An opening post, a response

Having just started a Blog, it necessarily requires a first post. Ideally that post should talk about what Imperishable Stars is about, its goals, its stance and many other things. One of those things and one only will be the focus in this very first post on Imperishable Stars. It is a statement of the Kemetic Reconstructionist path I follow, generated in response to a post elsewhere, that pushed this mostly silent Kemetic to go public. Here it is:

In response Gods & Radicals: ‘Confronting the New Right’:

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is non-hierarchical. We rotate roles in ritual, have no degrees, share mutually in decisions across the family of temples we people, and make our own small group decisions in each individual temple.

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is that of a religion whose cultural appropriation phase began 2400 or more years ago. Flavors, varieties, and Gods and Goddesses from before and during that period spread far beyond the borders of geography and ethnicity in ancient times. The ties to the ancestors who practiced that religion are weak indeed these days, but they do still exist and I honor them, even though I may not have much of any direct genetic ancestry from the land then known as the Mansion-of-the-Ka-of-Ptah. This reconstructionism cannot be analyzed under the critique of cultural appropriation as you have used it. The dynamic is different both because of the historical depth of the appropriation and because there are no descendant practitioners who can communicate to us what their preferences and views are with respect to it.

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is not a-political. I support financially efforts that rebuild and restore the ancient buildings, record them, and employ and train Egyptians to do those things. This is honoring the Gods and ancestors in a way that respects them and their children as well. All their children. It is a way of acting politically too. One that strengthens people who are suffering quite a lot right now. This kind of political action, embedded in a number of contexts, with multiple goals, and using the tools at hand to effect change for individuals in an economic and educational way, is the choice I have made within the ethical framework of my reconstructionist religion. It is real and it is effective.

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is not racist or belittling of Islam. The people of Egypt today are Muslim and Coptic Christian. They preserve elements of the ancient ways, often with respect – in festivals, customs, and language, all part of the very air my reconstructionism breathes. How could I have enmity to Muslims when a Muslim guide recognized and assisted a sacred duty I needed to perform in an ancient Temple, stood with respect while I sang the Morning Hymn at dawn to Amun in the heart of Karnak, made my offering, and circumambulated the Middle Kingdom Kar shrine base? He told me what I was doing is a recognized sacred thing in Islam – a ‘tawsiya wagiba’ – an obligatory sacred pilgrimage on behalf of someone who has died. He also took us into the Mosque of Abu Haggag and a Coptic church in Luxor. How can a person of honor disrespect such a man and the Muslims and Copts who welcomed us into their sacred spaces? How can I disrespect the Muslims of Abu Haggag Mosque who to this day perform a festival procession carrying boat shrines from the ancient Temple precincts through the city streets – thus carrying on a tradition over 3400 years old?

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is polytheist and non-european. It is built on the basis of a profoundly multi-centric view of creation, Gods, and Goddesses. Each temple is the Center, each major Temple Center has its own creation story, each God or Goddess is the Creator in their own Temple, each divine image is an individual with agency, and most ritual action texts are interweavings of multiple mythic contexts. Even gender function is bridged and multiple – The very same Goddess is called both ‘The Female who is/acts as Male’ and ‘The Male who is/acts as Female’. This is not an essentialist or mono-anything-ist reconstructionism. Why do you reduce such a polytheism to a single color and a single dimension that inherently expresses a tendency to rightist politic views?

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is devotional. Every day. Multiple Gods and Goddesses are offered to at my shrine. Yet I am not Their slave. I need not ask permission for every act, need not toe a line that is not in accord with Maat, because Maat is the key to all Kemetic ethics and governs the Gods as well as humans. She is Truth, Justice, Balance, Order, ‘The Right Thing’ – She is offered to each God and Goddess in every full ritual. She is a profoundly social-political foundation for what is sacred to us and Her glyph is literally the plinth upon which the Gods’ thrones stand. The Gods deserve offering, and respect, and devotion – that is also part of Maat. It will always be so. But they do not demand slavish servitude, oppression, or abject surrender. There is no text saying any such thing throughout the religion’s ancient history to my knowledge.

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is magical. Magic is woven deeply and tightly throughout the ancient religion of Egypt. Magic too is a God – Heka – in this polytheism. He, like Maat, is one of the underpinnings of the Created Universe itself. We practice magic both personally and politically. It is not secret, but it is often private. This is not to be obscure, but to maintain a kind of effectiveness and unity of purpose. Many pagans and polytheists and occultists will recognize this. I have never personally been in the presence of Kemetic Heka that was ‘Rightist’ in its intention. Never.

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

My reconstructionism is not purist. We in our trad base our community rituals on extant ritual texts originally written in Egyptian. In this we are lucky in that we have a lot of those to work with. But, there are Kemetic and syncretic deities for whom those may not exist, and so a more experimental and exploratory method of creating rituals may be required. And individuals may practice other kinds of trads they wish to meld into their personal devotions or magical actions. Our group rituals are more ‘classic’ in approach but there is never a power-over rhetoric to prevent free individual expression or practice. I daresay this might even extend to the individual temple level as we grow and new flaovrs of practice develop. Why not? The Temples of Isis in northern Europe were certainly not following 19th Dynasty pharaonic protocols. And the same goes for the temples of Gods like Antinous, whose very cultus began in a syncretic polyglot milieu. We can allow this multiplicity. We can celebrate it.

Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.
Your brush is too wide and your vision monochromatic.

I have written these words to you because, despite the disclaimer that you were not attacking all polytheists or reconstructionists, I have felt attacked. Even though I could not recognize myself or my trad in the accusations of rightist tendencies, I felt attacked. The above, I hope, gives some material for you to consider how diverse polytheisms, reconstructionisms, and your other targets-of-opportunity are. And perhaps they may thereby encourage you to produce a better article with a more measured analysis at some point.

7 thoughts on “An opening post, a response

  1. Thank you for speaking up and making your voice heard. WordPress btw, takes some getting used to but it’s a great blogging platform and you’ll soon get the hang of it. 🙂 welcome.

    Liked by 1 person

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