Foundational Polytheism

Karnak Reversion of Offerings

Over at Polytheist.com there is an important article for people seeking support and guidance as they explore their new interest or participation in polytheistic traditions contemporary and historical. I heartily recommend it. Here’s a quote of the included definition of “Foundational Polytheism”:

Foundational Polytheism is a collective starting point, a methodology of approach and procedure, for religious engagement and “entrance” into polytheism, in practice or identity, addressing particular distinct needs of polytheistic religions not adequately provided for elsewhere. It does not replace, or supplant, or override the internal structures of individual polytheistic religions, but rather, it provides a practical bedrock of foundation for those who might not yet have access to, or involvement with, or knowledge of, a given specific religious tradition.”

Also, as part of the comments, a discussion has begun on Kemetic approaches to reversion of offerings and human consumption of offered food and drink that readers here may find interesting. The issue is this: For many polytheistic religions, food offered to the Gods and Goddesses is not consumed by people, since it is seen as a breach of hospitality to the Deities. (I’m sure there are other reasons as well. And I hope I have not mis-characterized any traditions in that brief statement). For Kemetic practice, food and drink _are_ consumed after offering and the Reversion of Offerings is part of formal Egyptian Temple practice in the ancient texts. Now, if there are beginning polytheists who are having some sort of spiritual experience with as-yet unidentified Deities and who are not (yet) following the rules of any specific tradition, should they consume or not consume offerings? Is it some sort of offence with negative consequences _not_ to consume the offerings if the Deities in question turn out to be Egyptian?

In my own practice with the Temple of Ra in San Francisco, we allow for this by offering the reverted food and drink (and natron-infused water, suitably diluted) to plants or animals in the environment. And we don’t advocate that there are negative consequences to doing so. This is of course a specific perspective and there are likely others.
Please go over to the Polytheist.com site to see the article and discussion there. (Sometimes the comments icon doesn’t show up. If that happens, try selecting the Featured Voices menu item at the top. It will work until a new article in that category is posted. Hopefully the glitch will be fixed soon.

And please feel free to respond here with your own thoughts and practices, if you’d like.

Image credit: Scene of the Reversion of Offerings in the Hypostyle Hall of Karnak Temple. Scanned from Nikolaus Tacke, Das Opferritual des ägyptischen Neues Reiches, Orientalia Lovanienska Analecta 222, Peeters, 2013. Volume I, Plate 42. 

The image was originally published in Harold Hayden Nelson, Edited by William J. Murnane, The Great Hypostyle Hall at Karnak, Volume 1, Part 1: The Wall Reliefs (OIP 106), Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago 1981. This publication is available for free download here

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