you now know how to write %u201Cnice ass%u201D in hieroglyphics. – Imgur
you now know how to write %u201Cnice ass%u201D in hieroglyphics. – Imgur
Kemetic Round Table:The Mythic Mystique
“Send Your Eye down as HetHert (Hathor). This goddess indeed went and She slew people upon the…
“Send Your Eye down as HetHert (Hathor). This goddess indeed went and She slew people upon the desert.
Then said the majesty of this God [Ra], “Welcome in Peace, HetHert. You have done that which I sent You to do.”
Then said this goddess:”As You live for Me, I have been powerful over the people! And it is pleasing to My heart!”
Then said the majesty of Ra,”It is in order to diminish them [humans] that I have sent the power of My kingship.”
Thus did Sekhmet come into being.” (Translation by Tamara L. Siuda)
Mythology: How necessary is it? Does it affect your practice? Should it?
My own answer to this question is a rather dependent upon what we are talking about. Surely when the sun rises every day, and the sky is red, I am reminded of the Kemetic myth that it is because Set has slain the Ap/ep serpent and the waters of the Nun are red with its blood so that Ra may rise again. I hold up my hands in the gesture of praise, or henu and say, “Dua Ra, Dua Set!”
Everyone who considers themselves to be Kemetic has heard the myths about Sekhmet and the Destruction of Mankind. It is one of the most well-known and important myths in all of Kemetic culture and religion. Unlike many practitioners of other religions and spiritual traditions, Kemetics tend to be a bit less dogmatic about those mythologies.
The above passage, was translated by Tamara Siuda. Tamara herself an Egyptologist and the founder of the House of Netjer Kemetic Orthodox Temple, of which I am a member. One of the things that Tamara teaches, is the reason for Sekhmet’s creation by Her Father Ra was fairly clear. In the time when the Netjeru and Humans lived together in the world, mankind got arrogant. They became arrogant in the pride of their own accomplishments, and collectively they decided that they no longer needed the gods. Not only did they plot to overthrow the Netjeru, they plotted to destroy Them. The benign Hathor, when She learned that humanity wanted to harm Her Father, became the rampaging Sekhmet.
But in terms of Kemetic belief, what does this really mean?
This idea is in itself a metaphor for many of the Kemetic myths. The stories serve to teach us things about how we deal with life’s challenges, phenomena in the natural world and other concerns. Few Kemetics take them as an absolute truth. In the case of the myth of Sekhmet and the Destruction of Mankind, as found on the Golden Shrine of Tutankhamun, it serves as a metaphor for the nature of anger and how destructive it can be justified or not. Anger, even or especially when attached to righteous indignation can become quite volatile and unpredictable. Who in the world would not want to destroy utterly anyone who would dare raise their hand to their loved ones or those whom they care about? In this case, Sekhmet’s anger with its fury and destruction that almost wiped out the whole of humanity is understandable. Humans were plotting to kill Her Father, Ra. Her anger was indiscriminate, without warning, and absolute.
For anyone who has been so angry that they almost seemed as if they were outside of themselves, they can tell you there reaches a point when that anger produces a high of its own. I have been so angry in one particular incident, that I remember distinctly standing outside of my own self and thinking, “Wow…I am really pissed off.” There was that instant of wanting to stop but being unable to. When anger reaches that point, it is as if you are quite literally drunk on it.
A little bit like Sekhmet, perhaps? Maybe. If anything, the mythology teaches that there is always appropriate action. Sekhmet’s anger was initially quite appropriate, but then it reached the point to where it “got good to Her,” and Sekhmet became less than reasonable to the point where She almost destroyed the whole of Mankind. Going overboard is not what one would call appropriate.
I have found that there are those in and around the Kemetic faith sphere who are divined, or consider themselves to be children of Sekhmet who use it as an excuse. Too often I hear too many of them try to flippantly write off their bouts of poorly managed anger, co-dependent flailing, and just general bad behaviour on being a “child of Sekhmet”. There are still other children of various Names of Netjer who try to blame their need to get drunk every other night or on the weekends as how they deal with being a child of X Name of Netjer. Frankly, I think we all know that this is nothing short of a steaming load of bullshit. It may sound logical, but it really is just abdication of responsibility. Ultimately, you and you alone are responsible for your bad behaviour – putting it off on Deity is quite clearly a cop-out; and a weak one at that. Trying to dodge personal responsibility in that manner is pretty ridiculous. So why do it?
What to do? Well, certainly we are not going to wait around till Djehuti fills valleys with beer stained red with ochre and spiked with mandrake so we can get “happy” and forget why it was that we were pissed off about in the first place. We need to take the myths in the context in which they were, as far as we could tell, originally intended.
They were stories, meant to educate masses of people about natural phenomena that they encountered in their lives. Is the sun (Ra) really being pushed across the sky by a giant dung beetle (Kheperi)? Did Atum create All that Exists by self-pleasure and masturbation? (Talk about a “Big Bang Theory”!) Is the whole yearly cycle culminated by the epagomenal days and Djehuty has to beat Ra at a game of dice so that poor Nut can give birth to her children, Heru-Wer, Wasir, Set, Aset and NebetHet? Do we at the end of those five days, in all actuality destroy the Uncreated One when we perform the Rite of Turning Back the Enemies of Ra – or the sun won’t rise and the world will end? I suppose it really all depends upon your point of view. Certainly when someone wants to tout the benefits of teaching Creationism in schools, I pipe up with the one about Atum. That usually puts a kabbash on any further assertions about teaching Creationism in public education. Apparently teaching school aged children about some cultural mythology can potentially open up a whole other set of issues that some folks just aren’t prepared to explain to their kids!
Myths have served as road maps of a kind for man since antiquity. They help us understand what is going on in the world around us and within ourselves and the struggles that we face on a day-to-day basis. They give us pause during annual festivals of the year and when the seasons change or we gather together and remember our ancestors and our collective pasts. Certainly we see this sort of re-membering in almost any faith that you care to name. Of course, for myself, I tend to think of it in terms of my own Kemetic beliefs, which in many ways are quite similar to Hindu beliefs in how we integrate our religion into our lives. The myths and ritual actions that go along with them serve a purpose to get us to stop, to connect deeper with the Unseen. When we do this, it is my experience that we are healthier, calmer, more contemplative and reflective for having done so.
We also tend to be a little less dogmatic than other faiths because in our beliefs we do not feel the need to “prove” our extant liturgical texts. I have talked to many in non-Kemetic faiths who were excited when archaeological bits turned up that ascertained what was contained in their religious scripture was “proven” by what had been found. If you have Faith, why would actually “proving” something be at all necessary? You either believe something as being a truth religiously or philosophically or you don’t. You either find a way to integrate the beliefs and the symbolism into your life or you are oblivious to it. These things are what make up faith. It doesn’t necessarily need to be proven. Ultimately, I think that’s why it’s called ‘faith’.
Kemetic myths are rich and varied. These myths changed over periods of history and many were considered regional. Some of the better books on Kemetic myth are Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods, by Dimitri Meeks and Christine Favard-Meeks, The three-volume set of Ancient Egyptian Literature by Miriam Lichtheim. Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume I: The Old and Middle Kingdoms, Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume II: The New Kingdom, and Ancient Egyptian Literature: Volume III: The Late Period . ANother good standby that is a bit older than the other aforementioned books is R.T. Rundle Clark’s classic book, Myth and Symbol in Ancient Egypt. Any of these go over some of the myths that many of we Kemetics hold up as part of our religious heritage.
For me, the most wonderful thing about these myths is that the longer I am around various folks who practice the Kemetic faith, I get exposed to other myths that I had never heard or just wasn’t paying that close attention to. Certainly in a religion where there are over 4,000 different Names for God and the various manifestations of the Divine, it becomes rather difficult to take them all in. That is certainly alright. Kemetic myths have a way of showing up at the time when they are the most relevant to us and in a time that we most need to hear them. There is something about this that is far less dogmatic and far more freeing when you can look at the sunrise and somehow imagine the Barque of Ra traveling across the sky.
Using Budge = BAD IDEA!
“Who translated this? It’s completely wrong. They must have used Budge; I don’t know why they keep…
“Who the hell translated this? It’s completely wrong. They must have used Budge; I don’t know why they keep reprinting his books!” – Daniel Jackson, from the movie, “Stargate”
People: I am here to tell you once and for all, ditch the Budge translations that you have. Stop using them in your arguments and your writings. You are making your work and yourself into a laughing stock. I don’t care that you have meticulously collected all of his works over time or how much you spent for that gold embossed, leather bound volume of the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead It’s as of this writing, about 150 years out of date. If you do choose to ignore the advice and use him anyway, any of your “translations” are likely riddled with inaccuracies. They may be nice to look at on the shelf lining your office and to utilize their pubic domain illustrations, however, they are *really* problematic hieroglyphically.
And need I bring up that Budge was known to plagiarize his students? No. I didn’t think so.
Sir Ernest Alfred Thompson Wallis Budge was born in 1857 and died in 1934. Commonly referred to in his title of Sir E. A. Wallis Budge. Budge was the curator of Egyptian and Assyrian Antiquities at the British Museum in London from 1894 to 1924. He was knighted in 1920. He began working for the British Museum in 1883, making archaeological excavations in Mesopotamia, Egypt, and the Sudan. During these expeditions, he managed to accumulate many Mesopotamian cuneiform tablets, Egyptian papyri, and manuscripts written in Arabic, Coptic, Ethiopic, Greek, and Syriac languages. Budge was quite prolific and the author of many books such as “The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead”, “The Egyptian Hieroglyphic Dictionary”, “Egyptian Vocabulary”, ” An Egyptian Hieroglyphic Reading Book for Beginners”, “The Gods of the Egyptians”, “The Egyptian Heaven and Hell”, “Egyptian Magic”, and on and on.
Dr. Barbara Mertz, aka Elizabeth Peters in her novels frequently mentions Budge. In the novels, the heroine’s husband repeatedly refers to Budge saying, “Budge is a poor archaeologist and an unscrupulous plunderer of Egypt.” Very true. By today’s standards, he was most certainly that.
If you read Budge, then you must examine what he is writing through his cultural lens of Protestant Christianity via the Church of England. Much of how Egyptology expeditions got funded in that day was by convincing rich, nobles in the Empire that the study was a worthwhile endeavor. Aside from the prospect of discovering a rich cache of treasure, forwarding the idea that the ancient Egyptians had beliefs quite similar to those of Christians, of course, before the benefit of Christ having come. etc. was how those expeditions got the much needed dosh. We all know, however, that this notion of Egyptian religion being just like Christianity, is just downright incorrect. (Or we should know this, at least). Budge ignored much of the progress of the German schools of Egyptology and the various advances in translation even in his own day – probably out of sheer Victorian arrogance more than anything else. Today, translations by R.O. Faulkner and others are much better and are easily available in print and in eBook form.
The bottom line is this. There are those, like me, who will more than likely discount any book or paper if that author cites as a resource, books written by E.A. Wallis Budge. The only way around this is if that author would also cross-reference those sources written by Budge with newer, more accurate ones as well. Some readers will simply see the name ‘Budge” and pitch it over their shoulder, unread. Really, I can’t blame them. That little jab at Sir Ernest by the screenwriters of “Stargate” was for a reason. Using a translation by Budge would be the equivalent of relying on the diaries of Charles Darwin to explain modern stem cell and DNA research. Historical, Egyptoligical and scientific research has moved on. A layperson or independent Egyptophile knows far more about ancient Egypt or ancient Kemet today than we did in Budge’s day. That is because back then, Egyptology was a very young science – and even today it can be a very underfunded science. With the recent events in Egypt, moving further may be even more difficult. We will have to see about that one.
If you are an author of anything Egyptian or Kemetic, you have the duty and the obligation to use good, current resource materials rather than cheap reprints in the public domain. Those public domain works, more often than not, do not take our greater understanding of Egypt and Egyptology into account since Budge’s day. To not fulfill this obligation and duty is not only a case of simple ignorance of better material, but rather it shows a flagrant disrespect for the time and intelligence of readers. We now have, via the Internet, wider availability of either free or inexpensive access to scores of current material that is historically sound. Why someone would choose not to avail themselves of these resources is inexplicable. Bear in mind, someone like me looks at newly published books on ancient Egypt with a very critical eye. If an author use a less than reputable resources, the review of the newly offered book will reflect this. In Kemetic circles, that can be death to any viability in the marketplace.
So, please. Put down and put away the books by Budge; or at the very least, use a stack of them as doorstops.
Kemet is for Grownups
The biggest problem that those of us who consider themselves to be a part of Kemetic Faiths is that…
The biggest problem that those of us who consider themselves to be a part of Kemetic Faiths is that we constantly have to put up with the craziest level of ridiculous, crackpot theories and beliefs imaginable. Every day the prosteletizers of the theoretical stumble onto our forums and our Facebook communities or Tumblr feeds. These are the ones who are worthy of the constant eyerolls that they receive every time they open their mouths or put their fingers to a keyboard. Partly mystic woo-woo sisters and brothers, part conspiracy theorists; rarely is even the slightest shard of what they pontificate as “the hidden truth” in any way credible.
I know of no other group of Pagans et al who have to put up with this level of outright idiocy. If I had a dime for every time that I have met someone who was convinced that they were either Cleopatra VII, Nefertiti, or Rameses the Great in a former life, I’d have more money in the bank than if I had won the latest Powerball jackpot. Almost everybody with a past life in ancient Kemet that I have met were convinced they were nobles or royalty. Far fewer have ever said they were a slave, a lowly house servant, a soldier, an illiterate farmer or a worker in the House of the Dead. Reincarnation is a fine idea, however, let’s be realistic, now.
But I am getting ahead of myself here.
Kemetic beliefs are no better than any others in that they are sometimes plagued by those who bring the baggage of their past religions with them. They bring their taboos, their commandments, their thou shalt nots and an ye harm none’s along with three fold laws and all sorts of other modern moral constructs that have little, if anything, to do with what was practiced in antiquity. Below are some of the most common, and yet rather annoying things that come to visit Kemetic practitioners.
The 42 “Laws of Ma’at”
Kemetics subscribe to the idea and ideals of Ma’at. That’s more than enough for us. It is not just “truth”, it is not just “balance”, it’s a complex concept that is both represented by an ideal and takes the form of an actual goddess and you will spend your life trying to grok it in detail. That’s why the idea is so wonderful. Ma’at is so complex and so vast, and it is by necessity. It makes you have to ponder your choices and take responsibility for them. It cannot be encapsulated on a page or in a single paragraph. However, we in the Kemetic Community are often assailed by the so-called 42 Commandments (or Laws) of Ma’at, which are absolutely nothing of the kind. What is being referred to and re-translated as a sort of 10-Connabdnebts x4 Plus, are really the 42 points of the Negative Confession of the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. They are designed to get you through the various gates between death and the Field of Reeds or Afterlife. If you see these online, remember, they are not commandments. To quote my favourite pirate from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Captain Hector Barbossa, “They’re more like guidelines than actual rules.”
Aliens built the Pyramids or The Egyptians Were Really Expat Atlantens, etc.
None of us are really sure about how the fixation with Atlantis or Space Aliens founded Ancient Egypt got started. What is fairly annoying to some of us is this quickness to ascribe any technological, architectural, linguistic or any other sophisticated action to human advances, but rather to some external force that somehow showed these superstitious primitives how to think big. If it wasn’t some aliens from Sirius, it was some Atlanteans in search of a new place to live since their own place was sinking into the sea. The problem with the whole Atlantis theory is that no one can ever seem to decide where it actually is or was. One year it’s said to be in the Bermuda Triangle, the next year it is off the Coast of Santorini, then it somehow moves to the Island of Bimini. It seems to have moved off the coast of Cuba now, so I guess it is back in the Bermuda Triangle again. I am thinking that’s because that whole region is now up and coming and considered “fashionable” again.
While I am sure that there were sea migrations of people throughout prehistory, the fantasies and the urban legends have endlessly tried to replace scientific facts. When you are Kemetic, you tend to correspond directly and sometimes make friends with the very scientists and researchers that are experts in underwater or field archaeology. So far, no Atlantis. While absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, so far the evidence currently is far too weak to sway many of us. It doesn’t mean that it can’t and won’t happen, but at this point, it is highly doubtful that we will be rewriting the history books any time soon.
The Blocks of the Pyramids Were Levitated Into Place
Yeah…I pretty much fell off of my chair laughing at that one when I first heard it, too. There are some saying that the ancients used the technology of sonic levitation and that the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid is “proof” of this. No. That theory that originated from the channeled messages of Edgar Cayce have pretty much been disproved over and over again. (What do you expect? He missed the whole limestone casing on the exterior of the pyramids while he was in trance, too.)
I could literally go on all day, but I have clients waiting for articles that are due today, and really, it isn’t something that we all have not heard before. There are those that are adamant that there is a Great Library or Hall of Records underneath the body or between the two paws of the Great Sphinx and that “conventional Egyptologists” are hellbent on making sure that mankind never realizes their birthright by continuing to keep this highly classified and earth-shaking ancient knowledge secret. Really? Have you been watching too much Stargate SG-Whatever re-runs lately?
Give it a rest.
From Ancient Egyptian “power rods” that Russian scientists “discovered”and are now marketing online that supposedly heal illnesses of every kind including cancer, to pyramidal shaped devices of every description, more conjecture is forwarded about what the ancients could have been doing with these “devices”. From hieroglyphs in Abydos attributed to the reign of Seti I and his son, Rameses II, that kind of look like helicopters and submarines, it just never seems to end. If ever you want to legitimize something, just slap on some ancient Egyptian motifs and iconography, add names like Cleopatra, Isis and Thoth, and call it “ancient” and people will flock to it and gobble it up. If it looks nice and tell a good story, some idiot somwehere is bound to buy it and you are all but assured of a bestselling product.
Unfortunately, however, those of us for whom Kemet is not just an interest, it encapsulates what we believe, what we hold dear and a deep part of ourselves, this buying and selling and remixing of what is real into something that never was can be more than just a little annoying. Of course, people prefer Hollywoodized fantasies and romantic notions about Ancient Egypt or Ancient Kemet because that gives them a little escapism. Everyone wants a little fun and frivolity. I am of the opinion that Kemetic deities have a sense of humour and probably are o.k. with some of the funny memes online involving their images, for example.
For those who really want the real deal, who are after the truth and not just the made up candy-coated crap, my suggestion is to take the time to separate the treasure from the trash. I would also strongly suggest a thorough reading of Erik Hornung’s book, “The Secret Lore of Egypt: Its Impact on the West”
Learn what is real and practice discernment. Provide references for your theories and be able to have a conversation and look at all the facts before jumping to conclusions.
Special thanks to Sandra Pucher for her kind permission in using her artwork for this post.
The issue of copyright infringement in the Pagan and Neo-Pagan communities is a huge challenge. I am sure many of you who have been on Facebook or Tumblr have seen the endless Memes with cheesy pagan-y phrases plastered over photographs and artwork that…
The issue of copyright infringement in the Pagan and Neo-Pagan communities is a huge challenge. I am sure many of you who have been on Facebook or Tumblr have seen the endless Memes with cheesy pagan-y phrases plastered over photographs and artwork that is not attributed. The following is a post by Fire Lyte that encapsulates much of what Pagans should know but either are ignorant of, or pretend that they don’t know because “everybody does it.” Everybody needs to know the facts. Here they are presented in a way better than I have seen anywhere else.