KRT: Elements of a Daily Practice

Daily Ritual Basics: What does daily practice entail? Can I practice as a solitary Kemetic, or do I need to join a group of Kemetics? Do I need to do daily rites for the gods? How do I make or perform a daily ritual?

What does daily practice entail? Do I need daily rites for the gods?

Living Ma’at. In my opinion, it does require some form of daily devotion. I do think formal devotionals should happen on the regular. Honestly, I would like to say it would involve a daily “ritual” or “rite” or “devotional” or “senut”.

But life happens. I think the Netjeru get it, especially when what gets in the way are things like your job, family responsibilities, illness, the hangover you earned once when you drank too much at your best friend’s welcome home party. These things are also Ma’at.

For me, there are two principal ways I live my practice. Both are necessary. I’ll call them “formal devotion” and “informal devotion”. The following is NOT true for all Kemetics. THIS IS ONLY WHAT I DO. I haven’t really found this in any other Kemetic forums or what have you. That said…

Formal Devotions are when I am in my shrine space/altar (I know there are distinctions. Bear with me) or when I create one elsewhere. Sometimes I stick to a specific script, other times I “wing” it (loosely speaking). But no matter what, there is a template I follow. My formal devotions always include an offering of some type (food, water, incense, flame, music, objects, etc.) and some sort of hymn or prayer. They usually follow a certain “schedule”: Take time to “become pure”, enter the space/become aware of the Duat, call to the Netjeru and state my purpose for doing so, prayers and hymns, thanks, and sometimes even a bit of offerings and prayers for my akhu. I have a set rite that I created which I normally use. But, sometimes I just “ground” for a minute, connect to my Netjeru, light some candles, give some offerings, and say some prayers.  When done right, formal devotions are intimate for me. It was not always this way. This took time. I do these regularly, at least once a week. I used to do them everyday, when my day started late in my undergrad studies. This was the best 6 months of my practice. Then life happened >:)

Informal Devotions may or may not be planned. They do not happen in shrine. They happen out in the world, when you are doing something else. That something else may be explicitly spiritual (meditating) or it may be completely mundane (doing laundry). Or you might be having an emotional melt down combined with a crisis of self which leads you to rock in the fetal position while bawling your eyes out. But for whatever reason, whether you directly reach out to a Netjer or for wisdom or it just falls upon you like a “cosmic 2×4”, you make a connection to the Netjeru. You have a revelation. You get a UPG. And suddenly you find yourself in an intimate encounter with Someone or some lesson.

Informal devotion can be regular routines or spur of the moment. In the end, I would say some sort of schedule is of immense importance for both of these. Set a goal, and seek to make it. Keep it realistic.

A formal devotion everyday is not realistic for many of us. But what about once or twice a week? I do feel that this is necessary to have a connection with the Netjer. Informal devotions are just as legitimate, but they happen less when you don’t have those formal devotions going on.

Think of the Netjeru as a network (or a LAN) to which you can connect. But to access the network you need a working device. Formal devotions are the modem as well as a wireless access point–they connect you to the World Wide Duat at the time of your rite and then allow for a strong wireless signal afterwards. Informal connections are when you catch the Wi-fi signal when you are at the coffee shop and get an email.

Informal remembrances can come at any time…you have to remain mindful. I liken these to “teachable moments” in education. You break away from the lesson proper to take advantage of a question or observation. For example:

The teacher is filling different size containers with liquid. The class is working together to see how many milliliters is in a liter. Suddenly, the teacher overfills one of the contains, and students see the water bulge above the rim of the container but fail to trickle down the sides! 

Students: OH MY GOD!!!! Look at what its doing! Why is it doing that?
Teacher: Well, water molecules are charged just a little bit, and they can stick to each other! Right now, the charges on the molecules are strong enough to keep them from spilling over the rim. What do you think will happen if I add water one drop at a time?……

But its not always that serendipitous revelation. Sometimes, its devoting your time to charity or working towards a greater goal that relates to some aspect of your spiritual practice. I went into education because I believe we have a duty to make the world a better place; I think education is a way to do that. I am applying to graduate schools in the field of psychology because I feel I can live up to my full potential there and also work for a greater sense of justice in the world. I do yard work not just to keep the house spiffy, but because it connects me to the place in which I live and to Wesir. I kayak and take hikes at our local lake not just for meditation and peace, but because it connects me instantaneously to my Netjeru. I work out not just because I want to be healthy and sexy (granted, you don’t have to work out to be sexy 😉 ), but also because I love my body and I appreciate it. See what I mean? The key is to *remember* the spiritual reasons for things as well as the mundane while you are doing them.

Its like that. There you are, minding your business, and suddenly you realize…I don’t know…that the rainy season in your area is like the Nile. Its regular and life giving. And then you are ecstatic during the rainstorm, you are overwhelmed with joy and hope and awe. Bam. Stop, pray, etch it into your being. Thats daily practice. Its an informal devotion. To me, its the manifestation of a practice done right.

How do I make or perform a daily ritual?

While this is a response for the Kemetic community, I would advocate becoming familiar with basic elements of religious ritual in general. Reflect on rituals of which you may have been a part– Christian rites are included, as are Wiccan rituals, Golden Dawn ceremonies, Hindu puja, etc.  Did you like anything? What worked for you? Were there elements that manifested concepts similar to those found in Ancient Egyptian philosophies (like ancestor worship or an emphasis on purity)? You have to have a general knowledge of both religious rites and what connects you to the Divine before you tweak or create anything to suit your needs. You also need to keep your primary purpose in mind. What purpose will YOUR ritual serve?

Daily rituals are, in my practices, the means by which I show regular devotion and appreciation for my Netjeru. I use it as a time to reflect on my development as a person and on the living of my faith. I connect to my Netjeru and attempt to become a more self-actualized person. I align with Ma’at. So, when I created my rite, I kept all this mind.

Once I had a general understanding of what religious rituals look like and what functions mine must serve, I began scouring the net for Kemetic rituals and analyzing them. What elements were common? Which were not? Then, I began looking into the historical bases for those elements. It is important to note that the lay Egyptians’ religious practices are largely unknown when it comes to daily prayers. They had a household shrine, usually carved into a wall, but thats about all we know. When you look to ancient rituals, they were performed by priests…whose primary duty was to perform religious rites. They had time, training, and a deep understanding of all the esoteric meanings. So, you may wish to change them. You may also wish to make them more relevant to you and your beliefs. All good and fine, but try to find as many sources of comparison as you can.

A basic “recipe” I used:

Define Your Purpose

  •    What does your ritual seek to do?  What elements can help you to best carry that out?

Create a Template

  •     What is the structure of most Kemetic rituals?
  •     How are the elements of those structures historically relevant? Why are those elements included in the rite? Were
    they included in an ancient rite? Is that element a general focus in Kemeticism?
  •     What do I want mine to look like?

Fill in the Template

  •    Find hymns, prayers, spells, etc. to fulfull the elements you discovered in your template.
  •    If you find nothing you like or nothing useful, create your own!

Can I practice as a solitary Kemetic, or do I need to join a group of Kemetics?

I personally find no need to join a group, and there are other Kemetics out there who practice independently as well. That being said, there are a number of groups you can join that do things mainly over the net (KO is one example). As far as brick and mortar temples are concerned, they exist! you can find them! Many offer information online. As far as if they are necessary, I don’t think so. Could they be helpful? Absolutely. Do you need to join one? Only you can answer that question.

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Moving Wep Ronpet

My practice is constantly changing.

Sometimes, I go into “super scholar mode”. I become engrossed by some particular topic and go to the library, scour forums, even try looking on EBSCO host or primary sources to satiate my curiosity. I try to make my practice more historically accurate. Then, I might go months without picking up a book–but I pray 5 days a week, meditate a lot, contemplate often, try to be more appreciative and reflective each day. I try to make my practice more reflective of who I really am rather than historically accurate.

Holidays are one of the things that seem to cause me some problems. Our seasons are different, many holidays have scant information (though this isn’t always the case, thank God!), our cultures are different for so many reasons, and so on.

I often wonder whether I should change the timing of the holidays to be more relevant with where I live, though in the end I decided against this. I desired a more historically accurate calendar. It was easier, and its nice to get a baseline before you start experimenting.

I went to the West and toured New Mexico and Arizona in April of 2012. I realized how if certain things are missing in your world experience, you run the risk of never truly understanding a concept, Netjer, or action from another people. I have never known the glory of Shu until I sat alone in the desert, the spring sun bright, the horizon wider than I’d ever known it, the air bright and pregnant with light. I thought, “How can I ever really get to the heart of these celebrations without certain experiences? Like the processions down the Nile or the flooding of the Nile?” I don’t depend on a River for my food. I don’t know what its like to see the waters creep and smuggle in both the promise of life and the stench of disease.

Then, I did a “special” devotion on January 1st. Granted, my NYE wasn’t all I’d hoped….but I spent it with people I know love me, and they did their best to show it. In the end, it was where I needed to be. I drank a little whiskey, counted down the hours, and woke up the next day to see everyone’s resolutions on Facebook. I reflected on my 2013 and went over to my little shrine. I brought my breakfast there–the first meal of my 2014. The first food I ate in this new year. I thought of all the pots I have boiling on my proverbial stove–all the goals I hope to meet and all the habits I hope to continue or create. And I shared my meal because I want Them there, I want Them as much a part of me and of 2014 as They have always been. I view Them rather abstractly; I don’t think I see Them as other Kemetics do (though I cannot be sure and really don’t care; it causes me no anguish). But despite my agnosticism, there are ways I feel They are “there”, manifesting somehow in the world, even if They aren’t really there, independently of my perceptions. And I want Them to continue to be there.

A new year is a new beginning; everyone accepts this. Everywhere, people are looking back, looking forward, planning, scheming, hoping. They talk about it–what they want, what they’ll drink, who they’ll kiss at midnight (or who they won’t). Its a cultural phenomena that makes winter feel fresh. Its more magical to me than Christmas, for sure. It means something real–mathematical. Again, we move forward in time. Same as last year, only different. Let’s try again. Let’s keep going. There’s a secular spirituality about it.

This is probably as close to what Wep Ronpet really felt like as you can get. Yea, we see the New Year in a very different way–there’s no real religious connotation. There are no gods to be born. There’s no promise of fertility (though we aren’t an agricultural society…so that point may well be moot). But we do attempt to renew ourselves. We do attempt to rid ourselves of our demons and attempt to bring ourselves luck. We try to improve our selves and situations–I’ve seen articles for “cleaning your career” and keeping your resolutions as well as how to spend more time with your family. In an American way, we execrate.

Void of these external, cultural cues (the resolutions, the plans, the reflection on the past year, the theme of beginning again), New Years would seem empty. But when everyone joins together to ring in the New Year, a head space is not only born but made real…damn near physical. Because its a collective psychological phenomena. You don’t get that with solitary practice. The online community only does so much.

My devotional that day was extraordinarily fulfilling. Now I’m wondering how to celebrate both Wep Ronpet and New Years Day as holidays–perhaps Wep Ronpet as a new beginning in one sector of life (Sodpet still rises at this time of year, and I greatly enjoy celebrating a birth a day for five days) and New Years as another. Or perhaps I could combine them? This would totally wonk out my other celebrations…and I like a good timeline. I don’t think I want to celebrate the Mysteries before I celebrate the birthday of Wesir.

I haven’t worked all that out yet. But I know this…the ability to tie my spiritual exercises with an external, cultural celebration enhanced both celebrations. And I want to capitalize on that. Besides…when you drink your whiskey on NYE, you get the feeling you are celebrating just like the religious ancients 😉 You can’t party by yourself!