G is for Graeco-Roman Kemetic

The topic I’ve chosen for this week is ‘Graeco-Roman Kemetic’, a phrase that I’m tentatively using to describe my path (or what will eventually become my path). It sounds like a strange description, and perhaps something at odds with many reconstructionists who might think I’m somehow doing it wrong to have a syncretic path of these three cultures/religions, rather than follow a pure path. But I’ve been glomped on by too many different Gods from all three cultures to avoid syncretism anymore.

I’ve been a Kemetic practitioner for most of my Pagan life. Isis was the first Goddess I ever had any experience with, before Djehuty and Sobek came along. I learnt Egyptian religion and theology, I learnt the ritual style, the language, and cosmogony. I was born of Kemetic Gods; my heart and soul belong to Them above all others. I am Egyptian first.

But at the same time, I have Aset/Isis drawing me to Rome, and Hekate, Apollo and the Titan Muses drawing me to Greece. It’s like my Kemetic practice won’t be complete unless I somehow fuse all three together into one coherent practice. I’m still not entirely sure how to do that, but slowly, we’re getting there.

I feel a bit strange talking about it, too, because it’s not something I’ve come across, apart from Neos Alexandria, a Graeco-Kemetic group. For the most part, reconstructionist groups tend to stick to a single cultural group. And I’m sure there may be reconstructionists who might say I’m just being ‘eclectic’ and not a proper reconstructionist in wanting to fuse these three paths into a single cohesive path. But I’m not claiming to be a pure reconstructionist. Even though there was some semblance of fusion that did go on between the three religions, I’m not really looking to reconstruct that. This is partly because I’m coming at this from a Kemetic perspective, not a Roman or Greek perspective. I don’t adhere to the Roman view that other Gods are just avatars/different forms of Roman Gods.

That’s just one of the issues I’m facing. I’m having to juggle these different worldviews and find some way of dealing with it while still not just disrespecting one in favour of another. I want to be respectful to these traditions, to respect the Roman and Greek religions in trying to fuse these things together. So I’m refocussing my research on that time period when the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians intermingled and syncretic forms of religious worship were around. I don’t necessarily want to recreate that, because I doubt that’ll happen, but I want to take inspiration from that time period for my own personal worship and practice.

I know I’ll never find any one particular community that will be open enough to worship like I do, so I have to find a solitary way of doing things. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean either finding solitary rites that already exist or figuring out a way to rewrite group rites as solitary rites, so I can do them myself. But I’m nowhere near being able to do that yet. I have a lot of research to do before I would feel comfortable writing any rites.

I’m not well-versed in Roman and Greek religions, and only know of the reconstructionist groups in a vague sort of way. I’m not particularly interested in Nova Roman or any of the Hellenismos groups, but at the same time, they’re probably not bad places to look for inspiration, so I’m planning to look at them too, when I have time, to see how they do things and what I could use from them to get a better idea of how their religions work. I need that sort of thing in order to do justice to the Roman and Greek paths that are being asked of me.

I also need to brush up on my Latin and Greek. The Titan Muses would like me to learn Greek so I can write hymns for Them, at the very least, and also so I can look at Greek names and not stumble aimlessly across all those syllables. I want to be able to pronounce things properly. I also need to learn all the different religious terminology. I know how the Kemetic religion works (insomuch as there is a single thing called Kemetic religion), and I know what the words mean, I know how to approach the Gods and what words to say when offering to Them, and I know the calendar and festivals. But I don’t really know any of that about the Roman and Greek religions, so I have to learn about two new cultures and languages and maybe then I might have a better idea of where to go with syncretising them.

I know Isis wishes me to implement the Roman household rituals, with a Lares shrine and probably some sort of hearth shrine too. I’m not sure how much of the Greek religion will get implemented, but I don’t know enough to say anything is in or out yet, so we’ll see what happens with that. That’s really as far as I’ve got, along with the new moon and full moon rites for Hekate. I know I’m working primarily with Her for the next year, but it feels appropriate to continue to honour Her after that time. Apart from Kemetic-ish morning rites to Aset, Sobek, and Heru-sa-Aset, that’s all I’ve got so far. It’s very much a work-in-progress as I become more familiar with the Greek and Roman religions and begin to piece all this together. I’ll probably post any insights I have here as I go along, because if anything else, I want this site to also serve as a Book of Shadows, insomuch as it has a decent picture of my path, and that includes things like this.


7 comments on “G is for Graeco-Roman Kemetic

  1. warboar says:

    In so many ways, I feel your pain. I’m a Kemetic and Norse Polytheist.

    Personally, I find it upsetting, and quite honestly insulting, when the more standoffish “one-way-only” recons dismiss dual- and multi-trads as “eclectic” or worse still, “confused.” I don’t think any of us are confused about which Gods we follow; it’s just a matter of navigating the winding goat path we were rather abruptly set on, haha. I can’t say that I don’t sometimes envy those who were given a wide, straight road to walk through life on, religiously speaking.

    I don’t know if this will help or if this is what you have in mind for yourself, but to outline my own practice, I approach the Egyptian and Norse deities separately. I try to avoid fitting all the Gods of my understanding into a “one size fits all” ritual mold, and based on what you’ve written it looks like you try to avoid that too. I have to make compromises here and there. For instance, I won’t perform or participate in a blood sacrifice (ritual animal sacrifice) for the Norse Gods, because that would interfere with maintaining purity as per the Kemetic tradition. I can still make other offerings, and thus it doesn’t interfere with my worship on either end of the equation (I also lead a predominantly Vegan lifestyle). Negotiating taboos is perhaps the most difficult part, at least for me. But for the rest, I feel the belief systems mesh and complement each other beautifully. It’s frustratingly difficult to explain it to others sometimes, but in my internal non-verbal language, it registers. And as long as yours registers and works for you, and satisfies the understanding you have with your Gods, that’s all that should ever have to matter. Hopefully I don’t sound like I’m preaching to the choir unnecessarily. x3

    Like you, I also see myself as Egyptian first. The Norse Gods are less demanding of me than the Egyptian Gods, specifically Set. That’s not to say the Aesir and Vanir are any less relevant in my life, however.

    At any rate, I guess what I’m trying to say is, I hope you don’t feel alone in this in an unpleasant sense, because you’re not alone, and I wish you luck and fulfillment in your spiritual endeavors. Senebty! 😀

    • Sashataakheru says:

      Thanks, I do appreciate the comment, and yeah, it’s nice to know I’m not alone. 🙂 In some ways, I think you’ve probably got it easier than me as there probably isn’t so much overlap between the two traditions than there is between Greek, Roman, and Egyptian traditions. But I follow my Gods first and foremost, and if this is what They want, well, it’s up to me to do the best I can to make that happen. But I’ve never liked my spirituality to be easy, so I can’t really complain, even if a concept like Aset-Nut/Isis-Hekate does make my brain break somewhat! /thanks Hekate.

      It’s how to practice all this that will be the tricky thing. In some ways, it makes a lot of sense to keep rites separate for different Gods because that’s how I’ve always approached my eclectic practice, to respect the culture the Gods have come from in doing rites to them. (Which is why I’ve never done a rite to Amaterasu yet; I don’t feel like I have enough cultural knowledge to approach Her properly, even though Shinto still fascinates me. Plus I have no shrine space left so. It’ll have to wait.)

      But I have a suspicion it may not be so easy for me with this path. For example, I could do rites to Isis in three different styles if I wanted to. I’ve got to figure out what to do with the syncretic gods like Harpokrates, Isis, Serapis and even Suchos, who, to me, feel like They belong to all three, even though They were more specifically Graeco-Roman conceptions of Egyptian Gods. Like triple citizenship or something. IDK. I’ve got a lot of overlap between the three, and that’s making things much more complicated than a more straightforward path might be. I’ve hardly got the easier path to walk, taking this sort of syncretic approach to reconstructionism. It’s resulting in a lot of headaches, tbh, but I think it’ll be worth it in the end once I figure out exactly how to do this.

      Part of my problem is that Aset regards Isis as Her Roman face, “a different face for a different people”, and She’s not encouraging me to see Them as completely separate deities, like some pagans and Kemetics do. But I only have Aset, “Serqet isn’t there”, or so She said once, so perhaps that’s made things different for me in this regard. I’m also beginning to suspect my Heru-sa-Aset might have been Harpokrates all along and just didn’t tell me because God of Silence what I don’t even. *flails* I just. Why? I don’t even. My Gods are confusing. /ow.

      So that’s why I’m still not really sure if separate culturally appropriate rites are going to be possible for all the Gods I work with, or if I will have to compromise and find some way of a blended rite that is still somehow respectful to everyone involved. Or, IDK, figure out which style They would prefer and stick with that. Like I said, lots of headaches involved! 😀 But this is definitely something of a long-term project anyway, so I can do all the research I need to do in order to make a good solid foundation for this path to sit on. And so I can figure out exactly what sort of festival calendar I’m going to use and which festivals I’m going to mark. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to do it properly, even if it takes me a decade or more.

      • Auset Aswad says:

        I don’t think you should have to choose. Gone are the times and days of ‘this or that’, separatism, nationalism etc. etc. etc. blah blah blah, we are one. The Romans took from the Greeks and the Greeks learned from the Kamites, and we all come from the Stars (Dogon:Ancient Kemetic Priests)..we are Universal. I found your blog, because like you…I am being drawn here by the 9 or 3 Muses and there is more said about them from a Greek perspective than anything else. BUT everything that I learn about them is Auset, is Yemaya, is the Isis cult leading to Paris which leads to Rome, which leads to Greece which leads back to Ethiopia where Osiris/Ausar ‘recruited’ them on his way to Asia and Europe. Count me in as a disciple

        • Sashataakheru says:

          Yeah, I’m not so much universal in my approach, more syncretic polytheism. But it works for me, which is all I care about. It’s nice to meet someone taking a similar approach as well.

  2. Khenneferitw says:

    While I don’t know much about Rome, I am fairly interested in the Greek gods in addition to my Kemetic ones. I think the only reason I haven’t approached Them is that I’m still trying to figure out my relationships with my Fathers, my Beloveds, and Those who are outside of that family. Trying to work two faiths together is incredibly hard, and one I’ve realized I’m not ready for right now – I’m incredibly envious of your mental fortitude!

    • Sashataakheru says:

      I think all the years I’ve had with Sobek has helped, to be honest. He works over years and decades, not months or weeks, so I’m used to things like this unfolding at a slow pace, with the occasional brain-breaking moment or several. But I’ve always been something of a spiritual wanderer, so I’m not surprised I’ve ended up in this place right now. I’ve been in places like this before, so it’s just a matter of pausing and doing the work to fuse these things in to what I need it to be now. Ironically, it’s a bit like a mental break. It’s a moment to pause and take stock of what I’ve got and what I’ve learnt, to stop and decide what to keep and what to leave behind. I do it every few years. This one is just a bit bigger than what I’m normally used to, but we are forging a new path rather than spring cleaning.

      I’d definitely wait if you don’t think you’re ready to explore Greek Gods yet. I believe these things happen when they’re meant to happen. It’s just down to you whether you recognise when that happens, or whether you get unexpectedly pounced on by Hekate and suddenly EVERYTHING CHANGES. But you don’t have to fuse the two faiths if you don’t want to. You could just dual-trad them separately, if that’s more your style, to be Kemetic and Hellenic at the same time. But that’s up to you to decide when you’re ready. Just something to think about at any rate.

  3. […] path is what I call Graeco-Roman Kemetic paganism, and I practice with a syncretised mix of Kemetic, Roman, and Greek influences and Gods. So I […]

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