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Devo Magix: Sigils

During my time in Kemetic groups and forums, I’ve realized that very little is ever shared or discussed about basic ‘magix’. No one really talks about cleansing items or your house. Making amulets or sigils are almost never discussed. And there has never been discussion about warding or barrier creation. I personally think this is a shame, as you never know when things could go wrong, or when you might need extra protection in a situation.

To help with this, I have decided that I will create a series of blog posts relating to these exact things. I want to discuss my methods and means to cleanse, create and protect in a more ‘magical’ sense. My methods are by NO MEANS the only methods. They just happen to be what works for me.

If you enjoy this series, or want me to discuss different aspects or topics of a similar nature, please feel free to post your ideas in the comments section. If there is anything that you would like clarification on, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need/would like 🙂

This time I will be discussing sigils. I find sigils to be funny because almost every single sigil I’ve ever seen looks like this:

 

And almost every single sigil I’ve seen is tied to something demonic or Christian in nature- neither of which appeals to me. However, a sigil is more than this. The simplest definition of a sigil is:

A sign or an image considered magical

Well that seems pretty simple. Much like an amulet, a sigil can be anything you want it to be. It could be a picture of a deity, a thumbprint or a banana. Sigils can be written on paper, painted onto items, etched into items, drawn on the skin… they can pretty much be put anywhere! The beauty of a sigil is that you can put it on an item, charge it, and wash it away- leaving behind the protective properties without any sign that the item has ever been touched (which can be useful when you have prying eyes or parents that don’t understand what it is you’re doing).

As an example of what sigils can look like, here are a couple of the sigils I’ve used in the past:

As you can see, I prefer simpler designs.

Shinto gofu.

And as a special treat, here are some sigils that two awesome bloggers have used in the past (please support them by clicking the images and giving their blogs a look-through):

Sigils used by the Rose Bell (click image to view blog)

Sigil used by the Dusken Path (click image to view blog)

Sigil used by the Dusken Path (click image to visit blog)

As you can see, sigils can be anything and everything you can imagine.

So how you do make a sigil?

Technically, there is a traditional way to make a sigil. You can read about that here, here and here if you like. However, I was not taught using this traditional method. The methods I was taught with are very similar to creating an amulet, honestly. So for those of you who have already read that post, this might have a bit of cross over.

The steps I use to create a sigil:

  1. Determine what I want the sigil to do.
  2. Determine what symbols would suit this need best.
  3. Design said sigil.
  4. Apply the sigil to appropriate item.
  5. Charge and use the sigil.

The first step, again, is to determine what you want this sigil to do. This step is particularly important because it can determine what types of symbols you use in the sigil and how complex you need it to be. For example, if I wanted to use a sigil for my protection, I would opt for a simple symbol that I can focus on in times of crisis. The same could be said of a sigil that I want to use for creating serenity or clarity in my life. When times are stressful, the mind often short circuits, and simpler symbols are easier to recall. However, if I wanted to protect an item (as an example), I would opt for something more complex. In this situation, the sigil is acting as a lock, and you want that lock to have some complexity to it (generally speaking).

Another consideration for your sigil design would be where you are placing the sigil and what you are creating the sigil out of. For example if you are placing a sigil on an item that is the size of a quarter (such as… a pet’s name tag), you might want to make your symbols simple. Or, if you’re planning to draw your sigil out in sand on the floor, you might opt for a design that is simple- so that you don’t pull your hair out trying to get it right!

A final consideration to make in what you want your sigil to be is how confident you are in your sigils, and how much power you need them to have. If you are unsure about your abilities, you are short on time, or you want something that has been charged by lots of people, you might opt to pick a sigil that has already been created and used by others, such as these or these.

Once you’ve decided the purpose and complexity of the sigil, you will need to design the sigil. Sigils can be just about anything- they can contain pictures, lines, things that we recognize (ankhs, crosses, birds, trees), or contain absolutely nothing that is familiar. What types of symbols you choose to use are entirely up to you. I used to like to use runes for my sigil making because I preferred the aesthetics, and I could fit tons of symbols into one sigil (click here for some examples of runic sigils). As I’ve gotten more into Kemetic stuff, I much prefer using simplified forms of Egyptian symbols (djed pillars, ankhs, etc). I always recommend you use symbols that contain what you are trying to achieve. When I was looking for a job a couple of years ago, I used Tyr as a sigil. I put that thing on everything I could. I felt it worked in multiple ways- it is a rune of strength and courage, but also- it’s shape is of a sword to me. So essentially, I tacked on additional personal meanings of cutting through obstacles and bad situations. Tyr contained elements that I needed and wanted from my situation, and I used that to my advantage when creating my sigils. When picking your signs, I recommend that you do similarly.

After you have designed your sigil, you will need to draw it out and to charge it. When choosing what you draw the symbol out with, there are some things to consider:

  • How long does the sigil need to last? If you will be wearing the sigil, perhaps etching or permanent marker is better suited.
  • What is the purpose of the sigil? What you use to draw the sigil can layer extra meaning into the practice. For example, salt and sand are purifying and if I wanted to create an erasable sigil to cleanse my house, I might consider using either. If I wanted a sigil for execration, I might choose red ink due to it’s uses in heka, etc.
  • How complicated is the sigil? If your sigil is rather complex, you might want to sketch it out with a pencil before doing a final, more permanent version (in, say… permanent marker).

As I draw my sigil out, I focus my mind on what I want it to do. If the sigil is for protection, I will envision myself in an impenetrable fortress. If the sigil is for communication, I might envision myself talking openly and freely with others. Get creative. While I am drawing, I visualize my energy coming through my arm, into the media I am using to create the sigil (marker, pen, etc) and into the drawing itself. You can visualize this energy however you want.

Once the sigil has been drawn out, I charge it a little bit more, just for good measure. In many of my magix, I recommend that you can leave these things out for gods and other entities, but usually with sigils- I charge it up by myself. I hold onto the item, paper, etc. and I flow as much energy as I can through my body and into the item. As I do this, I will continue to visualize what it is I want this sigil to do. You could even add words of power to this to make it even more potent.

I have my sigil. What now?

That depends entirely upon what the sigil is made to do. If you are using the sigil to protect, you could wear it, place it in the area that needs protection, or hide it in a safe location (shrine box, witch bottle, box of rocks, in a book, etc). If it is for banishing things or execration, burning, flushing or destroying the sigil might be ideal. If the sigil is for a pet, you could place it on their collar and recharge it as needed. Once a sigil is created, it can be used very similarly to an amulet.

Taking it to the next level.

These are just the basics of sigil making. There is a lot more than can be done within sigil creation, such as layering multiple sigils into one larger sigil (you dawg, we heard you like sigils, so we put a sigil in your sigil so you can sigil while you sigil) for extra protection and security. There are so many ways to use sigils beyond what has been discussed here. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods, symbols, and applications. Your imagination is the only limit on how these can be used!

Other posts in the ‘Magix’ Series:

 
22 Comments

Posted by on July 25, 2012 in Devo Magix Series

 

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Devo Magix: Amulets, Talismans and Protective Items

During my time in Kemetic groups and forums, I’ve realized that very little is ever shared or discussed about basic ‘magix’. No one really talks about cleansing items or your house. Making amulets or sigils are almost never discussed. And there has never been discussion about warding or barrier creation. I personally think this is a shame, as you never know when things could go wrong, or when you might need extra protection in a situation.

To help with this, I have decided that I will create a series of blog posts relating to these exact things. I want to discuss my methods and means to cleanse, create and protect in a more ‘magical’ sense. My methods are by NO MEANS the only methods. They just happen to be what works for me.

If you enjoy this series, or want me to discuss different aspects or topics of a similar nature, please feel free to post your ideas in the comments section. If there is anything that you would like clarification on, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need/would like 🙂

For this post I am discussing Amulets, Talismans and Protective Items. I consider these terms to be interchangeable, and loosely define each of them as an item that is laced with intent and joo-joo (if you want a more proper definition, there is one here). Amulets can be made from anything and everything, and to some degree even sigils could be classified as an amulet. I personally find that items made of metal or stone to work the best for me- but you could make an amulet of whatever strikes your fancy.

And odds are, you already have amulets around your home that you don’t even realize are helping you out. I do believe it’s possible for amulets to sort of ‘create’ themselves. Many of us have items that we love dearly, or wear frequently, these items can slowly pick up our energies and vibrations while near them or while wearing them. Over time, this can create something similar to an amulet. It’s almost like having a ‘lucky tie’ or a ‘lucky pair of socks’. You could even say the same of a ‘power suit’ or other similar items. Everything you touch has the capacity to pick up your energies and be morphed into something else (energetically). When creating an amulet, you’re doing this intentionally.

Some items I have used as amulets.

So how does one create an amulet?

There are a few steps to creating an amulet:

  1. Determine your purpose or intent
  2. Select the item that you wish to use
  3. Cleanse the item (if necessary)
  4. Joo-joo the crap out of it
  5. Put said item to use

Start off by figuring out what it is you want your amulet to do. What is it’s purpose? General protection? To attract money? Maybe to attract a lover? To give you a boost of energy? For me, the most important aspect of amulet creation is to determine what it is you want the amulet to do. Once you have figured that out, you will want to select an item that works best for your intention. Each person has their own set of symbols, colors and ideas that connect concepts to images. So if you want protection and you are Kemetic, you might want the Eye of Heru… or maybe you find that the Sa is a better choice for you. I personally find that feathers and fish are protective for me- so I might choose to use something with either depicted on it for my own protection. The same goes with confidence. You might use ‘balls’ (as in grow a pair), or the djed (for being strong of spine), or maybe a mini-Sekhmet is more suiting for your tastes. Perhaps a solid rock is better. Maybe a pyramid is well suited- as it’s base is well grounded. As you can see- it’s all about what works for you and what symbolism really suits you.

When deciding what you want the amulet to be made out of, be sure to consider how often the item will be used. If you will be wearing this amulet daily, you will want to make sure that the materials will be able to stand up to daily use. If you only plan to use the amulet once a year, or the item is going to sit on a shelf in your house, then you can pick materials that are less sturdy.

Some AE amulets to give you ideas

More AE amulets to give you ideas.

And here are even more AE amulets to fawn over.

Once you’ve decided your intent and have gotten the item or items that you wish to use as an amulet (or amulets- there are cases of multiple amulets being strung together as a necklace) you will want to cleanse the item. To learn about cleansing items, go here. As mentioned in my cleansing post, you will want to be considerate of what the item is made of in regards to how it is cleansed.

Once you have cleansed your item, it’s a matter of filling it with ‘go juice’ to make sure it runs. You’re essentially charging it with intent and energy. There are a number of methods to do this. You can…

  • Leave it on a shrine for a couple of days – many Kemetics like to do 4 days, as 4 = completion for them. However, I find that 4 = death, and I prefer to leave things for a moon cycle in the shrine.
  • Place it in sunshine, moonlight, outdoors, in a place of energy (such as forest, trees, etc) that can feed the amulet.
  • Leave the amulet outside for the fae or other local spirits to work with (be sure to leave offerings).
  • Place it in a box, or among other items of power (such as a box of rocks).
  • Focus your intent while holding said item, and transfer your magical joo-joo into the item (my personal favorite).
  • Any combination of these above.

Depending on how much energy you need the item to have, I would do a blend. Many times I will focus my thoughts and energy into the item, then I will place it on the shrine for the gods to magic up (usually with offerings, words of power, etc) and then after they’ve had a whack at it, I’ll put more of my own energy in it again.

Usually, when directing energy into an item, I will hold the item in my hands and visualize my energy flowing into the item. The energy can be visualized as light, water, arrows – whatever works best for you. Many times, I will feel a tingling in my hands as this is being done, though that might not be the case for everyone. While doing this, you can also see visions of what it is you want the amulet to do. So if I want an amulet to bring me money, I will envision stacks of money and gold bars while charging the amulet.

Once you feel like the amulet has enough energy, you are free to wear it or use it as needed.

Amulet Upkeep

Just like any charged item, an amulet can lose some of it’s joo-joo after a while. The item may start to feel empty or look like the color has drained (I’ve noted this mainly in stones). If so, you will want to cleanse the item. If a simple cleansing hasn’t worked, or you feel like the item still isn’t as ‘good as new’, recharge the item using one of the processes above. For items that I really want to keep strong (usually only for periodic wear), I will keep them in my shrine permanently until I need to utilize the item.

Other posts in the ‘Magix’ Series:

 
38 Comments

Posted by on July 20, 2012 in Devo Magix Series

 

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Devo Magix: Cleansings

During my time in Kemetic groups and forums, I’ve realized that very little is ever shared or discussed about basic ‘magix’. No one really talks about cleansing items or your house. Making amulets or sigils are almost never discussed. And there has never been discussion about warding or barrier creation. I personally think this is a shame, as you never know when things could go wrong, or when you might need extra protection in a situation.

To help with this, I have decided that I will create a series of blog posts relating to these exact things. I want to discuss my methods and means to cleanse, create and protect in a more ‘magical’ sense. My methods are by NO MEANS the only methods. They just happen to be what works for me.

If you enjoy this series, or want me to discuss different aspects or topics of a similar nature, please feel free to post your ideas in the comments section. If there is anything that you would like clarification on, don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need/would like 🙂

First up in this series is cleansings. I have chosen cleansings first because I think it is always the first step in the creation of anything. You wouldn’t want to have a tainted object turned into an amulet, and you wouldn’t want to create a barrier with icky gunk still inside with you. Sometimes the simplest situations can be cleared up with a good old-fashioned cleaning.

What ‘ingredients’ do I need to cleanse things?

Bells I use for purifications

The ingredients list for a cleansing can vary from person to person and situation to situation. For example, if you can’t handle smoke, you wouldn’t want to use sage or incense. If you live in a place that doesn’t allow matches or fire, you wouldn’t want to use candles, certain rocks can’t handle a lot of water, others can’t handle salt… etc. Each situation is different, but here are some of the most common items I use to cleanse things:

  • Salt
  • Sand
  • Sunlight or Moonlight
  • Purified Water, Florida Water, Rose Water
  • Bells or Wind-chimes
  • Incense or Burning Herbs
  • Candles or Light
  • Natron
  • Stones, Rocks, Crystals
  • Words of power

So how are these items used?

It varies on the situation. Many times, I will use multiple forms of the items above. As an example, I will use salt water, natron water, salty sand (or sandy salt), wet bells… you name it. I find that using multiple items (whether at once, or in multiple rounds) helps to strengthen the amount that is cleansed.

Typically, there are two types of cleansings that go on in my life- cleansing of my house, and cleansing of an item. Yes, I cleanse myself, but that can be an entirely different kettle of fish.

I’ll start with cleansing of your house. In Shinto, this occurs every few months- usually at major points in the year, so this is something that occurs regularly for me. There are multiple methods of doing this, so I will cover a few here.

Singular Pass, Simple House Cleansing:

A single pass cleansing is about how it sounds- you go through your house once, and once only. Pick whichever items above sound best to you or suits your needs best. If I am low on time, I will usually default to incense, or salt (depending on if I want to vacuum afterwards).

  1. If you have deities, I would recommend giving them offerings and asking for their assistance in cleaning out your house first.
  2. I then go to the entrance of my home with my cleansing item of choice. If it is something like sand or salt, you will be lightly tossing this stuff around your home (to be vacuumed up after the rite is done). If its water, you’ll be squirting it around. If it’s incense or a candle, I like to move the smoke or light into the various nooks and crannies (you get the idea).
  3. I go in a clockwise manner, so if my back is to the door, I will move left throughout my house. I am sure to give extra cleaning attention to windows, mirrors, doors, and drains.
  4. While doing this, you may chant something that suits your tastes, or you may simply keep your mind concentrated on good things in, bad things out.
  5. I slowly work through each room in a clockwise manner- stopping to give various items or areas extra attention as I see fit.
  6. Once I am back at my front door, I make sure to push all bad ‘joo-joo’ out the door, and usually throw some extra salt at the door, or make a type of symbol (whatever you want, for more ideas, see my sigil post) in smoke or water over the door to essentially ‘seal out’ any bad stuff.
  7. After this is done, I will vacuum up any sand or salt and thank the gods for their participation and assistance in the matter.

An example of how I move through a house.

Multi-Pass House Cleansing:

A multiple pass cleansing is very similar to the one listed above. I use this form of cleansing when I want things to get extra extra clean. It involves the same steps as above, but each time you reach the front door, you’ll swap out your current cleansing ‘tool’ (water, salt, etc) for a different one, and go through the house with it again. I like to use different ingredients that are complementary. As an example, when I was doing the Wicca thing, I would pick something for each of the four elements. So I’d cleanse my house with salt, water, candles and incense. Now that I base more Kemeticially, I might choose to do something that complements my two gods- sand and water. Typically, I like to end any multi-pass cleansing with the ringing of the bell. I feel that bells bring in good energy as well as dispelling bad energy. So once the other items have gone through and cleaned the area, I use the bell to bring good stuff back in. Once again, choose what feels best to you and what suits your needs.

  1. Select which items you would like to use in your cleansing.
  2. If you have gods or deities that you would like assistance from, leave offerings for them and ask for their assistance, guidance, etc.
  3. Start at your front door with the *first* cleansing item that you’d like to use.
  4. I work in a clockwise fashion- so with your back to your door, you will move left.
  5. Go through each room in the house, working one room at a time. Be sure to always go clockwise.
  6. As you move through the house, say any words of power that appeal to you, or simply focus your mind on bad things out, good things in.
  7. After you are back at your front door, get your next cleansing item and repeat the process of going through your house.
  8. Repeat as necessary (dictated by how many items you wish to use).
  9. Once you have gone through the house with your last item, stand at the door and visualize/focus on all of the bad icky stuff in your house and in your life leaving out the front door. Feel free to throw more sand or salt towards the door, or to draw some sort of symbol over the door to keep bad things out.
  10. Vacuum up any salt, sand or other items that are needed.
  11. If gods are involved, return to your shrine/altar and thank them for their assistance in the matter.

Cleansing Items

Cleansing items is a lot less tricky. When you decide how to cleanse an item, be sure that you are considerate of the needs of that item. There are certain stones that will weaken in water or salt water. There are obvious concerns such as water on tarot cards as well. Just as above, you can combine multiple formats to extra clean an item as well. Some of the most popular methods I use to cleanse items are:

  • Placing the item on my cat to wear (such as pendants and charms). Usually, I’ll place the item on his collar and let him wear it for a week (or 4). It sounds silly, but it works.
  • Place the item outside on my balcony for a day (or more) to let it soak up sunlight and moonlight (I often will accompany this with offerings to local fae and other ‘fauna’ for any assistance they feel like giving in cleansing my items).
  • Place the item in shrine for the gods to cleanse.
  • Placing the item in a dish of sand, natron or salt. Sometimes water- but usually only for an hour or so.
  • Cleansing the item with incense smoke.
  • Bury the item for a period of time.
  • Placing the item in a box with various crystals or stones.

Some Examples

A ring hanging in a tree. I believe that the living energy from plants can (and does) cleanse items well.

A knife being cleansed btwn two stones while on salt. I believe the salt is a good grounding agent and that the black and white of the stones creates a nice balanced cleanse.

I do leave jewelry on my god statues to purify and charge them.

Just as with the house, a lot of this is done with intent. You can speak words of power while doing this, if it helps you to stay focused or to raise energy. If you ask for help from other entities (such as gods, ancestors, fae, etc) you should show proper etiquette and give them some sort of offerings in return.

What now?

Cleansings are highly personal and can vary greatly. Once you get the hang of how cleansings work and what they feel like, it’s very easy to come up with new ideas and methods to ‘get the job done’. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different processes and ‘ingredients’ to see which format works best for you. As stated above, this is just the method that I use – there are probably thousands of ways to cleanse a house or items. So feel free to take some of these ideas and make them yours!

Other posts in the ‘Magix’ Series:

 
36 Comments

Posted by on July 16, 2012 in Devo Magix Series

 

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When the Well Runs Dry


I have spent a great deal of my Pagan life with my well overflowing. I’ve lived with someone with a broke open head. I work for a deity that will throw things at you and tell you to learn how to juggle… while riding a unicycle on a tight rope. So I know all about the well overflowing.

But, for one very very very long year- I had a barren, dry well. A well so dry, that the ground at the bottom cracked and turned to powder at the slightest touch. Ground that choked and begged for any moisture at all.

What frustrated me most about this time was that I could see the water disappearing. I knew it was being soaked up by the earth, evaporating into the air. But as I would look at my well day after day, watching the water get lower and lower- I knew there was nothing I could do. All I could do is watch the water disappear slowly but surely. And as I watched the water disappear, I got angry. Very angry. I felt betrayed by the world. I had been handed the bare necessities to make ends meet- but just barely. I was frustrated that despite my best effort, things were falling apart.

And to top it all off, at the time, I felt like the gods just didn’t care. I couldn’t reach them. I couldn’t hear them. It’s as if they had simply vanished from my life.

This, my friends, is what we call a Fallow Time. It’s a time when the water runs out, the land becomes parched, and in many cases- all of the plants you had growing seem to shrivel up and die. It can be a time of complete frustration, utter despair, and can result in a complete lack of faith in not only your gods or guides, but yourself.

I think it’s common for every person to hit dry spells- whether in a religious context or not. We all have times when things just aren’t working. When we are out of our groove, and nothing seems to be panning out. And the biggest question I often see is- what do you do when these times hit? How do you handle it?

My best answer comes in the form of a quote from Avatar, the Last Airbender (series, not the movie):

“I don’t know the answer. Sometimes life is like this dark tunnel- you can’t always see the light at the end of the tunnel, but if you just keep moving you will come to a better place.”

When your water runs out your initial reaction is to stare at the ground. The plants are gone. The growth is gone- and all you are left with is a barren field. And usually when this happens, we all sit there- and just stare. We get angry that all we can do is look at the ground as it looks back at us- mocking us. And we stomp our feet, scream, throw fits- all at the ground. And for what? That doesn’t bring the growth back.

But what does bring the growth back? If this metaphor was a garden- the answer would be easy. The master gardener would tell you to clear out the old growth. Plow and fertilize your soil. Gather your seeds, and prepare to plant them. You could try to plant them now, and bring in water from afar- or you could wait until the rainy season comes back, and plant them then. Either way, the best way to spend your time in the interim is preparation.

So why can’t we take this metaphor and use it when the Fallow Times hit? Your practice is dead and barren right now. You might be having a hard time focusing. You could be preoccupied with other problems and mundane situations. There could be financial hardship. Any number of reasons can cause a well to suddenly lose it’s water. However, the best thing to do once the water is gone isn’t to rail at the land which sustains you. It’s to prepare the land to be able to grow again. Slowly, take a step forward, then take another and another. It could be a while before you reach fertile times again- but at least you know that when you get there, you will be ready for the rain. Your seeds will be in hand, and your practice will be primed and ready for growth.

Relevant Posts:

 

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Heka is a Two Way Street

A couple of weeks ago, I posed a question on ecauldron about the nature of Heka. We Kemetics all know that Heka can influence a lot. We speak words of power and praise to the gods. Everything we say and create becomes.

The question I posed then was: how much of our heka is inadvertently effecting the gods? 

I mean, think about it- we do these rituals to help establish ma’at in the world. We bring forth the First Time, Zep-Tepi. We refresh and renew the gods, the cosmos, ourselves. We do these great acts of power and strength and we wrap it up with… an offering of Oreos and Coke.

If all of our words have power, and everything in ritual has meaning and purpose- how much of our little actions add up and weaken the gods? I know that many people believe that the gods can’t be weakened, but it doesn’t seem to have been the case in antiquity. There are stories of the Egyptians threatening the gods with things such as withholding rituals, withholding offerings, lack of worship, etc. Why do that if the gods don’t need our help to keep things running? And as was stated in this post, yes it’s true that the world didn’t end when Egypt fell. But the Egyptian way of life certainly did. If things were still running with ma’at in mind, we wouldn’t have to take the time to relearn everything. We’d already know about it. Keeping up the cosmos is a responsibility that is shared by both humans and gods. We can’t rely on the gods to make everything better. If we decide to destroy this planet and create nothing but isfet- we will fall apart. And there is nothing the gods can do about that. So it seems to make sense to me that the gods need us on some level, and that daily ritual served to help the gods, the cosmos and ma’at. We helped through sacred action and utterance. We helped through heka.

And we still help through heka. Prayers. Rites. Community gatherings. Living life well. Putting away shopping carts. Saving spoons. Helping people. Helping yourself. Living life to the fullest. Embodying ma’at. All of that warm and fuzzy stuff.

But at the same time, a lot of what we do could be hurting the cosmos as well. We fight. Bicker. We hurt ourselves and others. We waste our spoons on useless crap. We ingest bad food. We have self esteem and body issues. We project our issues onto the gods. We feed the gods junk for dinner every night. We skip out on ritual all together.

If all of the good we do creates good things for the gods, then it would make sense that the opposite would be true. All of this crap we bog ourselves down with degrades the relationship with the Unseen world. It distorts the connection and creates problems in (potentially) both worlds. And the act of marginalizing and trivializing gods not only weakens them, it weakens our respect and actions towards them.

Let me use an example- the Internet.

All of us use the Internet, and we all have a sort of personality on here. We interact through means that are less than physical, in potentially the same way that gods do with us. In this small world, things get around. If I say that X person is a jerk to my circle of Internet friends, it’s likely that they will assume as such – and ultimately, that effects X. X could experience a lack of communication from others. They could see a drop in blog visits, subscriptions, or all of their FB friends could leave. They could be harassed. All sorts of things. All because I said X was a jerk.

Another example could be that I say X is stupid. They don’t know what they are talking about and you shouldn’t listen to them. How long before that effects the responses that X gets from others? How long before everything they say is dismissed because of some preconceived notion?

Don’t think it can happen? Look at the fallout Kemetic Orthodoxy experiences from the anger brought on by a few people. Look at the fallout some Kemetic authors experience because they have a checkered past in relation to Kemetic Orthodoxy. And while, yes, it’s entirely possible that people will try to find the truth, despite common ideas about what is and isn’t- there will still be a group of people who will never bridge that gap all because of what they have heard. The actions of a few can affect a large number of people.

Now let’s turn this around towards the gods.

If I treat, say… Wepwawet as nothing more than a form of Anpu? They are both ‘two sides of the same coin’ in some forms of Kemeticism. And many people treat Wepwawet as nothing more than Anubis in his work clothes- some weird aspect of him that comes out when he needs to be tougher- but not necessarily a true entity or god in his own right. So if this spreads around to a large group of Kemetics… how long before his reputation changes? How long before people quit treating him like an awesome (and separate) god that deserves our respect (and in some ways, fear) and we all start treating him like some weird fluke mood of Anpu? And if he starts getting treated like he isn’t entirely his own entity, how long before He Who Is the Highest of the Gods decides he wants nothing to do with us, and that he’s going to go open some ways elsewhere? Who is to say that the attitudes that many Kemetics share aren’t hurting or effecting the gods?

All of our actions carry weight. All of our assumptions and ideas carry weight. How often do you think about what you say and do and how it could be affecting the gods and world around us? Are you creating a world that embodies ma’at?

 
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Posted by on June 15, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Kemetic Priesthood: Then and Now

There is a lot of discussion out on the Internet about priesthood. What is it? How do you know when you are a priest? What does being a priest involve? I thought I would make a bit of a guide for everyone that discusses what priesthood was like back in ancient times, and how that can translate into a modern practice. This is by no means the be all and end all of priesthood knowledge or ideas- but I felt that having a general guide would be useful!

Priesthood Then:

Priesthood back then was a job. There is no escaping this. Men and women worked in the temple serving a particular set of gods for payment. Priesthood itself was very wide and varied. And how you define priest could vary depending on how you look at things. For a large temple, it took many many people to make things work. For the temple of Amun in Thebes, it’s rumored that at one time there were about 80,000 people working there (Sauneron). People who farmed the land for the food to make offerings for the gods. People who created the linen for the god to wear. People who painted the temple, repaired the temple. People who created bread, pottery and jewelry for the god. People who did the administration so that everyone could get paid and everyone knew when they needed to be in a certain location at a certain time- all of this (and more!) to make the temple run smoothly. If you wanted to cast a very wide net, all of these people were a priest in some capacity.

However, most of us are interested only in the priests that entered the ‘holiest of holies’. The priests that had direct contact with the icon of the god- the Open statue that the god resided in. These are the people we want to know about the most.

Offering Bearers

The day of a head priest (Hem Netjer or First Prophet, depending on who you ask) began early in the morning. There were usually three rites performed for the gods every day- one in the morning, one in the afternoon, or around noon, and one in the evening. The work for the morning ritual would begin before the sun rose. Everyone would begin to prepare offerings and undergo rites of purity so that they may enter the holy areas of the temple. The rituals themselves could take a while. You had to redress the Icon, pacify the god with dance and music, recite words of power, give offerings of food, drink, natron, incense and ma’at (among other things, depending on the day). All these things were done with specific texts and motions. Nothing was spur of the moment or freelanced- everything is precise and done with purpose. This is the power of heka working through these rituals, and there is power in repetition. According to Sauneron, the sun could be high in the sky before the head priest and all of the attendants were done with morning ritual.

And then, they got to repeat the process (to a lesser degree) at noon and in the evening.

Some days, they would get to take the god out on the town. They’d place the Icon in the sacred barque and walk along a procession throughout the city- stopping at roadside shrines and to act as a divinatory tool for those who had questions for the god to answer. This could take the better part of a day- if it wasn’t one of the longer treks (such as Hathor visiting Heru in Edfu for the Beautiful Reunion), which could last weeks.

Depending on the temple the priests served, the would have to uphold certain purity standards. These can vary time to time and location to location. It is thought that there could be rules about what types of food and drink  you could have, the amount of hair on your body, sex, blood, clothing- you name it. Each shift was only 3 months at a time, all of these rules had to be minded while you were serving your term. I have yet to read why the temple shifts were run this way. I imagine there could be numerous reasons.

Presenting Offerings

One could easily argue that during these months, the First Prophet’s life revolved around the temple and the gods therein. And that pretty much every day in the temple was more or less the same- the same rituals. The same structure. The same rites. The same movements and epithets. Because there is power in repetition.

Regardless of whether a priest was on duty or not, there were no moral obligations (as far as we know) for the priests to uphold (so long as purity wasn’t compromised). There are even recorded cases of priests stealing gold foil off of the temple doors, priests taking offerings, etc. Priests were not moral compasses for the common people, and they had no specific active role outside of maintaining the god’s cult within the temple. And the rites that occurred within the temple were entirely hidden from the average people. Unlike modern churches, there was no congregation, no mass of people for the priests to preach to- nothing like that. And unlike now, the average people of Egypt might have never known what occurred inside of the temple every day. They were unable to read or write the glyphs that covered the walls. Unlike today, the actions and goings on inside of the temples were completely hidden from the profane world outside.

Priesthood Now:

It’s a lot harder to define the modern Kemetic priesthood for a variety of reasons. The main reason being that there are very few Kemetic temples around and most people don’t have the luxury of spending hours everyday in ritual. So what defines a modern Kemetic priest?

Unlike many pagan traditions where everyone is some type of priest, most Kemetic temples follow the same rules of ancient Egypt. Only certain members of the organization become priests, and there are usually certain rules and requirements you must meet before you can be considered for priesthood.

If you belong to Kemetic Orthodoxy, you have to undergo certain rites of passage within the group. Eventually, if the gods permit, you will be trained by the leader of the group in the specific rites and regulations of priesthood. Within Kemetic Orthodoxy, there are multiple levels of priesthood, with varying requirements for time- both in the shrine, and with the community as a whole. Unlike ancient priests, there is a larger emphasis in community work and playing an active role in the community around you. I do not know a lot about the inner workings of the priesthood within Kemetic Orthodoxy, as I am not a priest there.

There are two other temples that are in the US that seem to have some form of priesthood- most of which require daily rites to the gods that the person serves. These temples also require that you show up to group rituals as well, among other things.

For most temples, the priesthood follows a similar path to the priests of old- you perform rites daily for the gods. You maintain a level of purity as deemed by your temple before you enter the shrine area. And in some cases, the Icon of the Netjeru in question is an Open icon.

But what about those of us who aren’t in a temple organization? Where does this leave us?

That partially depends on how each of us define priesthood. For some ‘Independents’, the answer is performing daily rituals for the gods as the priests did back in ancient Egypt. These rituals can be hand made or from books like Eternal Egypt.

For others, the gods can request a different angle- such as community service, cleaning and maintaining local cemeteries, or other active forms of dedication. Each deity is different, and each relationship is different- so the possibilities can be numerous.

And at the core of it, we as a community need to ask ourselves what do we want the definition of a modern priest to be? And even more than that, what does the community need the modern priest to be? The original phrase for a priest was Hem (or Hemet) Netjer- meaning servant to the God. And back then, that meant maintaining a cult center and the Open Icon that resided at the center of the temple. But is that really relevant to modern standards? Does it really help the Kemetic community to have our priests stored away in front of an Open shrine? Or do we need something more from the modern priest?

What is your take on priesthood then and now? What do you think the modern Kemetic community needs from its priesthood, if anything?

Other places to learn about Egyptian Priesthood:

 

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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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