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To You, Who Would Worship a/pep

Over my years of being in the Kemetic community, there is one particular saga that has persisted year after year, and that is the appearance of people who want to worship a/pep. In response to this consistent flow of questioning, I thought it prudent to create an informational post for such questions that goes over what a/pep is and isn’t, and what it means to place a/pep at the center of your Kemetic practice.

Foundations: Key Concepts, Terms, and Definitions

In order to really understand what a/pep is, you will first need to understand both isfet and ma’at, as well as what these concepts do within our religious structure. While it’s easy to use very basic definitions of the concepts: ma’at is justice, truth, or balance; isfet is disorder or chaos; these definitions really don’t get into the workings of or scope of what these concepts actually are.

Most Kemetics would agree that ma’at is the tenet that all of Kemeticism revolves around. In the ancient Egyptian worldview, gods and humans alike exist within a sphere of creation. Ma’at is what allows said creation to continue to exist. Ma’at is in the air we and the gods breathe, it’s manifested in the food that we eat, and in the natural cycles that allow us to successfully live within this world. To the Egyptians, if you maintained ma’at properly, you would have successful harvests, the Nile would flood to the right degree–not too much or too little, and everyone more or less prospered. Ma’at is the ideal that we all strive to embody because it is vital to, if not synonymous with, our very existence.

Then there’s isfet. Isfet is a natural force within the universe that works against creation in every aspect. Many people like to use the word “entropy” to describe isfet in a succinct way. In so many ways, isfet is everything we are not. Creation is very noisy and active and isfet is not about that. The bubble of creation mentioned above exists within the Nun. The Nun is often referred to as a “watery abyss” or a “void”. It’s essentially the ocean that creation was borne out of. Everything could exist or ever will exist exists in the nun, and that includes isfet. The Egyptians often viewed the gods riding a boat along the edge of this bubble of creation, pushing away isfet as much as possible, so that creation can be preserved. Another way to view it is how our atmosphere protects us from the solar radiation that bombards our planet every day. The atmosphere is the ma’at that allows us to live and blocks the caustic, isfetian solar radiation from reaching us.

Now you may be thinking “solar radiation is an inherently neutral thing, how can we label it as isfet?” and that’s where the trickiness of these two concepts comes into focus. Sometimes the only difference between labeling something as isfet or ma’at within a situation depends purely upon who you are focusing on within the situation. To use the old phrase “what is normal for the spider is chaos for the fly,” so too can go isfet and ma’at. In order to sustain ourselves, we must partake in food. We must ultimately commit isfet (kill something, whether plant or animal) to survive, which ultimately creates more ma’at.

In most instances, the only time that isfet is allowed to be remotely revered within the Kemetic paradigm is if it is used to create more ma’at. We’ll come back to this.

Finally, I wanted to explain where a/pep actually fits into all of this. Many people use a/pep and isfet interchangeably, but the truth is that they’re not exactly the same. Isfet is the natural destructive force that flows through the universe. a/pep is giving that force a particular form that can be destroyed. Ancient Egyptians loved to execrate isfet so that ma’at could be maintained, but it’s quite hard to direct your execration at something so formless. To bypass this problem, they gave isfet a form that could be directly attacked — a/pep. So when you’re talking about a/pep, you’re talking about giving physical form to the inherent energy that is working to unmake everything. a/pep isn’t an entity in its own right, its merely a catch-all term to serve as a point of focus for execration.

Historical Considerations

Now that you have an understanding of what these concepts are and do, let’s take a look at the historical context of these concepts within our religion. Even if we don’t want to utilize much history in our practice, I think that it is always beneficial to consider what the Egyptians thought and did with their own religion before embarking into new territory. While the Egyptians did a lot of stuff that was questionable, and therefore should be left in the past, the central idea of certain key concepts within Kemeticism should remain intact to some degree, otherwise you’re not really practicing Kemeticism– you’re practicing something entirely different.

One thing that is important to understand when viewing the historical applications of ma’at is that the ideological tenets of ma’at did not always shake out in practice. On paper, ma’at is about sustaining existence and creating a world where everyone prospers and looks out for one another. But in practice, Egypt utilized the concept of ma’at to enforce a rigid social hierarchy that pooled all of the power with a handful of people that existed at the top of the societal food chain. To the Egyptian state, ma’at meant maintaining the crown and the bureaucracy that supported it.

This means that ma’at underpinned all aspects of how the state/crown ran the country, including justifications for colonialism to how temples handled their daily affairs to how the legal system operated and doled out punishments. This led to extensive abuses of power and oppression of people throughout all of Egyptian history. By extension, the pharoahs framed and wielded ma’at in ways that ultimately generated extensive amounts of isfetian energy.

And as the following examples will show, if the pharaoh is always the sole arbiter of ma’at, then anything he doesn’t like is bound to be isfetian.

I think the most commonly cited example of daily maintenance of ma’at is how temples did daily execration rituals where a/pep was identified by name and ritually slaughtered as a means of reaffirming the Order that the pharaoh, Horus, and Re upheld. I make sure to specify that some of those destroyed were mentioned “by name” because it wasn’t uncommon for known peoples and enemies of the State/Egypt to be listed on the execration effigy or mentioned in the rubric as someone for their heka to destroy. Anything that was viewed as a threat to the pharaoh’s power was fair game to be thrown into the execration pot.

It is also worth mentioning that we do have at least some historical records showing that those destroyed weren’t always effigies, but actual living beings. This may sound extreme to some, but when you view how Egypt’s legal system operated, I really think that you’ll start to see how this isn’t really abnormal for their culture.

…the ideological reasoning behind sanctioned killing seems to have remained the same. By far, the most prevalent reason for engaging in sanctioned killing was the perception of rebellious acts. Certain actions – and as noted those actions did not remain temporally static – caused one to be characterized as a rebel. Rebellious acts lifted one from the temporal sphere to the mythological. In the mythological realm, the destruction of the forces of Isfet was necessary to maintain Ma ‘at, and once one was mythologically identified with Isfet, sanctioned killing was necessary. This violence served to reestablish order.

Violence in the Service of Order, Kerry Miles Muhlestein pg. xxi-xxii

When you skim through various court documents and cases from ancient Egypt, you will find that even remotely threatening the crown would result in harsh punishments. If you stole state-owned copper? Death. Rob a tomb? Impalement. Desecrate any site that is viewed as sacred? Also dead.

There are even cases where not only were the culprits of crimes sentenced to death, but so too were those who neglected to stop them (x). To the Egyptian legal system, anyone who dared to let isfet pass without regard was just as culpable as those committing the isfetian act. Usually anyone that was found to have helped perpetuate isfet was condemned to die. The state had literally no room for anyone who would dare to think of shaking up their monarchy.

From this perspective, I feel like I understand why someone may be drawn to worshiping a/pep. If your only exposure of ma’at is through how the crown of Egypt interpreted it, there is a lot left to be desired. It may not matter to you that a/pep wasn’t worshiped historically when considering what the crown viewed to be isfetian.

What’s sad is that the amount of isfetian tomfoolery that the Egyptian state engaged in wasn’t even restricted to matters of killing those who would harm the crown. Egypt has even been known to wreak havoc on local ecology as they sent certain species to the brink of extinction and beyond to fuel their temple-based animal mummification industry. All of this so that people could purchase rituals where these votives were offered to the gods in the hopes of a better afterlife experience. In many ways, Egypt’s interpretation and implementation of ma’at was short-sited to say the least.

This has always been a point of contention among modern Kemetics, as some believe that ma’at should be interpreted in the way that the Egyptian state did, including replications of both monarchy and hierarchy. But there is definitely a growing number of Kemetics that lean towards interpreting ma’at as its described in its more ideal form, where it’s removed from the power grabs of humans and gods alike. The Kemetics in the second category would argue that the actions of the state of Egypt were often actions of isfet, made to maintain a structure that is isfetian at its core. This is also why Set is such an important figure for a lot of modern Kemetics within this camp, as he is the voice of those steamrolled by the ma’at that was enforced by the crown. I will be covering both of these aspects more in-depth below.

When Isfet Begets Ma’at

It’s at this point that I think it is useful to address one of the largest friction points I see when discussing worshiping a/pep, and that is the matter of when isfetian events/occurrences/acts could be considered ma’atian in nature.

For example, death is considered a form of isfet. When Osiris is felled, he is attacked by forces of isfet in such a horrible way that the Egyptians refused to outright say that he had died. The act of death is so heinous that it is only referred to indirectly such as “put on his side” or “felled” or “laid down.” Death is unequivocally associated with isfet.

But as seen in the examples above, the pharaoh had no problems committing acts of isfet when its to maintain his vision of ma’at. Similarly, killing animals for consumption — an act that is mandatory to sustain life (an inherently ma’atian thing) — is simultaneously viewed as both isfetian and ma’atian in nature. Going back to the Osirian myth, even though a horrible act of isfet has been committed against him in the form of death, it’s also stated multiple times that his corpse breeds new ma’at. His exudations create fertile ground for growing, his back is the fields upon which life is sustained. From isfet, ma’at was born again because sometimes isfet begets ma’at. Isfet performed for the right reasons can help perpetuate ma’at. The whole part of ma’at being about balance is that its really easy to shift from “I’m committing this singular, unavoidable act of violence to further ma’at” to “I’m colonizing entire nations because ma’at.”

You can see this clearly in the myth where Re sends Sekhmet to destroy mankind for not worshiping him in the way he wanted to be worshiped. In his anger, he wields Hathor/Sekhmet, an embodiment of ma’at in its most protective and loving form, and sends them out to kill his enemies — enemies that have been labeled as rebels against him. As she commits violence in service of ma’at, he comes to realize he’s made an error and has to do substantial work to bring a halt to the isfet he has wrought. In so doing, he loses his standing with the humans on earth and retreats to the sky in defeat. He also does significant damage to his relationship with some of the most intimate parts of himself — Sekhmet and Hathor. The damage is so bad that Sekhmet leaves and must be cajoled back into the fold later on.

When the gods go beyond the point of balance, they are almost always punished for it. There is a line between committing isfet in the service of ma’at and committing isfet for isfet’s sake. The context and wider scope of your actions matters in determining which is occurring.

Since isfet is sometimes warranted to create ma’at, many of the people who have shown an interest in worshiping a/pep argue that they’re honoring these parts of isfet, where its nature helps to beget more ma’at. However, those aspects of isfet are arguably already contained within our gods. Many of our gods are known for having the capacity to be both beneficial and violent. As much as Sekhmet is said to heal people, she is also the one who releases plague upon this world, particularly during the dry seasons of summer. These curses are argued to be isfetian to humans, which places Sekhmet in a position of being a goddess of ma’at, but also a goddess that could send out isfet to wreck your day.

This is why each god was to be propitiated as much as possible to keep their benevolent face forward, to keep people safe from their ire. Despite their dependency on ma’at, isfet sometimes came from them all the same. This brings up an important distinction that needs to be made when discussing isfet.

Man-Made Isfet vs. Naturally-Occurring Isfet

Isfet can be said to come in two flavors – naturally-occurring and human-created. Natural isfet is like dying of natural causes, unforeseen accidents that cause harm, natural disasters, black holes, etc. These sorts of isfet are generally regarded as unavoidable natural parts of creation, and are part of the give and take of existing within creation. They are types of isfet that are to be overcome and moved past. This is generally regarded as the only sort of isfet that may be wrought by our deities, and is often framed as leaving room for ma’at to grow from what has occurred, as with Osiris’ body being fertile ground for crops.

Man-made isfet, though? That’s a completely different ball game.

Man-made isfet is usually unnecessary strife, struggle, or oppression that’s generated by humans onto the world around them. Man-made isfet is when pharaohs did basically anything that was mentioned in the historical section above. Man-made isfet is when rich humans decide to exploit the planet and destroy several ecosystems all at once. Man-made isfet is when people abuse, manipulate, and destroy those around them. Man-made isfet is completely avoidable and yet becomes nearly inevitable whenever people or deities accumulate too much power into too few hands, and then wield it in self-serving ways.

All monarchies strive to keep the largest amount of power in the smallest amount of hands, and Egypt was no exception. When power is pooled in this way, those of lower status are forced to bow to the whims of those in power. The whims of the powerful end up determining the living conditions of an ever-growing number of people and ecological systems, and a whole isfet-making machine is born.

When Kemetics work to execrate isfet and a/pep, we are generally working to destroy man-made isfet because man-made isfet is the most toxic kind there is. You need only look at the state of the world you live in to understand how far-reaching and devastating this sort of isfet can become. We are all staring down the barrel of multiple global extinction events in our lifetimes because of man-made isfet.

It is considered an incredibly bad idea to support or fuel this sort of isfet because no one in their right mind would want to support the very forces that will cause creation to collapse. When Kemetics express concern or mistrust over people wanting to worship a/pep, it’s because no Kemetic in their right mind would want to fuel the very things trying to destroy us.

Because of the nature of isfet and a/pep, there is no getting around this problem. There isn’t a way to only worship the a/pep that may lead to better things, and at that point, you’d be better off fueling the ma’atian outcome you’re hoping for, not the face of the isfet that is occurring. Our gods are beings that are capable of reforming isfet into ma’at, so there isn’t really a solid reason to fixate on a/pep.

“Chaotic events which would lead to the need for an Isfet-destroying killing would generally not be portrayed or preserved textually. When they were, it could only be done within certain genres and presented in careful, indefeasible ways – ways which insured that the chaos was not recreated, or was at least perpetually overcome. The Egyptian reticence towards preserving vitiating events touched with lsfet must be continually kept in mind”

Violence in the Service of Order, Muhlenstein pg 39-40

A Pot Full of Unrest

I would argue that there is a god within our pantheon that has the most intimate experience of being intertwined with isfet, and by extension, a/pep. He is one of the best in the pantheon at killing a/pep, as he does so for Re every night in the Duat. He is also one of the only gods in our pantheon to be repeatedly and directly execrated as a/pep. It is his confederates that are set ablaze in the execration pot, it is his very form that is held in the hands of nearly every god in the pantheon. A sign that is considered a form of dominion because the gods were incredibly concerned about keeping his power within their control.

Despite being a pre-dynastic god, Set’s position within the Egyptian pantheon has always been precarious. Both as the god of foreigners and the god who killed that other god, Egypt had plenty of opportunities to put Set to use as an agent of isfet that could be controlled and coerced back into their structural idea of ma’at.

If a/pep is the catch-all label applied to anything aligned with isfet, then Set is the catch-all label applied to anything isfet that the crown needs to transmute into ma’at.

In the earliest parts of Egyptian history, Set played a role with Horus in teaching the king how to be a good king. But as the Osirian myth really began to take hold, Set’s role within the pantheon became increasingly aligned with a/pep. So much so that by the Greco Roman Period, he was practically synonymous with a/pep in most places. Most Egyptologists believe that his slow descent into disfavor largely due to the influx of foreigners and multiple foreign invasions that occurred in the latter half of Egyptian history. But before he became reviled outright, he played a crucial role in maintaining ma’at. Unlike a/pep, Set’s chaos and disorder served a purpose.

There is a reason that Set is the one who felled Osiris, for that’s a major part of Set’s function within the pantheon: whenever something is disrupting the gods’ dominion, they grasp ahold of Set and bring isfet to heel. To try and summarize succinctly, when early mummification practices were getting started, there was a need to justify the level of intimacy and destruction to the body that came along with the mummification process. It’s theorized that forming the Osirian myth in that fashion was a way to mythologize and justify the process that was occurring. From that perspective, it’s no wonder that he is associated the adze that mutilates the corpse for mummification and burial. He is the one who carries the coffin across the river to the necropolis. He is the rebel whose confederates are punished and banished before he himself is refolded back into the pantheon. It’s his violently removed foreleg that serves as the perfect offering to the Foremost of the Westerners and the akhu.

Even though Set has been used as execration fodder many, many times, the Egyptians and the gods both considered him their protection, and it was through his strength that order could be maintained to the degree that it was. Just like the people that were killed by the crown so that ma’at could be “upheld,” Set was also destroyed in much the same way, and as a byproduct he has become synonymous with oppressed and marginalized people.

To me, it seems that Set is the better option if you’re actually interested in worshiping someone who supports the oppressed and undoes isfet where possible.

Conclusions

So back to the original question that started this post: if you were to place a/pep at the center of your practice, what would it look like?

Essentially, you would be putting your energy and time into the physical manifestation of a force that wants to erode the things that allows you to live well. Given that a/pep is a label or mantle and not an entity in its own right, I think it would be very hard to bypass all of the awful man-made, destructive isfet to only venerate the aspects of a/pep that relates to people who were wrongfully labeled a/pepian. Epithets and mantles often work that way — where utilizing the label impacts and encompasses all of the entities/beings that have held that label/mantle/title, not just the specific one you’re referring to. As such, I think it begs to ask whether this is something worth doing given the other options within our pantheon.

Further, when people say that a/pep has talked to them or responded to them, I think it begs the question of who is behind that label, because a/pep as its own entity doesn’t really exist. Anytime I hear people say that a/pep is an entity that is said to be supportive or needing of support because they have been cast out unfairly, I can only think that this more accurately describes Set as a/pep, and I can’t help but question whether many of the people hearing from a/pep are actually hearing from him. Since placing the mantle of a/pep at the center of your practice would only continue to fuel isfet, it seems like worshiping Set or a ma’atian being that can transfigure isfet into ma’at would be the better choice.

To you who would worship a/pep I would ask: we already have so much rampant isfet in this world and better ma’atian beings to choose from, why should anyone place there veneration at a/pep’s feet.

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Posted by on March 10, 2022 in Kemeticism

 

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We need to have a talk about the henadology guy

For anyone who has been in the community for any length of time, you’ll know that the name “Ed Butler” has been a as bit of a jaw clencher. He is the person who runs the henadology site, and while his information about the ntrw has always been great, the company he’s kept has been questionable at best for a while now. Originally aligning himself with the Piety Posse, including the likes of Krasskova and Sannion, he’s always had a tendency of not caring how awful his colleagues are, so long as the ~polytheists~ are able to band together.

Tl;dr: his problematic track record continues. This post is incredibly long and details about his current love affair with Hindu nationalism. There are two much shorter posts detailing this here and here. There is another post that goes into much more detail about the history of hindutva as it relates to Indica here.

Background Information

Butler is currently acting as the director of the Center for Global Polytheist & Indigenous Traditions with a group called Indic Academy. Indic Academy is one of several branches that exists under the umbrella group ‘Indica.’ If you ask Butler about Indic Academy, he will tell you that it’s a “non-political educational group.” However, you only need to take a quick look under the hood to see that this is an incredibly inaccurate take, which I’ll get to momentarily.

When people began to question his affiliation with said group that seems to have clear ties to Hindu Nationalism, plenty of folks came to his aid to say that foreigners have no place discussing India’s politics because it is “complex” and “emotionally charged,” including Butler himself:

Now, I don’t see why foreigners don’t seemingly have the brain capacity to learn about the politics of another country and draw conclusions about the situation. Nor do I understand why each of these people is so quick to say “I don’t know anything about this” and then go “but I’m super duper sure Butler has done nothing wrong, and I refuse to educate myself to make sure.” But one thing I will say is that the rhetoric of “foreigners wouldn’t understand” feels like a cop out at best, or being a fascist apologist at worst.

For the record Aliakai has since retracted their support of Indica Academy, and has said that they have cut their ties with Butler.

ETA: Ptahmassu has also released a statement on it.

ETA (2): Rhyd Wildermuth has also released a post on it. CW: subtle racism, transphobia, general stupidity. If you didn’t know that Rhyd was garbage, well, now you do.

In response to this, Butler released a WP post where he attempted to defend his actions of participating in a group that has links to Hindu nationalism. However, his post was incredibly vague and is completely unhelpful for those who know nothing about the organization he works for or of the concept of “hindutva” that he mentions specifically in his post. Instead, the post talks about how he definitely isn’t a bigot, and that Indica (and subsequently, Indic Academy) doesn’t have any political motivation/affiliation, and that it shouldn’t be held responsible for “every wrongful tendency in contemporary Indian life, the cycle of violence, than any similar Christian or Muslim educational organization is made to answer for the worst actions or ideologies of any of their co-religionists.” This post is aimed to thoroughly explain to everyone what is going on, and why we really need to have a community discussion about issues such as this.

The Nature of Hindutva

At the center of this discussion is the concept of “hindutva.” Hindutva translates into “hinduness,” and on the surface, it doesn’t seem like it would be anything bad. In Butler’s post, he calls hindutva “elastic” and claims that it gets thrown at “Any celebration of Hinduism, and every affirmation of its value and articulation of its values” as a form of attack. This seems strange to me, because hindutva isn’t really an elastic term whatsoever. One only need to search “Hindu Nationalism” and find that hindutva has a very specific meaning and intention in our current era:

Hindutva (transl. Hinduness) is the predominant form of Hindu nationalism in India.[1] As a political ideology, the term Hindutva was articulated by Vinayak Damodar Savarkar in 1923.[2] It is championed by the Hindu Nationalist volunteer organisation Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)[3][4] and other organisations, collectively called the Sangh Parivar.

The Hindutva movement has been described as a variant of “right-wing extremism”[5] and as “almost fascist in the classical sense”, adhering to a concept of homogenised majority and cultural hegemony.[6][7] Some analysts dispute the identification of Hindutva with fascism, and suggest Hindutva is an extreme form of conservatism or “ethnic absolutism”. (x)(x)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindutva

Another example:

Hinduism is the name given to the most ancient and persistent religion on the Indian subcontinent, and Hindutva is the name by which the ideology of the Hindu right, represented by the political party Bharatiya Janata Party, or Indian People’s Party (BJP), is known. It is also the ideology of the cultural body known as Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, or National Volunteer Core (RSS), which was founded in 1925 and with which the BJP has strong links. Ever since the rise of the BJP on the Indian political scene from 1990 onward, and its recent successes in national elections in India in 2014 and 2019, the question of the relationship between Hinduism as a religion and Hindutva as a political ideology has come to the fore, because the word “Hindu” is common to both.1 The exploration of the relationship between Hinduism as a religion and Hindutva as a political philosophy has become a virtual academic cottage industry that shows no signs of slowing down.2 In popular writings on the subject, Hindutva has been variously described as “Hinduism on steroids,” as “Hinduism which resists,” or as “an illegitimate child of Hinduism.” A preliminary way of understanding the difference between Hinduism and Hindutva would be to recognise that Hinduism is a religion (however defined) while Hindu nationalism, or Hindutva, is a political ideology, whose relation to the religion of Hinduism could be considered analogous to the relationship between Christianity and Christian fundamentalism or Islam and Islamic fundamentalism. There is, however, one key difference. Hinduism is a plural tradition, as compared to Christianity and Islam which possess well defined universal creedal formulations that are largely absent in Hinduism according to most observers. Therefore, Hindu “fundamentalism” is remarkably thin in terms of religious content as compared to Christianity and Islam. (x)

https://www.asianstudies.org/publications/eaa/archives/on-the-difference-between-hinduism-and-hindutva/

Or another quote:
Hindutva, also called Hindu nationalism, is a right-wing political ideology that guides the current ruling party in India, the BJP, under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Sometimes, people will argue that Hindutva is “a way of life,” or that Hindutva simply means “Hindu-ness,” synonymous with Hinduism. However, Hindutva is a modern, political ideology that is barely more than a hundred years old. […] Hindu nationalist groups in India like the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) were inspired not by Hindu teachings, but by Nazi Germany and Mussolini’s fascists in Italy.
“The idea of fascism vividly brings out the conception of unity amongst people… India and particularly Hindu India need some such institution for the military regeneration of the Hindus… Our institution of Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh of Nagpur under Dr. Hedgewar is of this kind.”

https://www.sadhana.org/hindutva-101

So, to put it succinctly: hindutva is a right-wing ideology in India. Its goals are to create an India that is de-secularized, where Hindu tradition is the guiding metric for the entirety of the government and law. As the excerpt above mentions, its got similar ideologies to Christian Evangelism/fundamentalism here in the U.S. They want India and Hindu to become synonymous with one another, that Indian culture is inherently Hindu because to be Indian is to be Hindu. And that the only way to be truly Indian is to exclusively adhere to Hindu rules and traditions.

How Butler thinks hindutva is “elastic” is beyond me. It’s pretty concretely associated with fascism, and despite the clear distinction between hindutva and Hindu (they are not the same), Butler continues to misconstrue the two as being the same. He wants to rebrand what hindutva means, and I suppose its from that perspective that he considers it “elastic.”

Note that this is from Indica Today, the commentary branch of Indica.

To be 100% clear, hindutva is not an elastic term. It is associated with Hindu nationalism. The sources above say the exact same thing. Its the inherent fascism present in the hindutva movement that strives to make these two words mean the same thing. When trying to point out that they’re not the same, he refuses to accept that answer.

Have you ever seen a conservative try to tell you that not everyone that voted for Trump was a bigot? Have you ever watched their apologists try to tell you that Trump’s administration wasn’t promoting fascism by appealing to Evangelical Christians? This is basically the same thing.

In general, Hindutva seems to view monotheism as being the ultimate predator, with a special disdain for Islam in particular. After Hindu, Islam is the largest religious group in the country with approximately 14% of the population practicing the religion. According to most of the hindutva content I’ve flipped through, they view their religion (Hinduism) being under threat from Islam, as such, its not uncommon for Muslims (and other monotheists, such as Christians) to be lynched by hindutva mobs in India.

From that perspective, it certainly makes me feel like Butler’s post is echoing at least some hindutva rhetoric:

This isn’t an entirely new take for Butler. The entire Piety Posse seemed to share rhetoric about how monotheism was some boogey man that was going to get our polytheisms. From 2019:

Tweet by Edward Butler "Aso, though I referr to 'Christo-imperialism' above, and I do very much believe that Christianity is the most dangerous enemy of indigenous polytheisms around the world, we should not hesitate to admit that Islam also has an extermination agenda for all polytheism"

From 2018:

Tweet by Edward Butler that states "Thanks to Hinduism, India doesn't have radical Islam: Chinese media ecoti.in/uNtykY38 via @economictimes" 
Subtweet: Edward Butler "Chinese government think tank: "If only we had something like Hinduism here, but essentially Chinese. Hey, wait..."

(the link goes to a RW Hindu site, by the way.)

Now to cover my ass and make sure I clarify the obvious, that doesn’t mean that indigenous religions and cultures have not been under attack by Christianity in the past (with some being under threat now due to missionary work and modern colonialism), but I doubt that the third-to-fourth largest religion in the world (Hinduism) really needs to fear being snuffed out. Nor do most of us living in America really have any real basis to act like our religious practices are actively being snuffed out. I think we can all agree that religiously-driven colonialism is bad and should be stopped, but at the same time, not every monotheist in existence is actively trying to convert everyone they know. The fact that this distinction is not present in most of these conversations is troublesome.

I just really want to point out the fact that this mindset that Butler has always had really lines up nicely with hindutva’s disdain for monotheists as well. And of course, there are other parts of Indic Academy that mirror this rhetoric, so with this wider context in mind, let’s discuss Indic Academy’s place in all of this.

Indic Academy

According to Butler, Indic Academy has no political agenda whatsoever, and I’m not sure how one would draw that conclusion given that most think tanks are not apolitical. But even more than that, once you start looking at the specifics of what the various branches of Indica appear to endorse, the blatant nationalism just starts to flow out.

Indica was founded by an entrepreneur named Hari Kiran Vadlamani as a “not-for-profit think tank that aims to nurture and nourish scholarship in Indology, arm and groom public intellectuals in developing a Dharmic narrative.” Butler somehow interprets this as being “non-political” and goes on to state that Indic Academy “is no more required to answer for every wrongful tendency in contemporary Indian life, the cycle of violence, than any similar Christian or Muslim educational organization is made to answer for the worst actions or ideologies of any of their co-religionists.”

This would suggest that Indic Academy is getting blame for issues that are occurring within Indian culture that are not affiliated with Indic Academy. Further, it suggests that there are no signs of hindutva within Indica’s ranks. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Hindu nationalism amongst team members

Let’s first talk about some of the figures present on their “team” page.

Their trustees of Indica involve Kiran, mentioned above, Dr. Aravinda Rao, Vishal Agarwal, and Avatans Kumar.

Kiran doesn’t have much available online about his politics, but the fact that he’s started a think tank with the specific intent to “groom” people, I’m not super inclined to consider him apolitical and without agenda given the rest of the content of the page. Dr. K Aravinda Rao was a top-ranking police officer who oversaw eradicating “left-wing extremism” in Andhra Pradesh. Who wants to bet that Dr. Rao leans towards the rightwing side?

The third trustee is Vishal Agarwall. I admit he was hard to find a lot of information on, but his author bio on Indica’s commentary site says that he’s received the Hindu American Foundation’s Dharma Seva Award, and the HAF is directly tied to Hindu nationalism.

Avatans Kumar’s twitter feed is filled with islamaphobia, pro-Savarakar and anti-vaccine posts. One of my favorite articles that he posted states that

The most remarkable aspect of India’s immunization program has been the absence of governmental threats, coercion, mandates, and manipulations. This feat is a testament to India’s Pradhan Mantri (Prime Minister) Narendra Modi’s relentless and determined hard work and honest and trustworthy leadership.

https://indiacurrents.com/indias-covid-immunization-program-is-a-model-for-democracies/

Their Academic Council is filled with all sorts of great characters.

There’s Meenakshi Jain, a historical revisionist who has been known to rewrite Indian history with a hindutva bent. Many of her works appear to foster mistrust and othering of Islam within Indian history, and you can see in this article here, she supports other books that reinforce this revisionist history. Including a book by Munshi, the person who chaired the meeting for the formation of Vishva Hindu Parishad, a Hindu nationalist group.

There is also Michel Danino, a French-born Indian who has been criticized of supporting historical revisionism in his works, which ultimately links back up to hindutva.

There’s also Subhash Kak, a revisionist historian. There is a relatively lengthy list of things he’s written that have been disproven scientifically, and most of his theories are not well regarded. With one of the more damning quotes being:

“In a critique of faulty scientific reasoning in Hindutva ideologies and theories, Alan Sokal sarcastically criticized Kak as “one of the leading intellectual luminaries of the Hindu-nationalist diaspora[38] Koertge as well as Meera Nanda have remarked that Kak’s work advances a Hindutva-based esoteric pseudoscience narrative that seeks to find relatively advanced abstract physics in Vedic texts and assign Indian indigenousness to the Sanskrit-speaking Indic Aryans in a bid to prove the superiority of the ancient Hindu civilization.[23][24]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Subhash_Kak

He also retweets Joe Rogan’s garbage

As a little easter egg, he and the founder of Indica are also advisors with Takshashila Institute of India Studies, and there are other members of Indica’s team that are present within this organization.

Prof M.D. Srinivas has been featured on the “Friends of the RSS” Twitter page for a book he co-authored about Ghandi. The RSS is a RW paramilitary group that is fueled by Hindu nationalism.

In their Environment, Social, Governance section, you’ll find even more signs of Hindu nationalism.

First on the list is Aditi Banerjee. When you scroll through her twitter account, you eventually come across posts featuring “HinduIsHindutva” hashtags and posts that claim that people criticizing hindutva are being “Hinduphobic.” The post specifically calls for a protest on the day that the AHA had its Dismantling Hindutva Globally conference.

Next to her is Sumedha Verma Ojha. She writes for Indica’s commentary site as well. An article she wrote that is quite telling of her views on leftist ideas:

In the Indian context it will also mean strings of “learned” articles on how the Indic/Hindu traditions regarding women must be abandoned if society is to move forward and women to achieve their potential. Leave the past behind, these learned intellectuals (or ignorant film actors as the case may be), will say, adopt the “feminist” point of view and the future will be in safe hands. The Marxist-Feminist viewpoint is deemed to be even more useful in the forward march of the female gender. In these approaches and definitions there is absolutely no space for an Indic perspective.

https://www.indica.today/long-reads/indic-roadmap-women-today/

Now I could keep going, but do I really need to? I’ve been through the top four rungs of their team structure, and out of 22 people listed, I have found that at least 9 people who have clear ties to Hindu nationalism. I emphasize clear, because I didn’t include people who I couldn’t establish an obvious tie for. Given that I can’t read the language of much of the content that I sifted through, and that many posts on social media are blocked for me, I expect that there could very well be more for someone who can actually access the content. And I guarantee that there are more people affiliated with Hindu nationalism in other team groups/rungs as well, but I was trying not to make this post be too long.

Of course, if the team dynamics are not enough for you, let’s take a look at some of the content Indica advocates for.

Hindu nationalism in book curation/lists

Another place of interest is their post about their Indic Book Club activities for 2020-2021. On this page is a list of books that they “sent out more than 2200 copies of the following books to the members of the 1000 Reviewers Club and Curators’ list of Influencers.” (bolding theirs). Their book club essentially sends people free books in exchange for a selfie with the book where they tag Indic Academy, as well as making sure to “Post an original review on http://www.indicbookclub.com, Goodreads/Amazon (200 words or longer) of the book and share it on social media.”

They basically want you to promote these books for free, which is not uncommon for hindutva purveyors to do. Let’s take a look at some of the books on this list:

First you have this gem, a book called “Because India Comes First: Reflections on Nationalism, Identity and Culture” which was written by a former general secretary of the BJP, the political arm of the RSS paramilitary group. The blurb on the book states: “Madhav enquires into Indian policymaking and asserts that, going ahead, it must put India first. He calls out liberal fascism, deconstructs our understanding of terrorism in India, argues that opposition to the Citizenship (Amendment) Act is intellectually dishonest…” For those unaware, the Citizenship Act was meant to help provide a pathway to Indian citizenship for certain persecuted religious minorities, of which Muslims are specifically forbidden to partake. He also invokes the same dog whistles that American right-wing pundits do with phrases like “liberal fascists.”

Another book on this list covers the history of Savarkar, a man who played a pivotal role in establishing hindutva in the early 1900’s. This book has been criticized for its research, there are multiple claims that the book reads more like a euologizing biography than anything else. When criticisms of his work first showed up after publication, the author bemoaned about how leftists were “abusing” them (x). Here is another piece talking about how Sampath purposefully frames Hindu dominion concepts in such a way to appear inclusive on the surface. This article specifically cites the use of the word “Indic” to appear inclusive (interesting that this group also heavily uses the word “indic”.)

There is another book on this list that was written by Shrikant Talageri titled “Genetics and the Aryan debate: “Early Indians” Tony Joseph’s Latest Assault.” This author has been featured on the Hindutva Watch website (the author acknowledged it here,) and is a big proponent of the “Out of India” theory. The Out of India theory is also known as the Indigenous Aryan theory, which is heavily aligned with hindutva and right-wing ideology within India.

Are you sensing a trend yet?

Another book on the list titled “Who Killed Sashtri, the Tashkent Files” is both a book and a movie. When reading about the movie, you come across reviews such as this:

“Writing for Scroll.in, Nandini Ramnath noted it to be a politically motivated film that did not have any rigor and failed to be an effective conspiracy thriller.[25]

“A review over The Hindu noted it to be an ideological slideshow that exploited Shastri’s death to attack left, secular and socialist ideologies and institutions and though based on an engaging topic, was a ‘hotch-potch of hearsay, juvenile arguments’ that ultimately lend to utter confusion rather than any conviction.[28]

“Jyoti Sharma Bawa, reviewing for The Hindustan Times rated it one out of five stars whilst noting it to be disgusting political propaganda that hardly contained any truth and presented nothing new beyond the realms of an internet-crawl.[33]

“A review over Arre.co criticized the film as an endless cycle of whataboutery, directed by a dedicated by a historical revisionist, which was nothing but an assault on common sense.[35]

If Indic is not politically aligned, why are so many of the books they support written by Hindu nationalists? Why would they willfully curate a book list that incorporates so many harmful books, and then ask people to publicly share such works?

It doesn’t get much better once you start looking into the books that Indic has worked to release through their own platform. One of the first things to note is that one of their books initiative is being headed/directed by Jay Jina, a guy who likes to whinge about “liberals” and how secularism is destroying Hindu over on IndiaFacts. Sounds like a really unbiased guy to be working a large initiative.

One of the first coffee table books that Indic has published was written by two right-wing authors: Gurpreet Chopra and Bahat. Oh Bahat’s twitter account, you will find him retweeting posts calling Twitter’s support team “fascist” for blocking right-wing content. And Chopra is a self-identified right-wing person, so need I say more. The book also features a forward by Meenakshi Jain, the historical revisionist mentioned above.

For the record, with regards to historical revisionism, Butler doesn’t see a problem with it.

Hindu nationalism in initiatives

While flipping through Indic Academy’s events, I came across one that featured Koenraad Elst, an islamaphobic hindutva supporter who also supports the Out of India theory mentioned above. The text on the event page mentions how important Elst’s work is for the “Hindu revival movement”, which is a bit of a dog whistle for Hindu nationalism. Given that the founder of Indica is a speaker at this event, it seems pretty obvious that he doesn’t have an issue with Hindu nationalism. Given his desire to create a “Hindu renaissance”, I think its quite absurd to claim that he doesn’t have some political direction for all of this.

Their Conference on Hindu Arts, Architecture & Artisan Traditions also features speakers who show signs of supporting Hindu nationalist ideas on their social media. Things ranging from “No Bindi No Business” in their twitter profiles to posts congratulating BJP members for getting one million followers.

Another place to see hindutva rhetoric being used is the info page for Indica Polytheist. When you read the announcement post for the launch of this initiative, you get this sense that all polytheisms are at risk from the imminent danger of monotheism. There are plenty of attempts to make polytheism sound more legitimate than monotheism, and overall, reeks of the same rhetoric shown in Butler’s post about this whole mess.

So far, Indica Polytheist is mostly filled with people that Butler associates with, and has similar vibes to the failed polytheist.com movement a few years back.

The Path Forward

I feel like at this point I have sufficiently shown that there is a significant amount of evidence that Indica and its various branches have more hindutva influence than anyone who is against fascism would like. While Butler is correct that Indica can’t be held responsible for every horrible thing done in the name of Hindu nationalism, Indica can definitely be held responsible for the Hindu nationalists it courts in order to spread its agenda.

When I initially went looking for information about hindutva within the group, I expected it to be a challenge, but the truth of the matter is that most of this information is out in the open and easy to see. So it’s hard to believe that no one else could ascertain whether Hindu nationalism was actually a theme within Indica’s ranks.

When it comes to Butler, I think that we must admit that at bare minimum: playing with fascists doesn’t bother him. In fact, he believes that we need to find a way to “live together”

For those unaware, you don’t just tolerate fascist movements. Fascism is a lot like isfet (it is isfetian, imo), you can’t just ignore it and expect it to not eat at things. The gods must battle isfet daily to allow creation to continue to exist, and so too must we. Wherever fascism crops up, it must be swiftly and thoroughly destroyed. Allowing it to fester causes genocide and other human atrocities. See the Paradox of Intolerance to learn more.

He also doesn’t believe that Indica’s affiliation with Hindu nationalism is going to cause any harm:

“Thin end of the wedge” refers to “an action or procedure of little importance in itself, but likely to lead to more serious developments.” Which is to say that Butler doesn’t see how promoting the voices of people associated with fascist/nationalist movements will promote fascism. And I guess by his line of thinking, I’m acting in “bad faith” because I abide by the paradox of intolerance. Anyone who has lived in the U.S. within the past two decades will know that little allowances lead to full blown movements that destroy social safety nets and get people killed.

I will admit that this line of thinking reminds me of many conservatives who try to assert that they’re not promoting fascism while also calling for the extermination of minorities within their country. That’s essentially what hindutvas are trying to do. I will also add that Butler believes Hindus to be a minority because on a global scale, they are not the top religion. The fact that Hindus are a majority in India and that hindutvas are using that majority to oppress the marginalized religions within India doesn’t matter?

To be clear, the idea that Indica is not advocating for violence is outright incorrect. You do not invite fascists to speak or publish works that promote fascist ideas unless you’re advocating for violence on some level. Allowing fascists to have a platform is to advocate for violence. Asking people to tolerate fascists is also to advocate for violence.

This shouldn’t be surprising to anyone, given his previous willingness to support other pagans who were obviously racist during the heyday of the Piety Posse, but if it wasn’t apparent then, its glaringly obvious now. For the record, he saw both Sannion and Krasskova to be “moral and kind” people who “never endorsed views like folkism” or anything else that he “regaded as harmful to the community.” I guess telling people they’re not practicing correctly and constantly relying on racist tropes to bully people into practicing better doesn’t count. You can see Krasskova’s dealings here and here.

At the end of the day, our community needs to start making decisions on how to handle situations like this. I’m fully aware that many Kemetics love Butler’s resources, but when push comes to shove, are those resources worth supporting someone who has a history of associating with shitty people and a history of saying questionable things in general.

As far as I’m concerned, Butler’s resources should be scrubbed from all of our documents and we should no longer recommend him or his works as a resource, because to continue to place him in our resources is to ultimately lift up the voice of someone who is actively choosing to align himself with fascists, and you know what they say about that

 
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Posted by on December 5, 2021 in Kemeticism

 

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Bishop’s Knife Trick

Back in 2018, when I was prepping for Year of Rites, I wrote on FB that I was “about 90% sure that TTR’s next chapter is gonna be Kemeticism without gods at the center.” And while I’m not entirely sure what I thought I had seen in that moment in terms of what O’s “big plan” was, I question if this was what he had in mind.

I have probably written hundreds of versions of this post in my head. I’ve been putting it off for months over a year, hoping that one day the words may fumble together into something coherent. I’ve worried that talking about this might make people upset; I’ve also worried that no one would even notice or care. But like most posts that end up on the blog, this post just will not rest, and so here we are: fumbling until something finally sticks.

There are so many things that have happened — little bits of shrapnel coming together to form something much larger. Every attempt to include all of these little things has left me feeling as though the point ultimately gets lost. I worry that by pouring over the details of what led me here, it will sow discomfort in others, or cause other people’s practices to unravel, which is never my intent. Ultimately, I’ve begun to believe that the details aren’t necessarily relevant at this moment — though a long post details the specifics could be made if people were interested.

Instead, I think I’ll focus on where I currently am, and where this blog could potentially go.

I have no idea how much I should preface this, ease people into it, or phrase any of this, but at the moment I can safely say that I no longer feel like a polytheist. For the past year or so, I’ve mostly been calling myself an atheist because it seems more accurate than any other label that I can really find. I don’t really know that atheist works either, because I wouldn’t say gods can’t exist or that I know for a fact that they don’t exist. I do believe the entities that we call gods are real in a sense, yes. But not in a way that I formerly did, and not in a way that many polytheists seem to. So even though “atheist” feels not entirely right, it currently fits better than polytheism (for me).

As mentioned above, many many things have happened in the past 5 years. I was plunged into a set of circumstances, and I was irreversibly changed by those circumstances. That’s the easiest way to sum all of the “shrapnel” up.

The changes and shifts started small, little feelings here or there, but then it turned into a deafening roar. I was heavily questioning whether anything I had experienced existed beyond my mind in a concrete way that really matters. In so many ways it began to feel so much more likely that all of the stuff that I had experienced was nothing more than my mind trying to cope with trauma. But of course, I also worry that this atheism is equally a reaction brought on by prior experiences/trauma.

At the end of the day, I may never know.

But what I do know is that running towards a reconsideration of everything that I thought I knew felt inescapable, dare I say necessary. I originally wanted to blame it entirely on my OCD, but at the heart of it, I knew I wanted to be free of the burdens I had collected over all these years. I needed to find or create a version of myself that was able to exist peacefully without constantly worrying about the Unseen and its existence. The only way to is through.

It would have been incredibly freeing if not for the anxiety that gripped me at that point. In time, I’ve found the process of reevaluating and re-contextualizing everything to be a worthwhile venture. I’ve learned about myself, about possibilities of how I may have perpetuated my own trauma, and I’ve found other ways to interpret our religion that doesn’t require someone’s belief in the gods. I always said that I felt Kemeticism could be practiced this way, and I guess I’m putting that theory to the test now.

So if its not clear, I’ve not left the religion, but I’m practicing it from a different perspective right now. As such, any future posts will also likely be from this perspective, and I felt like everyone should know. Ultimately, I think that a lot of what I’ve been doing this past year could be valuable even for theists, since it can be just as easily applied to that paradigm/worldview, and no pesky “godphone” or ability to communicate with the Unseen would ever be required. But at the same time, I wanted to make sure that it was clear why the tone might change, why what I focus on my shift.

If there is anything you’d want me to clarify or expand upon in terms of practicing from this perspective, feel free to leave a comment. Otherwise, I will continue to write when the mood strikes me, or when I find a topic worth discussing.

‘Till next time.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2021 in Kemeticism, Uncategorized

 

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Calling the Four Winds

For years now I’ve wanted to try and create some sort of ritual that would call the rain to me. After reading a paper by Jorgensen, which discusses the ways in which mythology symbolism can be layered into ritual/heka, I finally reached a point where I felt like I could finally wrap my mind around what such a ritual would entail. This post is basically about said ritual.

If you’re not interested in any of the peripheral discussion around it, and only want the rubric, jump to the bottom of the post to find it.

Ritual Concept

I knew that I wanted to incorporate some sort of myth/story structure into this ritual, but I had never found anything that really felt correct for me. As luck would have it, I was reading about different NTRW around the same time I was working on this and found that there is a particular NTR, Anhur, whose name essentially means “Bringer of the Distant One.” If there is something that has been distant where I live, it’s rain. My entire state is under a “exceptional” drought right now, which means that even our native species of plants are starting to succumb to the lack of water. At the time of creating this ritual, we hadn’t had rain of any quantity above 0.1″ since April 2020.

Yep.

And so when I saw that this particular deity brings back the distant one, I felt like this would be a great myth structure to use in creating a rain ritual. Further, Anhur has direct associations with the four winds, which I thought could be utilized to carry weather to wherever Anhur directs it. There is a tradition in my family that I felt would be useful for this endeavor: wind chime clappers. If you’re interested in seeing a bit more about it, I wrote about this once over here.

The Distant Goddess myth exists in many forms within Egyptian stories/literature, and so I could choose a whole host of different deities to invoke for it, but I aimed most of my attention at utilizing Menhyt as the goddess we are attracting. Her name has associations with green and greening, and I felt that she would be an ideal choice.

Ritual Experience

It just so happened that about the time I was thinking of creating this ritual, there was a storm front coming through. This was one of the only opportunities we’ve had for rain in months, and I didn’t want to miss my chance to be able to try this rubric out. When I first started working on this project, the chance of rain for 1″ was about 1%. By the time I performed the ritual, our chance had gone up to 10%.

In preparation for the ritual, I and my partner created clappers to hang on our wind chimes out of watercolor paper. I recommend a thicker paper for these, to allow them to have some amount of resilience against weather, but you could use whatever you have on hand. We chose to make five clappers because we have five chimes, but you could make as many or as few as you prefer (I think an ideal might be four – one for each wind direction.) There isn’t really a particular rule for creating these, I mostly just focus on attracting beneficial things to my area while painting them. I would say to let your gut/intuition guide you for this section, as I’m not particularly structured in how I create these.

I performed the ritual about a week before the weather was to officially arrive. I felt that it would make sense to do this a few days in advance to allow the weather to shift course, to build, etc. Compared to other rituals I’ve written, this one felt a little less clunky in my mouth. I feel like this ritual was written more in my way of speaking, and it felt less like I had taken chunks of various texts and cobbled them together into a rite. Perhaps it meant that was the direction I need to be going on for future rubrics?

After the ritual had been performed, I placed the chimes with their new clappers outside and waited to see what would happen. A few days later I had the urge to perform the rite a second time, and in this format I didn’t offer clappers, but shifted the verbiage to establish that the clappers (and therefore the wind’s voices) had been established by my hands (see more in ritual notes below). I didn’t originally intend on the ritual needing to be performed twice, but it felt right and so I went with it. After that, it was a lot of sitting on my hands waiting for the days to pass.

The rain here ended up being spread out across two-three days. The first day, we were gifted with a really bright and really close rainbow. I’ve yet to see anything this close to our house before.

In the evening we had very vivid clouds that traveled across the mountain range. They were often lit up by the setting sun into vibrant colors, and their forms reminded me of long snakes slinking over the mountains. It was interesting to be able to see how the wind would shift directions, carrying the clouds with it.

The next day we got a lot of rain. A large part of the state actually got a lot of snow. Throughout most of the afternoon, you couldn’t see very much for all of the clouds hanging across the mountain range. But when they finally broke for a short period in the evening, I could see that the entire rim of the Colorado plateau to the north of us was covered in snow. There were mountains that had more snow on them in that moment than I had seen in decades.

I remember thinking in that moment that I felt seen or heard. That it felt like someone had painted a beautiful picture for me. And while I know that there is no way to prove for a fact that doing this ritual caused any of this, its such a rarity for anything tied to religion to bring forth any such kinds of feelings within me that it was worth noting and writing down.

All in all, we had about .75″ of rain where I am at, which is a fair amount in a year like this. Up north, there were snowfalls ranging from 6″ to 20″, and there was a subsequent flash flood warning a few days later for the snow melt that would be rushing down to the valley floor. By the final day of rain, all of the clappers had been ripped off of their chimes, which signals to me that the heka has been used up, and I will need to create new ones to attract another storm. 

Below are my notes on how to modify this rubric for your needs, along with the rubric itself. If you end up using this rubric, let me know how your experience goes!

Rubric Notes

This rubric calls forth and names the four directional winds in the opening section. The names of the north and south wind have been named based off of what function they serve where I live, as such, you may wish to change what they are called before performing this ritual. The east and west winds could stay as they are, as they are named after the path of the sun — which is unchanging for all of us. However, you may wish to take note of what the north and south winds do in your location and name them accordingly.

Also, this rubric is currently made to be done when first offering the wind clappers that you will hang on your wind chimes. If you would like to perform this ritual again after the clappers have been hanged (as I did), you would change the verbiage in that section from “I provide you with a voice” to “I have provided you with a voice.”

I’ve noted the sections that can be changed with a *


Approaching the Altar

See me great gods. See me and hear me on this day as I step out into the sunlight.
I call to you great gods. Hear me with both of your ears. Turn your beneficent gaze my way.
Do not repulse me upon your path. Do not impede me for I am Equipped, and my seat is firm.
I am the lord of the four winds, and I have dominion over that which I desire.
*I call out to the north-wind, the bringer of winter storms.
I call out to the east-wind, where Re’s path is born.
I call out to the west-wind, where mother embraces me every night.
*I call out to the south-wind, which brings summer water, growth and life.
Oh you winds that respond to me, Oh you bulls of the sky, go forth and establish the four pillars of the sky. Truly the four pillars are established, and the firmament is made secure.
I set forth upon the path made for me to bring close to me what was once distant, for I am he who brings the distant one back.

Offering Light

I bring forward the radiant light of Horus. It’s brightness on the horizon fills your eyes.
I bring forward the radiant light of Horus. It’s brightness on the horizon fills your heart.
The eye of Horus calls out to you, take its light to yourself and be filled with it.
The eye of Horus calls out to you, take this light to yourself and be made whole by it.
Come to that eye which makes you whole. Come to that which calls to you.
Come to that eye which makes you sound. Come to that which calls to you.

Offering Incense

I bring you the fire to alight your incense. I bring you the fire to fashion what you enjoy.
I bring you the fire to alight your sweetness. I bring you the fire to fashion what you enjoy.
Incense approaches, like the north wind, who sails toward the nose of her brother.
Incense approaches, its sweetness permeates your nostrils, it fills your chapel with its perfume.
Come to this sweetness which you enjoy. Come to this sweetness which envelops you.
Come to this sweetness which you enjoy. Come to this sweetness which I have created for you.

Offering Water

I bring to you the primordial waters to sate your thirst. I bring to you what flows from you.
I bring to you the primordial waters to make you pure. I bring to you what flows from you.
Feel the coolness of the libation filling your cup. Feel the coolness upon your throat.
Feel the sweetness upon your lips. Feel the pure water upon your skin.
Come to these waters and take them to your countenance. I have poured them just for you.
Come to these waters and quench your thirst. I have brought you what you desire.

Offering Food

I bring you nourishment to fill your belly. Take this eye to yourself and fill your stomach.
I bring you nourishment to appease your heart. Take this eye to yourself and appease your heart.
I provide the offering of food in your presence. Take this eye to yourself, take this eye and be full.
I provide the offering of wholeness at your feet. Take this eye to yourself and be whole.
Come to this fullness that fills your stomach. Come to this sustenance that I have made for you.
Come to this fullness that fills your heart. Take to this fullness that I have provided with my hands.

Offering Ma’at

I bring to you your beloved sister. She who opens the nose of the living.
I bring to you your beloved ma’at, she who protects the two lands.
Ma’at comes to you, she rests at your feet and fills your heart, she is with you.
Ma’at comes to you, she resides within you at all times, she is with you.
Come to the sweet embrace of ma’at, allow her to rest upon your brow.
Come to the sweet embrace of ma’at, come to what you desire.

Offering Chimes/Clappers/Ritual Object

O venerable goddess, I call out to you, turn your beneficent gaze upon this place.
See these parched land, this dry ground. The land yearns for the embrace of ma’at
See how the earth contracts, how nothing will grow. The land yearns for the embrace of your touch.

I call to you, I reach out to you my twin, you who rides aloft the arms of Shu.
I provide you with that which sustains you. I provide you with that which calls to you.
Hear my calling to you. Know that I want you close to me.
I call to you, I reach out to you my twin, you who protects regeneration.
I know you and know what you desire. I provide you with that which calls to you.
Hear my calling to you. Feel the attraction that grows between us.

Come to me my twin, provide me with that which sustains me. Do not impede yourself, come to me.
Come to this place my twin, provide this place with that which sustains it. Do not impede yourself, come to this place.
O green and beneficent goddess, do not be far from me. Come to me in this place, provide us with that which sustains us.
O green and beneficent goddess, do not be distant from me, do not withdraw. Just as ma’at returns to her father, so too shall you return to these parched lands.
For I am he who returns the distant one, and you cannot ignore my call.

*I call out to the north wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
*I call out to the east wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
*I call out to the west wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
*I call out to the south wind, I provide you with a voice to spread the magnificence of your name and of ma’at throughout the land. [place clapper/chime on alter, or hang it above altar]
O you four winds, you bulls in the sky, use your voice which is filled with ma’at and bring to me what I desire.
O you four winds, you bulls in the sky, use your voice which is filled with ma’at and bring to me that which sustains this place.

Oh you great gods, see that I have set aright the north wind, the east wind, the west wind, the south wind.
Oh you great gods, see that all four winds are as they should be to bring ma’at into this place.
Oh great gods, see that she has returned, that goddess that was once distant from us.
Oh great gods, see the ma’at that shines brightly through the work of our hands.

Reversion

O Great NTRW, your enemies withdraw from you.
Horus has turned himself to his Eye in its name of Reversion-of-Offerings.
These your divine offerings revert;
They revert to your servant for life, stability, health and joy.
So that you may flourish for eternity.

 

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The Time Outside of Time

For the past week, my daily routine has been abnormal. Instead of hearing my alarm in the morning and instantly getting up to get ready before I must leave to drive into work, I have been turning the alarm off and going back to sleep for a while in the hopes that it will help my body heal from what plagues it. Instead of spending eight hours at a desk working on orders, I find myself spending a lot of my day idling aimlessly around my house, trying to find ways to kill time without any energy to really devote to anything.

And even once my illness recedes, my patterns will still be off-kilter in other ways. I may begin to get up with my alarm and rush to get to work, but things will be different in every other aspect. I’ll have less traffic impeding me on my way into the office, since many other people are in quarantine and kids aren’t in school. I’ll have to devote more time and energy into procuring my weekly supplies (groceries), as every store in my area has been completely wiped out, and will likely have a restricted selection for weeks to come. And I’ll have to be more considerate about keeping enough energy to cook, since I won’t be able to rely on restaurants and fast food to help me out on days when my brain or body needs an easy meal.

We are living in strange times, you and I. In the wake of a global pandemic, many things have changed overnight for most of us.

As I ponder how surreal everything feels, I find myself frequently thinking about the intercalary days, and how their existence is unique in every aspect. For those of you who don’t know what the intercalary or epagomenal days are, they are the five days that precede Wep Ronpet. These days are said to have come about when Re wouldn’t allow Nut to birth her children on any day of the year. In order to help solve Nut’s problem, Thoth decided to bet on a game of Senut with Khonsu, and upon winning, Nut was able to give birth on these five days that existed outside of the year.

When I think about how we are living right now, I can’t help but feel like we’re living in a prolonged version of the intercalary days. That we are living in a time outside of time. What does it mean to live in a time outside of time? To get a better idea, I decided to take a look at how the intercalary days were viewed in antiquity. There isn’t a lot of specific information on the intercalary days, but the information that I had feels applicable to what we’re dealing with now.

The intercalary days are said to exist outside of the year, and that makes them peculiar. While many modern Kemetics don’t seem to attribute any sort of eeriness to these days, in antiquity, they were often seen as a time of trepidation. I suspect that this has both a mythological and a more “mundane” component to it. From a mythological perspective, Nut was ready to give birth, but couldn’t until these days were created specifically for her and her needs. Child birth is inherently dangerous, especially before the modern era. It stands to reason that both the aspect of “this is a limited window of time to do something that another being doesn’t want me to do” and “this is childbirth and that is risky to my health” could have played a role in interpreting these days as being inherently apprehensive.

But there is also the mundane aspect of where these days fall within the seasons of ancient Egypt. Situated at the end of the dry season, these days were often fraught with some amount of unease. The dry season was often a time of rationing and careful planning of resources. Since nothing substantial could be grown during this period, and there was limited amounts of water as the riverbed becomes dryer and dryer under the summer heat, the Egyptians knew that they needed to be careful how they utilized their resources until the inundation came. So as the dry season inches onward through the summer, resources become more and more scarce, and with that, an increase in concerns about the future. Will the inundation come? Will we have enough to survive until we can plant more food? Will we get through the summer without illness?

There is also the simple fact that these days manage to exist outside of the year somehow. That ultimately makes them a liminal time and space, a threshold between the old and the new.

To me, where many of us are living now fits very well with the views of the intercalary days from antiquity. Things are abnormal. Our patterns are broken or augmented in ways we’re not used to. Things are not reliably available to many of us, and there is no guarantee that things will be reliably available to many of us anytime soon. There are fears of illness, hunger, and a lack of resources. There is a lot of trepidation in the air. We are stuck between how things were, and an unclear future that has yet to fully manifest.

And that is the most important thing to keep in mind as we navigate through this set of prolonged intercalary days: they may be fraught with danger, but they are also ripe for inducing unforeseen change (both good and bad). There is a lot of instability with our system right now. This is scary and terrifying, but it is also the best time possible to incur long-lasting change that gives people more resources to live and thrive once everything is said and done. Liminal times and spaces don’t follow the rules of what is expected. They are the edges that exist where two systems or spaces meet, and these spaces are known for their intense biodiversity and bending of the rules.

You can see this in the original myth that defined the intercalary days, too. Re didn’t want Nut to give birth because he knew that her children would invoke a regime change. It would incur a new way of life for all of the NTRW, and he didn’t want to see that happen. Every year, the intercalary days are meant to be an intense time of chaos before everything resets and ma’at is restored anew during Wep Ronpet.

These liminal spaces are meant for change and transformation. This liminal space will likely be no different, but the question becomes: what sort of change will we fight for?

 

For the first time in a long time, retail and food workers (among others) have the means to potentially leverage their position to gain workers rights and benefits that were due to them forever ago. There are people trying to push state governments to utilize vacant housing to give the homeless shelter during these challenging times. There is an entirely new wave of people talking about classism and how class intersects with politics and daily living in new places that I haven’t seen in the past. There are people who are starting to see that if there is a time to start pushing for hard-hitting change, this is it.

On nearly every video or post that I’ve read regarding COVID, it seems like the conclusion always ends up with some sort of “if we all band together, things will be okay!” and I don’t want that to be the case with my post because its simply not true. There are people who will not survive this. There are people whose lives will be irreversibly changed by this. This situations is bad, and this is merely a post about the potential tiny silver lining of a really bad situation. Many people have had their entire life thrown into turmoil because of this, and I certainly don’t want to make it sound like their suffering is “worth it” if it means potential change, because that’s not the case.

Instead what I am trying to suggest is that perhaps the means to insure that this sort of thing doesn’t happen again is within our grasp, and if it is, we should do what we can to make that happen. Because while the intercalary days are a mere five days of uncanny discomfort, we are more likely to be stuck in this liminal space for months, if not a full year and some change (vaccines aren’t expected to be ready for about 18 months, which is when pandemics usually recede.) Things will be unsteady for a while yet, and our best chance of survival will come from mutual aid that we give one another during these difficult times.

I think it is imperative that we look at the conversations being had, and consider what we could be doing during this time in relation to the changes going on around us. To look for those ripples of change, and to see if there are other things we could put our backing into that would help other fellow humans have an easier time of it on this rock — both within this liminal time, and beyond it. It is the responsibility of all of us to help maintain and foster ma’at, and from what I can tell — there are a whole lot of opportunities being made for increasing ma’at right now even in the face of overwhelming isfet.

And I think we should do everything in our power to seize those opportunities and create a world we want to live in.

 
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Posted by on March 20, 2020 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at

 

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A Proposed Model for Determining Ma’at vs. Isfet

Before you read this post, you need to read the first and second parts of this series, otherwise nothing will make sense.

So far, I’ve talked about how ma’at is like a regenerative system, which is a living series of processes that will renew and regenerate themselves provided their unique balance is maintained. Some examples of regenerative systems in daily life are ecosystems or your body. In opposition to this is isfet, which is what happens when disorder overtakes a regenerative system and makes it degenerative. Degenerative systems are not sustainable and tend to destroy the balance of other nearby systems. In this post, I’d like to discuss how we can use this model to determine if something we’re doing is more in alignment with isfet or ma’at.

Using this Model

So now we’re at the most important part of this whole discussion. We’ve laid the framework for understanding:

  • how systems work
  • how ma’at aligns with regenerative systems
  • how disorder tests the resiliency of a system
  • how too much disorder will put your regenerative balance is at risk
  • how isfet is an embodiment of degradation of natural systems.

Now comes the time for bringing it all together so that we can better reflect on our own actions and whether they relate to isfet, ma’at, or somewhere in between.

The reason that viewing ma’at as a system was so revolutionary for me was because it made it so much easier to understand if something was actually aligning with ma’at or not — because we’re using very concrete terms. Many times, I’ve found that people want to distort ma’at into being something that is relatively passive, or ultimately doesn’t require the person to really change or grow. To summarize this model for ma’at, it would be: if it bothers me, it’s isfet. If it doesn’t bother me, it’s ma’at.

However, by establishing that ma’at is like a particular thing that has a particular set of needs that must be met in order to be maintained, it really allows us to examine whether the things we do in our lives actually lives up to those needs, regardless of our own biases or feeling. By using a structure that can be clearly defined, it removes at least a portion of our bias, and allows us to be more objective in our assessment of ma’at. It also allows us to be very succinct when describing it.

Put succinctly: if something is pushing multiple systems towards degeneration, it’s likely aligned with isfet. If something pushes multiple systems towards regeneration, it’s likely aligned with ma’at.

For example, humans need several things to really survive and be healthy. Things such as:

  • Access to nutritious food, shelter, clean clothing (you’ll note, all of these are markers of having lived in ma’at in antiquity)
  • Access to healthy and supportive relationships. Humans are social creatures, and we need some amount of social interaction to be healthy.
  • Ability to self-express in a fashion that doesn’t hurt others (directly or otherwise)
  • Ability to be autonomous over our own choices and decisions, the feeling of having some control over your life and future.

So, if these things are all necessary for human systems to be healthy, then we know that anything that directly opposes these things is isfetian in nature.

Caveats: Frequency, Context, Scope, and Scale

Now, of course, there is some grey area in here. There are a few other considerations that must be applied when determining whether something is truly isfetian or ma’atian; things such as frequency, context, scope.

Frequency is about as straightforward as it sounds. That whole bit about disorder being the beginning of the sliding towards ultimately unraveling (isfet) means that a singular action isn’t necessarily going to lead you straight into isfet-town. For example, I know that fast food is really bad for my health. It is ultimately a degenerative force in my life. However, if I choose to eat it occasionally, it’s not likely going to qualify 100% as isfet in my specific system. Why? Because I’ve enacted moderation.

There are always places where we can have little exceptions to the moderation that marks our daily life. In antiquity, this is largely the role that festivals and holidays performed. They allowed people to let loose and let go for a short period of time before they fell back into the regularity of daily life. In our modern era, this isn’t always the case, and I’ve found that many of us are constantly living on the edge of making decisions that ultimately undo our efforts to thrive.

In short, frequency is the difference between engaging in a damaging behaviour in moderation vs. engaging in it all the time. Its the difference between eating something that’s bad for you once a month vs. every day. The frequency is vital to keep in mind when considering whether something is damaging or not. The less often you engage in damaging activities, the less likely they are to evoke an isfetian reaction in your specific system (aka your body and/or life.)

The context and scale of an action should also be considered, because it turns out that changing the scope or context of an action often will change whether its damaging or not — and that’s mostly because we live in a degenerative system. For example, let’s take the fast food thing mentioned above. On a small scale, when I’m really only thinking about how it effects me and me alone, it’s relatively harmless when in moderation. However, on a large scale, one might consider the act of giving your money to a fast food establishment isfetian. Why? Because many of these establishments treat their employees horribly. They engage in practices that degrade people’s lives by purposefully underpaying them and denying them access to necessary resources. Many of these companies engage in practices that wreck the environment, they lobby for legislation that allows them to get away with bad practices, and most of these companies aren’t putting much beneficial energy back into the world.

There is a phrase, “there is no ethical consumption under capitalism,” and that’s truly visible when using this model. When it comes to most larger systems, such as supply chains, economies, and governments — nothing is currently sustainable, and as such, is degenerative in nature (as I mentioned in previous posts.) The context of every action is important, because I think it’s vital that we remember that so much of our day to day lives are built on practices that are not sustainable (aka degenerative), and often hurt marginalized countries and peoples the hardest. While a singular act on a small scale is relatively harmless, when considering the full scope of the process of that act even being available to you — the true harm often comes into focus.

This, of course, muddies the water because it can be ethically confusing to determine how on earth to do anything without putting energy into an inherently isfetian system, but that’s also why engaging in activism, being politically active, and holding those in positions of power accountable is all the more important. I would argue that not doing so leans you towards isfet, because it means you’re choosing to ignore the degenerative systems that are eating away at the regenerative system that is you.

And please bear in mind: sometimes the ma’atian choice, the course of action that honors the regenerative nature in you and others, will be painful or difficult. Many people want to equate ma’at to the path of least resistance, and I am here to tell you that this is often not the case. That’s why its very important to really examine all of the aspects of a given course of action to ensure you’re not copping out due to fear of the new and unknown.

Useful Questions to Consider

Here are some examples of questions that can be asked when trying to determine whether a large-scale system is regenerative or not:

  • Will this legislation/action/structure degrade human lives?
  • Will it cause people to lose their autonomy?
  • Will it degrade the community and connections that people have?
  • Will it restrict access to healthy food, clean water, adequate housing and healthcare?
  • Will it oppress or hold back a particular group of people (please keep in mind that leveling the playing field between classes or races is not oppression)?
  • Does it rely on a biased system/structure to reinforce it?
  • Does it needlessly destroy nature?
  • Does it endanger natural resources and living things?
  • Does it destroy or threaten other regenerative systems?
  • Does it lead us closer to things like climate change or fascism?

And in case its not clear yet, if the answer to these is yes, it’s isfetian in nature.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself when trying to determine whether a small-scale interaction is regenerative or not:

  • Does this harm my health?
  • Does this hurt my relationships or those around me needlessly?
  • Does this incite self-hatred or acts of violence or abuse against the self?
  • Will this cause you regret or shame later on?
  • Does this hinder my or others growth, however painful?
  • Would those who care about you condone this choice?

Of course, sometimes these things are not clear cut, and that’s why its important to always consider the wider context of a situation as discussed above.

If you’ve managed to make it through all three posts, I congratulate you. If you have any questions or would like to suggest any other means of refining this model, I welcome them!

 
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Posted by on January 15, 2020 in Kemeticism

 

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A Year of Rites: Reflections, Redirections

With 2019 having come to a close, so too has both the Year of Rites project and Making Ma’at project come to a close. I wasn’t sure if there was anything to say about either, but it feels weird to not do a recap of both before moving onto whatever next chapter lay ahead.

Making Ma’at

I will start by saying that I have a hard time not viewing both projects as something of a failure. The Making Ma’at project barely got off the ground, and once we lost the repository that contained what everyone had written, the project basically was dead in the water. I personally think that that is a crying shame, because we really do lack ready-made resources for honoring ma’at, and with ma’at being at the center of our religion, it feels weird that we don’t have more to work with.

When it comes to pinpointing why this project didn’t go very far, I personally blame a bit of myself — in that I didn’t have the energy or time to consistently research new prompts and ideas to get people creating new stuff to add to the project. But on the flip side, I also feel like no one was overly committed to the project if no one else was working to come up with new ideas. Which is honestly the biggest problem with our community, isn’t it.

My hope is that maybe people will still add to the project in their own time, or that what was created will at least serve as something of a resource for those in the future.

Year of Rites

Then there is the cluster that was the Year of Rites. I knew going into the YoR that I was hoping for more than I should. I knew that the odds of people participating in it were slim. I knew that the odds of me being able to complete everything to a level that I would prefer would be slim — especially if my grandfather died along the way. But I have a bad problem with hoping for more than I should, and in the end, I was disappointed by it all. That doesn’t mean there weren’t any useful lessons along the way, however.

First off, I will say that creating 18 rubrics in a year is a horrible idea unless you have a ton of time and mental space to work with. I was really trying to embody traditional verbiage and heka because I feared straying too far from verbatim sources, and so crafting something 100% from scratch didn’t happen very often. As such, I would scour the source materials to try and find sections that made sense for what I was trying to create. Source materials take forever for me to read, and I would often have to read 50 pages before I found a little tidbit that would be useful for whatever rubric I was working on.

When I wasn’t overly stressed, working the rubrics wasn’t all that bad because you get to learn a lot of random information from sifting through source materials. As a byproduct, it’s easier to follow some of the information that is presented in various books and papers. I can also say that reading the source materials also gave me a very good understanding of how sentences should be structured and words selected to make better heka. Only after I started working on these rubrics did I realize that my old rituals had a lot of wiggle room and a lukewarm quality in many of the words chosen.

However, that doesn’t change the fact that each rubric took hours to make, they were hardly commented on, and probably four people used them throughout the year. If I ever did this again, I’d cut the rubric creation down to maybe two versions for an entire year. Anything more than that is unrealistic.

As for the rituals themselves, I managed to complete every ritual up until the end of June when things went on hiatus to take care of grandpa. After that, I completed 3 out of 4 rites per month until I quit doing it all together in October. If we want to count my eating-as-a-ritual for the Mysteries, then I completed all of December’s work as well, though none of the originally-planned rituals were performed.

All in all, I did more than I didn’t, but it still doesn’t feel like I accomplished much. Having my depression completely wipe the desire out of me to do anything really put a bind on the end of the year, and I still don’t know how I feel about that. If I’m also being honest, the lack of feedback and participation on the by and large didn’t motivate me to continue, either. By June I was wrapped in a sort of “no one really cares” state, which is why the write-ups stopped around that time. It’s also why I quit documenting my rites on IG, and it’s why I never bothered to rework the rubrics in September when I found I disliked them vehemently (this also played into why I didn’t want to keep doing the rituals come October — I had to use new rubrics that I hated.)

As my ability and desire to perform these rites degraded across the year, I can say that structured rituals can serve as a good focal point for me if I’m not too stressed or depressed. When I’m not doing good mentally, its very easy to just go through the motions of the ritual and not really be present. If I’m not present, it’s really not doing me much good and I usually end up rushing everything as quickly as possible (which probably doesn’t do the NTRW much good, either.) The final rites that I did during the Mysteries were much better at keeping me present — more so than doing a structured ritual. I think there is something important to that.

So what now?

I realized somewhere around September that I would soon need to start making decisions about my future with performing regular rituals for the NTRW; along with what my future with Kemeticism would actually look like once this year was over. I don’t like performing standard, structured rituals if I’m being completely honest. It’s hard for me to find reason to set aside the time, clear out the space, and sit down to perform these rites. Perhaps if I had the right space, or perhaps if I got more out of the experience, I would feel differently. And while I understand that these rituals are supposed to be for the NTRW, it doesn’t change the fact that unless I find a way to repackage them or get more out of them, I’m not likely to perform them. We’re all human, and as humans, we don’t do well with tasks that we view as pointless or not serving a purpose. And that’s exactly where I ended up with most of my rituals by the time October rolled around.

However, I don’t know that I can, in good conscience (yes), just set rituals aside and not perform them ever at all. Rereading Roberts’ books in 2018 really drove home (for me) that the original religious structure really placed a heavy emphasis on our rituals helping to maintain the regenerative processes of the NTRW. And it’s led me to question if the lack of continuous ritual on our end could have a degradation of things for the NTRW. It brings us back to the age old issue of “if we think this is really real, and if we believe the Egyptians did things for a Reason that they also believed was really real, then why am I casually ignoring doing that?”

Because if the rituals did actually influence the quality of life for our gods, or if the rituals did actually help to keep the Duat regular and functional, then it really begs us to ask what would happen if those rituals stopped. And by extension, why we don’t do more of them.

And I’m really stuck on that.

So far, I do think I want to create something that strikes a balance between traditional ritual work and what I did in December. For me, it makes more sense to find something that fits into what I am capable of right now, and then build towards something that is more refined as I learn more from my experiences. That being said, I’m still not entirely sure what that looks like, or how I want to approach it.

I guess we’ll see what 2020 brings on that front.


For those of you who participated in either project, I would love to hear your feedback or thoughts so that I can incorporate them into any future projects that may occur.

 
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Posted by on January 9, 2020 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Year of Rites

 

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Eating a Mystery

A few weeks ago I was getting ready for my shower when I suddenly got this memo that went something like “don’t forget that you need to be preparing for the Mysteries this year.” It struck me as odd, since I haven’t really done anything for the Year of Rites since October, and for the NTRW to not harp me on that, but instead decide I needed to perform the Mysteries really seemed out of character.

I asked the “memo” what I needed to focus on for the Mysteries, and I received one line, it said “Glorify your father.

In the matter of a few seconds, my brain raced in several directions with this. First off, the word father really seemed highlighted to me, and there are two reasons for that. First is the mythological component. Osiris’ myths are frequently centered on Horus and his quest to avenge his father and take back what’s his. Second, you’ve got the historical context in that every Osiris relies on his eldest son to give him a proper funeral and to maintain his cult to at least some degree. Both of these aspects would place me in the role of Horus glorifying my father, and have fairly straight-forward heka connotations.

But what really caught me was the third place my brain went.

While I understand that the NTRW can use familial terms for some people, it’s never been the case for me. Further, if there was a NTR out there that I would use familial terms with, it certainly isn’t Osiris. But there is another person that frequently gets labeled specifically as father (as opposed to “dad” or some other similar label, it’s always father) and that would be good ol’ Father-Lover. Would I need to incorporate aspects of my rebirth/rebuilding process into this? Or perhaps more accurately — had the NTRW decided to insert themselves into my process without letting me know? I wasn’t pleased with the idea.

Between all of these concepts, though, there is one vein of similarities: you become your father.

Ultimately, the reason Osiris gets it on with Aset is largely to make sure that he continues on through his son. Ultimately, the son and father overlap and become one mythologically speaking (hence Bull of His Mother) and so in some respects, I would argue that you could potentially interchange the two to some extent. And when it comes to Father-Lover, well, its just that we are literally the same being spread across two forms. We are ultimately one and the same on some level or another.

So I began to mull on this. If glorifying my father ultimately ends up glorifying myself… what would glorification look like? The word “glorify” means to praise or present admirably, perhaps unjustifiably so. It is what nearly every Kemetic ritual aims to do — to beautify the NTRW in the hopes that they will remain gracious to us. It is also through this process of glorification that we ensure that the rhythmic needs of the Duat are sustained and maintained. Re needs to go into the Duat each night, he needs to push back a/pep each day, he and Osiris need to meet in order to revitalize the Duat and its residents. Just like nature, everything has a rhythm and a cycle. Part of our end of the deal is performing the rituals and doing the acts that sustain these cycles.

To consider this concept on myself, we all need a healthy attitude about ourselves. We would all lead more fulfilling and less-miserable lives if many of us weren’t constantly being self-defeating or putting ourselves down. To glorify yourself would ultimately mean to feed into your inherent regenerative nature. And so I asked myself what would help sustain me most?

I then switched back to considering the historical contexts of glorifying your father — what do akhu value most from their families? What do we often see most often for helping the akhu? And the answer I came back with was:

The voice offering, in my opinion, is the quintessential akhu rite out there. There are lots of people who know nothing about Kemeticism, but know about the “thousands of beer, bread, and every good thing” voice offering that was left to the akhu of the necropolis. The most important thing a son could do for his father was to offer the basic necessities of life so that his father could continue to live in the Duat. And when I think about what the best offering that you could give would be, I thought of the foreleg. The foreleg is, by far, the piece de resistance in the Opening the Mouth ceremony. Everything in the ritual crescendos when you pull out the choice cut of meat and offer all of its contained vitality to the statue/mummy.

I thought to myself, could I offer myself the foreleg instead? Could I offer it to both of us simultaneously?

One of the suggestions after my post about my eating issues interfering with being able to offer to the gods regularly was the idea of drawing foods, and offering the drawing. In response to this, I began to offer my paper foreleg amulet to the NTRW as a stand-in meal. And so the connection between the foreleg and the offering of foods went full circle, and I thought to myself “what if I offer a meal to myself every day? So that instead of doing offerings at a shrine that are couched inside of a larger ritual, the act of feeding myself becomes the ritual.” And in response, I heard “what if you did it three times per day?” (since, you know, we’re supposed to eat three meals a day.)

So I guess that means I’m eating three times per day for the Mysteries.

I admit, this is strange to me. It feels like a cop out, like I’m just using something I “already do,” and saying that it’s a good replacement for “proper rituals” at a shrine, as I have been doing all year. But to cite that post I mentioned above: I don’t really eat regularly. Or at least, I don’t eat as regularly as I should. So it’s actually quite a challenge for me, since I won’t be able to eat depression meals and call it a day. Even though it feels like a cop out, it’s going to actually be a challenge for me to do this for any length of time.

I decided I needed to check through other means to make sure that I was on the right track, and the response I got was so direct and straightforward that it was hard to deny the answer, so I guess this means I’m eating three times per day for the Mysteries. Which O dictated that it’s to be a month, as it’s always been. So I’m eating three times per day for a month. I’m sure that’ll be riddled with success.

The general idea of how this is supposed to go is that I’m to treat each meal as an event that requires my full attention. I’m to focus on myself, the food I’m eating, and try not to let myself get super distracted by the Internet, my phone, thoughts, or what have you. The meals need to have enough substance to them that they can be called meals. So for example, just eating a piece of bread and walking away is not good enough. It needs to big enough to fill me up (a challenge.)

The biggest question I am left with when it comes to doing this is the following: when we typically do rituals, there is a layer of separation involved. You offer to the gods, separate from you, and then you take the food into yourself afterwards. The path is outwards (to the gods) then inwards (when you eat it.) But what happens when you skip the outwards part? What happens when both the offering and the consuming are done in one step, at the same time, with both parties being overlapped? And is O doing this because he wants me to take care of myself, or is he wanting me to do this because of the overlap I just mentioned?

I guess we’ll see.

 

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Ancient Egyptians Didn’t Have Disordered Eating

If there is a problem that has plagued my ritual work for years, it’s my disordered eating. And while I know that there is no absolute way to determine whether ancient Egypt had disordered eating present or not, I feel pretty confident in my guess that it wasn’t a prolific problem, if it existed at all. For those of you who are unaware, disordered eating is technically a sort of eating disorder, its just that there isn’t a particular name for the way that your eating is not healthy or “normal.” Many people have disordered eating and don’t realize it — potentially as many as 3 out of every 4 Americans have it, and for many of us, its a byproduct of our mental health and the unhealthy culture that we’re forced to live in.

For me specifically, my disordered eating is often a byproduct of my depression and stress levels. When my depression skyrockets in a particular way, I often don’t feel like eating — even if I’m hungry. Most things sound completely unappetizing, and when I force myself to eat I often end up with stomach aches or meltdowns as a result. This, of course, is a problem if you’re doing ritual work because our ritual structure mandates that you offer something to eat to the NTRW. I have yet to see a single Kemetic ritual that doesn’t include food offerings as a staple chapter.

And I mean, why not? Food is great (I guess?), it’s what keeps us alive, and supposedly the NTRW help us to grow is so that we can sustain ourselves with it. But it’s a huge problem if you can’t bring yourself to eat.

Years ago, I sought to bypass the disordered eating by using votive offerings instead. I bought a bunch of ReMent and used that to fill my offering plates for many many years. Even if I couldn’t bring myself to eat, I could bring myself to give the NTRW replicas of what I was supposed to be eating. I could offer them more in terms of number and quantity than I could ever do with actual food. It allowed me to let go of the stress around food and just focus on being present.

Of course, people did not like the idea. I’ve read everything from “that’s half-assing it” to “if you give the NTRW ‘fake’ offerings, they’ll give you fake blessings in return.” And so I’ve always ended up having a mixed relationship with my votive offerings because years and years of being told that they aren’t good enough will eventually leave you feeling like they aren’t good enough.

And so when I finally could eat again, because my health issues had reached a certain level of improvement, I told myself that I should try to use real food and not votive offerings. I created a sort of “rule” in my head that votive offerings are only for people who can’t offer “real” food (not that I’d ever place that rule on someone else. It was only ever directed at me.) And so I packed them away and tried not to use them. Fast forward a few years to my Year of Rites project where I told myself I would use real food for the entire thing because I knew I should eat, could eat, and needed to eat. And therefore, should try to use my ritual work to motivate myself to eat better and regularly.

And I guess it’s worked so far. If you read through what few updates I’ve given, or parse through the images that I used to take, you’ll see that offerings were still a problem for me. I can’t tell you how many rituals get put off until the end of the day because I couldn’t force myself to cook or eat early enough to do things at a reasonable time, or how many times I just grabbed a piece of convenience snacking material to offer instead. But the more important point is that I was managing up until August.

I want to preface this with a certain level of “I knew this would happen.”

As my grandfather lay on his death bed, I could overhear my mother telling the handful of people that were there with us that she really wanted to make sure that people checked up on me for the next few weeks. She was worried that I would fall apart after he died, and seemingly was trying to be proactive or something. I remember trying to meet these people halfway, letting them know that my depression would likely stave itself for a month or two, and that if people were really concerned, they’d make sure that they came around in a month or two, because that’s when I’d likely actually need the help. My emotions take time to process. My disassociation takes time to wear off so that I can feel what I’m actually feeling.

It took a while to kick in, but I noticed that by the end of August, my eating was beginning to slip. I blamed it on a new medical protocol I was trying, and hoped that my appetite would return.

But it hasn’t. And I’m not really surprised about it. Just as I had told those people — it takes time for my grief to process, and so the depression took a bit to really settle in.

Each day that there is a ritual scheduled, I feel this sort of dread or aversion in my stomach. To know that not only do I need to come up with something to offer the gods, I need to actually eat it, and I need to prepare it at such a time that I will have the time to perform the ritual, but also won’t lose my desire to eat whatever it is by the time my ritual work is done (for example, if I take a break while eating, I often lose all desire to finish my meals. I eat to reduce my stomach pain, and once that’s even mildly resolved, I often quit eating.)

When you combine this with how much I absolutely can’t stand this last batch of rubrics I made, you’ve got a recipe for not doing many rituals. So far I’ve only missed three rites this year (they were all execrations. Execrations feel like the world’s biggest waste of time and involve finding a place to start a fire and smelling like smoke and I’d just rather not most days,) but I can tell that this last quarter will be the hardest because I hate the words and I hate the food. There are other factors at play as well, but I still feel that these are the largest components to why I’m avoidant of doing ritual work right now.

So this begs to ask — what does one do about this? After this year’s worth of work, I honestly have a lot of criticism of people’s assumptions about how rituals should be set up, how often one should be able to do them, what they should consist of, how much we should be maintaining ancient practices, etc. But even if we don’t get into analyzing traditional ideas of what Kemetic rituals entail, it still really needs to be asked: what do we do about disordered eating? It’s quite clear that the ancient Egyptians didn’t have this particular hurdle to overcome, and so it’s something that we modern practitioners need to answer for ourselves, and possibly for our community.

Votive offerings seemed to be a solid alternative, but at the same time, there is a lot of moral baggage that comes with using them. You risk being ostracized or criticized by your fellows, and that just leads to more dysfunction for a person. The other alternative is to not offer food at all, or perhaps give only a voice offering — but both of these are also rife with chastisement and belittling within our community (have I mentioned recently how much I hate our community? I hope this post gives a little peek as to some of the reasons why) and I know that I often feel like voice offerings are not “enough.” It would feel weird to sit at my shrine and just say words and not perform any ritual actions that mirror the words. So, from what I can tell, no clear alternative exists that won’t evoke feelings of shame because it results in at least a portion of our community putting someone down for using it or doing it.

So I ask you all, how do we get around this? What is the best solution? How do we modify ritual structures for modern problems such as this? Is there even an alternative that anyone can take that doesn’t result in being shat on? Because so far, the answer feels a lot like a no.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2019 in Kemeticism, Rambles, Year of Rites

 

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Ma’at was Always Political

This week sat received an ask, wherein the inquirer states that “Ma’at was made so political.” It really stuck out to me, because as far as I can tell, ma’at was always political. When you look at the definition of “politics,” at the very very bottom, you get “use of intrigue or strategy in obtaining any position of power or control, as in business, university, etc.” which might seem antithetical to ma’at, right?

I don’t know many folks who would think it is within ma’at to “obtain any positions of power or control.” I say this because it’s not uncommon for members of our community to assume that anyone with any amount of social following or clout is somehow looking to become a megalomaniac or a cult leader. The mistrust that our community has with power is warranted, but it’s not historically informed when it comes to ma’at itself.

Ma’at is intrinsically tied to kingship in ancient Egypt. There are no two ways around that, and I don’t think I should have to lay out historical data to prove that the king used legitimacy and ritual to show the whole of Egypt that he was the divine ruler, the Horus here on earth that was meant to maintain ma’at for the entire country. So if we’re looking from a historical aspect, ma’at is defacto tied to politics. Sometimes ma’at was used to do good things, like help members of other countries in need, and other times she was used to do bad things, like start wars to gain control of people’s resources.

Of course, just because ma’at was tied to politics in the past doesn’t mean that it has to be tied to politics now, right? Well, I think it depends on what you’re cherry picking from our resources in order to form your argument. To make it easy, let’s pick one of the most widely-accepted tenets of ma’at: giving food to the hungry, clothing to the naked, a boat to the boatless. All three of these things are considered very ma’atian acts to perform. Did you know that giving food to the hungry is an arrestable offense in many places? Same goes for clothing, if you’re giving it to the wrong person. Your “not political” act just suddenly got political. It’s almost as if living under an authoritative government means that politics has a say over almost all aspects of your life, it’s shocking.

So that got me thinking, if anon wasn’t trying to say that ma’at was political, what else could they be trying to say?

If I’m being honest, I don’t think it’s that our anonymous asker was somehow lost on the fact that ma’at was originally political, no. I think it’s that this anonymous asker believes that people like me are politicizing ma’at, which is a very subtle, but important distinction. Because when most people think you’re politicizing something, they believe that you are taking something and trying to use it to gain power and promote a specific bias.

You see this in our society through things like the anti-vaxx movement, climate change, reproductive rights, etc. where a particular group tries to call into question the validity of data or information presented about a topic by going “but they’re trying to politicize it so that they can push their [inaccurate] bias.” What’s interesting is that most of these things are slanted towards the right side of the political spectrum. Which is to say that it’s mostly right-leaning people who have taken these topics that apply to everyone, and decided that they’re not actually that important to fight, fix, or fund. But instead of being honest about it, its sexier to imply that the “other side” is just politicizing (read: lying about) the whole thing. Yes, these things could be considered inherently unpolitical, but because of the world we live in, they are anything but.

So ultimately, when you see someone trying to tell someone else that they’re politicizing something that isn’t “inherently political,” you’re likely watching someone indirectly try to shut down the conversation about a topic (because it makes them uncomfortable.) To pull a good quote (cw: rape mention, victim blaming used as an example):

Words like “political” then are a means of controlling when (perhaps even if) we will allow discussion of some issues and what the nature of that discussion can be. Silence on issues like homosexual rights, sexual assault, climate change, and war all promote the status quo. If we don’t talk about homosexuals, then they remain deviant. If we don’t talk about sexual assault, then it remains a private problem of a few isolated women (who might have been “asking for it” anyway). If we don’t talk about climate change, then we can keep consuming and polluting without feelings of guilt. If we don’t talk about war, then the gears can keep spinning. In addition, by limiting tax-exempt organizations to discussing things that are “not political”, we keep them from pointing to problems in society as the cause of the issues they address. They can feed the hungry, but they can’t call for the end of the root cause of hunger in an extremely wealthy nation: wealth inequality. (x)

And therein lies the crux of the problem. Our anonymous asker is assuming that people like me have taken ma’at, an innocent pure bystander, and turned it into a weapon to convert people to our way of thinking. But the truth of the matter is, ma’at has always been what she is, and most of those who aren’t living on a couch of privilege understand that that means she’s political and that the concept ends up being inherently politicized. If anything, I didn’t change ma’at, ma’at changed me — which is how its supposed to work when you convert to a religion.

Existence is inherently political for all of us (only if you care about the health and well-being of other people, of course.) Our governments can, and will, do horrible things to people if left unchecked. We are all overseen by governmental structures that can do said horrid things, so to be able to be blind about what is going on on a governmental level (aka “not political”) is a luxury that only the most protected members of society can rely (aka rich white people, if you’re living in America.) There is a phrase that says that the ability to “not be political” is a sign of privilege, and this is exactly why. There is only a small, narrow portion of our community that isn’t a part of a marginalized group, and as such, it should be a given that politics will bleed into discussions on how best to live one’s life in ma’at. The marginalized members of our community shouldn’t be asked to hide parts of their lived experience simply because more-privileged members of our community are being made uncomfortable. Nor should they be forced to share their religious community with people who deny their (marginalized people) lived experience simply because they don’t want to explore how their own inherent bigotry is actually bad and should be changed.

So in conclusion, if we are to use ma’at to inform our decision-making and actions in our lives, and if most of us are living inherently politicized lives, then it stands to reason that ma’at was destined to be tied to politics, even in the modern era. Yes, you can choose to ignore this fact because it makes you uncomfortable, but I think the bigger question should be: why would you want to?

 
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Posted by on August 21, 2019 in Kemeticism, Making Ma'at, Rambles

 

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