An All-Purpose General Solitary Kemetic Ritual
Plz to be reading my tl;dr notes.
They contain lots of information about the ritual, how to perform it, and how to use it.
A/N: 5/2/13: The short form of this ritual structure is done! It can be found here. Use and modify at will.
This is a general ritual outline that you can use if you need to write something for a particular God, but don’t know what to do. It is intended to be modified and customised for your own use, and I encourage you to do so, to make this rite your own. This is a long ritual, and more suited to festival rites or weekly or monthly rites than daily use, I think, unless you have the sort of life where an hour in shrine every day is totally possible. This is why it doesn’t include a ritual embrace of the God statue, because it’s not a rite of awakening, where it would be more appropriate. Along with the other rites I’m going to put up here, I will put up my weekly rite for Ra, which uses this ritual formula, so you can see how the whole thing works when you’ve got all the hymns in there.
I particularly wanted to write a ritual outline for festival use, because I think there aren’t enough modern rites suited to the various festivals. Kemetic Orthodoxy has some, which Tamara Suida has written, but if you’re not Kemetic Orthodox, I feel like you’re a bit stuck, and kind of left to make things up as you go along. If you’ve at least got a ritual outline you could use for a ritual, you’ve at least got something to work from as you create your own traditions.
Because I feel this ritual outline could also be adapted for festival use, I want to write a page detailing the major Kemetic festivals and how you might celebrate them as a modern Kemetic. Because I don’t think there’s enough of that sort of thing going around. I’ll probably cover Wep Ronpet, the Epagomenal days, Aset Luminous, Moomas/The Winter Solstice and associated festivals, Opet, Festival of the Beautiful Valley, Lamenations of Aset and Nebthet, Mysteries of Wesir, and … whatever else I might have forgotten that covers the big ones, at any rate. (Soaring Falcon, perhaps? Not enough Heru in there.)
I don’t have a library of books to work from, so I did the best I could with what online sources I could get access to. I got the outline from a combination of the outline of the Daily Rite for Amun-Ra at Karnak that can be found here and from an Egyptian ritual outline I found on another website I failed to bookmark the first time round and that my Google-fu has failed to recover. I will attempt to find this again so I can source this all properly, because I hate not having all my sources credited properly.
The text for some of the formulas and hymns during the rite I got here, which I used to fill in the rite itself. I think if you did the whole rite as described there, it’d probably take you a good couple of hours. I modified some of the prayers there for solitary use, as well as rephrasing some so they sounded better. Because this is more of a general sort of ritual rather than the kind designed to wake an open statue every day, I’ve changed some of the structure towards the end to make it more useful and rounded, so it feels more complete once you’re done with it. It is still grounded in the Temple tradition, though.
Using the two of them, I managed to make a solitary rite that was as purely Kemetic as I could manage, given my limited resources. THIS IS NOT AN AUTHENTIC HISTORICAL RITUAL, nor is it meant to be. It is a modern solitary rite, created from historic sources, for use by solitary Kemetics. It is meant to be adapted by individuals for their own purposes. It is but one way to honour the Kemetic Gods, and there are many other ways to do so.
This is a solitary rite, though, mostly because solitaries are probably greater in number than those who practice and do ritual in groups, so I didn’t see the point in doing a group rite. That, and I am solitary myself, so I have no need for group rites. That said, you are most welcome to adapt this for group use, too, if you happen to be wanting a Kemetic framework for ritual.
As a general guide, this ritual as it is outlined here takes about 45 minutes to an hour to perform (that’s how long it takes me to do it, at any rate, when I’m doing a weekly rite for Ra), but that is highly dependent on how long you take for purifications, how many prayers, litanies and hymns you use throughout, and how else you choose to modify the rite itself, say to include other festival activities/practices, for example.
Litany and hymns of praise can be tailored to Whoever you’re doing the rite for. I think I emphasise writing your own a little too much throughout the explanation below, but that’s mostly because I like doing it, and I can’t always find an historical hymn to use for the God I might want to do a rite for, so writing my own is the only option I have. Modern compositions aren’t in any way inferior to the ancient hymns; they are a valid form of expression of devotion by modern practitioners. That said, I’d really like to gather as many hymns for as many different Gods as possible, so there’s at least one for the more common Gods you might want to do ritual for, if you need one and don’t feel you could write one yourself. That’s another of those ‘when I have a spare minute’ projects.
I’d also suggest that after the litany when the offerings are made would be the best place to include specific offerings and recite any hymns to mark a particular festival, if you didn’t use the litany to mark the festival itself. I also had half a thought that you could use the time after the reversion of offerings as personal prayer time, or for other festival-specific things, as well. Try it out, experiment, and see how the rite can work for you. You can comment here, or email me at ibdjehutyATgmail.com if you want to chat about the rite. Let me know how you get on with it.
Finally, consider this a first draft that I might modify if and when I deem necessary, if I happen upon a better way to do things, or need to correct any of the ritual notes I’ve included there. I don’t know everything, and it is possible I’ve mucked it up somewhere along the line. I will leave a log of this though, to make sure changes are documented for reference. /pedant.
The Outline, if that’s all you want/need:
– before the rite (Senut style, your own style, or whatever else makes sense to you)
– setting up the shrine, gathering offerings, etc.
– Offering henu
– Annointing yourself with oil
– Opening prayer
– Open the shrine
The Rite itself
– Light the lamps
– Light incense
– Offer ma’at
– Musical signal
– Litany to the God
– Offering formula and presentations of offerings
– Musical signal
– Hymn(s) of praise for the God
– (Optional: Festival-specific things)
– Reversion of (food) offerings
– (Optional: Personal time, or other activities)
– Closing prayer
– Close shrine
– Offer henu
– Remove the foot
Things You Will Need:
1) Salt/natron, water, and whatever else you might need for purifications
2) Any applicable offerings (food, artwork, song/dance/writing, gifts, etc)
3) (Optional) Small figure or image of Ma’at
4) Purification oil (I used frankincense, but you could use another, or maybe some perfume)
5) Incense and censer (or an oil burner, if, like me, incense smoke is a migraine trigger and oil is better)
6) Shrine lamps/candles/etc
8) Whatever you need (to set up) for your shrine (God statues or images, offering bowls, candles, shrine cloths, etc.)
9) (Optional) Any festival-specific things you want to include.
This is not spoken, but is part of the written rite that I include in my BoS/grimoire/Book Of Woo, to state what the rite is for. Feel free to skip it if you want to. I just find it handy to include it so you’ve got a place to state what it is you’re doing for easy reference without having to read through the entire rite to find out. You can do this in bog-standard English if you like, such as, “This rite is for <insert festival here>, honouring <God’s name> by <whatever you’re doing>.”, or ‘This rite is for <God’s name>, to be performed weekly/monthly/etc in their honour.” You could also date it or add any other summary information you like. Just something to remind you why you’re doing the rite and what its purpose is. But like I said, it’s completely optional, and you can ignore it if you want, because it’s not a significant part of the rite. It’s more administrative. 😉
The Rite of Purification:
Do this in any style that is applicable or preferable to you, such as a Kemetic Orthodox Senut style (the details of which you can find in the Ancient Egyptian Prayer Book by Rev. Tamara Suida), or your own style. You may keep it simple, or use the time to do more elaborate preparations, such as robing and perfumed oils and make-up, if you desire. Dress in white linen or cotton robes if you have them, or whatever else you feel is appropriate. Clean street clothes are also acceptable if that’s all you have.
A Simple Purification, for those who want something to begin with:
A simple way to do this is to bless ten grains of natron (or salt, if you don’t have natron) with the words:
My natron is the natron of the Netjeru
May it purify me of all that is impure
(By ‘ten grains’ I mean ‘a small pinch’. Also, yes, I use salt and not natron because I find it more convenient. That, and I can’t make natron, so. Salt will do.)
Say the following over a bowl of water:
My water is the water of the Netjeru.
May it purify me and wash away all illness
Mix the two together, and then use it to mix to rinse out your mouth, wash your hands, and clean all other orifices of the body. Proceed to bathe or shower as appropriate so you are physically as well as spiritually clean.
Once you are dressed and clean, and ready to go before shrine, state:
I have bathed in the pure waters,
I have clothed myself in white linen,
I have eaten the natron of the Netjeru,
I bathe myself in your scent,
that I may be purified.
Prepare offerings and set up shrine. I like doing this beforehand so I’ve got everything laid out how I like it, and I’m not going to have to dash out mid-rite to grab something I’ve forgotten. Can also be used to do any other pre-ritual preparations, such as folding paper boats for Aset Luminous, for example, or whatever else you want to do. You could also meditate or spend a moment grounding yourself before the ritual begins. Any pre-ritual prep you normally do goes here, pretty much.
1) Offer henu.
– There are a few ways to do this:
– 1) Offering: either standing or kneeling, hold your arms out in front of you with your palms facing the ceiling
– 2) Praise: stand facing the shrine, hold your arms close to your body, and have your palms held up facing the shrine at about head height
– 3) Adoration/Jubilation: kneeling on your right knee, with your left foot beside your knee, your right fist over your heart, and your left fist raised level to your head
– 4) Deep Reverence/Submission: full prostration/’kissing the ground’. I do this from a kneeling position, bending forward until my forehead touches the ground, keeping my hands near/beside my head. (You do not actually have to kiss the ground.)
Pick whichever you feel is most appropriate for your rite and your physical ability. Try them all out at least once, if you can, because they all mean different things and are used for different purposes. Try them all one after the other. I find that doing them one after the other, from 1 to 4, is a prayer in and of itself. But you can just do one, if you like, if that’s how you prefer to work.
2) Anoint your forehead with a perfume, cologne or natural oil of your choosing and say:
Oh, <name>, your scent is pure.
Your perfume is upon me, purifying me.
Bathe me in your scent, oh <name>.
I have purified myself with the eye of Heru so I can make these rituals with you.
I am purified for along with His/Her/etc cycle of Gods.
The King gives the offerings, for I am purified.
(Modify for whichever God you are doing ritual for.)
3) Opening Prayer.
– I tend to use this to voice what is said in the rubric, though I usually do it in the form of a hymn of praise instead. You’d call out the God of the rite, stating that you are purified, and the purpose of the rite, offering all praise and glory to the God in question.
4) Open the shrine.
– If you have set your shrine up in a naos or shrine box, or have some kind of covering for your shrine, this is the time to open/remove/unveil it.
– If you don’t have a naos or covered shrine, you can just announce that the (metaphorical) seal has been broken, the doors have been pushed back, and the shrine is now open.
5) Lighting the shrine lamps:
Come, come in peace,
rejuvenate in peace.
Receive the Light
He shines brightly in the double horizon,
and before him strides the might of Set;
Receive the Light
Heru creates the voice with His eye,
the eye of Heru destroys the enemies of Ra, Lord of Karnak, in all their abodes.
Receive the Light
The King gives the offerings, for I am purified
(This is a combined and modified form of the opening of the rite I linked to above. Modify it to suit whichever God you are working with, keeping the general form and changing the epithets, pronouns, and specific addresses to the God in question. Lengthen or shorted as desired.)
6) Light incense and place it in a censer:
Hail to you, Censer of the Gods,
who is of Djehuty’s followers.
Both my arms are on you like those of Heru,
both my hands are on you like those of Djehuty,
my fingers are on you like those of Yinepu, chief of the divine pavilion.
Me, I am the living servant of Ra,
Me, I am the Priest, the pure,
For I have purified myself.
My purifications are the purifications of the Gods.
The King gives the offerings, for I am purified.
7) Offer Ma’at
(ideally/optionally: present the God statue/image with a small figure/image of Ma’at, leaving it at the foot of the God statue/image.)
I have come to you.
Me, I am Djehuty, both hands together to bear Ma’at before You.
Hail to you, <name>
Ma’at came to be with you;
Equip yourself with Ma’at,
Ma’at is in all places you are, so you can be on her.
8) Ring a chime or hand bell, shake a sistrum, play a drum, sing a song, chant, or whatever other musical signal you prefer.
9) Recite a litany in praise to the God of the rite
– This is a ‘song’ in praise of the God
– You can use a historical litany, or write your own. This can be as long or as short as you like.
– If it’s for a particular festival, you could read a myth or hymn about the festival itself, and the God’s role in it.
10) Recite (modified) offering formula: “An offering which the King gives to , <name and epithets> , so that he may give a voice offering in bread, beer, water, ox, fowl, alabaster, linen, and everything good and pure on which a God lives.”
11) Offer libations (water, beer and/or wine) and/or food offerings (bread, meat, etc), and any other offerings you wish to make (something you’ve made, jewellery, amulets, books, whatever you like).
(Optional: You may want, or feel moved, to offer henu before reciting the offering formula, after making libations and offerings, or even before or after the reversion of offerings. Follow your heart and your instincts.)
12) Make another musical signal (bell, chime, sistrum, drum, song, etc).
13) Recite hymn(s) of praise to the God of the rite.
– Again, either historical ones you like, or any you’ve written yourself, however long you want them to be. They can be specific to the festival in question, if you’re marking a particular festival, or they can just be general praise offerings to the God.
– At a minimum, one hymn should be read here. But you could read more if you felt it appropriate to do so.
– I tend to use this for more personal praise and honour, such as how much the God means to you, or which aspect you most relate to or want to honour. But you could also just use it for continued praise to the God in question, using your favourite prayer or hymn if you like.
(Optional: Any activities specific to a particular festival could be done here, if required.)
14) Revert (consume) the remaining food and drink offerings. You may say a small blessing before you do so, but it is not required.
(Optional: Personal prayer time, or meditations, or other particular activities you wish to do. If it’s a festival rite, and you’re not doing anything specific for it, you could use this time to meditate on the festival and what it means/signifies to you, and what you want to take away from the rite. You could also commune with the Gods here, if you so desired.)
15) Closing prayer
– I tend to use a generic short closing praise hymn to the God of the rite, but you could use anything you feel like, whether it’s a specific closing prayer or not. Something that states the rite is over, thanks the God(s), whatever you feel is appropriate.
16) Close the shrine.
– Physically or metaphorically.
17) Offer henu.
– I like to do the same one I opened with.
18) Remove the foot to end the rite.
– This involves taking three steps backwards away from the shrine. You could also sweep the floor in front of you as you go, either physically or with visualisation, imagining you are leaving no trace behind you as you walk away from the shrine.