What suggestions do you have regarding bridging divides between different Kemetic factions and encouraging cooperation toward common goals?
There is something that I think every single Kemetic wants. It is something that is a bit of a pipe dream. Some of us have been told that maybe we shouldn’t set our sights so high or the unrealistic nature of actually attaining this thing. It would mean that maybe, just maybe, that Kemetics are serious about becoming their own culture once again. Certainly there are those within more Afrocentrically leaning Kemetic community who have suggested this thing long before I have. For that I applaud them, and perhaps since Kemetic belief is an African Traditional Religion or ATR, we can look to them for inspiration and guidance.
We want our own language. If we had this, if we truly want true reconstructionism, using the various texts, whether we used Faulkner, Hoch or even Budge we could all collectively create or recreate that. All of us already know how much we love the aesthetic of ancient Kemet – the art, the music, the architecture, and on and on. Part of those that aestheitc is language. We are already using just a smattering of the language now.
Many of us know how we felt hearing it spoken in bits and pieces in movies like ‘The Mummy’, ‘The Mummy Returns’, ‘Stargate’, brought to us courtesy of the work of anthropologist, Dr. Stuart Tyson Smith, and even that horrible Charlton Heston film, ‘The Awakening. I will confess, a few years ago, I was actually trying to write a script for a film about the transition period between AMunhotep III and Akhenaten and how much a manipulative and megalomaniac bitch Nefertiti was. I was writing it in English and then wanted to translate the whole thing into ancient Kemetic. Of course, the cost of providing materials and language coaches for the actors alone, would have been astronomical. And of course it would have to have incredible sets, costumes, driving the cost of making the film into the tens of millions, but it would have been made in what I would like to think of as our language. What better way to spend a very large film budget? The intensive use of a (albeit, popular) dead language alone would have all but insured that it got into the Toronto Film Festival and Cannes. Hell, I still might try to do a campaign on Indiegogo or Kickstarter for it. The script is pretty well written as it is.
In my temple, the House of Netjer, those of us in the priesthood would regularly get asked by beginners and established members alike for the Daily Rites in Kemetic. The request was always refused on the basis that it was felt that to recite a religious rite to your deity in a language that you were just parroting it by rote and probably had no comprehension of what was being said. Further, such an exercise would be just an elaborate going through the motions. To speak from your heart, it was further rationalized, you needed a language that you were born into.
That is a pretty good argument against it. However, I would offer up the prime example of the traditional Latin mas and how passionately some Catholics feel about hearing and participating in a mass that is in Latin – which, btw is a mostly dead language. I am still old enough to remember when it was taken away from some congregations. There was much upset about this and those for whom the Latin Mass was substituted for one in English, it was traumatic. Some drove long distances just to get to a church that still recited the Catholic mass in Latin. The reason for this, I think is that there was and is something comforting about that source language for worshipers. Certainly much of the Jewish rites are done in Hebrew.
ALthough I can see the point of knowing what the hell it is that you are saying and not just reciting by rote, I do agree there is something to saying rites in their original language. Language, it’s sound, tone and vibration does affect the brain, and in religious rites it can help the adorer or worshiper to make that shift from the mundane world into a more reverent and contemplative one. It was always a dream of mine to have that long before I was Kemetic Orthodox to be able to pray in Kemetic if I want. I still have that dream. I believe that if we had a developed language that went beyond, “Em hotep,” as a greeting, “Dewa nefer“, for “Good morning,” or even “Dua Netjer en ekh / etj”, which means “Thank you,” or more specifically, “Thank God for you.” We already have copies of the short form of “grace” that is said before a meal that is in Kemetic. Wny not more than just these very small snippets? If we, as a community, worked to create this, it would no longer be incoherent gibberish. For those within the community who were determined to use it, it would be invaluable, it would be special and it would be all of ours once again. We would know what we were saying, and if children were raised speaking it, just think of what change we could effect in bringing about true reconstruction of Kemetic religion and culture! Why is this idea any different from anyone trying to learn the fictional languages of Elvish or Klingon?
What is most ironic about this entire train of thought is that it was not a fellow Kemetic, a book or movie or anything connected to ancient Kemet that got me seriously thinking about pushing for it. It was this guy, Benny Lewis, creator of the Fluent in 3 Months language system, the man has been billed as “The Irish Polyglot”. Lewis’ work was introduced to me via one of my former history professors when he linked Benny’s site on his Facebook page. It was this that ultimately got me to really considering this as a possibility. Benny Lewis has gone around the world and learned tons of languages. His secret, as he says on his website, is to start speaking your language of choice from day one. He is also currently even trying to revive a dead language (Hungarian).
That REALLY got me to thinking about this!
It is my personal belief that this effort would serve to potentially unite Kemetics across the board. I believe we can do this collectively and it would help all to maybe at last get beyond the petty backbiting and social media headgames that seem to erupt. I myself am no expert, but I do know that many do study ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs and the like. My point is that none of us individually know as much as all of us do collectively. This is the collective effort we need in order to bring together not just the temples, but the people who love the ancient Netjeru as we do. Things like skin colour, philosphy, location, etc. – none of that will even matter. Even if we did end up with different dialects via the different groups, we will have brought something back from extinction and by our attempts we are honouring our Gods, our akhu, the culture they gave us and we love so much, and ourselves.
I want to hear more from others about their ideas about this topic. Maybe it truly is an unrealistic hope. But who among us has not dreamed about hearing the beautiful lilt of spoken Kemetic? Who wouldn’t want to see it happen in our lifetime? It is my firm belief that though the Kemetic community is relatively small in comparison to other faiths, perhaps even smaller than those fluent in Klingon or Elvish, the fact is collectively, we want this. We want it because it’s time.
I say let’s collectively bring about the dream. I say, ‘Let’s do it’.
The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian Notes