The Monday Quote – Unguents as Funerary Gifts

The unguents are often written down as part of a list including other grave goods such as food, drink and equipment. But they are also depicted on the walls in their containers. Ideally such vases were made of stone. Hard diorite was used in the early days, or alabaster (calcite) which is much easier to work and which remained popular at times. If not available, pottery would do, painted to imitate the harder stones. The unguents are depicted in large quantities compared to what the smaller decorative unguents vases for daily use would contain, lined up and sealed with lids, cloth and pieces of string, no doubt like those found in the the tomb of Tutankhamun […] The gifts were no doubt placed in the tomb at the burial, some expressly for use during the ceremony of the Opening of the Mouth.

~~~

Quote from Sacred Luxuries – Fragrance, Aromatherapy and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt by Lise Manniche, pg. 109

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Monday Quote – On Priests and Magic

For us, it would entail some mistake of language to refer to magic as one of the ‘priestly sciences’. Inc the eyes of the priests, however, knowledge of appropriate spells conferred an almost unlimited power over living beings, deities, and natural forces.

A magician was a dangerous person who  did not shrink for a moment from the most spectacular exploits: ‘I shall bring the earth down into the depths of the water, south will become north, the earth [i.e. the cardinal points] will be reversed.’ […]

The scope of magic and the number of its techniques were practically unlimited.

~~~

Quote from The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron, pg.162-164

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Monday Quote – On the Importance of Ritual

The importance of ritual cannot be overestimated, for from an anthropological perspective most religions consist of myth, supported by ritual, aimed at what has been called ‘the transformation of state’ – the manipulation of reality for human benefit, such as the curbing of evil or malevolent forces and the elicitation of positive forces and material blessings. This definition could hardly be truer of ancient Egyptian religion which made use of myth and ritual – through symbol and magic – in exactly those ways. While Egyptian myths provided a descriptive model of how it should continue if all went properly, rituals were equally important in providing an affirmation of what was believed and a magical means of effecting the required ‘transformation of state’. If myths portrayed the underlying nature of reality, ritual actions preserved and maintained that same underlying reality.*

~~~~

Quote from Symbol and Magic in Egyptian Art by R.H. Wilkinson, pg. 180

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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.

Posted in Books and Resources, The Monday Quote | 1 Comment

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?

 

Posted in Food for Thought, Kemetic Round Table | Tagged | Leave a comment

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

 

Posted in Books and Resources, Offerings, The Monday Quote | 3 Comments

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

Posted in Books and Resources, The Monday Quote | Tagged , | Leave a comment