You are allowed to be busy.
You are allowed to have days when you glance at the shrine and realize you won’t have a chance to revert the offerings you left to sit overnight.
You are allowed to make your worship time a few quick prayers on the way to work in the morning.
You are no less for being distant because life has other demands. Remember that even the priests in antiquity could work part-time.
I firmly believe that if Netjer wanted us to spend every waking moment in worship and devotion, there’s a good chance we wouldn’t be in the Seen world.
Remember your shrine. Remember to go to work, to make dinner, and to do your laundry, too. It’s all about balance.
I’m SO excited, I found a white linen dress at the mall today, and it fits and it’s lovely… and then I noticed they also had it in RED! So now I have one for my Mother’s work, and for ritual work.
The best part? They were both on sale for like 60% off!
When we talk about Ancient Egypt, we’re really talking about a society that spanned thousands of years. The culture varied, social norms varied — while the ancient people valued ma’at, tradition, and consistency, there is evidence in surviving art and literature of an evolving people.
I’ll be honest – I don’t really follow what’s going on with the larger polytheist community. Even though I have a tumblr, I don’t really use it to socialize. I haven’t had that kind of time (though now that I’m about to finish my master’s degree, that might change). But I’ve seen some talk about people feeling unwelcome — or being unwelcome — because of how they worship.
Here’s the thing: if Kemet itself varied over time, and we are basing what we do off of Kemet, doesn’t it stand to reason that there’s room for all of us under the umbrella? I might not agree with how some people choose to honor the gods, but I certainly won’t tell them not to do it that way. And if someone tells me I’m worshiping wrong, I don’t immediately assume I’m in the wrong.
I can’t tell anyone what to do. I will suggest that anyone who is thinking of telling someone they’re wrong in their relationship with the gods, should take a step back and question why they are so concerned with what other people are doing, and not what they are doing. I will also suggest that anyone who hears that what they are doing is wrong should remember that Kemet itself contained a variety of attitudes toward the gods.
I’m told that even the ancients were making complaints about each other – see “The Admonitions of Ipu-wer” or “The Discourse of a Man and his Ba”. And somehow, they survived thousands of years. If they can do it, so can we.
I suck at having faith. I joke to myself that I am one step away from being an atheist; if it’s not the gods of Egypt, it’s no gods at all. I disguise the seriousness of that feeling by calling it a joke — but it’s 100% truth.
I don’t know how I got to this point, honestly. One day I went to bed full of wonder at the Unseen world that surrounded me; in the night I was gripped with terrifying doubt that left me disturbed for days straight. I shook it off, only to face it again a few years later, this time so intensely that I became physically ill for weeks, unable to eat or sleep as I grappled with the question of what happens after death.
Eventually I became distracted enough with the demands of daily life that my angst faded into a quiet hum of “what if” in the background — but it never dissipated, and I doubt it ever will. I consider myself a scientist at heart, and I am constantly trying to break my beliefs against what can be measured and tested in the lab. The evidence for atheism is strong. The chemicals released in the brain at death are the right ones to induce the feeling of religious ecstasy reported by so many people who have near-death experiences. All signs point to no. And yet I still practice. Why?
It’s a choice. If I live my life serving the gods and there are none, what have I lost? Perhaps time spent kneeling before Their shrines — but is time spent in peaceful reflection really wasted? If there are no gods, then the purpose of life is what we make of it, and I have chosen to dedicate my life to seeking moments of peace and awe, and to helping others. I have chosen to do something that makes me feel better now, instead of dwelling on what might come later.
I recently had lunch with a handful of friends for the sake of discussing Wepwawet. It felt good to really dig into a conversation about Him with others who were interested in really engaging — something I’ve missed. I’ve held back from writing about all but my most outstanding experiences with Him over the past few years. I haven’t felt like my perspective was worth sharing, nor did I feel it would be well-received. So I kept quiet. In sharing at lunch, however, I was reminded that even those I consider well-versed in Jackal lore enjoy a good conversation — so I’ll give it a go.
I think we are coming dangerously close to pigeon-holing Wepwawet as “God of Opening the Way”.
Yes, that’s what His name literally translates to — but there’s much more than that. He is connected with the legitimization of the rule of the King; with transforming the King into a royal akh after death; with guiding the dead and opening the mouth; with war and victory; and more. He can be called the First Son and is often associated with Heru-sa-Aset, especially as Heru-Nedjitef, or Avenger of His Father.
It’s important to acknowledge that our gods are multifaceted and complex. Hethert, for example, is a goddess of love and women, but also of the dead and the afterlife. Set is the storm and the Outsider, but also the champion of Ra. Bast is a goddess of creativity and joy, but also a fierce protector and a powerful Eye of Ra. Even if we never need Wepwawet to connect us with the royal ancestors, or to authorize the King to rule*, or to guide us into war, it’s important to acknowledge that this is a part of His work. We don’t pigeon-hole our friends and family, and it would serve us not to do the same to the gods.
* if you’re Kemetic Orthodox like I am, you do need this part of Him!