My disclaimer is that I am Kemetic Orthodox. As such we do have a Nisut as part of our Faith. That being said, I will the answer this question as both someone who is a member of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith, and as a person whose life has taken a divergent course in a spiritual sense from what it may have been a mere year or two ago. I will answer the questions as honestly and with as much openness and candor as I can without betraying any ‘oathbound’ material that I received. I owe that to my community and my gods, and it is a sort of living up to what that calling has been for me.
I have observed that there are those in the modern Kemetic belief sphere that spend a great deal of time arguing about whether or not it is necessary or even useful for Kemetic organizations or Temples to have a Nisut. I have personally observed that those who speak out the most vociferously against the idea of a Nisut Bity(t) generally are people who are outside of any group which has one. The concept of having a Nisut or any sort of Temple hierarchy at all really was very much the norm in antiquity. But for those of us who are trying to reconstruct or revive the ancient Kemetic religion, that idea is not really the same. Having a king or a Nisut in the modern era is not the same cornerstones of Kemetic belief as it was in the past. For those of us who are Kemetic Orthodox, there is the underlying idea that kingship is more a continuation and how that is really a part of a sacred trust. We are not talking about a Pharaonic Theocracy in an absolute kingship with godhead that makes that person “Divine”. But rather someone who has revived and put in so much of themselves to lead people toward doing it right.
The King in Ancient Egypt is, as I mentioned, a part of that sacred trust. There are rituallyfunctional roles for a Nisut or King, whether that be in antiquity or today. I personally have observed that no one has given more to recreating the ancient Egyptian religious mindset than Rev. Tamara Siuda. Everything that she has done and continues to do is about bringing this religious bent back to the world. That, ultimately, is what the Nisut Bity(t) is for Kemetic Orthodoxy. The priests and priesthood help her to do that within a religious structure that before – did not exist in the modern era.
Those who are Kemetic can certainly have a modern, personal practice with their own altar and icons, incense, ritual tools, robes and all the arm-wavey goodness that they think that they need. The major difference between that and what Kemetic Orthodoxy and other similar groups with a King or a Nisut has is that there are both personal rites that one does and there are State Rites – which do centre around the Nisut Bity(t) and/ or the Kingship. End of story. 98% of the Kemetic population today will never do State Rites. They will never need to. These same individuals will most likely never be present for Coronation Rites. Again, in that instance, they technically don’t “need” anything in that context. Those rites are handled by the ritual technicians who DO know what they are and they do them daily. For those who are that flavour of Kemetic, it is a requirement. It is not an option. No one else ever need concern themselves about State Rites. Only those who are priests – w’ab or Hem(t) Netjer (formerly Imakhu and Kai Imakhu) even within Kemetic Orthodoxy’s rankes ever had to worry about performing State Rites.
If someone feels that they do not need a Nisut, then they can be completely content to go on about their business and not even ever have to think about it. It doesn’t make their practice ‘less” in terms of satisfaction or legitimacy, no does doing them make it any better, It just makes the rites that are performed what it is for them.
On the other hand, those who do have a King or a Nisut Bity(t) and who have made it through they have not handed their common sense, their brains or thousands of dollars at the door in cult-like fashion, either. I can speak with an insider’s experience that running a religious organization is hard, thankless and decidedly expensive work. Running an organisation or being a part of the ‘hierarchy’ costs a great deal in terms of time, travel expense, but mostly time.
Anyone who imagines it might be nice, or aspires to be a Nisut, in my opinion, is undoubtedly out of their mind. (I also tend to think that about priesthood, but will save that for another blog entry.)
This is a topic that I have had to think long and hard about. In spite of my having “retired” as a Kemetic Orthodox Priestess or Hm(t) Netjer of Sekhmet-Mut / HetHert, Meryt Amun I am still a member of the House of Netjer. As far as I am concerned, Sekhmet Herself said that I should be ordained as Her Priestess and I am still – and will always be until I die and into the next life. My person, my ka, my ba and every part of me has the indelible pawprint of Sekhmet on it and there is no removing it. Period. I have been a Kai-Imakhu (Exalted Reverend) and a Mut-Netjer (Godmother) and served as a vessel for Sekhmet, HetHert and Amun in the capacity of Mut-Netjer. So even though I no longer do these things – the State Rites, the chats, the being there for the service of the community in any official capacity within the House of Netjer, I do have knowledge of how things are – and how they are not. I have been a participant in the yearly Coronation Rites, and I know what is said, and I know what is involved. I also know that there are Mysteries that are a part of those things. Fr someone who has never actually done them – even if they have merely read them – they absolutely would not know. Kemetic practice is undoubtedly centralized on ritual practice – both personal and state rites. State rites have a purpose and a specific order and function. Not everyone needs to be a part of those functions.
State Rites are not a secret. If a Kemetic practitioner is hellbent on doing them, then Richard Reidy has published an approximation to them in his book, Eternal Egypt. Feel free to click the link, and buy the book. There you are. It is a very good book even though I don’t always agree with what Mr. Reidy has to say on every subject. However, when you read them you will very possibly notice that there is an underlying theme in that the core of these rites. You may notice that even if they are in service of a Deity, again, they are meant to be done by priests standing in for the King.
Do we need a King? Do we need a Nisut?
Speaking only for myself, and for my own practice, I do need my Nisut. I need her in the fact that she created or re-assembled or helped to reassemble what had been gone from existence for centuries. It isn’t that no one else tried. Certainly they did. They did not, however, keep their egos out of it – whereas, I believe and have observed that Rev. Tamara Siuda has done that. I have never seen anyone give more than she does. I have never seen anyone tailor their lives to the degree and centered their whole existence in the service of both the Gods and the community in the way that she has done and done it as good naturedly and as selflessly as she has done. IMO, we need that in the world. I can say that I personally need her not just as a Nisut Bity(t) but in that she is a member of my family. I need her in that she is my friend, and a teacher. She is the godmother of my son, Userbenu – and she was the one that if anything had happened to me before my son reached majority, she would be his guardian. Anyone who knows me at all and how important my son is to me, knows that I would never have made such a provision lightly. So, even if I never do State rites personally ever again, or if I never attend a coronation rite ever again, I like knowing that she is there to help continue building what did not exist 20 years ago and for a much longer period before. I believe that often sight is lost about how much has been re-established because someone cared enough to do it.
So…can one be Kemetic without a Nisut? Absolutely yes. But for those of us who have a Nisut….we are rather glad that she decided to step up to do it. Someone had to. And I am very grateful that it was her.