Why is listening to one parent talk about having sex with the other so revolting?
I thought I would be cool with it: I’m sex positive. I can talk about anything. I’m the gatekeeper for the dead: I look at atrocious sins for a living! But no: I never want to think about my parents having sex. Ughhhh…..
I’d heard the stories, of course, first from my Aunt Isis when I was a tween and she was worried that Osiris, whom I call Uncle Dad, might have been cheating on her. She trusted him…but was worried that, in his significant lust, he might be duped again. Of course, between his exposure only to the recently deceased and her possession of the necessary organ, that isn’t going to happen. She really just needed to talk about the sadness and jealousy she felt when my mom, her sister, Nephthys, disguised herself as Aunt Isis in order to seduce Uncle Dad.
She wasn’t sad and jealous about the sex, of course. Aside from Hera, who’s real motivations are around respect and honoring commitment, immortals are generally not concerned with fidelity. Monogamy is only valuable as a sacrifice of time and experience, for the sanctity of intimate depth and fulfillment. When you literally have all the time in the world, and can create limitless depth and fulfillment it’s not so much a sacrifice as pointless deprivation. And, as deities, we do have obligations to our single worshipers. Plus, how jealous can you really be of your sister having sex with your brother?
Anyway, the point is, she was sad and jealous about potential children, or in Mom’s case, me. She’d always wanted a child, but Uncle Dad , Osiris, was hesitant. He’d had a series of dreams that led him to believe that he wouldn’t live long enough to raise one. He didn’t want to leave Aunt Isis a single parent: it’s a lot of work, and she already has so much on her plate with her career.
She told him that, if push came to shove, she’d be honored to raise his child. She didn’t really believe he would die: he’s immortal…and the God of Fertility and Agriculture: clearly, he will always come back. She figured that he was just spending too much time watching the fields and had started to identify with the crows…or the crops…or the crows and crops. He always had such mixed feelings about sending birds away hungry.
So, Mom’s pregnancy felt unfair to Aunt Isis. As Goddess of the Night, Unconscious, and Beer, Mom was fully within her domain to simply get Uncle Dad rip-roaring drunk. Aunt Isis, on the other hand, as Goddess of Consciousness, Enlightenment, and Positive Role Modeling… there was no way inebriated seduction fit nicely into her online profile.
And Dad, sorry, Set, was furious. Just kidding. Mom wanted him to be furious at having to raise another man’s child, but he didn’t care at all. As a diety who specialized in confusion, it was an act of worship to him: he got that energetic boon. It’s like eating for us, but I won’t got into that now. Da-Set was thrilled. It was not what Mom wanted, but it is what she got. And maybe that, and the unconscious thing, played into Uncle Dad’s promotion.
You’ve probably heard the story. There was a big family to-do and Dad, Set, had a beautiful casket made specifically for Uncle-Dad, Osiris. He made a big deal of giving it to whomever it fit. Lots of people tried it on. I know what you’re thinking here. But bear in mind that our parties went on for days. Everyone had been drinking like it was a full-time job, with random spontaneous napping, for at least 72 hours. And, truth be told, chemistry can’t hold a candle to our herbs. It’s like people forget that drugs are made of natural substances. Just abuse the inhabitants of the garden long enough for them to vow vengeance through unpleasant side effects and, congratulations, you have converted an, admittedly sometimes foul-tasting, herb into a pricey drug. To my mind, anal-leakage is a high price to pay for avoiding bitterness. Just follow it with honey. To be fair, a few are exceptions, and brilliant… a few. Nothing is black and white, except black and white.
So, Dad eventually convinced Uncle-Dad to get in the coffin. The moment he did, Dad slammed the lid shut, grabbed the box and took off, earning himself the title ‘God of Chaos,’ which he preferred to his earlier moniker ‘Hyper-focusing Workaholic Magician God with Off Putting Sense of Humor.’
Aunt Isis was pissed. She screamed a nearly incoherent lecture on brotherly love for a good 20 minutes past the point where Dad was actually within hearing range. Then the crows came…bearing bits of, well, Uncle-Dad. Most people were still pretty drunk, so the birds had to caw out ‘Osiris, Osiris,’ before people pickup up on the nature of their ‘gift.’
But once they did, there was turmoil. Aunt Isis grabbed her purse and followed the trail, picking up the pieces without a thought to the condition of her favorite handbag. Mom took off after her, trying to figure out what the proper etiquette is when apologizing to your sister for your husband-brother vivisecting your brother-in-law-brother, with whom you are additionally in love. Eventually she decided to say nothing and help gather his parts.
The two of them wandered the whole valley, collecting Uncle-Dad. In the end, they found 42 pieces, and reassembled 41 of them, so that Uncle-Dad could get his promotion and go rule the underworld. Aunt Isis kept the 42nd piece. She says it’s the answer to life, the universe, and everything. Thanks to what she calls ’number 42,’ 10-months later, she gave birth to my half-brother-cousin, Horus.
People say ‘Horus avenged Osiris by taking back the throne from Set,’ but honestly, magician and king are very different. Dad really just wanted to go back to his spell-craft, triple-entendres, and in-jokes. It also averted the politically awkward problem of which of us, Horus or I, should go work with Uncle-Dad. With Horus as king, I just naturally slid into my job, assisting Uncle Dad in the underworld without contest. Well, some people yelled ‘nepotism,’ but you’ve probably already picked up on the idea that we have pretty different cultural ideas around appropriate family roles.
So, the other day, I’m here, doing my job as gatekeeper of the Amduat, Uncle-Dad’s underworld domain, when one of my mom’s worshippers shows up with a shard of grief stuck in her heart. Maat tells me her scale is so close to balance that I should ask around so others can weigh in. We’d hate to let Ammet eat an innocent person, plus, he’s cranky when I wake him. Besides, between politics and pandemics, he’s really been putting on weight.
I ask the mortal if there’s anyone she’d like me to speak with about her life. And she tells me to call Mom. Mom and I hug and catch up for a few minutes, then Mom notices her follower and screams. She jumps up and rips the shard from the mortal’s heart. For a moment, I am relieved. Ammet can go on snoring in the corner. But then Mom starts talking.
“No,” she yells to the woman, “my erotic grief was never yours to bear! Cast off the burden of my lust for Osiris, the memories of him taking me, entering me, as a snake into the river…“ I can’t go on. She did. But I can’t. It was horrible.
I’m a God. I’m a Gatekeeper. I’m an Immortal Being who determines the fate of the dying. But I never, ever, want to hear about my parents having sex. Ammet and I have agreed on a hand signal. From now on, whenever one of my parents’ followers arrive, I’m waking him in advance and he’s going to stand guard so if they so much an infer a conjugal relationship between my Mom and Uncle Dad he can do his culinary magic while I cover my ears. I thought I could talk about, hear about, anything, and I can: anything… but that.