This week’s KRT topic is:
Do I need a main deity to practice Kemeticism? If so, how do I get a main deity? Am I able to say no to a deity that shows up at my shrine? Am I obligated to learn everything I can about my main deity?
I make this easier, I’m going to break my answer down question by question.
Do I need a main deity to practice Kemeticism?
The short answer is no. You don’t need to have a particular deity to have a fulfilling practice. There are plenty of Kemetics who don’t have a deity-centric practice, and instead opt to rotate through various deities, or focus on living the religion as opposed to focusing on temple or ritual practice. If you would like to have a shrine, but don’t have a main deity, you could easily have a shrine that focuses on Netjer as a whole (which is a common practice for those taking the Kemetic Orthodoxy beginners class). Using symbols such as ankhs, ma’at or symbols denoting Netjer would be good alternative for icons.
If so, how do I get a main deity?
As stated above, having a deity to focus on is not mandatory in the least. However, if you wish to work with a deity in particular, there are a few methods you could use.
The most common method I recommend (outside of waiting for a deity to show up) is to do a simple ritual to let the universe know that you’re open to forming a relationship with a deity. Sometimes, all you need to do is let them know that you’re open and ready to form a relationship, and they’ll show up and say hello.
The fastest, and least effective is to pull a name out of a hat. You could do this by looking through Wilkinson’s book of deities, or perhaps checking a website with a decent list of deities. The downside to this method? You could easily pull a deity that wants nothing to do with you. Its also kind of impolite, in my opinion. It would be like if someone chose to date you because your name is what their finger happened to land on. I often suggest that you try to base your choice of deity off of something important to you, instead of selecting a deity arbitrarily.
The next method would be research. Lots and lots and lots of research. And see if a particular deity stands out from the rest. You could also try a form of divination (I usually opt for outside help with this). Asking someone to help you find out if there is a particular deity (or deities) knocking on your door could help narrow down your search. And lastly, you could wait and see if a deity comes to you. This can take months, days or years. Or it could never happen at all. Some people are not meant to have a main deity.
Once you’ve found a deity of interest, I highly recommend you do some type of ritual to try and say “Hi” to the deity. Let them know you’re interested in forming a relationship with them and go from there.
Be aware that more than deities can attempt to communicate with you. Its not uncommon for other pesky little things like netjeri to come through your godphone requesting all sorts of sweets and making prank calls. Be sure that any entity you start to work with is, in fact, the entity that they say they are.
Its also important to keep in mind that a deity can choose many methods to let you know that they are in your life. You might not get a literal “hello” in your head. You might have a song get stuck in your head that answers it for you, or you might see a particular symbol or set of symbols that lets you know a deity is watching. Make sure that when you are looking to work with a god that you keep all of your senses open for potential cues and responses from them.
Am I able to say no to a deity that shows up at my shrine?
Yes. Entirely yes. The god might throw a temper tantrum, but there is nothing that says you can’t decline to work with a specific deity. Keep in mind that there could be consequences for declining to work with a deity and you should try to take the respectful route when telling a deity “no”. They can make your life hell otherwise :P
Am I obligated to learn everything I can about my main deity?
Are you obligated? No. But do I think you should make the attempt to learn as much as you can? Yes.
Why do I think you should do this? The answer is simple- its helpful for understanding and knowing your deity better. While doxa is useful (and I have more than my fair share of doxa in my practice), it is always useful to know the “rules” before you break them. Using my Layers post as an example- at first I thought Set was nothing more than a jealous jerk who killed his brother. If I would have never taken the time to get to learn more about his cult and how it changed throughout the years, I might have missed out on the opportunity to really understand the full breadth of his character and personality. It’s really easy to fall into narrow thinking when it comes to gods and religion. Using history is a good way to challenge our views and broaden horizons regarding deities.
Another good example would be Bast. A lot of people think that Bast is nothing more than a cuddly goddess who is all for sex, love and kittens. There are some who even think she is lunar. However, the historical record shows that she is solar (an Eye of Ra, in fact) and was originally shown in leonine format. She was also responsible for delivering the hearts of the pharaoh’s enemies at the king’s feet. Not so cute and cuddly, right? Now, that doesn’t mean that your doxa can’t be purely based on the previous stuff listed (cute, cuddly, moon kittens), but if you don’t know the full breadth- you’re cutting off other potential methods of understanding the goddess. Plus, once you learn that there is more to a deity, you can examine why the deity is perhaps approaching you in that fashion- it could be that it is the side of them that you need. But it also could be that you’re cutting them off and preventing them from approaching you in any other way.
In other words, I think that knowledge opens your mind up to more possibilities. And that can only make your practice and relationship stronger.
Read everyone’s responses to these questions by visiting the Master List.