I want to talk about how magical and religious hugs really are.
This concept started with a conversation. I was talking on Facebook with another Kemetic who happens to be blind. She was asking about the ka embrace. This was a particular sticking point for her because she didn’t happen to have an icon of the deity she worshiped. Why would she? It makes perfect sense, really. She wasn’t sure what to do about the ka embrace portion- there was no point in buying an icon just for the ka embrace, but it seemed wrong to completely omit such an important part of the daily ritual.
For those of you who don’t know what the “ka embrace” is, its a section in Reidy’s daily ritual where you ritually embrace the icon. This action transfers your ka energy into the statue, thereby animating it and rejuvenating it. Hieroglyphically, it would look a lot like this:
So what do you do if you don’t have an icon?
I said the answer was simple: hug yourself.
I know, it sounds funny. But I think that we don’t give enough credit to what the ka embrace (and hugging) accomplishes on so many levels. On the most basic level, you have the sentiment that comes with giving a hug- happiness, consolation, a sense of understanding or care. Usually, when it’s given freely between two people, a hug is comfort and human connection. In Egyptian symbolism, an embrace is a sign of protection and usually shows an intimate relationship between two entities (Reading Egyptian Art, Wilkinson). But this is only one layer of symbolism. Let’s go a little deeper, shall we?
The act of comfort and protection are good- but its also a sign of love in most modern contexts. So to hug yourself could also be read as a form of self love. When you weave in the concepts of transferring the ka, you’re replenishing and renewing your own energy. You’re funneling love and protection and all of that fun stuff right back into you. And we all know that the gods are all for self love (NSFW).
But Devo, you’re not a deity. You can’t replace a deity icon with yourself- because you’re not a deity, right?
Wrong! Most Kemetic myths have everything coming from the Nun and a Creator deity (or set of Creator deities). Therefore, everything is divine. You, me, the table my computer is sitting on. We all come from the same place, and so at our most basic level, we’re all made with the same divine stuff. So why couldn’t you swap out a deity’s icon with yourself in this case? You’re embracing your divinity (for lack of better word) and acknowledging the divinity that is within you. Once again, all good things that help to build you up, which typically helps to make you a more stable person- which always benefits the gods. Plus, if you subscribe to the idea that all of ours kau go back to the original ka of the Creator deity- in a way, you’re transferring your energy to your ka- and so on and so on down the line to the gods themselves.
It seems to me that hugging yourself could be an offering to the gods all by itself. So maybe the next time you’re in a pinch for rituals, or want to give the gods something on the fly, you should give them a hug by hugging yourself.