Celebrations, great and small.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

How do you celebrate Festivals and Holidays the Kemetic way?

My style of celebration is best described as “casual”. 😅 What I do will depend on what festival I’m celebrating and how important it is in my personal practice (or the State religion).

For your average holiday, my go-to is making a special offering in Senut to the gods in festival. For instance: we have the solstice festival of She-is-led-back, or Intues, this season. I celebrated with the House of Netjer through the simulcast ritual led via IRC; I offered Hethert a glass of milk and a raspberry chocolate cookie. That’s all! For something more elaborate, like a festival of one of my Parents, I will spend more time in shrine, and will make more elaborate offerings. One festival I offered a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, and a plate of gourmet chocolates. Even though the offerings are more elaborate, it still fits the same format: offerings and shrine time.

Occasionally, when I am able, I will celebrate with other Kemetics. When this happens, the celebrations vary depending on the festival. I’ve participated in overnight vigils for the Mysteries of Wesir, sunrise rituals for Wep Ronpet, paper-boat-making and candle-lighting for Aset Webenut, and more.

Even non-Kemetic holidays can take on a Kemetic spirit. For example: my ancestors would have celebrated Christmas, and I spend the 25th of December celebrating with family who still observe the holiday. I spend the day reflecting on family and my Akhu, and make offerings to my ancestors in honor of their traditions. If I have to go to church, or engage with any non-Kemetic religious practice, I take the opportunity to reflect on my Akhu and meditate on their role in my life.

I’ve learned that celebrations don’t need to be elaborate to be satisfying — especially when celebrating on my own. A little quality time and a special gift for the gods goes a long way.

Feminism and the Goddesses of Kemet

Lately I’ve found myself more challenged by feminism than in the past.

I do not and cannot call myself a die-hard feminist. I’m not an activist. I am a quiet supporter, who still indulges in mainstream media while acknowledging how problematic such institutions can often be. I have friends and acquaintances who are heavily involved in the modern feminist movement, however, and during a discussion about religion I felt the unasked question: how does my religion line up with femknism?

As far as dogma and structure, Kemetic Orthodoxy treats women with equality unquestionably; with women as priests and a woman as our founder and Nisut, it would be hard to imagine otherwise. We do practice menstrual taboos, which can be tricky, but the understanding is not that menstruation is “icky”, but that blood loss of any form should be treated with care. (I may be a fledgling feminist, but I really can’t get behind the idea of a period as a source of power anyway. It’s too uncomfortable for me to want to treat it as anything but a time of reservation.)

Beyond that, I have been working on finding stories and myths that offer support to feminist values. My initial thought is always Sekhmet. Her name literally means “Powerful One”, and She commands Ra’s active powers. All the Eyes do. However, Her actions are all under the domain of Ra; all that She does is because of Her Father. I can see some raising an eyebrow here. I would counter with my own UPG about Her, in which She is certainly and unequivocally Her own power.

I also think of Aset. She is the King-maker, who re-animated Her dead husband and raised Her son alone that He would become King in His Father’s succession. All this, too, is done for Her husband, one could argue – but She does other things which speak of Her independence and power, such as stealing the name of Ra for Her own use. She is powerful in Her own right, for Her own desires.

Nit is also interesting as a model of feminine power. She is a creatrix, but importantly, She is not considered particularly feminine. She is associated with war, and with the creation of the Universe – roles usually reserved for male deities. She does not conform to any sort of modern feminine stereotypes and, in my experience, exists squarely outside the traditional gender box.

Frankly, I’d say all the Goddesses of Kemet offer Their own power to the theory of feminism. Hethert offers women the power to be sexual creatures at their own discretion. Bast offers women the power to feel deep emotions and relationships. Sekhmet offers women the power to fight injustice and wickedness. Mut offers women the power to own strength and fierceness alongside ‘traditional’ feminine qualities.

Above all: Ma’at, the central order of the Universe, most highly prized and powerful, is a goddess.

That unasked question came some time ago. It’s taken me quite a while to come to any sort of coherent answer, but I would say with conviction that there isn’t a goddess in all of Kemet who does not, in some way, model a powerful, equal woman. I’d love to hear other perspectives on this. I’m working on a harder question too – that of the Gods offering meaning for the LGBT experience – so if you have any thoughts on that, please feel free to share. 🙂

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Link – The Book of the Celestial Cow: A Theological Interpretation

I just wanted to share a link that was added in the comments of my post about the Destruction of Mankind. The Book of the Celestial Cow: A Theological Interpretation is a very deep, scholarly analysis of the myths contained in the Book of the Celestial Cow from a Neoplatonic philosophical perspective. Be sure to settle down in a quiet place to read; it’s fascinating but totally packed with wisdom to digest, so you may want to avoid trying to juggle troubleshooting an 8-year-old’s DS and trying to grasp the nature of the gods all at the same time.

And if you enjoy what you’ve read, you’ll be glad to know that the author has a blog. 🙂

The Eye Returns!

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Even though I’ve been sick all week,and totally out of sorts with work for another two, I still managed to keep my tradition of keeping a light out for the solstice night. There isn’t any historical precedent for this that I know of, but I feel lighting the candle is a way of helping the Eye of Ra find Her way home again. As I write this the sun is rising now – we’ve survived the longest night yet again. May the goodness in our lives grow with the light of day!

What about love?

image source: wikipedia.org

According to the reckoning of the Kemetic Orthodox festival calendar, right now we’re in the feast of the Beautiful Reunion – the marriage festival of Heru-wer, the fierce hawk-god, and Hethert, the cow-goddess of love and joy.

I have a really strange relationship with this festival, partly because I have a really strange relationship with Hethert. To say She is a “love goddess” is incredibly limiting, but it is that part of Her nature that I get hung up on. I have tried to see Her as Hethert-Amenti, a funerary goddess who cares for and comforts the dead — and for a time, it works. I feel like I can get along with Her, and I carry on with my life. I like Hethert, I really do. I am a musician, and a woman, and someone who likes to feel joy. These are all things that are in Her domain, therefore these are all reasons I have to feel comfortable with Her.

The feast of the Beautiful Reunion, however, is a marriage festival. She and Heru-wer are in love. They get married, have a wedding night, they practically even go on a honeymoon – needless to say, this is one time of year where I can’t really ignore Her lovey-dovey side. I am not a romantic person. I would much rather play checkers or talk about brain science than cuddle by candlelight. The idea of a festival entirely devoted to being devoted to someone else rubs me the wrong way. So the logical thing to do would be to let the festival pass by and take little notice of it. Right?

Except it is one of my favorite festivals to celebrate. I love singing for Her and Heru-wer. I like getting caught up in the excitement of Their reunion. I can practically see Her preening before a mirror, humming to Herself while She fixes Her hair – and I can see Him, seeing Her as She greets Him, His face full of pride and love. It is the marriage of victory to celebration, the marriage of song and joy to the fierce enforcer of Ma’at. There is something about this romance that doesn’t make me squirm and want to go wash my hands; so, I sing for the happy Couple and hope that it makes up for the rest of the time that I spend politely ignoring the side of Hethert that makes me squeamish. Dua Hethert! Dua Heru-wer! May Your reunion be indeed beautiful.