Among the Dunes

For the last few weeks, I have been slowly burrowing into my studies of Kemeticism. As I find myself digging further and further into this religious path, sifting through the knowledge of others – through books and blogs and conversations – I begin to find myself drawn to a number of elements of Kemetic belief and practice. With that all said, here are five things that I like about Kemeticism (so far):

  1. Ma’at – From the beginning, I have felt a pull towards ma’at. It’s a complicated topic within Kemeticism, like many things are, but generally described as the “proper order” or simply “order.” If you want an easier breakdown, it can be loosely described as “good” or “goodness,” but that’s placing a role upon it that doesn’t necessarily equate to the actual meaning.This idea of ma’at, though, has given me a happy, pleased feeling. Something to work towards and within, a general ethics system without dictating specifics that I cannot abide as they do not ring true for me. That said, there are guiding principles of ma’at, ways to further its cause. I spent awhile discussing the 10 Virtues of Ma’at with Brooke of Making Bright the other day, breaking them down and discussing the ones that didn’t make sense to me from my first reading. Many of these are things I have consciously tried to incorporate into my life and personal ideology for awhile now, even before I began to study Kemeticism. A detail like this is something that pleases me, makes me feel even more like this is the right path for me.
  2. Heka – This is something that has fascinated me since I first learned of it which was, coincidentally, not in a Kemetic context at all. There’s a book series by Jenn Bennett called the Arcadia Bell series. In it, the titular magician uses heka, a magical property to bodily fluids that allows her to perform magic. However, heka works – or, at least, seems to work as it, too, is a complicated subject without a definite answer – differently in Kemetic practice. Though, having read the creation myth regarding Atum, I wonder if it’s really any different at all.The main idea I come across, though, is heka being the power of words. Words have power and they are to be chosen with care. I work at this already; words and language are important to me and I try to treat them with respect.
  3. Balancing Act – Ma’at does not exist in a vacuum. It exists in a complicated world where one must maintain the balance between order and chaos or isfet. This idea of a balance, of striking an equilibrium between the two and finding the isfet in ma’at and the ma’at in isfet appeals to me. Geraldine Pinch comments on this:

    Chaos was not presented as totally evil. Beings such as Nun, god of the chaotic primeval ocean, were honoured as ‘fathers’ of the creator. It is implied that some elements of chaos were necessary for survival and had to be harnessed rather than eliminated. The energy and strength of the chaos god Seth were needed when the forces of order faced monsters such as the insatiable sea or the serpent Ap-phis. People were thought to have the capacity to choose between living in ma’at or isfet.

    “Chapter 6 – Lord of the Two Lands: Myths of Nationhood,” Egyptian Mythology: A Very Short Introduction

  4. It’s not all about the gods. – Devo wrote a post on this recently and it quieted some thoughts I had been having. At the moment, I work with gods and I am content with my deity-devotee relationships for now. The rest of it, the religious aspects, is what I am pursuing. So this confirmation that Kemeticism works without devoting to the gods soothes my nerves and gives me other routes to focus on without relying too specifically on the Kemetic pantheon.
  5. Community – It should come as no surprise that the focus on community in Kemeticism appeals to me. After all, I have written on it here multiple times – just check my community tag. A search for “community” here brings up even more hits. So the emphasis in Kemeticism on building community, developing ties, boat-paddling to make bridges between the different isles – at least within my own Kemetic circle – and action (that is to say community service) all appeal to me on a visceral level.

These are just a few things that I have come across in my Kemetic study, things that appeal to me and things that make sense to me in this religion. The more I study, the more things fall into place for me. It’s as if a puzzle I had halfway put together began suddenly developing the images I was looking for and I’m finding new pieces to add to what I have already constructed. Is Kemeticism for me, definitely? It’s too early to say and I resist the idea of labeling myself a Kemetic before I feel ready to. I am still learning and studying, but thus far, things are looking that way.

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5 Responses to Among the Dunes

  1. urbanpooka says:

    I have a question about point number four. It isn’t all about the gods, but can you be a Kemetic pagan without gods? That might be a ridiculous question, but I’ve heard of pagans who don’t feel attachment to any particular diety. Could someone who felt drawn to conceptions like ma’at, heka, and the idea of maintaining balance in the way described consider themselves a Kemetic pagan if the had no relationship with the netjer? Would honored the netjer as a whole be an option rather than pursuing a one on one relationship? Would it be better to use words like Kemetic-inspired? I know you can’t necessarily answer these questions, but I thought you could weigh in. Kemetic gods keep appearing in my radar, but I do not feel for them as deeply as I do my personal spirits. The ethics ring very true, though.

    • Personally? Yes, I think you can be a Kemetic Pagan without worshiping the Kemetic deities. For me, at this juncture, so long as you don’t reject their existence, you can be a good Kemetic without worshiping them.

      Many folks at this time are feeling drawn to Kemeticism, especially tumblr folk. I question why that is, but it’s not for me to say why or why not. (Though I still question it.)

      That said, Devo touches on these ideas in her blog post, how to be a Kemetic without god-worship. If you haven’t read it yet, I’d recommend it. I think it will answer a lot of your questions. But if you’re finding yourself drawn to Kemetic ideals and concepts, it might be worth looking into some of the literature. Naydler’s Temple of the Cosmos is one I see recommended a lot regarding Kemetic ideology and belief; you may want to start there. I’m still reading it myself.

  2. helmsinepu says:

    I don’t know if I’d put too much emphasis on the “10 Virtues of Ma’at” being especially Kemetic, though they do seem to be positive. I’d say the negative confessions are a poor source for a moral code, with the possible exception of “I have not caught fish with bait made from the same kind of fish.”
    On the “Kemeticism without Gods”- I have yet to find anything that says you need to “believe” in the NTR to have a good afterlife. You might have an advantage negotiating the dangers of the Duat, but that seems to be it.
    I suspect that most of the ‘you must have a patron’ stuff is modern. Priests back then moved from one temple to another, working for a different god or goddess. When traveling, people thought it was important to pray to the local NTR as well as the ones back home. The more you had on your side, the better.
    Good summary!

    • I do like the 10 virtues in terms of guidelines. They’re pretty positive and things that don’t skeeve me out – or are things that I’ve already been working towards myself. I need to go over the negative confessions again, though, personally.

      Belief and faith appear more modern than we expect them to be. Ancient peoples seemed more along the lines of “The gods exist and that’s fine and dandy but I gotta focus on my day to day requirements.” With the exception of the priestly class and royals, the ancient laymen never seemed overly concerned with the idea of belief. The gods simply were, no? Perhaps I’m crossing a few streams here; been awhile since I brushed up on my ancient history study.


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