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KRT: The Perks of Kemeticism

What parts of Kemeticism do you enjoy the most? How has Kemeticism enriched your life?

Despite the fact that my life pretty much revolves around Kemeticism, I actually found this topic to be very very difficult.

You see, I never went looking for religion. I was raised fairly religion-free, and I had no intention of ever becoming religious in any capacity, because I didn’t really need it in my life. I don’t feel like I chose Kemeticism, I feel like it chose me. In many ways, I became Kemetic because it already fit my world view, and because I couldn’t shake the feeling of “you need to be doing something with this”. But I never really intended on using it as a means to enrich my life. I wasn’t really looking for anything when I found it, and I’m still unsure about how I ended up neck-deep in it.

I think that when you combine that with the fact that my mental health turns everything into a bland shade of beige, and then mix it with the fact that I consider my role within the community more like a job and less like a hobby, well… I think it becomes a little bit clearer as to why I find it difficult to craft an answer for this prompt that won’t leave people feeling like crud after reading it. Because while there are many things that Kemeticism has introduced into my life that has made a positive impact on my life, the truth of the matter is- most of these things have very little to do with Kemeticism itself.

So here is the warning: this post may be more blunt than people are expecting. This post may also be more depressing than some people are prepared for. Please proceed with caution.

I will start with how Kemeticism has enriched my life first because it is the easiest for me to answer. The religion itself has not really been enriching, it is my relationship with the gods, and what they have pushed me to do that has enriched my life. Set and Osiris run a tight ship. They have pushed me to figure out how to cope with a lot of my mental health quirks. They’ve pushed me to address my health and past traumas. They’ve forced me to change my world view and to heal things that I probably wouldn’t have bothered with otherwise. Their actions have pushed me to make myself more complete, more whole, and more stable in the process. I am incredibly grateful for their direction and assistance in getting my shit together.

Set’s persistence with my work in the community has also opened up a lot of doorways to meeting new people and learning new things. Because of my community work, I am better at helping people, better at understanding people and I have way better people skills than I did when I first came into Kemeticism. This has effected my performance at my day job and has influenced my ability to manage my working relationships a lot better than I used to, and I feel like my community work has made me more well-rounded and more open minded than I was 5 or 6 years ago.

These things alone are worth their weight in gold in my life. I still don’t feel well most of the time, but I still feel so much better and so much more capable than I did 5 years ago when I first stumbled into the Pit with Set. I think that Kemeticism has played a huge role in getting me here.

But you’ll note that that has very little to do with the religion itself. It really comes down to my own personal work with the gods and my willingness to do their bidding. It technically doesn’t need to exist within the confines of Kemeticism itself, which can be seen by many people who work with various NTRW and aren’t Kemetic. Because of this, I’m not entirely sure whether my answer is valid or relevant, however, it is there for consideration.

It is the other part of the question, the “what do you enjoy about Kemeticism” that I really have a hard time with. I can list off things that I enjoy about what I’ve done for Kemeticism or the impact the Kemetic community is starting to make on the wider Pagan community, but that isn’t really answering the question. I don’t really have a daily practice anymore because I didn’t find it overly helpful or fulfilling. I’d rather be reading, astral tripping or working out in the community than sitting in a shrine. I make a horrible priest, and I know it.

So if I’m ambivalent about the rituals, and I was already attempting at living in ma’at anyways… what else is there?

The more I mulled on this, the more I was reminded of the modern notion that you can’t be good at your job unless you love what you do. Our modern society has this sort of… fixation upon feelings and life, and seems to believe that you are worthless if you’re not constantly filled with happiness, awe, and love for anything and everything. Unfortunately, this is not the reality for many of us, especially those who are marginalized within our society, and/or who have mental illness or physical illness that makes day to day living very challenging. Love and happiness are things that not everyone is afforded, unfortunately.

So I suppose I will end this post with this: I can’t think of anything in particular that I love about the religion that is Kemeticism. I spend most of my life working with the community and learning about about the religion as it was practiced in antiquity so that I can spread that information out to everyone else. I love working with the community and helping people find ways to make their lives better. I enjoy the gods’ company (usually) and am thankful for the changes that my work has brought in my life. Above all, I’m glad that my work has given me something to focus on so that I am not constantly staring at the metaphorical “exit door”.

However, despite the passion I may have for my work, I don’t believe that that equates to being in love with the religion itself, and I don’t think there is necessarily anything wrong with that. I am good at what I do, and I feel as though I am helping others learn how to practice Kemeticism, which in turn helps them to find meaning in their own lives, and that is enough for me.

I am in love with helping the community and the people on this planet, not with the religion. And if the gods are okay with that, then I am okay with that, and hopefully everyone else is, too.

To read other responses to this topic, check out the KRT Master List

 
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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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“Strange” Devotion

I have found that when it comes to my relationships with Unseen entities, devotion is a strange two-way street where Unseen entities devote a large portion of their time to harassing requesting me to do something, and only after they have spent enough time bugging me about it asking for the thing to be done will I actually do it. They devote enough time to showing me it’s important to them, and then I will devote my time to performing their request as an act of devotion to them. And it seems that the stranger the request is, the more time that must be devoted to the cause before it gets done. Or something.

A perfect example of this occurred a few weeks ago.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and I was sitting on the ground surrounded by nearly every pair of shoes that I own. I hadn’t formed some type of shoe-cult at this point in time, though it might have been more entertaining if that was the reason for being surrounded by several pair of shoes when I’d rather be resting or working on something I deem “more important”. No, the reason in this case was rather mundane in that one of my menz had spent enough time devoted to nagging me that I finally agreed to polish all of my shoes. And it only took three weeks of consistent bothering to “convince” me to cave.

boot polish supplies

As normal as strange requests have become, this one was particularly absurd to me. As I wrapped the cotton cloth around my fingers and dipped it into the boot polish, I couldn’t help but think to myself “I wonder if anyone else has to put up with this sort of crap? I mean honestly, who dictates that you need to polish your shoes?” I slowly worked the polish into the leather and mused on the strangeness of it all. While I mused on it, I heard some type of guttural remark from somewhere else in the room. I looked up at what appeared to be an empty corner where one of my menz was sitting and watching me work. “Overseeing”, he’d say. His noises indicate that I’m not polishing shoes to his standards.

This is also normal. Once I have decided to devote my time to performing this request, many entities will often watch me complete their request and comment on my performance while I do so, because an audience makes everything better. In this instance, I stare back at my menz blankly before going back to the polishing. “He may not like my methods, but I am trying, and he will have to deal with that,” I tell myself before I go back to wondering how I ended up here, and whether anyone else has to deal with this sort of thing.

And when I say “this sort of thing” I mean the weird stuff that Unseen entities make you do in the name of “devotion” or “dedication”. I mean, I’ve heard lots of stories from many different people of some of the weird stuff they’ve been requested to do, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone being harassed to shine their shoes or iron their shirts by their astral partner or deity.

But isn’t that how it goes with the Unseen? You start off simple enough. You talk for a while, you leave out offerings, you say the prayers and hymns and it’s this nice little package that you can pick up and put down and it’s got its place and everything is fine. But then one day you wake up and find the Unseen leaking into your living room, into your weekend, into your sleep and before you know it you’re being asked, if not forced, to do some strange things in the name of devotion.

There have been many discussions over the years about what some people deem as acceptable in terms of offerings, devotional acts and things of that nature. And the longer I work at this, the more I really do believe that weird devotional acts that are off the map are par for the course, if not to be entirely expected. I really have no clue where these entities come up with some of the strange requests that I’ve gotten over the years, and I honestly want to know why they ask for such stuff. Is it seriously something that they want? Or are they simply trying to see how much weird stuff they can ask for before their devotee throws their hands up in the air and says “no more”?

Over the years I’ve been asked to do things that I might deem to be weird. I’ve been told to do more mundane things like go to movies, have a nice dinner, pick out a very particular baked good from the bakery rack or things of that nature. And while I sometimes have no clue what any of this has to do with showing a deity I care, or why a deity cares about what movie I watch or what I eat for dinner, I do it all the same because I don’t want to listen to the complaining if I don’t.

It may seem harsh to say that, but I would be lying if I said that I did everything purely out of love and some altruistic bent that I have. I only have 24 hours in the day like everyone else, and there are many times when I honestly don’t care about whatever some Unseen entity is trying to convince me to do. Much like an RPG, there are days when I don’t want to go hunt down every farmer’s lost goat, even if the XP is not bad. There are days when I don’t want to iron my shirts. When I don’t want to go stand outside and leave offerings. When I don’t want to make a circle of rocks next to a busy street just because some spirit told me to.

The entities that have been around the longest have learned that the secret to getting me to do bizarre or cumbersome stuff is all in the presentation (“it’ll be fun and amazing!” *jazz hands*) – and failing that – it’s about nagging me and bugging me until I do it for the silence that should follow. It may not sound very rosy and spiritual, but it is the truth. If one half of the spirit worker equation is that all spirits are like kids that scream mine, then the other half of the spirit worker equation must be that spirit workers don’t value altruism, they value silence. And it wouldn’t surprise me if most of the Unseen knows it. I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve met that put off doing obscure, weird, or “strange” acts of devotion or offerings because, well, it’s weird and not a priority to us. If I stopped and instantly fulfilled every request a deity or spirit put in for me, I’d be broke and have no free time.

So in a way, the “two-way-street of strangeness” is a sort of filtering tool for determining what I spend my time on, particularly if the request is inane or down right bizarre.

How do you determine which offering requests to listen to or ignore? Do you have any sort of filtering criteria? Have you ever been asked to do some weird or strange things in the name of devotion? Did you end up doing them?

 

 

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Seasons Come in Many Forms

3 Seasons

When most of us think of seasons, we think of weather based seasons that occur in the natural world. You know the ones- spring, summer, fall, winter. Or if you’re Kemetic you might think of Egyptian seasons- inundation, planting, and harvesting/dry. These seasons are good to know, as they can help us to keep track and take note of the natural world around us. Not to mention that ‘back in the day’, seasons would have been crucial for maintaining food supplies and gauging risks with traveling, illness, etc. Keeping track of the various ticks of each season was important for avoiding potential catastrophes.

However, seasons can be more than natural weather patterns. They can be patterns in our lives.

For example, my office has ‘seasons’. We know that each fall is TCA season, and that we’ll be running around trying to finish up deadlines and gather a bunch of materials for these awards to be sent out in December. We know that February marks the beginning of “Townie” season (which lasts about two months), where we are rushing to finish preparations for our annual convention in the spring. We also know that summer will be sloooooooooow because everyone seems to go on vacation and so our sales and revenue tend to ‘dry up’ in the summer as a result.

Our office ‘calendar’ is marked by certain ebbs and flows, certain rhythms that help define our seasons and our year. And it’s almost like clock work that these seasons come and go, and if you’re smart- you can prepare for these seasons so that they sting less when they arrive. Know that Townie season is coming up? Better make sure to finish off any major projects before it hits, otherwise you might be stuck working extra hours. Know that the summer is notorious for a lack of revenue? Better make sure to spend your budget wisely before summer hits.

I’ve also noticed recently that my Kemetic practice has seasons as well.

Perhaps its due to the nature of the gods that I work with, but it feels like Set often takes the focus for part of the year, and then Osiris takes focus for the other half of the year. So Osirian work is often the focal point of fall and winter, and Set’s work becomes more prominent in late spring and carries through into early fall. I suppose it makes sense when you consider that each of them is tied to natural seasons themselves, but it has been interesting to see the way that they manifest in my yearly practice.

As mentioned in an earlier post, Osiris has seemingly decided to consider All Souls (early November) to be the beginning of his season. As the days grow colder, he will normally shove me into shadow work and keep me busy with things to do in the Duat. He also seems to give me a huge reading list and post list to get done before his season comes to an end (which I am not always successful in completing). His season seems to mark a more inward feel where I focus more on myself and my work Over There as opposed to doing things out here. It also seems that community work takes a back seat during the winter season while I am busy hammering things out in the Unseen.

Usually, there is a lull between Osiris relinquishing control and Set deciding he wants me to get to work. While Osiris hands out an itinerary at the beginning of the season, Set seems to just show up when he wants me to do things. There is very little planned during his ‘season’, and he doesn’t seem to really have any sort of special tasks that he wants me to get done during my time with him. It does seem, however, that I end up doing more community work during the summer (I think this could be tied to people not being in school, honestly) and it all seems to culminate at what I call the “burning of the house” season. This normally happens in later summer- usually right after Wep Ronpet.

I don’t know if its all of the summer heat that gets under my skin, or if it’s entirely Set’s doing or what exactly, but for two or three years now, I have almost always been driven to tackle harder topics during the late summer. I call it burning down my house because I always expect these posts and discussions to upset people and cause me to lose followers or become disliked within the community. This hasn’t happened yet, but I expect it every year. It seems very Setian in nature, though, to end up wanting to burn down everything right before he disappears and Osiris comes to claim me for the darker half of the year. Ashes can make for good fertilized,soil after all.

These seasons are interesting to watch, and they’ve given me some ability to expect certain changes and events to occur within my practice every year. As I become more established in what I do, I know that I can anticipate to have one execration in the summer and one procession in the fall. And that I can expect to burn down my house in August, and read a stack of books while I crack out in January. While this is all still very new to me in many ways, I feel like these trends will help to create a sort of rhythm in my practice, and in their own ways, will help lead me to making various festivals and rituals that are relevant to me and my practice specifically. The predictability also allows me to plan ahead and save up spoons for certain points in the year when I know there is going to be more stuff to get done, or to expect lulls and to try and plan self-care during that down time.

They also allow me to understand more about my gods and understand more about the work that I do for them. I see various traits that are integral to them and their mythologies shining through the ebb and flow that is my seasonal year, and helps to add depth and understanding to my practice. And with each passing year I can begin to create new understandings and add layers of meaning to the various parts of my yearly practice. I never thought that seasons would ever be an important ‘thing’ to me, but more and more, I find that they are useful and necessary to how I practice.

Does your practice have ‘seasons’? Do seasons (weather related or otherwise) play any role in your religious practice? Should they?

 

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2014 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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All Souls 2014

Another year has come and gone, and yet again I participated in the All Souls Procession. For those who don’t know what the All Souls Procession is, it is a community driven event that occurs down in Tucson every year. The procession is tied to Dia de los Muertos, and is aimed at helping people find peace with death and honoring those who have gone before us. In many ways, the procession is about coming to terms with death, but is also an act of defiance against death and often features a lot of fire, dancing, and loud music.

This year’s theme dealt with liminality, which is close to my heart. I didn’t see a prayer form on the website this year, so I ended up making my own, and like last year, I gave people the option to submit petitions to be written onto the prayer form and thrown into the urn.

all souls petition

After I finished writing the petitions out, I placed them in front of the shrine to be blessed. This year I didn’t write a single thing on the prayer form for myself. I’m not sure why this is, but I suspect that the reason is two-fold. First, is that I don’t have any active shadow work open that needs to be finished. So I didn’t have any shadow work to place onto the prayer form. Second, Osiris has fully decided to take over this event as a sort of festival or holiday related to himself, and so I was acting more in the capacity as a officiant for others, as opposed to participating for myself.

I’m not sure if either of these is accurate, but either way, I didn’t feel compelled to write anything on the prayer form for myself.

The prayer form was submitted to Osiris with offerings of fancy soda and baked goods. I also made sure to include fire and incense. I kept everything dark and rich in color, as they both remind me of the dark silt of the Nile, and the dark ground that Osiris is tied to. I felt that evoking this dark soil would help to sew seeds for fertility and growth later on because from death comes new life.

all_souls_osiris

Like always, we walked with Odaiko Sonora, a local taiko group, and we performed the Tucson Ondo, which is styled after Japanese Obon dances. Odaiko Sonora got the honor of participating in the finale this year, so everyone was dressed up in special costumes for the finale.

all_souls_2014_taiko

Because of the finale, there was the addition of a chant to our procession this year. I didn’t think much of it, but it turns out that chanting while walking actually makes for a very different experience. I found that using my voice was more difficult than I anticipated, and I often found that I was running out of breath while chanting. Turns out that little additions can actually make a big difference.

all_souls_2014_chant

Although many aspects were the same, this year’s procession had some notable differences for me, though the differences are kinda difficult for me to pin down and describe. Like the previous two years of walking in the procession, I have to admit that I was not profoundly changed by the experience or anything like that. There was another person walking in our group for the first time that expressed sincere awe over the whole setup and event, but I must admit that I didn’t really feel anything overly special or spiritual about the experience. However, despite that, there were some things that did actually change.

First I noticed some parallels between the procession and traditional celebrations of the Mysteries. The Mysteries were often marked by a procession from Abydos to Osiris’ “tomb” up the hill nearby, and while I’m not necessarily walking to a tomb, I am walking from a starting point to a finishing point where a ritual (the burning of the urn) takes place. I also noticed that while I don’t travel for Set’s yearly execration, I do travel for Osiris’ procession – similarly to those who would have a pilgrimage to Abydos.

Before the procession starts, we often stand around at the starting point while we wait for everyone to show up. We do this because our group gets to walk right behind the urn, and if we aren’t there early to hold our spot behind the urn, we’d never be able to carve a space out for ourselves once everyone arrives. Unfortunately, waiting can be an hours long process, and sometimes it can get trialing dealing with everyone milling around to catch a glimpse at the urn.

I was getting frustrated by this, but then my mind turned to all of my work with Osiris, and one of the most common themes in his work is stillness. Before you can set forth in rebirthing or transforming, you must be still for a while. The process after death starts with stillness, and only after you have been still can you move forward with your transformation. And it was at this point that I realized I was beginning to create links between this procession and my Mysteries work.

Another thing that I noticed was that the first thing we do during the procession is walk through a small tunnel. Our MC that plays music at the starting point always talks about this tunnel, and reminds people not to rush in getting through the tunnel- that it can take time, like grains of sand passing through an hour glass, and that we must all be patient while going through the tunnel. For myself, the tunnel reminds me of going through a gateway- a common starting point for those traveling through the Duat, or through the various gates inside of Nut. And suddenly the tunnel became a sort of threshold that must be crossed before truly beginning this procession.

all_souls_2014_dj

all_souls_2014_002

All of these things swirled around in my mind as I stood and waited for the procession to begin. I realized that a year ago these connections would not have been made in my mind, and I remembered an old conversation I had with someone about what actually makes a mystery a Mystery. They noted that Mysteries are everywhere, but that the biggest difference is that the people who have been initiated into the Mystery actually see the symbolism and hidden messages that occur within festivals or rites at hand. Last year, Osiris had told me that I had finally been ‘initiated’ into whatever on earth I’m doing, and I’m wondering if the parallels I’m pulling this year are a reflection of that.

Or maybe it’s just a reflection of all of the reading I’ve done on him over the past year.

Either way, these parallels are very new to me, and have caused me to have a different relationship with the procession this year than I have in years past. While I still am walking away from the procession going “why do I want to drive two hours out of the way to stand around for several (literally) hours only to drive two hours home and wake up and be tired for work the next morning”, I am starting to find more and more meaning behind it, or at least meaning that ties it to my work for Osiris.

This year I did stick around to watch the finale and watch the urn burn. I really wanted to support my friends in Odaiko Sonora and see their performance at the end of the night.

all_souls_2014_sugar_skulls

While I am still a bit “meh” about my involvement with the procession (and have been every year prior), Osiris has more or less dictated that this event marks the beginning of his ‘season’, and so I imagine that I will be participating yearly from here on out. I will be interested to see how my attitude towards this event changes and grows over the years, and what other parallels I will discover as I return each year.

 Relevant Posts and Links:

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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KRT: Afterlife

For this KRT we are discussing various ideas regarding the afterlife both then and now. The Egyptian realm of the dead, often referred to as the Duat (and sometimes as the Dat or Dwat) was a complicated place filled with all sorts of weird beings. The biggest hurdle to really understanding the Duat is that, like many cultures or religions that span multiple centuries, the Egyptians had shifting views on what happened after you died – including where exactly you went after death, as well as death practices that changes over the centuries. So in order to tackle the concept of the afterlife, we must take a look at how views on the afterlife shifted over the centuries of Egyptian history and then see how that influences modern Kemetic ideas about the afterlife.

Please note: you could easily write books about Egyptian concepts of the afterlife (see resources at the bottom). This post is going to be a general overview of some ideas and concepts that were present throughout the history of Egypt and should not be considered an exhaustive discussion of Egyptian views of the afterlife.

The Afterlife: Then

“It should be pointed out that the Egyptians did not necessarily hold a single view of the next world at any one time, but… were quite capable of maintaining two or more conflicting opinions at once. This is already apparent in the Pyramid Texts, in which the views expressed concerning the afterlife of the king vary considerably in different spells, depending on whether they were early or more recent in origin.”

Death in Ancient Egypt by A.J. Spencer

We are not entirely sure what the earliest Egyptians believed in regards to the afterlife. Due to a lack of written records and minimal archeological records, it can be difficult to figure out what their exact religious beliefs were. We do know that early Egyptians did appear to have ritualized death practices that included specific burial methods and interring the dead with different amenities and provisions, likely for the afterlife. However, our knowledge of what they believed pretty much ends there.

The Old Kingdom is when we really start to see the Egyptians come into their own regarding funerary practices and beliefs. It was during this 500 year period that the Egyptians began to experiment with mud brick mastabas and then commissioning large scale building projects in the form of limestone lined pyramid and mortuary complexes. These complexes could be incredibly large, and it was not uncommon for the king to have two tombs- one in Upper Egypt and one in Lower Egypt. The process for mummification was still experimental at this point in time, and there was an emphasis on ka statues as opposed to mummies to help you achieve immortality in the underworld.

It seems to be generally regarded that during the OK, everything regarding the afterlife was centered around the king. Many Egyptologists posit the idea that the Egyptians wanted to be as close to the king as possible, because the best route to any sort of salvation was through him. This manifested in nobles wanting to place their tombs in close proximity to the king’s tomb/s, and that one of the only ways to really get a nice mortuary complex made for you was through receiving favor from the king. At this time, only the king had large mortuary complexes or had the ability to commission a pyramid or line the walls with various reliefs from the Pyramid Texts. That being said, there are some Egyptologists who have suggested that certain texts were available to nobles or high ranking Egyptians that worked for or with the king, or that perhaps there was more oral tradition amongst common people that we no longer have a record of. Unfortunately, we don’t really know at this time, and its generally regarded that funerary religious practices in the OK revolved pretty much around the king.

It is during the OK that the pyramid texts make their first appearance, and the general idea during this time was that the Duat resided in the sky or resided within Nut or the Celestial Cow (who goes by many names). Most of the texts talk about moving up into the sky and joining the imperishable stars. The imperishable stars were where akhu, or blessed dead were said to reside. These stars were in the northern sky, and were said to be imperishable because they never dipped below the horizon- they were always there, looking down upon Egypt. And that was where everyone wanted to end up- amongst the akhu in the sky.

As the centralized government fell apart and the Old Kingdom shifted into the First Intermediate Period, religious practices experienced what is often called the ‘democratization process’. That is to say that funerary practices quit being all about the king or only for the king. As nomarchs (regional rulers) got to experience their first taste of leadership and power, they decided that they would commission their own tombs with their own texts and inscriptions because there was no king or authority to stop them from doing so. Because of the decline in wealth for these nomarchs, as well as the newly given access to afterlife provisions to the common people, we also see a trend in having ornate coffins (as opposed to sarcophagi shoved into stone tombs) for your resting place. These coffins had their own texts written on them, which are commonly referred to as the “Coffin Texts” (because we’re really original with our naming).

It was by this time that the Osirian cult began to really gain a foothold in ancient Egypt, and this influenced the content of the inscriptions. Unlike the Pyramid Texts (PT) which focused largely on the Duat being in the sky, the Coffin Texts (CT) placed the Duat in the ground, as being a sort of subterranean existence. You can definitely see parallels between the Pyramid Texts and the Coffin Texts, and it’s very obvious that one influenced the other.

This would inevitably influence the Middle Kingdom which saw intricate tombs for both the king and nobility alike, as well as a further democratization of funerary practices. It’s during this entire era (First Intermediate Period, Middle Kingdom, Second Intermediate Period) that you start to see the elements of the Egyptian afterlife that are the most well known to us. You begin to see descriptions of traveling through the Duat, elements of having your heart weighed in the Hall of Two Truths, and of course, Osiris being the supreme Overlord of the Duat.

The New Kingdom is, in my opinion, when funerary literature explodes all over the place. It is during the NK that we see all sorts of new texts created and distributed at all levels of Egyptian society. The most popular of these is, of course, the Book of the Dead. The Osirian cult becomes increasingly popular during this era, and by this point in time, salvation is possible for everyone, not just the king – provided you have access to the texts and cheat codes that will get you through the Duat safely. The initial ideas about traveling through the Duat, the weighing of the heart, and the various obstacles you could meet while traveling there have been fully fleshed out by the time, which is likely a reflection of the growing influence of Osiris’ cult.

Much like with the Coffin Texts, the Book of the Dead (and other supporting texts of the era) often place the Duat in the ground, or some sort of subterranean location (which is sometimes said to be inside of Sokar). There is a sort of dichotomy during this era, though, because there are also texts that discuss traveling through Nut’s body as a means of renewal and rebirth- so in this era, the Duat could be seen as being inside of a cavernous location as well as inside of the sky. It is my personal opinion that the Duat has multiple levels of location, and could exist simultaneously in many places all at once.

The popular tomb-style for the New Kingdom is rock cut tombs, and the royal necropolis moves down to Deir el Medina, or the Vally of the Kings/Queens. Tombs become even bigger and grander than in previous generations as each king tries to out perform his predecessors. It has been noted that New Kingdom tomb reliefs are much more somber than previous eras, and that there is a sort of seriousness that is lacking in previous tombs. Some believe that this is a backlash to the Amarna Heresy, though there is no real way to prove it either way.

Because I rarely study anything about Egypt beyond the New Kingdom, I won’t attempt to give information about funerary practices for the later periods of Egypt.

The Afterlife: Now

If you ask 3 Kemetics what they think the afterlife is like, you’ll often get 5 responses back. Modern Kemetics are honestly not very unified in their approach or ideas about what the afterlife contains or could hold for us when we die. I think this is due to a number of reasons: conflicts due to our cultural upbringing (since none of us was likely born into Kemeticism via our parents) and having 3,000+ years of Egyptian history to pour through in order to create our own ideas about the afterlife. I think that there can be such a thing as too much information- and sometimes I think that having so much information about how the Egyptians viewed stuff can make it difficult to draw your own conclusions.

When I first got involved with Kemeticism, I never actually cared about funerary texts or the Duat. I remember trying to read the Book of the Dead before I had ever picked up a basic Egypt 101 book, and realizing that I didn’t really understand what was going on, and that I didn’t really care to understand what was going on. I always have taken the approach that I can’t change where I go when I die, and so I don’t really care about worrying about the Duat or funerary practices.

I still adhere to that, actually. The work I do with the Duat is more or less unrelated to “what happens when I die” and is more tied to “Osiris won’t leave me alone unless I do the thing”. I personally don’t see any point in fretting excessively about where we go when we die, because it’s largely (in my opinion) out of our control. And my current opinion on where we go when we die is simply “it depends”.

I think it can be based upon your religious beliefs when you were alive, combined with the rules of whatever afterlife you’d typically be admitted into, as well as your own preferences about where you go when you die. For example, if you really really like earth, I expect that you’d get to wherever your designated afterlife area is (in this case, the Duat) and you’d tell your deities that you want to come back here, and they’d get the paperwork in order to get you back on earth. Or if you’re like me, you may arrive at your afterlife of choice (Duat) and you’d tell your gods “I don’t want back on that rock again” and they’d try to figure out the paperwork to make it happen. Of course, if I don’t meet the criteria to even enter the Duat (and therefore would get eaten by Ammit), I may not get the option to do anything.

So I feel like there are lots of possibilities and options about where you go when you die, and the options that are present to you are largely going to depend upon your religion while alive, the rules of that plane, and your own personal preferences, etc. I don’t really believe in a static afterlife.

That being said, I’m not overly impressed with the Duat. I’ve gone there to do work for Osiris, as anyone who has been with this blog for any amount of time knows, and I really wouldn’t want to live there permanently. It’s not my cup of tea. However, I will say that having a general knowledge of what is contained inside of funerary texts, as well as an understanding of the basic geography of the Duat is useful if you intend on doing any work there while still alive. But like I said above, I don’t work in the Duat out of some concern regarding the afterlife. Beyond the fact that I am there all the time, the afterlife technically plays a very small role in my practice. Which seems very contradictory, but there it is. Generally speaking, I don’t worry about the afterlife because I feel there is very little I can do about it.

To read other responses to this topic, check out the KRT Master List

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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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Vision and Astral Travel

If there is anything that I’ve noticed about humans, it’s that we use our eyes to get a lot of stuff done. Throw most of us in a dark room and we’ll find every single piece of furniture with our big toe because we are pretty useless without our eyes to guide us. This can get “fun” when it comes to astral travel or working with the Unseen because many times your vision is jacked up, weird or completely non-existent. So for this post, I thought I’d discuss some things I’ve learned about vision on non-physical planes.

1. Vision on the astral is not static or uniform

The first thing I like to warn people about vision on the Unseen is that it’s not static. Your vision can shift and change, and likely will shift and change each time you go there (or even during one visit while there). Sometimes you’ll show up and your vision is all first person view, and it looks very much like how it might while you’re here on earth. But then other times you’ll notice that your vision is third person view, closer to what you’d expect in a video game.

And then sometimes you’ll go over there and find that you’re stuck in between first and third person view. I don’t know how that works, but trust me it can and does happen and it can make you disoriented and possibly even nauseous. But if you show up and find that your vision has changed, or that things look different than the last time you were there- don’t freak out. Vision can shift and change depending on the circumstances (such as health, the plane you’re in, etc).

2. People may not see the same things as you do

And this goes for humans who are traveling to the Unseen and with other entities that live on the Unseen. The things I see are not the same things that other people seem to see. Because my vision is pretty horrible, my brain has to fill in a lot of the gaps in order to make any sort of picture or coherency to my surroundings. And in those gaps, sometimes my brain puts in the wrong stuff. Or inaccurate stuff.

Additionally, a lot of my vision is filled with symbolism. That is to say, instead of showing me exactly what I’m looking at (such as a water globe filled with glitter and a scene from a particular city), my brain will show me what the item represents (so the water globe may look like a key because it’s the “key” to whatever I need). I have no clue if this is common for a lot of people, but it is important to remember that sometimes our vision is more symbolic than 110% literal. Once I figured out that all of these similar items I was grabbing looked similar because my brain was trying to show me what they represented, it made it much easier to decode what was actually going on.

And it also helped me to figure out why my astral family didn’t see the same things that I did.

3. Vision can occur in layers

In my experience, most of the Unseen has layers to begin with. You may be living on the most physical portion of the plane, but there exist several other layers beneath it- such as an energetic layer, perhaps a layer that is showing something that occurred 5000000 years ago, and maybe something like an emotional layer (just to throw out basic examples). And sometimes when you’re sitting on the astral, you’ll be viewing the physical layer, and other times you may be looking at energetic layers instead. This can cause some of the problems listed above, as well. If you’re not looking (or interacting with) the same layer as everyone else in your household, it can cause some difficulty in discussing things or with interacting with others.

The key to this is to learn how to navigate different layers in a plane. Learning how to pull yourself up a couple of layers, or drop down a few layers in order to be in the same place as everyone else can be beneficial for many things. A lot of the healing that I do is not on the physical layer, but occurs a couple of layers down, on a more energetic level.

And of course, learning how to decipher the different things you see on different layers is also helpful for ensuring the health of yourself and others, and for figuring out what exactly you’re interacting with.

4. You are bigger than your body

As humans, our vision really only comes from one place and one place only- our eyes. However, non-physical bodies don’t really work that way. You may have eyes (or things similar to eyes) on the astral, but your vision may or may not actually derive from said eyes (side note: I often question if eyes are sometimes only there for decoration and to make humans more comfortable). When it comes to non-physical bodies, you are more than your basic form. In the same way that many people believe human bodies to have auras or energetic fields, I’ve found that many bodies in the Unseen may manifest into a physical form, but actually are much larger than that. This means that you can technically fill an entire room with your ‘essence’, if you will, and that can cause your vision to warp and shift as well.

If you happen to be bonded to another entity, or particularly close with another entity, you also might have the ability to look through their “eyes” as well. There are many times when I have been able to remote view things that my menz are doing because our bonds allow for a sort of shared viewing or consciousness. Don’t let your form limit what you are capable of seeing.

Understanding that vision doesn’t necessarily come from your eyes can be beneficial in some situations. Does someone have you blind folded? No big deal. Try looking beyond your form instead. Or drop down a few layers on the plane you’re in, and see if you can gain information about what is in the room through those means instead.

5. Your senses are likely different in the astral

I think that a lot of people expect to navigate the Unseen in the same ways you might here in the physical, or expect their vision and senses to work the same way as they do here, and that simply isn’t the case.

Because our vision often overrides our other senses (such as smell, touch, hearing, etc), I think we often forget how to view things or gain data without the use of our eyes. However, my experiences have shown me that vision in the Unseen can and often does take a back seat to other senses. So if you go onto the astral and find that your vision is lacking, but your sense of smell or touch is heightened, try working with those things instead of trying to force your vision to become your dominant sense. Learning how to work with what you’ve got can make your experiences on the astral more enriching and you may find that there are perks to having other senses that are stronger than your vision. Sometimes your astral ‘species’ have different stats when it comes to senses because your body has evolved to survive in certain planes or to perform certain tasks that your human body isn’t made for. In the same way that many animals no longer have eyes because their surroundings are pitch black (and therefore eyes are pointless), you too may lack in eyesight because it’s not necessary wherever you come from.

As with all things in the Unseen, take the time to learn yourself and your body because your astral body is not your human body. Figure out what works best for you, and then exploit those assets to your advantage. While learning to get around without consistent eyesight can be a real pain, there are certainly many benefits to figuring out why your vision operates how it does. Remember that many people have many different ways of viewing things in the Unseen, and your eyesight is specific to you. There is no wrong way to see things on the astral, its more about learning to figure out how to make your specific situation work best for you.

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The Art of Co-Discovery

When it comes to a lot of people in the Pagan community, it seems that a lot of folks believe that you can shame someone into doing something. If I find that you’re being appropriative or fluffy or even just unknowingly ignorant, the obvious solution is to call you out on it, raise a big stink over it, and get mad at you. And in return, you’ll feel stupid and embarrassed and never make such a dumb mistake again.

Right? Because that works so well for everything else?

It’s recently been noted that fat shaming doesn’t actually motivate people to lose weight, and anyone with any sort of social anxiety knows that being shamed doesn’t fix anything, it just makes it worse. Why so many people in the Pagan sphere think copping an attitude and typing in all caps fixes everything is beyond me. Because I’ve not met but a handful of people in my entire life that actually respond well to negativity as a means to change their behaviour. It’s just not how we’re hard wired.

As it turns out, this is a problem in the dental industry, too.

I don’t mean in the sense that dentists yell at their patients and call them stupid, but in the sense that dentists have a hard time connecting to patients and motivating them to do what is in their best interests (which would be fixing your teeth, in this case). Luckily, as it turns out, there is a tool that we use in the dental field that is called “Co-Discovery”, and it has useful applications in Paganism, too.

“Magnifying Glass” by Derek Bridges via Flickr

What is Co-Discovery?

In order to understand what Co-Discovery is and how it works, you have to have a general understanding of how a dental office works and the challenges a lot of dentists face. You see, dental offices live and die by their ability to convince patients to accept dental treatment (such as fillings, crowns, etc). It sounds simple enough- patient comes in, needs their tooth fixed, which is why they are there, and so when the dentist says “You need a crown”, the patient obviously says yes, right?

Wrong.

Many patients believe that dentists are out to screw them over so that they can make more money. Many patients don’t believe that their dental health is important, and so they don’t see the value in getting their teeth fixed. And of course, many dentists aren’t very good at helping people to understand why it’s important to keep their teeth healthy, and everything degrades quickly. I’m pretty sure everyone reading this has experienced this at some point in time: you get your exam, and the dentist comes in and lectures you about how you need to brush your teeth better, and floss more, and do all of these things because you’re inadequate at what you do, and that’s why you now need a crown and that will be $700, please. Then the patient gets irritated at the dentist, the dentist feels completely inadequate and quits trying to help people out of a fear of rejection, the patient doesn’t get their teeth fixed so their health degrades, and the dentist doesn’t make any money to pay the bills.

It’s a horrible situation that many dentists deal with regularly (because they don’t teach you how to motivate people in dental school), and the solution to this problem is the art of Co-Discovery.

Co-Discovery is a learning tool that engages the patient and asks them to think for themselves. For example, instead of simply slapping an x-ray up on the computer screen, and telling the patient “you have a cavity that needs filled, please pay me”, the doctor sits down with the patient, places the x-ray up on the screen and asks the patient “what do you see here?”

Upon the patient responding (usually something to the accord of “that’s my tooth/teeth”) the doctor will point out that the tooth has a certain shape and color around it. But when there is decay, then the shape and color change. The dentist will then ask “Do you see any places on this x-ray that have discoloration?” The patient will look at the x-ray and usually spot the location where the cavity is.

And then suddenly, the patient will realize that the dentist isn’t swindling them. There is actually a cavity there that actually needs to be filled. The dentist didn’t tell the patient that they had a cavity, the dentist led the patient to discover the cavity themselves- hence the term “Co-Discovery”.

 Using Co-Discovery in the Pagan-sphere

Ever since I learned about Co-Discovery, I have always tried to keep it in mind when talking to others or helping to answer people’s questions. This can manifest in many ways, though it usually comes down to allowing people to draw their own conclusions and come up with their own ideas.

Instead of dictating what someone should or should not do in a situation, I will often present some ideas about how I do things, how other people do things, perhaps how people in antiquity did things, and then allow the person to figure out what works best for them. Sometimes I will simply list resources and let the person sift through them at their own speed.

At the end of the day, it’s all about letting people choose to take an active role in their practice and on their religious/spiritual path. Presenting information for others to consider, and then allowing people to be responsible adults and let them make their own choices and decisions on things. This is important because it shows a mutual respect between people, and won’t often scare people away if they’re making mistakes. I have found that by being objective and simply presenting information for people to look into, that they will often come to better conclusions than if I called them a moron and told them they were doing it wrong, which seems to be the norm.

This is largely because people who are being shamed will usually have a knee jerk reaction to the situation and respond with defensiveness and denial. However, by being concise, objective and non-judgmental in my response, this pitfall can be avoided and give us greater opportunities to discuss things at a greater depth with more openness and understanding.

While it is true that this won’t always be the case, as nothing ever has a 100% success rate (even for the dentists mentioned above), it seems to have been a relatively successful method for me in the past. I think this is because people do want to be treated respectfully as well as want to be treated like capable adults. Hopefully, by learning how to help other people figure out things for themselves, we’ll all be able to have better discussions in the future that don’t revolve around “well you’re a stupid poopy head”.

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Posted by on October 22, 2014 in Boat Paddlers Arsenal, Kemeticism

 

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