You can talk to the Divine at any time with varying degrees of formality. practice your faith when just about everything becomes a prayer. You can offer your efforts in cooking a meal as thanks to Netjer for what you have been given, offering a portion of that in shrine. You can pray to Netjer behind the wheel of the car (and I often do that, myself!) or you can go out into nature and just appreciate the infinite variety of manifestations in Creation that shows the Divine to us. Really, it is about your personal relationship and the things you do personally to connect to the Divine. Proscriptions about doing A, B and then C, ad infinitum are ok, but nothing beats the internal, intuitive dialogue that only you can have with your Gods.
The so-called Pagan “community” can be a very petty, very cliquish, undisciplined lot, filled with opportunists of every stripe. Conversely, some within that community can be really wonderful, giving people. I gave up dealing with “groups” outside of the House many, many years ago and prefer to deal with individuals. I have some very close friends who are Elders in the Wiccan, Asatru, Alchemist, Ceremonialist even Diabolist ranks. Each one of them on their own are great people whom I think the world of. However, some of their “buddies” in the groups that they are affiliated with I wouldn’t eat or drink with them because, (let’s face it) they are absolute jerks and are not my kind of folks. So,taken with their customary dish of salt, the groups have their uses.
Some of us would be offended at the Pagan label. Just because something is not of the big three (ie. J, C or I) does not mean it is “Pagan”. Call some Native American religious traditions’ Pagan’, and they will show you the door in very short order. Some Hindus and certainly Buddhists also bristle at the term. Pagan has become a convenient catch-all for those who are not in the Big Three, and that really diminishes them. As Kemetic Orthodox, I do not like the term. I am not a Pagan. I am a monolatrist (not monotheist- there is a huge difference that I won’t go into right now). The bottom line is it is all about everyone having the right to self-identify. Some Satanists call themselves Pagan – and yet, watch the ranks within Wicca, et al scream at the temerity of those bleeping Satanists for doing. The neopagans love to insist that the Satanists and Diabolists are “little more than misguided Christians in rebellion”. That is far from the truth. Nothing is ever that simple that one pigenhole applies. 99.99% of those who believe that have never truly ever asked anyone from those ranks what the core beliefs are or taken the time to learn.
There is no absolutism that it is monolatry vs. paganism. I can see Kemetic Orthodoxy as both. That is the beauty of having polyvalent logic built into one’s spiritual belief. I personally dislike the term “Pagan” because it has for the most part been used as a derisive term against any belief system that does not toe the line or match up with what whatever dominant culture has as its core belief system. I honestly don’t think that the ancients thought about, “gee, if I worship Aset or Mithras or Tausi Melek, would I be considered a “Pagan”?” I find it interesting that modern culture needs to parse it so much. It really is ok, in my view, for people to not really have a name for what it is that they believe. Certainly the ancient Egyptians didn’t.
As a devotee of Sekhmet, I have found that there are those to whom when you do actually take the time to explain to them what it is that you believe, already have preconceived notions over what your beliefs and practices are. This is not at all unlike members of the big three. Pagans like to include you under their spiritual umbrella, especially if it will tend to bolster their numbers. They will also think nothing of conveniently ignoring your protestations about being lablled “just like them” in terms of belief and practice, when in fact, you aren’t. On one hand they are correct – on another hand, there is quite a bit of confusion at any possible objection to being put into the pagan box on the part of those who are not J, C, or I. It There is often also confusion that those who work magic(k) must be, by default, pagan. If we go by the idea that all prayer or focused intent is in fact heka or magic, then that would include every single religious and spiritual belief under that umbrella. In Egyptian belief in magic(k) or heka, it is very much a part of the belief system and is completely integrated into the lifestyle. Every act, ideally, becomes a prayer or heka. However, I think mainstream magical folks seem to have a decidedly different idea of what that means at times than what we as Kemetic Orthodox do!
It isn’t that people find the term Pagan incompatible with Kemetic Orthodoxy. It is just that the ancients really had no concept of parsing religious beliefs down as much as modern people insist upon doing today. Plus, there are many of us within Kemetic Orthdoxy who will never forget that it was Roman Pagans(*gasp*!!) who destroyed ancient Kemet’s religion – not the Christians, as so distressingly many in the Pagan community insist on believing. It’s all too easy for group minds to sink into a sort of meme of “us” vs. “them” mentality and then slap labels onto other groups which those groups would not dream of calling themselves. Those very terms may in fact end up insulting them in the end and yet pagans often seem oblivious or incredulous to this. Pigeonholes and preconceived notions are things we should be at least a little mindful of this. You can never go wrong by asking someone how they prefer to be called and then honouring that request.
But there is always some sort of perceived discrimination on the part of others because you do not follow the norm of the status quo.
So, while I am from the school of thought that our secular lives, though we integrate our religion into it; I still wonder why would anyone choose to advertise it? First of all, it is against the law for anyone to even ask, or discriminate based on that. I am not saying that it doesn’t happen- I sometimes think that people really bring on a great deal of the prejudice against them upon themselves. Wearing pentagrams or ankhs the size of manhole covers is nothing less than advertising. You may as well climb up onto your desk or climb the walls of your cubicle with a megaphone and shout it to all and sundry. Really, with any faith, there needs to be an awareness that wearing loads of crystal, symbols and amulets around one’s neck and a large, pagan-themed ring on every finger might make someone who does not share your beliefs just as uncomfortable in the workplace as you might be seeing an open Bible or Q’aran on the desk of a coworker. Faith is a fine thing. However, putting out a neon sign proclaiming it even to those who have not asked or have no care one way or another really does nothing to foster understanding, either.
As a Servant of the Eye of Ra – Sekhmet / Hathor, the Divine Feminine, and as someone who knows who Amun-Ra, Durga, Aset and Azazel are, and having been down a road where the dominant, herd culture likes to paint the things it does not understand in the worst light possible, I can say without hesitation nothing is ever as simple as people make it out to be. Layer upon layer of lies, deceits, manipulations of half-truths and outright falsehoods designed to mislead people from thinking for themselves, doing for themselves and realizing what their birthrights truly are, still permeate the consciousness of the majority of people outside of our collective groups.
Let’s face it: ‘The Goddess’, be it Sekhmet or Hecate, or the God, whether that be Osiris, Set, Lucifer / Satan, Azazel / Malek Taus, et al, were vilified by the dominant culture in an effort to increase the territory that the Church and the attached governments controlled in all aspects of people’s lives. This was true over the course of current common era (CE) history. My only suggestion is that today we need to take a large step back and look at who the real deceivers were and their motivations for having done so in the first place. The so-called “Beast” is ignorance and complacency and the forgetting of who we truly are and our responsibility to the world and our place within it. We must ask ourselves, what is it exactly that have we learned about the whole of it all? These are the question which bear some serious consideration on all of our part.