RSS

Tag Archives: krt

KRT: Offerings 101

One of my favorite things to write about is offerings. This is probably because in my practice, offerings are one of the most important aspects of being a Kemetic right after the whole living in ma’at thing. I feel that offerings are a great way to help bridge the gap between the Seen and Unseen and is paramount in helping to develop a relationship with the gods. The nature of giving offerings, and why they are so important, was summed up well by Shafer:

Offerings symbolized life and order (ankh and ma’at), and as life and order they were consubstantial with god. That such a large proportion of them consisted of food makes their link to life force clear. Texts speak of the animal’s thigh and heart as awakening life and transmitting life force to the god. … A god was not immortal in the absolute sense; a god’s life force needed replenishment. Of course, the life force that was returned to god in offerings had previously come from god, the source of life force. … The circular flow of life from god to king/Egypt to god and back again prevented the cosmos from winding down. Offerings were more than gift giving; they were reciprocal creation. (Temples of Ancient Egypt, Shafer)

Offerings can seem really daunting at first, and for many years of my practice offerings were a very difficult thing for me. I’m sure almost everyone that thinks about offerings envisions plates overflowing with loaves of bread, meat and fruit and other rich, expensive foods. You know, feasts fit for kings, not the small meals we likely have day in and day out. However, offerings don’t have to be that complicated. For this round of KRT, I want to talk about some of the things I’ve learned about offering over the years.

What to Offer

The first question that always comes up is “what do I offer”. My answer to that has become “offer what you can”. “What you can” can mean a lot of things, and that’s exactly why its worded that way. Someone who makes a lot of money can probably offer more high end stuff than someone who is living paycheck to paycheck, but neither set off offerings is better or worse than the other, so long as each devotee is offering what they can with sincerity. If all you can afford is a plate of rice and beans, well that’s what NTRW is getting, and I’m sure they appreciate you considering them even when your money is tight.

The most basic staple for offerings in antiquity was water and bread. Most everyone subsisted off of these two things- rich and poor alike, and water is a must-have in the desert. So if you’re not sure where to start for food offerings, start there. Simplicity has its own beauty to it, and you can’t go wrong with bread and water. If you need a more thorough list of offerings that were used in antiquity, I recommend this guide here. But don’t feel limited to this list. These items are “safe” items that you can use without fail for just about any Netjer that you come across, but you can certainly branch out and try other things as well.

However, offerings don’t only have to be about food. You can just as easily offer time and other things to the gods in their name and honor. Once I realized that I could offer my time and my energy to the gods, that’s when offerings became much much easier for me. So many discussions about offerings focus on the food aspects of things, but the gods also need more than food. They need time and dedication. They need us to uphold ma’at on our end, within the world around us. They also appreciate thoughts and devotional acts such as dancing, music making or art creation. There are so many ways to give offerings and devotion to the gods, don’t limit yourself to just food.

Also, don’t limit which deities you offer to. You don’t have to necessarily have a long term relationship with a deity to give them offerings. You can offer to all of the NTRW at once, or you can offer to a specific set of deities, or to one deity at a time. It’s entirely up to you. In antiquity, it was common for a set of offerings to make the rounds to multiple shrines within the temple complex every morning, so offerings are pretty flexible.

How to Offer

Figuring out how to offer to the gods is really a personal matter. Some people are very ritual based in their offering structures, some aren’t. Neither method is more correct, and it really comes down to what works for both you and the gods. Most daily rites have an offering section in them, as almost every ritual would involve an offering of some kind. However, you can offer outside of a ritual setting, which is what I normally do. Typically, I will lay the plate down in front of the shrine and tell the gods that it’s there and that I will be giving them 5 minutes to gobble it down. And after the 5 minutes is done, I eat it whether they are finished or not because that’s how I roll. Again, figure out what method works best for you and your relationship as it is no one else’s business about how you give offerings.

temporary kitchen shrine while baking bread

For offerings that aren’t food related, it can be a bit more challenging to figure out how to make sure your actions are offered properly. For many of us, there is little concern about formal offering rites for actions, and the most structured example I can think of occurred when I would bake bread for Aset. I’d pull out her small statue and light a stick of incense before it as a means to let her know that I’m doing something for her, but most of the time I don’t do something that involved. Typically, I will let the deity know at some point in time that I’m performing an action for them. It’s usually something that is mentioned in passing during one of my weekly check-ins I have with the gods. “Oh hey, by the way, I’m doing this for you next week” or “hey, I did this thing that made me think of you”. Sometimes it doesn’t even get that involved for myself. Many of my actions are taken with the gods in mind and I never make mention of it to them. Sometimes, offerings and actions are about doing what needs to be done, and less about letting the gods know ahead of time. You may find that this method doesn’t sit well for you, however. Experimenting with methods will help you to figure out what works best for your practice.

The Reversion (wedjeb khet)

Reverting your offerings was always the part that frustrated me the most. For those who don’t know what reverting your offerings means, it is a formula that exists at the end of nearly every temple ritual we have on record where you take the offerings from the shrine space and consume them. Offerings are reciprocal nourishment and it is considered to be polite to consume the offerings that you give to the gods.

This can get really frustrating if your stomach doesn’t like anything, or if you have special dietary restrictions or other considerations to make (or if you’ve made a meal for the gods only to find out it tastes horrible). There are ways to work around reversion problems, though. In the case of food, you could try using model food instead of real food, or you could give someone else the offerings to eat instead of eating them yourself. If neither of these is an option for you, look into seeing if you can try other offerings that aren’t centered around food. You could try offering only liquids (such as water, tea, juice, or coffee), incense, flowers, or other actions (see the list linked above for more ideas) instead of food. That way, reversion is not even a factor.

The reversion process can be complicated or simple, depending on your needs. Reidy states that the typical reversion process often utilizes the phrase “O (name of NTR), your enemy withdraws from you!” (Eternal Egypt, pg 233). And Tamara Siuda lists this phrase as being commonly said before offering reversion (Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook, p84):

hotep Netjer em shabu her imenti her iabty
“May the god(s) be satisfied with [the] repast/offerings from the right to the left”

When I want to revert my offerings with some formality, I will thank the gods for their attention and influence in my life. I wish them well and hope that the offerings went over well for them, and then I take the plate out of the shrine box and go eat whatever is there. And on days when I don’t really care about being formal, I will take the plate without a word and go to town.

Offerings are a really in-depth type of topic, and it can be challenging to cover everything there is to know about offerings in one post. The beauty of offerings is that there really is no right or wrong way to utilize them in your practice. You can easily start with something small and try new things as you become more secure in your practice, and eventually offerings will be no problem. And even after years of giving offerings to the gods, there is always something new to try and more to learn about the offering process and its impact on your practice.

To see other responses to this prompt, please check out the KRT Master List.

Relevant Posts:

 
2 Comments

Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

KRT: Living the Faith

Living Kemeticism: What does living your faith mean to you? How can others bring their religion into their day to day life or live their religion?

It is my personal belief that religion is something that you live. It is a way of life or a way of being and approaching the world. It is a lens that you see the world through and when you are completely immersed in the religion, it will inform and influence just about every decision that you make, for better or worse. And for all of the guides out there about how to become Kemetic, I feel like there are very few guides out there that teach you how to live the religion. Sure, we’ve got guides for approaching gods and offering to gods and how to build shrines and what books to read. But none of these things really teach you how to live the religion.

So for this post, I’m going to discuss how I view living Kemeticism and hopefully some things that you can attempt to do to live the religion as well.

From my perspective, the way to become Kemetic and to live as a Kemetic isn’t about gods, offerings, reading, or shrines. It’s about living in ma’at. I’m sure some people would probably disagree with that, considering that 99% of everything out there on Kemeticism is about gods, priesthood, proper shrine construction and ritual performing, but I do believe that living in ma’at is the most important aspect in a Kemetic’s practice. The NTRW put maintaining ma’at as being their primary objective day in and day out, and since they need our help in maintaining ma’at, I’d wager that it should be a top priority for us as well. Problem is, ma’at isn’t something that easily defined and it’s going to vary for each practitioner.

When you see ma’at defined in an academic text, it’s usually defined as “truth, justice, order”. However, a lot of Kemetics agree that that definition isn’t very helpful, so a lot of us will define it as “balance”. We prefer to use the term balance because the word balance creates a looser definition (which is important for bigger concepts such as ma’at) that is able to reflect how ma’at is different for each person and it creates a definition that isn’t weighed down with a bunch of baggage as the ‘truth, justice, order’ trio would be.

If ma’at is balance, and I want to live in balance, what does that mean for my practice?

This is where the tricky part comes in because there is only so much I can do to define ma’at and it’s applications for each person, since balance will be different for each person. As an example, some people do really well with daily rituals in their practice. It helps to create a sense of routine and stability that helps to drive their religious experiences forward as well as helping with establishing a relationship between the devotee and the deity. For that person, daily ritual creates a good balance in their practice and helps them to maintain a sense of ma’at in their life and actions.

However some people don’t do well with daily rituals at all, and being forced to maintain a shrine through daily rituals may only succeed in bogging their religious efforts down. To force someone to perform daily rites when they are not well suited for them (for whatever reasons) would be counter productive and would not be conducive for building a sense of ma’at in that practitioner’s life and practice.

That being said, I think that the first step to living in ma’at is to acknowledge, understand, and accept that other people will do things differently than you. Other Kemetics will have differing (and sometimes conflicting) approaches to their practice and the gods, and that’s okay. We don’t all have to practice or do things the same way in order for it to be effective. In this same vein, I think we all need to acknowledge that there is no One Way to do this whole Kemetic religion and that there are as many viable methods to practice as there are practitioners.

The second step to living the religion is to figure out how the religion best fits into your life, and to pursue that.

That, of course, is easier said than done and it can take a while to figure out how Kemeticism will fit into your daily life. When I first started, Kemeticism fit into my life through ritual and shrine work. At the time, it was the only thing I could figure out to do to bring it into my daily life. I would read about Egypt and I would leave offerings out daily. However, I wasn’t entirely happy with this set-up. It was during the time that I took a break from Kemeticism to study Shinto that I realized that it was possible to be in a religion without performing shrine duties because Shinto places a huge emphasis on proper actions and religion as a way of life that seems to be missing from a lot of modern polytheistic and pagan movements. While I didn’t do a single ounce of shrine activity during that year, I still felt connected to my gods and my religion because they were still always on my mind, and I still acted with the concept of ma’at in my head.

It wasn’t until I began to do heavy community work and writing regularly that I realized where my niche was and what kind of role Kemeticism would play for me. My ma’at, my balance is in interacting with the community and creating resources for other Kemetics to use. I find more benefit for myself in these actions than I ever did inside of a shrine or ritual setup. For me, living the faith is equivalent to doing regularly community work, keeping this blog updated, and reading regularly.

And you may find that your balance, your ma’at, is different from mine, and that’s okay.

Figuring out your balance takes time and patience with a huge dose of trial and error. Only through experiencing how the religion works with your life and how you react to different activities and sectors of the community will you be able to figure out what works best for you. And what works best for you may change as you grow and shift. As you begin to find the core “staples” of your practice, a lot of the useless stuff will fall to the wayside, which may seem scary at first, but I think that’s par for the course when you finally find the meat and potatoes of your practice.

The short version 🙂

  • Being Kemetic is about living in ma’at, which we translate to mean balance (or “don’t be a dick”).
  • Figuring out your balance, your perfect Kemetic mixture is part of the path, but also part of living the religion.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment and try new things as you figure out what makes your practice tick.
  • Things may change as you change, and that’s okay.
  • We all practice differently as we all try to strike our own balance, and that’s okay, too.
  • Again, “Don’t be a dick”.

To read other responses to this topic, please check out the Master List.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

KRT: Kemeticism Underground

How public are you about your beliefs and practices? How has it (or not) impacted your work life, your familial and friendly ties? What advice would you give to uncertain Kemetics about how to approach either telling or not telling others about their beliefs?

For this round of KRT we’re discussing how open we are with our religious practices and what kind of effect that has had on our lives and relationships. Honestly, despite how open I am about my practice on the internet, I don’t really talk about my practice at all in my day to day life. If you are lucky, you will know that I am not Christian, you may even know that I’m Kemetic, and that that deals with ancient Egypt, but I pretty much don’t talk about anything in real life.

This is because I am fearful of the potential consequences that I may have if I were to be open about my practice. Most of my life and my lifestyle are hidden because I don’t want to experience more societal pressure for my choices and way of life. As I mentioned in my God’s Mouths post, my life is almost entirely centered around religious work and astral work, and it is made obvious when trying to have an in real life conversation with people who know absolutely nothing about Paganism that I pretty much have next to nothing that I can talk about with “normal” people. Usually, if someone asks about my religion and I’m required to answer, I get blank stares in return, or I get lectured about my choice in religion.

 

My family also knows very little about my religious practices as well. My closest family (read: parents and one grand parent) know that I am not Christian, but that is where the knowledge ends. They don’t make a habit of asking about my religious affiliations or practices, and I don’t make a habit of talking about it. I personally have found this to be ironic because my family does have a bit of “woo” to them. It’s said that other members of my family can see spirits and the like, and most of my family has at least some passing interest in energy work and manipulation, channeling and other spirit work. However, they never think to ask me or include me in their discussions, so no one knows anything about how that stuff factors into my own life.

So the short answer to the first question is this: I don’t tell anyone about my practice. I have difficulty speaking about it in real life, and I typically keep it very hidden, which results in a lot of odd mental quirks and odd discussions sometimes. It also leaves me feeling pretty alienated regularly.

My advice to anyone who is starting out on a non-“normal” religious path is this: Use discretion.

A lot of people seem to think that its a-okay to be an open Pagan in the modern day and age and that you’ll experience no repercussions for it, but its honestly not. Being open about your religious beliefs in the wrong place can get your harassment from coworkers, friends and family, or can result in you losing your job (despite the laws in place that are meant to protect you from such things). Be careful what you divulge and how quickly you divulge it. Much like my boiling frogs post, I would recommend that you start slow. If you mention that you’re not Christian, and no one freaks out, then maybe you can talk about your specific religious path, and then maybe more about your world view, practices, etc. Ease yourself into the conversation, and try to make it easy for you to back out if it goes in the wrong direction too quickly.

I would also advise to be careful on the internet as well. Many employers do check candidates out online, and its very possible that finding a bunch of online stuff regarding your religious practices can become a factor in their decisions to hire you. It’s also possible that people can use online interactions against you for a variety of reasons and in a variety of ways (I’ve seen this done in divorces and custody cases, for example). If its possible to write under a pseudonym, I recommend considering it. Because of this, I also always recommend being professional, courteous and respectful online as well- because that can also play a factor if someone finds out who you are online and in real life.

I understand the desire to want to be open about your practice and that it’s not really fair that you have to live (to some extent) in hiding, but I’ve found over the years that being completely open about my way of life tends to result in drama and stress. So for myself personally, I’d rather keep that stuff hush-hush because I don’t want or need the extra stress. As you get further along your path, you’ll find the best mix of open and secret that works for you, but to start out, I always recommend being rather reserved with your religious workings. It’s always easier to reveal a secret later than to try and cover your secret back up once it’s out of the bag!

To read other responses to this question, please check out the Master List!

 

 
4 Comments

Posted by on April 9, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

KRT: Kings and Kingship

Does the concept of Kingship/Pharaoh impact your practice, and if so, how?

For this round of KRT we are talking about kingship and what type of role it plays in your practice.

To be honest, the short answer for this question would be “none”, but I don’t think that’s very fair or descriptive, so I’m going to spend most of this post musing about the role kingship can play in your practice, or within the community at large.

Back in the day, the king/pharaoh was a pretty big deal. He was considered to be the top dog of the country and the priesthood. And in many ways, all of the priests of Egypt were only acting in the pharaoh’s place. In all aspects of the state religion, the pharaoh reigned supreme and was only second to the gods. However, modern Kemeticism has changed that. We no longer have a state-run anything, and many of us no longer have a king to answer to.

Earthly Kings and Modern Kemeticism

Most modern Kemetic groups don’t have a type of king or Nisut to them. There are, however, a few groups that contain something of a Nisut, the most prominent being Kemetic Orthodoxy. The concept of a king is a frequently brought up topic and question to those who discover KO, and a lot of people are turned off of KO by the notion that they will have to somehow “worship a king” or possibly bow down to a king. I will tell you now that both of these concepts are not part of the “canon” that is KO. Being a member of KO have virtually nothing to do with there being a king, and Shemsu (the most basic level of “official” KO membership) are not required to promise or oath anything towards Tamara or the kingship. Tamara has mentioned many times that her possession of the Kingly Ka (which all coronated pharaohs are said to have) is something that really only has to do with her and her servitude to the gods. It has virtually no impact or relevance to the members of Kemetic Orthodoxy.

I’ll also mention that I’ve never seen Tamara request or require someone to bow down to her like a king, or acted like she was above everyone else because of the Nisut title. A lot of people put a lot of words in others’ mouths in situations like this, and I wanted to take this opportunity to clear the air and clear up some of the misconceptions that I’ve seen.

I’ve also seen people ask how there can be more than one Nisut at once, and I firmly believe that it’s possible to have more than one king at one time. It was not unheard of in antiquity during the intermediate periods, and I also believe that the Kingly Ka could split off and be in multiple people at once. Obviously, these are only my beliefs and no one is required to believe them. All in all, kingship in the modern era of Kemeticism is hit and miss, and some people are okay with kings in their Kemeticism and some aren’t. As with everything, there is no right or wrong answer here, and you should do whatever you are most comfortable with while keeping an open mind and understanding that others will be doing it differently.

The Gods, The Duat, and Kingship

If there is one place that I’ve noticed that kingship still plays a role, it is within the realm of the NTRW: the Duat or the Unseen. While Egypt is no longer run under a pharaoh, the realm of the gods still has a lot of the hierarchy and feel of the past. Within the Duat, being a king still has its perks.

I don’t do a lot of heavy work with kingly deities. Osiris and Wpwt are the only gods I do much with that have any ties in any capacity to the kingship, and neither of them seem to hold onto the trappings of being king. Both seem to realize that times have changed and they have rolled with those changes. In addition, I think that Osiris is more interested in being friendly with me than rubbing his kingness in my face. However, not all deities are like this. For example, I’ve found that Heru (not sure which one, honestly, there are many) can still be very stiff and formal, as though there rules from antiquity are still in place. In my experience, Ra is also still heavily influenced by the past. He knows he is at the top (or close to it) and the way he acts towards others and presents himself lets you know that he is top dog. He also demands a certain level of respect from you. In my experience, if you don’t give it, he will demand or take that respect from you. He is one of the only deities where I have been literally forced to my knees just from the pressure of standing in his presence.

This, of course, can cause interesting mixtures when you get multiple deities in a room. You can watch an invisible pecking order establish itself as you watch the deities interact with one another. And if you are a practitioner that finds yourself interacting with kingly gods, or within the realm of the gods, you may find that knowing the protocol for handling royalty is a good thing to have.

Besides the gods themselves, the kings of old can still have a presence within our modern practices. There are some that work with pharaohs as though they are deities or sebau, and while I don’t work closely with any pharaohs, I’m sure that they are available to us for guidance and assistance in the same way that NTR are. Perhaps as we move forward into the modern era, more kings of old will step forward and ask for patronage from modern Kemetic practitioners.

All in all, the role of kingship is going to vary from practitioner to practitioner. Some people enjoy having a type of king in their practice, others don’t. Some gods still focus on the way it was “back in the day” while other deities have moved on from the past. It really just depends on each situation.

To read other responses to this topic, check out the master list!

 
5 Comments

Posted by on March 12, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

KRT: Differences in UPG and Practice

Differences in practices: How do you deal with them? How do we overlook our differences in practice and UPG? What do we do if our experiences don’t line up with others?

It goes without saying that every Kemetic’s practice is going to be different. Each Kemetic is going to have their own way of doing things and their own way of interacting with the gods. Sometimes, these practices are very similar to our own way of doing things, and everyone gets along whenever religious discussion pops up. However, there are times when factions or branches of Kemeticism clash in how they approach their religious practice. These clashes can be as simple as minor disagreements on a forum, or can be as major as huge fallouts within a temple or community.

How do we combat these types of fallout? How do we get along even when our practices are vastly different?

via flickr

The first step is to make sure that you realize when you’re presenting your UPG to the world, that your UPG is yours alone. It’s a personal thing, and doesn’t necessarily have to correlate to anyone elses experiences. And due to the nature of UPG, no one else has to place a lot of stock into your UPGs (reminder that not placing a lot of stock doesn’t mean being a jerk about it). As I mentioned in the post about boiling frogs, you’ll want to present your ideas with reasoning behind why you’re doing what you’re doing, and you’d be best served by knowing where the historical aspects end and your UPG begins.

But what if you see someone presenting UPG as fact, or you’re not entirely sure where a UPG is coming from?

Coming across different UPG can easily cause a knee jerk reaction within you, however it’s important to remember that those types of reactions are rarely helpful. Whenever I see myself having this reaction, or I see someone presenting UPG that I don’t really get, there are a few things that I keep in mind to help keep the peace:

  • Pause briefly and re-read the statement.
  • Ask questions.
  • Keep an open mind.
  • Understanding.
  • Mutual respect.

I feel that when people keep all of these points in mind, arguments and disagreements can be minimized between people of our religious community, and if you’re lucky these discussions can open up greater understanding between all of us.

Pause and Re-read

It sounds simple, but is often overlooked. Most of our interactions with other Kemetics occurs online, and due to the lack of body language, intonation and facial cues, it can be challenging to understand where a person is coming from. So whenever you come across a statement that seems “incorrect” to you, take a moment to re-read the statement. Sometimes we misread things while we are skimming a forum, which can lead to misunderstandings. So when in doubt, start here.

If you re-read and are still unsure, perhaps ask someone else to read the same material and see if they are getting the same impression that you are. If re-reading doesn’t help, then you move onto the next step-

Asking for clarification

Whenever in doubt, ask. If you’re unsure of what someone is trying to say, or you think you’re misreading a post, ask the original poster for clarification. This allows the OP to clarify their statements and explain their reasoning to you. This is where things like the Two Response Rule come into play.

Keep an open mind so that you may better understand

Remember that when you’re asking for clarification, you’re asking with the intent of understanding. You’re not here to prove that the person’s ideas are wrong or incorrect, you’re here to try and reach a mutual understanding with the person. Try to be open to other ways of working and doing things that are different from your own. You don’t necessarily need to agree in order to understand where someone is coming from, and you don’t necessarily need to discuss until both parties agree with one another. As the saying goes you can “agree to disagree”.

Mutual respect

And above all, aim to have a respectful discussion. Remember that what seems normal to you probably looks obscure and bizarre to someone else.  Even if we approach Kemeticism from different angles, our end goal is the same: to breathe life back into these religious practices and to honor the gods.

To read other posts on this topic, please check out the KRT Master Post

 
 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

KRT: Aspects of the Daily Practice

For this round of the Kemetic Round Table we are discussing some of the basics in creating a daily practice. Daily practice is always tricky because you’ve got to figure out how much is enough, and many times people plan for things that end up being too much – which often leads to being overwhelmed and then burning out with the whole religion thing. Daily practice can be done by yourself, with a small group of people, or within a temple/coven structure and can involve many things.

So to start off- what does a daily practice entail?

Initially, when I first began to learn about Kemeticism, I thought that the daily practice revolved around a ritual. It seemed like everyone was always talking about rites and shrines and spending time in front of those shrines. And every temple or Kemetic group that you see has their own daily rites, too. For a member of Kemetic Orthodoxy, daily practice would include Senut, and for the Temple of Ra, there is also a daily rite that the members all participate in in their individual homes (a version of it can be found in Eternal Egypt). But, for Kemetics who are not members of these temples, the answer to “what does a daily practice entail” becomes more difficult.

I think the ideas behind daily practice and daily rites get convoluted when you consider that many temple members don’t perform rites daily (for a variety of reasons). And I sometimes feel like the emphasis on daily ritual misses the point of Kemeticism- which is living in ma’at. In antiquity, is was the priesthood who performed daily rites, not laypeople. And in modern contexts, there is very little written on what a layperson’s daily practice should look like.

So needless to say- the answer to this question is going to be different for each person.

Like most things with religious practices- I would urge anyone who is looking into making a daily practice to examine their own needs. For someone who is working two jobs and has kids, a daily rite that is complex and long may not be a possibility. Truth be told, a daily rite might not be possible at all. And that’s okay. When I first started off, I did a daily shrine session every evening. It involved sitting down and crying in front of my icons about how I needed a job. By the time I got a job, my practice morphed into weekly rites that were longer and involved food. When I moved to my parents house, I tried to do daily rites every morning and quickly found that that was a no go. I would end up shelfing my daily practice almost entirely for nearly two years. I’d spend another year doing daily practice before my astral work came up- and now I don’t do daily rites at all.

But even though my ritual practice shifted with each new phase of my life- I still considered myself Kemetic because I was living the religion. Being Kemetic is not synonymous with “doing rites all the time”. You can leave offerings for the gods out, and still be a crappy Kemetic- the same way that a Christian can go to church every Sunday and still not live by the tenets of Christianity.

For myself personally, daily practice is about living the religion- in whatever format that that takes for you. For me, this involves reading a lot. It involves keeping this blog up to date. It involves being active in the community and answering questions and helping facilitate discussion and idea exchanges. My practice involves trying to embody the concept of ma’at and doing the work the gods lay in front of me.

And that work doesn’t involve a single libation or offering plate.

Sure, I still have my shrine box- but I only perform rites in front of it sporadically. Instead, I open the box every time I’m sitting at my desk. I keep my blog idea book inside of it because for me- writing and online work is synonymous with a daily practice. The Internet and online community is where I hold my rites and rituals. It’s where my practice can flourish and grow because its about building the community up.

So short story long- when you’re coming up with a daily practice, figure out what it means for you. Figure out where you want your practice to go, and what you want from your religion. In addition, keep in mind your limits and where the gods want you to go into the future. And above all, don’t be afraid to shift and change your practice as your life and needs change. Religion shouldn’t be static because we are not static. Don’t be afraid to try a bunch of things until you find something that works for you.

But what if I want a daily rite? How do I go about doing that?

You can either pull a pre-existing daily rite (1 2 3 4) or you could create your own. When creating your own rites, be considerate of limitations of space and time. Most Kemetic rituals tend to include the following:

  • Lighting of candles or incense or both.
  • Pouring of libations.
  • Words of praise to the deity.
  • Offering of foodstuffs, drinks, and/or items.
  • Personal speaking time with the gods.
  • Removing of the foot.
  • Reversion of offerings.

In many situations, these rites only take about 5 to ten minutes to perform (provided you are not doing one of the more ornate state rituals) and can take minimal supplies to do daily. So if you wish to create your own rites, I would consider using these bullets as a guideline.

For example:

  • You could start by entering your shrine space and lighting a candle, or turning on the light. Say hello to the gods.
  • Pour four libations for the deity you worship. With each pouring, state “may you be refreshed”, or “may this cool water refresh you”.
  • Ask that your deity come forth to spend time with you. “Oh He Who is Great of Strength, I ask that you come sit with me to enjoy these offerings I have prepared” and then leave the offerings on the table.
  • While the deity is a captive audience and is enjoying said offerings, you could let them know what you’re up to, or what you’re doing.
  • Once you are done, thank them for showing up and spending time with you. Wish them a good day.
  • Collect up the food offerings and walk backwards away from the shrine while still facing the shrine (called removing the foot).
  • Then go and enjoy your offerings.

You don’t even have to be that complicated, though. You could just as easily say hello to your deity in the morning while pouring them a cup of coffee and pouring said coffee out in the evening. There are lots of ways to go about things, and don’t be afraid to try stuff until it works for you. Sometimes, simple is better- so don’t forget that. In many situations, I recommend that the devotee start with something small, and then slowly work their way up- making the rites and practices more complicated until you hit something that works best.

The daily practice can be difficult to pin down. It’s not easy to figure out what exactly you need from your practice, or what the gods want and need from you. But with a little experimentation, you can find the right mixture that allows your practice to flourish.

To read other posts on this topic, please check out the KRT Master Post.

 
14 Comments

Posted by on January 8, 2014 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism, Uncategorized

 

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

KRT: “Other” Holidays

How do we negotiate Western secular and/or popular religious holidays? Do we ignore them? Do we co-opt them? Do we have celebrations with our non-Kemetic friends/family and then hold our own celebrations, if we have any Kemetic festivals around that particular time?

One of the first questions most new Kemetics ask is “what are our holidays, and how do we celebrate them?”, but for this round of the Kemetic Round Table, we decided to tackle another aspect of celebrating holidays as a Kemetic- and that is the situation of handling non-Kemetic holidays in our practices. I live in the USA, so all of my perspective and writing will be dealing with US holidays specifically.

As I had stated in my previous post on holidays, I don’t celebrate much as a Kemetic. I take note of Wep Ronpet and the Mysteries, and that’s about it. So it shouldn’t come as a surprised when I say that I don’t celebrate a lot of Western holidays, either. Most holidays in the US fall into two categories- they are patriotic/country oriented in nature (July 4th, Memorial Day, Labor Day) or they are Christian in nature (Christmas, Easter). Because my family is not very religious, I never did much for the Christian holidays, and due to my lack of patriotism or military ties, I don’t do much for the other category, either. And truth be told, when it comes to most Christian holidays, I don’t even know very much about what the holiday is for.

Most holidays are nothing more than a day where all of the stores are closed and I can’t do anything outside of my house (or I have to work).

The only holidays that I make any effort on are Thanksgiving and sometimes Christmas. This is out of a familial obligation over some desire to celebrate. And many times, I will leave to go to Vegas for Christmas because Christmas doesn’t exist on the Strip. This isn’t necessarily out of a dislike of the holiday itself or the religion that it’s tied to, but instead is a reflection of my discomfort of being around my family. Many times my family hinders my mental health, so I tend to avoid holidays and parties where we have to interact. On the years where my mental health can’t hack it, I don’t partake in the holiday or celebrations.

That being said, you as a Kemetic can take a few routes when handling holidays. You can ignore them entirely, as I do, you can celebrate them secularly- as many Americans do anymore, or you can rework the holiday to be Kemetic-tied.

One of the most popular holidays to re-work into a Kemetic sense is Christmas. There are a few different angles I’ve seen including both Moomas and Dickmas (nsfw). There are also a lot of Egyptian Pagans who like to try and convert the Christmas holiday into a celebration of Horus’ birthday. While it is not historically attested that Horus was born in the winter, I could see it working if you wanted to give a shot. For myself personally, I am usually working through the Mysteries during Christmas, so it’s more about the rebirth and transformation of Osiris than anything else.

I’ve also seen Thanksgiving turned into Herishefgiving in an attempt to bring some attention to the lesser known deity. And you could potentially turn Halloween into an akhu festival.

In short, I do think that Western/modern holidays do give us the opportunity to develop new mythologies and connections within our religion. These modern connections help our religion to grow and flourish in the modern era and can breath new life into the gods. Additionally, bringing a Kemetic flare to a non-Kemetic holiday can help practitioners to survive the holiday season and possibly blend in with non-Kemetic family celebrations- which can be helpful for managing stress load. However, there is no obligation to celebrate or not celebrate as you see fit. When it comes to holidays, feel free to experiment and try new things until you find something that works well for you!

To see other responses to this topic, check out the KRT Master List.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on December 11, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

KRT: Threats and Bribes

Bribing and Threatening the Gods: Can you do it? If you can, how so? And is it somehow ‘blasphemous’ or ‘immoral’ to do so?

For this round of the Kemetic Round Table we are discussing the nature of bribing and/or threatening Netjer and whether it is permissible or not. I’m sure for many people this might sound like a very odd topic to pick, considering that many of us were raised in a Christian mindset and/or religion where threatening god would be a huge no-no, but in truth, it was not entirely unheard of in ancient Egypt.

So that being said, the short answer to the question we are discussing is simply this: Yes, you can bribe and/or threaten netjer, it is not immoral to do so.

Let’s talk about Threats first.

According to Geraldine Pinch, there were a variety of threats that could be used against the gods as a means to ensure that your heka, or your wishes, came to fruition. These threats could be things like offering plates going empty, the temples failing, or even as harsh as bodily harm to the gods themselves. As she states in her book, Myth and Magic in AE:

“A peculiar feature of Egyptian magic was that threats might not be directed only at forces causing the problem, but at the deities who were asked to intervene. Once spell warns that no offerings will be made on the divine altars if the gods don’t make the magic work. A love charm ends with a threat that Busiris … will be burned if the client does not get what he wants.

In myth, Orisis was the most vulnerable of the gods and this is exploited in magic. In the Book for Banishing an Enemy, Osiris is threatened with not being allowed to journey to his two sacred sites (Busiris and Abydos) … The magician even threatens to take on the role of Seth and destroy the body of Osiris. …

The most direct way to influence a god was to interfere with their cult. Deities are sometimes threatened with the pollution and desecration of their temples and the slaughter of their sacred animals. …

The magician usually protects himself by saying ‘it is not me that is saying this but X’ – X being the god whose role he is playing in the rite. This suggests that even though it was only role playing, the Egyptians themselves had doubts about this procedure. Words were powerful, so such formulae might actually damage ma’at.

Possibly these formulae are not so much threats as predictions. The magician is speaking on behalf of humanity; reminding heaven tat if people are not regularly cured and protected that they will lose faith in the gods and cease to make offerings, maintain the temples, and respect sacred animals. The magician is only demanding the enforcement of a kind of divine contract. If the gods do not help mankind, the whole divine order will collapse.” (pg 73-75)

So as you can see, threats were not entirely unheard of. How often threats were used with gods is probably up for debate, but it doesn’t change the fact that they did have a viable place in a hekau’s arsenal of tools.

Why would you threaten a deity?

Threats can be issued for many reasons. I think another way to examine this would be- why does a parent threaten a child? All parents do- “Clean your room or you’re grounded” comes to mind. I personally view devotee/deity relationships very similarly to human relationships. A god is a god- yes. But a god is accountable to their devotees. If a god slacks off on their end of the relationship and the devotee falls into, say, poverty- where does that leave the god? I personally believe that gods should be held accountable for being responsible with their devotees at the very least. Please don’t take this to mean that I believe that the gods should shower us with riches (ha), but if a devotee is seriously doing the best they can for the god in question, I do believe that god should take some time to ensure the devotee’s safety and/or well-being. Truthfully, its in the best interests of the god to do so, and I believe it’s within the “rights” of the devotee to be able to request a god to pull their weight.

When do I know if I want to threaten a deity?

I personally don’t threaten my gods unless I am at a breaking point. The last time I threatened any deity was when Set and I were in the middle of our break down and I told him that he couldn’t ask more of me without doing more on his end. I was so frustrated by the state of my life and that he had the nerve to ask me to do more (ask is probably not the right word) that I told him that he needed to ante up and do more for me, or I would not be willing to do anything more for him until he could pull his weight for our relationship.

Upon his inability to do what needed to be done, I was relieved of doing a few things for him- as a means of compromise.

I personally don’t recommend threatening deities for trivial things. I would certainly reserve threats for larger, more important things. And if you’re going to threaten a deity, you must be sure that you can back your threats up. Empty threats won’t get you anywhere, nor will they do anything to gain respect from said god. You have to be willing and able to put your money where your  mouth is.

The original form of bribery

Now, onto bribing.

I personally think that pretty much everything you do with a god in regards to offerings can be seen as a form of bribery. The ancients knew that sometimes you’d need to put your money where your mouth is in the form of stela, votive offerings or food offerings as a way of placating a god or removing some sort of chip off of the god’s shoulder, as it were. It was not uncommon in the later periods of Egypt for people to believe that misfortune that befell them to be a direct cause of upsetting a deity- and to use votive offerings and stela as a way to placate the deity.

It’s also thought that the pharaoh would put all of his bounty and effort into the temples because it would make the gods happy. And in return for making the gods happy, they would shed more bounty onto the king.

If you scratch my back, I will scratch yours is the name of the game. And the larger the itch, the larger your back scratcher should probably be.

I believe that a lot of people don’t like to consider offerings as a means of bribery, because in this day and age, bribery is considered to be something that only corrupt politicians do. But to bring up the example from above, we also bribe our kids “If you clean your room, I’ll give you a cookie”- surely there is more to bribery than corrupt politicians! For reference, a basic definition of bribe is:

Something serving to influence or persuade. (x)

And in many ways, when you’re praying to the gods, and giving them nice things, its a way of indirectly asking them to pay attention to you and to consider you when they’re doling out their own type of gifts. For me, these types of things tend to work heavily on equivalent exchange- if you want more in return, you should be willing to do some work or provide some of your bounty to get the gods to do things for you (or things that are for your benefit). So to me, bribes are a-okay and really- should be promoted more often. The gods need offerings to survive, so if we gave more offerings (for whatever reason), I think it would benefit them more in the end.

Bribing and threatening gods may not be for everyone. Each relationship is different and each devotee has different needs and wants from a god. However, the option is there for a devotee or Kemetic practitioner to use if they so choose to. It was a common practice in antiquity, and its still a viable option in the modern era.

To see other responses to this question, check out the KRT Master List.

 
7 Comments

Posted by on October 9, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

KRT: The Importance of Mythology

Mythology: How necessary is it? Does it affect your practice? Should it?

If there is one thing that ancient Egypt has a lot of- its myths. Myths of all shapes and sizes and variations- some of which are zaney while others are completely mind boggling. Mythology is one of those great topics that can spawn off lots and lots and lots of interesting and thought provoking conversations. However, mythology can also be a source of headaches and rage amongst Kemetics because many times, we don’t see eye to eye on the myths at hand. I personally find it very interesting to see how other Kemetics use mythology because it really runs the gamut. Some Kemetics don’t use mythology at all, and some take it as a sort of gospel truth.

I, personally, lie somewhere in the middle.

Mythology is very important to me. I feel like myths help us to understand the nature of the deities that we work with. Only by understanding the Osirian myth cycle can I even begin to understand how Set and Osiris might function together and why they might put aside their differences to work with me. I also find that a lot of the symbolism and actions that both gods use with me are heavily tied to their own myths.

Because of this, I feel like if I didn’t know the myths surrounding my gods – to some extent, I’d be missing a huge chunk of what makes up both Set and Osiris. It’s kind of like not knowing your spouse’s childhood, or what your best friend’s favorite foods are.

But its more complicated than that because Egypt’s mythology changed over time. The Osirian myths that I focus on changed multiple times over the course of 3,000 years and it can create so many problems. Most of us know Plutarch’s version, but its entirely inaccurate in comparison to the Egyptian version – and even the Egyptian version changed over the centuries. For just this myth alone, there are probably 4 or 5 versions. So as you can see, it becomes very murky very quickly. Its because of this that I can’t take the myths literally, and I feel like picking one myth while throwing out all of the other variations misses the point all together, because each version of the myth holds some truth to it.

So how does myth come into play in my practice?

Well, sometimes myths will help me to form rituals for holidays. The Mysteries ritual that I use stems from the mythology and symbolism surrounding the felling of Osiris. As he fell into the water and sank into nothingness, I wrap him in blue, watery fabric and store him away in the kar shrine for a month- so that he can come out whole and new again. Mythology also teaches us important concepts such as Zep Tepi- which comes to play in my Osirian ritual (as well as my shrine setup and shadow work).

I also use a lot of mythology in what I offer to the gods. It is said in the Contendings that Set’s favorite food is lettuce- so I am always sure to have romaine lettuce on hand for him. Other myths discuss how Set is related to the foreleg of an ox, and that links to the Big Dipper- which ultimately links to meteors and iron- so I offer him pieces of iron and iron pyrite because the mythos and symbolism tied to him says he would like it.

But above all, I use the myths to understand how these two gods act.

Osiris’ role in his own mythology is very passive. He undergoes his felling with minimal confrontation. He succumbs to the water, he lays inert. Only in a few versions does he actually free himself- instead its always his son who gets him out of the mess he’s in. The mythology tells me that Osiris is likely to be a more passive deity. He will likely be calm, quiet and understated- because that is how the myths present him.

But he is more than that. In the myth where he coaxes Ra to give up his Atef, we see that Osiris can be petty and egotistical- by not only seizing a crown that he is ill prepared for, but also by forcing his brother to give up his lands and bow down to him. Osiris isn’t always the shrewd man that we make him out to be. He can aim high and miss the mark, too.

Set is a very violent and forward god in most of myths. He goes after what he wants and he gets it – provided the other gods actually allow him to. According to Griffiths, he also shows remorse for what has happened regarding his brother, and both Meeks and Naydler mention that there was more going on than meets the eye- so it’s possible that Set carries guilt and can understand hard choices and making mistakes. His myths also indicate that he understands what its like to get the short stick or raw end of a deal- as he has had plenty of those in his own time.

The mythology surrounding these two brothers also reveals that there is a hard past that exists between them. And that when you first approach them, you should likely take it into consideration. The myths tell us a bit about each of these deities. They reveal small truths that might go missed if you didn’t read the stories that form their past. Even if the mythologies are purely fictional- there are still small truths to be seen- both in how the gods act, and how the ancients perceived them.

I think there is power in that.

And I think that power can reveal things about ourselves, too.

And as the myths slowly bridge the gap between ourselves and the gods, we slowly begin to live and understand the essence of mythological time and how that can affect us. We get intimate with these myths because they are suddenly tied to ourselves and a part of ourselves. And through getting intimate, we can learn even more about the gods we interact with, and the varying levels of complexity that exists within ourselves.

I can take a story about Set felling his brother in a river, and see how sometimes life forces us to make decisions that we don’t like. I can see it from Set’s eyes- how emotion, anger, guilt, and duty can mix and mingle and drive me to make hard decisions because they have to be made. I can understand how Osiris feels as I succumb to the water because there is no other way. Because sometimes life crushes us- and that’s okay- but it is a part of life. I understand the nuance of making the hard decision to succumb to the water because I know that is the only way out of the situation. I learn about being passive and active all in the same moment and how that dichotomy – which seems contradictory at first – can actually benefit me if used properly.

I begin to see myths not only as simple “stories” but as useful tools to understand the world around me. The myth quits being words on paper and actually becomes a living, breathing landscape I can learn in. A safe place to let my mind work out problems and understand things that I might not have otherwise.

Myths are important tools in my practice. Even if its not evident or obvious, the myths surrounding Osiris and Set permeate my practice on every level, because I have picked these myths apart and lived them. I continue to reevaluate what I think each round of myths means and what it means to me and my life and the relationship I have forged with my gods. And every time I think I’ve learned all that I can about the Osirian myth cycle- I turn it a few degrees in a different direction- and I see something else that I had missed entirely before.

The myths keep me learning- not only about the gods, but about myself.

To see the master list for this topic, please visit here.

 

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

KRT: Calendars and Holidays

What about holidays? Do we need them? How do I figure out when holidays occur? How do I celebrate holidays? Can I make up my own holidays?

Sundial by Brian Clayton via Flickr

For this round of KRT, we’re discussing the nuances of having a calendar in your personal practice. There is a lot of discussion about calendars, mainly because Egypt was very peculiar in how their calendar was set up, and unlike ours, where the dates are pretty static, the dates of things drifted because a lot of their holidays were centered around when stars would rise and set and things of that sort.

There is also the issue that there are holidays for almost every day of the year, and in many cases, there are multiple holidays each day because we’re compiling calendars from thousands of years of Egyptian history. And on top of that, we don’t always know how each holiday was celebrated either. Sometimes we only have a name for the holiday in question.

So as you can see, it gets complicated really really quickly.

Unlike a lot of Kemetics, I don’t celebrate many holidays. If anything, I’m more likely to celebrate a Shinto Taisai over a Kemetic holiday – and personally, I think this is okay. I don’t think you necessarily need to adhere to the traditional holidays in order to “properly” participate in the Kemetic religion or worship/work with the NTR.

So why don’t you think the holidays are important or necessary?

I think the answer to this is a multi-layered thing. Holidays are great- they can bring people together. They remind us to be active in our practice and to honor the deity or figure that the holiday is centered around. Holidays have a knack for reminding us that religion is important and that it plays a role in our life. But for many Kemetics, we are doing what priests did by focusing on the gods daily- so I don’t think that that aspect of our religion really needs emphasis for us.

Further more, many of the holidays were centered around agricultural and seasonal things that no longer occur, or don’t occur where we live (many people don’t have planting season in the winter or we no longer have a pharaoh to venerate for certain festivals, for example). And on top of that- how do you really celebrate a holiday that you pretty much know nothing about? If you don’t know anything about the holiday in question- what is the point? Why not make a new, more meaningful holiday instead?

And that is probably more accurate to how I approach the Kemetic calendar. I honor gods and days as I see fit (which is rarely). The only traditional holidays I even remotely bother with keeping to are Wep Ronpet and The Mysteries.

It is in my personal opinion that you can create new holidays if you want. To some extent, even with the old, well established holidays- we are recreating them, breathing new life into something that has been long forgotten. So even though the names are the same, the practices themselves are pretty new – and that is okay. Nothing says that you can’t create new, personal holidays for the gods that celebrate your practice, your life, your progress, or the gods in particular.

Or you can do like me, and not celebrate at all. That’s cool too.

As for figuring out holidays- that is a tricky thing. For established holidays (traditional days of celebration and veneration from antiquity) I utilize KO’s calendar that they send out each month. And in the near future, Tamara Siuda herself will be releasing a book about the calendar that should be helpful with determining dates for the traditional holidays.

What if I want to create some holidays?

That’s a bit more intuitive, I think. I like to spend more time venerating Set in the summer because its dry and dead- and it is more traditionally aimed towards him. Down here in the desert, we do actually have a short growing/planting season in the late fall/early winter- and I spend more time focusing on Osiris during those months. And due to my Shinto influences, when I do participate in Taisai (holidays, basically) I do things for the NTR, too because they are a part of my life.

So if you’re interested in creating your own set of new holidays, I’d recommend you take a look at what you want the holiday to celebrate, and where on the calendar that would fit best. Perhaps you feel like crap during the month of March and need to add a holiday in there to remind yourself to keep going and that life is awesome. Maybe you are forced to do the Christmas thing every December, and need to add some personal, Kemetic touches to the holiday to keep your sanity. Or maybe you feel particularly close to your god in the middle of June and want to find a way to celebrate them during that month.

I think that holiday creation is great, but its highly personal- and so telling someone how to do it is very difficult.

As for methods to celebrate- a lot of my methods follow the same general structure.

  • I clean my house.
  • I clean myself.
  • I do a rite for the gods (usually out of Eternal Egypt) and leave them offerings.
  • I execrate stuff.
  • I try to have a good day and take a rest for once.
  • And then I normally have a good meal to cap it all off.

I would recommend experimenting and finding what works best for you. For things like Wep Ronpet or Feast of the Beautiful Valley, we’ve got some idea as to how things were done in antiquity, but for many holidays, we’re completely stumped as to what was done. So I see nothing wrong with trying out new things. If the gods dislike it, odds are they will let you know.

View the Master List for this topic by visiting here.

 
3 Comments

Posted by on August 14, 2013 in Kemetic Round Table, Kemeticism

 

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