Authenticity

(In a fit of boredom, I ended up with three A posts instead of just two. Rather than throw one out, think of this one as a bonus. The official one will be published tomorrow on schedule.)

I thought about going with Aset. It would have been a good no-brainer kind of choice. She is the mother of my divined “father” afterall, and I also sometimes call her Mom. After thinking about it though, I wasn’t sure that there was much I could add to the subject. There are better sources for information out there than me, and my UPG(unverified personal gnosis) probably won’t do anyone else much good. I’m sure Mom will forgive me.

The decision NOT to go with the obvious choice does relate to today’s subject. While considering it, I had a definite feeling that I should go with something else. If I ignored that feeling, it would have felt off somehow even if the logic was perfectly sound. I would have been tempted to paraphrase someone else’s words to make myself look smart. You’d be better off reading those books yourself if you are drawn to the subject.

So what does it mean to be authentic? For one, it means not pretending to be something I’m not, like a scholar in ancient Egyptian studies. To some, being authentic may mean getting every detail of a ritual as close to the original as possible. There is some merit in that, especially if your goal is to learn more about the people who wrote the ritual. Learning about the people will also help you in understanding the gods. It gives a sense of context.

On the other hand, authenticity also means recognizing my own context. I don’t pretend to be ancient Egyptian. I do happen to live in a desert next to a famous river upon which our community depends. Water is life. That is a bit of context that I authentically understand. Every time I cross the river, I take note of how much, or how little, water is in it, and compare it with the average for that season of the year. It’s not just part of my spiritual life, it’s part of my normal life. I eat pecans that come from groves that are flood irrigated by that same river. I offered some of those pecans to my Sobek statue. Nothing fancy, I just put some at his feet while I nibbled my own snack. I don’t know that crocodiles are particularly fond of pecans, but they are a product of the river, which Sobek does care about. You probably won’t find pecans listed in any book as a suggested offering. By understanding the relationships in my own context, I can come up with a list that has meaning for both of us.

So next time you find yourself doing, or not doing, something purely because “the book said,” take a moment. There are some good reasons for following the book. Upholding a valued tradition is a good reason. Learning something new, by genuinely giving it a try, is a good reason. Finding a point of resonance with the past or with your chosen group is a good reason. “Because they said so,” is not a good reason. There are also some good reasons for setting the book aside. The person who wrote the book most likely doesn’t live where you live. They don’t share your same experiences. Their internal symbolic language is not exactly the same as yours. Don’t pretend to be them. Be authentic.

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