The first time I heard that question I was stumped, because it seemed to be asking about a characteristic of the religion which really hadn't figured into how I came to be a follower of old Kemet. I didn't go into this because of my love of musty old libraries, academia, or the joy of finding obscure books – that developed later. I didn't set out to find a religion which "pre-dated" anyone or anything. In fact, my devotion to the tenets of Kemetic religion have nothing to do with when or where they were originally practiced. I am devoted to them because they are relevant to me, here, today. I am devoted to them because they have enriched my life many times over, and because they have a great deal of wisdom and a unique perspective to convey to those of us who are willing to engage in a serious dialogue with them.
However, the forms in which I now engage in these dialogues are ancient and traditional. This was an approach at which I arrived after much thoughtful reflection and study. The gods, like all beings, have Their own ways of seeing and doing things. Their values, perspectives, and ways of acting are precisely some of the most precious gifts which They can share with Us- and they are intrinsically a part of who these gods are. Therefore, like any good student, loving admirer, or responsible partner, it falls to us to seek to understand Them and interact with Them in a way which is meaningful, respectful, and compatible with Them.
I have heard some within the Pagan community argue that they expect the gods to meet them on their own terms. The reasoning given varies from person to person, but in each case this approach basically puts all of the work in establishing a functional relationship squarely on the gods' shoulders. With all due respect, this doesn't sound like a solid foundation for personal growth, let alone a healthy partnership with the Divine.
If this seems harsh, then try this thought experiment- consider inviting the Dalai Lama over for dinner and then serving him a big juicy steak. It might be my favorite food, and it might be the way I greet all my friends or important teachers in life, but despite my good intentions it would be fundamentally inappropriate. Now my guest, given his great capacity for forgiveness and understanding will share that steak with me- and that is a reflection of his character. But it would be a poor reflection on my sincerity in wanting to welcome him, as well as on my capacity as a hostess- or a student! It would establish a shakey foundation on which to build a relationship. This is why, whenever welcoming someone special into our lives, people are naturally motivated to learn as much about them as possible. This desire helps to establish the foundation of a genuine relationship, as well as demonstrating our respect and general trustworthiness.
And so it is with the gods and other spirits. The question is, where do we look to learn about these values and customs in a way which would translate into human forms and actions? In the case of the gods of old Kemet, they can be found in the culture and religious forms of ancient Egypt.
The people of Kemet lived very close to these gods for thousands of years, perceiving and interacting with Them every day. Over the course of that time together they forged a deep and complex culture which linked the human and the divine communities in ways which were beneficial to both. The ritual forms, myths, and traditions of ancient Egyptian religion were born of this collaboration between the gods and this people whom They loved and lived for an unfathomable length of time- and we can benefit from this legacy, which has been so well documented and passed down to us.
In studying what has been left to us, we learn a great deal about what it is to live in the Kemetic worldview. We follow paths which have been worn smooth and marked well by millions of souls before us, leading to wonderous discoveries, insights, and sources of power which it may have taken us another several thousand years to rediscover on our own. By seeking out this knowledge and respectfully incorporating those core values into our own practices, we convey to the gods our willingness to learn from Them, respect Them, and meet Them part way in bridging the distance which centuries of silence have swept between us.
They can, and are willing, to meet us. With the culture and forms of traditional Kemetic values as touchstones to guide us on our way, we can connect with Them and rediscover the power and joy of a healthy, restored, and renewed relationship with the world around us.
Here you will find answers to questions which are either considered important by our temples, or which are often received by members of our temples. We encourage you to read through them – you may find some helpful information here. And if you don't find what you're looking for you can always contact us. These questions and responses focus on Kemetic reconstructionism in general and our temples' views on the process of reconstruction specifically. We welcome your feedback and comments, so please, drop us a line!
The Kemetic Temple of San Jose is offering a CD of the General Ritual for Sekhmet recited by temple members and author Richard Reidy. This ritual is based on ancient temple texts & appears in Eternal Egypt: Ancient Rituals for the Modern World. The ritual is a beautiful, meditative journey into the heart of ancient worship. All proceeds from the CD go for temple expenses.
This beautiful CD costs $15 (price incl. shipping in the U.S.)