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KRT: Being Publicly Kemetic

KRT: Being Publicly Kemetic

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

How public are you about your beliefs and practices?

I am remarkably “out” about most things: I’m openly queer and genderqueer, even at work and to family. I publicly support non-mainstream religions and personal identity choices—and I’ll even flip the coin to support the right to choose a mainstream religion against those who would tear that down, too. (Freedom of choice, and freedom of speech, apply to everyone equally, goshdernit.)

So, it’s hardly a surprise that I’m openly pagan/polytheist (yes, even at work, and even to family). I wear a lot of Kemetic-themed jewelry (which admittedly isn’t ankhs everywhere, so it’s not as obviously Kemetic) and talk excitedly about ancient Egyptian mythology when given half a chance. I haven’t often encountered a situation where I’m queried about what kind of pagan I am—quite honestly, in Texas, it’s usually enough that my religious choice goes uncontested. So, in that sense, I am less “openly Kemetic” and more just “openly pagan.” Which I am quite fine with. Being public about my beliefs means not avoiding or lying about them, but not shoving them down anyone’s conversational throats, either.

It’s worth noting that I am more public about my beliefs than my practices. I’ll happily talk about my practice and my relationships with my gods to fellow pagans/polytheists/Kemetics, but I do a case-by-case judgment call on sharing those details with people outside the sphere of paganism. If someone’s just looking for ammunition, I’ll be vague; if someone’s genuinely seeking more information for a greater understanding, I’ll share.

How has being publicly Kemetic impacted your work life and your familial and friendly ties?

In the sense that being Kemetic impacts how I act and how I choose my words, it’s had a major influence on all the facets of my life and all my relationships. However, being publicly pagan hasn’t really impacted much. I serve as a walking reminder that not everyone is part of a given religious majority, but with few exceptions, those who aren’t pagan don’t discuss the topic with me much. It doesn’t feel like a point of tension, but simply a non-issue.

What advice would you give to uncertain Kemetics about how to approach either telling or not telling others about their beliefs?

I always advise a safety check first. I have the enormous privilege of being able to be out of various closets safely, but not everyone is so fortunate, and it’s important to consider one’s physical and mental safety first and foremost. While someone may be served best by being boldly open about their beliefs, another person may be served best by remaining private and unchallenged. Society can be quite aggressive towards things it doesn’t like, and certain places and groups of people embody that hostility more than others.

If, however, one passes the safety check and deems it an acceptable risk to be out of the … what, ankh closet? What’s our equivalent to a broom closet? Khopesh closet? Barque closet? That’d be a big closet… anyways, I digress. If one chooses to be publicly Kemetic, one can take many paths to sharing their beliefs, among them the “sit down, I’ve got something to tell you” (which I did with my parents, in the days of yore) and the “tiny comments here and there” (which I do at work and with basically everyone) methods.

For the people who live with you or who are deeply, vitally important to you, it will probably be more effective to have a solid conversation, where you explain what you believe and can answer their questions in real-time, before misconceptions form and fester. The best way to handle that is to be honest and serious; I often ask someone to hear me out and not interrupt until I’m done, so I get a chance to get the full spiel out before they start in with questions. (I’m really blunt, so that method works well for me.)

For everyone else who doesn’t need the full explanation up front, just be open. Conversations will naturally turn in directions where you can gently correct their assumptions that you’re not Kemetic. I’ve found patience and politeness goes a long way in these gradual reveals; people may not pick up quickly on the hints you’re dropping, so just be persistent and don’t worry about it. (If you’re worrying about it, you may want to try the full-conversation option.) I find this method exceptionally useful for being non-confrontationally “out” as a queer and genderqueer person, though I’ve had to be blunter about the misgendering because most people don’t think past the male/female binary.

Above all, be safe, and remember that you can be selective. If you want your significant other to know, but not your blood-family, that’s fine—just make sure to tell your S.O. so they know when to censor themselves around others. If you want to tell your friends but not your coworkers, that’s fine, too. However public or private you are about your beliefs is entirely your choice; there is no “should” or “should not.” Be safe and find your own path to happiness and comfort.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on being publicly Kemetic by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

KRT: Being Publicly Kemetic

KRT: Being Publicly Kemetic

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

How public are you about your beliefs and practices?

I am remarkably “out” about most things: I’m openly queer and genderqueer, even at work and to family. I publicly support non-mainstream religions and personal identity choices—and I’ll even flip the coin to support the right to choose a mainstream religion against those who would tear that down, too. (Freedom of choice, and freedom of speech, apply to everyone equally, goshdernit.)

So, it’s hardly a surprise that I’m openly pagan/polytheist (yes, even at work, and even to family). I wear a lot of Kemetic-themed jewelry (which admittedly isn’t ankhs everywhere, so it’s not as obviously Kemetic) and talk excitedly about ancient Egyptian mythology when given half a chance. I haven’t often encountered a situation where I’m queried about what kind of pagan I am—quite honestly, in Texas, it’s usually enough that my religious choice goes uncontested. So, in that sense, I am less “openly Kemetic” and more just “openly pagan.” Which I am quite fine with. Being public about my beliefs means not avoiding or lying about them, but not shoving them down anyone’s conversational throats, either.

It’s worth noting that I am more public about my beliefs than my practices. I’ll happily talk about my practice and my relationships with my gods to fellow pagans/polytheists/Kemetics, but I do a case-by-case judgment call on sharing those details with people outside the sphere of paganism. If someone’s just looking for ammunition, I’ll be vague; if someone’s genuinely seeking more information for a greater understanding, I’ll share.

How has being publicly Kemetic impacted your work life and your familial and friendly ties?

In the sense that being Kemetic impacts how I act and how I choose my words, it’s had a major influence on all the facets of my life and all my relationships. However, being publicly pagan hasn’t really impacted much. I serve as a walking reminder that not everyone is part of a given religious majority, but with few exceptions, those who aren’t pagan don’t discuss the topic with me much. It doesn’t feel like a point of tension, but simply a non-issue.

What advice would you give to uncertain Kemetics about how to approach either telling or not telling others about their beliefs?

I always advise a safety check first. I have the enormous privilege of being able to be out of various closets safely, but not everyone is so fortunate, and it’s important to consider one’s physical and mental safety first and foremost. While someone may be served best by being boldly open about their beliefs, another person may be served best by remaining private and unchallenged. Society can be quite aggressive towards things it doesn’t like, and certain places and groups of people embody that hostility more than others.

If, however, one passes the safety check and deems it an acceptable risk to be out of the … what, ankh closet? What’s our equivalent to a broom closet? Khopesh closet? Barque closet? That’d be a big closet… anyways, I digress. If one chooses to be publicly Kemetic, one can take many paths to sharing their beliefs, among them the “sit down, I’ve got something to tell you” (which I did with my parents, in the days of yore) and the “tiny comments here and there” (which I do at work and with basically everyone) methods.

For the people who live with you or who are deeply, vitally important to you, it will probably be more effective to have a solid conversation, where you explain what you believe and can answer their questions in real-time, before misconceptions form and fester. The best way to handle that is to be honest and serious; I often ask someone to hear me out and not interrupt until I’m done, so I get a chance to get the full spiel out before they start in with questions. (I’m really blunt, so that method works well for me.)

For everyone else who doesn’t need the full explanation up front, just be open. Conversations will naturally turn in directions where you can gently correct their assumptions that you’re not Kemetic. I’ve found patience and politeness goes a long way in these gradual reveals; people may not pick up quickly on the hints you’re dropping, so just be persistent and don’t worry about it. (If you’re worrying about it, you may want to try the full-conversation option.) I find this method exceptionally useful for being non-confrontationally “out” as a queer and genderqueer person, though I’ve had to be blunter about the misgendering because most people don’t think past the male/female binary.

Above all, be safe, and remember that you can be selective. If you want your significant other to know, but not your blood-family, that’s fine—just make sure to tell your S.O. so they know when to censor themselves around others. If you want to tell your friends but not your coworkers, that’s fine, too. However public or private you are about your beliefs is entirely your choice; there is no “should” or “should not.” Be safe and find your own path to happiness and comfort.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on being publicly Kemetic by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

KRT: The Impact of Kingship

KRT: The Impact of Kingship

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

Does the concept of kingship impact your practice, and if so, how?

Being Kemetic Orthodox, the topic of kingship is a particularly relevant one to me, in a few different ways.

For one, kingship is one of the five pillars of Kemetic Orthodoxy (the others are community, ancestors, the gods, and Ma’at). For two, I have met Egyptologist Tamara Siuda, who is the leader of Kemetic Orthodoxy; she is considered our Nisut, our king, though the ways in which members of Kemetic Orthodox interpret that varies. For myself, I see her as our spiritual leader, well-qualified for the job both academically and personally. (As I have no way of personally verifying or disproving any divine right to be king, it ceases to matter in practical ways to me; I am solely concerned with an individual’s actions and attitude when in a position of authority.)

While the concept of kingship impacts my practice only slightly, the existence of the flesh-and-bones leader of Kemetic Orthodox impacts my practice quite a lot. She is a fount of information, support, and guidance, and she is as present as possible to lead or participate in online gatherings (some ritual, some guided discussions, some fellowship). Because my practice is tied to my community, and because she is the leader of that community, I can say with confidence that my experience and practice of Kemeticism would not be the same without her as our king.

However, a lesser-discussed but equally-prominent way in which kingship impacts my practice is its importance amongst the Netjeru. Some gods are kings and others are not; some serve the king, some protect the king, and others act autonomously. Regardless of value judgments (I don’t consider the god-king to be any “better” than another deity), it still provides something of a map, helping me to understand and interrelate various Names. The procession of kingship and heritage is also a major plot point in many myths, most obviously those around Wesir (Osiris), Heru-sa-Aset (Horus the Younger), and Set. The role of kingship in various gods’ identities can greatly impact the whole nature of the god in question: imagine Ra not being a king! It’d give His entire character a spin in a different direction.

In essence, it would be a challenge for me to completely extricate the concept of kingship from its manifestations among the ancient Egyptian gods and within my chosen community. While I don’t consider myself to be terribly amenable to monarchies, when taken in mythological contexts it can be informative and instructive to the nature and roles of the Netjeru, and when taken in a community context it can be very useful to have a strong, respectful leader. I wouldn’t put up with anyone, god or mortal, who sought to abuse that power or that title—but thankfully, I don’t have to.

Note: I do not speak for all of my community nor for Tamara Siuda herself; this blog is solely discussing my personal interpretations and opinions. As always, your mileage will vary. :)

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on kingship by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

KRT: Differences in Practice

KRT: Differences in Practice

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

How do we deal with or overlook our differences in practice and UPG? What do we do if our experiences don’t line up with others’?

For the most part, someone else’s practice or UPG has no actual impact on our own practice or UPG. Unless you’re living with that person—and even then, you’d have to be constantly co-worshipping for it to be a tangible impact—you can do whatever you please for your own spiritual and religious life.

Of course, that goes both ways. Other people can do whatever they please, too. Their practices are their own; yours are your own. Everyone’s UPG is unverified and personal, otherwise it’d be lore or historical fact.

If your experience doesn’t line up with someone else’s—so what? We are individuals on a highly individualized and nuanced path with an awful lot of multi-faceted and hybridizing gods. No one is a clone, nor should we attempt to be.

A Kemetic’s practice, UPG, and relationship to their gods is their own, and it needn’t influence nor be influenced by anyone else’s personal choices and actions.

In other words, if you think someone is wrong on the internet, it is not your responsibility nor your right to go “correct” or “enlighten” them. Unless they are literally endangering themselves or others in very concrete and measurable ways, their religious choices are not yours for judgment, no more than anyone should judge yours.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on dealing with differences by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

KRT: A Daily Ritual

KRT: A Daily Ritual

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

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?

Because I’m non-linear, let me answer the easier questions first: Yes, you can practice as solitary or with a group or both, and no, you do not need to do daily rites. If doing a daily practice/rite is something you want to do, or something your gods request of you, read on!

Quick note: I distinguish daily practice from daily rite in the same way rectangles are distinguished from squares. All daily rites are technically daily practices, but not all daily practices are actual rituals. While a daily rite is performed in shrine or sacred space, daily practices other than rites are usually outside of shrine.

Daily practice can include, in all honesty, anything you want it to. You do not need to be extravagant, expensive, complicated, or time-consuming in your daily practice and/or daily rite, which is kind of a common misconception, especially to those new to Kemetic ritual. Your daily practice can be as simple as a prayer in the morning to say hello to the gods—or as practical as sharing your morning coffee or tea or breakfast with your gods. If you’re not a morning person, you can do the same for a before-you-sleep prayer or offering your dinner, your dessert, or your preferred evening beverage.

I find it helpful to know why I want to do something every day—the why helps me determine the what. For me, mindfulness and integration are enormous parts of my practice, and I place a lot of import on “showing up” rather than “being perfect.” Other Kemetics may value quality over frequency and only perform ritual when they are 110%. Each practitioner is different and should adapt their practices and schedules to their own needs, desires, and their gods. Think about why you want a daily practice—do you want to spend more time with your gods, make more regular offerings, become more self-disciplined, perform more hekau/spells?

No matter how simple or complex your daily practice, self-discipline will be a side-effect, and in fact, a simpler daily routine will help you develop that more quickly and with fewer frustrations on average than having to do a longer bout of ritual every day. Start small, then let your practice grow at a natural pace. If you want to spend more time with your gods or integrate Them more fully into your life, try smaller and simpler practices like offering meals or drinks or integrating prayers outside of shrine. I pray on my commute to work; there’s never a chance of being “too busy” to speak aloud while driving. Thinking of, speaking to, and/or offering to your gods throughout the daily helps you integrate Them into your outside-of-shrine life, and when each “practice” takes less than a minute or two of intentional words (to make the offering, to say thank You, etc), it’s not a clock-buster.

If you are more interested in strengthening your ritual muscles, performing hekau or spells, or making consistent offerings in shrine, then a daily rite will probably fulfill your desires more than the life-integrated ideas above. Which brings us to the last question of the post: How does one make and/or perform a daily rite?

There are several daily rituals out there, including the Kemetic Orthodoxy ritual of senut in The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook by Tamara Siuda, several more complex rituals in Eternal Egypt by Richard Reidy, and on various Kemetic blogs. Before I worked up to doing senut on a regular basis, I created my own, slightly simpler daily rite to ease myself into the habit, and I’ll share its components here in hopes it’ll help illuminate the parts of Kemetic ritual as I know them for those who want to write their own rite.

  • Purification. Make sure your clothing and body is clean; I wash my hands, repeating “I am pure” aloud four times.
  • Candle & Incense. (Can be electric candle / scented oil or wax if you can’t have smoke.) Light them. I recommend looking into incense that does not use dung or urea; I use this brand.
  • Libation. Offer a drink to Netjer or your specific god(s). This can be as simple as cool, pure water.
  • Offering. Offer something edible to Netjer or your specific god(s). I stick with less-processed goodies, including bread, fruits, home-baked treats, or finer chocolates. In antiquity, bread was a staple.
  • Prayer/Heka. In my daily rite, I wrote a specific heka to be included here; you can use it as freeform prayer or do the same.
  • Action. This is the body of the ritual, where you can do or say whatever you’d like, or just spend time with your god(s).
  • Reversion. Revert the liquid and edible offerings and enjoy!
  • Closing. A word of thanks before extinguishing the candle and cleaning up.

Even with a small paragraph of heka in my own daily rite, most times I performed it ran from 15-20 minutes, which was the entire point of the exercise for me—to do a daily rite that was brief enough to be sustainable until it became a genuine habit. (As mentioned before on this blog, I have issues with consistency, so I absolutely have to start small and “easy” in order for anything to stick.) However, this serves as useful evidence that not all daily rites have to take a long time or be excessively ornate—though you can certainly go for the more luxurious rites if such is your preference!

to sum up

Daily practices and rites are not required and can be done alone or with an organization. You can integrate out-of-shrine daily practices into your life via offering meals, drinks, and prayers to your gods. You can also perform a daily rite that others have created or that you create yourself, which can be as simple or involved as you desire. It’s important to be patient with yourself and understand that Life Happens sometimes, so even the most consistent of daily practitioners will miss a day, and that’s alright. The gods understand.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on performing a daily ritual by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

KRT: Non-Kemetic Holidays

KRT: Non-Kemetic Holidays

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

How do we negotiate Western secular and/or popular religious holidays? Do we ignore them? Do we co-opt them? Do we have celebrations with our non-Kemetic friends/family and then hold our own celebrations, if we have any Kemetic festivals around that particular time?

Short answer: Do whatever you please, so long as you’re comfortable and fulfilled!

But I’m pretty sure all my Round Table posts could be answered like that, so let’s dive in for a little more detail…

For myself, there are relatively few secular or Christian holidays I really celebrated in the past. Christmas was the big one, and it was always a time of magic and joy and that silly-yet-mystical holiday cheer, and so I brought my childlike glee with me from Christianity into Wicca with Yule, into eclectic paganism with the winter solstice, and into Kemeticism with Moomas” (More on Moomas in a moment!) Beyond that, the only holidays I still regularly celebrate are Thanksgiving (as a secular, family-oriented, gratitude-centric holiday) and Halloween/Samhain (this year with a Kemetic twist!). I’m not much of an expressive patriot, so I don’t do much for most U.S. holidays, beyond a nod and a moment of thanks for days like Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.

I find myself celebrating a lot more Kemetic holidays than secular or non-Kemetic ones, but most of the Kemetic holidays are pretty small, except for Wep Ronpet (the new year) in the summer, the Mysteries of Wesir in late autumn, and Moomas in early winter. Moomas is a celebration of the Establishment of the Celestial Cow, Who happens to be one of my Mothers: Hethert-Nut. Needless to say, Her holiday is a big deal for me, especially since I can throw all of my ingrained Christmassy happiness into the mix. But my families celebrate vanilla Christmas, and since none of them are particularly tunnel-vision’d with Jesus, I am happy to celebrate alongside them and focus on the non-religious aspects of the holiday. It doesn’t bother me, and I still love most of the carols sung.

However, for a new Kemetic or any Kemetic dealing with heavy doses of familial gatherings around secular or non-Kemetic holidays, you may not be as comfortable ignoring or Kemeticizing your favorite holidays. Hard reconstructionists may also take issue with my modern, freeform approach to finding Kemet in any particular holiday. (I mean, Hethert-Nut probably doesn’t need a Christmas tree… but we have one anyways!) Kemetics who are swamped in Jesus-themed holidays might feel a little overwhelmed and conflicted, and perhaps some patriotic Kemetics want to Kemeticize their country’s holidays, too.

Based on your living and family situation, your own personal comfort in being openly Kemetic with your housemate(s) and family, and your own like or dislike of secular and non-Kemetic holidays, you’ll need to make your own decisions what to celebrate, what to tolerate, what to co-opt, and what to ignore entirely. I find a lot of fun in trying to find the Kemetic in the holidays I choose to celebrate, but that won’t fly for everyone—and Kemetics are allowed to love and participate in non-Kemetic religious holidays that they grew up with or grew into.

It all still boils down to “do what works for you,” but know that you have options—you don’t have to pay lip service to holidays you don’t enjoy. Pick which days light you up or hold meaning for you, celebrate them fully, and don’t worry about the rest!

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on Kemetics celebrating non-Kemetic holidays by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

KRT: Execration and Curses in Kemeticism

KRT: Execration and Curses in Kemeticism

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

What are execrations and curses?

First, let’s throw out a quick definition (paraphrased from dictionary.com) so we know the difference between an execration and a curse:

  • A curse is an invocation or spell intended to cause misfortune to another person.
  • An execration can be a curse, but can also be damnation or denouncement.

For clarity in this blog post, I will use curse as-is and execration as a denouncement of someone or something–a “get thee hence” statement or spell intended to separate a person (or thing or situation) from oneself so that it can do no harm, rather than intended to harm a person (or thing or situation) directly.

Note: My definition may be different from how other bloggers, Kemetics, and polytheists use these words. When reading other posts, please keep that in mind.

Can you perform execrations and curses in Kemeticism? If so, how and when?

In antiquity, execrations and curses were both performed pretty regularly and commonly. Ancient Egyptians didn’t seem to hesitate in either separating themselves from harmful people/things/situations or in actively seeking harm to befall their enemies or agents of isfet (uncreation). For plenty of academic information on the various forms of magic and heka in ancient Egypt, including execrations and curses, check out the free download of Ritner’s The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice (click on the little arrow button next to “4th printing”).

Common methods of cursing and execrating include writing or drawing a person or their name, then destroying the image/word by drawing knives through it or burning it; this can also be done by writing/drawing on a red pot, then shattering the pot. Depending on the individual’s intention and spoken heka, this can sever a link between two people (to execrate) or actively “attack” another person (to curse). Most often, the target of the execration or curse is identified with Ap-p, the Uncreated One, and can be drawn as or inside of a serpent shape.

For more on how to perform execration and curses, check out these posts by Devo and by Helms.

As for when one might perform an execration, I’d say “whenever necessary,” but the timing for a curse—to actively seek to harm someone—leads us nicely into the next question:

Are there ethics involved in execrating and cursing? If so, what are they?

For execration, I personally don’t think that one would suffer an ethical dilemma. Execration is separating oneself from harm or threat of harm, and when that separation is done to preserve oneself or to build a better life, there’s no conflict of interest.

For curses, I hesitate. Cursing Ap-p or other (non-human, often symbolic) agents of isfet, who would see all of creation undone, is something both ancient and modern Kemetics did and do in order to maintain the order of the world and its very existence. But actively seeking to harm an individual, rather than to excise them from one’s life or contain their harmfulness so it cannot damage other people… I myself would not do it. There are so many other ways to remove someone’s ability to do harm that seeking to destroy a living, fallible, redeemable person is not within my array of options.

in summary

Execrations, which remove oneself from harm, can be employed whenever necessary by symbolically destroying the link between oneself and the source of harm.

Curses, which actively harm the target, should be employed only after great deliberation—if at all—by symbolically destroying the target.

Both execrations and curses are suitable to perform against Ap-p or other (non-human) agents of isfet (uncreation); performing either helps maintain the order of the world within ma’at.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on execrations and curses by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

KRT: Bargaining with Gods

KRT: Bargaining with Gods

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

Bribing and Threatening the Gods: Can you do it? If you can, how so? And is it somehow ‘blasphemous’ or ‘immoral’ to do so?

Can one bargain with, bribe, or even threaten a god? Absolutely. It’s even historically attested. (Here’s a great treatise on ancient Egyptian magical practices. Click on the arrow next to “4th edition” for a free and legal download!) Now, whether or not doing so is wise or will be effective is not as straightforward an answer, and whether an individual considers it blasphemous or immoral is up to that person’s own value system. Again, it was done in antiquity, so it is not automatically seen as outside of ma’at.

For myself, I don’t like the terms “bribe” or “threaten,” though they’re both accurate in some instances; I prefer “bargaining.” Bargaining gives the impression that all parties involved have agency and the ability to accept or deny the proposed bargain, and that said bargain is a compromise created to provide a win-win situation for everyone. While I have bribed gods with extra offerings in hopes of extra blessings, and I have threatened to not do X for a god if I don’t get Y from Them, I do try to stay within the positive and collaborate realm of bargaining.

When I first met Sekhmet, this is how I worked with Her. I knew She had no reason to give me something for nothing, so I would trade an offering for a blessing or a favor for Her heavy-handed assistance in something Really Important. It never struck me as strange at the time, and years later, I learned that this was pretty standard practice for ancient Egyptians. I also know better than to try to bargain for something that would fall outside ma’at; I don’t think that would end well if I did, whether I got what I was after or not.

To elaborate on that point for a moment: things that fall outside of ma’at would fall outside of the natural balance of our existence. If I need protection from a malevolent person, that’s one thing and well within ma’at; if I’m seeking vengeance on someone who wronged me by accident and not malice, that’s entirely another. Curses were part of rituals and spells in antiquity, but I don’t engage with them in my reconstructive practice; it’s a personal choice, so I wouldn’t involve a god in trying to curse someone for me.

Now that I work with gods other than the Red Lady, I’ve learned that some Netjeru do, in fact, give blessings or help out simply because They love me and They care. And, likewise, sometimes I give offerings or favors simply because I love Them and want to honor Them. But bargaining still comes into my life on a regular basis, especially when I feel like I’m asking for something that falls outside the realm of “casual” blessings. Asking my partner to grab me more tea when he gets up is a casual ask; asking my partner to clean the entire house by himself is something I would feel the need to repay in some fashion. Similarly, I want to at least offer a token of my gratitude if a god’s going to help me out in a more major way, even if it’s not a perfect one-to-one return on the god’s investment.

As for the “how” of bargaining with a god, I’ve found absolute transparency to be best. Tell Them up front that you want X and you’re willing to give them Y in exchange for Their help. I also tend to be very specific, both in what I’m asking for and what I’m offering; the biggest trade I can make is for an open-ended I.O.U. of the god’s choosing, and I offer that as rarely as possible. More often, I’ll exchange an extra food or drink offering, or a piece of art, or a service in Their name, and I always try to match the effort needed in my request to the effort I’ll expend on the offering. A god can certainly do a lot more than a mortal like me, but I still want to show appropriate respect for Their time and assistance.

It’s also worth noting that not all gods will want to bargain, while some gods may not be willing to give a petitioner everything asked of Them without being compensated in some way. Respect and humility is key to any relationship to a god, whether or not bargaining is involved.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out other takes on bargaining with the gods by my fellow Round Table bloggers!