Tag Archives: sekhmet

Guilt by Association

metmuseum5a1The adage that we are known by the company we keep probably is very true within the Kemetic Community – perhaps even doubly so. It has become frustrating and disheartening to be judged by people whom you don’t know, who don’t know you, or your specific religious path – nor do they care really! For someone to offhandedly decide that you are not with the “in crowd” or that somehow, will pronounce that not to be of a certain religious affiliation, or sect will deem you unworthy to be given the time of day. Some of course, fear recruitment or being indoctrinated into some sort of cult based on internet rumours that they may or may not have heard.

I am Kemetic. I was trained and ordained as a Kemetic Orthodox Priestess of Sekhmet/HetHert in 1998. I stepped down a couple of years ago by choice, or as one internet website geared toward atheists said, “I retired.” I kind of laugh at that. One does *not* retire from Sekhmet’s service. Your service may change, but it is absolutely for life! At any rate, my reasons, initially, were because I was attending college full time and could not give the level of service required. My situation has changed a bit, and so now my reasons of not wanting to return to it again are deeply personal. I can and will say quite clearly that it was not because of any rift with the Temple, or disagreement between myself and any of the membership. I have been listening to Sekhmet’s call and it has been specific and in a direction by necessity. That doesn’t make anyone bad or wrong. It just makes it a different route that I have chosen to take.

All of us must by necessity approach our spiritual life on a personal level. We may choose to join or Initiate in a specific sect, temple or path, but ultimately, only we as individuals can decide when to move on. Each of us, who are Kemetic, have personal rites. Sometimes this entails a daily practice that follows a formal outlined structure, such as that which is outlined at the Temple of Horus at Edfu. While at other times a practitioner may choose something more fluid, eclectic or non-traditional. Each is a valid structure and approach to the connection to the Netjeru.

That being said, the only things that become annoying are those who insist on the belief of either a maddeningly absurd UPG-type of approach, or those who cannot and will not move outside the formal scholarly sanctioned type of practice. I have found by direct experience that there are deep pitfalls within each extreme and either can be deleterious for spiritual understanding or growth. Egyptology does *not* know everything. Conversely, I have seen so many ridiculous, crackpot theories that should never have made it outside of one’s own personal headspace, let alone made it into print for others to try to decipher.

One extreme, that of the scholarly community only, and especially within Egyptology’s ranks, often eschews and ostracizes those who “actually believe in any of this stuff”. In some place it becomes so much of an issue that those who have made it into those hallowed halls of the scholarly ranks take great pains to either conceal, downplay or flat-out deny that they actually do worship the old gods. These individuals dare not speak of it or it may cost them their entire career or get them passed over for any future projects because their beliefs are not considered “objective enough”. I personally know of several tenured professors or professional Egyptologists who by necessity are very guarded about their personal beliefs. I can state quite clearly that their fears are absolutely justified. Egyptology is neither easy nor cheap to take up as a scholarly pursuit. Admissions into these programmes are prohibitively expensive and generally only accept a tiny handful of students each semester or once a year. Most of these who are accepted have and/or have maintained a 4.0 GPA. Further, that high GPA must be maintained or that student will get a boot planted in their posterior and find themselves completely washed out and with student loan amounts that are nothing less than nightmarish and just shy of the national debt.

The Kemetic Community, I think, is going through something that much of the so-called Pagan “Community” is going through. I believe that there is far too much backbiting, petty, catty and deeply personal bitching among the ranks. People either are wrapped up in an idea that if you do not belong to X group, you obviously are “doing it wrong”, and if you are a part of that group – or have been trained by it, have handed your brain, your soul and your personal assets to some sort of mindless cult of personality that does not allow for personal considerations.

I call “Bullshit,” on both points of view.

Even with my training and years in the priesthood, I interact with those who are not Kemetic Orthodox. I spend a great deal of time with people who come from many different faiths and belief systems, and each gives me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise. In so doing, I am able to form my own opinion that has nothing to do with toeing a party line, a religious canon or being a spokesperson for any given temple or group.

If I see a person make an incorrect, ill-considered or socially repugnant statement to the general public, I have no compunction but to call them on it and tell them why I feel that way. Conversely, I expect to be accorded the exact same service be done to me in return. I also expect that it will be done without the need to resort to ad hominem attacks. I think that is more than fair. Of course, there will always be those who claim to be holier-than-thou, or claim some sort immunity because of the number of books they wrote, lectures at Pantheacon they conducted or letters after their names in terms of university degrees. The political correctness and personal butthurt needs to be put away and replaced with something that resembles common sense. If we cannot have that, then what’s the point, really?

maat1aAll of us who consider ourselves to be Kemetic have a single and solitary foundation. That foundation is not exclusive to any one group, or leader or anything else. We have nothing other to worry about than the idea of Ma’at. Each of us must decide what that is and where we are at personally. Under that one single idea / ideal, there is enough there that is complex enough to keep all of us occupied for the whole of our personal and spiritual lives. We are held responsible and we hold those whom we associate responsible as well. When we do this, we are held responsible for our own actions and words in the context of not only our own lives but the greater whole within the Kemetic community and within the world at large. With this single understanding, some of the petty, single-mindedness is stripped away, and we by necessity have to sit down and listen to the thoughts, concerns and observations of others. Being able to see that perspective and say, “Yes, you are right,” does not, therefore, declare us to be lepers within the groups that we are a part of – or not a member of. It means that we can each be viable on our own, and that we can stand up for ourselves and what we believe, rather than hiding behind an organization, a label or anything else than our own sense of rightness – or our own sense of Ma’at.

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ENOUGH!

Africa191There is no shortage of people in the world, and especially online who want to worship or honour the Kemetic (Egyptian) gods or Netjeru. You would think after 20+ years of Kemetics being online they would have tried to build alliances and make bridges without the petty infighting and holier than thou bullshit that gets handed around like last year’s Christmas fruitcake.

Let me state at the outset before I say anything else, that I have no grand vision of being “in charge of” anything. I am not here to take anyone to task or to fight with anyone else. This is not some half-arsed attempt on my part in order to get students or for me to become a guru of some sort. I am flat-out not interested in such things at all. Been there, done that, and I donated the T-shirt because it wasn’t “me” anymore. I’m just like everyone else in that I am committed to the culture, the history and the religous ideals of Ancient Kemet. I am not an accredited Egyptologist. I fully acknowledge that I am here by the grace of Sekhmet and the generosity of many, many talented sebau (teachers) and to them I am eternally grateful and I refuse to dish or diss on any one of them.

Lately I have noticed increasing factionalisastion going on within the Kemetic landscape. In the years that I have been blissfully far removed from the jealous infighting, the petty backbiting, hubris and ‘witch wars’ that seem to be part and parcel of the so-called Pagan “community”, I have watched those traits migrate here. After 20+ years, I am exhausted.

So, that being said, I am going to do everything in my power to establish a list of various Temples, Shrines, blogs, organizations, information resources, etc. because it is absolutely needed. If anyone thinks I am doing this for any specific organization, guess again. I’m not. Sekhmet has given me marching orders 1) finish the book and 2) establish the network because honestly, the Pagan Community and the Kemetic Community in specifics deserve at least a modicum of respect, in spite of the differences between us and it’s time that this happened. It is long past time, to be honest. This should have been done some 20 years ago, but for whatever petty, ego-driven, any other set of reasons, it did not transpire. It’s going to happen NOW.

We are bigger than this. We should not (still) have to be listening to the petty, catty, bitchy, in-fighting that goes on for no good reason. There are no good reasons why we cannot do this. If I have to kick ass, or become some sort of pariah, ostracized or called out for being a Kumayah, Pollyanna Kemetic, so fucking be it! We are long past done playing at this. It’s time to do it.

Still have doubts? Let me spell it out:

It’s about, GOD, or the Gods (plural) and our relationship to them, people!! Get OVER it! We all have something to contribute and we NEED to be doing that in the interests of Ma’at. I am not interested in hearing the arguments against such a thing moving forward. I will not give credence to he said / she said, petty grudges from years ago that happened on Usenet, Ancient Worlds, or Tumblr. There are no more excuses, so don’t bother bringing them up to me. It’s time for all of us to ask ourselves, each and every one: “WHY the fuck are you here?!” We collectively need to take what I call the Janet Jackson Approach and ask ourselves, ‘What have YOU actually DONE for the God(s) lately?! What have you done for yourself lately?!” After answering those questions honestly, the next question to ask must be, “What’s stopping you? Who do you think is preventing you from doing it?” If we fall into the temptation to start to point fingers at anyone else than the man or woman that is in the mirror, then I encourage each of us to remember that with that pointing of fingers, there are still three other fingers and a thumb pointing right back at us.

I will write this up in more detail in a bit, however, if anyone imagines that I am doing this to step on toes or encroach on their “territory”, they need to take a step back. This is solely about trying to take a cursory census of who thinks the idea of a collective of those who are bound by the things that we believe and hold dear is more important than the ongoing factionalization that we have been suffering from for over 20 years.

Playtime is over. It’s time to STFU and get to work. If you want it, well then each of us needs to determine just how much and what we are willing to do in order to achieve it.

Excuses are boring. Let’s get to it.

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Filed under kemetic, mystic woo-woo, pagan, politics, private, rants, sekhmet, update, writing

Guilt by Association

The adage that we are known by the company we keep probably is very true within the Kemetic Community. It become frustrating and disheartening to be judged by people whom you don’t know, who don’t know you, or your specific religious path – nor do they care really! For someone to offhandedly decide that you are not with the “in crowd” or that somehow, will pronounce that not to be of a certain religious affiliation, or sect will deem you unworthy to be given the time of day. Some of course, fear recruitment or being indoctrinated into some sort of cult based on internet rumours that they may or may not have heard.

metmuseum5a1I am Kemetic. I was trained and ordained as a Kemetic Orthodox Priestess of Sekhmet/HetHert in 1998. I stepped down a couple of years ago by choice, or as one internet website geared toward atheists said, “I retired.” I kind of laugh at that. One does *not* retire from Sekhmet’s service. Your service may change, but it is absolutely for life! At any rate, my reasons, initially, were because I was attending college full time and could not give the level of service required. My situation has changed a bit, and so now my reasons of not wanting to return to it again are deeply personal. I can and will say quite clearly that it was not because of any rift with the Temple, or disagreement between myself and any of the membership. I have been listening to Sekhmet’s call and it has been specific and in a direction by necessity. That doesn’t make anyone bad or wrong. It just makes it a different route that I have chosen to take.

All of us must by necessity approach our spiritual life on a personal level. We may choose to join or Initiate in a specific sect, temple or path, but ultimately, only we as individuals can decide when to move on. Each of us, who are Kemetic, have personal rites. Sometimes this entails a daily practice that follows a formal outlined structure, such as that which is outlined at the Temple of Horus at Edfu. While at other times a practitioner may choose something more fluid, eclectic or non-traditional. Each is a valid structure and approach to the connection to the Netjeru.

That being said, the only things that become annoying are those who insist on the belief of either a maddeningly absurd UPG-type of approach, or those who cannot and will not move outside the formal scholarly sanctioned type of practice. I have found by direct experience that there are deep pitfalls within each extreme and either can be deleterious for spiritual understanding or growth. Egyptology does *not* know everything. Conversely, I have seen so many ridiculous, crackpot theories that should never have made it outside of one’s own personal headspace, let alone made it into print for others to try to decipher.

One extreme, that of the scholarly community only, and especially within Egyptology’s ranks, often eschews and ostracizes those who “actually believe in any of this stuff”. In some place it becomes so much of an issue that those who have made it into those hallowed halls of the scholarly ranks take great pains to either conceal, downplay or flat-out deny that they actually do worship the old gods. These individuals dare not speak of it or it may cost them their entire career or get them passed over for any future projects because their beliefs are not considered “objective enough”. I personally know of several tenured professors or professional Egyptologists who by necessity are very guarded about their personal beliefs. I can state quite clearly that their fears are absolutely justified. Egyptology is neither easy nor cheap to take up as a scholarly pursuit. Admissions into these programmes are prohibitively expensive and generally only accept a tiny handful of students each semester or once a year. Most of these who are accepted have and/or have maintained a 4.0 GPA. Further, that high GPA must be maintained or that student will get a boot planted in their posterior and find themselves completely washed out and with student loan amounts that are nothing less than nightmarish and just shy of the national debt.

The Kemetic Community, I think, is going through something that much of the so-called Pagan “Community” is going through. I believe that there is far too much backbiting, petty, catty and deeply personal bitching among the ranks. People either are wrapped up in an idea that if you do not belong to X group, you obviously are “doing it wrong”, and if you are a part of that group – or have been trained by it, have handed your brain, your soul and your personal assets to some sort of mindless cult of personality that does not allow for personal considerations.

I call “Bullshit,” on both points of view.

Even with my training and years in the priesthood, I interact with those who are not Kemetic Orthodox. I spend a great deal of time with people who come from many different faiths and belief systems, and each gives me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise. In so doing, I am able to form my own opinion that has nothing to do with toeing a party line, a religious canon or being a spokesperson for any given temple or group.

If I see a person make an incorrect, ill-considered or socially repugnant statement to the general public, I have no compunction but to call them on it and tell them why I feel that way. Conversely, I expect to be accorded the exact same service be done to me in return. I also expect that it will be done without the need to resort to ad hominem attacks. I think that is more than fair. Of course, there will always be those who claim to be holier-than-thou, or claim some sort immunity because of the number of books they wrote, lectures at Pantheacon they conducted or letters after their names in terms of university degrees. The political correctness and personal butthurt needs to be put away and replaced with something that resembles common sense. If we cannot have that, then what’s the point, really?

Ma'at from the Tomb of Seti I, at the Museo Archeologica, Turin, Italy

Ma’at from the Tomb of Seti I, at the Museo Archeologica, Turin, Italy


All of us who consider ourselves to be Kemetic have a single and solitary foundation. That foundation is not exclusive to any one group, or leader or anything else. We have nothing other to worry about than the idea of Ma’at. Each of us must decide what that is and where we are at personally. Under that one single idea / ideal, there is enough there that is complex enough to keep all of us occupied for the whole of our personal and spiritual lives. We are held responsible and we hold those whom we associate responsible as well. When we do this, we are held responsible for our own actions and words in the context of not only our own lives but the greater whole within the Kemetic community and within the world at large. With this single understanding, some of the petty, single-mindedness is stripped away, and we by necessity have to sit down and listen to the thoughts, concerns and observations of others. Being able to see that perspective and say, “Yes, you are right,” does not, therefore, declare us to be lepers within the groups that we are a part of – or not a member of. It means that we can each be viable on our own, and that we can stand up for ourselves and what we believe, rather than hiding behind an organization, a label or anything else than our own sense of rightness – or our own sense of Ma’at.

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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 in which I challenge the members of the so-called Kemetic “Community” to either put up or STFU.

An Open Letter to the Kemetic Community

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March 28, 2013 · 1:03 pm

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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