Pantheacon 2016 Presentations

Pantheacon 2016 Presentations

[Update 4/6/2016: I have added the short descriptions of the talks, as well as a couple of notes about them]

Here are two presentations delivered at Pantheacon 2016:

Waking up Gods, Waking up Creation: The Egyptian Morning Hymn

Descriptive blurb submitted for the Pantheacon Program: “We will explore the Morning Hymn used to waken the Gods and Goddesses in Egyptian Temples – covering the hymn’s history, meaning, parts, and performance. We will end by learning to pronounce and sing choral portions of the hymn and then perform a complete hymn together for a God or Goddess”.

Presentation – PDF rendering of PowerPoint slides and a PDF handout distributed at the talk.

Waking The Gods Presentation

Waking The Gods Handout

 

Weaving the Cloth of Reality: Word and Sound in Egyptian Ritual

Descriptive blurb submitted for the Pantheacon Program: “Egyptian rituals use the sounds of words, along with their meanings, to connect to mythic themes and tie the ritual utterances together into effective tools. The goal is to please the Gods, re-energize Them, and sustain creation itself each day. We will explore sound and how it can deepen our modern understanding and practice of Egyptian ritual by looking at current progress in reconstructing the pronunciation of Egyptian, analyze the layers of meaning in some simple ritual texts, and then pronounce them”.

Presentation – PDF rendering of PowerPoint slides

Weaving The Cloth Of Reality Presentation

Notes:

These slides are clearly not the complete content of the talks and unfortunately the talks were not recorded. Nevertheless, I will leave these here in the interest of documentation and as a reference point for some later posts, so I may refer back to them.

You will notice that some of the material from The Morning Hymn for Seven Goddesses is included in the Pantheacon slides. We sang about half of that Hymn as part of the presentation, diverging a little bit from the plan in the blurb text.

The ‘Waking the Gods Handout’ provides a short form Morning Hymn vocalization for both a God and a Goddess and a pronunciation key. If you feel so moved, use them in your own devotions. By all means experiment – sing them in English or Egyptian, for any God or Goddess, using whichever way of saying Their names that is meaningful to you, or chant them, or say them out loud. They are meant as tools and (hopefully) take off points for your own practice. No need to obsess over doing them one right way. The Egyptians had multiple versions, and we can too. Make them live!

There are more examples of the Morning Hymn text than are covered in ‘Waking the Gods’. One of those, Utterance 6 of the Temple Statue Ritual (Berlin Papyrus 3055), titled simply ky r(A) “Another Utterance”, contains a quite interesting version. It will receive its own treatment in a subsequent post.

The photograph is one I took at Deir el Bahri Temple in January 2016. It shows the rising sun shining directly into the sanctuary of Amun, albeit somewhat misaligned. The alignment would be very near perfect at the Winter Solstice, to which the temple is aligned. We were there a couple of weeks later.

A Single Conversation of Consequence : The Morning Hymn for Seven Goddesses

Sometimes a simple chance conversation can have powerful consequences. This past October, I attended the Parliament of the World’s Religions, a very large international interfaith event. The event is amazing, with people from all over the planet and from every kind of religion/faith/tradition you can think of participating. All kinds of things happen when so many people get together who are open to sharing their insights into common problems from their individually diverse spiritual and religious perspectives.

The last formal event I attended was the “Solidarity with Indigenous Communities Plenary” on the very last day. There were many speakers from many different indigenous peoples from around the world, with one person on stage being Jean Fleury, Crow Creek Sioux Tribal Peace Ambassador and a key organizer of the Healing Hearts at Wounded Knee Global Ceremony. (Please go take a look at their mission statements and invitation to participate in healing the wounds from all Massacres and help to end them in the future). At any rate, the Plenary Session lasted longer than scheduled, and by the time it was finished the carpets were literally being rolled up in the Salt Lake City Convention Center. Luckily, the food court was still open so I rushed over for a quick lunch. Or so I thought. While getting napkins and whatnot, Jean asked if she could join me for lunch. So we sat down and started talking and sharing our paths, as people often do at the Parliament. I described my particular Kemetic path briefly and talked about my passion for speaking and singing the rituals in Egyptian, and that I was starting out with the Morning Hymn found in a number of temples and texts. She said “Well you know you have to sing it for me now!” and so I did – haltingly and only partially since it wasn’t finished by any means at that point.

And then she asked “You do know you are singing for the Ancestors from Egypt, don’t you?”. I was slightly stunned for a moment at that question. It was both a recognition and a challenge, completely serious and completely attuned to the deeper goals of what I had described, though I hadn’t actually said anything about deeper goals. She saw past the surface description and pulled out the source of those passions. My answer was and is “Yes”. Humbly, “Yes”. A yes that carries responsibilities I know I do not yet fully understand.
Then came another question that was both an invitation and a challenge – “I would love to have your song on the HHWK web site. Could you record it and allow us to post it there?” Again, after a gulp, the answer was Yes.

So here is the Morning Hymn For Seven Goddesses, as recorded in honor of and for the Healing Hearts Global Ceremony 2015 and stored on their site.

Note: Since making the recording last December (2015) I have changed the voweling in one place (many times repeated). In a subsequent post, I’ll be giving some more information on the Morning Hymn and the reconstructed forms used in it.

The Temple of Ra in San Francisco did perform a ritual on December 29th, 2015 as part of the Global Ceremony. In that ritual we sang the hymn together. The ritual itself was an Interfaith event in a way, in that we had non-members present representing non-Kemetic Polytheist, Wiccan, and Orthodox Christian traditions. That I feel was a great way to honor both the memory of Wounded Knee and the joyfully interconnected phenomenon that is the Parliament of the World’s Religions.

 

And so it begins…. About Imperishable Stars

This blog will be a place where I post various thoughts and writings on things Egyptian, both in the context of Reconstructionist Kemeticism and topics from academic and Egyptological research.

As such, it will reflect my primary passions in these areas:

  • Ritual texts and ritual adaptations for use by Kemetic Polytheists today
  • Linguistic understanding of the Egyptian language in all its forms and stages
  • Reconstructed vocalizations of Egyptian, especially texts composed in Middle Egyptian and ‘Égyptien de tradition’ used in ritual
  • Theological insights arising from the ancient texts, rituals, and structuring of sacred spaces

That said, I am sure some just-for-fun and just-because posts will happen from time to time. Playfulness is a good thing and important insights can come from anyplace at all.

I do not intend the blog to emphasize burning issues of the moment in the world of politics or pagan/polytheist controversies. There will of course be exceptions to this. After all, the very first post is a response to one of those controversies and it spurred me to begin the blog after a long period of procrastination.

In the immortal words of a certain Vorlon:
“And so it begins…”

 

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.