Friday, June 22, 2012

i is for interrogations: balancing and Bast

Interrogations... Heavy topic, eh?

My perspective on interrogations seems, from where I sit, commonplace. That could probably be explained by the company I keep. I spent five years of my young adulthood in the Army; four of those years, I was a qualified interrogator. For one of those years, I actually did my job. Not a lot of experience, as these things go, but from a broader perspective it's far more than the average citizen ever gets.

That one year, that year in Iraq, I met Bast. Not exactly her home turf, I know, but that's where she found me. Or I found her. Whichever you prefer.

I was focused, that year. I was passionate, confident, and invested in each and every case. Every single person I interrogated, was a person. They had families, lives, loves, hates, and fears. They all made their way to me through a series of bureaucratically-motivated migrations; they had been with us for weeks. Each was accused of something, but they had not been arrested. They were detainees. They were morassed in our impermanent prisons system, but better to be in ours, than in theirs. Some of the accusations were plausible; some were not. Many saw me as a ticket out, as a way home. Some saw me as an obstacle to their cause.

To many, I was kind. Some saw me as foolish, cold, or too hard. Truly, I cared. I wanted to ease the pain we all felt. I wanted very much to find the Truth. I was in control, but the human mind is not subject to an outsider's wishes. I didn't always get what I wanted. But I worked, and I knew I could do no more.

For that year, my state of mind was intensely focused. I was on a mission. I was perhaps in the most masculine state of mind I have ever been in. I needed balance. Bast brought me that balance. My lovers saw the fruit of her gift.

I remember when I first realized she was near. I was attending an Open Circle ritual - yes, we had those in Iraq, even - and a young cat came to watch our activities. She was slender, probably a mother, and certainly hungry. It was a special occasion - we were barbecuing steaks that night. The priest and I had bought them from the PX, and brought them to share with everyone. We shared one with the cat. She came back every time we held ritual there, but never on the days we were there just hanging out. I, and others who were there that night, felt a presence, just before we looked around and saw the little cat peering at us from edge of the deck where we stood.

Later, I came to believe that little cat was Bast, or a representation of Bast in some form. She was cautious and didn't get too close to us, but she was calm and clean - which was very unlike the rest of the feral cats in that place. After first seeing her, I began researching Bast. I didn't have enough spare time, then, to really dig into her lore, but the connection I felt resonated with what I did learn. I began making small offerings to Bast, and I continued feeding her cat, when the cat came around. And although I didn't make the connection at the time, I see now that my life overseas became more balanced in the following months. Specifically, I cultivated a more balanced romantic and sexual life, which had been the most out-of-balance aspect of my self at that point in time.

I wondered, when I left Iraq, if Bast would come with me.

I don't think she did. Or rather, I don't think I kept up my end of our relationship, perhaps. Or maybe my own mental health problems got in the way of my spiritual path. I don't know what happened. I do know that when I got back, I quickly felt adrift. The balance I had found between my romantic life and my professional life had a huge gaping void - on the professional side. I wasn't doing my job anymore. I wasn't allowed to go on leave right away. The whole group I had deployed with was kept on, to help another group deploy - we were finally sent on leave several weeks after we got back from Iraq. But our "help" wasn't really needed, and we spent most of our time in uniform doing... nothing. Or nothing of value, at best. One side of my balance had faltered, and I plunged head first into my romantic life, which devolved into a primarily sexual life.

...Perhaps it wasn't balance Bast brought, but a more robust romanticism, which created the balance I needed in order to maintain my deep professional involvement. When the professional drive was lost, that optimistic romanticism overtook the slack, and thus I lost my balance.


I still feel the pull of Bast, from time to time. Not so strong as before, but perhaps my need isn't so strong, in the way that it was then. Lately, she's been on my mind. Maybe it's time to call on her again.

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