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Surviving Ego Death

Updated on June 23, 2012
Arati or Kundalini Rising
Arati or Kundalini Rising

Shiva is in deep sleep, just as the individual is asleep, unaware of ultimate truth – union. The ego, the serpent power within us, lays coiled up locked in self-identification with the body and physicality. But, as expressed in an ancient Kemetic proverb: “I have climbed the ladder, having turned myself around.” The serpent is to be redirected to seeking union with Shiva... to use the powerfully passionate energy of emotion and desire to wake the sleeping god within.

Like Ausar (Osiris), lord of the underworld/duat, Shiva dreams the world but needs the complimentary use of feminine force in order to act within it. As long as the serpent/ego is directed to illusory self-interest, the brilliance of the spirit remains untapped. A primary step for the spiritual aspirant is to die to those self-delusions and be reborn from the ashes. The question then is... how?

I believe it is important to develop a relationship and language with one's spirits, guides, ancestors – inner teachers. With sincerity and humility they will ultimately lead you. Forces may appear in your dreams as totems of your ancestral lineage. Or, you may see or learn from forces that are completely foreign to you which then, in turn, inspires a search for understanding. Study then feeds your personal bank of symbolic meaning. Your guides will use these symbols and others to communicate with you. You'll begin to identify your fears and exorcise them. You'll learn which aspect of the Divine you need to work with in order to progress.

Kali Ma
Kali Ma

During the phase of ego recognition and dissolution you may find yourself feeling depressed, angry, anxious or outright hopeless. Your dreams could, for example, show you being killed, trapped or chased. In waking life, arguments, fights and broken relationships may become prevalent. When I began to experience similar occurrences I was comforted to learn that “suffering with the spirits” is common to aspirants within various traditions. In Vodoun it is the “trial by ordeal” which sloughs off the avatsoto ame (ego and pride). In New Age or Pagan circles it is the “dark night of the soul.” In Tamil streams Kali Ma is said to attack and destroy the worthy aspirant. Furthermore, the Bhagavatam conveys that Radha Krishna take away everything from devotees (wealth, romance, etc.) so they may realize the Divine as sole refuge.

Transformation through ego death is no picnic. Love of the Divine will steady you; it will be the only thing you can cling to while your world is violently whirling. How do you establish love as a mooring? By following Goddess' example. Auset (Isis) chanted words of power over Ausar's corpse and erect phallus. Kali's necklace of severed heads represent the primordial sounds – mantras which form the substratum of manifest reality. Oshun of Ifa and Erzulie Freda of Haitian Vodou love singing, dance and fine offerings. Strive to perpetuate their joy and your selfish interests will gradually fade. But try not to give in to fear when Goddess' “dark” aspect makes itself known to you. Kali, Nebethet, Oya... by any name, you will be tested. You have to be unafraid of the dark. You must be ready to be ripped to shreds and sewn back together again.

I've never known Love

all is loss here

suffering... longing

disillusion and misconception

Divine Love is lasting, overwhelming – blissful

I have never known Love

all my striving, all past reflection

yield mirages

security in fond memory – an apparition

never real and not abiding

all at once I feel the weight of your absence..

yet your concurrent presence

as the glimmer in all illusions

you tease me, you prod me, you call me to awake

I answer and cry out and scream your names

awaiting your grace your presence – one word

my tormentor my lover my god

timelessness has bound me

causality has led me adrift

the only thing that can save me

is mystic union – your sacred kiss...

--Sekayi Khita Hetep

Ego death is the concentrated mourning of empty forms. The realization that you have never truly known love, peace or happiness... that it was always fleeting as you gave chase to it in various guises. It is an immense sorrow at the realization of your emptiness... your separation from what is true... Divine Love.

“How long can i beg and bargain for the things of this world while Love is waiting?” – Rumi

I try to get it from you but you won't give it to me, I get angry. But you can't, you don't have it. Like trying to draw blood from a rock. My partner, my career, my desires... all void. Divine Love is the life blood and God/dess is the source. Wail, moan, protest then resign yourself to the truth. You'll find yourself deeply sad because you'll look around and not be able to see this Love. You'll feel alone, abandoned and hopeless.

So how do you face and interact with the newly realized false forms in your life? Without egoistic expectation of fulfillment from any of them. You are walking through a graveyard. Learn not to be afraid and not to lose faith. When afraid we may sometimes sing to ourselves... likewise, chanting the divine name manifests divinity. With such aid, you will come through your dark night of ego death. When you surrender your will and replace ego with devotional love... a light will come to lead you to your Beloved.

Hetep on your path.

-Sekayi Khita Hetep


  • Selections from the Husia by Maulana Karenga
  • Mami Wata by Mama Zogbe
  • Aghora by Robert Svoboda
  • Pert em Heru by Muata Ashby
  • Universalist Radha Krishnaism by Steve Bohlert
  • Jambaya by Luisah Teish

For further study:

Selections from the Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt
Selections from the Husia: Sacred Wisdom of Ancient Egypt

A selection and retranslation of the oldest sacred text in the world, with critical commentaries on the richness of the African spiritual achievement and legacy in ancient Egypt. In this selection we read the earliest written record of the dawning of humanity's structured consciousness concerning spirituality and ethics. Here we find, for the first time in human history, the concepts of Maat (truth, justice, rightness), humans in the image of God, human dignity, judgment after death, free will, immortality of the soul, human equality, and social justice.

Aghora: At the Left Hand of God
Aghora: At the Left Hand of God

This is a most profound and sensational book I've ever read. It brings to light the "dark side" or the "left hand" and illumines us as to how this "dark side" is as valid a part of God and Creation as the "bright side" is. It describes the journeys of the Tantric adept Aghori Vimalananda through realms of existence far removed from the mundane world, and hidden from most of us. Reading this book (and the other two in this series) will cause a radical change in the concepts we've formed about the universe, God, life, death and everything. (courtesy: A Customer)

Universalist Radha-Krishnaism: The Way of Natural Devotion; A Practitioner's Handbook
Universalist Radha-Krishnaism: The Way of Natural Devotion; A Practitioner's Handbook

clearly and concisely reveals the esoteric meditative process of participating in Radha-Krishna's transcendental play. It includes historical and theological grounding along with instructions for the devotional yoga practice of creating an eternal, individual identity. Provides initiation and resources for the practice of amorous natural devotion. These teachings are addressed to western readers who need no prior knowledge of the subject to begin the path to full God-dess realization while increasing their enjoyment in this life and the next.

Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals
Jambalaya: The Natural Woman's Book of Personal Charms and Practical Rituals

Teish includes everything from the beginnings of Voodoo in W. African and its development in America, to altars for specific Gods, humorous anecdotes, spells for many purposes, etc. etc. etc. A much-overlooked but much-needed addition to any Pagan library (coutesy: A Customer).



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    • Pya Kule profile image

      Pya Kule 5 years ago from Philadelphia PA and Columbia SC

      Hi ChristinS, thanks for sharing that. It's always good to be reminded that others go through such things. Regarding the "assortment of groups" and their respective ego death traditions, as I followed the breadcrumbs I found the correlations surprising... but then in a way not surprising at all. A lot of "aha" moments. Thanks so much for the positive feedback.

    • ChristinS profile image

      Christin Sander 5 years ago from Midwest

      I went through an awakening years ago and much of what you said here resonates with me. I like that you embraced an assortment of groups and ideas in this as well as I believe each of us sees what is "Divine" in our own way :). Your description of the "dark night" is very spot on to my experience. Great hub voted up, useful and interesting.