OOC: Mini Rant: How NOT to Write All Things Kemetic (Especially Fiction) 101

I posted this on Pan Historia this morning. I have had more than enough. seriously. I also see this crap on the House boards, not just by guests and newbies but by those who should know better – had they been paying attention in Beginner’s Class! *note to self* Bigger drill bits to pierce the extra-thick craniums next class!!

I have been involved in ancient Egyptian religion for a very long time. I have studied the hieroglyphs on and off for about 25 years. I am by no means a master of any of this. But one thing absolutely drives me into FITS and indicates quite clearly to me those who grasp the concept of the religion, and those that just sort of use it as an overlay to what they think they already know.

The Ancient Kemetic / Egyptian word for God is Netjer Ntr. The plural of that is Netjeru (Ntrw). When people use the words, “The Netjer” or “The Netjers”, I grind my teeth. The Ancient Egyptians believed in the One and the Many, the Many in the One. Isis and Ra and Osiris and the Aten all were a part of a concept of the unfathomable, unknowable ONE and was referred to as Netjer. It is sort of like the Hindu concept of Brahman. Each of them in and of Themselves IS indeed Netjer – and each of Them feed into that Whole. They are both at the same time Individual and All One.

When someone talks about going into God’s presence – or a specific God’s presence, you do not say, “I went into the sanctuary of the Netjer.” That’s grammatically and theologically incorrect. You say, “I went into Netjer’s presence.” God is God, no matter what Face He or She is wearing, or whether They are clothed in a kilt or a sheath…or not at all! We determine the difference by saying Name of Netjer or referring to Them in plural as The Names, the Netjeru (plural) – which is all inclusive, whether or not you are speaking about the range of Names from 2 all the way up to the 4,000+ Names of Netjer.

Gender issues with Netjer get a little trickier. A Female Name of Netjer are sometimes referred to as Netjert or Netjeret. The plural for more than one would again revert back to Netjeru or Names of Netjer. Bast is not really ever Bastet. That is credited back to a translation error in early Egyptology where the female determinative of ‘t’ was believed to be an extra “t” in that particular Name of Netjer. It is just Bast. That’s it. Nothing more. Believe me, She does NOT need anything more than that! If you do put any more on that, it really does bring up images of Josie and the Pussycats or Bast and the Bastets. And no, they will not be opening up in Las Vegas for the Wayne Newton show at the Luxor!!

So….quick recap:

It’s “Netjer” , NOT “The Netjer”
“Netjeru” NOT “The Netjers”
“Bast” NOT “Bastet”

Anyone who writes Egyptian fiction absolutely classify themselves into who actually understands Kemetic culture and correct terminology and those who just play at (unconvincingly) it on the Internet or in books. Don’t believe me? Look at the works of legendary author of all things Ancient Egyptian, Pauline Gedge. You will NEVER see her making these mistakes. And if you want to sound credible and as if you actually do live the culture, you need to consider these things very carefully.

Otherwise, it’s just some virtual costume and wig that you have put on and your audience can more than likely see through the disguise. And those of us who know better are on the other sides of our screens just laughing at you – trust me.

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24 Comments

Filed under fiction, kemetic, livejournal, pagan, writing

24 responses to “OOC: Mini Rant: How NOT to Write All Things Kemetic (Especially Fiction) 101

  1. well, i suppose you are now going to tell me that there are no emerald tablets of Thoth. i’m crushed. *pout* 😉

    • Menekh….I do love you. But please don’t make me EAT YOU!! 😉 LOL!

    • ummm

      They aren’t emerald.

      I thought everyone knew that *innocent blink*.

      Don’t let her fool you about the secret hidden radiance chamber deep down below in the Sphinx.

      • Re: ummm

        But you KNOW it’s all a conspiracy by Zahi Hawass, who is in league with the Vatican and the CIA to keep that information from the people. If Humanity as a whole finds it, we will contemplate the true meaning of the Great Pyramid and the hidden message of Tutankhamun as Jesus and rise to our birthright in the Universe! The Great White Brotherhood has told us so!

      • Re: ummm

        Wait, so everything in the National Treasure movies is true, too?

        brb preparing for vast worldwide conspiracies to come to the light

      • Re: ummm

        Of course it is!! They got all the information from Vincent Bridges aka Dr. Strange and his wife Darlene who channels Sekhmet! It’s true! It’s all true!

      • Re: ummm

        well, i know for a fact that there is an alien machine hidden inside the great pyramid because I saw it in “Transformers”.

      • Re: ummm

        and i suppose you are all going to try and tell me that those knitting needles that Osiris holds aren’t knitting needles. please. what do you think he used to knit all of his mummy wrappings?! really people…..

      • Re: ummm

        Look, did you miss the usenet posting about finding Osiris with the name OSIRIS embroidered on His pink jammies? Because it was posted like 1997 -1998 to sci.archeology. That group’s credibility CANNOT be refuted – ever. Then there was the post by demonic@groin.co.uk about how the Great Pyramid is Proof of Sheep and he had the courage to ask the question, “Do Japanese Buttocks Explode in a Vaccuum?”

        You guys think I am kidding but it’s all true. Alas, however, when Google purchased Dejanews.com, they managed to “lose” many such timeless classics. Now I am hard pressed to find them anywhere and hopefully I can repost them here! *wail* It’s all so unfair! If none of that does not convince you of the conspiracy, just do not know what will!

      • Re: ummm

        What about the light bulbs? And the aliens?

      • Re: ummm

        and dont forget the submarines! It is right there at Abydos!!

      • Re: ummm

        They took a submarine through the StarGate? I must have missed that…

      • Re: ummm

        Oh, yeah. They submersed the darned thing into the passages of Abydos, then they put the little sub through it and away they went!

  2. Hmmph. Next you’ll be telling us that those funny poses in the tomb paintings are just artistic convention and not, ya know, the way people actually walked Back Then.

    • LOL! You are welcome! It wasn’t anything in the boards. It is an interactive fiction novel that is being put on Pan Historia. I love my cowriters immensely and respect them, but if you are going to write High Priestess of X Name of Netjer, do NOT make these newbieesque mistakes! It’s all in good fun and no one springs from the womb knowing this stuff! 😉

  3. I am completely convinced that the sphinx was orginally a pug before the egyptians got to it. All esoteric knowledge comes fromt he alien pug being from Atlantis. Did any of you see Men in Black? Frank the Pug was one of these beings. All the knowledge of the universe is contained in the song, “I Will Survive!”

    • I heard that! I believe you are correct! OMG! It all makes sense now. So Murray Hope and Loraine Tartatsky who wrote those Lion People novels and new age expose’s were kind of right…they just thought it was about lions rather than Pugs!

  4. Congratulations, you’ve officially fixed a huge chunk of confusion that’s been in my brain about Bast since I was about 6. When I was a kid, I read “The Egypt Game”, and Bast was continually referred to as Bastet. Now, being a kid, I figured this was right, though every other book I read had her listed as Bast. So! Now I know that the author of that book just didn’t get it.

    Now, while I don’t write the Egyptian religion on a regular basis, does the sentence structure hold up to ancient times? Like, say, if I played a time traveler or something, and he went back to the BC’s, would the same structure play out?

    Also, while I went into the sanctuary of the Netjer is incorrect, would I went into Netjer’s sanctuary be appropriate? What about a non-believer saying a sentence like that to a believer? Would they be corrected or simply scoffed at?

    • I confess, I have several avantages that most of the laypublic doesn’t. I have been actively studying Egyptology very seriously since I was in high school. I am a board member of the Egyptologist’s Electronic Forum now for over fifteen years. My son’s godmother is herself a professional Egyptologist who got her degree from the Oriental Institute and I am a member of an Egyptian Temple. So I can’t escape it at any time, really.

      Studying Egyptian hieroglyphs and language structure takes at least ten years of realy intense study – and I am always feeling as if I don’t know enough. In order to really study it, you also have to study Coptic which is Greekified Egyptian and then there is Hieratic which to be honest, is like a shorthand. The language has several hundred different symbols and seventeen tenses! It changed so much over its 5000 year plus history, and there was one point, particularly during the Ptolemaic period where it was a complete MESS! Some of it made no sense at all. And those are just some of the reasons why it is such a difficult study and there is so much confusion that is out there. Then there are a few folks like R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, his wife, Isha and his stepdaughter Lucy Lamy who have lots of books out there on the symbological view of Ancient Egypt that further muddy the waters. While they may have *some* valid points, there are just so much dreck that has to be sorted through.

      Whenever non-believers or those ignorant of how things are said, it usually gets a polite smile and the listener will generally not correct them. They will simply respond in the correct way in the hopes that the subtlety will be picked up by the listener. Words are sacred in the culture, afterall. 😉

  5. I never get that specific, because I know that I’m not nearly as versed in things as I should be. Plus, Akilah is from WoD and they take *tons* of liberties with actual history.

    • I have no problem with what you have written for your character, particularly if you are following a certain fandom that is well established as WoD is. I do want to take the books that they put out, march to their research department and pummel them about the head and shoulders with BETTER research materials! 😉 So none of that falls on you! *g*

      My main issue is with people I write with in original fiction situations – and non-fiction places where people waltz in and try to “tout what they know” – but their source materials are either crap or 150 years out of date (ie. anything by Budge!)

  6. I would love to make a joke about the connection between Ancient Egyptian deities and the White Wolf feline shape changers, but you know my brain sucks this late in the morning.

    Maybe when I wakes up, yes?

    *hugs and drags self off to sleep*

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