Thursday, March 8, 2012

C is for Creativity for the Gods

Em hotep!

Creativity is part of the very core of my being and I attribute this, in part, to my spiritual Mother, Amunet. She is a Creatrix and part of the Ogdoad, as I mentioned in an earlier post about Her. She is an androgynous creator and is said to have been The Mother Who Acted as Father in the Beginning.

That being said, one of the ways I offer to the Gods is creativity. I paint for Them. I sing for Them. I write for Them. I dance for Them. I crochet for Them. My favorite is blending oils for Them. But that's a whole 'nother thing entirely. :D

My current project is to build a naos, which I will document step-by-step here for everyone to be able to build their own as they please. :)

A naos was the innermost sanctum of the temple that held the statue of the God inside, and only the highest of priests were allowed to enter the chamber. This one will be a small balsa wood chamber built to hold a statue within, but not nearly big enough for more than a hand through the doors. The doors will be hinged so that they can be opened and closed, and will have knobs that can be tied to seal the chamber. During rituals it will be opened. Mother has demanded that the statue be Hidden, like She is.

You, too, can use creation as a way to please the Gods, without giving Them everything you make and filling up your shrine! Simply offer Them the act of creating said object, whatever it may be.

Go ahead, give it a try! It's great for those that are on a tight budget (like almost all of us), and would still like to give a great offering to the Gods!

Have fun!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

C is for Creation

1.[n] (theology) God's act of bringing the universe into existence.
2.[n] the act of starting something for the first time; introducing something new.

In ancient Egypt there were over 16 creation myths that were accepted. The creation of the Gods ranges from being self-created, to born, to born of masturbation. Many of the Names I honor are Creators in one form or another, so this concept has been fascinating as I've researched the Gods over the years.

Some of the self-created Gods are Mut, Ra, Aten, Amunet, Nit, Djehuty, amongst many others. The entire Ogdoad (Amun - Amunet, Heh - Hehet, Kek - Keket, Nun - Nunet) are self-created Names of Netjer, and are said to have been around since the beginning as the elements of the universe.

The twin Gods Shu and Tefnut were said to have been sneezed and spat into existence by Ra in His form of Atum. Being a God by Himself, He is said to have masturbated part of creation into existence. He was said to have grasped Himself and the people were born from His seed that spilled onto the bennu mound.

The way the Gods were created shows a vast imagination in the minds of the ancient Egyptians. The vastly varying descriptions and stories of the antics and daily lives of the Gods proves that the Egyptians did more than just worship their Gods, they believed in Them in a way that modern faiths do not seem to believe anymore. Christians, for example, do not believe in God having familial relations such as sisters and brothers or husbands and wives.

The Egyptian versions of the creation stories link God and man closely, and leave very little space in life where God has no say. Even the Gods had sex and children in ancient Egypt. Sometimes the Gods even had more than one partner! There are He-Shes, She-Hes, and everything in between. From Sekhmet-Min to Hapi to Sekhmet-Bast-Ra, creation varied vastly.

The Egyptians seemed to have an un-ending flow of creativity which people "oooo" and "ahhhh" about to this very day in museums, online, and across the world with replicas. Almost every person in the modern day can recognize Egyptian art at a glance due to its prevalence throughout the world.

Each King introduced, and created, their own styles of art for their depictions. An example of this is Tutankhamun or Akhenaten's distinctive styles which are easily discernable from other periods of Egyptian art.

The Gods Themselves created everything. There are Gods of weaving, aromatherapy, brick-laying, architecture, harvest. If you name it, there is probably an Egyptian God specializing in it.

The Egyptians were some of the most creative ancient people to have walked our planet. They created stone megaliths like no one has ever been able to reproduce, no matter how hard we may try. There are even hints that the Egyptians may have even invented a battery millenia before its time!

Or perhaps, with their creativity and understanding of the human realm and metaphysical realms, ancient Egypt is the time we should aspire to. Perhaps we are millenia behind the times.

With each period there was a renewal of Egypt, her faith, and her people. After each Intermediate period, she was reborn of the desert and brought almost to her former glory. Gods and man alike created anything and everything They could imagine, and even did it side-by-side.

Where did we lose our creativity on that level as a species? In comparison to the ancient Egyptians, we have stagnated as a race, and should seek to restore our spiritual, emotional, and physical creativity as one people.

Friday, February 17, 2012

B is for Bull of the Great Phallus

(So this post is not what I expected it to be on. He kinda knocked me over the head and took this post. He's been kind of throwing Himself into my life lately.)


"Bull of the Great Phallus"
"The Bull of His Mother"
"Chief of Heaven"
"Lord of the Eastern Desert"
"Lord of Foreign Lands"

Min is one of the ithyphallic Names of Netjer. He is a Creator and a God of fertility, harvest, and sexuality.

He is depicted wearing the two plumed crown, or swty, that is shown on Amun, Montu, and Himself. This crown is made up of two large ostrich feathers. He is typically depicted as a bearded man standing with His legs close together like Wesir. His genitalia are displayed as erect and uncovered. This led to many of His temples and much of His history being defaced or coyly covered up due to antiquated view points of sexuality by Egyptologists in the Victorian era. For a time, any pictures taken of His depictions were from the waist up. He was also associated with and depicted as a white bull, symbolizing virility and strength. This was seperate from the Apis bull, which was a black bull with specific markings.

He is one of the only male Names to be syncretized with female Names, such as Sekhmet-Min. The only other example I know of of another male-female syncretization is Sekhmet-Bast-Ra. He is a God of sexual prowess and fertility, so the male-female syncretization actually makes perfect sense in this case, as it would lead to a God that could self-procreate in a most literal sense of the word.

He is a Creator Name and is associated with being a sky God. By the Middle Kingdom He was associated with Heru-wer, Heru the Elder. He has also been viewed as a rain God, bringing bounty to the world. This furthered His role as Chief of Heaven.

His cult center was in Gebtu along with Aset. He was worshipped alongside some deities East of Egypt and was also thought to be the son-husband to Iabet, Goddess of the East. This is an interesting fact considering He was later connected with Amun as Amun-Min, and Amun is the son-husband to Amenet, Goddess of the West.

So, as a quick cross-study from a previous post on Amunet....

Amun is the son-husband of Amunet and Mut.
Min is the son-husband of Iabet and Qadesh.
Amun and Min were later combined into Amun-Min. Does that mean Amun-Min has 4 mother-wives? lol
Interesting mirroring there.

So far He has been a quiet Name, not demanding offerings or anything. However, I do now notice that I added an image to the shrine for Him years ago. It makes me wonder if He is another of my quiet Beloveds like Bast. His Name makes my heart pound with respect like the rest of my line-up does. Hrm... mayhaps it's time for another Beloved divination.

Either way, I honor Him for bounty, virility, and strength. He seems very kind and filled with a cool, firey passion. Anyone else have any experience with Min?

Dua Netjer! Dua Min!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

B is for - Being Kemetic Ain't Easy

I am a member of one of the most ancient religions in the world. My faith has survived for millennia and still thrives to this day. In other words, I am what is called a “Kemetic.” Kemetics follow the ancient Egyptian religion. We follow Sekhmet, Ptah, Ra, Horus, and the other Gods and Goddesses of ancient Egypt. Ancient Egyptians were known for being ritualistic and very strict about purity, a fact that has carried over into the modern day practices. It is difficult to be committed to being Kemetic due to strict rules about purity, lack of materials locally, and other problems.

Kemetic Orthodoxy is a modern version of the ancient Egyptian faith. Followers of the Kemetic Orthodox faith are simply called “Kemetics.” The word Kemetic is derived from the word “Kemet,” which means Egypt in the ancient Egyptian language. Kemetics are a wide group of people across the world all believing in similar, but different, traditions and following the same God. Kemetic Orthodoxy is a monolatrous faith, meaning that we believe in God as One and Many Beings all at the same time. This concept of monolatry is very similar to Christianity’s concept of the Holy Trinity.

I was raised Christian, but over my childhood years I’d always harbored a not-so-secret and deep fascination with everything involving the culture, country, and language of ancient Egypt. The rituals, the long, mantra-like prayers, the shimmering golden statues with dark obsidian eyes that seem to watch your every move – all these things drew me in like the event horizon of a black hole. Everything involving Egypt fascinated me and still does to this day. From the feeling of scalding sand beneath your feet, to the smell of the sun’s heat on the acrid, dry air as you stare off into the blazing sunset over the western bank of the Nile, my heart was captured at a young age. This deep love led to my conversion to Kemetic Orthodoxy at the age of 16.
Kemetic Orthodoxy is a belief system based on 5 pillars. Those pillars are the Nisut (or King), the community, the Akhu (the ancestors), Ma’at (truth and balance), and Senut. These five pillars make up the core belief system of Kemetic Orthodoxy and are at the heart of Kemetic practice modern day in the United States and across the world. Each of these pillars brings with it rules and guidelines.

In Kemetic Orthodoxy there are very specific rules and rituals that each believer must strive to adhere to as part of our faith. One of the most important rituals required of Kemetics is what is called “Senut.” Senut is specific to Kemetic Orthodoxy and is not widespread amongst the other branches of Kemeticism. Senut is a daily ritual meant to connect the follower more closely with God and the community. It is a solitary practice designed to commence at dawn, as the sun rises and a new day is begun. Part of its purpose is to greet the new day and thank God for the opportunity to experience another chance at life. Like all rituals in the Egyptian tradition, there are very specific materials, steps, and procedures to follow. The most important of which for senut is a material called “natron.”

Natron is a white, grainy substance that naturally washes up on the shore in Egypt near the delta, where the salty ocean waters collide and mingle with the cool, fresh water of the life-bringing Nile. It is illegal to export true natron from the country, and as such, Kemetics must rely on themselves to make their own natron for senut. The process for making natron is fairly simple, or so it would seem on paper. Simply mix one part sea or kosher salt, and one part baking soda, with just enough water to barely cover the mix. Then you boil it down to a thick, mucous like consistency. Spread the opaque concoction across a cookie sheet and let it bake until it is solid and completely dry. Home-made natron turns into a solid white powder when baked properly and broken down. That seems simple enough, right?

As I quickly learned, it is imperative that you watch the natron every few minutes while it bakes. It only takes a few extra moments to burn the natron. Burnt natron looks absolutely horrible. If not careful enough, you will end up with a solid half inch to inch thick mass of what looks like an illicit drug once burnt. Not to mention it’s shaped like a cookie sheet. So, imagine a solid sheet of white rock that is about fourteen inches long by eight inches wide and a solid ½” deep. Now comes the fun part – getting the natron off of the aforementioned cookie sheet. When done right, it should be as simple as smacking the back of the cookie sheet to knock the natron off gently and then snapping the sheet into decently sized bits. About two hours, a hammer, a bent butter knife, and two spoons later, the natron had been beaten, scraped, and scooped off the cookie sheet so that it could be broken down into manageable sized pieces, about 1” square. These bits of natron were prepared ahead of time for the daily ritual known as senut.

Yet another problem with being Kemetic is privacy and space. In order to practice senut, you need a place to perform the ritual. This place that is set aside and designated for space and time for God is most often referred to as a shrine or altar. A shrine is usually covered with a pure, all-natural white linen cloth and decorated with statues of and gifts for the Gods. They range from extremely simple and beautiful to exorbitant and expensive.

Building a shrine is easy - you can use the top of any dresser or bookshelf for a shrine. Having pets and a shrine is not as easy, however. Cats love to sleep wherever they are not allowed, so, of course, it was not a surprise to come home to find at least one cat curled around a brilliant blue, and very delicate, statue of the Goddess Bast – matron of cats and the home. Luckily nothing was broken, but about half the shelf of the shrine had been knocked down, littering the floor with precious statues of Gods and Goddesses of every kind. I had to take time out to re-consecrate and clean all the statues as well as remove the fur, that had been so gleefully shed, from the shrine before senut.

Senut is a strictly pure ritual. Before one can begin senut, one must use the natron that was previously prepared for a process of ritual bathing to cleanse the body, mind, and spirit in preparation for spending time with God. When practicing senut, everything is specifically designed to be the purest it can be. Your clothes must be clean, pressed all-natural white linen, your shoes must be reserved for the shrine only and never used outside, if you wear any. Even the incense and candles must be made of materials deemed pure and free of manufactured chemicals. Within this ritual an adherent must light candles and incense as well as prepare offerings of food and trinkets or sometimes resplendent gifts for the Gods.

During one ritual of senut I was preparing to offer some meat and a blade. My clothes were crisply clean and whispered with my every movement as the fibers rustled together. My nostrils were filled with the heady scent of frankincense and myrrh, the scent of soot from the candles drifted towards me as the smoke clouded around me in wisps. I leaned forward, gently and reverently placed the offering of meat on the shrine, placing it just so. The blade laid in front of me anxiously awaiting its turn, so I picked it up and removed the blade from the scabbard to display its beauty… and noticed a warm, sticky sensation as I slid the blade back into its scabbard with a singing sound of steel on steel. I was bleeding! Blood is strictly forbidden in ritual as it is superstitiously believed to attract negative spirits. I hurriedly grabbed my fresh wound, trying not to bleed on anything, including the very nice tan carpet and my ritual clothing. A few minutes later I was cleaned up enough to go back and put out the candles and incense. Eventually I did end up offering up that blade, but the next time I brought it to shrine I remembered not to open it so quickly and carelessly.

Being Kemetic isn’t easy. There’s a lot to learn, a lot to do, and even more to remember. There’s a challenge at every turn. It is the exotic and intense rituals and richly diverse online community from the world over that keeps me going as a Kemetic, despite the hardships. I will stand strong against the world and stick to being Kemetic. No matter what happens, or how hard it gets, my heart will always reside in the oasis that is my love for Kemet.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A is for Akhu - The Blessed Dead

Akhu - The Blessed Dead

In the United States we have very little reverance for our Dead. We generally watch them pass, bury them, and then perhaps visit the grave once a year. This is backwards to many cultures across the world and across many faiths.

As a child, I was raised as a Christian, and I could never quite understand the concept of just being gone. There was always a feeling of something more, and not like Heaven. It always seemed strange to me that if we live on after Death, how come we never hear from our loved ones afterwards?

Since I was very young I have been able to see and interact with some people from the other side. Yes, that means I've spoken to ghosts, you read it right. I used to spend entire afternoons after school chatting with a grandmother who passed on when I was too young to remember her. However, I can remember her brilliantly, and in a much younger version of herself than I ever would have met. I remember her with long flowing red hair in twin braids, with soft eyes and a warm smile. By the time I was born, her red hair had been white for many years, and her eyes had dulled with age.

This led to a complicated situation. My parents don't believe in ghosts or anything other than Heaven/Hell after death. I believe in much more. I have to believe in more due to my own personal experiences that state there is more than just death. This, in turn, led to many a punishment for "lying" about speaking to my grandmother. Eventually, I tuned out my ability to speak to the Dead for fear of retribution.

Fastforward several years. Now I am in the House of Netjer as a Shemsu.

One of the five pillars of Kemetic Orthodoxy is the Akhu.

Akhu means the Blessed Dead. Those who have gone through their 70 day journey across the other world and passed the weighing of the Ib, or heart. If the deceased's heart is equal to the feather of Ma'at, then their Ka continues on as an Akh (Akhu being the plural.) It is believed that the Akhu reside within Nut, the Sky Goddess, as imperishable stars watching over us.

Oh sweet Goddess Nut,
You Who is full of Shining Souls,
Bring us Peace of heart,
Fill with blessings our bowls
For the Blessed Dead

As a Kemetic I am learning to reconnect to the Dead. As a Kemetic, I am pressed to honor my Dead and learn from them. The thing is, my Akhu have given me some of the best advice I've ever gotten. They're not much different once they're gone; they're just quieter and we must learn to listen harder. The Dead speak in whispers and dreams.

My lovely father (love you Dad!) has started a project discovering our ancestors, my Akhu. Because the generations are so far apart in our family, we are unable to just ask older generations about the family, as they've all passed on. So we are working on a genealogy project, creating a family tree. We've learned much about our family that we didn't know. I've learned oodles about my history that my Dad didn't even know!

So if you don't know much, if anything, about your ancestors.... try asking them for some advice, no matter what faith you are! The chances are they'll answer, and with something surprising!

With unending love for my Shining Souls, known and unknown,

Grandma Marie - 1900 ~ 1989
Grandpa Frank - ???? ~ ????
Grandpa Johnson - ???? ~ 2005
Grandma Campbell - ???? ~ 2004
For those unnamed - ???? ~ ????

(As an aside, the reason I crochet is actually for my Akhu. :D Crochet allows me to connect to not only my Gods, but my Akhu as well!)


Friday, February 10, 2012

A is for Amunet

Amunet - Amaunet, Amonet, Imentit

"The Hidden Female"
"She of the West"
"She Who acted as Father in the Beginning"
"Consort of Amun"
"She of the Beautiful West"
"Owner of the Tree of Life"

My Mother is Mut in Her form of Amunet. This both makes perfect sense to me and none at all. If that makes any sense lol. So it only makes sense that my first post for the Pagan Blog Project 2012 would be on my Mother, Amunet.

Amunet is a part of the Ogdoad, one of the Great Eight Creators in one of the most ancient creation myths that came out of Egypt's Old Kingdom. She is said to be one of the Self-Created and therefore has no mother or father as many of the Names of Netjer have familial connections. Her only connection is Her Husband, Amun.

So who is Amunet? In my experience She is the great Queen of Queens to Amun's King of Kings. She is Amun's female side of everything. She is invisible. She is the element Air. She is Mothering. She is nurturing. She is guarding, guiding. She is a protector.

Amunet was rarely portrayed in Ancient Egypt (being one of the Hidden), or at the very least, there are rare portrayals of Her that have survived the years. There are two ways that She was typically depicted - with the Red Crown (deshret) of Lower Egypt. She is also depicted as She of the West with the hieroglyph for "West" or an ostrich feather as Her headdress. She is typically shown wearing a red ankle length dress in Her human form, and sometimes is shown holding a papyrus staff as a symbol of new flourishing life.

Both Amun and Amunet were mentioned in ancient spell papyri, from as early as the 5th Dynasty, as "Amun and Amaunet, You Who protect the Gods, and Who guard the Gods with Your shadows." This leads to Her being viewed as a protector, and Her shadow being protective.

As a member of the Ogdoad, She is also depicted as the Ogdoad is -- Male Names with the head of a frog, and Female Names with the head of a cobra. Sometimes She is simply depicted as a cobra. In my own experience, I have seen Her as a cobra wearing the Red Crown of Lower Egypt. Through Her connection with Mut She is also a vulture Goddess

Being a Mothering and Protecting Name, She is also associated with the royal festivities and rituals surrounding the King's coronation and the Sed festival. She and Min are shown involved together in the Sed festival renewing the King's strength and prowess for another year as Ruler.

Her home and center of worship was in Karnak, where She had Her own priests within the temple complex for Her husband, Amun. Even after She was overshadowed by Mut as Amun's Consort (although it is sometimes said Mut is not His actual Wife,) She still remained Her own as a local deity, especially in the Thebes area through the Ptolemaic period. She has been worshipped for around a good 2300 years, from the Old Kingdom all the way up until the end of Ancient Egypt.

She, Amun, and the other 6 Ogdoad members ( Nun and Nunet, Heh and Hehet, Kek and Keket) are held responsible for making sure the Sun rises each morning.

Mother of the Hidden,
Hide me in Your Shadow
Mother of all Creation,
Hide me in Your Shadow
Mother of Ra and Aten,
Hide me in Your Shadow
Mother of all Gods Known and Unknown,
Hide me in Your Shadow

As my Mother She has guarded and guided me every step of the way. I have dreamt of Her nearly my entire life. She is truly my Mother figure, as She has always been there. She holds my heart in Her hands. I am Her only divined Child, and have only one other person that has been divined as Her Beloved. It leaves me feeling both lonely and loved, if that makes any sense.

She has taken me by the hair and dragged me back to KO, so it is only appropriate She be my first topic in a project to bring my spirit back around to Kemeticism.

Dua Amunet! Dua Netjer!