Elusive

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Image: photo credit: SilverTorch66 20160924_160604 via photopin (license)

It’s been a while since I heard from The Opener, as Anubis is sometimes known. He can be an elusive entity, frustrating even. The past few months have been challenging, forcing me to look inwards, a necessary process in hindsight. I’ve been clearing out defunct mind-sets, beliefs and behaviours. There’s still more work to be done and doors to be closed. Fortuitous that He’s appeared at this moment, as all manner of obstacles have separated me from my “Mentor” for too long.

I’m trusting myself and the Universe more, which is producing positive results. You could say I’m beginning to see the return of my authentic self, the Jan that I love and believe in. So many people suffer the frustration of not being who they truly are due to life circumstances. This is something one shouldn’t dismiss easily as it’s an issue that strikes at the heart and psyche deeply. It weighs people down and you can see the shadows shrouding the vision of those so afflicted. Almost as if all colour and vitality have left the person and they’re living as copies of their true selves.

His Nibs (Anubis) looks at me without speaking, and then squeezes my hand. It’s taken a while to get to this point but we’re here, thankfully. For too long I’ve neglected myself and felt my energy bleeding out, okay illness has in part taken its toll. Many people around me are in varying states of unhappiness and indulging in unhealthy projections towards others. They’re pressing my buttons and I’m pressing theirs. This continues to create toxic environments, on the inner and outer.

The sluice gates have been opened and all this crap is being “washed out” into the greater Universe to be neutralised and transformed. Visualisation is a fantastic tool dear readers. It can create true magic and open up unbelievable vistas.

“You’ve remained in the darkness of the tomb for too long” He states matter of fact.

“Not willingly! I answer. What else is there to say? I couldn’t see a way out, the seals on the tomb doors looked unbreakable.

His Nibs shakes in laughter, not unkindly it has to be said. The Opener can be unpredictable and should not be underestimated, ever. Saying that, this inscrutable deity can be hugely protective, loving and patient if he befriends you.

“I’ve not left your side at all, but had to stay aloof in order to let you ask for help” He explains in measured tones.

“Ah, the free will thing” I murmur.

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Image: photo credit: seyed mostafa zamani via photopin (license)

We understand each other but do I understand myself? I gaze into the distance and see a desertscape blasted by strong winds. There’s a long figure walking across the sand, it looks like the Opener. Yes, it’s him in human form. He seems impervious to the grit filled wind swirling around him. The horizon is hidden from gaze, only hinted at when the wind drops. The ancient deity is in his natural element and knows neither fear nor uncertainty in this harsh environment. He is the loneliness of the endless expanse, a mirage created from the yearnings of our Soul. He is the bestower of hidden knowledge, giver of Life and Death, Judge of our Hearts and True Intent.

I ask Him for a blessing for the journey to come, to give my heart courage and resilience. He complies and comments “don’t leave it so late before calling me. We have work to do Jan.”

I nod ruefully. This is a time of Coming into Being. The scent of incense tantalises my nostrils, an offering to The Opener it appears. We part in love and peace, until the next time.

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Image: skyhp009, Pixabay

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She Walks In Light: Amunet’s Development and Journey

Image: Pixabay

I’ve thought at length about the possible origins of my character.  She emerged as a result of a writing challenge entered a while ago (Sue Vincent’s #writephoto); and was called the Alchemist’s daughter until an appropriate name was found. Amunet was chosen as my heroine emitted a sense of “otherness” that necessitated further investigation. For that I needed to revisit  ancient Egyptian creation myths. There wasn’t any conscious effort to mould her into a representation of wisdom and mystery. Like many other characters, she developed from gut feelings and nebulous images in the mind. These creations become significant over time, being echoes of lost histories. If we’re receptive to their voices they can be encouraged to tell us their stories. This seemed the most sensible approach to take.

To be honest this character’s an enigma to me. I stare at her from my position in the present and wonder at the nature of adventure we’re participating in. Amunet appears to be forming the basis of a bigger project, something I’m getting excited about.

I suppose we should now journey to the beginning of all things in my character’s universe. A time before time existed in a formless space:

The Ogdoad in The Hermopolitan Creation Myth

Amunet belongs to one of the Ogdoad (group of Eight), who are four pairs of ancient Egyptian deities thought to be the oldest of all gods. A statement made by other creations myths of that land about their gods! Regardless, these beings represent primeval elemental powers existing before creation of the world. The four male gods are frog headed, and their female counterparts snake headed:

  • Amun (Male) and Amunet (Female) represent invisibility.
  • Kek (M) and Keket (F) are darkness.
  • Heh (M) and Hehet (F) are infinite space.
  • Nun (M) and Nunet (F) are the primeval waters.

The world they inhabited was shrouded in silence and darkness, if you can imagine a place consisting of nothingness you’ve done well. I don’t always manage to.

When the waters of chaos retreated they revealed the first land. It was the sacred Mound upon which the Cosmic egg was laid by either an Ibis (sacred to Djehuty) or a goose, called the Great Cackler. In another variation of the myth the darkness was pierced by the light of the child Ra who rose from the depths of Nun in a lotus. This creation myth focusses on the mystery of creation out of non-being to being. Something that has fascinated and perplexed me since childhood.

These powers are part of a group of deities indigenous to the ancient centre of Khemenu (“The Town of the Eight”), named Hermopolis Magna by the Greeks. The other deities are a hare and baboon. This place was the cult centre of Djehuty (Thoth) from early dynastic times, and with his arrival at Khemenu these deities were absorbed into his mythos. Two in particular retained their status though, the Hare goddess Wenet and the baboon god Hedj-wer. Wenet was the totem animal of the 15th or Hare Nome (administrative division) of Upper Egypt, so it may have been difficult to obliterate her presence. As for the baboon god, he was worshipped here from pre-dynastic times and became closely associated with Djehuty as one of his manifestations. From here we briefly face the divinity that is Djehuty.

Djehuty and the Symbolism of Eight

It’s appropriate that the spirit of Djehuty pervades my heroine’s life. He is after all the Master Alchemist, God of Wisdom and Magic, oversees the arts, and sciences. In fact ruling all intellectual pursuits. Djehuty is also said to have invented hieroglyphs. The number eight embodies his essence perfectly as it symbolises harmony, balance, and cosmic order. It’s also the number of perfection, infinity, abundance, and power.

So far, so good. Amunet therefore contains within herself perfect knowledge and Being. She’s the Priestess sitting in front of the Veil obscuring the Greater Mysteries of Life and Beyond; and also Divine Fire clothed in material matter, hidden, waiting. She contains potential within herself, of greater things. That’s what so fascinating about her, as she represents the hidden potential within all of us. The ability to bring to light the invisible aspects of our natures and the Cosmos. That’s why She Walks in Light.

 

 

Inconsolable: Flight of the Father

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Image: Pixabay

The Alchemist stands in silence, his time has come to pass beyond the Veil. The moment of transfiguration waits. This is the hardest thing yet to face in a life stretching centuries, to leave all that he loves and values in life, his daughter. The child has now become parent to the father. She holds the wisdom bequeathed to their line in a time when only the unknown powers of the world walked as gods. Like the ancient Egyptian god Amun her true self is hidden, as is her name, until now. Amunet, thus is she named after one of the Eight progenitors from Khemenu (named Hermopolis by the Greeks). A place associated with one none other than Djehuty (Thoth). In his mind’s eye he sees Amun in splendid glory, a serpent coiled round the divine sceptre. Strange how all comes back to the beginning, the serpent biting its own tail.

He can feel the change spreading through the cells, one by one they fill with light and purity of being. They speak to each other, communicating the sacred words that will initiate his ‘Coming into Being or Existence.’ They wait on her presence, knowing that she is the catalyst for this transformation. The Alchemist surveys his entire life, from beyond existence in a Universe bereft of all light and sound to the fullness of a life to this moment. The human part of his being is inconsolable at the parting from life and loved ones. It fears the separation, of relinquishing memories that are dear and irreplaceable. Our remembrance of a greater existence is only beneath the surface he thinks, we need only push aside the barriers of our making to drink from this pool. This much he has instilled in Amunet, a worthy student and teacher.

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Image: Pixabay

He senses the Sun lying beneath the horizon, not yet risen, gathering strength. The Light within also waits, gathering strength. Drops of liquid fall into the waters of life, creating ripples that disappear into eternity. Drop by drop the humanity within is absorbed into something, not yet understood and omniscient. Amunet appears, called to perform this sacred ritual only this once until her time comes to undergo this transfiguration. She faces her father in silence and then utters words of power bestowed by the unknown powers residing within. Human and gods integrate and call forth ancient magic rarely revealed. Her breath to his breath. The Light within rises as does the Sun beneath the horizon. The god Khepri makes his ascent into the sky and also in the Alchemist’s heart. They are ‘Coming into Existence.’ Drop by drop the waters of life absorb his essence, expanding and rippling outwards beyond the horizon. She senses his every move, the moment is upon them. Both smile at each other, having knowledge of what lies beyond material manifestation there is no sadness. Such emotion vanishes like mist in the rays of the approaching sunrise. He is risen and light incarnate, it is done.

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Image: Pixabay

A great silence descends upon this place. A memory from the birth of the Universe. Roshanak approaches Amunet and places a hand on her shoulder. Both women gaze at the beauty of the sunrise. This ending is only a new beginning. The serpent biting its own tail. Roshanak hands Amunet a small leather bound notebook, within are the notes of her journey so far and adventures to come. So it continues. Amunet puts on the coat handed to her and then makes her farewell.

A Fleeting Glance

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Image: Pixabay

The spectre of a creature inhabiting the dark places of our subconscious emerges into consciousness once more. It’s been a while since I visited this landscape, the last time was in Ancient Bloodline – Moonlit # writephoto. Love, although a dysfunctional and destructive one, was the basis of that story. How could it be otherwise when it involves the Lady of the Bright Red Linen (one epithet of the goddess Sekhmet) and demons such as vampires. The ending was not a happy one. Why should it be?

The memory of that tale and an old project prompts me to weave another story involving yearning and love. My interest lies in exploring the depths of this creature’s psyche and also ours. Whether I succeed remains to be seen. Alas my protagonist doesn’t fare well much like the one in “Ancient Bloodline”. Crimson kisses and exquisitely painful emotions lead only to oblivion. My general of armies of darkness and blood has followed his ancient Egyptian priestess through centuries of search. Often glimpsing her but not quite able to touch, until now. Such an obsession is his undoing. Continue reading

The Storyteller Returns

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Image: Pixabay

The Storyteller and I parted ways some time ago; amicably it has to be said. Only a temporary situation you understand. We both relish our personal space and the time apart reinvigorates the spirit. We share the same corporeal form but encapsulate twin creative souls. Some writers adopt a pen name to create works in a different genre to their main output. It seems I’ve gained another Muse to perform that function. Her true name is yet to be revealed. This is deliberate, for a name is a thing of power and more so one’s true name. Only the Jackal God and the Storyteller are privy to such a secret. Her journey is my journey; we seek each other and meaning in the trials and tribulations of our chosen goal and path. We also seek them in the moments of stillness and joy. I invite her to partake of tea and conversation.  Continue reading

Hail Thrice Great Tahuti!

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Image: Pixabay

An ambitious title I think to myself dear reader, but a note to the ‘Lord of Holy Words’ (as inventor of writing and the arts) is rather appropriate at this time. Being endowed with complete knowledge and wisdom he is kept rather busy with all manner of business. Here’s hoping he answers. Tahuti (ancient Egyptian) has gone under the guise of many names throughout the ages, the most familiar being Thoth and Hermes. Totally different pantheons and cultures admittedly. I have great affection for both entities whose energies have been present in my life for a long time. The pursuit of knowledge has been a driving force since childhood and much that’s been gathered over the years has been filed away in (mental) drawers. Now and again I get a nudge reminding me to check in said drawers. Such a time has approached and I’m feeling a little nervous, who knows what’s lurking in there! The mind feels much like a library that’s been neglected for years, its contents shrouded by dust and in need of renovation. A terrible state of affairs because I love books and libraries, my first job in fact was working in a large public library in London. Continue reading

Conversation with the Jackal Shaman: In the Hall of Ma’at and Weighing of the Heart Ritual

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Image: Pixabay

White Rabbit looks into the distance, deep in thought. The Jackal Shaman and I watch him. Rather than break the silence we converse in signs and symbols. You may well ask how that’s achieved. Pens and pieces of card. Neither mystical nor magical. Or is it? Ancient sigils imbued with mystery and knowledge, they open gates that are closely guarded. Those giving access to our secret selves, our subconscious, our memories.

White Rabbit turns round and mutters, do you know one aspect of magical Taoism is to guide the soul of the dead to the underworld? This is based upon the belief that the soul can get lost if it isn’t accompanied to the right place. A situation that can be dangerous; as the region between the living and the underworld is inhabited by malevolent spirits, demons and ghouls. Their prey is the soul of the dead, who is allotted forty-nine days to reach the underworld. If this isn’t achieved, then all is lost and they join the ranks of these predators. The Sorcerer’s task is to ensure the soul is safely guided through this dangerous terrain. Much like Anpu and Hermes. Continue reading

Conversation with the Jackal Shaman: In The Hall of Ma’at and Introductions

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photo credit: israel gutier The way to the color via photopin (license)

The Jackal Shaman crosses the great expanse to bring word of further challenges. Must be something important for him to make this long journey. Our encounters of late have been brief but meaningful. Dear reader, this ancient Egyptian god is not to be underestimated. I know the phrase has passed my lips many times but the warning still stands. The Psychopomp isn’t just for death but for the rest of life. How appropriate I smirk. Rather like puppies aren’t just for Christmas but for life. Ha, ha. Okay, stand up comedy isn’t going to be an appropriate career choice. Doesn’t help laughing at your own jokes.

I’m glad you said that and not me, His Nibs gently comments, there are alternatives. Perhaps we can discuss it over tea?

We both consult our diaries. His Nibs look fabulous these days. Younger even. Must ask him what he uses on his skin. The ancient Egyptians loved their perfumes and precious oils. We have a lot in common. Both of us are aware that beneath the superficial musings a heavier issue lies waiting, waiting to be acknowledged. My heart and I debate the matter passionately, should we proceed with this adventure? His Nibs can see the battle raging within and smiles reassuringly.

The Heart plays an important part in the ritual we’ll witness later. It’s been an important symbol in human civilisation from early times. Our language is littered with references to this organ, “disheartened”, “follow your heart”, “heart of the matter”. The heart’s been a repository of all our sorrows and joys. Raising us to sublime heights in moments of utter beauty and clarity; then dashing all hope against the rocks to leave our lives in pieces. Apart from its biological functions it serves us in other ways, being a symbol of love, compassion and a centre of spiritual consciousness. It’s the life essence of our being. Take a moment to think about how you project yourself in the world, where does the sense of Self reside? How does your heart speak to you?

He offers a hand, time to begin the journey to the Hall of Ma’at. The hypnotic sound of drumbeats surrounds us; it bends time and space to create a portal. The bone oracle feels heavy within its pouch, singing a song of longing, of joy and pain. We enter a Khem that predates what’s known as Predynastic Egypt. Please forgive me for blurring the line between fact and fiction. It’s a necessary action in the Shaman’s journey to the land of ancestors and spirits. After all, the inner Universe is a vast and mysterious place waiting to be explored. It’s also a place with shifting boundaries, filled with traps for the unwary and foolhardy. The exploration of such landscapes requires a trustworthy guide and protector; a task His Nibs is most capable of performing.

What of the scene before us? A simple hut constructed of mud brick and reeds, situated on top of a large mound. Sound familiar? I glance at His Nibs, my raised eyebrow provoking a blank expression from him. Oh well, onwards. The doorway is small and necessitates a crouching posture in order to enter. The interior is dim and lit by simple lamps, small pottery saucers filled with fat and thick wicks. There appears to be another doorway opposite the main entrance. Steps lead downwards into a corridor. There are other presences in this hut but they offer no threat. Even so, breathing is difficult due to the intensity of the power emanating from these, entities. I’m not sure they’re human. My companion leads the way. It seems he doesn’t want us to linger in this place of transition.

We reach the bottom and find ourselves standing in a corridor that twists and turns, finally opening into a huge hall filled with numerous pillars. Twenty-one lining either side. The Hall of Ma’at. Light streams down from small apertures in the ceiling. It’s a place outside of time, I get a picture of a gigantic heart enclosing this space. There’s a deep silence in the temple. It’s not empty, there’s something in there. Many ‘somethings’ in fact. They’re aware of us. The scent of incense only increases the sense of power and numinosity in the space.

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photo credit: nielskliim Light art in a former water reservoir via photopin (license)

The 42 Assessors stand guard at all time, states the Jackal Shaman.

I understand why the deceased would feel fear in their presence, is my answer. There is nothing more to be said. There is nothing more I want to say.

He stares deeply into my soul and then places his hands on my shoulder, strength pours through to give me support and my heart responds strongly. His strong and sonorous voice then addresses me.

I shall introduce you to my companions, for they are curious to know the one that has come amongst them. Friend of course and not foe. They shall not be named, yet. That is to come later.

One by one the Assessors step forward from the shadows. Representatives of the 42 Nomes of ancient Khem. It feels as if I’m being examined by the very essence of this land. This scrutiny stretches into what seems like an eternity and then they step back into the shadows.

I look at Him. It’s time to go back. We exit the temple and make our way back through the corridor, up the steps, into the hut and back to reality. A little rushed but necessary. The magic of such places can saturate both mind and body. I need a cup of strong tea to ‘earth’ me properly. It also gives me time to absorb all that’s been seen and heard. Anpu bids goodbye and disappears into the great expanse. The next part of our journey will consist of revelation and truth. Am I ready for it? The faint sound of drumbeats can be heard in the distance, it ends soon to be replaced by the rattle of the bone bag. The bone oracle speaks, of what I can’t say

Conversation with the Jackal Shaman: Cult of the Apis Bull (Hp)

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Image: Anubis, Jan Malique

The Jackal Shaman and I meet at the crossroads once again. In my hands is an offering relating to an important archetype. One deeply connected to the ancient Egyptian creator deity Ptah. My recent offerings have been rather light-hearted, providing relief and laughter. Not so on this occasion. I feel the need to revisit old haunts for quiet reflection. My visits to the shores of Khem have been rather infrequent and this opportunity presented itself. Currents of the subconscious move in unfathomable ways, sometimes I have to just go with the flow where these posts are concerned. As for a conversation with the Jackal Shaman, these are infrequent but meaningful when they occur. He usually turns up when there are changes afoot.

The primary theme of this discourse is the Apis Bull but it may be useful to gain an insight into the lineage of this archetype. The bull has been viewed as a symbol of virility, fertility, strength and chthonic power from early times. The spilling of its blood in rites such as the Taurobolium and Mithraic Mysteries were thought to bring blessings of purification, good health and regeneration in their wake. We encounter the bull’s darker symbolism in the myth of the Minotaur lurking within the labyrinth and bullfights in modern times. J E Cirlot, suggests the bull may have been a lunar symbol due to the shape of its horns representing the crescent moon. Mircea Eliade posited a connection between bulls and thunderbolts with sky deities. Black bulls were thought to be connected with death.

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Image: Photopin

The bull’s ancestor the aurochs (Bos primigenius) and various subspecies had a range that stretched across Europe, large regions of Asia and North Africa. Bos acutifrons Lydekker, 1898, ancestor of all later species flourished in India in mid-Pleistocene times and over the course of this era aurochs spread outwards. Extinction occurred through loss of habitat and over-hunting, the last aurochs surviving in Poland until 1627.

As for the physical attributes of the aurochs, scientists have estimated the shoulder height of a bull to be between 160 – 180 cm and about 150 cm for the cow. The coat of the bull was black-brown and reddish brown for the cow. Both probably had a light area around the snout. Their horns were forward pointing and curved inwards, with variations in length, thickness, etc.

Its worship in ancient times stretched across the Mediterranean, Britain, Egypt, India, and the Near East. This list is not exhaustive of course and a fuller exposition is not within the remit of this article. Although special mention must be made of neolithic Çatalhöyük (“forked mound”), located south east of Konya, Turkey. The site consists of a main mound and west mound and was first identified by James Mellaart in 1958 and excavated by him between 1961–65. Excavations were restarted in 1993. The main mound covers an area of 14 hectares, a sizeable area!

Çatalhöyük was thought to have been established around 7400 BCE and occupied until 6000 BCE. Our attention is drawn to the discovery of mud-brick and plaster buildings dating from 6500 BCE; in which remarkable shrines had been unearthed showing bull veneration, vulture cults and depictions of a mother goddess. We must ask ourselves why such symbols have endured over huge tracts of time and embedded themselves deeply within our psyche. Life and death entwined in an eternal cycle.

Theriomorphs played an important part in religious worship throughout Egypt’s history. They were entities set apart from others of their species by virtue of special traits and markings, vehicles in which gods and spirits indwelled. Bull cults in particular were an important aspect of early dynastic Egypt, being primarily a royal symbol. The Pharaoh was called “Bull of his Mother” and linked with Hap (Egyptian) or Apis (Greek) who was the living manifestation of the creator god of Memphis, Ptah. The Palermo Stone attests to the antiquity of the worship of Apis soon after the establishment of the Egyptian state. The animal was known as the “blessed soul” or “deputy” of Ptah and was an intermediary between humanity and the creator. Such was the importance of the relationship between the two that the king rang alongside the Apis Bull in a ceremony called the Ritual of Running of the Apis (pHrr Hp). This was performed to symbolically fertilise the land and affirm their fitness to rule. The link continues into the afterlife, as the phallus of Apis was believed to be instrumental in helping the pharaoh ascend to the heavens.

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Image: Ptah, Pixabay

At this juncture it may be useful to shed light on the nature of Memphite theology, The worship of Ptah was quite ancient, the god becoming established in Memphis once Menes had made it the country’s capital. It was highly mystical and philosophical in nature, the like of which was never to be seen again in ancient Egyptian religion. These concepts were in existence long before monotheism took root. Ptah created the other gods through thought, Horus the Elder acted as his heart or mind and Thoth as his tongue. The creator god was seen as the Eternal Heart or Mind and self-created. Budge elaborates further on how this deity was viewed by his priesthood, which will strike a chord with many:

“…self-created, self existent, without beginning and eternal. He was the Mind of the Universe, the Cause of Causes, whose thoughts had produced every material thing and being in heaven, earth and the underworld…Light was an emanation from his heart, his influence pervaded all Nature through his breath of life every creature lived, and almighty power resided in the Word of his Mouth”.

What of the “blessed soul” of Ptah? His birth and life were extraordinary events. The Bull was conceived through the action of lightning striking his mother, who was unable to bear another calf. The Apis bull was black in colour and distinguished by special markings consisting of:

– a white diamond shape on his forehead.
– the shape of an eagle on his back.
– double the number of hairs in the tail.
– the shape of a scarab beetle under his tongue.

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Image: Pixabay

At any one time there was only one Apis bull, who once found was installed in luxury quarters to the south of the Temple of Ptah in Memphis, being consulted as oracle and venerated for the rest of his life. His life span was abut 14 years and upon his death was embalmed and buried with full honours, interred within a stone sarcophagus (weighing 70 tones) in the Serapeum, Saqqara. After death the Apis was identified with Osiris. In later times the two gods were merged to become Serapis. By then the true essence of ancient Egypt had moved back into the shadows, still intact and waiting.

Jackal Shaman, its time has come. Is my offering worthy?