Saturday, March 03, 2012

Flavors of Religion

Since the topic came up in the last post I figured this would be the perfect time to address this discussion. I wanted to take some time to define some of the terms I have heard those who use Egyptian deities in their spirituality call themselves. I am not here to promote any of these paths. It is for you to decide what, if any, are applicable to your own knowledge.Also, I do not practice all of these paths. Much of the information found here was gleaned from talking to practitioners or by reading. For most of them I rely on links to sites of those organizations that practice themselves.

Kemetic - This is an overall term that refers to someone who follows Ancient Egyptian religion or deities. It is usually used for someone who exclusively follows Egyptian deities but not always.

Neo-Atenism- A revival of the Amarna period, monotheistic Egyptian faith surrounding the Aten.I don't know of any groups actively following this practice so if someone reading this does, please comment. That aside I have met some individuals who do follow this practice.

Eclectic Kemetic - I have heard this term used to describe groups or people who combine Egyptian religions or gods with other faiths. There are historical examples of this in the Greeco-Roman world of the following of Egyptian deities along side Greek or Roman Deities. In the modern practice it could be the blend of any number of belief systems.The Temple of Kemetic Wicca is one such group but there are many others. When merged with Wicca it is sometimes called Tameran Wicca.

Kemetic Reconstructionalist - I have heard this term used for several different spiritual paths. Most often it is someone who takes the Ancient Egyptian religion and tweaks it in ways that make it work for the modern world. These changes are made to give the religion more meaning in the modern era. The other way I have heard this used is for someone who studies Egyptology and other materials to recreate the religion as accurately as research allows. These practitioners also tend to use the Egyptian names of the god/desses rather than the familiar Greeco-Roman names. (eg. Iset instead of Isis) In addition, they also celebrate the larger Egyptian festivals such as Opet.The House of Netjer and Kemetic Orthodoxy are the two big groups that follow this path.

Pan-Africanist - This word applies to several groups who either: use Kemetic practice as a form of pride in black (mostly Nubian and Sudanese) culture and religious traditions or mix Kemetic beliefs with other African tribal beliefs to support and keep alive the diverse African traditions. Ausar Auset Society International is one such group. I would link to them but it appears their home site is currently down.There are some relationships historically between these groups and black supremacy groups that have been a concern at some points.A basic over view of what some of these paths follow can be found here.

Kemetic Revivalism - This is very close in concept to Kemetic Reconstructionalism. The School of Ancient Egyptian Magic and Religion is a group that practices this path.This group tends to put even more focus on scholarly pursuits than most Reconstructionalists. (At least from what I have seen)

Hermetic Orders - Most known of these is the Golden Dawn. This group is characterized by the mix of ceremonial magic, high magic and Kemetic systems along with many others to synthesize a religious practice. Another group associated with this practices are Thelema. The Temple of Set is sometimes listed in this group as well though it is significantly different from what I can tell.

Vampiric Kemetic - This is a path I just recently discovered. The only group I am currently aware of is the Kemetic Order of Aset Ra. From my begining understanding of this path, I haven't read much on it yet, it seems to be the mix of a Reconstructionalist style order of Isis and vampirism.

Kemetic (When paired with Old/Middle/New Kingdom) - There are those who seek to practice Egyptian faith as it was practiced during the Egyptian time periods. Like the reconstructionalists and revivalists they approach the faith in a very scholarly manner. The major difference is that these Kemetics do not feel that change is needed to make the religion applicable to modern life. They see the faith as a universal truth that defies the passage of time.

This is of course only a small selection of what is out there in terms of Kemetic based paths. I hope this has at least given some insight.

Supports? Secret ones.

I am going to veer off of our usual archeological topics and talk about something interesting in my personal life. You may or may not have figured out at this point that I am a practicing Kemetic. (Remember back to Kemet being the word for Egypt?) Kemetic refers to someone who practices the Ancient Egyptian faith.(I promise to get into the different variations I have heard in one of the next posts.) The rest of my family is not, in fact, most of them are Christian of some flavor. I don't know if the events today made this more shocking or not. I think it was just a surprise of the most unexpected kind regardless of the religious affiliations involved.

Today, I was over helping my mom and step-father with some things to finish up their move to their new house. My step-father is one of those men that likes swap meets and flea markets and the like. He had a gift for me, or rather gave me something that he thought I would be interested in. He gave me an antique set of pharmacist's (Apothecary at the time they were made) scales. Then informed me that he thought I could fix them up and keep them with all of my statues.

I was floored. I rarely speak about my religion to my family, almost never in fact. Some how, in those little bits he picked up, not only that I wanted a pair of old school scales but that they were meant for my offering space. He didn't mention my religion at all, just a passing phrase that made it all feel extremely supportive.

A little bit of background for the reason for the scales. We, in modern culture, associate the scales with justice, honesty, truth perhaps. It was no different in Ancient Egypt. Ma'at, the goddess of truth, justice and fairness, was symbolized by the scales which were used to determine whether or not a person lived a "good life". Good in this sense relating to living one's life by the laws or truths of Ma'at. The scale is a central and important piece in belief and the imagery of the faith. It has the same sort of weight as something like the crown of thorns or the cross in Christianity where it is a sign of service and sacrifice for the better of others among other things.

Sadly, I don't have my camera charged so you will have to be satisfied for the time being with a rather cruddy camera phone picture. If I remember I will post an image of them when they are all cleaned up.