I did a post a while back on my Germanic altar, and have been meaning ever since to do one on my Kemetic altar, only to get caught up in all manner of nonsense in the meantime. Being that I don’t have anything else to do this week it seemed like time to round back toward my somewhat unorthodox altar for my Kemetic practice and the dubiously reconstructed practice that surrounds it.
Since my last altar post led off with a picture, I may as well lead this one off the same.
The first thing you’ll likely think is “Man, this guy’s no photographer.” And you’d be right. Beyond that, yes, despite my being generally heathen, my Kemetic altar gets more real estate. I made some promises and have to uphold them, is the answer to that.
Front and center is the Dread Lady herself, Sekhmet, as is fitting. It was asking for her assistance that got me involved with Kemeticism at all, and she is and has been since maybe the only deity I’ve ever felt I get meaningful feedback from, for good or (literally) ill. To the right is Djehuty and a small icon of Ma’at’s feather, that was an offering to Him. To the left is an ironwood carving of a Coyote, which is more or less my regionalization of both Anpu and Wepwawet, both of whom factor into my practice.
Otherwise, the altar is relatively standard fare. A few candles, a food bowl, a libation bowl, and altar cloths; mainly the grey, and more of a blood red (as is fitting) beneath Sekhmet’s icon.
The primary manifestation of my practice is much the same as with my heathen stuff; weekly offerings make up the bulk of it, occasionally supplementary offerings for more specific things, and prayer which doesn’t always take place in front of the altar itself.
My rather loose ritual order is enormously simplified from the complexities of recorded, historical Egyptian ritual, primarily because I am not so bold as to argue that I’m a priest. My icons are not opened images, because I know I’m frankly not responsible enough to obligate myself to extensive daily tending. My offerings are simple things and my rituals have to be done in relatively short spans of time.
The basic outline is purifying the self, sanctifying and opening the sacred space proper, the presentation of offerings and reciting of liturgies (of which I have a few), the less formalized prayers, thanks and requests, the closing liturgies and reversion of offerings, the consumption of said offerings (because I don’t have the luxury of leaving them out for a time), and the closing of the space itself.
Purifying the self generally consists of being physically clean; I wash my face and hands before engaging in ritual, and make sure that I’m not otherwise soiled in some fashion. I also have a small container of salt (that I use as a substitute for Natron), and I consume a bit of it beforehand as a sort of internal cleansing.
The opening of the space proper involves the processional lighting of candles, and the recitation of a short opening liturgy:
“I come before You and open this space,
Which has been set aside and made pure,
Which has been set apart and made holy,
Which has been sanctified and serves Your purpose alone,
As Your servant I come and open this space,
As Your servant I come before You who are worthy”
After this recitation, I recite a further liturgy preceding the giving of offerings, most typically milk and bread.
“I come before You in this space
Which is set aside for You and Your purpose,
As Your servant I bring before You this offering,
As Your servant I bring before You milk,
Which is Life and which sustains Life,
That it may sustain You as it sustains all,
That it may please You,
That it may lend strength in Your endeavor,
As Your servant I bring before You bread,
Which is Life and which sustains Life,
That it may sustain You as it it sustains all,
That it may please You,
That it may lend strength in Your endeavors,
These things I give to you, Sekhmet,
You who are powerful and inexorable,
You who are boundless,
You whose breath is a scathing flame,
You whose claws rend earth and sky,
You whose wrath cannot be stayed,
You who are terrible in Your fury,
To You, Sekhmet, these offerings are given,
As Your servant I give these in love,
As Your servant I give these in adoration,
As Your servant I give these in supplication.”
…And so on, for each deity unto which the offering is being made, with similarly fitting liturgy. At times, this format is shortened slightly, for more formal offerings or requests it is lengthened and additional liturgies are recited.
After the offerings are given, I thank the gods for prayers answered and the like, and for good which falls within their general influence and for which I believe they should be given credit. If I have requests, I make them, generally somewhat informally compared to the rest of the liturgy and the like.
Once that is done, I recite further liturgy to enact the reversion of offerings that they may be consumed, as is proper, along the lines of:
“As Your servant I revert these offerings,
As Your servant, Sekhmet, I revert this gift of milk,
As Your servant, Yinepu, I revert this gift of milk,
As Your servant, Wepwawet, I revert this gift of milk,
As Your servant, Djehuty, I revert this gift of milk,
That it may sustain me such as it sustains You,
That it may enliven me such as it enlivens You”
And likewise for the food offering. After the reversion of offerings, I consume them immediately. My preference would be to leave them out for a time but my living situation does not allow for such. I then recite a small bit of liturgy, effectively the reverse of opening the space, and blow out the candles.
This makes up the bulk of my ritual practice on the Kemetic side of things. As said before, I do occasionally do special rituals on particular occasions or to make particular requests (such as making nightly offerings in the week leading up to hearing back regarding University acceptance), but the above is the norm, and I feel it is a fairly suitable ritual order for an informal, non-priestly home practice.
Hopefully this has been informative (and hopefully anyone even cared/is interested). It’s nice to get back to a standard blog post after a few weeks’ break! As always, comments and questions are welcomed.