Celebrations, great and small.

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. 🙂