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Worshiping the Whole

04 May

One of the great things about Kemeticism is that our gods are kinda squishy. This allows us a lot of wiggle room when it comes to deity interpretation as well as deity worship. Because of the nature of our gods, as well as the religious structures set up in antiquity, we are capable of working with a single NTR, multiple NTRW (whether while separate or merged into one) or all of the NTRW all at once. There are many posts out there about how to work with one or a few gods, but I haven’t seen anything that goes in-depth for honoring all of the gods all at once.

Why honor the NTRW as a whole?

The most well-known instance of people worshiping NTRW as a whole probably comes from Kemetic Orthodoxy. KO recommends that anyone who is new to the temple take a step back from any gods that they are currently venerating, and to consider venerating all of the gods as a whole for a short period of time during the beginners class. This is done to help the devotee open up to the possibility of other NTRW coming forward and forming relationships with the newcomer.

However, there are a lot of other reasons one might choose to worship the NTRW as a whole. The first might be that you may not have a particular deity that you want to venerate. Sometimes people will come into Kemeticism and never hear from the gods. When this happens, they may decide that it’s easier to worship all of the gods at once as opposed to picking a deity out of a hat. Alternatively, someone may want to try and give veneration that benefits all of the gods at once, and worshiping in this fashion would allow for that.

And of course, just like worshiping multiple deities at the same time, you are able to worship specific NTR while also having a space for all of the NTRW as a whole. Just because you choose to create a space for all of NTRW in their entirety doesn’t mean you can’t still venerate specific gods as well.

How is worshiping all of the NTRW at once okay? Isn’t that disrespectful?

You will probably get different answers from different Kemetics in regards to this, but it is my personal opinion that it is not disrespectful to approach the NTRW as a whole. In antiquity, Egypt’s ideas about the gods varied from hard polytheism down to henotheism, which would have all of the gods being facets of a larger god. If it was okay in the temples in antiquity, it should be more than okay to approach the gods in this fashion in the here and now.

As with everything of this nature, if you begin to worship the NTRW as a whole and you start to feel like someone is displeased with it, you may wish to look into the matter and find out if there is a particular reason why the gods don’t want you honoring them in this fashion. But to my knowledge, there hasn’t been anyone who has gotten in trouble for honoring the gods as a whole.

How do we worship all of the NTRW at once?

Luckily for us, it’s not that complicated to set up a shrine space for the gods as a whole. Unlike a lot of other religious traditions, our gods all tend to have a bunch of offerings and ritual structures that they all like, so it makes it easier to perform rites and give offerings that won’t upset any of the gods.

I think the hardest part for people who are attempting to honor all of the NTRW is trying to figure out what to use as a focal point on their shrine. Many of us have icons and statues of the gods that allow us to focus our attention on them and visualize them better. However, NTRW are this kind of nebulous, intangible concept that doesn’t really fit well into a single statue, image, or icon. Luckily, there are a few symbols that represent the NTRW as a whole, as well as symbols that are vague enough that will work for the purposes of an icon or statue.

First is the seated NTR hieroglyph:

NTR_wilkinson

From Wilkinson’s Reading AE Art

The second might be to use the “flag” hieroglyph:

NTR_FlagWhen it comes to the flag symbol, you would usually want to have three flags in a row to represent all of the gods. So while you can have a singular flag for the focal point, I would recommend drawing three flags if possible.

In addition to the signs above, you could also use something basic like an ankh or the ma’at feather. Since the gods are often equated to both of these (and are sustained by ma’at), they should be good enough to use as images in place of all of the NTRW. And of course, if you don’t want to have a focal icon or image, you technically don’t have to.

Just like with any other shrine, you could easily decorate it with whatever you are drawn to. In many ways, the shrines and temples in antiquity often had a lot of the same elements, regardless of who was being housed in the shrine. Things such as libation bowls, offering plates, incense holders, jewelry, flowers, and fine cloth would have all been common things to find on a shrine. Any of these would likely work for any shrine setup you’d be making here and now.

Here is an example of what a NTRW shrine could look like:

NTRW_Shrine

Image reposted with permission. Please click to see the original tumblr post.

 

For offerings, anything that you find on this list is safe for any of the NTRW- including NTRW as a whole. When in doubt, water, bread and beer are almost always safe offerings to give to the gods.

In regards to ritual structure, the basic outline that is listed here is perfectly fine for this type of shrine setup as well. The basic system of approaching the shrine, leaving offerings, stating any words of power, singing songs, playing music, or dancing before reverting the offerings is always a good mixture to use. You can always add other elements to the ritual, if you’re prefer. Adding things such as lighting incense, lighting a lamp or candle, embracing the icon that you are using (ka embrace), etc. will also work well for this shrine setup. Pretty much anything you’d use for a typical shrine setup will work here.

I know that this shrine setup is not very common within out community, but if you do end up setting up a shrine to all of the gods, I’d love to hear how it works out for you!

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2 Comments

Posted by on May 4, 2015 in Kemeticism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 responses to “Worshiping the Whole

  1. Setken (@WingedPhysique)

    May 6, 2015 at 9:03 pm

    I enjoyed this – thanks.

     

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