Why Follow an Ancient Religion?

Why DO we worship the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt? “Why Follow An Ancient Religion?“, from the website of the Kemetic Temple of San Jose (one of two temples that author Richard Reidy is associated with,) might be a good place to start.

In modern practice, I think Unverified Personal Gnosis (UPG) often trumps what we can discover about the Netjer. That bothers me, because people seem to forget the “personal” aspect is just that: personal. They immediately rush to claim it’s universal and incorporate it in their practice. Fred decides that Aset likes green M&M’s, and suddenly half the Kemetics in the world head to the store to buy some. Marketing departments scratch their heads trying to figure out why seventy more bags of green M&M’s sold this week.

There’s probably nothing wrong with UPG, although some of it skates very closely to what would have been considered offensive or dangerous in ancient Egypt. I’ve talked with people who only seem interested in using the name and picture of an ancient god or goddess, saying they don’t care about anything else, and making up their own mythology and religion. Why not make up your own name as well, or ask Terry Pratchett if you can use one of his gods? I’m thinking of Anoia as the Goddess of Spoons, but that’s probably another case of changing a pantheon for your own purposes. 😀

Are we offering a big juicy steak to the Dalai Lama? How many of your offerings have any sort of symbolic or ancient connection?

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  • I can understand the importance behind UPG, but I don't hold with it. Honestly, I'm a little afraid of it.

  • I like to keep one foot in the present, and one foot in the past. I try to combine new with old. Not so new that it's completely out there. Not so tied to the past that I become stagnant. It's a pet peeve of mine when people throw tradition and the past out the window. Not very in line with how the Egyptians seemed to practice things.

  • I think it highly important that we respect and acknowledge the lineage from whence our interest / practice / religion comes from. The ancients were certainly not fools, and I suspect that our understanding of Kemeticism from antiquity is only a glimpse of what they knew and understood (and LIVED!)

    I also believe that it is vital that we find a way to understand and practice these ideas in a way that is relevant to us today in our modern and non-Kemetic world. How the Kemetic principles and how Netjer emerges today is my great interest. I like to see how Netjer manifests in people's lives from many perspectives, so for better or for worse (I hear what you're saying) I do continue to read blogs and posts laden with UPG's.

    • helmsin2

      As a personal practice there's nothing wrong with it. When people announce with authority "Set does not want strawberries! Set does not want girly things!" it gets pretty questionable in my mind. It gets worse when people look at the Greek stories and make sweeping judgments based on them, and again, try to make their whims universal. Ausir doesn't want sand, and Set doesn't want cool water: modern taboos.

      "Offering Blood to Sekhmet" is one of the modern practices that I think would have horrified the Egyptians. There was strong desire to avoid awakening her blood lust. Keeping Sekhmet drunk and happy was the general theme.

      And I still try to read all the Kemetic blogs I can find. 😉

  • Ha, another post of yours that I love.

    While I do not like to sit around and question people's UPG, I do think that there should be more to a practice than that. But I suppose that if some people are content with that, then I don't really see the point in telling them they should look further. I have this notion that how we practice should be for ourselves and what makes our own lives brighter – my only step away from that would be when it encroaches on the lives of others in a harmful way. ^.^

    Anyways, great post, love reading!

    • Richard Reidy

      The idea that, as you express it, "how we practice should be for ourselves and what makes our own lives brighter" is not supported by the ancient Kemetic vision of community–a community of humans and gods together. A temple in Egypt hosted a family of related deities, even though there was a principal deity. The regular (non-priestly) folks typically had a shrine in their homes for their ancestors. They felt connected to their past. They were not "going it alone." The principle offering each day in the temple was the offering of ma'at, that goddess of balance, goodness, truth, and rightness. The Egyptians recognized that as a community they were called upon to work with the gods in establishing and maintaining ma'at in the world. It had nothing to do with the Western notion that "if it feels good, do it"–which is the triumph of that sort of self-absorbed individualism espoused in Ayn Rand' s philosophy. It had nothing to do with that "ruggged individualism" of the Wild West in America.