The Monday Quote – On Temples

The Egyptian Temple in Space and Time

The Egyptian temple functioned in both spatial and temporal dimensions. Spatially, the temple stood at a crucial point or fulcrum between different worlds or spheres – between heaven and earth, human and divine, chaos and order. For the Egyptians most of these concepts were spatially related, just as the desert signified chaos and the fertile land of Egypt harmony and order. The temple’s location, design, decoration and functions all mediated between these polarities and established harmony, security and balance where would have been none of these things in its absence. Temporally, the sanctuaries and shrines of the gods and kings also acted as a fulcrum which balanced the present and the past, the uncertain future and the ordered security and maat of original creation […] 

I have chosen this quote because I’m currently re-reading The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt and I can’t seem to get enough of this book. The chapter Temple Symbolism – from which this quote is taken – is my particular favourite. I think temples and their symbolism is a subject often not given enough attention by many modern practitioners – which to a very high degree it makes sense. We are mostly individual practitioners with individual practices, often very different individual practices, worshipping different Gods or just trying to uphold maat on a day-to-day basis. The modern world is incredibly different from the ancient world and the logistics alone of coming together and building a temple with all its proper alignment, functions and roles would be close to impossible. **

However, this doesn’t mean that we should completely disregard temples – even in an individual practice. There’s much that can be learned from and adapted to suit that.

The quote continues:

Yet the Egyptian temple was not viewed as a perpetual motion machine – a perpetuum mobile – which would guarantee security and harmony forever. Just as Egyptian theology accepted the notion that gods themselves could – and would – eventually die, and that the world would finally revert to the chaos from which it originally arose, so the temple was viewed theologically as a machine which was not immune from breakage and which, through ritual and mythology, symbol and festival, must be carefully guarded as it was operated, and strengthened as it was used.

~~~

Quote is from The Complete Temples of Ancient Egypt by R.H Wilkinson, pg. 76

** Please understand I’m not talking about the modern temples which have been built in modern days – the endeavours of those involved in building and maintaining them are worthy of respect, admiration and even gratefulness. Even individual shrines and altars are temples, in the way that they are most definitely sacred spaces. Here I’m strictly referring to the ancient notion of ‘temple’ and everything it entailed.

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The Journey

This is a KRT catch-up post. The topic is ‘Kemeticism as a journey’ and you can find all the responses here.

The title couldn’t me more appropriate in my opinion, as some of you may already know that I always refer to my practice as ever evolving, a constant journey.

In all honesty I can’t pin point the exact time I’ve realized what to call my beliefs and that I was no longer the good christian I was raised to be. This is most likely due to the fact it didn’t happen in one exact moment.

At first there was the interest in everything having to do with ancient Egypt – this started at a very young age (about 8-9). I was always hungry for more, tracking down books, saving up to buy them and also using the local library to the point where the librarians would know my name, the times I’d usually be there and what I usually was looking for. By the time I was 13-14 I was already questioning much of the christia dogma and was being reprimanded for it. I kept going to church, if not so much for the teachings but for the sense of community and peace of mind it offered. At around 16-17 I had already started reading about the occult.  My readings and research started painting a bigger picture.

I still remember the day I first prayed to an Egyptian deity. I lit a candle and offered a heartfelt prayer to Isis, asking her that if it is right for me that one day I should visit Egypt. After this, there was more going back and forth from christian teachings to occult studies – reading on heka felt like the right thing, the natural thing. I stopped going to church due to the tedious sermons on how those of different religions and those of non-straight sexual orientations are sinners and just plain wrong and we should show them the way to Christ. These things just didn’t sit right with me and a lot of the teachings seemed contradictory. Surely, I should love my neighbour no matter what?

During university, there wasn’t much going on spiritually. I was too absorbed in my studies. That is, until I obtained my scholarship for two semesters in Egypt (I only lasted for one semester, due to lack of finances mostly). It felt like being home. I was continuously awed and more curious than ever. I remembered my prayer. I thanked Her.

After university, my beliefs and practice started to take a more palpable shape. I was already experimenting with different magical techniques, not calling myself christian any more, but not calling myself kemetic either. To be honest I didn’t know what to call myself for a long time, at first I went through different labels until I decided that doesn’t really matter, as long as I let things flow naturally and continue to learn and grow. By then I wasn’t a beginner any more. I learned to use my discernment when it came to what sources I would use or what magical techniques to use.

I’ve made plenty of mistakes, of course. They came in useful, the lessons learned from them most likely couldn’t have been learned otherwise. Maybe we have to fall to learn how to pick ourselves back up.

The turning point in bringing all my experiences together and building a relationship with the gods was when Anubis appeared in my life, in a time when He was most needed. I won’t go into details, there’d be too many triggers for some readers. All I can say is that I was truly lost and He saved me. From then on I dedicated my practices to the Netjer, started worshipping Him and continued my magical work. Others popped in from time to time – Thoth and Isis most notably. Set came in and stayed.

I worship Anubis and Set individually and the Netjer as a whole. That’s most likely why some of Them choose to pop in from time to time, especially when They’re needed the most and I don’t even know it yet – like the most recent events with Sekhmet. She came, she helped, she got thanked and we moved on. She’s not here at the moment and probably won’t be for a long time, who knows? I’ve learned to have faith. And it looks like Thoth now wants a permanent place too. Which is more than fine because I have nothing but respect and admiration for Him and over the years He’s helped me and taught me valuable lessons.

My path is a winding road and my labour is one of love. I don’t know if I can describe my entire journey that has taken close to 15 years in the making in a blog post. This is more or less in a nutshell. A big nutshell. What’s more important is that it’s ever evolving. And yes, I some times still make mistakes. And that’s ok too. There are things I’m really good at, things I still improve upon, things that I’ll probably never be able to do and things I’d never touch with a ten foot pole.

As for advice, knowing that everyone is different and that the Gods have different ways with different devotees, all I can say is to have faith in yourself and use your discernment. Learn your strengths and weaknesses. Be open to possibilities but at the same time always exercise the appropriate caution. It’s ok to experiment with new things and it’s ok to say ‘No, not even looking into this.’ even if others seem to be getting on with it. You take care of you. We don’t all have one single perspective and one unified practice. Even in ancient Egypt there were different cult centres in different nomes. Why would modern practices be any different?

 

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The Monday Quote – Stuffed Alexandrian Loaf

Hollow out an Alexandrian loaf and sprinkle with water mixed with vinegar. Grind in a mortar pepper, honey, mint, garlic, fresh coriander, salted cow’s milk cheese, water and oil. Fill the loaf with [cooked] chicken meat and goat’s sweetbreads, hard cheese, pine kernels, diced cucumber and finely chopped dried onion. Pour the dressing over. Cool in the snow and serve.

An alternative filling: cow’s milk cheese, diced cucumber, pine kernels, capers, [cooked] chicken liver.

According to Pliny Alexandrian bread was flavoured with cumin. *

~~~

I’m always on the look-out for new offering ideas and recently I’ve come across this excellent recipe for stuffed bread. I’ve made stuffed bread before (it’s a great savoury snack and I heartily recommend it for picnics!) but nothing like this.

I’m quite tempted to give it a go; the only trouble is that I thoroughly dislike pine kernels so it would make reverting the offering a bit more challenging. Perhaps I’ll just leave the pine kernels out.

What do you think? Tempted to give this ancient treat a try?

~~~

* From An Ancient Egyptian Herbal by Lise Manniche, British Museum Press, pg. 42

 

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The Monday Quote

‘I am pure, pure, pure, pure! My purity is the purity of that great phoenix which is in Heracleopolis, because I am indeed the nose of the Lord of Wind who made all men live on that day of completing the Sacred Eye in Heliopolis in the second month of winter last day, in the presence of the lord of this land. I am he who saw the completion of the Sacred Eye in Heliopolis, and nothing evil shall come into being against me in this land in this Hall of Justice, because I know the names of these gods who are in it.’

– Book of the Dead, Spell 125, pg. 31, British Museum Press edition

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The Hawk and the Bumblebee

Hello my dear friends and readers!

I know many of you have noticed that I haven’t posted in a while. Thank you for your e-mails and messages.

I have been away for a couple of weeks (well, a bit longer than that actually) so I haven’t had a chance to write on here at all. I do have drafts ready for revision and posting so that will happen soon. I have been working on a couple of projects as well so we’ll see how those pan out, I’ll let you all know in due time.

Being out of the city and more into nature has helped recharge batteries immensely. The weather turning towards sunny and warm has done great thing to energy levels and improving the mood as well.

Being out, I’ve witnessed a rare sight: a hawk in full hunting action. He wasn’t even a fully grown adult hawk, by the looks of it he was still very young. But that didn’t stop him from swooping down over a pigeon. It all happened so fast it actually took me a few seconds to process what I had just witnessed. A very powerful reminder of how one act can have two very different meanings, depending on the perspective: what’s tragedy and death for the pigeon is nourishment and life for the hawk. It helps seeing the full picture and being reminded of the balance that must be in all things.

Also, I’ve tried to help a poor bumblebee get some energy and buzz on by feeding him some sugar water and honey but it was to no avail. The poor thing died and there was nothing I could do about it (I think the temperature going down up and down throughout the day wasn’t helping at all, they need warmth). If you know me at all then you know I have a very soft spot for bees and bumblebees. I plant bee-friendly flowers in pots and in the garden and always give at least sugar water to those who seem to be very weak. I personally believe it’s crucial to remember how important bees and bumblebees actually are!

I’ve also been reading a lot (thankful for the time I had to do it!) and I’ve been enjoying these particular posts very much:

Magic needs a curious mind

A very special gift, and other things

The Curse Collection

And of course, don’t forget there was a new KRT round  for March; find the responses here. As you will notice, I haven’t participated in it and I don’t think there will be a catch-up post as I don’t feel that I have anything interesting to contribute to this particular  topic. This doesn’t mean I am giving up contributing completely, mind you!

That’s it for now, I’m going back to catching up with my usual chores and errands!

Best wishes to you all!

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Important Update

Dear friends and readers,

As you may know, many of you were able to find me on that massive social media site which I won’t even bother to name.

I have tried to log in earlier but I was denied access due to the fact I am using my pen name rather than my ‘real’ name.

I will not put myself in harm’s way by giving any private information and I’m am sure those of you who have had nasty experiences with stalkers will fully understand.

That, of course, means I will not be on that social media site any more. To be honest, I thought I’d be more angry than I am right now. I’m slightly pissed off but it’s not a huge loss.

I will miss interacting with friends and the groups I was part of, but I always have this blog, tumblr. and e-mail.

I’ve revised the Publicize settings and this post will now be visible on my tumblr. I hope most of you get to see this update and know that I’m not on missing from that social media site out of my own volition.

Yes, it’s in their terms and conditions. Yes, I understand that. Not arguing with that. However I wish there was some understanding from their part for those of us who absolutely need the privacy.

I think it’s a good thing that I can focus more on my writing. Shame about the interaction, but with all the other options out there, I’m pretty sure I won’t miss my account on that particular social media site.

Best wishes to you all!

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Heka for the New Year. Part 2 – Bless, Protect and Appease

Now that your home has been given a good cleanse it is ready for blessings and protection. There’s a number of things which you can do (depending on preferences and circumstances) which you can do to bless your home and bring peace and harmony into it.

Sprinkle holy water around the house, using words of power if you wish.

Use a floor wash, sneak calming, soothing herbs under your pillow, burn a sweet incense like myrrh.

For protection, you can add protective charms at the doors or windows (or even sigils – either drawn in chalk or put onto paper and tucked under the floor mat, or even under the carpet).

You can also seal you doors and windows with specific powders or mixes; salt and rosemary is a personal favourite of mine – just mix equal parts with your mortar and pestle, or in a bowl with your hands, if you prefer it more coarse).

The words of power can be chants and the like you come up with on your own or you can look at ancient texts for inspiration, such as this one:

‘NN born of NN has conjured the window. He is a tomcat.

NN born of NN has conjured the chink. He is a female falcon.

NN born of NN has conjured the blots. He is Ptah.

NN born of NN has conjured the hole. He is Nehebkau.

NN born of NN has conjured the hiding-place. He is the one whose name is hidden.

NN born of NN has conjured the cross-timbers. He is the Master of secrets.

He has conjured his (own place), his room, his bed. He has conjured the four noble ladies in whose mouth is their flame and whose fire goes behind them to chase away any male enemy, any female enemy, any male dead, any female dead that is in the body of NN born of NN. They will not fall [upon] the four noble ladies [… …] their flame in [their] mouth [… …] rushes, colocynths […]’ *

Now you can move on to the Spirits and the Gods. This bit is up to personal preferences and circumstances, so the following is in no particular or mandatory order:

Make the appropriate offerings to the Land Spirits (Genii Loci) – if applicable – preferably outside, preferably items that can decay naturally (although certain votive offerings can be made), libations.

Make the appropriate offerings for Spirits you work with regularly (again, if applicable) – this depends of course on the Spirits’ preferences.

Make the appropriate offerings for the Gods – personally, I prefer more elaborate offerings after a big cleanse. Bread and beer, flowers and wine are always a good choice. Incense as well, of course, such as kyphi, frankincense and myrrh.

At this point your surroundings are cleansed, blessed and protected, and the Spirits are Gods are appeased and, hopefully, very pleased with your endeavours. You can carry on into the new year with a feeling of renewal.

However this doesn’t take care of you personally. Now it’s time for some spiritual TLC for yourself. You might want to cleanse and empower yourself. You might have a nice cleansing bath – I have a preferred formula for that (feel free to get inspired), you might anoint yourself with a specific oil and do some empowering work for yourself, a ‘magical boost’ if you will.

~~~

* A protection of the house in Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts, J.F. Borghouts, Reiden, 1978

 

Posted in Heka, Magic - Rituals and Spellwork, Words of Power | 2 Comments