Welcome to the Beginner’s Guide to Kemetic Belief!
Whenever you enter into a new belief, it’s common to get extremely overwhelmed, and not find what you’re looking for. So I have put together a basic, handy guide on starting in Kemetic Paganism/Kemetic Polytheism.
The main things I’ll cover in this post are:
- Soft Polytheism Vs. Hard Polytheism. What’s the difference?
- Interacting with the nTrw/Netjeru.
- What/who are the S/na/ke – Is/fet and A/p/e/p
- Purity, Mental Health and nTrw.
- Recommended Reading
Firstly, let me be clear that Polytheism, Hard or Soft, is still Polytheism. No matter what. Second, either one of these are applicable to your beliefs within spirituality. Polytheism is a belief in many/multiple gods. Now, you wonder “Why is it hard or soft? Why not just Polytheism?” Because often this distinction can change how we view a religious practice
Soft polytheism is the belief in multiple deities as expressions or aspects of one god. (Layman’s terms: All gods are one, and One god is many)
Hard Polytheism is a direct separation of each god in their own right. (Layman’s terms: All Gods are Individual, and rarely overlap, if at all.)
How does this affect Kemetic belief? – There are soft polytheist Pagans and hard polytheist Pagans. In some people who follow Kemetic Belief, it is believed there are syncretized gods. Such as Hethert-Sekhmet, or Yinepu-Wepwawet, which is soft polytheism. But there are those who believe they are all individuals and do not have syncretized identities. It is important to respect both beliefs!
What does it mean to interact with nTrw/Netjeru? Starting in any religion, regardless of size, the first thing you want to do is figure out what the Gods are like, what They represent, and what They embody. This way you can figure out who you mainly want to interact with, and want your central worship to be around.
An important thing to understand about Kemetic belief. Ma’at is central to all ideals. Regardless of what form Ma’at comes in (goddess or concept), Ma’at is important. ‘Who or What is Ma’at?‘ This is a million dollar question with a simply complex answer. Ma’at is a goddess, but also a concept. As a goddess, She represents truth, justice, morality, and balance. Ma’at as a principal/concept is a partially set list of laws that defined the concept of Truth and Respect. Many representations of the Laws of Ma’at can be found on-line. I’ll leave you to find them!
Let’s focus, and talk about the Netjer, and what They represent, and who They are, and how you can begin a relationship with them.
Netjer the Kemetic term for the Gods. When you think of Egyptian Gods, who comes to mind for you? Maybe it was Sobek, maybe Seshat, maybe Heru-Wer? Khnum? Perhaps Serqet? Maybe just the sun showed up in your mind! There are a lot of Gods to consider when talking about being a devotee/follower/worshiper.
My number one recommendation regardless of who you are, old or new in Pagan or Wiccan communities, is to do research. Come in knowing basic names. Knowing basic terms, knowing basic information. You don’t have to be all-knowing or absorb every bit of knowledge about the Netjer to interact with Them, but it helps to learn about Their personalities, what Their domains are, and such!
Are there any evils in Kemetic Belief?
Alright, let’s talk bout the animal in the room. A/p/e/p – Isfet – and the ‘Sn/a/ke’.
Who/what is this person you keep slashing the name of?
A/p/e/p is the agent of all that is undoing in Ma’at, an agent of Isfet. Isfet is a Kemetic construct that is everything that Creation is not. It is the undoing of justice, the undoing of truth, the undoing of light. As an agent of Isfet, a/p/e/p strives to drive all of Creation back into nothingness. His purpose is to divide the dividable.
In antiquity, lines would be written through A/p/e/p’s name, or if he was drawn, he’d have knives or other weapons shoved into him as a way to stop the uncreation.
Purity, Mental Health, and the nTrw.
Let’s talk about Purity
Purity is a concept that is important through out Kemetic practice, and other practices too! What is purity? Why does it matter? How does one become “pure”? And what happens when you can’t be “pure”, how should you worship?
These are questions I’ve gotten over the past couple of years, I will do my best to answer them! Firstly, purity is important to Kemetic practice, as you do not want to come before the gods impure. You are bringing that into a sacred space, where the Names come to you and you before them! Impurity means many things, in this instance it’s physical and mental. That means menstruation, being in pain, bleeding from a cut, depressive episode, etc! During this time, you need to be working on you, not trying to give to your Gods. Worship is important. I would actively argue that self-care is an act of worship! When you are feeling good, the Gods can live through you.
It is important to remember being impure does not mean being bad. It means you are physically in some way hurting, and you do not want to bring this in your formal sacred space! You can definately offer it to the gods, and ask for healing, but if you shouldn’t be on the floor, then don’t be on the floor. If you are mensutrating, it is still a kind of bleeding, and often with menstruation comes cramps, and headaches, and bloating. You cannot, or will have a hard time, focusing on the Gods! Same thing applies for Chronic Illness! Do not Over Exert yourself. Know your limits.
If you still want to do ritual during the times of impurity, you can do what has been described to me in terms of “Just-do-it”. A shrine for a time when you are in pain, or hurting, or bleeding. It is informal, and does not need ritual purity. An image of your God, a candle (electric or normal), a space for offerings, or a bowl will do just fine!
Becoming “pure” is merely washing yourself, and not being in pain, or having an epiusode during the time you are doing formal ritual. As someone who has a permanent pain-level, I consider this to be at a point where “My pain levels are low today”, rather than “I have no bodily pain”. Adjust what you need according to your normal. Not according to another person’s.
Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt – A comprehensive of the life of people in Kemet!
A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses – A good list in alphabetical names.
Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods – A comprehensive study on Kemetic theology.
Symbol & Magic in Egyptian Art – A more expansive list of other iconographies in Egyptian Art.
Ancient Egypt: A Social History – A Chronological arrangement of the life of Kemetic people based in hard data.
Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt – More info on the nTrw and those of Kemet.