So, what does it mean to be Kemetic? I’m sure there are varying opinions on that topic, but basically we’re the folks who have made Ancient Egypt part of our spiritual lives. I’m trying to stick to general, and hopefully noncontroversial information, but if something doesn’t seem right, or if you think something needs clarification, go ahead and leave a comment so that the readers can see what other views are out there. I’m not a scholar. I’m just someone who the gods dragged in.
A Kemetic may follow the deities of Ancient Egypt in one way or another. The names of the Names can get confusing here. Most of the names you probably learned in school are the Greek versions. Heru became Horus, and Aset became Isis, but Sekhmet is still Sekhmet. So what are the real names? That can vary depending on who you ask. I go with the spellings used in the Kemetic Orthodoxy, because those are the ones that I’ve learned. I’ve seen other variations used here and there, and I still know who they’re talking about without blinking an eye. I know that Anubis is Yinepu is Anpu, for example. Why all the variation? The ancients had this thing about not writing down all the vowels, so a best guess is simply a best guess. There is also a huge time span to look at and a lot of geography for ancient people to cover. That results in changes to the language itself. Not to worry though. It is generally understood that the names the humans know are not the gods’ true names anyway. They still answer to the various nicknames that they’ve accumulated over the years, no matter how badly we may be pronouncing them now.
One thing you notice right away is that the gods are not human. They can appear human. They can appear animal. They can be somewhere in between. Do my divined fathers literally have falcon heads and human bodies? No, I don’t believe so, unless they just decide that’s what they want to look like on that particular day. Animals are an easy shorthand to remind us that our gods are beyond human. They are something other. They can look like us and talk like us, but only because they choose to do so. Your interpretation of “beyond human” may vary. If the animal thing wasn’t enough, the gods also aspect and syncretize. Sometimes they blend together. Sometimes one may change into another, or simply take up another’s role under a different name. The variations can give you headaches at times. Kemetic gods are very difficult to pin down. It reminds us to be a little cautious in case we start getting too comfortable in thinking we know everything there is to know about Them.
Another thing that Kemetics all seem to have in common is ma’at, the concept, and Ma’at, the goddess. There are different ways of describing ma’at. Most non Kemetics may recognize her as the feather on the scales that is weighed against a human heart in the afterlife. She is most recognizably a symbol of justice, and the scales are still a symbol of justice in our courtrooms today. We do have that weighing of the heart thing going on. We do know that someday we will have to answer for the way that we have lived. Some pagans may rail against the similarities to Christianity, but hey, the Kemetics were there first. But there’s more to ma’at than simply “justice.” It is also the balance that keeps life, and the universe itself, running smoothly. Ma’at can range from societal laws, to the laws of instinct and survival, to the actual physical laws of the universe. We can’t really go through life without breaking some of these here or there. We’re not perfect. Ma’at is more concerned with the overall balance that evens the scales over time, action and reaction, cause and effect. Maybe even karma, in the various meanings of the word.
And then there’s the opposite of ma’at,
Apep. Every morning at dawn, the giant serpent tries to devour the sun. The forces of existence and nonexistence are perpetually at war. We have no end of the world thing to “look forward to.” Our “end of the world” threatens every single day, and every single day, our gods fight to keep us all going. We have no talk of the End Times, or Final Judgement. My gods’ response to end of the world talk? “Not on MY watch!” The end of the world isn’t a glorious thing. It isn’t a game. It is something to be fought every day and forever. I don’t know about other Kemetics, but I don’t make jokes about nuking anyone, ever.
Then there are the principles of family and community. The gods are all family to each other. Egypt, or Kemet, was one of the first great civilizations, sporting a centralized government. It may be hard to come to terms with those ideas in the current situation where Kemetics often live many miles apart. Many of us are converts who do not have family backing in our spiritual pursuits. Still, the themes of community and family, including departed family members, come up repeatedly in our texts. It is a big deal. It is something we must strive toward as being a manifestation of ma’at. We are stronger when we work together. We can build wonders.