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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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Slacker Gods

It is said that a lot of Kemeticism is based on reciprocity. For those of you who don’t know what reciprocity is, it’s commonly defined as “the practice of exchanging things with others for mutual benefit, especially privileges granted by one country or organization to another.” Or in other words, I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. I have worded this before in other posts as “we help keep the NTRW full and focused by giving offerings, and in return, they help keep our existence running smoothly”. We help the gods by fulfilling ma’at so that they can survive, and in return, they help make our lives a bit easier (in whatever fashion that that might entail).

Reciprocity is a really interesting concept, and it’s one of my favorite parts of Kemeticism. I love that it’s less about humans prostrating before gods (though you can do that if that’s your thing, no judgement from me), and more about gods and humans working together to make existence better for everyone.

However, there seems to be a missing part of the discussion about reciprocity: what happens when it seems like the gods aren’t fulfilling their end of the bargain? What happens when a devotee and a god have an agreement about “you do X, and I’ll do Y in return” and the god doesn’t come through? What happens when it feels like the gods are slacking off?

Not too long ago, this very discussion was sparked over on Tumblr. It started with a Kemetic devotee reflecting on their current relationship with the gods, and how they felt that the gods weren’t pulling their weight. I know at least a few Kemetics have been wondering and pondering the same things as of late (though many of us hadn’t been public about this), and I know I at least was excited to engage in this conversation. I feel that this is an important thing to discuss, as it’s come up for at least a few of us, and usually if a few of us are experiencing it, there are many others feeling the same way– they’re just not talking about it.

Unfortunately our discussion was cut short when a bunch of non-Kemetics jumped in and started to derail the conversation with mentions of hubris (something Kemeticism doesn’t have) and a side-note of “how dare you.” The conversation came to a premature close because no one felt safe enough to continue it anymore.

This is frustrating because I think this is an important conversation to have regardless of whether it makes a few people uncomfortable. As it turns out, I had made a mention of my own problem with Set falling through on his promises to me back in 2014 (something I had forgotten I even mentioned until I happened upon the post a week or so ago), but I didn’t really go in-depth about what devotees could or should do in such situations. Given that the response over on Tumblr from fellow Kemetics was relatively positive before things went to hell, I really want to open the discussion over here on WP where I have more control over comments and responses so that those who were interested in discussing this further might be able to do so in a safer space.

The Meat and Potatoes of Reciprocity: Offerings and Blessings

Now blessings is probably not quite the right word for this, but I’m going to use blessings for this post to mean “stuff that the gods give to a devotee”. This stuff could be protection, a new shiny job, a trinket, a windfall of money, etc. Basically anything that the god might give a devotee in return for their devotion and/or offerings. And I’ll be using offerings to mean anything that a devotee does for a god– whether it be food offerings, spirit work or work in the Unseen, community rites or rituals, offerings of time or devotion, art, jewelry, etc.

In many ways, reciprocity is based off of a trade of like for like. I give you offerings of your liking, and in return you give me something that I need or want. Usually, the exchange of offerings and blessings is relatively equal in nature, and sometimes the exchange is done organically because each party wishes to bestow gifts upon the other, and other times it’s officially contracted or predetermined through an oath, promise or something similar. To cite my own experience as an example, Set and I had decided that I would do work for him in the Duat for a period of time, and once that period of time was up, he would assist me with my finances and job situation, as they are not ideal. For those who are curious about what happened, I had fulfilled my term of work in the Duat, only to find out that Set had tried to fulfill his end of the bargain, but couldn’t seem to wrangle up whatever was needed to fulfill his end of our deal.

Based off of what I had seen on Tumblr during this fiasco, I’m fairly certain that many people in other traditions might feel that humans have no basis to request or demand that a god do something for them. The historical precedence for it in Kemeticism aside, if a person feels like standing up to a god and saying “you should be doing more for me because of all that I’ve done for you”, that’s their prerogative and issue, not mine or yours. When many Kemetics tried to explain to people how it was part of a NTR’s job to help the humans that offer to them, it seems that many people shrugged off the notion and continued to be offended despite the fact that there are books that say the exact same thing we were saying. For example:

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)

It doesn’t benefit the gods to ignore their devotees’ needs. It doesn’t benefit the gods to only take and never give. So that begs to ask, why do the gods seem to be falling short for so many devotees?

The Logistics of Blessings:

I think in order to answer that, we have to look at some of the logistics of what it takes to fulfill blessings and requests on the gods’ end. Obviously, I am not a god and I don’t pretend to know all of the aspects of what goes into fulfilling blessings, but I have talked with Set about this several times and watched quite a bit of politicking in the Duat that has given me a big heaping pile of UPG on the subject. So you can take this for whatever it’s worth.

I would hope that most everyone gets that blessings aren’t always easy to fulfill. Our gods aren’t all-powerful, and they have their limitations just like we do. On top of that, the human world isn’t exactly fair in how it doles things out, and I think that can play a role in how easy it is for a blessing to be made manifest. It seems that back in AE, the most common requests for the gods were probably things like “make sure the harvest is good” or “please cure this illness” or “get this person out of my life (or in my life)” or things like that. I feel that in some ways, the jobs were simpler and easier, especially for societies that weren’t run off of currency. In the modern era, I don’t need a good harvest, I need a job that pays well, or I need money to suddenly appear out of nowhere because a big bill came up, etc. Sure, you still have some of the same stuff from yesteryear–cure this illness, hurt or help that person, etc. But unlike back in the day, nearly everything needs to have money in order for it to happen. And for most of us, money doesn’t just come from nowhere. Most of us don’t work in companies that can suddenly give raises, or work for employers that are going to magically give you a bonus just because.

So I think one of the first big hurdles with blessings is that the gods are experiencing a learning curve on how to get blessing to their devotees. While I think the inherent nature of a lot of what devotees ask for is the same, the methods needed to obtain those blessings is not. And this isn’t even getting into the issues of societal limitations that the god has to attempt to work around in order to manifest what is needed. Something that could have been relatively simple once upon a time is likely a lot harder in our current society.

Another factor is the recent influx of devotees. Speaking purely for the NTRW, there have been quite a few Kemetics that have joined the ranks in the past few years, and it’s possible that the NTRW are short-staffed and unable to handle the workload. Pending on what sorts of offerings are coming in, that may dictate how many blessings get addressed or handled (since offerings are supposed to be related to the resources the NTRW have to work with). Not to mention that there are discrepancies between gods (UPG warning) as to who should be given what. Similar to how many managers have to deal with a budget and approval process involving upper management, sometimes I feel like the NTRW have to run some of their stuff through other higher-ranking gods for approval, and things don’t always work out how they want or expect. And if a god is trying to handle requests from multiple devotees at once, it’s possible that things can bottle-neck or get put on hold while the god works through everyone’s needs. In a lot of popular media showing this sort of thing, usually the god has a bunch of helpers to ensure that things run smoothly, but who knows what kind of assistance the NTRW are getting.

And of course, the offerings coming in from devotees certainly aren’t to the same scale as in antiquity. Who knows what sort of effect that has on the gods’ ability to manifest in the physical, or make things happen in the physical. It’s equally possible that the gods are having a hard time handling the difference between what was and what currently is. I imagine it’s a learning curve for everyone- humans and gods alike.

These are obviously not the only considerations, but they are worth noting. I think in order for the conversation about gods fulfilling blessings to be balanced, we need to be considerate of what the gods might be having to deal with as well.

Opening up the dialogue: What exactly is everyone owed?

So given that Kemeticism is largely based on reciprocity, and it’s apparent that there is a disconnect between what the gods are receiving vs. what they’re giving, that begs us to ask–

  • What should a devotee expect to receive when they engage in devotional acts for a god (if anything)?
  • What should a god expect from their devotees, especially given that most of us don’t have the resources to be priests or give on the same level as a temple would have in antiquity?
  • What should be the proper protocol for when a god doesn’t do the work they promised they’d do? If a human were unable to fulfill a contract, you know that all hell would probably break loose because “how dare a human break an oath or promise”, and yet when a god does the same, apparently humans are supposed to just deal with it?
  • If a deity can’t keep their contracts in order, should a devotee even bother to do dealings with the god in the first place? What is reasonable in terms of failing to uphold a promise (whether for gods or devotees)? How far is too far?
  • Most importantly– how do we handle these situations when they happen, because they are happening.

I don’t think that we’ll all agree on the answers to these questions, but I think they’re worth discussing. I know that a lot of people feel uncomfortable saying that they think their gods aren’t pulling their weight, or that the gods owe humans anything at all. However, for devotees who have gone above and beyond for their gods, or who wrote out contracts with them only to have them fall through would probably disagree with you. I know that when this was discussed on Tumblr, I saw a lot of the same old rhetoric of “if the gods aren’t giving you blessings, then you must not be doing something right.” But I honestly don’t think that’s the case, and it’s not an answer I’m really willing to accept.

They say that it rains on the just and the wicked alike, and it’s important to remember that perceived blessings don’t always equate to doing things right, in the same way that a lack of blessings doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing something wrong. We often say that our gods aren’t omniscient or all-powerful, and we have to keep this in mind when it comes to blessings and contracts as well. There are many factors that go into why someone may or may not receive something, and we shouldn’t assume that the quantity of blessings necessarily relates to the devotee’s “inherent” worth.

Now while I don’t expect my answers to be the same as everyone else reading this, I did want to give my two cents regarding how I think handling these kinds of situations could be handled. That way, if someone in a similar situation happens across this post, they have some ideas they can work with.

Some Thoughts:

First off is that I don’t think devotees should go into relationships with the gods purely on the basis of getting blessings out of it. I still think that the best way to start out is simply because you want to get to know them, or because it has a place within your religious practice, etc. I know that I personally didn’t get involved with Set or Osiris because I expected them to bestow lots of blessings on me (and for a long time, I refused to ask them for assistance with anything). I think that going into a relationship with a god with the end goal of getting free stuff is likely going to set you up for heartache and frustration (because my experience with the gods has shown me that they’re pretty bad at fulfilling basic needs of devotees, or in other words, they’re unreliable).

That being said, I do think that the gods should be doing more for those who are in true need of assistance, and for those who are actively doing a lot for their deity. Further, if a god has been under contract to give the devotee something, and they fall through, I think that the devotee is within their rights to be upset about that. Alternatively, if a god says they will fulfill a need, but only does so in the barest sense, I think there is room for some discussion about whether they’ve really done their best to help their devotee. And the bargaining power that the devotee has is probably going to depend upon how much work they’ve put in to their end of things, too. If you were slow to finish the work, or were sloppy in your execution of the work, you’re probably not going to have as much leverage in your negotiating.

To go back to my own situation with Set, when he couldn’t fulfill his end of the contract, we both agreed that I would be allowed to drop the additional work he had asked of me until he could uphold his end of the deal. With each month or attempt that has failed, I have been allowed to withdraw and do less because what I asked of him was crucial to my ability to be able to continue doing the work that he’s been wanting. We also agreed that if I wanted to do more for him, I could, but that that was on me.

If you find yourself in a situation where a god isn’t following through on contract, I think you’re within your ability to null the contract and withhold work or offerings until the god follows through. If your god skimps on their follow through, I would advise sitting down and talking with the deity about your concerns with what they’ve provided, and seeing if you can reach some sort of agreement. Or, learn to write a better contract that doesn’t allow them to skimp on you.

For situations where you’re not under contract, I still believe that it’s in the god’s best interest to take care of you, especially if you are doing good, consistent work. In those cases, I think it’s worth talking with your gods, and being firm in your needs. I would treat it a lot like a conference with your boss, honestly. Have reasons why you feel you deserve whatever you’re asking for. Show how what you’re asking for is important, and how it will ultimately help and benefit the gods as well (I call this “help me help you”). Of course, the god can still say no. And if they do, it’s up to each individual to figure out how they want to handle that situation. It’s not unheard of to flat out threaten the NTRW if they don’t give you what you feel you need, and you could go that route if you wanted. You could also withhold offerings or services if you wanted to as well. Like with any threat to a god, don’t promise or threaten with what you can’t achieve.

As stated above, there is no one right or wrong answer to any of these issues, and how you handle the situation is going to depend on what you’re comfortable with and what you’re prepared to deal with. Some people may not think its in the human’s right to make demands or even requests, and that’s fine so long as you’re not dictating that others can’t attempt to make demands if that’s what they want to do. If negotiating falls apart, there are lots of other options for you to consider ranging from very passive to very aggressive and everything in between. Even though this conversation is likely going to make some people uncomfortable, or even down right angry, I think it’s worth considering how to handle these situations, because as I stated above, they are happening whether we want to acknowledge it or not.

Have you ever felt like a god was slacking in their role? Have you ever felt like the gods weren’t taking care of you despite the work you’re putting in? How do you feel about the concept of gods not taking care of their devotees? How would you go about things if you ever found yourself in such a situation?

 
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Posted by on May 5, 2016 in Kemeticism

 

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“Strange” Devotion

I have found that when it comes to my relationships with Unseen entities, devotion is a strange two-way street where Unseen entities devote a large portion of their time to harassing requesting me to do something, and only after they have spent enough time bugging me about it asking for the thing to be done will I actually do it. They devote enough time to showing me it’s important to them, and then I will devote my time to performing their request as an act of devotion to them. And it seems that the stranger the request is, the more time that must be devoted to the cause before it gets done. Or something.

A perfect example of this occurred a few weeks ago.

It was a Sunday afternoon, and I was sitting on the ground surrounded by nearly every pair of shoes that I own. I hadn’t formed some type of shoe-cult at this point in time, though it might have been more entertaining if that was the reason for being surrounded by several pair of shoes when I’d rather be resting or working on something I deem “more important”. No, the reason in this case was rather mundane in that one of my menz had spent enough time devoted to nagging me that I finally agreed to polish all of my shoes. And it only took three weeks of consistent bothering to “convince” me to cave.

boot polish supplies

As normal as strange requests have become, this one was particularly absurd to me. As I wrapped the cotton cloth around my fingers and dipped it into the boot polish, I couldn’t help but think to myself “I wonder if anyone else has to put up with this sort of crap? I mean honestly, who dictates that you need to polish your shoes?” I slowly worked the polish into the leather and mused on the strangeness of it all. While I mused on it, I heard some type of guttural remark from somewhere else in the room. I looked up at what appeared to be an empty corner where one of my menz was sitting and watching me work. “Overseeing”, he’d say. His noises indicate that I’m not polishing shoes to his standards.

This is also normal. Once I have decided to devote my time to performing this request, many entities will often watch me complete their request and comment on my performance while I do so, because an audience makes everything better. In this instance, I stare back at my menz blankly before going back to the polishing. “He may not like my methods, but I am trying, and he will have to deal with that,” I tell myself before I go back to wondering how I ended up here, and whether anyone else has to deal with this sort of thing.

And when I say “this sort of thing” I mean the weird stuff that Unseen entities make you do in the name of “devotion” or “dedication”. I mean, I’ve heard lots of stories from many different people of some of the weird stuff they’ve been requested to do, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anyone being harassed to shine their shoes or iron their shirts by their astral partner or deity.

But isn’t that how it goes with the Unseen? You start off simple enough. You talk for a while, you leave out offerings, you say the prayers and hymns and it’s this nice little package that you can pick up and put down and it’s got its place and everything is fine. But then one day you wake up and find the Unseen leaking into your living room, into your weekend, into your sleep and before you know it you’re being asked, if not forced, to do some strange things in the name of devotion.

There have been many discussions over the years about what some people deem as acceptable in terms of offerings, devotional acts and things of that nature. And the longer I work at this, the more I really do believe that weird devotional acts that are off the map are par for the course, if not to be entirely expected. I really have no clue where these entities come up with some of the strange requests that I’ve gotten over the years, and I honestly want to know why they ask for such stuff. Is it seriously something that they want? Or are they simply trying to see how much weird stuff they can ask for before their devotee throws their hands up in the air and says “no more”?

Over the years I’ve been asked to do things that I might deem to be weird. I’ve been told to do more mundane things like go to movies, have a nice dinner, pick out a very particular baked good from the bakery rack or things of that nature. And while I sometimes have no clue what any of this has to do with showing a deity I care, or why a deity cares about what movie I watch or what I eat for dinner, I do it all the same because I don’t want to listen to the complaining if I don’t.

It may seem harsh to say that, but I would be lying if I said that I did everything purely out of love and some altruistic bent that I have. I only have 24 hours in the day like everyone else, and there are many times when I honestly don’t care about whatever some Unseen entity is trying to convince me to do. Much like an RPG, there are days when I don’t want to go hunt down every farmer’s lost goat, even if the XP is not bad. There are days when I don’t want to iron my shirts. When I don’t want to go stand outside and leave offerings. When I don’t want to make a circle of rocks next to a busy street just because some spirit told me to.

The entities that have been around the longest have learned that the secret to getting me to do bizarre or cumbersome stuff is all in the presentation (“it’ll be fun and amazing!” *jazz hands*) – and failing that – it’s about nagging me and bugging me until I do it for the silence that should follow. It may not sound very rosy and spiritual, but it is the truth. If one half of the spirit worker equation is that all spirits are like kids that scream mine, then the other half of the spirit worker equation must be that spirit workers don’t value altruism, they value silence. And it wouldn’t surprise me if most of the Unseen knows it. I can’t even tell you how many people I’ve met that put off doing obscure, weird, or “strange” acts of devotion or offerings because, well, it’s weird and not a priority to us. If I stopped and instantly fulfilled every request a deity or spirit put in for me, I’d be broke and have no free time.

So in a way, the “two-way-street of strangeness” is a sort of filtering tool for determining what I spend my time on, particularly if the request is inane or down right bizarre.

How do you determine which offering requests to listen to or ignore? Do you have any sort of filtering criteria? Have you ever been asked to do some weird or strange things in the name of devotion? Did you end up doing them?

 

 

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Offerings with Limitations

I love the idea of offerings. The notion of reciprocity between humans and gods. The idea of a cycle where they give to us, and we give to them, and through this exchange, Creation is propelled forward and maintained. I love offerings.

However, there was a time when I hated making offerings.

Yep. You read that right- the person who loves to talk about making offerings and why offerings are so awesome used to loath giving offerings.

The thing about most discussions regarding offerings is that most of the time, no one bothers to bring up situations where offerings are not possible, such as cases of dietary and living restrictions. What if you can’t eat gluten? What if you’re under the drinking age, or can’t drink (for whatever reason)? What if your household doesn’t allow for public displays of offerings? Or you don’t have any sort of location where you can leave offerings out?

Offerings in these kinds of situations can be a nightmare. They can be challenging and frustrating – and for some folks, they can stop your religious practice in its tracks. So how do we deal?

The short answer is- work within your capacities. No one is going to be judging you based off of what you offer or how you offer it. Although some people have tried to imply that the only offerings that amount to anything are the offerings that meet their arbitrary standards, the simple truth of the matter is- the only person whose standards matter are the very gods or spirits you are offering to. And usually when you have limitations, these entities understand. It only seems to be our human counterparts that don’t get it.

Limitations: Location, Location, Location

One of the most common offering questions I get is “how do I offer when I don’t have a formal space to offer in?” It can be a real pain to figure out how to do offerings when you’re trying hide the fact that you’re giving offerings at all. I had that issue when I lived with my parents a few years ago. I had my own room, but no privacy- as my parents didn’t seem to understand the concept of knocking (imagine your step-father walking in, and asking why you are leaving a plate of food in front of statues…). Their schedules and my schedule often conflicted, and there was never a guarantee that I’d have even 5 consecutive minutes without being interrupted.

Making offerings was a real pain.

The best work around I have found for this is to offer your meals. In the same way that Christians say grace over their food, you could also offer up each meal you eat or make to the gods before you eat it. It doesn’t have to be complicated. I usually would mentally let them know that the food was there for them to consume, and to thank them for the food as I was bringing my plate to the table. I’d often concentrate on my cup, or the wall, or moving my food around before I ate it- to give me enough time to say what I wanted to say before I dug in. If anyone asked, I’d tell them I was spacing out and no one was the wiser to what I was doing.

Limitations: Gut Problems

If there is anything I understand, it’s having problems with eating. My stomach quit working on me about 4 years ago, and offerings have been a challenge ever since. When your stomach takes a nose dive into “hell no”, you end up having to do a lot of trial and error with your diet. I’ve taken just about everything you can imagine out of my diet over the past four years- yeast, eggs, potato, gluten, fructose – you name it. And because one of our “staple” offerings contains a well known allergen in it, it became increasingly difficult to figure out what to do. Not to mention that when you can’t even figure out what to feed yourself, figuring out what is acceptable to feed the gods becomes even more stressful.

I’ve also heard stories where people fear that the gods will be upset that they won’t offer things like alcohol or bread. Truthfully, I’ve never heard of a single situation where a deity came down and yelled at someone who is a recovering alcoholic for not offering them a beer. I’ve also never heard of a deity that came out to yell at someone with Celiac disease for not offering them enough bread. Again, I do believe it is only the humans that get upset over these things being missing from the offering plate.

For situations where your gut is saying “hell no” to a set of offerings, I can offer a few bits of advice.

One: offer what you can eat. Just because it’s not historically attested doesn’t make it a bad offering choice. Again, offerings are about reciprocity, about gods giving to us and us giving to gods and all of us maintaining ma’at and Creation. Offering things that are staples to your diet and staples in your life are good choices, even if they’re modern.

Two: offer things that are not food items. It’s an often overlooked notion that you can offer stuff that isn’t food. You can offer incense, you can offer jewelry and flowers, you can offer artwork, writing, dancing or drawings, you can offer actions. Don’t let your offerings be limited by food.

Three: offer heka-laced fake food. My use of Re-ment and food replicas was borne purely out of my stomach’s fickle nature. I was so frustrated that I couldn’t offer anything to the gods (because I wasn’t eating, either) that I decided this method was better than no method. Heka is an important aspect of our religion, and I think it’s certainly worth exploring the use of replica food in your practice if you’re having problems with obtaining edible food products (or other offerings) for the gods.

At the end of the day, do the best with what you’ve got. Limitations can be frustrating, but they needn’t put your practice in a standstill. Don’t be afraid to try new things and offer new and interesting stuff. I’m sure even the gods get tired of beer and bread, and smile when something new and different shows up on their offering plate.

And above all, don’t stop trying. Sometimes our greatest limitations can open us up to new experiences that teach us the most.

 
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Posted by on July 23, 2014 in Kemeticism

 

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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.

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

 

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Making a Religious Calendar Around Food

On New Years eve of 2014, someone asked me what a good offering to the Kami would be. I responded that the typical New Years fare was mochi, a type of rice cake that the Japanese make. If there is something to be noted about the Japanese calendar, its that every season and every holiday has it’s own motif and dish. They have fully integrated their menu into their calendar.

I mulled over this concept for a while, and found myself thinking that the US sucks because we don’t have that sort of thing- a food calendar that mirrors our holidays. But then I realized that we sort of do- you’ve got champagne for New Years. Chocolate for Valentines Day. Beer for St. Patricks. Grilled foods for July 4th. Turkey, stuffing and cranberries for Thanksgiving. Technically, our whole calendar has food laced into it as well. The food may not be seasonal, and we may not entirely understand why that particular food item is a part of our calendar, but it is a cultural thing none the less.

So I began to wonder- could we do such a thing with our religious calendars?

Food called “Krompirusa” by ErminCelicovick via Flickr

Food and calendars could definitely be taken a couple of different ways, and I expect that if we were to create a food based calendar, that each person’s would be slightly different. For example, Kemetics may be able to agree on ball shaped items for Balls Day, but I imagine there would be regional differences for other holidays depending on what is available locally and what is in season. Whether you choose to let the holiday itself dictate the food, or the seasons that the holiday falls in would be up to each individual practitioner. And possibly the best results would come from a mix of both in each holiday/rite.

For some examples that I might consider using, I personally could see oranges for being good for any type of winter holidays that have solar or rebirth connotations because oranges are harvested in the winter in Arizona and they remind me of the solar disc. Sonoran styled Mexican food is a big thing down here, so that ends up being a part of almost all of my larger celebrations, regardless of what is going on. Anytime I do anything for Set, there are dark chocolate cupcakes involved because those seem to be his favorite. I could see eggs being useful for Wep Ronpet, as they can represent rebirth and new growth. I could also see birthday cake being used for Wep Ronpet because it is a grouping of birthdays after all. Additionally, there is already a type of food tradition with Wep Ronpet that involves snake cakes.

If you wanted to do rites or rituals that involve your heart (perhaps another layer to Valentine’s Day?), you could include clusters of grapes or grape-laced food items for their symbolism tied to the heart. For Feast of the Beautiful Valley, an akhu veneration holiday, you could choose food items that are considered family traditions. The Mysteries used to involve corn mummies, so corn or maybe tamales (which are wrapped in corn husks) could be an easy food choice for modern celebrations as well. And I personally think that baking is a good choice for Unification holidays, because you’re taking a bunch of separate ingredients and mixing them together into something new, something whole. Perhaps for holidays centered around battles or war deities, we could prepare food on skewers or kababs. Or for holidays tied to smiting your enemies, you could have mashed potatoes because you effectively “smashing” your enemies.

Whether you choose to let the holiday determine what food you use, or let the time of the year and seasonality of the dishes you’re eating determine what you make for a holiday, I recommend experimenting with marrying the two. A lot of our life events and holidays do incorporate the sense of taste into the experience, which can create a stronger bond and perhaps a better experience. Plus, if you can create strong ties between religious celebrations and food, you can almost evoke the sense of that celebration anytime you eat that particular dish as a means of bringing religion into your day to day life.

There are lots of possibilities to discover and experiment with when it comes to food. Perhaps the next time you need a reason to celebrate, you can choose a dish that is worth celebrating around and building from there!

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on March 28, 2014 in Kemeticism, Rambles

 

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Kemetic Offerings: Then and Now and Why

It was recently written, or suggested, that people who eat every offering that they give to the gods are essentially stealing off of their plate, or to quote directly:

you can share a meal with the deities, but you don’t eat off their plate, just as you wouldn’t eat off of a friend’s plate, because it’s rude.I would go further and say that it is like eating from the plate of royalty. You’d be kicked out of Buckingham Palace for trying that at the Queen’s dinner–“Hey, Liz, you gonna eat that?”

However, the Kemetic and ancient Egyptian mindset doesn’t view offerings like this at all. Which made me realize that while I do have a basic guide on what you can offer, I haven’t ever written in-depth about the Kemetic offering formula and why we revert our offerings as we do. Since there seems to be a misunderstanding about how offerings were handled for Kemetics (I cite this post directly because the last line does mention Egypt), I’d like to address how offerings were handled in antiquity, and in modern times.

Offerings in Antiquity: How did the temple procure ritual offerings?

In order to really get how offerings worked within the temple structure of ancient Egypt, we have to consider how the temples themselves operated in antiquity. The temples were part of the state. They were essentially government buildings that served as treasuries and administrative hubs for the king. In a way, temples were the lifeblood of Egypt because they housed all of the important “stuff” for a particular region or city. Fueling these temples (and the offering tables therein, as well as the staff that made them run) were taxes that were collected from the populace as well as rent that was paid to the temple by people who lived on temple grounds and worked the land (Kemp, 191). Egypt didn’t have any form of currency as we know it (such as minted coins or paper notes), and so workers were often paid in beer, bread, and grains for their services, and those items were traded and bartered for other items as needed. When you’d pay your percentage or rent to the temple for working the land, you’d be trading in your grain, not a stack of money. These taxes would then be redistributed back to the populace at large as rations (Kemp, 111).

In addition to taxation, people would sometimes donate goods or resources to the local temples as a token of good will to the gods that resided there. Some examples of this might include mineral resources (the ability to mine for certain ores in certain locations), flax fields to help make the linen garments used in the temple, animal herds, or fishing and hunting rights. In later periods, people would pay for votive offerings or construct stela as a means to placate a god or to remove some type of bad luck from their life, and almost every single king modified the largest temples with new pylons and reliefs in hopes of being blessed by the gods. Alternatively, you could be rewarded to look after things that would be offered to the temple and it’s gods (or king, who is a demi-god). For example:

A royal butler named Nefer-peret … was by a special decree of the king put in charge of four Palestinian cows, two Egyptian cows, one bull and a bronze bucket (presumably for carrying milk). … The cattle were, however, to be ‘offered’ to the mortuary temple of Tuthmosis III, i.e. this temple was their real owner. … Thus Nefer-peret would go on tending his little herd, obliged to deliver to the king’s mortuary temple a quota of offspring and milk, and allowed to keep the rest for himself. (Kemp, 191)

Most of these things- taxation and donation – provided the basis for the offering cycle that existed within ancient Egypt and consisted of a variety of things, and were submitted to the temple in a variety of ways.

Once the offerings made their way into the temple precinct, they were prepared in a fashion that was compliant as per the ritual taboo of the era and region and were offered to the gods of the temples.

By the ‘Reversion of offerings’ the offerings actually presented to the god were first taken before any statues of lesser cults, and then finally divided amongst the priests and temple staff. (Kemp, 193)

So in short the offerings were collected from the people by the state through various means, or offerings were donated by the upper crust of society. These items were cataloged and stockpiled (temples often kept stockpiles of food for famine years) and were redistributed as both a form of currency and as offerings to the gods that reside in the temple. Once the offerings have been offered to the gods- the priesthood and staff would partake of the offerings as a meal.

Food brings us and the Netjeru into contact with the mysterious, creative powers of life. The offering of food, therefore, represents far more than a lovely gesture of generosity toward the Netjeru. It represents in a material way the renewal of life. (Reidy, 221)

Offerings in Antiquity: In what ways were offerings given to the gods?

While it may seem like offering to the gods was fairly straightforward and simple, in truth- there were many ways in which the gods received offerings within temple precincts. The standard offering protocol is as such:

  1. Offerings are prepared by temple staff and brought to the ritual location.
  2. Offerings are given to the NTR in question, as prescribed in the ritual.
  3. Offerings are left for the proscribed amount of time (usually the duration of the rest of the ritual) before being reverted back to the temple staff through a process called Reversion of Offerings and Removing the Foot. Typically, a few token offerings are left in the shrine for the god in question. According to Reidy, it is the bread offering that stays behind.

However, in ancient times, this was not the only way that gods could receive offerings. You see, the Egyptians liked to plan for fallow times- times when food was scarce, or when the temple grounds might be flooded and no one could enter into the holy precincts. So in order to counteract these potential pitfalls, they created workarounds through the use of heka to ensure that their gods received their offerings.

The temple walls which surrounded the kar shrine that enclosed the deity’s icon were more than just reliefs carved into stone. The temple walls actually underwent the same Opening of the Mouth ceremony that the god’s icon did- the very same ceremony that allows a deity to inhabit their icon.

For the ancient Egyptians these representations were far more than beautiful and inspiring images. Once consecrated and “enlivened” through sacred rites, these depictions became tangible, material vehicles for the eternal and magical re-enactment of those sacred acts of worship. Referred to as “houses of millions of years”, the temples were designed to guarantee the perpetual worship of the gods and goddesses as well as deifies humans. (Reidy, 4).

So even if the priesthood failed to actually show up and give the god their offerings that day- the heka-laced walls ensured that the rituals would go on without them. And these heka-laced temple walls were certainly showing the ideal of what offerings could entail. According to Meeks, the gods actually subsisted off of much less:

When one observes the representations, in the temple reliefs, of the mounds of food piled up as offerings to the Gods, or when one peruses the lists and enumerations of the extremely varied foodstuffs intended for Them, one tends to imagine that the Gods reveled in lavish, sumptuous feasts liberally supplied with meat and drink. But this was not at all the case. The copious meals offered to the Gods by men and ultimately eaten by the priests contrasted sharply with the eating habits that prevailed in the Divine world. The Gods avoided excess; as a rule, Their meals were frugal . . . Bread and fresh water were the usual fare. (Meeks, 63)

The ancients also had offering tables that served as a catch-all in a pinch or famine. These tables were often flat slabs of stone that had a water catch and spout on one end, and had offerings and offering formulas such as “An offering in which the King makes” carved into them. Once these tables were enlivened, you could pour water over the top of the table, and collect that water as it runs down the spout on the side. Then, you’d drink the water that you collected.

Why drink the water?

Because it’s a shared meal with your gods. The Egyptians were all about sharing their meals with the gods.

Offerings in the Modern Era

Offerings in modern Kemeticism have changed drastically, and yet are still very similar in many ways. The range of foods that are offered have increased dramatically- for better or worse- as our ability to choose new and different foods items has increased, and the amount of food offered to the gods has completely dropped of in comparison to ancient times.

However, it’s not all bad.

Food offerings are still generally given to the gods, left out for a certain amount of time, and then consumed by the practitioner. Because we no longer have a state run temple staff, we can no longer afford to give hundreds or thousands of loaves of bread to the gods every morning and every evening- however, we do the best we can, and in many ways that does include daily, or at least weekly offerings. Additionally, many of us have turned to using heka laced food replicas to offer the gods for when our time runs short. You can call it a slight nod to the heka-laced walls and offering tables of yesteryear.

Offerings in the modern era have expanded to being more than just food or stela as well. People are now offering writing, time, art projects, volunteer services and other actions to their gods, and I think that’s a great thing. Offerings needn’t be looked at as just food and drink- there are many ways to sustain the gods through sustaining the Kemetic community, as well as the human community that we all live in. In the post I cited at the top, it is mentioned that offerings are often seen as a sacrifice to the gods- and sacrifices can be made in more than just food. Time, effort, and personal growth are all other ways we can give to the gods.

For myself personally, my gods don’t want me to worry about offering food to them every day. They want me to put my time and effort into working on community projects and astral work instead. I think its important to understand that with offerings, its not always about what we want to give the gods- its about what the gods want from us. And in the modern era, it seems that the gods are interested in activities just as much as food- if not more so.

I think a large part of why this is the case can be found in the way that modern Kemetics are approaching Kemeticism. Due to our shifted worldview and lack of ability to completely understand and know how Egyptians viewed the world, we are having to make due with educated guesses and attempts to embody what makes Kemeticism Kemeticism- which is the concept of ma’at. For many modern Kemetics, the buck stops at embodying ma’at in our daily actions and lives. It is said that the gods live off of ma’at, and so to do ma’at, to cause ma’at, to live within ma’at is plenty offering of itself.

Offerings, according to Englund, are part of a continuous exchange of energies that correspond to a holistic worldview, where everything in Creation is ecologically linked in a network of energies. The human being’s role and duty in this network is to contribute to its functioning by perpetuating ma’at. (Redford et al., 286) To dump an excess of expensive offerings on one’s altar, to buy for the Gods ornate icons and objects, is no substitute for engendering ma’at in the world. Acting in accordance with ma’at and giving the Gods one’s love are the most perfect and highest offerings one can give. Material wealth means nothing in the face of ma’at. To that end, even substitute offerings historically were, and still are, accepted by deities (and the ancestors). Citing Gertie Englund once again: Despite the superabundance of offerings, the material offering was not the essential thing. The act of devotion was more important than the material gift, as was attested by substitute offerings. Reciting the offering formula was an adequate substitute for the actual offering. Source

We went over what was offered, and how- but why do we consume the offerings?

Unfortunately most of the academics that we can pull from will describe how offerings were given to the gods, but they do little to go beyond that. For example we’ve got Naydler’s input on it:

An offering of food like this could be made to a spiritual being only because the food offered was perceived to have a spiritual as well as a physical substance. Everything in nature was but an image of its spiritual archetype; the difference between actual physical food and a painting of food is, according to this mentality, of little significance when regarded from the perspective of their shared spiritual essence. (Naydler, 137-138)

And we’ve got Sauneron’s input:

Obviously the food was not consumed by the divinity: only a part of his immaterial soul is present in his statue: the meal of the god took place therefore outside the limits of human perception: the spirit of the food passes into the divine spirit, without any apparent change in the offerings heaped on the altars… When the god, at the end of a fixed time would be satisfied – and with him the secondary divinities which surround him in his temple- the offerings would be placed on the altars of all of the statues of high ‘personages’ who had obtained the privilege of seeing their effigy in the sacred place, then they would return to the workshops to be divided up according to a set system, among the various priests of the temple. The divine personnel thus lived on the offerings consecrated to the god, contenting themselves with their material reality, after the divinity and the privileged dead would satisfy themselves with the symbolic ‘essence’. (Sauneron, 84-84)

But I think that Shafer says it best:

“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. … Most offerings symbolized and were a part of the self of god; most offerings also symbolized and were a part of the selves of the donor and the officiant. Offerings symbolized the donor and the donor’s desire to bridge the worlds of god and humankind. … But there must have been religious as well as socioeconomic meaning to partaking of god’s food, particularly since the food symbolized life, order, the self of god, and the selves of donor and officiant. Those Egyptians sharing in the food must have experienced a sense of privileged communion with god and king that shaped their ritualized bodies and enhanced their feelings of unity, efficacy, and power. (Shafer, 25)

While these writers don’t seem eager to draw huge parallels as to why the priests were allowed to eat the offerings, it’s generally regarded as thus: you are giving the gods the spiritual layer of food, and then you eat the food to nourish yourself. You share the meal together. The gods nourish us, and through them, we can not only reciprocate nourishment (thought the act of offering to the gods directly), but also nourish ourselves.

Another Kemetic summed it up quite well:

“In The Ancient Gods Speak – A Guide to Egyptian Religion, contributing scholar Gertie Englund makes an insightful observation on the subject of offerings in relation to the complex concept of ma’at. He explains to us that offerings are part of a continuous exchange of energies that correspond to a holistic worldview, where everything in Creation is ecologically linked in a network of energies. (Redford et al., 286) Both humans and Gods are part of this network of energies, and depend upon its functioning. The Gods need mortals, their refinement of natural resources, and their worship in order to properly live and rule to Their fullest extent. If the Gods default on Their end of the debt and cause mortals to be driven away from Them, They starve and languish. Similarly, we human beings require the works and boons of the Gods in order to live to our fullest extent and maintain some semblance of order within human society.” Source

So in short, it is standard procedure, both in antiquity and in the modern era, for Kemetics to eat offerings. Offerings were ingested by temple staff for a variety of reasons, most likely because Egypt had a reciprocal relationship with it’s gods- you help to take care of us, and we help to take care of you. It’s this relationship that fuels into the concept of ma’at and community. Everyone within the country “paid” into the storage and redistribution of food that was taken into the state via its temples. Everyone, ideally, took care of everyone else, and this includes the ritual eating of offerings.

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Posted by on December 20, 2013 in Kemeticism

 

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Filling the Storehouse of the Gods

As many of you know, I have been using Re-Ment to supplement what I offer to the gods (an idea I took from this person). Due to my stomach issues and my fritzy schedule, I’ve been adding these miniatures to my routine- allowing the gods not to starve and me not to get so stressed over what to offer at 5 in the morning.

Up until recently, I only had a few pieces of Re-Ment to my name. Two cakes, 4 rolls, and 6 plates of food. While that sounds like quite a bit, I’m sure Set and O were getting tired of the same rotation day after day. So my SO set out to get me as much Re-Ment as he could. He ended up getting a lot batch of the stuff… which is a lot. Here are some pictures of the new stuff!

And overall shot of all of the stuff set out, as per what the pictures in the box look like.

There are muffins, tea sets, hot pots, pizza… you name it. Chocolate. Fruit. Ice cream. Crepes. Bagels. Rare beef. Beer. Cookies… a little bit of everything.

I particularly like some of the trays that come with these sets. It makes a nice setup for arranging the food for the gods. Sometimes each god gets their own tray. Other days, I make mass trays with tons of different foods on them, and let the gods duke out who gets what.

Most of these pieces have a lot of detail work to them. Pouches for chopsticks… individual grains for rice. Different types of coloration for the soups and drinks. It does look good enough to eat!

I love these cat eggs.

Now in some ways, this created a huge logistics/storage problem for me. I don’t have a lot of space for shrine implements right now. So I racked my brains for a few days (almost a week, really) trying to figure out where I was going to store all of this awesomeness. It would need to be organized somehow. Otherwise, I wouldn’t know how or where to find different food bits, and it would create issues in the morning. After a lot of thinking, I decided I would try and store them in the bottom drawer of my shrine case (an old silverware box). In order to keep things organized, I created boxes out of scrapbook paper.

Organized!

So there you have it. Lots and lots of Re-Ment. I think the gods will have more than enough variety for a while now 🙂 If any of you see anything you OMG WANT, let me know. I might be willing to part with it, as there is more here than I will probably need, and I have a feeling that some pieces the gods may not like.

 
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Posted by on February 7, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Unveiling

The month finally came to an end. After so many nights keeping O’s statue hidden, I was finally able to unveil him. To bring him out of hiding and back into the light. Words can’t express how happy I am to have him uncovered again. To be able to look at him and not see him all wrapped up in his blue cloth. And his statue feels different, too. When I place my hands on both statues, O’s seems to be teaming with energy. It’s pretty crazy. So who knows, maybe wrapping the statue rejuvenates it as well. Either way, I’m happy to have him back again.

Coinciding with his unveiling is the hanging of my new shrine cabinet. Many many moons ago, Set sent me out to find a shrine cabinet for him (later to become ‘them’). He wanted something that was simple, but made of real wood. He was absolutely stubborn about the wood. No veneer for him! The more I sat with him, the more an image appeared in my mind as to what he wanted, and I slowly set out to find something that fit the bill. It only took me 6 months, but I finally found something that suited what I needed. The case is made of teak wood and is probably a foot tall. I love how simple it is. I also like the smoothness of the wood.

Originally, the box was intended to be a jewelry box. There were hooks hanging on the inside for necklaces. There were boxes hanging on the inside of the doors that you could put your trinkets in. I didn’t need either of these, so we set out to strip/gut the insides. From there, we treated the wood. Giving it nourishment to help protect the wood and bring out it’s nature colors/beauty. Afterwards, I left the box to sit while I waited for the Mysteries to end. I treated it with incense and left it at that. Now that O has been let out of his wrappings, I feel comfortable using the box.

I’m slowly starting to rebuild my practice. I’ve started off simply. Right now I’m only giving the ka embrace, swapping out beverages every morning and changing up their offerings. I figure that as I move further along, I’ll start fleshing out my rituals. But for now, I feel it’s best to start simply. The shrine still isn’t complete. I’ll update as I add more things to it.

 
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Posted by on December 27, 2011 in Kemeticism

 

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The Great Netjer Soda Guide

Ever needed something fast to offer the gods, but only had a fridge full of soda and wasn’t sure what to offer? Ever get in a pickle trying to figure out if Nebhet likes Pepsi or Coke? Well never fear, for I have created The Great Netjer Soda Guide that will allow you select which soda to give to which god with ease! Each of the sodas below has been hand selected for each Netjer ensuring a perfect fit and an awesome sensation as you leave this on the offering plate. Read on to find out which soda to offer your god and get to offering because who needs water anyways!

Crush – Shesmu
Dr. Pepper – Sekhmet, Imhotep
Mountain Dew – Meretseger or Geb
Big Red – Set, but beware not to give this to Osiris or Heru!
7 Up – Bast or HetHrw
Lift – Shu
Squirt – Min
Cream Soda – Min
Sierra Mist – Tefnut
Sunkist – Ra
Pepsi One – Aten
50/50 – Bawy
Barq’s Root Beer – Wepwawet
RC Cola – Any pharaohnic god/dess (Osiris, Ra, Geb, Heru, Aset, Hethrw, Nut)
Coke Zero – Nun, Amun
Jarritos – Khnum, Duamutef, Hapi, Imseti, Qebehsenuef
Sprite – Bes
Mello Yellow – Khepri
Brisk – Wenut
Vault – Heqet
Minute Maid – Seshat
Slice – Maahes
Love Body – Hethrw
Kuat – Osiris
Tab – Djehuty
Real Gold – Aset
Blue Sky – Nut

Have more soda suggestions? Place them in the comments section!
To view my more traditional offering guide, click here.

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2011 in Kemeticism

 

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