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Truths Are Truths: Offering ‘Enough’

Nefertari offering to Hathor, from the tomb of Nefertari, Valley of the Queens

Nefertari offering to Hathor, from the tomb of Nefertari, Valley of the Queens

So often we hear of giving an adequate sacrifice to our gods. Certainly, some pagans, do manage to generously give either to their respective religious organizations or favourite charities, but there is that bit of offerings and giving that we all tend to do privately.

Recently there was a bit of a flap concerning some very ill-considered commentary about what is adequate or enough in terms of offerings made toward deities. Certainly there are cultural considerations that should be taken into account, depending on what Gods you are worshiping. In the case of some specific gods, to partake of the things that you offer to Deity is considered ‘stealing’. While in the case of ancient Egyptian or Kemetic gods, partaking of the offerings after the reversion is said over them is considered customary and proper. To waste food or to not share it with the greater community is considered to be the height of foolishness. If the gods give us their bounty, what better way to exemplify this than to communally spread the wealth and feed those who are assembled in celebration?

It is an unfortunate fact that I have heard time and again about how what is being offered is not considered “appropriate” or “good enough” for deity. Neither poverty nor ability to give more can be considered an adequate excuse. If you are not giving a juice box, to cite one of the examples, poured out as a libation to the gods, then by golly, you are doing it wrong. Others underscore the idea that somehow our focus and insistence on doing it right gives license for some to cop a sense of arrogant exclusivity and a holier-than-thou haughtiness that is neither attractive nor impressive to many of us who have been at this for any length of time.

The reality is that we live in an era that has a real disparity between those who have and those who don’t. Folks who are struggling are worried about whether or not they are going to make it. They live paycheck to paycheck, praying to whatever powers that be that their jobs are not outsourced, or that the unemployment might be extended just a little longer. They fret over whether or not the government is going to give them just enough of a subsidy to feed themselves and/or their families. Offerings to the deities that we worship are a nice idea, but it is little comfort to the mother who knows how damn much those juice boxes or other foodstuffs cost in the greater scheme of things. The idea of letting a child go hungry or thirsty while that asset is offered up to heaven not to be partaken of by the living is a luxury that some just cannot afford. The arrogant ones self-righteously raise their noses higher in the air and sniff disdainfully, “Well, if you can’t afford it, then don’t even bother!”

Where I come from, something so small as cool water, or oil for the limbs, a bit of honey, or a song or a piece of artwork made by our own hands given into the service of Netjer is something that is considered ‘enough’. To devote what one has and what can do out of a giving heart is worth more than expensive works or products lain at the altar. In Luke 20:45-21:4, Jesus warns about teachers of the law, those who would focus on the smallest Nth degree that everything is done according to the law. The Pharisees would pray loudly in the streets and make sure that all witnessed their pious giving and yet a woman who was a widow gave but two copper coins – which was probably the major portion of what she had to live on, gave them at the altar. Back in those days, it was the least in terms of the legal limit that could be offered at the Temple. Jesus noted to his disciples that the rich gave from their vast wealth and did not feel the true spirit of the gift, whereas the woman gave all that she had.

There are those within the pagan community whom others look to as being the arbiters of wisdom and how to do things properly when in service to the gods. Some of them might even have a series of letters after their name that denote impressive degrees that show that they had the money and the time to go back to school. For some within the Pagan community, that may make them bigger and badder than the rest of we who are garden variety devotees and worshipers. (I personally think that is a load of it, but hey, what do I know?)

The undeniable truth is this: We all feel a call and a pull to the Divine, but sometimes we have to be very careful about whom we turn to for advice when it comes to the sincere practices of performing acts of faith. Some, no matter how many letters after their names or tenured positions that guarantee a regular paycheck whilst they sit in the hallowed halls of academia, are full of themselves – and other more ‘fragrant’ substances that sticks to the bottom of shoes. Just because they have an M and an A or a P, an h, and a D after their name doesn’t mean that their offerings will be better received than those of the person who has put their heart and soul into a piece of handiwork – or had just under a dollar to buy a purified bottle of water to offer to their Deity of choice. For those of us who worship gods that were native to lands located in deserts, water was and is still considered a precious sacrifice because there was so very little of it.

The Pagan community in some places tends to be both cliquish and competitive, if not downright cruel at times. It seems as if some make it a point to look over the shoulders of others, to check and see if the offerings made, the devotions said and the form of worship rendered is somehow ‘good enough’. They take great pains to make sure that people not only are doing it well enough according to their standards, but will discuss it loudly across every form of social media available. Certainly such behaviour is not unlike that of the Pharisees who want you to know how very pious, generous and correct they are and how everyone else should be paying attention to how they are doing it.

The Ones who are paying attention, however, are the Ones before whose altars, shrines and temple spaces we lay the offerings before. Those are the Ones we are doing it all for anyway – and maybe a little bi for ourselves, too. That, I believe, should always be considered ‘enough’. It’s that idea along with the inner knowing that we are all enough, that we love enough and that the Divine can and does understand our circumstances and does not judge us for it in ways that others and even we each have a tendency to do. It is this idea which we should be paying attention and listening to rather than the talking heads, of which there seems to be ever an overabundance of.

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Filed under Kemet is Cool Project, kemetic, pagan, politics

Inciting a Riot: Pagans: Copyright Infringement and Social Media (Reblog)

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.

Inciting A Riot: Pagans, Copyright Infringement, and Social Media

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Every Large Thing is Accomplished by Many ‘Little’ People and ‘That One Large Thing’ That Can Unite Us

What suggestions do you have regarding bridging divides between different Kemetic factions and…

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May 11, 2013 · 2:37 pm

Every Large Thing is Accomplished by Many ‘Little’ People and ‘That One Large Thing’ That Can Unite Us

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?

It isn’t.

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’.


Resources:
The Pronunciation of Ancient Egyptian Notes

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Filed under akhu / ancestors, crowdfunding, kemetic, Kemetic Rount Table, pagan

Getting Hung Up on Hathor

Send It [Your Eye] down as Hathor.
This goddess indeed went [and] She slew people upon the desert.

…..Thus did Sekhmet come into being.

-(Translated by Tamara Siuda using the reproductions found in Piankoff’s Shrines of Tutankhamen and DeBuck’s An Egyptian Readingbook. The entire inscription can be found HERE.)

As a daughter of Sekhmet, I understand that some of us get hung up on the idea that our beloved Sekhmet, the Great Mother of ferocity and the very personification of Sekhem or Power (with a capital “P”), could ever be connected to another Goddess. This would be especially true with one like Hathor (HetHert) Whom folks just don’t think of as being so very powerful at all. Sure, Hathor is all about sex, drugs and rock and roll…but really?

I do understand this. I was in once in this place. Years ago, to my mind, Hathor was all about fluffy, motherly, nicey-nice, pinkness and love and squishy sweetness. To me, Hathor was a Strawberry Daqueri when I really wanted a f***ing Hurricaine or a good stiff shot of tequila! The fact that the daughters of Hathor of my acquaintence were mostly very, very nice people, didn’t help overcome my misconceptions about Hathor. In my Sekhmetian logic, I took that niceness for being weakness somehow. Besides, there are those who think Hathor is way too expensive.

Needless to say, that idea is completely wrong. But it took me several years to arrive in the place where I could accept these things.

If we but look at the two animals that represent each Goddess. Sekhmet, represented by the African lioness, is the epitome of ferocity. Nothing is more deadly than a mother lioness protecting her cubs. You get what you deserve and then some if you try to get in the middle. Besides, no one should ever forget that the Lioness Who comes to visit is the one who has most definitely come to eat you.

Then, when one thinks of Hathor, the thoughts immediately go to cows. Oh, those benign bestowers of dairy goodness that are so benign, wholesome and calm as they placidly graze and chew their cud on farms throughout the land. That is the image that you might think of, however, until you try to come between a cow and her calf. If the bovine matron in question in fact happens to be a buffalo, I can tell you from firsthand experience, you had better run very fast, because, baby, if you don;t you are toast! Cows / Buffalo, most mothers, really, do tend to react in the same sort of way. Just don't do it if you want to live.

Animal analogies and symbolism aside, Hathor is one of those goddesses that really represent all that womanhood is. Some of us are very comfortable with our so-called feminine side. We can wear dresses or skirts in the summer and that's perfectly fine. Hell, we might even paint our toenails at the first sign of Spring! Others of us will deny, deny, DENY anything that makes us the least bit feminine or "girlish". We do it because it is too often equated with weakness. There is a tendency to think these things constitute a sort of feminine dishonesty. We’ve all heard the comments: "She wouldn't have gotten nearly so far if she hadn’t worn something that showed off her cleavage, or her butt, so that any males in the vicinity would start thinking with the little head and get stupid." It’s the kind of catty snideness that women seem to say about each other far too often.

With Sekhmet, on the other hand, a woman (or man) can be balls-out, a kick you in the backside, Dominatrix in leather who essentially has the aura of, "Don't you EVER forget WHO you are dealing with!" kind of presence. Sekhmet is about as weak as a pair of four inch, razor sharp stilettoes offered in a swift, unapologetic kick to the groin. She'd eat you as soon look at you – and there will be no apology or shame for having done so. Sekhmet IS Power, and sometimes such power only comes via blood and violence and ferocity. Even birth is a bloody, violent process, and we Sekhmet kids tend to have no problem dealing with that aspect of it.

Hathor well….you know…. How can you hope to appear to be powerful when you're busy being motherly and comforting and …..nice?

What I am about to say now, however, is regarded as secret amongst ourselves. These are things that I have either learned about myself or about my fellow siblings. If it doesn’t fit for you, that’s fine. We don’t have a one-size-fits-all type of Faith. Those that are upset that I would reveal these things and want me to simply shut up, will get a response of a single raised eyebrow.

If you are in fact a true Sekhmet child, you will undoubtedly know what that expression means without me needing to explain.

Sekhmet’s devotees tend to be those who have experienced some soft of personal pain. We Lions and Lionesses are pretty squishy in the middle and so we don’t reveal that vulnerability to any who might be thinking of harming us. We never, or rarely ever, let down the tough facade. By the GODS! We have to make sure that if someone is stupid enough to poke a lion or lioness, they pay…and they pay dearly! It’s best to have that protective exterior to save us from such inconvenience of having to deal with the unpleasant heartache that may result of that vulnerability. However, if it is needed….there can be no room for doubt, and the ferocity can be both a mask and a shield. Soft? Feminine? Sexy? NICE?! How dare you even suggest such a thing!

The other side is certainly true. I have met several of Hathor’s devotees or kids who were almost scared witless when having to confront Sekhmet. She is too much, to hard, too heavy, or just too BIG to deal with. And so they resist Sekmet in favour of something softer, more pleasant and palatable that they see in Hathor. I cannot blame them. Sekhmet can be big and ferocious and scary and more than a little overwhelming. She can be quite frightening.

Speaking for myself, I honestly did not “get” Hathor in the beginning. I wanted as little or nothing to do with Her and placed Her in the “Ignore as Much As Possible” file. Then I went to meet the late Ma Jaia Bhavavati at Kashi Ashram during her birthday celebration. Though Ma was devoted to Kali, I have never met another Sekhmet child that I knew that quickly on first sight. Shortly after returning home from the Ashram, I had a dream about both Hathor as Lakshmi and She handed me a lotus. The one thing that I noticed was Lakshmi/Hathor’s pierced nostril.

Four days later I pierced my own nose as a devotion to Hathor and in acknowledgement of that dream and understanding that side of myself. It is also interesting to note that in the medical practice of Ayurveda, the piercing of the nostril is not just one of ornamentation for women. It has a practical aspect in that it can ease both menstrual cramps and childbirth. I didn’t really realize this until I noticed that I no longer suffered from cramps since then. ME! The one who has spent so many years studying both Ancient Egyptian medicine and Ayurvedic medicine and the cultural exchanges between Egypt and India didn’t even think about it! DUH!

Cranium, meet the Cosmic Clue By Four.

The Hathor and Sekhmet dichotomy, I believe, in some ways represents the totality of emotion and the Power that those emotions and all of those various functions we have to fulfill in our lives. This applies to us, not just as women, but as human beings in the greater order of things. The balance of the Two Goddesses, who seem to be absolute polar opposites on the surface, actually are very well suited to each other. These two help, I believe, come to grips with who we are and to be what is necessary or appropriate at its proper time. Sometimes our anger, our ruthlessness, our ferocity can serve us, and at other times, softening our stance can open doors that would have held fast against a battering ram of unchecked aggression. They balance each other out and balance within us is where Ma’at starts and we can radiate that out into the world.

There are those who have explained Sekhmet as being an “aspect” of Hathor. I have never used the word “aspect” with either deity, and never thought of either Sekhmet or Hathor in that way. Although the Two are in some ways two sides of the same coin, They Both have the capability to at once be both connected and separate. The term, “aspect”, in my view, sells both Ladies quite short in the same way that explaining that Lakshmi and Swaravati are two aspects of the same ideal. If you look at it that way, but most Hindus that I have talked to, really don’t explain it that way. Why mostly Western teachers choose to explain such complex spiritual ideas in such a fashion is mystifying. Perhaps polyvalency just doesn’t come that easily to people after a lifetime of deities and ideas that mostly deal in polarities.

To those who are devotees or children of one or the other of these two Ladies, I would say, be patient. Be patient with both Sekhmet and Hathor and with yourself. It can take a very long time to completely fathom what one or the other side can teach us. However, I do know that it does come.

Relevent Websites & Blog Posts

Hathor: The Original MILF
Hethert Dot Org

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An Open Letter to the Kemetic Community

Normally, I would open a letter with the words, “Em Hotep”, which most of us know means, “In Peace”. What I am about to write today has absolutely nothing to do with ‘peace’. It has nothing to do with giving lip service with a greeting that at times seems to have very little meaning to some of the people within its so-called Community of adherents.

What I am trying to say is this: Some of you, quite frankly, leave a whole lot to be desired by way of community. Some, I can safely say, suck as human beings. Some of you really suck as friends and with those kind of friends…..well, I’m sure that you know the rest. All I can say is that it really must suck to be you.

This is the only reason I can come up with for the nevernding vitriol against established Kemetic temples with which a person may or may not agree. It isn’t enough to just simply disagree in practice and opinion, but the poison is spread from forum to forum. Not that anything any of the venomous vipers say makes any sort of a difference. The best revenge, I find, is in success. Large successful organizations or very well-funded projects go a long way to stirring up the nest of vipers, apparently. I wonder how long it will be before they get their own projects going, or they are able to write better books or just get a clue.

I’m certainly waiting to see it happen.

My motivations for saying these things are manifold, and my point of view has been gained through years of experience and observation both from inside the “community” as well as from outside of it with other non-traditional faiths. I have found more camaraderie, kindness and decency among those who do not espouse Kemetic beliefs than I have in the 25 years I have been a member of this one. I am mystified as to the reasons why this might be. Why do so many Kemetics find it necessary to act this way? Usually, such hateful maliciousness is a product of a lifetime of woes. Regardless of those woes, those past indignities, one would think that finding others with like-minded beliefs would be a very positive thing.

I have watched far too many try to waltz into established temples and try to glean what they could from the experience, then turn around and establish their own temples or publish books with the information that they raided from elsewhere with absolutely no attribution, no acknowledgement whatsoever as to where they actually got their “years of experience” from. I have seen so much pettiness, cruelty, backbiting and lies that I often wonder whether some within our community really fathom, let alone know, what ma’at is all about. Rather than coming up with projects, books and organizations that could bolster the community, the infighting, pettiness and character assassinations of others continue unabated.

To be fair, I have been sitting on this post for a fairly long time. As a rather cantankerous old lioness who is no longer under the obligations of priesthood to “play nice” with the assholes in the community, I am also someone who no longer gives a bloody damn what anyone thinks of me anyway. So, I thought that it was high time that I said it.

If, by chance, any of the above makes you uncomfortable, then perhaps you should take a step back and ask yourself just why that might be.

There are some within the Kemetic community who use every waking moment to bring about unity. They make certain that their blog posts, their board commentary and the videos they upload to YouTube are inclusive and thorough. Those shared works, thankfully, do not contain thinly-veiled snarkiness about groups and or teachers with whom they might personally disagree. They know how to write. They are very good at making their points and are exemplary in citing their sources. To those people, and I am certain that they know who they are, I extend my deepest gratitude and acknowledgement as a fellow Kemetic practitioner. Thank you for all that you do. Thank you for being an inspiration, a light and a beacon. I stand with the efforts of those who are determined to create a Kemetic community that shares and glorifies in its diversity and I will give my every effort to ensure that it comes to pass, despite the detractors who find it far easier to tear down what others have tried so hard to build.

To the rest, well, I can only say that hate, poison and jealousy have an incredible way of eating a person from within. Trust me when I tell you, based on my own first hand experience, it is no way to live and it can be a horrible way to die from the inside.

Being Kemetic is supposed to be about the celebration of Life and the furthering of Ma’at in the world. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all focus a little bit more on that?

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Di Inferi – The Gods Below: Of Contact, Dream and Memory

Di Inferi – The Gods Below: Of Contact, Dream and Memory.

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Signal Boost: The Ancient Egyptian Daybook

One of the fastest phenomena in how to raise funds for various projects is crowdfunding. The latest edition of The Wild Hunt by Jason Pitzl-Waters discusses how within the pagan and alternative faith communities crowdfunding is now successfully being used to raise funds for the projects and causes we think are important. The democratization of media that has been brought about by the digital revolution and ot is the perfect opportunity for us to get our books, films, projects and causes off the ground. It’s nice not to have to grovel to the legacy publishers and production companies just to get them to even glance at our ideas. In my view, it is a natural fit for us.

One of these projects featured in The Wild Hunt blog is that of Tamara Siuda, egyptologist and founder of the Kemetic Orthodox Faith, author of the Ancient Egyptian Prayer book. Tamara has launched a very successful Kickstarter campaign to help her publish the Ancient Egyptian Daybook. The book will be in both print and eBook form with plans for a phone aps as well. The initial goal of $3,000 was reached within two hours of the project’s launch, and the amount with approximately ten days left in the campaign is nearing the $9,000.00 mark.

In spite of the fact that Tamara is a member of my family, the godmother of my son and the founder of my Temple, this is a worthy project and really is not Kemetic Orthodox specific. It would be of benefit for all Kemetics that are out there and can be tailored to the individual needs of the group or individual. Even if folks do not want to get involved in this specific project, it will have demonstrated quite clearly that crowdfunding can work and incredibly well. It also serves as a great example for others within Paganism how to go about gaining success for their own projects.

I can tell you, successful crowdfunding takes much more than just making a video, tweeting about your project on Twitter or plastering links to it all over your Facebook wall asking for money. It is a lot of very hard work. There are books that have been written about it and it takes tenacity and organization. That we have someone who is close by, accessible and so very generous in sharing with others in the community as how she was able to do it so that they can do something similar can be nothing but a good thing for the overall community. You can check out the video here and get involved, too, if you so desire.

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Filed under business, crowdfunding, kemetic, pagan, video

Words and Symbolism

In the beginning there was the Word. Communications, writing especially, is the ultimate priesthood. Within it we can heal, we can harm, we can convey the very contents of our souls, our dreams and aspirations. We can create, we can destroy – and they can live beyond us. The Word creates the world.

That is why the sacredness of words is so central to the Ancient Egyptian or Kemetic belief system. The ancient Egyptians held that the word was sacred. They believed that uttering the true name or ren of something or someone could either create or destroy them. You could, make or unmake if something was uttered absolutely correctly. If not, and something is misspoken? Well, we Kemtics have a saying that “the Mysteries protect themselves.” In my experience, that has been very true. The chances of disaster striking is less likely because unordered words were not and are not effective.

Behind this notion is the power of the Word. This concept, which is also a Goddess in her own right, is Ma’at. Ma’at is the right order of things, the balance of the sum total of everything. Ma’at is the moral ideal, and that which judges us in the end. There is Universal Ma’at, but there is also personal ma’at and only we can determine what that is or is not for us. Through our words and our deeds, ma’at is that which we are responsible for, each of us every moment of our lives. Every contract we sign, every promise or vow we make holds us into account for what we have done, and ultimately feeds into who we are as a person. Either we are trustworthy or untrustworthy, balanced or out of balance. It is something that is with us for every moment of our lives. As Sir Lawrence Olivier once said about life and livelihood: “Everything we do is autobiographical.”

The Goddess Maa't

This Ma’at through our words is all stored within the heart. And it is that which is, at the time of our death and in the Halls of Double Ma’ati in Amenta or the Underworld, weighed against the feather of Ma’at. This is the purpose that the Negative Confession, often mistranslated as being the 42 “Laws” of Ma’at, provides. The “confession” served a purpose. In the litany of denials of all the things we have not done to disturb not only universal ma’at but our ow. The Negative Confession was used so that your own heart would not rat you out or betray you. In antiquity, this meant the difference between joining Wasir (Osiris) and the rest of the gods in the Field of Reeds or ending up as a snack for the Ammit, and dying the second death, from which there was no return. If anything, this negative confession gives us pause to think before we act or before we speak.

It also underscores the idea that whenever we know something in our heart, we can feel it. This feeling is right in that undeniable spot. When we are stricken to our core, it is in that place where we feel it most profoundly. From there it spreads out to the rest of the body and in some extreme cases, can even strike us down where we stand. It can keep us up many a sleepless night and dog our every step during the day. We may try to drown it in drink, alcohol, drugs or any other external pleasure or inner escapism, but still it waits for the moment where it can niggle at our innards and we essentially eat ourselves via that reminding voice.

Immortality lies within our words. That is why writing is so vital for those of us who call ourselves writers. Some, like me, cling to this notion. We tear into it ravenously upon waking or even before sleeping because we know that ultimately it is what is at the very core of us. Getting those words out, whether it is by telling stories that are inside of us via fiction, non fiction, film or by some other means, it is as important to us as breathing. We do not feel right with the world or ourselves if we sit on the words that are inside of us.

In the beginning was the Word…

My own mouth came to me, and Magic was my name.

The Ancient Egyptians understood something that we moderns quite often forget. Within the pictographs of the language was also housed a deeper, unseen meaning. There are literal and symbolic meanings. Most indigenous cultures still tap into this symbolist’s viewpoint. Symbolism often can bridge the gap between literacy and illiteracy. Though literacy, as we know it today, was not as widespread in antiquity as it is now, there is always something that resonates through the world of the symbolic ‘word’ to the world of form. It is not just a primitive and simplistic superstition. It is a reality. Look at the symbol for the word life – the ankh. Ankh This has been incorporated into so much of what we know today. You don’t even have to know how to spell the word, ankh, the symbol by itself conveys several thousand years of the idea behind it. Ancient mirrors were shaped like an ankh because they reflected life. The same is true of so many other symbols. Another symbol, the eye – the window of the soul, what you serve, what sees, what bears witness, what punishes us for the wrongdoing, what protects us in the end from enemies that might wish to do us harm.

This is why, to my mind, the works of R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, his wife, Isha, and his stepdaughter, Lucie Lamy had it right. Recent offerings from Jeremy Naydler and Richard Reidy also tap into this idea using ancient symbolism along with what we know archaeologically and egyptologically. Somewhere between the ridiculous offerings of new age hucksters and the staunch, unwavering scientific certainty of liturgy that has been “proven” is something else. Between those two extremes is a middle ground where our words are felt by instinct. Of course, modern language is not nearly as complex as that of the ancients. Their words, comprised of hundreds of symbols could have as many as seventeen tenses and double and triple entandres in addition to the symbolic meaning. No wonder so few were scribes or even literate!

But all of this aside. Study and absorption are all a constant for each of us. Writing is part of that process and if we are alive and conscious, especially within this social media driven world, some of us have become determined to prattle less, write more. Within that resolution, came the newest nighttime behaviour: less awakened by nightmares, I have been awakened by insights rather than nightmares of ruin and destruction. These insights are the very things that I have hoped for. It’s the feverent wish to be given a small clue, realization or insight that are needed. As I write this, there is a small gold statue of Djehuty (Thoth), the god of Wisdom and writing watching over me. I think sometimes he must somehow just blink ant my unordered thoughts!

To my mind, I have been sitting on my words for too long. I have endless reams of what I have written either on Livejournal, PanHistoria, Dreamwidth and my various blogs. The hardest part for me is organizing it and perhaps that is where my use of Scrivener comes in. It allows me to do what needs to be done and pass it between PCs in smaller files that are more easily arranged. It’s long since time to actually do something with it.

We are surrounded by words on a nearly constant basis. We are rarely able to escape from them for any length of time and we are immersed in them to such a degree that we barely have time for our own thoughts. But perhaps thinking about the words that we write or that we utter, we can come to an understanding about how and why words were considered sacred. This is especially needed in a world where our words will undoubtedly outlive us.

BD Hunefer cropped 1

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Filed under fiction, indigenous, kemetic, Pan Historia, writing

The Importance of Being Able to Self-Define

Recently, blogger, Star Foster, announced that she no longer defined herself as a ‘pagan’ in large part, she says, because of the community itself. Star’s announcement was met with horror by some, celebration by others, and the odd shrugs of indifference. Really, why would anyone care whether or not someone chose to call themselves a “Pagan” or a “hard polytheist” or soft- polytheist?

This sort of running away from the word ‘Pagan'” seems to be, I believe, a gut reaction to the trend to either embrace or eschew certain labels when they are applied to who we are and what we believe.. This is especially true when the labels do not seem to fit. An example I would use is the realm of Witchcraft. To some, Witchcraft, goes back to the Anglo-Saxon word, ‘wicce’, meaning ‘to bend’. This, word, courtesy of Gerald Gardener and later adherents of the religion he publicised, goes now, by the name, Wicca. There are a few very formal, specific Initiatory groups, namely Gardnerian (named after the founder and the lineage that goes straight back to Uncle Gerald) and Alexandrian, founded by Alex Sanders, who founded it, rather than after the Ancient Egyptian city of Alexandria, where some of the most ignorant of Wicca’s adherents erroneously like to claim their religion came from.

In these groups, there are specific things that are done – the casting of Circles, the worship or honouring of a Goddess and/or God, etc. It is a lovely system to those who are a part of it. It can be “pagan” or some even insist that they are Christo-Wiccans – Witches that see Jesus as the male “God” figure, and perhaps Mary Magdalene or Mary the Mother as the “Goddess” figure. That’s fine. Call yourself what you like, do as you wish. It’s all good if it works for you.

Others who practice Witchcraft, do come from family traditions which are handed down generation after generation. To them, it is a “craft”, not a religion, and is not unlike practicing herbalism, midwifery, embroidery, growing your own food, etc. In fact, many of these things may play a part in any individual’s “Craft” that have nothing to do a religious undertaking at all. They may or may not have a patron deity or saint. Some of them couch their practices well within the Christian bible and are for all outward appearances, Christian. Indeed, if you look in some of the old grimmoires, you see, several instances invoking Jesus, YHWH, the archangels, etc. in order to help effect a spell or magical undertaking. I would certainly put many British Traditional Witches under this heading who are neither Alexandrian or Gardnerian or anything other than their own insular tradition that uses whatever elements that work for them as either individuals and/or groups. They may or may not call themselves “pagan”. Again, it is all very personal and it’s all good.

The problem comes largely from those who are not a part of either of the aforementioned groups who like to assume that all Witches are “just like them”. To these, if you call yourself a Witch (Capital or lower case “w”), then you must be Wiccan. No. There are many who practice witchcraft who would be extremely upset at the ‘Wiccan’ label and there are still others that would waste no time in correcting you if you were to assume that they are pagan. They eschew the very idea, and they want no part of that definition, or the people who wield it and apply it so liberally to anyone and everyone who is not J, C, or I. It is uncertain as to whether this trend is because of the mass marketing of Wicca by authors and publishers in the effort to sell to mostly dissatisfied, do-it-yourselfers who don’t know any better than to just lump everyone together or it goes even deeper than just commercial interests. The assumption on the part of many of these types of folks is that anyone who is not Jewish, Christian or Muslim, is indeed therefore a “pagan”. Is it because of the human need to define who makes up the “Us” and who is “Them”? It is human nature to desire a sort of “assumed commaraderie” with those who are “other” or those who are “just like us”. In the end it tends to feed into victim mentality that so many cloak themselves in when they leave one of the Big Three monotheistic religions. They seem to want constant reassurance that their choice is the right one, yet never themselves being strong enough to stare down anyone who would dare put their personal beliefs under scrutiny.

Offering to Sekhmet

I am absolutely not a Pagan. I am proudly and unapologeticaly Kemetic Orthodox. That makes me a decided monolatrist, much in the same way that specific sects of Hindus are. It was Roman paganism that destroyed the religion of ancient Kemet by outlawing it because it undermined the absolute authority of the Emperor. It was the pagans of the ancient world who did not understand either the indigenous religious views or the Egyptian / Kemetic culture. Look at the discrepencies between Pharaonic Kemet and after Ptolomaic and Roman rule. It is a striking contrast.

This declaration on my part does not mean I am a henotheist, a “soft” polytheist, a “hard” polytheist or anything other than what I just said. I expect and demand that my self-definition will be honoured and that no one would have the temerity to try to correct me about it. I will accord anyone else with that same privilege. This definition means I practice the ancient Egyptian religion in a way that I interpret to be as close, or at least a derivative of what was practiced in antiquity. Thankfully, with Champollion’s deciphering of the Rosetta Stone, the improvements over the last two centuries in ancient Egyptian translation and philology, we can read the inscriptions on the actual temple walls. This more or less provides us with the “crib notes” on how it was all done. Fathoming the 400+ symbols, seventeen tenses, double, triple and even quadruple entendre’s as well as the symbolic meaning of what is being read, can be another matter, and we who practice this way of doing things do disagree quite often.

For the record, most legitimate Egyptologists, do not ever acknowledge that they honour the old gods and the ancestors, nor do they ever even remotely infer that they actually “believe in any of this stuff”. To do so, can very well be the death of a professional career. Professional scholars tend to be rather ruthless about things like that. Personally, I don’t have to worry about it. The scholarly community views folks like me with a sort of amused disdain and the unfulfilled desire to hand us a cookie, pat us on our rumps, and send us out of the room with explicit instructions to quit bothering the adults. To the academic scholars, it makes no difference that the person may have written very well researched papers and books on the subject, or even acquired the relevant degrees to call themselves an Egyptologist, or are professors in their own right. The bias against believing is quite palpably there. I personally know of many within the field who do practice, or it is obvious that they do – but in the interests of professional courtesy or self-preservation, no one breathes a word

This sort of bias can definitely backfire for them, too. Afrocentrist scholar, Professor Maulana Karenga wrote probably the most comprehensive, well-researched book on the ancient Egyptian concept of ma’at ever published. He wrote it according to Egyptology’s own rules. Karenga’s research and referencing are impeccable – there are few, if any who can find fault with his work. Personally, other than the minor detail that he does not put an accent mark between the “A’s” on, Ma’at, I am quite impressed.

What are the benefits of “pagans” – neo or otherwise, even having a community? Even by the loosest of definitions, this so-called “community” is more along the lines of a tenuous peace between tribes that tend to squabble endlessly over the most petty details. Otherwise, they’d have precious little good to say about one another at all. I saw this behaviour years ago within the Indigenous community for decades, and unless there is a concerted effort toward real respect amongst each other, then there is no “community” to speak of at all.

It all boils down to the respect of an individual to allow them to decide for themselves what they personally believe. It’s human nature to want to put the people with whom we identify under the same big tent that we are under in a sense of community. For whatever reason, for some, it is not enough that we are members of the human race, or that we are spiritual beings, but rather it has to be parsed down to a simple either / or dilemma. Either you are Pagan or Not Pagan. Either you are one of “Us” or you are one of “Them”. Respect can consist of simply being a good guest at religious ceremonies and rituals and not necessarily being a member. Respect is about shutting up and listening to how someone speaks of their beliefs without the need to apply any other descriptive other than the one that the individual or group of individuals defines for themselves. To my mind it is such a simple thing, but all too often it just gets lost in the dialogue.

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Filed under kemetic, pagan, politics, sekhmet, traditional witchcract