Kemetic neopaganism is a form of reconstructionist religion which attempts to recreate the beliefs and practices of ancient Egyptian religion. As with other types of polytheistic reconstructionism, it is a culturally focused, academic approach to the religion, and places priority on sources respected by modern Egyptologists).
Basic beliefs Edit
The gods Edit
As in Ancient Egyptian belief, modern Kemetic neopagans honor a wide variety of gods. These include, but are not limited to:
Many adherents use the original Egyptian names to refer to their gods, instead of the Greco-Romanized names found in Egyptological literature; thus Horus may be referred to as "Hor" or "Heru," Osiris as "Asar," "Ausar," or "Wesir."
Conceptions of deity Edit
How these gods are viewed depends on the individual belief. Polytheism is the most common form, in both ancient and modern forms of the religion. All of the gods are understood as individual beings and are worshiped as individuals.
Other Kemetic neopagans endorse a special form of polytheism called monolatry (a term coined by several Egyptologists, most notably Siegfried Morenz and Erik Hornung). In a monolatry, each of the many individual gods and goddesses are in addition to (not in spite of) their diversity also considered to be parts or facets of one category of an ultimately unknowable self-created Oneness, also known from ancient texts as Netjer, "being of divine power," or as Atum, "the complete one/the one who is not." The term "one and the many" is also sometimes used to describe monolatry, as is henotheism.
It is likely that the Ancient Egyptians had diverse beliefs about the nature and number of their divinity/ies as well. This is amply demonstrated by various textual sources dating from all ancient Egypt's history where "God" and "the Gods" are both referred to, and even sometimes in impossible "hard" polytheistic relationships such as aspects (two deities who are actually "sides" of one deity, such as Hathor and Sekhmet) and syncretisms (where two otherwise individual deities merge together to create a third, equally distinct deity, such as Amun-Ra).
Creation of the world Edit
The Ancient Egyptians had a variety of different myths to describe Earth's creation. Modern Kemetics are likely to have a scientific view of creation, but do not feel science contradicts their religion. In addition, modern Kemetics often explore many different myths and use all of them to increase understanding of their own faith.
The ethical system of Kemetic Reconstructionism is based on Ancient Egyptian texts. The most commonly used of these include the Declaration of Innocence (also called the "Negative Confessions"), which contain a list of forty-two sins a deceased person claims not to have done, and the Wisdom Texts, which are pieces of advice written by Ancient Egyptians.
The Declaration of Innocence reads much like the Ten Commandments, only much longer, including such sins as murder, muddying the rivers of the Nile river, adultery, theft, eavesdropping, and sexual perversion (often translated in older texts as committing homosexuality, although Kemetic neopagans in general consider this a mistranslation and are open to homosexual members - a common theory is that the prohibition refers to child prostitution). To do good is seen as doing Ma'at, or what is right, just, and orderly.
Some of the worst actions according to modern Kemetics is the perversion or rape of children.
Kemetic neopagans vary in their views of the Afterlife, much like they differ in most other views. The Ancient Egyptians viewed the afterlife as a journey through several "tests," the climax of which is the Weighing of the Heart. The deceased has his or her heart (ib, yib, ieb) weighed against an ostrich feather (Feather of Ma'at). If his or her heart is too heavy with sin, it is fed to Ammit, a monster/Goddess, and the person is destroyed forever.
Those who pass this test become Akhu, or Blessed Ancestors. They reside in Duat, the land of Osiris, and can be communicated with by humans on Earth.
If a person flees judgement or gets lost on the way, he or she may become a Muet, or angry dead person, terrorizing living descendants.
For a person to survive death indefinitely, he or she must be remembered. The person's name and/or image must be remembered past death, which is the reason mummification was used.
Views of the afterlife amongst modern Kemetics may be much different. For example, many believe in Reincarnation, whether continuous or until all lessons are learned. Most deny the necessity of mummification to keep the soul alive, and instead rely on photographs and family memories instead of physical preservation of the body.
Kingship and clergy Edit
There are several Kemetic temples and organizations that maintain priesthoods similar to Ancient Egyptian priesthood with its hierarchy of part-time and full-time priests in addition to a chief priest embodied in the (occasionally deified) king or ruler (Pharaoh or Nisut, see below). These organizations include the Kemetic Orthodox House of Netjer, Per-Ankh, the Church of the Eternal Source, and the Akhet Hwt-Hrw, among other lesser-known and less organized groups. There are also a good number of Kemetic neopagans who are not part of any specific organization. Membership in an organization is not compulsory to worship the ancient Egyptian gods.
Some people maintain, in keeping with the Kemetic reconstructionist ideal of practicing the religion and embracing the culture of the ancients as much as practicably possible, that the existence of a living Pharaoh is still required. This idea is rooted in an ancient belief that a "land without kingship" was a land that had lost its connection to Ma'at, and that the Pharaoh (from the Hebrew word for a palace; the ancient term is Nisut or Nisut-bity) was a priest-king, the servant of both the gods and the people of Egypt.
The House of Netjer is by far the largest Kemetic religious group (active in more than two dozen countries) and was the first to define itself as fully reconstructionist (Church of the Eternal Source has origins as early as the 1950s but was primarily a Wiccan organization until very recently). Something else that sets Kemetic Orthodoxy aside from other worshippers of the ancient Egyptian gods is that the religion recognizes a non-deified Nisut in its founder, professional Egyptologist Rev. Tamara Siuda.
Not all Kemetic neopagans believe having a Nisut/Pharaoh is necessary, and some express concerns that today, any person given the sort of responsibility an ancient Nisut/Pharaoh would have possessed would be inclined to abuse it, and do not trust such a position to be given to anyone. Still other organizations recognize the central idea of kingship as a symbolic meetingplace of men and their gods and appoint priests to act as royal deputies in the king's stead, or sit on ecclesiastical councils such as were convened in ancient Egypt during times of civil war or times of unrest when the line of normal kingly succession was not clear.
Practices and rites of passage Edit
Festivals and holidays Edit
There are several festival days every month, and in some months, there is almost one festival for every day. (Even in ancient times, worshipers chose which festivals to celebrate and which ones were still working days). This is perfectly in line with Ancient Egyptian religion, as festivals depended on where you lived and what God(s) you worshiped. There are a few major holidays that Kemetics are most likely to celebrate regardless of their temple affiliation (most temples have official calendars) or independent status. These include:
- Wep Ronpet, the Kemetic New Year
- Feast of Opet
- Feast of the Beautiful Valley
- Solstice Celebrations and Equinox Celebrations (sacred to Hathor, Eye of Ra)
- Feast of the Beautiful Reunion
- Full and New Moon Celebrations (sacred to various moon gods depending on the season)
- The first and last day of each Kemetic Month (30 days each)
- The sixth and fifteenth day of each month
- the birthdays and festival days of various gods and goddesses (of which there are 100's of each year)
Daily ritual Edit
We have no evidence that anybody in Ancient Egypt except priests took part in formal rituals. Personal piety or the practice of religion in one's personal life without any official "dogma" was widely practiced, with the honoring of one's Akhu/ancestors and god(s) as well as taking part in local and national festivals.Template:Facts
Some ways modern Kemetic neopagans can engage in personal piety are:
Personal devotion Edit
Plenty of people simply keep a shrine to leave offerings and prayers at, without worry of formalities. This is the most common form of personal piety in antiquity and today.
Imitation of priestly rituals Edit
A person may modify or copy a version of various priestly (formal) ritual from Ancient Egypt to be done by one person. Ancient formal ritual, as the entire ancient religion, was a community rather than a solitary practice.
One example of this style of ritual was developed by Rev. Tamara Siuda in the early 1990s. It was based upon a basic daily ritual practiced in the formal temples of antiquity and is partially translated into modern languages from those ancient rituals to that effect. The ritual is called "Senut", from an ancient word meaning "shrine," and is taught freely to all Kemetic Orthodox and is intended to be performed once daily whenever possible. It is also detailed in Rev. Siuda's book "The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook". Other Kemetic temples, such as Per-Ankh, often refer to their forms of this ritual as the "Daily Rite."
Temples and organizationsEdit
- Kemetic Orthodox House of Netjer
- Akhet Hwt-Hrw
- Church of the Eternal Source - Wiccan/Kemetic
- International Network of Kemetics
- Nikhtah Ma'eyah Kimata - The Black Nation
- Ta Noutri french kemetic group
- Kamitic - french group
- Temple Harakhte by author Rosemary Clark
- Kemetic FAQ from eCauldron
- Kemet.org About Kemetic Orthodoxy
- AsetNet Kemetic FAQ
- FAQs About The Black Nation