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KRT: The Effect Kemeticism Has on Daily Life

For this round of the Kemetic Round Table, we are discussing the effects that Kemeticism has on your daily life, and how it has effected your life by practicing the religion. The effect that my religion has had on my life is sort of a paradox. This is because in some ways, I haven’t changed at all. In other ways, I’ve changed drastically.

The reason I chose Kemeticism is because the world view already matched my own. I already had a structure in my own brain as to how I saw the world, and part of my choosing to follow the Kemetic faith (for lack of better word) was because it more or less fit into what I already had going on. The concepts of gods, balance and a need for community were all things that I already had percolating in my brain. So in these ways- Kemeticism hasn’t changed much of anything for me. It gave me tools, terms, and a frame to hang my ideas on, but all in all I didn’t have any earth shattering changes in my life due to adopting a Kemetic religious practice.

However, its probably my relationships with the gods and other Kemetics that has done the most change for me.

I will start with the gods, because it is through them that the other aspects really came about. Initially, I only worked with Set, and through him I really gained a sense of a lot of the aspects of who I was. Without his hands in my cookie jar, I don’t know that I would have ever really gotten a good grasp on my darker aspects- or at least as quickly and early as I did. Osiris’ work with me has helped me to balance out my lighter aspects- something else I was in desperate need of as well.

However, their biggest impact on my life has been through my community and networking tasks. And I believe this is because a large part of the work I am to be doing for the gods is centered around the community (or lack thereof). In order to really be effective in this task, the gods had to fix me up- which was the Cycle I wrote on earlier this year. Then, after I learned how to be more whole as a person, Set taught me one of the most useful skills I’ve ever had- pot stirring. He has taught me how to wield a ladle for good and how to work on creating responses that are more even-keel and air tight because I didn’t reduce myself to caps locks.

 

And through that, I’ve managed to find a bunch of people who are in similar situations to me. I found a bunch of people willing to be boat paddlers with me.

And that has made all of the difference in the world for me.

Once upon a time, I said that I was half Osiris, half Set. I was the hard nosed soloist (like Set) because I had to be. But if you were looking closely, you’d often see me sitting on the edge of the desert- where the lush plants of the Nile kiss the red dirt. And I’d be hiding in these plants, watching other people play in the river (Osiris’ area). And while I’d love to join in at the river and splash around with everyone else and feel connected- it never panned out. Because at the end of the day, much like Set, everyone would resign me to the desert.

Because of this, I always felt like I was literally two different people crammed into one (hence the two halves whole stuff) and I was miserable over it regularly. I wanted a community of some sort- but there was nothing to be had and I had no way of networking with anyone. However, since finding a group of people that I can get along with- my life has become a lot more stable and happy.

Perhaps you could say that through my community, I’ve managed to find a little slice of ma’at.

And while that has nothing to do with rituals and offerings and kar shrines or anything of that nature- don’t you think that is sort of… the point of all of this?

Without the addition of Kemeticism, its gods, or my fellow practitioners, I would surely still be the fractured person I used to be. And in that regard, my Kemetic practice has made all the difference in the world.

See the other responses for this question by visiting the Master List here.

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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KRT: UPG and Doxa

This week’s Kemetic Round Table topic is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart. For this round, we are discussing the various aspects of UPG and Doxa within your religious practice.

For those who are unfamiliar with the terms, UPG stands for “Unverified Personal Gnosis”. Generally speaking, it is a term that is used in many reconstructionalist paths to describe spiritual and religious experiences that aren’t necessarily backed up by historical record.

A few examples of this (from my own personal stash of UPG) might be that Set likes dark chocolate cupcakes. If he’s not in business/working mode, he’ll show up in full out Japanese styled clothing. Or that Ptah’s capacity as a creator is where Osiris (stability) and Set (chaos) meet. None of these are necessarily backed by historical reference, however they have proven to be useful within my own religious practice.

Doxa is a term taken from the Greek area of things and generally means “popular opinion” or “common belief” and is a starting point for the terms orthodoxy (standard, set in stone beliefs) and heterodoxy (anything that isn’t orthodox).

Or, as someone described it to me: Doxa = Belief and Feels. Gnosis = Knowledge you can fact check.

Of course, this means that the term UPG is a sort of paradox that really makes no sense, but that is another post for another time. I use the term UPG for the same reason I use the term “pagan”- its what everyone else uses, and it makes it easier for communication purposes.

And for the purposes of this post, I will use doxa and UPG interchangeably.

The topics of doxa and UPG are very sticky within the pagan/polytheist/Kemetic community. There are people who dislike the use of any UPG/doxa at all. There are those whose entire practice is based off of UPG and doxa. It is my personal opinion that there is nothing wrong with UPG in your practice. However, I am a big supporter of the following:

a. Knowing historical information about your deity and the Kemetic religion- as done by the ancients themselves.
b. Knowing why you do what you do, regardless of whether it lines up with the historical record or not.

The saying often goes that you should know what the rules are before you break them, and I think that this really does apply within your religious practice. Knowing how it was done, or know how a deity used to be approached back then is an important gauge for approaching the religion or deities today. As I said in my last KRT post, I think that having a foundation to build off of is important. The more you know, the more you can compare and contrast what you’re taking in. Discernment is an important part of any religious practice, as is a healthy dose of skepticism. Knowing the basics from antiquity gives you a good starting point for discernment with which to check what you learn. Knowing why you do what you do reinforces this.

Now, this is not to say that gods can’t completely go against what was considered normal in antiquity. This can and does happen. They are gods, after all, and things do change- gods included. However, this means that when you do receive such tidbits, you can say that you know it wasn’t this way in the past, but this is what you’re currently being asked to do now.

To me, knowing that UPG is, in fact, UPG is very very very important. Not only for yourself, but for those who come across your statements and might not know which is which. A good example of this would be Osiris’s article on wpwt-wiki which states that you are to never offer Osiris sand or fish, due to his brother’s associations. However, in antiquity, its said that fish were offered at Abydos (according to O’Connor) and sand was a common purifier in temple rites- including rites for the Mysteries, a holiday revolving around Osiris. Another common UPG is that Set can’t have water offered to him, due to his brother’s associations. However, water was commonly offered by priest and laymen alike.

Both of these statements are modern doxa. They should be labeled as such. There is nothing wrong if Osiris shows up and tells me “I never want you to offer me sand”. However, for me to tell the rest of the world that that means that Osiris never wants anyone to offer him sand is misleading and, in my opinion, irresponsible.

This is why labeling is important. This is also why having a good knowledge foundation is also important. We all need foundations to check things against.

Whether you should let someone else’s doxa influence your practice is entirely up to you. When I read an interesting bit of trivia from another Kemetic, I mull it over for a bit before I jump on the bandwagon. If it really rings true to me, or if Set or Osiris confirms that the UPG is valid/useful for me, I will then start to incorporate it into my practice. However, if a piece of UPG doesn’t work for me at all (such as the Set and water thing mentioned above), then I don’t bother with it at all.

You should never, ever feel pressured to incorporate someone else’s UPG or doxa into your religious practice. Do not let anyone ever tell you that you have to follow their UPG. UPG is called “unverified” for a reason.

How much you rely on other’s doxa, or even your own doxa- is entirely dependent upon you. You don’t have to incorporate doxa or UPG into your practice in order to be a successful Kemetic. As with most things, I do believe that balance is key, and figuring out what balance works best for you is imperative. Because your balance is your own, no one can tell you how much to keep or how much to leave, but keeping an open mind and learning about modern and historical practices will serve you well in discovering your own balance.

See the KRT Master List for this topic by clicking here.

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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KRT: Having a Deity 101

OsirisThis 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 😛

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.

 
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Posted by on March 6, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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KRT: How Do You Survive Fallow Time?

Fallow time- that wonderful period of time that finds almost all of us at some point in time in our life- regardless of religious preferences or practices. For those of you who are new to fallow time, it’s a term that many of us use to describe a low point in our religious practices. Fallow usually is signified by a lack of the god’s presence, a lack of enthusiasm for rites, research or other religious projects, and a overall blase feeling in regards to anything spiritual.

It’s kinda like religious depression 🙂

A common problem for many people who are new to the Pagan-sphere is religious burn-out. You get neck deep in the religion and are doing your thing, and one day- out of the blue, for no reason at all- its like everything comes to a grinding halt. At first it can be very shocking and surprising when it happens. And many times, we think its our fault somehow. That we’ve done something wrong and the gods are punishing us.

Whenever you hit a fallow time in your practice, my first recommendation is to take a deep breath. Followed by another. And another. And another.

Fallow time is caused by numerous things. It can be as simple as your mundane life taking precedence for a time. Sometimes the gods are busy and they disappear for a while to handle things. Sometimes the gods take a step back to allow you to work on things and get established before they dump a whole new load of things on you. Sometimes they don’t have anything for you, either. Other things that can cause fallow times are stress, illness, lack of rest, etc.

As you can see- all of these reasons are more or less out of your hands. In fact, most fallow times are more or less out of your hands. As Set would tell me, “control is an illusion” and you can’t really control when these times hit you. The best you can do is to control how you react to them.

So let’s talk about reacting to them, shall we?

Calm Yo Tits

The first step to reacting to a fallow time is to figure out what could be causing it. It can be a number of things- so don’t be afraid if it feels like the reasons are 3980985 layers deep. Did the gods just give you a huge stack of work? Did your stress just ramp up? Did you recently change housing or jobs? Are you suffering from illness or fatigue? Figuring out the source of your fallow time could give you clues as to how to fix what is going on. If stress is causing you to lose your connection- getting rid of some of the stress could help you to re-establish a good connection with the gods. If you’re sick, it could be a matter of waiting out the illness.

In other words, try and manage your spoons so that you have enough spoons to hear the gods again.

However, sometimes its got nothing to do with spoons. Or the spoons are beyond your control. Sometimes things just go dead- much like how a location can have a drought for no particular reason. What then?

The answer is to sit tight. Breath, and remember that this is a phase- a chapter. And like a phase or chapter, it will eventually end. Learn to find other things that give you pleasure or make you feel more complete. Continue to perform your rituals as often as you can. Try to push through your dry spell without breaking yourself. I often use fallow times to create other ways to bring my spirituality into my life. I take my religion out of the shrine, and bring it into day to day things- such as a good cup of coffee, a nice walk, a good breeze, etc. Finding ways to enjoy the little things that bring you closer to your practice and your gods can go a long way (even though it can be really difficult). I also find that during fallow time, getting back to my basics of reading and researching can also help give me new insights and energy which can revitalize a stagnating practice. Don’t be afraid to try new things and create/discover unorthodox methods to bring your practice back to life. Sometimes fallow periods end up being the best learning tools for us- because we are forced to look out of the box for solutions and ideas.

But always remember that it is a phase, a period. And that it will eventually end- even if it doesn’t look like it. Try to remain calm and continue to put one foot in front of the other. Even if it doesn’t feel like you’re moving, you are. And its often what we do and how we act at our lowest points that really defines who we are as a person. If you can remain calm and in tact at the lowest parts of your practice- you’ll be able to do amazing things while at the peak.

View the KRT master list for this question.

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Posted by on February 20, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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Kemetic Round Table: Ritual purity – what does that mean for my practice?

The Kemetic Roundtable is a new blogging project. Go here to learn more about it!

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Ritual purity is a really interesting topic in the Kemetic sphere. What makes it interesting is that there are such extremely different views and approaches on it. Everything in regards to ritual purity really needs a “Your Mileage May Vary (YMMV)” tag on it, and most approaches to ritual purity are very personal.

So, what is ritual purity?

Ritual purity is the idea that certain rituals require certain levels of cleanliness or grooming requirements before performing them. I don’t like using the word “pure” because it is a baggage laden word for many of us. So let’s use “clean” instead.

To bring it out of a religious context and into a more mundane aspect: let’s consider social standards for day to day activities. As you go about life, there are certain activities that require more formality and/or cleanliness than others. For example, you don’t necessarily need to shave and shower before you go to the gym. It’s understood that you will be getting sweaty while there- and you don’t need to be all prim and proper before showing up. However, it’s fairly common to dress up and make sure you’re really clean before going to a job interview- because you’re trying to make a good impression. Similarly, it’s common to want to be somewhere in the middle of these extremes for family get togethers or a party. Using parties as an example- you will likely need less time to get ready for a child’s party over a cocktail party. The grooming standards for a child’s party are generally fairly low. Where as cocktail parties require more grooming and cleaning before hand.

In short, different events have different standards of how you should look – which can translate into how much grooming you perform before the event.

Much like events, ritual purity states that certain rituals require more cleanliness preparation than others. As an example, in ancient Egypt, state rites had very specific (and sometimes very intricate) ritual cleanliness standards. Where as the average Joe Hotep was likely to only be washing his hands before he performed any rites at his household shrine. Most of the ritual standards that we know of today (like most of everything we know about Egyptian religion today) were applicable to the priests of ancient Egypt – not the common man.

What types of restrictions were included in ritual cleanliness standards in antiquity?

To be honest, the restrictions and rules for performing the highest levels of rites in ancient Egypt ran the gamut. These rules also varied era to era, nome to nome, temple to temple and deity to deity.

aka there are no hard and fast rules.

Most of what we know about ritual cleanliness in antiquity comes from the Greek historian Herodotus (which I never put a lot of stock in, to be honest), which means most of what we know comes from the later eras of Egyptian history. The most common ritual cleanliness practice included being washed with water from the temple lake, washing your mouth with natron, and wearing of clean linen robes and sandals. However, beyond that, the rules could vary greatly. According to Sauneron, common ritual cleanliness practices included (but were not limited to) shaving of all bodily hair (for practical purposes of keeping louses away), circumcision, abstinence from sex while on duty, and abstinence from certain foods depending on the deities you served. And according to Reidy, you weren’t to wear anything made with animal products into the temple either.

I think it’s also important to note that ritual cleanliness standards did not just apply to priests in antiquity. It also applied to offerings. Much like in Islam (as I understand it), there were certain ways to properly dispatch a bull for offering to the gods. And only certain animals would make the cut. Another prime example is incense- you wouldn’t want to use incense with urea in it, as it conflicts with purity standards. These are both forms of ritual cleanliness/purity.

What are the standards for a modern Kemetic practitioner?

Much like in antiquity, modern standards run the gamut. Most people’s restrictions and rules vary based off of the deity they serve and the rules set out by the temple/coven/group they are a member of (if they are not practicing solo). Kemetic Orthodoxy, a common Kemetic group/temple, has specific rules/requirements for their rituals. For every day shrine work- the standards are set btwn the practitioner and their deities. For Senut, their signature daily rite, the ritual standards required are: being of sound state of mind and body (aka not sick), washing of the body and orifices with a natron/water solution, the wearing of white clothing that you only use for Senut (optimally) and that you aren’t bleeding (menses or otherwise). There are a series of monthly rituals online that KO hosts and some of them have no requirements for ritual cleanliness, while others require you to be of the same cleanliness as you would be if you were performing Senut. KO also has state rites that have the same ritual cleanliness requirements as would have been required in antiquity (generally speaking- shaving all of your hair off, for example, is not required).

For those of us who aren’t within an established temple or group, we usually have to create our own guidelines for ritual cleanliness and preparation for each ritual. For myself personally, I have little to no ritual cleanliness standards for day to day rituals. I do not change my clothing (sometimes I perform rites while in my pajamas, even). I do not wash with a natron solution before performing rites. Sometimes I perform rites while I’m ill. I literally have little to no standards for day to day rituals.

For more formal rituals, I will take a shower while focusing on cleansing myself on all levels. I will put on clothing that is comfortable and suitable for what I am doing (this is particularly important when performing execrations which involve fire). And that’s it. If I’m performing a ritual that is somewhere in between these two extremes, I might wash my hands and face and call it good.

How do I decide what standards I should include in my own practice?

This is a tricky question- because each person’s rules and requirements will be different. I am an anomaly- most people will have more requirements for their practice than I currently do. I think that building your own cleanliness standard is very personal and should be approached with common sense in mind. To start, ritual cleanliness standards were for the priests of ancient Egypt- we are not priests. We don’t have a fully staffed temple to keep our shrines running. We are average folks with day jobs and a million other things to do. Much like how we no longer perform 4 hour rites to the gods ever morning, I think it needs to be kept in mind that we will likely not be adhering to every single ritual standard ever written. Its just not practical or necessary. It’s also important to remember that ancient Egypt was a hot, sandy place. The ancient Egyptians didn’t live him homes that are virtually sealed off from the outside world. They had no indoor plumbing, modern soaps or air conditioning. They got a lot dirtier than we do. I think many of our modern cleaning products (shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorants) work just as well as natron when it comes to cleansing ourselves. So I think many of us can get away with modified cleansing standards for ritual practice. Perhaps we don’t need a ton of natron to be clean- we can get away with a nice animal product free bar of soap and a breath mint.

Your ritual cleanliness standards will also be determined by your deity. My gods don’t have many ritual requirements for me. They ask that I show up. They don’t really care what condition I’m in- they want me to be there. That is their standard- so that is the standard that I follow. Each deity is different- some will require you to bathe, some might stop you from eating fish, others might ask you to cover your hair while in shrine, etc. This is something that you would discover in time (if at all) as you practice more. Not every deity will have a ton of rules for their followers- so if your gods don’t make demands, don’t worry. So long as they aren’t getting mad at you- that is what is important.

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View other responses to this topic.

 
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Posted by on February 6, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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An Alternate View to Ma’at

The more I dig into astral work, shadow work and crack in general, the more abstract my view on people (and all entities) becomes. My experiences have shown me that most, if not all of us have another “us” inside of ourselves. Sometimes this person looks just like us, sometimes they look entirely different. Sometimes we’re really good at hearing this person, other times we are completely oblivious.

But generally speaking, this part of us is usually a lot more well adjusted and big picture oriented than we are.

Some people might experience this part of themselves as a voice of reason in the back of their heads. Maybe some of us mistake our inner selves as the gods we worship (or perhaps the gods are screaming for our inner selves because we’re too deaf to hear our own voices). And in some cases, some people consider this inner portion of ourselves as being the divine within us (which I disagree with- everything is divine), or perhaps our ‘soul’. In FlameKeeping, this might actually be our inner flame- our inner guiding light that keeps us out of trouble and nourishes us.

Warning: Astral Crack ahead

To illustrate this point, allow me to relay my own experience. I recently stumbled across some other portion of myself in my astral/inner work. For our intents and purposes, let’s call her Chi. She looks nothing like my exterior appearance, and she acts almost nothing like me. Well, sorta- she does have that same ginger spark within her. However, she’s calmer. She doesn’t get as upset as I do over stupid things. She has good spoon management and knows how to stir a pot just so. She doesn’t stress over things that aren’t worth stressing over. She gives pretty sound advice, isn’t afraid to call me on my shit and many of her words have been along the lines of “simmer down, quit worrying so much”.

This part of me is so much older (and bigger) than I am- it’s probably a lot easier for her to say that. That’s probably why the gods are so much better at saying such things as well. I would imagine after watching a bunch of me’s running around like chickens with heads cut off you learn a few things. You really get an idea of what the larger picture is, and what you really need in order to survive or be happy.

It is my personal belief that it’s this part of ourselves that we should strive to touch, to hear. In the case for Kemetics, I think that this inner us is really our own ma’at.

We hum and haw about what ma’at is. Many of us can only narrow it down to “balance”. But we all know that balance is different for each of us. Even in terms of physical nature- we hold our center of gravity differently, and the way one person walks would make another topple over. This is also true of ethics and lifestyle. What works for me might not work for you. A person with 1,564,377,287 spoons is going to have a lot more energy to get things done than someone who starts off the day with 5 spoons. And at the end of the day- who is going to know the most about your own particular balance than yourself?

Perhaps we should focus on finding ourselves and focusing on figuring out what ma’at means for each of us, instead of getting into debates over what ma’at means to someone else you hardly even know. Much like with the concept of FlameKeeping- if you take the time to get in touch with your inner you (and of course, discernment comes into play here- make sure you’re tapping into the right voice), and you work on developing that- you become more balanced, more healthy (literally and metaphorically). If you’re healthier and happier because you’re able to live within your own version of ma’at, you’re more likely to have more spoons to use- your religious and/or spiritual practice can begin to flourish more. We become more productive, and the cosmos as a whole is better for it. They say that charity starts at home- and perhaps the gods are running many of their followers through so much shadow work because they know that we need to become sound and whole ourselves before we can build larger, better things.

They know that ma’at starts at home, within ourselves. We just have to dig a little bit to find it.

 

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Kemeticism is like a Fandom

Alternate title: A is for Aubs is a poopy-head.

This post was sparked by the Great Shopping Cart Debacle of 2013 and this post here.

For those who don’t know about the Great Shopping Cart Debacle, it occurred last week, when someone made a post, discussing ma’at and how she could better live within ma’at, or bring it into their daily life. In this post, she stated that the Shopping Cart Theology was useful for some, but not for her. This then sparked a response post and a host of comments on KIN and Tumblr.

It seems to me that the Kemetic community (if you wish to call it that) is a lot like a fandom. In any given fandom, you tend to have people who believe that the books are better than the movie. You have people who think that you aren’t a true fan unless you’ve read all of the books. There are those who are content to only watch the movies. There are those who like to take the original content and work with it- creating things like fan fic. You have those who take multiple series who mesh them together into one broad spectrum, multi-fandom alternate reality type thing. And you probably have people who write fanfic or make art about a series that they’ve not even read or seen it in its entirety.

If you take this into a Kemetic frame: your people who believe in only the books might be considered recons. You have people who are content to only work with the movies- they might be Tamerans. You have those who dabble with the books and the movies- maybe they are revivalists. And you have those who create the multi-fandom alternate reality things- maybe those are your eclectics.

And just like in fandoms- you have people who hate on those who never read the books. You have people who call out women for being in the fandom just to get attention. You have people who criticize one another for the way they ‘ship various characters. Hard core staunch traditionalists, people who think you need to know Tolkean Elvish in order to really be able to call themselves a LOTR fan.

And so it goes in the Kemetic sphere, too.

Recons hate the fluff. Everyone dislikes eclectics. Someone will judge you because you’re Kemetic Orthodox, which obviously means you’re a mindless drone. If you’re not posting 2 pages of sources for each of your points, you’re obviously not hardcore enough to have any say in the matter. If you’re not divined as a child of XYZ deity, you obviously have no grounds to speak with any authority on that deity. If you speak out against any of the few BNPs we have, you’re disowned by everyone. This is exemplified by the Shopping Cart Debacle mentioned above. In many cases, people were more upset that the OP had stated that the Shopping Cart Theology wasn’t working for them, or criticized its usefulness than actually reading the point of the post- which was to determine what would work for the OP (in terms of living daily within ma’at). People got so upset that someone dare criticize their favorite “character” that they lashed out blindly.

It’s insane, people. It’s stupid.

Much like a fandom, instead of coming together to celebrate a great story, universe and characters- and to explore how we can express our interpretation of all of that, people would rather point fingers at one another, sling judgmental comments at one another, and more or less spend their time whining and complaining about how they aren’t doing it right, and how dare you even open your mouth on the topic. Oh yes, and allow me to grab all of my other fandom friends to prove my point.

In the post I linked to above, Teo Bishop talks about how many people are plenty fit to call others out on a situation. It’s really easy to cut someone down for the way they practice. It’s so much simpler to call someone out for being in a fandom just for attention. Or in the case of Kemeticism- to claim that someone is only there to collect god statues.

Everything we do is heka based. Everything we do and say creates. It creates a framework, a basis, a foundation for future people to build upon. And I have to ask- how much energy, time and spoons are we wasting by purely stabbing one another for approaching this huge slab of stone called Kemeticism differently.

How much do you really gain from cutting down others who are helping to build this thing called Kemeticism?

Think about that for a bit.

How far would the gods get if they fought over who gets to stab apep? Could you imagine?

Set: No, it’s my spear!
Aset: give me that, I want to do it!
Ra: No! I want to do it today!

Do you think the cosmos would really last very long?

Now, I’m not saying we can’t have our disagreements. Disagreements can be very constructive– they can lead to deeper discussion and further insight into a situation. However, many times disagreements degrade straight into calling people names, slinging mud and general bad behaviour. Much like people who get way too attached to their favorite character or story telling method (books vs. movies), many times we get so attached to what we feel is the only (or best) way to do things, we end up missing out on great opportunities to take a different method of looking at things, and possibly enriching our practice in the process (I, too, have been guilty of this).

And to me, that’s a crying shame.

And of course, every single time I write about this sort of thing, it comes down to one thing: Respect. Respect for ourselves, for others. Respect for the gods and ma’at we supposedly worship and emulate. Respect for the fact that this world is too diverse and different to expect everyone to do it the same way that you do. And the knowledge to remember that everyone has to start somewhere, people are on different levels, people have different needs, approaches, and methods.

And to keep in mind that, at the end of the day- it serves no one to cut people down in a public forum, and its bad form to vaguebook/post/blog etc. because you happen to have a disagreement. We are too small of a community to waste our time on such things. Not to mention, we should all be adult enough to know when to walk away from a situation (two response rule, anyone? Bueller?)

So, in an attempt to emulate what I have said, and not make this entirely about complaining and pointing fingers, I pose this for your consideration:

What can we as a community, a sphere, a genre of religion do to work towards active, proactive discussion (which will hopefully lead to action)? What can we do to stop people from cutting down others in the heat blind emotion? Is it bad form to call people out where we see it? Do we turn the other cheek? Do you think its a problem at all? Are you guilty of sometimes cutting people down in the heat of the moment? How do you stop yourself from doing so??

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on January 14, 2013 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Modern Mythology: Santa Min

This post may not be safe for those under 18. Some images are NSFW.

I’d like to tell you a story about Santa Min.

Santa Min

Once upon a time, as the months got colder and colder, Santa Min looked down at the people of the world and felt sorry for them. He decided that he wanted to help them by finding a way to keep them warm! In order to facilitate this, Min decided to use what he knows best- sex!

So one night, he and a bunch of his god pals went trolling around Egypt, leaving all sorts of goodies in people’s houses.

Borrowed from KemeticRecon.com

But these weren’t the normal gifts that you’d expect to receive. Oh no! Santa Min knows what everyone really wants… Sex toys! And that’s why people love Santa Min, he doesn’t discriminate against how you behaved that year! Were you good? Here is a cock ring for you! Were you naughty? A cock ring for you as well! Santa Min knows that the secret to a happy winter is lots of love making. And he shares the love making with all of humanity of every color, preference and type you could imagine.

The morning after Santa Min has left his presents for everybody throughout all of Egypt, the people rejoice in his bringing of fertility and love to the land by setting out offerings for him, and celebrating the the most… obvious part of his person.

Santa Min Shrine

And as a final display of devotion, everyone helps to bring zep tepi back into the world by making some love themselves (because creation is orgasmic, after all).

And this is why many people are born in late August/early September, even to this day.

_________________________________________________

Now, as I’m sure you can tell, this is an entirely modern myth. It’s a new spin on something old, and it was created spontaneously one day when I made a comment to a fellow Kemetic that I was handing out cock rings to coworkers- like a weird Santa handing out sex toys to all the little boys and girls. They made mention that it’s something Min would do, and the story took a life of its own.

It seems to me that the modern Kemetic community lacks these modern myths. Many of us are so attached to the past that we forget that Egyptian mythology often changed and grew with society. I think it would be great if we were able to bring forth elements from the past, and make something new and fresh out of them. Take the gods and bring them to the present era.

This has been done in the myth above using a modern cultural icon- Santa. He is someone who brings good cheer and happiness to those who are good. But we’ve taken this idea and modified it to Kemetic/Egyptian standards or terms. Because Egypt had few stigmas on sex, sexuality, orientation, gender identification, etc. (as far as we know, at least) it makes sense that Min, whose primary function was protection and fertility, would bring gifts to everyone- “naughty” and nice alike.  This myth has also tried to incorporate ideas such as Zep Tepi- the first time, and connect the act of sex, celebration and fertility to the idea of things starting over, starting fresh- which is often mirrored in many winter myths (the sun being reborn, the fresh start of the New Year, etc).

I think if we are able to make the right connections to the past, it’s entirely possible to create a whole new set of myths for the modern era.

About the shrine above:

The shrine above was made with symbolism in mind, I would like to go over that symbolism here.

Santa Min Shrine 2

As you can see, Santa Min is in the back. He is the focus of this shrine. I would have liked a larger image, but it’s the closest I could find. There are items on the shrine which celebrate sex- vibrators and cock rings of various types and colors. There is bread and water- two staples in Egyptian offerings. I have added a white selenite spire- the white being related to Min already, but also for purity and the sexual connotations therein. And of course, the fact that it’s a phallic shape helps.

Santa Min Shrine 3

There are four leaves of lettuce- which is associated with Min and penises in Egypt in general. I chose 4 for completion of the year and the successful completed act of sex, and the joy received in so doing. I chose green incense- green for fertility. Incense for its uses in Egyptian offering standards.  And a white candle- once again, the white being used because of it’s associations with Min, and the candle itself harkening back to Zep Tepi, reminding us to bring creation in day to day life- every day.

What is your take on modern mythology? Do you think it has a place in modern Kemetic practice? Would you want to try your hand at creating modern myths?

Other Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on December 24, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Book Review: Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt

Today I’m reviewing Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt by R.T. Rundle Clark. This book was suggested to me by this guy right here, and it doesn’t disappoint. You’ll see that there are tons of quotes in this review because there was just that much stuff in the book. There are lots of small, obscure bits of information you don’t see presented anywhere else, and at the very least, there are lots of topics for you to sit and wrap your brain around- it’s like a gift that keeps on giving!

Some examples of more obscure information would be:

  • Set killing Osiris in the form of a flea.
  • The myth about Osiris asking Ra if he can have Set’s lands and people that he oversees, Ra saying yes, Set’s nosebleed creating agriculture, and then when Osiris puts on Ra’s Atef crown, getting all sorts of head injury (yes, I’m serious).
  • Discussions about Osiris in his inert state- being protected by Nehaher, who eventually turns into apep when he won’t let Osiris go and move forward.

The little tidbits are very interesting, and part of why I like this book so much. I enjoy obscure information, or things that you don’t readily find in every book on ancient Egypt. Especially because it allows you to really contemplate how these lesser known concepts could affect your practice (such as Nehaher being a/pep- it really challenges you to reconsider what you know about a/pep).

I also like that the myths that he does recount within the book have explanations behind them. The author isn’t just telling you the stories and myths- he’s attempting to explain them, draw parallels between them and other aspects of AE culture, and provide context and meaning to them. It’s not something that a lot of authors do.

Despite the name, this book focuses almost solely on Osiris. I think a lot of people would benefit from reading this book for no other reason than  you can see just how many different myths, angles, and changes have occurred in the Osirian mythos. We always hear the clean cut, simplified version of Osiris and Set, about Aset and Nebhet’s search for him.. etc. But when you start to examine all of the variances in the myth that occurred in different nomes or eras- it becomes really apparent that nothing is very clear cut. So for anyone who wants a good primer into learning about Osiris or his mythos- this book is highly beneficial, and I recommend you pick it up.

If Osiris isn’t your cup of tea, this book may not serve you much. I mean, there is other information within the book, but a large portion of it (like.. 2/3s of the book) talks about Osiris.

Here are some interesting quotes I pulled from the book:

“Atum was unhappy in the Primeval Waters because he was, in the words of this text, ‘in a relaxed state, very weary and inert.’ This existence in the waters was painful; Atum was in travail until he could settle his limbs in a definite place. From the emerging deity’s point of view the waters are bad, they represent the conditions of helplessness and chaos which have to be transcended. On the other hand, they can be regarded as ‘pure’ and as ‘the waters of life’ for the soul who wishes to return to their state of negation. Immersion in them means going back to primeval innocence.”

“The pyramid texts have echoes of lost tales about teh gestation of Nut and how she freed herself violently from her mother’s womb. But the essential event connected with Geb and Nut is their separation.”

“The symbolism is based on a legend that originally earth and sky were together in total and sexual union. So, when the sky descends ritually upon the earth, Nut is impregnated by Geb. We are then told why the sky was lifted away from the earth. Shu, Nut’s father ‘so loved her’ that he separated her from her mate Geb and, as the air, held her aloft with his arms. Nut was then able to give birth to the stars and to ‘taken them up’- allow them to sail across her belly, the sky.”

“Osiris is immanent. He is the sufferer with all mortality but at hte same time he is all the power of revival and fertility in the world. He is the power of growth in plants and of reproduction in animals and human beings. He is both dead and the source of all living. Hence to become Osiris is to become on with the cosmic cycles of death and rebirth… In Egypt, Osiris absorbed the nature or attributes of many cyclic or fertility figures such as Anedjety of the Eastern Delta (whose insignia he borrowed), Sokar of Giza, the “Lord of the Westerners” at Abydos and others now forgotten.”

Osiris is nature itself or, to speak more accurately, nature as experienced by the farmers and stock-breeders of the Ancient Near East. During the summer heat the desolate condition of the world can be expressed as if either the spirit of life had departed, or was listless and asleep, or that life itself was dead. Any single metaphor would be insufficient to describe the dire calamity of the world. Similarly, the fate of Seth, the enemy, can be death, bonds or ignominious submissions he cannot be altogether annihilated, for he is a power that can be restrained or canalized, but not absolutely destroyed. Take away the pathos of the Osirian cycle, and the metaphors fall apart so that each can generate its own myth in narrative form. This is what happens in the myth of the contendings of Horus and Seth, int eh saga of the Two Brothers and the other popular tales, which deal with mythical motives as connected stories. They arose on the periphery of Osiris worship, far away from the deep emotions displayed in the genuine cult. Even the simple statement that sorrow is at an end in the Twin Sanctuaries declares that the joy at the salvation of Osiris is universal.

“Hence to become Osiris X is not to be identified with Osiris as he is usually represented, but to share in the god’s salvation and transformation into a ‘soul’. Death and the indignities of embalmment represented, for earthly bodies, the passion of the god. Seth is the death that strikes on down; his confederates are the demons of decay and dissolution. The completion of the rites and the establishment of the ordered ritual at the tomb are the ‘rescuing of the god’. The interim period btwn death and revival was one of great danger. Just as the pieces of Osiris’ body had been put together, and his corpse watched all through the night of his passion by his sisters Isis and Nephthys, so priestesses  personifying them play the role of mourners and protectors of his body from spirit enemies during the funerary rituals. They, in fact, are responsible for the safety of Osiris between his death and the coming of Horus. First they find the gods and then they put his body together and mourn him.”

The waters of the annual inundation came from the thigh of the god (Osiris). This.. is the reason why the thigh of Osiris was kept as a relic in several temples and why modern scholars have been so mystified by references to being ‘born upon the thigh’.

Now to the downsides of the book. I think it needs to be stated that this book was written in the 50’s, so you have to keep an open mind with some of the information he presents. He seems to have an undercurrent of monotheism that I didn’t care for, and he likes to talk about the “Mother Goddess”- as though there is some supreme mother goddess of AE that oversees things. It’s a bit clunky in those regards, but I was able to look past that for the information he presents.

I think my biggest beef with this book is his writing style. Sometimes, he would go on about a topic- and then jump to an entirely different topic without so much as a transition. In some cases, this isn’t such a big deal- but in other cases, it almost feels like he was in the middle of a large point when he decides to switch tracks. This can become confusing or frustrating when you’re trying to piece together larger concepts and ideas. I also don’t entirely understand his names for his chapters. They make no sense to me, nor do they seem to have much correlation to the text within the chapters. Most of the areas where he discusses Osiris, I think the information could have been categorized into something more linear and easier to follow, and that most of those chapters could have been mashed into one large chapter that dealt with nothing more than Osiris’ mythos.

However, if you can move beyond the writing style, the information in the book is totally worth it. I plan on reading this again in the future, so I can soak up more details about Osiris, as there isn’t a whole lot written about him in-depth elsewhere. If you’re looking to learn about O, I totally recommend picking this book up.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2012 in Kemetic Book Reviews, Kemeticism

 

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Formal Execration: The Learning Curve

While trying to decipher the meaning of a vision that I received while working with O, it was suggested that perhaps I do an execration. I considered this, and sat down with Set to get his thoughts on it, and he agreed it would be a good idea. For whatever reason, I decided I would try a formal execration. I chose the first execration rite listed in Eternal Egypt. This is my first time of doing an execration from a book, and I wanted to document some of it for others to see and consider.

The purpose of this execration was to “clear the board” (Set’s words). He had told me that I had enemies I could see, and enemies I couldn’t see. Things I was considering, and things that I wasn’t considering. So I chose the first rite in an attempt to keep the ‘enemies’ specific (for the ones I could list), but yet still cast a wide enough net to knock out things that I couldn’t see or consider in my current position.

Execration Altar Setup

Execration Altar Setup

So let’s go over what is needed for a formal execration. Reidy has the following “ingredients” for an execration:

  • Candle or oil lamp
  • An image of the serpent-enemy made of beeswax
  • New sheet of papyrus with enemies names listed in green ink
  • Copper brazier or pan
  • Herbs to replace bryony
  • Iron knife or nail
  • Black thread
  • Blade of flint
  • Red clay pot, sand, and a lid or means to seal the pot

Because of limitations, I made a few changes to the above ingredients list. I used regular paper, instead of papyrus. My beeswax image was made from a candle. Instead of a copper pan, I used a brass bowl. And for herbs, I used a lemon. Reidy states in his book that bryony would have been acidic, and I felt that a lemon would be one of the most acidic things I could find. Instead of an iron knife, I used Set’s knife (stainless steel). I chose to use his knife because he is part of the reason I’m doing this at all. And, his connotations of smiting a/pep daily anyways. For my red pot, I chose an old pill bottle that I had. I cleaned it and painted it red.

Once I had all of my stuff together, I set it up all nicely in one spot so that I could do all of my work in one area and not have to leave to go get stuff. The execration was going along alright. Nothing major or exciting, though it was odd to actually speak words during my rite (I am a silent ritualist, usually). And everyting was pretty ho hum until I set stuff on fire.

 

Yes. Set stuff on fire. And holy crap. Did it burn. It burned for a long long time. In fact, I had to bring in a pot lid to smother the flames so that it would stop burning. It got so hot that the wax started to sizzle in the base of the pot. It was seriously like standing in front of the stove while cooking.

Damn.

That’s crazy.

And after it was done, it looked a lot like this:

Execration Remains

And it was at least 20 minutes before the brass was cool enough to touch.

Afterwards, I took the remains and poured them into my bottle. I added the lemon juice (as well as the lemon as a whole) and poured sand on top. I then took my red candle and melted hot wax over the lid and let it drip down (It didn’t quite pan out as I had hoped it would, but ohwell). Since I didn’t have the means to bury it somewhere, I placed it in a dumpster on the other side of my apartment complex where it will eventually be taken to the landfill and ‘buried’ there.

execration bottle

Now it’s time for the learning curve!

As mentioned in the title, there is a bit of a learning curve to this whole ‘formal execration’ thing. It’s really easy to take a piece of paper, write on it, scream at it, tear it up, burn it and pitch it (and call it good). But when you get into the more formal style of things, there are a lot more problems that can crop up during the ritual. There are also more considerations that need to be made while doing the formal style, and I wanted to go over some of my findings, pitfalls, and areas of suggestion so that your formal execration can go smoother.

  • Make sure your execration pot (the thing you burn stuff in) is sturdy. You saw how hot my stuff got. If I had gone with a lesser bowl, its entirely possible that I could have run into serious problems. The bowl could have broken (or shattered) and I would have had hot molten wax all over my table, my person, and possibly my hands as well. Be considerate of the materials you’re using. Make sure that your execration brazier/pot can really withstand high heat.
  • Be considerate of your surroundings. In conjunction with above- make sure you’re performing your execration in a place that can handle high heat. Despite using a brass bowl, I ended up with a black circle on my silverware box. I also ended up with tons of tiny wax droplets all over my box, table, and person. Make sure that you do your rites in an area that can handle high heat, messes, and potentially escaping fire or wax.
  • Be considerate of your clay pot. My jar was extremely hot after placing that wax in there. I wanted to drip the wax down the side of my jar, so that it would actually seal the jar up. However, the wax was still so hot inside, I couldn’t pick up the jar for fear of breaking the glass, or burning my hands. Be sure that wherever you’re filling the jar at can also handle high heat, or potential jar breakage.
  • Don’t make a huge a/pep effigy. My a/pep was made out of a large taper candle. That was dumb. It should have been a lot smaller. I think a lot of my fire issues stemmed from the sheer volume of wax that was in the pot. Be considerate of the size of your burning pot, and the size of the problems you are execrating when you create your a/pep figure. Next time, I think I will make something smaller in size.
  • If you’re going to have a large a/pep figure, make sure you burn your paper before adding the wax. There was so much wax in my bowl, the paper never entirely burned. If I had burned the paper first, that wouldn’t have been a huge problem.
  • Have water, oven mitts, perhaps a large pot lid (for snuffing out fire), and something like sand or baking soda on hand. This is in case fire spreads.
  • Make sure your knives are sharp and can handle some pressure. I had a lot of problem with my knife not wanting to cut this massive wax figure. I ended up doing divots in the wax, and snapping the snake apart… which was quite gratifying. But at least be aware that it can be an issue.

All in all, I’m glad I tried a formal execration out. I think that each format of execration is useful, and really serves different purposes all in all. I love basic execrations where all I’m doing is focusing on smashing the crap out of something. I don’t need to worry about words or structure, it’s all about the emotional release. However, the formal style is pretty cool too, because you seriously feel like you’re beating something much larger up. Especially when the wax started to really go off- I was like “Damn, this is crazy. What the hell did I just unleash?” The styles and feelings are different, and that each format is better for certain situations over others.

It is my opinion that Formal Execrations are good for large scale, long term goals. For example, let’s take losing weight. You’d start with a Formal Execration to get you started. And then you’d do lots of smaller execrations along the way to keep you going. The best way to find out which is best for you is to try one of each version and compare and contrast their results.

I urge you to try a formal execration and see how it feels!

Other posts on Execration:

 
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Posted by on December 6, 2012 in Devo Magix Series, Kemeticism

 

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