Pagan Practice

With the arrival of a baby in February, Erin and I have been talking a lot about Pagan Practice and what our spiritual and religious life will look like with a new addition.  We definitely agree that we want to raise our baby as a Pagan.  We know that this doesn’t mean that they’ll grow up and be a Pagan.  There’s no reason to think that when I was raised as a Christian, and then I left.  Granted, I left for valid reasons, but I’m sure that there are valid reasons for people to leave the Pagan faith as well.  The best I can do is to raise my child as a good person with a deep understanding of our faith and the faith of others.

The first part of defining a clear Pagan practice is to determine exactly what it is that you believe:

1) We believe that there is one ultimate, all-knowing, all-loving, self-created deity: Netjer
2) Bad things happen because there is bad in the world, known as isfet.
3) We try to maintain a life of love and balance by living in ma’at.
4) All Gods and Goddesses on this planet are manifestations or faces of the One, which means all paths to the One should be honored.
5) When we die, we either pass on to the land of paradise (Aaru) or we will simply stop existing.
6) Those that have gone before us, our ancestors, the Akhu, are an important part of our history and past.  They understand our struggles on a human level and can intervene on our behalf if we ask them and honor them as we should.
7) We are literally created of the Earth, and when we die, we will return to it; therefore, we should take care of and honor our planet.

I’m sure there are other tenets, but these are the big things.  The next part of defining a clear Pagan practice is to clearly define what we DON’T believe:

1) Hell or other place of eternal punishment: Since the One (Netjer) is all powerful and all loving, there is no reason to damn His creations to a place of torture and punishment for a crime or life that lasted “two seconds” in “God time.”
2) A Savior: Humanity hasn’t fallen from grace/love/Netjer’s eye; therefore, there is no need for someone to save us.
3) Jesus/Son of God: There is no human “Son of God.”  We are all touched by the divine, since we are divinely inspired, as all creation is.  Jesus, the man, was touched by Netjer as we ALL are.  He is a good example of living in the balance and principles of ma’at and therefore a good guide or teacher, but nothing more.
4) The Bible/Torah/Qu’ran/etc: All of these texts are divinely inspired as all creations are; however, none is the “correct one.”  We can learn from all these texts, but we shouldn’t focus on one over the other because we’ll lose out on divine knowledge and inspiration from the other texts

And I’m sure, again, that there are other tenets, but these are the big ones.

Now that we’ve literally spelled out what we do and don’t believe, we can start to look into different practices that we want to add into our spiritual and religious lives.  We can start by deciding on holidays that we wish to celebrate and how those major celebrations will look.  This might sound a little like I’m creating my own religion or faith, but I challenge those assumptions with this:

1) The Ancient Egyptians’ faith focused on the flooding of the Nile.  Their seasons, their celebrations, etc, were focused on the rise and fall.  If the Nile didn’t flood, the people didn’t eat.  Today, that same river is controlled by dams, and the rise and fall has little to nothing to do with whether or not my family and I eat.  What does have an affect on whether or not I eat are the seasons that we celebrate here in this country, in this part of the world.
2) If the Gods are all powerful, and we say that they cannot or will not respect a devout worshiping them in a way that captures the essence of the ancient ways, but modified for modern time, then we are saying the Gods are limited.  This is not true.

Holidays:

1) The Days Upon the Year and Wep Ronpet:  July 31 – August 5.  The five days before Wep Ronpet, which is the Kemetic New Year, are called the Days Upon The Year.  They’re the “five extra days” of 360-day year.  According to myth, Ra learned that his grand-children, Geb and Nut would have children who would overthrow him.  He cursed Nut to never bear children on any day of the year.  Nut begged the help of Djehuty, who went to see Khonsu, the God of the moon.  Djehuty bet Khonsu so of his light in a gambling game, and since Djehuty is the wisest of the Gods, He won repeatedly until there was enough light to create five extra days.  He added them to the end of the year, and Nut was able to give birth to Wesir, Heru-wer, Set, Aset, and Nebt-het, each on a different day.

Currently, we’ve spend Wep Ronpet kayaking, but that will be changing next year.  Last year, we did offerings and prayer, but it overtook us this year and we didn’t.

2) The Equinoxes/Solstices: These mark the changing of the seasons as we see them here in the states.  These directly affect food production for us, and therefore mark a spiritual calendar that is relevant to us in the same way that the Ancient Egyptians spiritual calendar was relevant to them.  There isn’t any Kemetic mythology that I’m aware of that surround these four specific days, and I don’t feel the need to work Wiccan or Celtic or other tradition’s mythology into my own.

Currently, we spent Winter Solstice with a decorated tree, a big meal and present openings.  I want to add prayer into, but I haven’t found any or written any that fit our beliefs yet.  Since this day occurs prior to Christmas, and we will be spending Christmas with our families, we will end up celebrating two winter holidays, which I’m sure the kid(s) won’t mind at all.  We’ll also make it clear what Christmas is, what it means, and why some people celebrate it while others don’t.  We acknowledged the Spring Equinox, but we didn’t do much.  We spend Easter with my family, and I’m sure we will be doing that often, so again, the same applies to it as with Christmas…. and we didn’t even acknowledge the summer solstice or fall equinox this year.  I guess we’ll need to figure out what those mean to us.

I’m not sure if there are others that are out there that we want to incorporate, but this is a work in progress.  I’d like to do a Day of the Dead type holiday to honor the Akhu, but I need to look more into it.  I’m sure there’s stuff out there that will help us solidify plans, we just really have not had the time to get into this that heavy.

Next, after you’ve decided on a list of holidays, it really take fleshing out what you want to do on those holidays and what those holidays mean to you spiritually.  Do you want to fast or eat a big meal? Do you want to do offerings and prayer? Do you want to have a story read that explains the importance of this holiday? Do you want to decorate or dress up?  What will your offerings and prayer look like if you chose to do them?  Do you have a special place for offerings to go or a specific deity to whom the offerings go to?

After that, it’s important to look into what the daily practice of your spiritual worship looks like.  Do you pray every morning or night?  Do you read a part of a spiritual text and then meditate on it?  It’s all important to consider.

Erin and I have a family altar set up in what I like to refer to as the sitting area across from the kitchen, even though there’s no where to sit anymore since the couches were removed when our roommate moved out.  We haven’t since the summer started, but we would light an incense and candle at the altar and have a moment of silence together in prayer.  It helped to bring our focus onto each other and the Gods every morning.  We also have private altars where we can pray or meditate if we’d like to, and we have smaller idols for the baby’s altar in his or her room once we get the nursery more set up in the coming weeks/months.

There’s still a lot we need to flesh out and solidify, but I think that designing a pagan practice is something that grows as we grow.  It is constantly changing to fit our changing world and families.

Here are just some final thoughts if you’re working at designing a stronger or larger pagan practice:

1) Know WHY you are doing what you are doing.  If you are praying, why are you praying?  Why those words?  What is it significant.  If you can’t explain why, then it probably means that what you are doing either won’t last or could change rapidly.  What we do must have meaning to us, otherwise, it has meaning to no one.
2) Don’t get caught up in “right vs. wrong.”  Look at all the different “right” religions out there: each one is very different from the others.  Christianity itself has so many different faces these days that it’s hard to keep up with them all.
3) Don’t get discouraged or overwhelmed.  Start small and work little things into your every day life before you try to tackle everything at once.  Maybe just add something to a holiday celebration one year and then next year, add to another holiday.  Improvement is key, not perfection.

But above everything else, remember this: the focus is on the Gods.  If something you’re doing doesn’t feel right or seems wrong, it could be the Gods working through you and talking to you, saying, “Stop! Not like this.”  Be mindful, and keep your focus on Them.  Everything else will fall into place when and as it should.

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Posted on August 7, 2014, in Kemeticism, Pagan Blog Project, Paganism, PBP, Religion, Spirituality and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Quicksilver Witch

    I love what you’ve done – you’re obviously put a lot of thought into this. Honestly, in some situation that requires it or not, I think we all need to sit down and really look at what we believe from time to time to make sure we actually KNOW what we believe. Very inspiring!

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