Opening Up the Year: Thoughts For Wep-Ronpet
The sky is clear, Sopdet lives!
She comes clad in Her brilliance!
Radiantly, above Her Father’s forehead, the Golden One rises;
Her Mysterious Form occupies the bow of His solar boat.
Her light unites with the light of the brilliant Netjer,
On the beautiful day of the birth of the Sun Disk!
This New year’s Feast, Wep Ronpet!
– Adapted from the Dendera texts (Wisner 2004)
For Kemetics everywhere, this time of year brings Wep Ronpet, the “Opening of the Year” or New Year’s Day. We begin again, returning to what we call Zep Tepi, the “First Time”, “First Occasion”, which brings us back to alignment with the state of creation as it was when the Gods first handed it down to the human race. We have the opportunity to purify, renew, and begin again.
This past year has been a very difficult time for me, but has also been charged with powerful moments of insight, when my life and sacred work were brought into sharp, crystal clear focus. Where am I meant to be? Where is my work leading me? How can I get to the place I want to be? Most important of all, how do I give my Gods what They want? How can I be more pious and refine my level of service?
I get the impression sometimes that other Kemetics and polytheists see me as a spiritual armadillo, as some kind of pious freight train that never doubts or has moments of crisis in my walks with the Gods. If only! I am constantly second-guessing my devotion and my ability to serve my Gods with the piety They deserve. I have a galaxy of faults, and some very large road blocks that make me question how I can be of service to my Gods, and why I should try. I go through the same doubts as any individual struggling to be closer to their gods and worthy of the gifts the Gods give us. The tasks my Gods have given me seem to far outweigh my abilities and gifts.
But my life is geared towards sacred service, and I am deeply in love with my Gods. “You can’t love the Gods!”, I hear some people say. “Gods and humans don’t mix!” I know, I know, my ears have heard that a thousand times; but you know what? My heart just can’t hear those sentiments; neither can my Gods. The Gods have an amazing ability to reach Their devotees in the ways that will tug on their heart strings. Our Gods find the colors and textures, scents and sights that make us go “Wow!”, and then, when They have our attention, They pour Themselves into us. No matter how inadequate I feel in my service to Them, no matter how inadequate I sometimes feel as a priest, I get up in the morning and get on with my service, because I would rather serve the Gods I love than be a rock star or a millionaire. I’m THAT hopelessly in love with Them.
This year is a year to fulfill my vows to my Gods, and in particular the vows I made to Lord Ptah to renew His sacred guild so that the creation and awakening of holy images can continue for generations. This past year I have been working very hard in my research into the available historical record concerning the ritual protocols for divine images in ancient Egypt, which has included gathering hundreds (maybe thousands at this point?) of hieroglyphic texts for study and eventual translation by me. In this work I have been directed to those with ultra specialized knowledge and access, who also have special relationships with the Netjeru, so that I can refine my ritual program for my mission as a Kemetic iconographer, and fulfil my vow to restore the royal guild of the Temple of Ptah.
I could not have gotten this far without the help of so many fellow Kemetics and peers, and foremost of these is Rev. Tamara Siuda, who has been so very generous to me with her time and resources, and her spiritual guidance and insights. I realized quite a while ago that I would be unable to fulfil my vows without the help and fellowship of other Kemetics, who could also provide a great deal of strength as I move ahead in my spiritual journey.
The Royal Hemuwt Guild will be the fulfilment of my vows to my Netjer, which will be (with the blessings of Netjer) a group of specialized craftsmen, iconographers and priests/ priestesses, who will be trained in the creation and ritual awakening of cult images through the methods I have developed in harmony with ancient standards and practices. These sacred craftspeople will work closely with me in serving the Netjeru of Kemet by implementing the traditional ritual forms, prayers, liturgies, offerings and practices through which two and three dimensional divine images become living cult images.
Following this, it is equally a priority that members of the Royal Hemuwt Guild will be engaged in active daily service of the Gods by way of the Guild Shrine and their own sacred spaces. In these ways, the Royal Hemuwt Guild of the Temple of Ptah will be continuing the work of the Gods according to the rites and cultic traditions established in ancient times. It goes without saying that the Guild will operate on the premise of devotional polytheism, i.e., that the Gods are individual deities with Their own unique forms, identities, and spheres of influence, and are worthy of our worship and service.
Something I feel very strongly- after the past year or two of struggle- is that Kemetics need to consider the benefits of cooperation and inter-temple fellowship in the work we are striving to do for our Netjeru. Sharing and coming to the aid of other Kemetics does not mean we need compromise our own way of experiencing our Gods and what it means to live Kemeticism today. It does not mean we cannot agree to disagree on areas of research or scholarship, or that we waver in our own unique relationships with our Gods. Cooperation and inter-temple fellowship should be about building bridges between people who ultimately (despite differences in theological views or approaches to scholarship/ reconstruction, etc) are serving the same Gods; and if our Gods are the priority, if service to Them is truly our motivation, then we should be ready and willing to offer a helping hand, or to receive one, from our sisters and brothers in Netjer.
I know a lot of Kemetics from different walks of life and spiritual paths. I know Kemetic Wiccans, Kemetic Witches, New Age Kemetics, and Western Occult Kemetics. I known Kemetic Reconstructionists and Kemetic Orthodox. I know Kemetics who are solitary and Kemetics who belong to very mixed groups where many paths are represented together. My own view is that the most vital part of Kemeticism is that the Netjeru are being served, that the Gods are getting what They ask for, and that Ma’at is being accomplished. How individual devotees or groups go about this service will quite naturally be different, because people are different, and people experience the Gods differently. But at its core, Kemeticism is about honoring the Gods and maintaining Ma’at, and I know that I want to do my part in helping these goals be fulfilled every day, and for me this also means helping others and learning from others who are striving to serve the same Gods I love.
Because I love my Gods, I want to give my Gods the things They ask for. Obviously, I can’t give My Gods EVERYTHING, but then there are a lot of souls out there who are called to sacred service by the Netjeru, and I can help them to serve the Gods, too. Every time I help another Kemetic, every time I answer a question, send a prayer, or send research that fulfils an area of inquiry, I am serving my Gods by helping those who are serving Them, and THAT pleases the Gods. From where I’m sitting, pleasing the Netjeru is what makes Kemeticism what it is. Our Gods give us life, and in return we give back our life’s service to Them.
What I want from myself this next year is to see my service to my Gods expanded and enriched through fellowship with other Kemetics and inter-temple cooperation. I want the work I do as a Kemetic iconographer to touch the lives of other Kemetics in a way that helps them feel closer to their Gods. If I can inspire others with the living presences of the living Gods, then I will be fulfilling my vows to be the hands and feet of the Netjeru in this world They have given us.