Kemetic Spirituality

On Following the Sun we were talking about the spirituality of ancient Egypt:

Do the people of Kemet separate spirituality from anything, even entertainment?

Unfortunately, unless someone makes some really interesting “finds”, we may not have much evidence either way. I would think that anything “unclean” didn’t have a place in the inner area of the temple. It’s pretty clear there wasn’t the “This is heavenly and good, this is worldly and bad,” that we are more familiar with. But I think there were things that were done in the temple and things that weren’t.

For instance, regurgitating because you had overindulged at a banquet was something common enough to be depicted in art, and also common enough that your servant would have a handy receptacle just in case. There’s probably a long list of activities like this that have no place in the temple.

On the minus side, though most of the history, the state temples were “closed” to just about everyone. At best, you might get into the outer area. And possibly on holiday you might join the crowd as the icon was sledged through the street. True, at least in the temporary tomb-builder towns they seemed to have hired an off-duty priest to work the neighborhood shrine. But unless you went into a scribal school or trained as a priest, I suspect everything you learned about religion and spirituality you got from your parents or playmates. Without a single religious book it must have varied wildly. It does seem like Bes and Tawaret were the main deities in every home, so they, at least, gave a near universal basis.

Even though Heka practice came from the same spirituality as religion, and was completely “respectable”, there do seem to be some big differences, at least in the pre-Ptolemy period. Amulets are almost never shown in art, but were very common.

It might be that if we were to talk to most of the people of ancient Kemet, we’d find them terribly superstitious. (Probably because our unstated superstitions are different from theirs!)

But it strikes me that all of us in Kemetic Recon are creating something very new, and perhaps more positive than the old religion, despite (and because) our best attempts at research. We are certainly a lot more self-analytical. I don’t think the Egyptian Gods ever placed a high value on ignorant faith.

Medieval scholars attempted to research and revive the scholarship and art of ancient Greece, and created the Renaissance. Musicians tried to revive Greek drama and song, and invented monody, opera, and Baroque music.

Maybe the Netjer are smiling?