Some Things Should Stay Buried

When you have a created religion, you get to take the moral high road. You get to decide how to incorporate the morality of the day into your practice. You get to pretend that morality is a universal spiritual constant and anyone who hasn’t been doing that way is less spiritually evolved.

If you follow a historically based religion, it’s not so easy. There are thousands of skeletons stored in those closets.

I recently watched a documentary about North Korea. My naive, sheltered self was a little shocked to realize that places like that still exist in the world. At one point, they said that Kim Jong-un was compared to the sun. Get too close and you burn. Get too far away and you freeze to death. Now, where have I heard that before? Aw, crap.

You might argue that it wasn’t that bad in old Kemet, but out of hundreds of kings, it probably was that bad at certain points, if not worse. It doesn’t take a genius to recognize that the inscriptions on the temples are propaganda. Also, times have changed. A “good” king, as measured by the morality of the day, would probably look like a tyrant measured by today’s standards. (To be fair, they did face greater threats from famine and war than what we enjoy today.)

I could talk about slavery, but what’s the point there? My own country allowed slavery until very recently, by historical standards. Kemetic slaves might have been treated better, or they might not have. Again, with so many years behind it, you really can’t determine what the standard was, or how often people deviated from the standard.

I can talk about the lower classes remaining illiterate, and how illiteracy would doom them to having no idea how to navigate a dangerous and terrifying afterlife. Dante’s Inferno sickened me. Dante’s descriptions weren’t all that far off from what you’d see in ancient Egyptian texts. Apparently, all you’d need to do in order to land in one of the nets of the fishers of souls was to simply be poor and not know how to escape.

As a Kemetic, I really can’t take the moral high road, unless I build that road myself. We really don’t want a repeat of the old times. We need to let the bad stuff rot in its grave and only bring the good stuff into our modern practices. We must redefine Ma’at for our times and build on that instead.


7 thoughts on “Some Things Should Stay Buried

  1. In the case of funerary literature, it seemed that simply possessing the literature was enough. Reading was a plus. The reason is because heka is efficacious whether its possessor fully understands it or not. The best heka is that which is understood, but the god judges on the heart and what lies therein as opposed to whether or not you can read the text in a book.

    The Book of the Dead appears to have gotten inexpensive enough for the vast majority of people to afford, by the way. In Barry Kemp’s, “How to Read the Egyptian Book of the Dead”, he mentioned that some people would be buried with more than one copy. That says volumes about the price.

    If you read New Kingdom and Late Period literature, you see that it is the good person who goes to Kemetic “heaven”, literate or no. Given the conservative nature of ancient Egypt, there’s no reason not to believe that people as far back as the Middle Kingdom might have felt similarly. The Old Kingdom is kind of an exception as far as theology goes.

    What the literature and architecture want us to believe and what the sources actually tell us are two different things. I think the high road can come from the literature. I’ve been filling in other holes with Hindu stuff.

    I know a lot of the ancient Egyptian stuff is objectionable to us, but we have to remember that the poor folk would have had their own version of the state religion that must have provided a lot of meaning and comfort. No doubt off-duty priests would share some of their knowledge. The laity didn’t live great lives, no, yet they weren’t all ground into the dust at all periods. The afterlife for them seemed to be a place where everyone could be equal under the eyes of the gods.

    Also, I’m not sure how apt a comparison between Dante’s Inferno and the ancient Egyptian texts is. In Inferno, there’s no hope. In the ancient Egyptian texts, there’s hope for the good-hearted person. There is a great deal of cruelty, but we have to remember that the ancient Egyptians were intensely symbolic. I wouldn’t be the least surprised if some apt symbolic interpretations could be made on, say, the fishers of souls. In fact, almost everything in Kemetic mythology has a fairly accessible symbolic meaning if you’re willing to look for it. Much of the time you can’t confirm it with scholarship, of course.

    • shezep says:

      I started to cite sources and give examples of the horrors of the duat, and explain why it reminds me of Dante, but since my entire point is that they should be erased, speaking of them would go counter to my intentions.

      Skip the arduous journey, go straight to the hall of judgement and be judged solely on your merit. If you fail, be devoured by Ammit and be at an end to it. The gate guards can twiddle their thumbs and the slaughter-chamber can go empty from now until forever. That story suits me much better than some of the others I’ve read.

  2. von186 says:

    I agree. There are parts of the past we need to leave in the past, and a lot of AE history is glossed over and fluffed up because OMG EGYPT ❤
    I will state that I dislike the Duat. Immensely. Its a depressing place and I'd hate to live there for the rest of forever. I think the entire pantheon may need to shake things up- both here and there.
    But all in all, I agree with this post.

    • shezep says:

      I agree with the shaking up. Adapt or die as they say. The old ways don’t work anymore, and they might not have worked that well back then either.

      • von186 says:

        I think when it comes to the various NTRW- some are more open to modernization than others >.>;

        • shezep says:

          I imagine that Wesir might not be real big on change.

          Heru-sa is always willing to learn new things, as long as they suit his purposes. I think Djehuty is loving the information age. Ra will always be old-fashioned, but he’ll hear arguments that are rooted in practicality.
          If Heru-sa and Djehuty keep making subtle hints in Ra’s direction, it could be fun! 🙂

          • von186 says:

            I think Osiris is more adaptive than people give him credit for.
            Ra omg. No. He strikes me as “I like it this way. stfu”. I haven’t tried to convince him to change yet, though.

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