I laid down on my bed in an attempt to rest my brain after a few hours of bad blogging. As I laid there, I stared up at my kar shrine, which hangs on the wall opposite of my bed (which means the gods can stare at me while I sleep) and realized that I haven’t opened my kar shrine in months. Literally. Months. The last active bit of ritual I did was for the Mysteries- which occurs around December/January.
So it’s been a hot minute since I’ve done anything.
The cup that normally holds water for the gods is likely bone dry- with a thin layer of salt and mineral in the bottom, because that’s what happens to water in the dry Arizonan air. I’m sure my re-ment and icons both have a thin layer of dust on them, because even with the doors closed, dust has a way of getting into everything.
Additionally to this, I’ve got a stack of books that need to be read. I’ve got lots of topics that need further research so that I can write more in-depth on them. I haven’t started my imywt project for Osiris which I was going to do last fall. I haven’t done a lot of things.
And on the surface, it may appear that I am a fluffy, arm chair Kemetic who does nothing but spout “what everyone could or should be doing to be a proper Kemetic” without actually having done it myself. And if last year’s explosion is any indication, I probably should be spending more time offline and less time online because, well:
Facebook is a monumental time-suck and therefore a hazard for people who have actual spiritual Work to do. I agree that some of the most important practitioners are not online at all, and we would do well to think about why that might be.
But I beg to differ. I beg to differ because there is more than one way to be religious. There is more than one way to be devout.
Just so we’re clear on what I mean by devout, let’s pull out a definition. Google defines it as:
- Having or showing deep religious feeling or commitment.
- Totally committed to a cause or belief.
And to many polytheists, devout seems to mean that you live your life for the gods. You live your life in shrine, giving the gods devotion, singing their praises, giving them their “fair” due (whatever that is) and performing what would really be considered priestly functions on a daily basis. And while that may be the definition for some people’s form of devout, it’s not the definition or criteria that everyone uses, nor should it be.
Some of us are going to find that our roles are within the shrine, but some of us are being pushed out there (by the gods themselves!) to make this community thing work better (which, for the record, means a lot of time spent online). Some of us show our devotion via writing online, others show devotion through crafts and creations which they sell online (or offline), and some of us get into really deep discussions about religion via Facebook (blasphemy!) because the internet allows us to educate, exchange ideas, and organize in a way that in-person methods currently can’t even touch. Each religious practice and each practitioner is different- and so each person’s application of ‘devout’ is going to be different. Being deeply committed to your religion can take many forms, and how “deep” we all need to be is going to vary. Not everyone is going to fit into the role of priest. Some people are laymen- and that’s okay. It takes all sorts to make a community and religion really run.
We modern pagans and polytheists seem to forget that even in ancient times, you had laymen. You had folks who didn’t pay any mind to the gods except when they needed something, thought they might have pissed one of them off (aka their life when to shit), or when it was time to feast and party. And in the case of Kemetics, priests spent a large portion of their year out of the temple- living like an average person.
So why is it that a large chunk of the modern pagan and polytheist movement seems to be so hell bent on telling every single person that they must spend every single ounce of time that they can focused on the gods?
I mean, isn’t there more to life than bowing in a shrine? And to a degree, isn’t there more to your religion than the shrine you bow in front of? Isn’t there more than one way to show your devotion to the gods and the religion that they are a part of?
Which brings me to the second point of this post- that life is for living. Even religious life is for living.
Once upon a time, someone once asked me what life is for. I think it’s a pretty common question, usually phrased as “why are we here?” or “what is the point of life?” I remember it pretty distinctly, as I looked back at them and said very mundanely, as though the answer were as plain as day to me, “Life is for living.”
Novel concept, that. That you are alive so that you may live.
I think a lot of people forget this. We get caught up in our day to day crap, saddled down with stress and jobs and kids and and and. And then one day, we wake up and find that we’re old and dieing.
But I also think that many of us forget this in terms of our religious practice, too: Life is for living, and in my opinion- your religion should fit into that. I think this is especially true for Kemetics, considering the whole “point” to this religion thing is to “live in ma’at”.
You will notice the first word in that statement is live. And the final word in that statement – ma’at – doesn’t occur in a vacuum.
Ma’at includes all of us. Every. Single. One. Of. Us. Ma’at encompasses and touches all of creation. You, me, the tv. I read a lot of posts that seem to take a holier than thou approach to being “proper” in your practice, and these posts seem to imply that the only correct point to anything in the polytheist community is the gods. You live them, you breath them, they are your everything. And while I will agree that the gods can be important, there is more to this whole religion thing than just the gods.
And for us Kemetics, the “more” portion would be ma’at. Ma’at trumps everything, because without it, none of us survive – gods included. And if you’re not living your life in all of the capacity than it can be lived (shortcomings and spoons taken into consideration, of course), then you’re not really balanced, which means you’re not really living within ma’at.
Or perhaps, that you’re just not really living. And if you’re not really living, what good does that do anyone?
You can be devout and not ever sit in front of a shrine.
You can be a good Kemetic and not have read every single academic book on the planet.
You can be a good polytheist and still be on the internet daily.
You can be a devout polytheist and have a life that is tangential to the gods.
And don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise.