put away their religious icons whenever they feel upset with the gods. It’s even okay for them to smash said images when they are especially distressed (provided, of course, that they actually own the icons they smash, and no person or animal gets hurt in the process, including themselves).

Learning about the Netjeru turned out to be very helpful for my friend; yet they are still trying to reconcile their past with the idea that there are actually gods out there who care about them. If this is true, they ask me, why then did the gods allow them to be harmed as children?

There is very little anyone can say to answer such a question that is actually helpful (or even truthful, in my opinion at least). All I know is, if the gods are truly gods, They are big and tough enough to take our anger, especially if it’s coming from someone who is confused and hurting very deeply.

I also don’t believe for one second that the gods hold it against anyone for being traumatized and needing help. I think Set would actually prefer that my friend curse and smash His icons to having them traumatize any of the other people in their life. No matter what they might do to His icons, my friend can at least be sure they won’t hurt Set Himself; the same cannot be said for their loved ones.

There aren’t any easy answers for when bad things happen to good people. But if you happen to find yourself in a situation similar to that of my friend, I just want someone to have told you it’s okay. Set is not going to smite anyone just for being traumatized and crying out to Him for help—not even if the only way they are currently able to seek help is combative or confrontational. (He can always smite us for other reasons, of course; but Big Red is big enough to handle our feelings, even the really bad ones.) 

It’s Okay To Have Demons

Expecting people to be John Rambo—including Setians—is unrealistic.

It’s fucked up how the behaviors we develop to survive as kids can bite us in the ass when we are grownups.

As a kid, I was conditioned to believe that asserting myself is bad, wrong, mean, and selfish. I was taught that if I love someone, I should just keep my mouth shut whenever they do anything that disappoints me or hurts me. If I speak up about it, I am being an asshole and I don’t deserve to be loved.

How insidious it is that such conditioning can affect us even as adults. I recently lost a good friend who occasionally did things that disappointed me. I kept silent about my feelings for so long that when I finally tried to express myself, it destroyed the friendship. Then I started hating myself for even trying to talk with this person about my misgivings at all. “If I just hadn’t said anything, we would still be friends,” my brain keeps telling me. “I ruined this friendship, and it’s all my fault.”

This kind of childhood conditioning can even affect your professional life. If I land a better job and my current employer gets upset that I am leaving, I feel like a horrible person. I feel like I’m an ungrateful prick. I feel like I’m being mean and something bad is going to happen to me, as a “punishment.” Even when my logical mind knows I am doing something good for myself, even when I remember that other people hire into better jobs all the time; I still feel like I am bad.

Well the reality is that NONE of these things is true. The voice that whispers these awful things to me inside my brain is not my own voice, but the voice of my childhood trauma. When I blame myself for ruining that friendship, or when I hate on myself for doing something that’s good for my own professional development, it is not really me that’s speaking; it’s my male parental unit. It’s the man who bullied me and manipulated me when I was little; the man who was never impressed by anything I tried to do; the man who delighted in making me feel powerless, trapped, and afraid.

I resonate with Set because He refuses to control or be controlled. Like Him, I chafe at the thought of anyone telling me who or what I can or cannot be. And like Him, I absolutely detest the idea of trying to control anyone else’s life. When I came to Set at age 14, it drove my male progenitor nuts. Here was something he couldn’t take away from me, no matter how much he hit me or tried to shame me. He could burn all my books and break all my sacred objects, but he could never remove Set from my heart. And this gave me the resilience I needed to truly start defining myself apart from the toxicity in which I was raised.

But even though I started on this quest all those years ago, the journey is still in progress. I am still learning how things in my childhood are affecting my adult life. I am still learning how to not hate myself when I do things that are good for me. I am still learning how to love myself and not listen to that ugly voice in my mind that expects me to fail. I am still learning how to determine myself and to not let anyone else define me.

So take it from a Setian who has been walking with Big Red for over 24 years… Ain’t NONE of us here are “Nietzschean supermen.” It’s totally OK if you are still fighting demons from your childhood. Nobody, least of all Set, expects you to be John Rambo. (And even if Rambo were real, he’d be suffering from PTSD too, just like all the rest of us.) If you struggle with hating yourself because of traumatic things that happened to you, you are not alone by any stretch of the imagination. And it’s absolutely OK. Just try to remember that when you get to feeling that way, it’s your trauma talking; it is NOT reality. And try to remember too that talking about your feelings is a STRENGTH, not a weakness. Listening to others talk about their feelings, and helping them feel comfortable enough to share them, is a strength as well.

Update: Saturday, January 30, 2021

If people have hurt you and have never made amends, it is the most natural thing in the world to be in pain and to have dark feelings about it, whether angry or sad.

This applies even if the hurt happened years and years ago.

The trick, I think, is for us to express these darker emotions in ways that are healthy and safe, and which help us grow.

Doing things to hurt ourselves and/or others is extremely unhealthy; but there is nothing wrong with drawing pictures, writing poems, or telling stories to express our pain.

We can’t let our feelings run the show, but we aren’t doing anything wrong just by having them either.

Where we go wrong is when we ignore the darkness inside ourselves, giving it the power to trick us into destroying our lives.

Feelings come and go, passing through us all the time; but we remain. And it is really hard to remember this and live in healthy ways when we are grieving or enraged.

It’s even harder to remember if we try to ignore our pain and refuse to love ourselves in the first place.

Update: Monday, January 25, 2021

My wife and I are ethically non-monogamous. (There, I said it.) This means that we both occasionally see other people when we are unable to fulfill all of each other’s needs.

We opened our marriage years ago after having lots and lots of couple’s therapy. My wife came out as asexual to me, and we almost got divorced over it. Almost all of our fights back then were about sex. But the couple’s therapy really helped us understand each other and this conflict in much clearer terms.

Even if my wife were not asexual, she is under no obligation to share her body with anyone, not even her husband. No matter how much the lack of physical intimacy might bother me, I am not entitled to anyone else’s body but my own.

At the same time, I am under no obligation to remain celibate for the rest of my life. I am a sexual being, and I deserve to be able to fulfill that part of my personality. My wife is not entitled to my body either; and as long as I am transparent with her about everything, I can share my body with others if I want to.

When we reached this understanding, we stopped fighting all the time. Now we could talk rationally with each other about our needs, and we could problem-solve together and find ways to meet both of our needs without putting all the responsibility for this on each other. I no longer felt guilty about wanting sex, and my wife no longer felt guilty about not wanting it.

I dated another woman for a little while after that, back before Covid brought the world to its knees. We were friends with benefits, and with no strings attached. It was exactly what we both needed. No drama, no involvement in each other’s lives; just meet for coffee every once in a while, catch up for an hour or two, then go take care of business. Once we were done, we’d go back to our separate lives and not really talk again until we needed to. And life at home steadily improved, because I was no longer pressuring my wife and she was no longer rejecting me.

It was surreal, but I learned that having sex with someone else does not negate my devotion to my wife at all, and that her not wanting to have sex is not the end of the world. Everything else about our relationship is truly fulfilling; why then should we separate just over sex? There are other couples who have great sex, but who throw furniture at each other. So I learned to compartmentalize my love life I guess you might say.

I believe the concept of monogamy is extremely toxic. We are conditioned from birth to believe there is only ONE person for each of us out there, and that it is this one person’s “responsibility” to fulfill ALL of our various needs in life. But this expectation is not at all realistic, or even humane. No one on earth can fulfill all of anyone else’s needs all the time; and imposing this expectation on people sets them up for failure. How many relationships would still exist and be healthy right now if the people involved in them DIDN’T have this expectation?

Of course, being non-monogamous isn’t easy either. Everything in society seems designed to chastise me for being the way I am. Most dating sites are for “singles only” and will actually give you the boot if they find out you’re married. Others will allow people to seek extramarital partners; but most of the membership in these sites are either swingers or people who are actually cheating on their spouses, and I am not into either of those things.

And then there’s the fact that there are people in my family who would not understand any of this. There are people who call me a cheater and a faithless husband. I do not believe it counts as “cheating” if your spouse is the one who’s BEGGING you to sleep with someone else just so she can get some goddamn peace. But some people can’t handle this idea because of their fragile Christian values.

I have expressed guilt in the past for being the way I am, and for needing to compartmentalize my love life in this way. But that is not really the problem. The real problem here is that SOCIETY tells me I am “wrong” for still needing sex when my wife no longer does. SOCIETY tells my wife she is “bad” for not having sex with me, even if she really doesn’t want to. To be honest, this isn’t really about sex at all; it’s about power. People are much easier to control when they believe a thing like love can be legislated.

On Mental Health

For those of you who have been distressed by my posts as of late:

Yes, I have been in a very dark place lately. But Set is mighty, and so am I.

I for one am sick and tired of how we treat mental illness in our culture. Even people I love often do not get the help they need or deserve. Some are hardwired not to even ask for help in the first place because it is ingrained into us from birth that this is a “shameful” thing to admit, perhaps even to oneself.

And then there are the people who you think are dependable and you reach out to them for help, but they simply reject you because “they have their own problems to worry about.”

That is not how people who love each other should behave.

If I can transform my pain to make it easier for others to discuss these issues and find the help they need, then so be it.

I am grateful to each person who has reached out to me during this dark time to show their support.

As for those who cringe and turn away from the things I’ve been posting…Well, you can just mute me or unfollow me if it really bothers you that much. I’m not going to stop expressing myself. Maybe drawing pictures of your feelings would help you cope better with whatever you are struggling with, too. Please give it some thought.

Helping others is the best way to help ourselves. Dua Ma’at!

Prayer Against Depression

O Dazzling One!
You who were made desolate,
But who never dies!
You who were rejected,
But who always saves the dawn!

Straighten my spine!
Make strong my limbs!
Open my mouth!

You are what makes me to STAND!
You are what makes me to FIGHT!
You are what makes me to SPEAK!

The Serpent strikes me every day,
But I will NOT be stopped!
I will NOT be rendered powerless!
I will NOT be kept silent!

Holy Outlaw! Divine Rebel!
You who lay tyrants to waste!
Put me to Your holy work!

Do not let me stop
Until MA’AT HERSELF
Decrees my descent!

May I never EVER stop
Bringing joy to loved ones
And strangers alike!

May the Serpent TREMBLE
Whenever I pass near!

DUA SUTEKH!
SO MOTE IT BE!