Don’t Be A Dick

This is the official unofficial Kemetic motto. We should embroider it on doilies and carve it in stone. If nothing else, write it on a note with a marker and stick it on the edge of your computer monitor. Go ahead and draw a dick on it to go along with the message. You know you want to.

“Don’t be a dick” is a modern interpretation of the idea of living in ma’at. There are many interpretations of what exactly ma’at entails, but I see it as the balance that holds the world, as we know it, together. It keeps us alive and healthy. It keeps our communities strong. It makes for a well-tuned ecosystem, among other things. We rarely achieve perfect balance, because the world isn’t perfect, but as long as we live, we can keep working on improvement.

One of the central images of Kemeticism is the image of the deities, most often Set, but sometimes others are shown, fighting against a giant snake Apep. We strike out its name because we never want to add to its power. It is an embodiment of isfet, the force that goes against ma’at. If the snake wins, the sun is devoured and we can kiss our rear ends goodbye. Ma’at nourishes our gods, while isfet, makes the snake stronger. We REALLY don’t want it to win, not even once.

So, live in ma’at, or else. What is the or else? The gods will punish you? Maybe, depending on how badly you’ve screwed up. But no, the “or else” is that when you don’t, you are picking at the threads that hold the world together. (You know that place where you live where you keep all your stuff?) It doesn’t take a belief in gods to get behind that reasoning.

Let’s bring it back to “Don’t Be a Dick.” There is a lot more to ma’at than whether or not you’re a jerk to others, but it’s a good place to start. It’s simple. The “or else” here might not mean the end of the world, but when you act like a dick, especially in public, either outside or online, you are picking at the threads that hold your community together. You know, that place where you like to hang out? That second family? The place where you post your stuff?

Try to speak within ma’at. Tell the truth, as you understand it, but don’t use it as a weapon to cut others. You win nothing by “winning” arguments on the internet. Building a community is a win. Helping others is a win. Making people feel welcome and safe is a win. Teaching those who want to learn is a win. Listening and learning are huge wins.

And if someone tries your patience so badly that you’re just not feeling the ma’at, then execrate them as we execrate the snake. That’s what the block/delete/ignore button is for. Don’t let anyone drag you down to their level. You don’t owe them anything.

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White Fire

This is an astral, UPG kind of post.

The white fire has been a specialty of mine in the astral for years. To the corrupt, it’s a terrifying weapon that can reduce an isfet-creature to ash. To the pure, it’s not much more than a refreshing spa treatment. (This solves the classic no-eyed Heru-wer problem of being unable to distinguish friend from foe.) Most of us fall somewhere in between. It burns, but you feel better after it’s over. The price for wielding it is that it burns both ways. I’m not immune. Add an empathic connection to the mix and you can see why I only use it when things get serious.

All the talk I’ve heard lately about lakes of fire made me wonder if there was a lake of this stuff somewhere. Lakes of fire aren’t all that new to me either. I used to astrally hang out inside a live volcano when I was younger.

I did find a small secluded pool of the white fire. I had the impression that it was at a high elevation, surrounded by a broadleaved evergreen thicket, and hidden by a shroud of mist. I couldn’t see the sky. Only the soft glow of the pool itself illuminated the place.

I stepped into the liquid fire. It was more gentle than what I normally use. Instead of ripping through the body in seconds, this is the kind of place where you lie back and soak as it slowly infiltrates your barriers. It still burns when it finds something worth burning. After awhile, Ma’at, or one of her netjeri, lifted me out of the pool and wrapped me in a wet cloth to recover. It was then I realized that she owned the pool.

When I woke up, I shivered as if I was freezing, and the chronic knots in my shoulders had loosened up. I probably should have gone to the spirit-side apartment before coming back to ease the transition. I ate some food and that helped. I may be spending more time there.

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.

Kemetic

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.

The King and I

I haven’t been making many mysticism posts lately. Not because I haven’t been busy, but because I’m not sure what to say about how things have changed. Ra and I did not start out with a good relationship. I was angry at him for a long time. I had a good reason to be angry. He never denied that. (For those who don’t already know, think shaman sickness, but without any explanation of what was going on at the time.) I was angry, but I didn’t leave. I made an effort to find out what happened and why. It took a long time, but understanding eventually took the place of anger.

When I wrote the Foundation and Center post, Heru told me that he was my center, and Ra was my foundation. I share some of Heru’s qualities and quirks. He’s part of my identity. But if I stray outside of Ra’s boundaries, I’m likely to fall. Nobody likes to be told that they have boundaries, even if we all do. The fact is, that in the past I was sometimes stricken with a sort of spiritual malaise. I felt like I was drifting aimlessly and couldn’t really decide where I was going, where I should go, or even where I wanted to go. I felt like I didn’t really belong anywhere and no one quite knew what to do with me. Losing focus is one of the signs of not understanding boundaries. I hated to admit it, but he was right. I needed a lens through which to focus my light. A diffuse glow might be pretty, but it will never cook ants, or something.

I finally gave in. I told him I would serve him. Not just send offerings in his general direction, but “Jump, how high?” That’s a scary thing to do. I understand that if I refuse a request, he can mess me up. I already have first hand knowledge of what he’s capable of doing to me. But I’m not here because of fear. I’m here because some things are more important than fear. If he tells me to do something that goes against my center, or against Ma’at, I will have to refuse and just deal with what comes. I trust that he won’t do that. He understands how it works as well as, or better than, I do.

So far, it’s going pretty well. He sees potential in my strengths. He sees how my weaknesses are holding me back. Instead of deriding me for them, he’s actively working to help me overcome them. One of his first lessons has been about what service is, and isn’t. He wants me to be strong so I can put that strength to use. He does not want me to devolve into some selfless “yesman.” That would be useless to him. I’m definitely not his equal in this relationship, but that doesn’t mean I am powerless. He has responsibilities too, and he takes them very seriously. He is a god who inspires loyalty and respect. I serve him because he serves Ma’at.

On a personal level, I’m starting to like him. There actually is a sense of humor hidden somewhere under that crown and jewelry. I might have seen him smile once or twice, but don’t tell anyone or I might get in trouble for spreading vicious rumors!

Mister Freaking Rogers

This morning I was reading Cracked as I often do. Cracked is a font of wisdom, knowledge, silliness and dick jokes, much like the Kemetic deities. This morning there was an article about Mr. Rogers. Read it, really. Bookmark it for later if you’re busy right now. For added points, read the Esquire article that was also linked there. You won’t regret it.

If you remember watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood while growing up, these articles can only increase your respect for the man. If you never watched the show, then it will be an education. His life was far more impressive than a simple children’s show, because he lived his beliefs, all day and every day. How many of us can say that?

You want to be a spiritual leader? Then ask yourself, WWFRD? (What Would Fred Rogers Do?)