I really love this post by Satsekekhem (Aubs). It definitely reflects where my head has been for the last five years or so.
TBH, I don’t know that I am even just fully Kemetic anymore. Unlike Aubs and other Kemetics who have so selflessly and diligently blogged about their daily practices and experiences, I found I was always driven kept them held close to the vest. I think that practice goes back to a couple of things. The major one is One because when I was fully Kemetic Orthodox, everything I did or didn’t do fell under such intense scrutiny – not by the organization necessarily, although there was that, but more importantly, myself. I gave up a lot of the skillset I fought hard for & stopped practicing most of them that I had done before when I became Kemetic.
Because of that, I spent years (!!!!) being angry, resentful, and feeling like I was completely cut off from what I knew. Josephine McCarthy’s Quareia course rather began the process. Now I feel my Indigenous ancestors pushing me and it feels like I’ve finally come home. The “Question” is complex, but it is many fo the things Aubs discusses here.
Of course, Kemet is still there, but it is only part of the picture. I confess, I am more private about my practices than most, but some days I don’t feel like doing anything magical or toward my Craft at all. But it’s the practice, in my view, that we definitely need.
One of the many little parts of my daily ritual includes the pulling of a daily card. I leave it out on the window sill beside my cupful of Ma’at to soak up the morning rays or the leaden skies that are forecast for the day. Sometimes, when I pull the card, I immediately understand it. It’s a reminder, a suggestion, and push in the right direction. Sometimes it begs me to slow down and to take care of myself. And sometimes it makes no sense whatsoever; it means nothing to me at the time. Whether it means something to me later is a matter of debate.
As part of this little ritual, I select a single deck to use for the month ahead. I prefer to use the same deck day-in and day-out for the full month because it helps me to understand decks that I may not…
Over the years, I have heard about every argument about what race the Ancient Egyptians were. In spite of where you might stand on the subject, this article is well worth the time to sit down and read. whether for a purely historical point of view, or if you are like me and Ancient Egyptian or Kemetic thought and culture is central to who you are about personally, spiritually or magically, then it will definitely be of interst.
Josephine McCarthy is someone whose work I greatly admire. She has written a very well-researched article on this oft times heated topic. My advice when reading it is to tackle it in bits then mull it over for a bit and let it sink in.
The election of Donald Trump to the highest office in the U.S. was a disheartening wake-up call for many of us. It signified that we who count ourselves to be liberal or progressives had not done enough to ensure that the freedoms we enjoy were not wrested away from us. This situation, however, did not just begin with the election results of November 8, 2016. The fundamentalist, radical right has had this moment in its sights for as long as I can remember. While Pagans have been busy living it up over the years at various pagan festivals like Circle Gathering and Pantheacon, contemplating Goddess and congratulating themselves on creating a new world, the Dominionists were constantly pushing to limit as much of the rights and freedoms that we take for granted. I have said it numerous times; there is absolutely no difference between the Taliban and the Christoban except the religious texts and the specific names they refer to God.
We should not be at all surprised by anything that Vice President, Mike Pence, says either. His brand of Christianity is nothing if not consistent. Pence hails from the kind of Christianity that has done and continues to do all that they can in order to convince, coerce or even frightening their own people into compliance. Dominionist sects, on the whole, have been setting up for this type of takeover that we are seeing unfold before our eyes for decades. Ask any of them and they will tell you that in order for America to be truly “free”, we must “become a Christian nation again”. If you ask them what that means, sooner or later they will get around to informing you that they absolutely advocate ruling by “biblical law”. These same individuals will make no secret about how abhorrent that they find the idea of ruling by Islamic or Sharia law. If you gently remind them how there is little to no difference, expect to get an earful.
Pagans, Polytheists, & Allies
Please, I understand these Pagan and Polytheist gatherings I mentioned above are important. However, our activism and rallying behind various causes and issues have often been diffused because of infighting and lack of a common goal or purpose. The so-called Moral Majority which had its heydey in the 1980’s and early 90’s, did everything it could, from Satanic Panic to the constant barrage of personalities (Bob Larson) who would keep listeners in abject terror of everything in the world being not only a conspiracy theory, but an all-out orchestrated Satanic plot. During that same time period, we were seeing an incredible awareness raising regarding Pagan faiths. Surely Margot Adler’s book, “Drawing Down the Moon”, the boom of Pagan, Wiccan and other types of ‘new age’ books and periodicals was at its height. Many of the forefathers and foremothers of that movement, such as Selena Fox, for example, spent a great deal of time getting in front of the cameras of mainstream media outlets in order to reassure the general public that modern witches and Wiccans were benign and nothing to fear. While that may be true for some, inadvertently they had managed to all but completely defang the entire movement. The whole “harm none” idea morphed into a sort of apologetic pacifism and the so-called Three Fold Law became an admonishment against anyone who would do anything as radical as even defending themselves against those who meant harm.
I am not proclaiming that we are somehow returning to the mostly-mythical ‘Burning Times’, that series of events when some of the most rabid baby Pagans like to claim outlandish and historically inaccurate figures of the number of people who were put to death for “Witchcraft”. What I am saying is that in the past 500 years, we have moved forward into a more inclusive, progressive society. Because of the manipulations of a few, our country, indeed our whole world appears to be more divided. We have, since then had several shining rays of hope in the form of the Women’s March, the removal of Michael Flynn and most recently the well-deserved and utter defeat of the Draconian ACHA and the attempt by the Republicans to repeal Obamacare. The Women’s march was the largest in U.S. history and if #45 has done one thing, he has awakened many of the once complacent electorate to know that their participation is essential and they called their representatives relentlessly and showed up at town halls around the country to protest. It is this kind of activism we are going to need if we are to succeed against the people who would strip women, minorities, the elderly, children and the poor of their rights.
The reason for the incredible success of the radical right and Christian Dominionists in particular, is that they have always seen total control as their end goal. They mobilized their membership and through referring to their extant religious texts and their communities were able to keep the membership towing the party line. They created their own television and radio stations, bookstores, business networks and other ways to extend their reach far beyond Sunday services. They created the concept of homeschooling so that they could absolutely control what went into the minds of their own children. While some parents do this because the well-being of their children requires their continued support, finding homeschooling materials that are completely secular and devoid of Christian-centric rhetoric is extremely difficult.
Who’s Really In Charge?
The truth is, that many racists, bigots, white supremacists, and white nationalists have been emboldened by Donald Trump. Those who are threatened by the fact that the world is getting more inclusive, are terrified that in today’s job market, getting hired, or even your place in society is not assured because you are a part of the (for now) dominant culture. Being the best person for the job is no longer based on factors such as your sex, your gender, your religion or more to the point, the color of your skin. Indeed, the terror attack carried out in Quebec during a prayer service was done by a white Trump supporter who was also opposed to immigration. The desecration of Jewish cemeteries, the threatening of schools and Jewish centers around the country has drawn a sharp line in the political sand: Those who adamantly reject such hatred and those who are apathetic to it. There are those that are even happy that since Donald Trump is president, they can now outwardly display their bigotry and prejudice against any people that don’t fit into the narrow world view of what they feel is the Dominant Culture.
At the root of it all, indeed who and what is behind this rise of such is, I believe, Steve Bannon. In an article by Terrell Jermaine Starr that appeared in the Washington Post, is unlimited control. So what is the end game? It is my firm belief that by recently removing all white supremacist groups from the terror watch and instituting the Religious Freedom Executive Order that Bannon and Trump want the people to start dividing into groups of us and them. He wants people, in their own self-interests to have infighting so that they are then able to declare martial law. In the meantime, sources inside the White House conclude that this is what is driving the agenda. The current administration believes that they don’t need to give facts, just information; and if you control the information, you control the message and perception of the people. I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like to be ‘managed’ in such a fashion. This past week underscores the fact that the majority of the American electorate don’t like to be ‘managed’ in such a fashion, either.
Sekhmet is the upholder of Ma’at. She is also the absolute personification of Power. I say that not as some sort of feminist diatribe or anything else other than to say that Ma’at will be preserved. Astrologically, this is the time when those things that are illegal and unjust shall be exposed. With the recent revelations by the FBI before Congress and the heat being turned up on the distinct possibility of the Trump Team’s collusion with Russia and Vladimir Putin, it would seem that Ma’at will be coming down on their heads – in every sense of the word.
We are not victims. Each of us individually can do much on our own. Let us never forget that compassion and standing up and speaking out against wrongdoing is what we are charged with. That is also a part of what Ma’at is. It might not be easy. It might even get a little bit messy, but Sekhmet and Her strength is what we should look to. Collectively, I am convinced, we will change the world for the better.
2016, through all of the abysmal things that have happened during that time, has me thinking a lot about Ma’at lately. We’ve lost so many cultural, artistic and historical icons in this year, any of us would be hard-pressed to name them all without referring to a list. This year has been a crippling blow on a lot of levels, but it is not the end by any stretch of the imagination. That is not to say that it’s been any less trying.
I won’t beat about the bush. We are all about to head into unknown territory in 2017. For some, that prospect is terrifying. Given some of the more recent events that have occurred in the world and the attitudes of those who were supposedly elected to help us face them, we probably should all be on alert. We are facing several global crises of epic proportions and…
Hebrew Bible scholars have long recognized that the writer who penned the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and much other narrative in the first 5 books of the Hebrew Bible (called the Pentateuch, or Torah) had a distinctly anti-Canaanite agenda, and that his anti-Canaanite polemic started in his Eden story. Focusing on this helps us to decipher the meaning of that story, as I have stressed in my new book, The Mythology of Eden, and in talks that I’ve given on the subject at scholarly conferences.
This author, known as the Yahwist (because he was the first author of the Hebrew Bible to use the name Yahweh for God), most clearly set out his anti-Canaanite views at the beginning of his version of the Ten Commandments, in Exodus 34:12-15, where Yahweh warns the Hebrews against associating with the Canaanites, intermarrying with them, and worshipping their…
The Goddess Nuit brings you with her lips when she comes;
west’s mouth opens at twilight where your flashing star rises.
Your luminescence foretells the rising flank of the naked moon;
‘lips of lapis lazuli’ is your name at the moment of his ascension.
Djehuty declares you by the enchantment of his tongue;
you glide from his divine speech as a silver crescent’s boon.
What graces my mouth is the fullness of heaven’s eye;
‘tongue of silver’ is your name when his gleam strikes my lips.
The Goddess Auset binds you to me with her girdle;
she brings at her breast the sanguine knot of sky’s magic.
Seven knots surround your center on her seat of constant ardor;
‘heart of red jasper’ is your name where my breast keeps you.
Ausir the green raises you from his pasture when he comes; sprouting seed weaves your field as the earth my…
(Note: This is a blog post that I posted over on my other blog at Niankhsekhmet.com. I am re-posting it here in its entirety. If you’ve read it before, please forgive the redundancy.)
The adage that we are known by the company we keep probably is very true within the Kemetic Community – perhaps even doubly so. It has become frustrating and disheartening to be judged by people whom you don’t know, who don’t know you, or your specific religious path – nor do they care really! For someone to offhandedly decide that you are not with the “in crowd” or that somehow, will pronounce that not to be of a certain religious affiliation, or sect will deem you unworthy to be given the time of day. Some of course, fear recruitment or being indoctrinated into some sort of cult based on internet rumours that they may or may not have heard.
I am Kemetic. I was trained and ordained as a Kemetic Orthodox Priestess of Sekhmet/HetHert in 1998. I stepped down a couple of years ago by choice, or as one internet website geared toward atheists said, “I retired.” I kind of laugh at that. One does *not* retire from Sekhmet’s service. Your service may change, but it is absolutely for life! At any rate, my reasons, initially, were because I was attending college full time and could not give the level of service required. My situation has changed a bit, and so now my reasons of not wanting to return to it again are deeply personal. I can and will say quite clearly that it was not because of any rift with the Temple, or disagreement between myself and any of the membership. I have been listening to Sekhmet’s call and it has been specific and in a direction by necessity. That doesn’t make anyone bad or wrong. It just makes it a different route that I have chosen to take.
All of us must by necessity approach our spiritual life on a personal level. We may choose to join or Initiate in a specific sect, temple or path, but ultimately, only we as individuals can decide when to move on. Each of us, who are Kemetic, have personal rites. Sometimes this entails a daily practice that follows a formal outlined structure, such as that which is outlined at the Temple of Horus at Edfu. While at other times a practitioner may choose something more fluid, eclectic or non-traditional. Each is a valid structure and approach to the connection to the Netjeru.
That being said, the only things that become annoying are those who insist on the belief of either a maddeningly absurd UPG-type of approach, or those who cannot and will not move outside the formal scholarly sanctioned type of practice. I have found by direct experience that there are deep pitfalls within each extreme and either can be deleterious for spiritual understanding or growth. Egyptology does *not* know everything. Conversely, I have seen so many ridiculous, crackpot theories that should never have made it outside of one’s own personal headspace, let alone made it into print for others to try to decipher.
One extreme, that of the scholarly community only, and especially within Egyptology’s ranks, often eschews and ostracizes those who “actually believe in any of this stuff”. In some place it becomes so much of an issue that those who have made it into those hallowed halls of the scholarly ranks take great pains to either conceal, downplay or flat-out deny that they actually do worship the old gods. These individuals dare not speak of it or it may cost them their entire career or get them passed over for any future projects because their beliefs are not considered “objective enough”. I personally know of several tenured professors or professional Egyptologists who by necessity are very guarded about their personal beliefs. I can state quite clearly that their fears are absolutely justified. Egyptology is neither easy nor cheap to take up as a scholarly pursuit. Admissions into these programmes are prohibitively expensive and generally only accept a tiny handful of students each semester or once a year. Most of these who are accepted have and/or have maintained a 4.0 GPA. Further, that high GPA must be maintained or that student will get a boot planted in their posterior and find themselves completely washed out and with student loan amounts that are nothing less than nightmarish and just shy of the national debt.
The Kemetic Community, I think, is going through something that much of the so-called Pagan “Community” is going through. I believe that there is far too much backbiting, petty, catty and deeply personal bitching among the ranks. People either are wrapped up in an idea that if you do not belong to X group, you obviously are “doing it wrong”, and if you are a part of that group – or have been trained by it, have handed your brain, your soul and your personal assets to some sort of mindless cult of personality that does not allow for personal considerations.
I call “Bullshit,” on both points of view.
Even with my training and years in the priesthood, I interact with those who are not Kemetic Orthodox. I spend a great deal of time with people who come from many different faiths and belief systems, and each gives me a perspective that I would not have had otherwise. In so doing, I am able to form my own opinion that has nothing to do with toeing a party line, a religious canon or being a spokesperson for any given temple or group.
If I see a person make an incorrect, ill-considered or socially repugnant statement to the general public, I have no compunction but to call them on it and tell them why I feel that way. Conversely, I expect to be accorded the exact same service be done to me in return. I also expect that it will be done without the need to resort to ad hominem attacks. I think that is more than fair. Of course, there will always be those who claim to be holier-than-thou, or claim some sort immunity because of the number of books they wrote, lectures at Pantheacon they conducted or letters after their names in terms of university degrees. The political correctness and personal butthurt needs to be put away and replaced with something that resembles common sense. If we cannot have that, then what’s the point, really?
All of us who consider ourselves to be Kemetic have a single and solitary foundation. That foundation is not exclusive to any one group, or leader or anything else. We have nothing other to worry about than the idea of Ma’at. Each of us must decide what that is and where we are at personally. Under that one single idea / ideal, there is enough there that is complex enough to keep all of us occupied for the whole of our personal and spiritual lives. We are held responsible and we hold those whom we associate responsible as well. When we do this, we are held responsible for our own actions and words in the context of not only our own lives but the greater whole within the Kemetic community and within the world at large. With this single understanding, some of the petty, single-mindedness is stripped away, and we by necessity have to sit down and listen to the thoughts, concerns and observations of others. Being able to see that perspective and say, “Yes, you are right,” does not, therefore, declare us to be lepers within the groups that we are a part of – or not a member of. It means that we can each be viable on our own, and that we can stand up for ourselves and what we believe, rather than hiding behind an organization, a label or anything else than our own sense of rightness – or our own sense of Ma’at.
Earlier this week I splurged and bought the DVD set of the mini-series, Tut, starring Ben Kingsley that aired on Spike TV. I confess, I was really excited when I saw it and got it a day before my paycheck was in the bank. Hey, it’s ancient Egypt. Some things get prioritized!
I excitedly loaded the DVD into my PC, I had a few hours before I really had to settle into watching the series. I suffered through the previews and finally got the feature film. I had my double espresso and I was ready to enjoy watching from the comfort of my home office.
Within the first fifteen minutes, I knew that I hated it. There is no real mention of Nefertiti, or Kiya, Tut’s supposed mother. before we learn that Akhenaten has allegedly been poisoned and just before being sent to his deathbed, he manages to exact revenge on the plotters – or so he thinks. It wouldn’t have taken much for the show’s writers or producers to even bother to read history and center their script around it. Instead, they took the term ‘creative non-fiction’ to a whole new level.
Kingsley being cast as the elderly Ay is actually an excellent choice. Kingsley plays at being ‘bad’ really well. The rest of the cast, not so much. To be completely honest – I absolutely hated the show. I hated it for the fact that the pruduction values were low enough that I could determine when the producers used repeated clips of film over and over again. No one, not even someone who has a film background, should be able to spot something like this. How is it in cheesy 80’s movies such as The Awakening with Charlton Heston, Stephanie Zimbalist and Susanah York can they get the film props to look like real antiquities – and in modern miniseries such as this one we have props and costuming that looks so incredibly bad and historically inaccurate? Did the costume designers even study the period? Nevermind that in The Awakening, Susanah York, who was allegedly playing an accomplished Egyptologist, just so happens to forget the first lesson of translating hieroglyphs and is seen on screen reading them backwards.
The one good thing about some of the Egyptian-themed movies of the past is that producers actually availed themselves of the expertise of egyptologists. For Stargate and the subsequent Mummy movies, Dr. Stuart Smith was consulted to reconstruct spoken Kemetic.
The high priest in the movie, (of what Temple? Of What God?) is a man with an unshaven head? Historically, that didn’t seem too likely. And if he is praying to Amun-Ra – then they definitely got a statue of the wrong god in the picture. It was a statue of Horus – or Sokar, but it was absolutely not Amun.
At least the lead character playing Tutankhamun, Avan Jogia, said his name and made it at least sound right. When Jogia even used the title, “Nisut Bity”, I nearly fell out of my chair in shock. How can a three part miniseries where everything else is so abysmally wrong, actually get that one teeny detail of Ancient Egyptian titulary right?
The “tragic” queen, Ankhesenamun, played by Australian actress, Sibylla Deen, flounces around the set like a very bad Bollywood actress. She doesn’t act like a woman of royal blood by any sense. But then again, neither did Leonor Varela when she played Cleopatra VII in that particular mini-series either. Both of them sounded like shrill fish wives in their roles and the suspension of disbelief was too much even for those of us who truly wanted to believe. I half expected a song and dance number to break out among the courtly plots that were going on unbeknownst to the King.
This show is so much like every other show that Hollywood attempts about Ancient Egypt in the last two decades. They cast the wrong people – usually Americans or Brits – to play ancient Egyptian people. In other words, they need to stop casting white people for these roles – I don’t care how good an actor or actress they are. Let’s stop with the historically inaccurate portrayal of historical figures. This is just as bad as when they cast white actors to play Indians back in the 50’s and 60’s. Egypt was a very cosmopolitan country, and the people in it were pretty much varying degrees of brown, etc. That’s what happens in places that are trade centers and there is food. People tend to go where the food is and where they can be assured of relative safety.
Coming at the end of February is the long-awaited trainwreck…erm, film “Egyptian Gods”. The buildup toward final release is beginning. Needless to say, the buzz is beginning, and not all of it is positive.
My opinion on the film is that it’s meant to be a money maker. Hollywood producers and financiers especially have no imagination and are obsessed with profit margins over quality by putting out things with lots of special effects and flash but very little else. Investors in major motion picture projects like this one want a sure thing so that they can not only get a return on investment (ROI) but also make a profit – whether at the box office or in DVD sales and streaming or a combination of all of the above, that is what their chief motivator was and is. Right now, Egypt sells. In fact interest in Egypt is at an all time high with the latest discoveries of a possible additional tomb attached to that of Tutankhamun, and by the Gods, the studios want to cash in.
I have heard lots of screaming in various forums, and not just on Facebook, about what color the actors playing the Gods are. As I mentioned earlier, I do agree it is both sad and frustrating that actors of color for the most part were passed over and the major roles went to mostly white, A-Listers such as Gerard Butler. Let’s set that issue aside for just a moment.
Brian Blessed as Vultan, Prince of the Hawkmen in ‘Flash Gordon’ (1980)
Going beyond that argument and taking it a step further, in my not-so-humble opinion, the most objectionable part of this film is the absolute bastardization of our mythologies to the point where they no longer resemble the original at all. I’m sorry, Kemetic culture was more poised and gracious than that gaudy mess! The costumes with capes for the men and plunging metalic-clad cleavage ever seen since Flash Gordon in the 80’s! Maybe that’s what they were going for with the color palette and the “Hawkmen” getup.
Hathor, of course, certainly looks expensive. The sets look more Greek or Roman than they do Kemetic. Why? Multi-million dollar budgets, that’s why.
I don’t believe for an instant that even an all black cast and crew could salvage any of what promises to be just more vapid, Hollywood dreck. If this film had been true to it’s real Kemetic roots and written decently, I doubt that the investors would have ever let it be made into a movie. That to me is the deepest crime of all; that Hollywood culture thinks nothing of insulting the intelligence of everyone with more bullshit and glittery crap that has nothing to do with historical or cultural accuracy. We Kemetics are going to have to explain the glaring inaccuracies to people who think of entertainment films as being just spicier documentaries.
Will I watch this film?
Probably. But I definitely won’t purchase it or stream it until it reaches the used book store. I don’t want them to make a single penny of profit off of me.
Piye Victory Stele from the 25th Dynasty
My biggest dream for a film on Ancient Kemet is to see the entire film first of all follow accurate history, and be done entirely in spoken Kemetic – like Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, which was done entirely in Mayan and Yucatec with English subtitles. I know such a thing is possible in Kemetic because of the bits of the original Stargate and The Mummy films employed the language. Ancient Kemetic history is filled with good stories that could be used such as the Harem Conspiracy of Rameses III, or the re-unification of Egypt by 25th Dynasty Pharaoh, Piye, who swept in from Nubia in order to reunite the Two Lands. (He also launched the first amphibious attack in world history, but that’s another very cool story for later).
Would it be difficult? Absolutely. Would such a film be a high budget expenditure? I don’t see how it could possibly be done any other way.
But then, that’s the point, isn’t it?. The 1963 release of Cleopatra starring Elizabeth Taylor was originally 8 hours long and it ultimately caused the studio that produced it to go bankrupt! I actually own a shooting script for that film, and I have to say that for all its faults, they got much of the look and feel of Alexandria during the Ptolemaic period correct even if bits of history were wrong here and there. Today, however, instead of Hollywood spending all the money that it does on inaccurate, digitized imagery that looks like it was pulled out of a graphic novel or a video game. Why is it so difficult to give audiences something that is real and respectful? If they did, perhaps such a worthy endeavor would last long past the box office or DVD receipts are calculated and banked by the suits in Hollywood who no longer care for or believe in anything else except return on investment and profit margins. It would, that is, if they’re lucky.
It’s that time of year again. I am definitely feeling the need to point at and post a link at Devo’s astute article on why the whole witches in pointy hats thing needs to go. If you are going to be dressing up for All Hallows Eve, or Samhain, it might be well to give this article a look before donning that pointy hat.
Devo has written some pretty profound things about how the idea of brand not only affects companies, but also how we represent our communities and ourselves.
This idea touches on what my friend, Dr. James Wanless, refers to when he talks about how we are all in the “YOU-biz”. This very idea is something that we all need to be conscious of in today’s increasingly interconnected world.
We really do have to be activists for what we want to see in our communities and the world around us.