Friendship Chaos and Order
Since today’s prompt (“friendship”) is basically synonymous with yesterday’s, I’m going to talk about a more relevant subject. The relationship between chaos and order is such a gigantic theme in my life that I end up relating it to almost everything that happens, intentionally or not. And, even though that’s been the case for far longer than I’ve been a polytheist or recognized that I was working with a chaos god, I think it’s safe to assume that Set is at the center of all that. After all, he’s been hanging around for far longer than I acknowledged him.
Before getting into kemeticism, the words ‘chaos’ and ‘order’ had equally negative connotations for me. ‘Chaos’ is associated with unrest, destruction, pain -you know, the usual- and ‘order’ is associated with conformity, restriction, a sort of cold, sterile mega-organization that’s more concerned with keeping everyone quiet than it is with the actual well-being of anyone. In fact, I saw it as often directly adverse to the well-being of most. In philosophical terms, I saw ‘chaos’ as Hobbes’s ‘War of All Against All’, and order as O’Brien’s “vision of…a boot stamping on a human face – forever” from Orwell’s 1984. So, obviously, I wasn’t particularly fond of either concept. As far as I was concerned, both of them resulted in pain and suffering for everyone but a lucky few born with either the brute strength, or the wealth and power, to have a distinct advantage over everyone else. Since I had neither, I was screwed over by both -along with most of the people I cared about- so why feel any loyalty to either of those things?
As I’ve grown more mature, not to mention out of a particularly dark time in my life, my views have gotten less cynical, starting with the ‘chaos’ half of the equation coming to seem a) necessary to life and b) beautiful in its own way. An appreciation for the necessity and beauty of order came a little later, and truth be told, I’m still working on it. I don’t want to get too verbose about it, lest I begin reiterating things that have already been said 4728479 times, but to sum it up: I see chaos as movement and order as structure. There’s nothing inherently “moral” about either of those things, but rather they are both intricately built into our universe, and in a more philosophical sense, into us.
So when I say I work with Set because I feel an affinity with chaos, that’s what mean; Set is noise and change, movement and color; the destruction necessary to allow life. After all, there is no evolution without natural selection.
Considering I’m a consort, you’d think this would be an easy post to write, but in truth, I’d almost rather have the faith/hope/soul prompts back.
The romanticization of love (romantic/sexual love in particular) is bullshit. Love doesn’t make everything better and it doesn’t prevent people from hurting one another. It doesn’t make people snap out of mental illness and it doesn’t magically redeem people. It didn’t prevent my family from falling apart and if you give me five minutes I can find a handful of credible sources that explain how what we call “love” is actually just the release of a certain chemical in our brain that serves the evolutionary purpose of making sure we as a species stick together to improve our chances of survival.
So when I say that my relationship with Set caused me to realize why people let love ruin their lives, I really do mean it in the most jaded and bitchiest way possible. I’ve read so many poems about doting on someone and calling them “your sun and your stars” and going on and on about how when you love someone it changes you; I’ve read pages and pages of beautiful metaphors and similes comparing being in love to everything from flowers to flames to storms (ha). I honestly used to roll my eyes at all that, but it’s true. It’s all fucking true, and I’m salty af about it.
Anger is probably the number one defining aspect of my experience with Set; before there was romantic interest, or mental instability, or even the strange kind of symbiosis we settled into for a year or so in between my initiation and entrance into the kemetic faith, there was me being pissed off that I was being harassed by some phantom that probably didn’t even exist. In hindsight, though, it was my anger at life in general that led to my fixation with destruction and chaos, which was probably what got his attention in the first place. Truth be told, my temper and tendency to hold grudges is one of my biggest character flaws. A lot of it comes from having some legitimate things to be angry about, and a lot of it comes from getting into the habit of defaulting to anger because it’s easier than crying. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about this; not only because of the whole “turn the other cheek” thing, but also because I’ve witnessed firsthand the kind of self-destruction and pain that can result from letting anger get free reign.
Luckily for me (and I’m only saying that half-sarcastically), when it comes to anger Set is a goddamn expert. He’s given me some of the best advice I’ve ever gotten on the subject: ‘Don’t try and pretend you aren’t angry. Don’t feel gulty for being angry. Don’t let it consume you, but understand that it’s natural and in all likelihood it isn’t going anywhere.’ I’m not used to people validating my anger. It’s just not something that’s all that acceptable in our culture, particularly in the Christian community of which I still consider myself a part. In my experience people want to minimize anger, talk me out of it, basically try to get rid of it whatever way they can in order to restore tranquility. Set, on the other hand, helps me with the process of dealing with anger in constructive ways that keep me from behaving like an asshat.
He coaches me on how to accept and live with my anger. I was taught that the morally right thing to be is a pacifist. I still believe that, on some level, the right thing to do is forgive and let go of anger wherever possible. However, the sad truth is that some part of me is probably always going to be angry. Set has always encouraged me to use that anger. He makes something good out something essentially shitty, and teaches me to do the same. I really respect him for that.
The first time I remember Set being angry at me is also the first time he apologized to me, and the first time I seriously considered the possibility that we were on the same side. Since that memory is the one that’s sticking out like a sore thumb, that’s the one I’ll write about -but it involves self-harm, so, TRIGGER WARNING!!
It was a couple of months after my initiation, and I hadn’t self-harmed in all that time. I was crying -I don’t even remember what had made me upset, but I remember that while I still was, Set (not that I called him by name at that point) said something -or maybe I just sensed him, or maybe my thoughts just kind of turned to him. Whatever happened, I immediately started mentally bashing the living hell out of him, as I was prone to in those days whenever I was upset about literally anything.
He didn’t seem concerned and that just made me angrier. I was so convinced that he was out to get me -only here to mock me- and I felt overwhelmed. And, as always happens when I feel overwhelmed by unpleasant emotions, my mind jumped to an image of self-harm.
You’re not going to do that, he told me dismissively.
Watch me, I mentally snapped, and before I even had time to think about it, I made my way to the shattered glass I had hidden I my room.
Seriously. Stop. Finally he sounded concerned; for once, something I was doing was getting to him. For once, *I was in control.
No. I took the glass and sat on my bed, heart thumping with anticipation.
Don’t do this, you’ve been doing so much better lately! Just calm down and talk to me. Please. For some perverse, childish reason, his trying to talk me out of it only made me angrier. As if he cared. As if he wasn’t in favor of my self-destruction.
I rolled up my pajama bottoms, took the glass, and sliced open my leg. The stinging, as usual, completely took away the urge to cry; the burning, angry, miserable feeling in my gut seemed to be being purged through the pain; I bled and I wanted to bleed more. I cut myself four or five times; not the deepest I’ve ever gone, but deep enough that the scars are still clearly visible, two years later.
When I was done I went to the bathroom and got some toilet paper to soak up the blood; I wiped it off the glass shard and put it back up in its hiding place, then set back on my bed, leg throbbing with pain. I felt empty and numb and like nothing mattered, and that was how I wanted it.
I also felt a spiteful pleasure in knowing I’d defied him. I’d done something to he hadn’t wanted me to do. Maybe I’d even actually hurt him. So there.
I kind of expected him to taunt me or yell or something, but instead his tone was cool and furious: You are stronger than this. And he left.
Good riddance, I thought idly. I was crazy enough without arguing with a voice in my head, anyways.
I sat there for a few hours, alternating sniffling and staring blankly at the ceiling. I was surprised when, when I had almost fallen asleep, my skin crawled and my shoulder ached in the way that meant my imaginary not-so-much-friend was back.
Congratulations. He still sounded angry. Not irritated, not annoyed, not upset: livid. You proved your point. You don’t take orders from me, that’s for sure. So: congratulations, kid.
I felt a sinking, sick feeling in my stomach, the first little pieces of shame that I was hoping I could put off until the next day. I couldn’t even think of anything to say; he was right, and I knew it. What I’d done was childish and stupid and wrong. Besides, if he had been a real, physical person, I wouldn’t have relapsed just to get back at him or spite him, so why would it be a remotely okay thing to do, just because he might not exist?
He waited for a few seconds, then seemed exasperated (like the feeling of sighing and covering your face with your hands) and came closer. I don’t know how to describe being touched by something non-corporeal, so I’m not going to try; suffice to say, I got the psychological impression that Set had sat down behind me and touched my shoulder. His voice softened: I’m sorry. He waited for me to be confused, suspicious, and angry until I was curious enough to listen. Clearly, I’ve been doing something wrong, or you wouldn’t have done that. If I’d done my job and watched you more closely, it never would have gotten that far. So I’m sorry.
He sounded so sincere, I didn’t know what to say. So, he went on talking without my answer: From now on, I’m going to intervene before you feel tempted to do that. And if you ever pull that shit again, I swear, you will wish a little paper cut is all you had to deal with.
Why do you even care?
He seemed exasperated again. You know what? That’s not important. You want to stop cutting yourself, don’t you?
Well then, we share a common goal,’ he said bluntly. ‘I’m going to help you quit, and you are going to cooperate. Now promise me you won’t do that again.
I didn’t say anything. On one hand, I was generally adverse to doing anything he wanted; but I knew, enemy or not, he was right about this.
Promise me! he demanded.
Good. Now go to sleep. But he didn’t leave; he stayed in silence until I fell asleep.
Not exactly the most pleasant memory, but it was a huge milestone in our relationship because it was the first time that I actually acknowledged that he was trying to help me. Since then he’s been true to his word -he insists on talking to me when I’m upset, even if it’s trivial and stupid and I’d rather keep it to myself- and I haven’t self harmed in about a year.
It’s actually kind of ironic that this is today’s prompt, since we were sort of just talking about this. And as usual, by ‘talking’, I mean ‘arguing’.
It started kind of innocuously: for the thousandth time, I was reading some article that referred to Set as “nefarious” or the “god of evil” or something, and I realized that I was really annoyed by it. Before, I would kind of roll my eyes, or even think it was funny in a sort of ‘how can I spin my heresy so that a fundamentalist Christian would freak the fuck out” kind of way. I would feel a little miffed at how the Horus vs. Set myth served to contribute to the oppression of the proletariat, that’s about it. (If you work against or question the state u r CHAOS!!!!1!!)
But the other day, I felt annoyed on Set’s behalf. He wasn’t even around, so there’s no way I can convince myself that I was just being manipulative; I meant it. And it wasn’t just me wanting to protect my ego by making sure the god I’m associated with is “respectable”. It was emotional: my patron was being slandered and I wanted to refute it. You ever hear that quote, “they’re not your friend until they defend you in your absence?” Well, it rings true; I usually measure the loyalty I feel toward someone based on how big of a fit I want to throw in their name.
And now, with Set, I have the knee-jerk reaction to tell people who write internet articles about the Egyptian gods to cut him some fucking slack. I’m not really sure why. It’s not like he’s been so good to me that I can’t stand the label of “evil” being applied to him. Hell, I call him that at least twice every time I throw a mental tantrum (which is more often than I care to admit). Some days, I don’t even particularly like the guy I’m devoted to. So, what gives? What’s changed recently so that I got the urge to vouch for him?
As usual, I just don’t know- and at the moment, I’m not really inclined so sit here and strain to think of some improvement to cite, when in reality it’s probably just because I get attatched to everyone too quickly and, to my brain, nigh-on unconditional loyalty is a direct product of attachment (see day 15: Companionship). Truth be told, Set would have to fuck up pretty bad for me to say I’ve had enough. He would have to do something I would interpret as a real betrayal, and I doubt he’ll do that. Wouldn’t want to waste all that invested time and effort, after all.