Hey, I’m finally jumping back on the wagon for the Kemetic Roundtable! Let’s see what this topic is…
Differences in practices: How do you deal with them? How do we overlook our differences in practice and UPG? What do we do if our experiences don’t line up with others?
In the past, differences in practice have been such a point of contention in the Kemetic community. Kemetic Orthodox Shemsu were cliquish and brainwashed idiots practicing watered down tripe; independent Kemetics were antagonistic anarchists who wanted to steal everyone else’s hard work; Tameran Wiccans were new age, fluff-headed nincompoops… it goes on. I am as guilty of Kemetic xenophobia as anyone else in my community. I have seen the rituals of some other groups and of some solitary Kemetics, in the past, and been baffled or even irritated by them. I have said quietly to myself, “that ninny doesn’t know what s/he is doing”.
I’m human, and at the outset of my Kemetic journey I was barely eighteen. Adolescents are pre-programmed to be cliquey, judgmental brats — aren’t they? It took time, some serious faux pas, and observation of my role models for me to learn how to disagree respectfully. I feel I’ve come a long way since my militant Kemetic days, and I am grateful for that. I am still fiercely proud to be Kemetic Orthodox, and I still feel a bit of a sting whenever I hear people dismissing my faith out of hand for one reason or another. Having the good sense to step down off the soapbox has helped immensely, however.
With that in mind, how do I deal with differences in practices? I don’t. My practices are my own, and I can’t dictate to someone else what they should or should not do. If they want to be Kemetic Orthodox, I will gently guide them toward what is appropriate within the Kemetic Orthodox framework – but even then, I can’t force or judge them. Each person’s path is their own to walk. Unless they start doing things that hurt themselves or other people, it’s not my place to intervene.
To be completely honest, in most cases I’m so excited to meet someone who honors the same gods that I do, that I don’t really care to pick apart the differences in our practices. This is especially true in my daily life. If I meet someone who is honoring the gods in earnest, it makes me giddy. I could liken it to finding someone who goes to your favorite secret coffee shop, or who loves your favorite poet. It’s an intimate connection, something I cherish for what it is. We may not be calling Them the same names or praising Them with the same words — but we share a love of something that feels deeply profound (more so than a coffee shop). I tend to want to honor that shared love as it is, without complicating it with criticism or advice. If they say they do things differently, I want to know why — maybe their reasoning will reveal some aspect of my gods that I have not come to know yet. To say that I have every knowledge of my gods – the vast, enduring gods whose reach spans millennia – would be hopelessly arrogant. I want to hear their perspective, in the hopes that my own will grow.
At the end of the day, if our experiences differ vastly, I can only speculate as to why. Does it hurt me and my practice if they have a wildly different relationship with my gods? Not particularly. Can I really change what they are doing? Not particularly. I can only be vocal about my own experiences, and hope that the people who seek out relationships with my gods will make their own educated decisions on their own journeys. I’d hazard a guess that no two people – even within a Kemetic community, or any religious community to be sure – have exactly the same practices, conceptions of the divine, and divine relationships. Better not to offer unsolicited advice and just enjoy what you have in common than drive unnecessary wedges between one another.
If someone asks for your help it’s a different matter entirely, of course — this all assumes you’re just coexisting. If you’re mentoring or advising someone, you may need to take a more direct approach!)