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!