Monthly Archives: April 2013

Kemetics and Inadequacy

It seems that the more connected we become in this digital-centric world, where things are up for…

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April 18, 2013 · 3:43 am

Kemetics and Inadequacy

The Kemetic Round Table is a group of Kemetic-centric blogs that discusses issues and concerns of interest to Kemetic practitioners and is aimed at beginners, but those of us who might have been at it a while. Disclaimer: Please note that because I am rather new to this whole WordPress blog thing, I am posting my links manually – at least for this post to the Round Table. It isn’t that I can’t do it like everyone else, it is just that I haven’t quite figured it out yet. I am more than willing to fully admit to my inadequacy in this particular area. 😉 Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.

It seems that the more connected we become in this digital-centric world, where things are up for instant consumption and there is a constant compare and contrast, the more disconnected and inadequate that we can tend to feel. Even we, who are in groups or temples that are long-lived and well-established, feel this. So do those among us who have had a decade or more of working both within the community and as individuals. That fear of somehow being found out as a “fake” or “not doing it right” can be debilitating. There seems to be an all-too-human tendency to compare what we do with what others are doing.

If a fellow Kemetic, also with the same Deity line up that we have has a skill that we don’t personally share, it’s easy to feel as if that Deity is somehow “playing favourites.” The truth is, each of us are Their favourites, and none of us, regardless of what we might think, ever sprung from the womb being a perfect Kemetic. All of us who are Reconstructionists tend to grasp every shred, every scholarly resource we can. Many of us secretly desire to dedicate study to not only the Netjeru, but also to learning ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and somehow phoneticizing them so that we can incorporate these Medw Netjer, writing of the Gods, into our own rites. Wouldn’t it be great to have our own language that marks us as being Kemetic?

Perhaps if we remember that the literacy rate in ancient Kemet was far lower than it is today. And while we may holistic civilisation that ever existed, we have advantages in our time that should not be unappreciated. We can appreciate this fact even if it is that ancient faith of our akhu that calls to the deepest part of our kas. It speaks to us on a deep level and yet, it is easy to feel distant from them and from how it really was in antiquity.

The fact of the matter, as others have pointed out, we are not ever going to be able to completely reconstruct what went on before, as much as we may want to. Ancient Kemet is gone. It lives in our hearts and as a part of our collective human history and heritage – for all of humanity came from Africa. We may not feel as if we are enough because we haven’t got the perfect statue for our Gods or the right altar or shrine or ritual space constructed yet. We may have to be content to wearing street clothes while doing our daily rites, rather than dedicated ritual garments, and somehow, there are always those niggling doubts that creep in because of our not having everything “just so”. All that stuff is just extraneous and trappings to the real concern that we must all feel from time to time. Are we enough? Can we sit down in ritual space, get quiet in that place or even pour our hearts out to Netjer? Sometimes when we do go there, we bring with us a lot of self-indulgent crap. We are human and this self indulgence can be part and parcel of how we processes our feelings and emotions in a spiritual sense.

Personally, I have always felt that the idea of a Divine Parent or Parents and Beloveds spoke to the idea of a family. Within our families, ideally, we can be ourselves even in the face of personal feelings of inadequacy. Being in Shrine, for me, is a lot like coming home and telling my Mother how my day went, or about my hopes, fears, resentments, hurts and yes, even what I would consider to be my inadequacies. In Shrine, it is what is considered ‘safe space’ and it is alright to feel weepy or needy or just contemplative. In that safe space we can come to terms with the reasons why we might feel inadequate. Sometimes, when we least expect it,and when we need it most, that still small voice comes to us and we realize that the feeling of being inadequate has started to dissipate because we have come to realize that everyone starts at the beginning.

Those personal practices that we carve out for ourselves and where we have far fewer performance anxiety, are probably, in my view, much more important than the group rituals that the Kemetic community does in celebration of various festival days. While that personal time might not address our very human need toward community involvement, what it does do is help build a foundation for those times when do come together with others. During those times we find that everyone ends up feeling at least a little inadequate. Time, however, has a way of making that be less of an issue for us and we learn to appreciate the place that we are in and come to realize that once we get our bearings, those feelings of inadequacy begin to dissipate.

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Ma’at and Ethics

The Negative Confessionthat is in the Papyrus of Ani, is often referred to as the “42 Laws of…

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April 10, 2013 · 8:13 pm

Ma’at and Ethics

The Negative Confession that is in the Papyrus of Ani, is often referred to as the “42 Laws of Ma’at”. While this part of the Pert Em Hrw or Book of Coming Forth by Day (aka the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead) Spell or Chapter 125. Though it is a moral ideal in ancient Kemetic culture, it is erroneous to consider that these are “Laws” in the way that our written rules of law or even the Ten Commandments that YHWH gave to Moses. The 42 points of the Negative Confession serve as a way that your heart will not, in essence, “rat you out” to Anubis when it is weighed against the ostrich feather of Ma’at. If it is found heavier than the feather, then ultimately, your heart will be fed to the Ammit. This is the ever-dreaded “Second Death” that is spoken of in ancient Egyptian literature. If one suffers the Second Death, then it is as if you never were. To the ancient Kemetic people, that was a fate far worse than even the First Death.

What the 42 points of the Negative Confession are not is a sort of Ten Commandments Plus, or an “In Your Face, We Were Here First” bit of text to grant bragging rights to Kemetics in answer to more mainstream faiths. Unfortunately, however, this is precisely what some sites would have us believe about this important piece of extant funerary, if not liturgical text. The negative confession is a set of ideals that serve as a moral compass for Kemetics. Ideals are not laws, they are not rules. They serve as a guideline to help a person navigate and become complete and whole themselves, as well as viable members of a society or the world at large. Dr. Mulana Karenga said in his book on Ma’at:

“Maat insists on a holistic view of the moral ideal, one that gives rightful and adequate attention to self, society and the world as component parts of an interrelated order of rightness. The ongoing quest then is to maintain, renew, repair and enhance this order as self-conscious creators and bringers of the good in the world in a process and practice called srudj ta – restoring, repairing and renewing the world. Such a world encompassing concept of moral practice invites us to move beyond the narrow notions of self, national and even species interest and understand and assert ourselves as members of an interrelated order of existence in the world.”

This is, I firmly believe, the core of what Ma’at is, and who we as Kemetics are. Dr. Karanga’s definition cuts to the heart of what most of us look for in our spiritual and day to day practices.
This the fundamental mission statement for each of us, regardless of what sect of Kemetic belief we personally espouse. These ethics, these guidelines or ideals are something that don’t need to figuratively or literally be carved into stone, but rather something that is written upon our ka’s.. To do these things feeds those ka’s or spirits. Na’at being upheld and lived via these ideals goes beyond class, gender, sexual orientation, geography, nationality or even species. Karenga very astutely goes on to state:

“…At this juncture, Maatian discourse offers a contribution to modern moral deliberation about human fragmentation and the ongoing quest to return to an integrity and wholeness of human life that ends division of the social and natural world, mind and body, the past, present and future. And what is important here is not the assumed validity of the varying positions within these deliberations, but the value of the different modes of questioning and how they demonstrate the diversity, strength and weakness of ways to engage the issues.“

This leaves we in the Kemetic Community as well as those outside of it to examine on a nearly constant basis what it is we are doing, why we are doing it and how it effects the greater whole. I cannot believe that we as human beings are so self-involved, greedy or thoughtless as to not for the mostpart be concerned about these things. Careful consideration of Ma’at and what Ma’at represents or is enacted is something that is an obligation that we have to ourselves and to our world. The profundity of free will and conscious consideration toward a set of ideals that is represented in Ma’at and the symbolism behind both the Goddess and the ideal that accompanies her cannot be understated. This is what almost every piece of liturgical text and piece of wisdom literature focuses upon and it is the cornerstone of our respective Faiths. This is something that is very important, I believe, and in order for us to move forward if our vision of a viable, strong Kemetic community, we need to have dialogue about it. I know that we can do it. I fully expect that such a vision will come to pass and that each of us will strive in accordance as closely as possible with Ma’at.

I am therefore inviting the membership of the Kemetic Community and those outside of it to consider the negative confession, the ideals that it represents and how we can further that in re-establishing them for ourselves and as a community and fellow inhabitants of this world. Comments can be left here or you may email me directly at maatpublishing at gmail dot com.

Resources:

Dr. Maulana Karenga,“Maat: The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt, A study in Classical African Ethics”, p. 408
Image of Ma’at by Jeff Dahl, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

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Signal Boost: Azam Ali’s Lamentation of Swans

The world is filled with exceptional music and musicians. For me, rare is the musician or vocalist that can give me absolute gooseflesh with awe at their sheer artistry. Azam Ali possesses such a voice. During the mid-90’s, listening to a local jazz station, I heard Azam with Greg Ellis and their band, Vas. The song was Sunyata. Over the years, Azam Ali, with her bandmates in both Vas and Niyaz have made so many incredible albums. I have thrilled recognizing that voice when watching a movie in a theater, such as I did when I went to see 300. I have used this music both for meditation and in dance as offerings in my own personal rituals. When showing a Persian friend, whose parents also fled Iran during the Islamic Revolution Azam’s music, it helped her to reconnect to her own Persian heritage that her parents to this day have been reluctant to let show here in the West. That kind of power and beauty cannot be underestimated or overstated.

Azam Ali’s voice, musicianship, artistry and sheer love shines like a timeless beacon. In her ethereal sound, I hear the voices of our ancient akhu (ancestors) and I hear the future. The future is exciting and bright for artists, musician, filmmakers, and writers who want to be in charge of their own careers. Azam very astutely has embraced the future and done it with a real consciousness that art is not created in a vacuum. That even though the middle men, the agents, the record companies and publishers may not be as necessary now in the digital age, certainly those of us who love art and appreciate those who create that art have a new avenue to reach each other. Azam is 110% correct that creative people should have their hands in every aspect of the art that they produce. Ultimately, it leads to putting out a far better product and it builds rapport with the very people that you are trying to reach and inspire through your art.

I am therefore, boosting the signal that Azam has sent out in an incredible leap of faith that the joint project she has created with her husband,Ramin Loga Torkian (also an incredible musician), “The Lamentation of Swans” be created by the support of their fans. According to Azam, this album will be deeply personal. Of that there can be no doubt. Please join me in making a pledge to Azam’s newest album and showing your support. The link below will lead you to the site.

Azam Ali: The Lamentation of Swans

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Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You

There is nothing worse than inaccurate, *LAZY* scholarship. What makes it even more heinous is when it is repackaged and perpetuated in Facebook meme’s. Good on Russell Erwin for his blog post.

Easter Is Not Named After Ishtar, And Other Truths I Have To Tell You.

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