Coming to Kemet.

How did you get started in Kemeticism? Tips? Stories?

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I am sitting at my computer desk, writing in my LiveJournal when something deep in my gut starts to hum, like all the A-keys on a piano going off at once. I ignore it. Laying in bed later, I grow restless. A voice just beyond my hearing is whispering in my ear. Frustration builds; I cannot hear what She is saying. The Goddess calls me, nameless. I see Her in the clouds, the stars, the moon. I walk Her beaches, feel Her breath against my face — but I do not know Her. Months pass; I clothe her in various names, but they do not fit. Each time She shrugs them off. All I know is Her fierce presence. I feel Her strength wrapping around me with each call. I am frightened and excited that Her power has reached out to me.

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I’ve written about finding my way to Kemetic Orthodoxy before. It’s easy for me to re-tell that story, since it is one full of joy and the loud, infectious satisfaction of finding a resonant spiritual practice. It’s been told before, and it will not change. The step-by-step details bear no repeating. Instead, I am writing down my experiences from before I knew how to write about them. Some of the details are really hazy to me at this point — I am writing about events 8 years in the past now, and my memory is not that good. I hope that in writing these down, someone can read them and find common ground.

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The Goddess who calls is no quieter, and I am no closer to finding Her. In the absence of a goddess, a god has begun stealing my M&Ms, I begin to fear. I grow closer to Yinepu each day, and each time I eat a handful of candy I acknowledge His presence. Some days I don’t walk by the bowl of pastel chocolates without grabbing a few in His honor. He follows me in all that I do: racing alongside my car in traffic, bounding through the auditorium as I see musicals at the community theater. I question my own sanity. My boyfriend (my summer fling before college) encourages me, and gives me a tiny glass bottle to keep perfumes on my altar.

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The most important thing I’ve learned about being new to a religion is that it’s much like being in a new romantic relationship. There’s a breathless courtship, in which the new devotee rushes to learn as much as she can about this new practice. She builds an altar, prays to the gods, makes offerings — it is all new, all exciting, all an uncharted territory to be explored. In relationships, this is sometimes called “new relationship energy” or NRE. It is what happens when the NRE fades that is important in both relationships and religions. In a relationship, when the NRE fades it can take all the attraction — and thus the stability of the relationship — with it. When “new religious energy” fades, it can leave the devotee feeling abandoned by the gods, or like her practices are suddenly failing. If you are new to a practice and you suddenly find yourself feeling in a rut, it may be that your own NRE is wearing off. Variety helps, as does routine. Find your own rhythm of devotion.

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I kneel before a shrine cobbled out of hand-me-down trinkets and an old folding tray table. The myrrh cone incense I picked up specially for this first Senut rite won’t stay lit and when it does, it makes me cough. My libation jar– a shot glass from the dollar store– won’t pour without spilling. I stagger through the Senut ritual until I reach the section set aside for quiet reflection and personal prayers. I close my eyes, and the gods are there immediately. Later, at a shrine with better tools and finer incense, I will wonder whether They were in my imagination as I struggle to find any connection with the gods.

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May 2007: Statues of my Parents arrive, shrine is reorganized.
One of my earliest shrines, post Rite of Parent Divination.

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Late at night, I scour pagan forums for opinions on Kemetic Orthodoxy. Everyone is polarized. Half my research says I’m making a terrible mistake; the other half says I have nothing to lose, and everything to learn. I trust myself to know whether to run. With adolescent resolve and more than a little anxiety, I download the application for the House of Netjer beginners’ course. Eight months later, I find myself sitting in the Truth and the Mother temple, declaring myself a Shemsu after cowry shells revealed my gods. My heart nestles firmly in the bed of this community, this faith; I never look back.

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Coming to a faith does not always feel immediately like coming home. Sometimes you back into a faith in the night, and it startles you and you yelp. Sometimes the gods sneak in through your cat door while you’re busy in the shower, and when you come out to eat your breakfast they yell “SURPRISE!” and leave you stunned. Sometimes you come in spite of criticism from your peers, from your family, or even from your self-conscious inner monologue. Does it matter? No. Come with anxiety, come with joy, come knowingly or not. The gods don’t care and neither should anyone else.

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This has been a part of the Kemetic Roundtable.

Previous posts about my journey to Kemetic Orthodoxy:
Episode 1: Why Kemetic Orthodoxy?
Episode 9: How I Got Involved in Kemetic Orthodoxy.
Finding the Way Home

4 Replies to “Coming to Kemet.”

  1. Your post excites me about things to come on this path. I’ll be sure to make the most if my NRE 😉 I

    ‘ve been through this space with other pagan traditions so I’m hoping for a softer blow down the track 🙂

  2. Sometimes the gods sneak in through your cat door while you’re busy in the shower, and when you come out to eat your breakfast they yell “SURPRISE!” and leave you stunned.

    Ha ha! I love this line. ^_^ Thanks for sharing your journey

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