I’m running considerably late with this one, but here is the latest topic for discussion at the Kemetic Round Table:
Living Kemeticism: What does living your faith mean to you? How can others bring their religion into their day to day life or live their religion?
On weekday mornings, I recite a daily prayer to Seth-Typhon and thank Him for all the things in my life that are still going right. Then I ask Him to straighten my spine with His holy Iron so I can defeat any chaos I might have to face during my day. Then on weekday evenings, I recite another prayer to Seth thanking Him for all His help. I pray for a good night’s sleep and for protection against any qliphoth that might want to harass me, my wife or our cat while we dream. On Friday evenings, we here in LV-426 have a tradition of observing what we call our “Sabbath.” This basically involves getting together, lighting some red candles, turning off the lights and taking turns praying to the Big Guy. When we’ve each had a turn, we then include Seth in a group discussion about whatever we may be thinking about at the time. Big Red doesn’t actually appear or talk with us in an audible voice, but we believe He guides our conversations to reach certain conclusions. Our Sabbath observations generally conclude with us playing music or watching a film that makes us think about Typhon in some way (e.g., the films and music I review on this website).
I don’t do a lot of praying on Saturdays or Sundays, but it’s not uncommon for me to light a candle for the Red Lord on Saturday nights. Also, I generally think about Seth every single day (and all day long). I don’t necessarily think about Him continuously, but I do think of Him very frequently, even while I’m at work. And if there’s one matter on which I agree with Don Webb (a former high priest of the Temple of Set), it’s that “When you think of Seth, He thinks of you.” I don’t practice daily rituals or make offerings at a shrine every day like some people do, but I like to think I don’t really need to; most of my energy is already being directed toward the Red Lord all the time anyway. I try to walk with Him every minute of every day.
Back in ancient Egypt, common people didn’t have to worry about performing daily rites; they really only had to worry about earning a living. Making daily offerings to the Gods was a job for priests, and they didn’t have to worry about earning a living at all (or at least not while they served as priests for one out of every four months). Those of us who’ve been chosen to worship the Gods today are in a completely different boat; we have to worship the Gods and earn a living at the same time. I think that for the most part, the Gods understand this and don’t hold us to the ancient Egyptian standards for worship. They understand if we can only perform one ritual once a week, or even if we can’t perform any rituals at all. (Certainly, those of us who are minors and who still live with their parents have a lot of difficulty with this.)
And let’s be honest here; the Gods don’t actually need us to make offerings to Them; none of Them are going to “starve” if we don’t “feed” Them. (They wouldn’t really be Gods otherwise, now would They?) Making offerings to Them is really more of a symbolic act, like inviting someone to dinner. In the ancient world, sharing food with someone else was a big deal because we must all eat to survive, and to deliberately give up some of your food was a potential risk to your own livelihood. It was an even bigger deal when people gave up some of their food for Gods, who don’t even need food to survive. Even today, inviting people to breakfast, lunch or dinner is still a major form of social bonding, and that’s what the Gods really care about. They like it when we bond with Them socially, and it keeps Them interested in looking out for us and helping us with our day-to-day problems. If we stop trying to bond with Them, They don’t die; They simply lose interest in us and turn Their attention elsewhere, leaving us to battle chaos by ourselves.
An ancient Egyptian religious offering
Food is just as important today as it was in ancient times; we still need it to survive, but many of us who live in first-world countries may not attach the same level of importance to it as our ancestors did. (Many of us actually have the luxury of throwing food away when we don’t want to finish it, and this would have horrified the Egyptians.) This is a very important issue that needs to be addressed, but there are many other ways in which we can socially bond with the Gods as well. We can still invite Them to dine with us, but we can also invite Them to movies, music shows, camping trips, or anything else we might enjoy. The next time you feel guilty because you’d rather go out with your friends than go to shrine, think about inviting your Gods to join you on your fun activity. Keep images of Them in your purse or wallet and say Their names to yourself every now and again; remember that images and words have great magical power, and try to always be mindful of your Gods as you engage in whatever it is you love. Chances are, the Deities to whom you are drawn probably share many of your interests and enjoy the same things you enjoy.
For example; let’s say you’re a devotee of Osiris and you’re struggling to find time for worship and for gardening. Instead of keeping these things separate, find some way to include Osiris in your gardening; talk to Him while you plant your tomatoes and while you water your tulips. If you’re a devotee of Thoth and you love going to the library, learn to think of that library as one of Thoth’s many temples; every time you go there, you’re going to “church”! And if you’re devoted to Taweret and you enjoy midwifery…well, do I really need to spell that one out? For my own part, I include Seth in my visits to museums, to metal shows, and even to places out in the middle of nowhere (i.e., Deshret). (As a matter of fact, my brother Patrick and I went to an Alice Cooper show back in 2011, and Seth was definitely with us that night. The venue was outdoors and the stage faced north, meaning that the Big Dipper was directly behind us the entire time. We could both feel Big Red watching the show with us, and it was awesome!) In today’s world, perhaps time (rather than food) is the most valuable commodity we can share with the Gods.
But we must remember that keeping our social bonds with the Gods is only one part of Ma’at; we must also maintain healthy relationships with animals, other people, and the dead. Praising Isis won’t do you much good if you treat your family, your pets, your neighbors, or even total strangers like shit. The Gods don’t expect us to be perfect, but They do expect each of us to try and contribute to human civilization (rather than to its downfall). Mind you, I’m not exactly some paragon of virtue; I don’t spend my weekends volunteering at homeless shelters or collecting trash in public parks. (I’m not saying these aren’t worthwhile things to do, either; I’m just saying I don’t do them myself.) But sometimes I’ll mow my neighbors’ yard, or I’ll volunteer to help a graduate student who’s in dire straits without charging them any money, or my wife and I will visit a cemetery and talk to the people who are buried there and leave them gifts. It feels good to do these things, and doing them has a positive ripple effect on the rest of the world.
This is because Ma’at is the cosmic bond that keeps everything well-balanced and interconnected, and everything we do that facilitates bonding (whether it’s between people and people, people and animals or people and non-corporeal beings) contributes to Ma’at in the long run. Hell, just smiling at a total stranger and wishing them a good day or letting those pesky squirrels nest in your shed over the winter might be all it takes to keep the apocalypse from happening. At the same time, everything we do that hinders bonding contributes to isfet and can have serious consequences on the entire universe; even mistreating just one person or animal could lead to something cataclysmic in the grand scheme of things. So when we do good things for others, we aren’t just following some rule that some God whimsically made up; we’re actively participating in the process that keeps all of nature alive and well. Doing good works is both a magical and a religious act.