With 2019 having come to a close, so too has both the Year of Rites project and Making Ma’at project come to a close. I wasn’t sure if there was anything to say about either, but it feels weird to not do a recap of both before moving onto whatever next chapter lay ahead.
I will start by saying that I have a hard time not viewing both projects as something of a failure. The Making Ma’at project barely got off the ground, and once we lost the repository that contained what everyone had written, the project basically was dead in the water. I personally think that that is a crying shame, because we really do lack ready-made resources for honoring ma’at, and with ma’at being at the center of our religion, it feels weird that we don’t have more to work with.
When it comes to pinpointing why this project didn’t go very far, I personally blame a bit of myself — in that I didn’t have the energy or time to consistently research new prompts and ideas to get people creating new stuff to add to the project. But on the flip side, I also feel like no one was overly committed to the project if no one else was working to come up with new ideas. Which is honestly the biggest problem with our community, isn’t it.
My hope is that maybe people will still add to the project in their own time, or that what was created will at least serve as something of a resource for those in the future.
Year of Rites
Then there is the cluster that was the Year of Rites. I knew going into the YoR that I was hoping for more than I should. I knew that the odds of people participating in it were slim. I knew that the odds of me being able to complete everything to a level that I would prefer would be slim — especially if my grandfather died along the way. But I have a bad problem with hoping for more than I should, and in the end, I was disappointed by it all. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any useful lessons along the way, however.
First off, I will say that creating 18 rubrics in a year is a horrible idea unless you have a ton of time and mental space to work with. I was really trying to embody traditional verbiage and heka because I feared straying too far from verbatim sources, and so crafting something 100% from scratch didn’t happen very often. As such, I would scour the source materials to try and find sections that made sense for what I was trying to create. Source materials take forever for me to read, and I would often have to read 50 pages before I found a little tidbit that would be useful for whatever rubric I was working on.
When I wasn’t overly stressed, working the rubrics wasn’t all that bad because you get to learn a lot of random information from sifting through source materials. As a byproduct, it’s easier to follow some of the information that is presented in various books and papers. I can also say that reading the source materials also gave me a very good understanding of how sentences should be structured and words selected to make better heka. Only after I started working on these rubrics did I realize that my old rituals had a lot of wiggle room and a lukewarm quality in many of the words chosen.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that each rubric took hours to make, they were hardly commented on, and probably four people used them throughout the year. If I ever did this again, I’d cut the rubric creation down to maybe two versions for an entire year. Anything more than that is unrealistic.
As for the rituals themselves, I managed to complete every ritual up until the end of June when things went on hiatus to take care of grandpa. After that, I completed 3 out of 4 rites per month until I quit doing it all together in October. If we want to count my eating-as-a-ritual for the Mysteries, then I completed all of December’s work as well, though none of the originally-planned rituals were performed.
All in all, I did more than I didn’t, but it still doesn’t feel like I accomplished much. Having my depression completely wipe the desire out of me to do anything really put a bind on the end of the year, and I still don’t know how I feel about that. If I’m also being honest, the lack of feedback and participation on the by and large didn’t motivate me to continue, either. By June I was wrapped in a sort of “no one really cares” state, which is why the write-ups stopped around that time. It’s also why I quit documenting my rites on IG, and it’s why I never bothered to rework the rubrics in September when I found I disliked them vehemently (this also played into why I didn’t want to keep doing the rituals come October — I had to use new rubrics that I hated.)
As my ability and desire to perform these rites degraded across the year, I can say that structured rituals can serve as a good focal point for me if I’m not too stressed or depressed. When I’m not doing good mentally, its very easy to just go through the motions of the ritual and not really be present. If I’m not present, it’s really not doing me much good and I usually end up rushing everything as quickly as possible (which probably doesn’t do the NTRW much good, either.) The final rites that I did during the Mysteries were much better at keeping me present — more so than doing a structured ritual. I think there is something important to that.
So what now?
I realized somewhere around September that I would soon need to start making decisions about my future with performing regular rituals for the NTRW; along with what my future with Kemeticism would actually look like once this year was over. I don’t like performing standard, structured rituals if I’m being completely honest. It’s hard for me to find reason to set aside the time, clear out the space, and sit down to perform these rites. Perhaps if I had the right space, or perhaps if I got more out of the experience, I would feel differently. And while I understand that these rituals are supposed to be for the NTRW, it doesn’t change the fact that unless I find a way to repackage them or get more out of them, I’m not likely to perform them. We’re all human, and as humans, we don’t do well with tasks that we view as pointless or not serving a purpose. And that’s exactly where I ended up with most of my rituals by the time October rolled around.
However, I don’t know that I can, in good conscience (yes), just set rituals aside and not perform them ever at all. Rereading Roberts’ books in 2018 really drove home (for me) that the original religious structure really placed a heavy emphasis on our rituals helping to maintain the regenerative processes of the NTRW. And it’s led me to question if the lack of continuous ritual on our end could have a degradation of things for the NTRW. It brings us back to the age old issue of “if we think this is really real, and if we believe the Egyptians did things for a Reason that they also believed was really real, then why am I casually ignoring doing that?”
Because if the rituals did actually influence the quality of life for our gods, or if the rituals did actually help to keep the Duat regular and functional, then it really begs us to ask what would happen if those rituals stopped. And by extension, why we don’t do more of them.
And I’m really stuck on that.
So far, I do think I want to create something that strikes a balance between traditional ritual work and what I did in December. For me, it makes more sense to find something that fits into what I am capable of right now, and then build towards something that is more refined as I learn more from my experiences. That being said, I’m still not entirely sure what that looks like, or how I want to approach it.
I guess we’ll see what 2020 brings on that front.
For those of you who participated in either project, I would love to hear your feedback or thoughts so that I can incorporate them into any future projects that may occur.