The House of Netjer, a Kemetic Orthodox Temple

[PUBLIC] About the Kemetic Orthodox Religion => [PUBLIC] Netjer (Our Gods & Goddesses) => Topic started by: Seta on September 16, 2019, 12:26:59 pm

Title: Reality Check?
Post by: Seta on September 16, 2019, 12:26:59 pm
How does one, in the House of Netjer, reconcile that even the gods do not always do (follow) ma'at?  It seems like there is a lot of excusing the gods, and what is (if only could) be bad behavior.  I mean, seriously, why would Sekhmet have to be pacified, if her rages were ma'at?  Why would Set's rages have to be calmed and his sexual (mis)adventures be the source of all sorts of - talk, at the very least.  Heck, even Ma'at herself was called before the gods due to some misdeed!  I think the gods, like humans,  have a dark side - and I would say that excusing it or denying it is a dangerous thing.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Ma'atnofret on September 16, 2019, 01:04:39 pm
To me Ma’at has never been all that is benevolent. Ma’at is the thread that sews  and holds the world together. Just as nature can seem cruel to us, so can Ma’at. Because the bottom line being Ma’at and the gods are not human, do not hold our baggage or biases. Some of their stories are hard to take but I think it reflects more on us of how we take them and reflect on them in our lives. But that is just my interpretation.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Shaseni on September 16, 2019, 02:18:11 pm
There are many stories about the Netjeru. Are they all true? Are any true? For example, there are (at least) four different Kemetic creation myths, some seemingly contradictory, depending on which city you were close to in ancient Kemet. Perhaps all of those myths are true, and all of them are false!

I suspect the purpose of myth was not to provide biographies, or reporter-on-the-ground documentaries, but rather to give insight - attempted explanations of the inherently unexplainable. And I don't think Kemetic religion is alone in this; you will surely find this in many religions, past and present, throughout the world, although - yes - you will also find devotees who prefer to interpret their myths and scriptures verbatim.

To judge Netjer, I would suggest one would have to be standing in the place of perfect Ma'at oneself, in order to know what ma'at truly is.

And personally, I wouldn't go on hearsay - for that's what all myth is: a handed down story from someone else. I would ask the Netjeru directly and find out for myself! For how many of these stories are told by the Netjeru themselves? And even true stories have more than one side, more than one point of view, and I'd like to hear those too!

I don't think one necessarily has to believe in all the old stories in order to believe in Netjer, or to work with the Netjeru, or to benefit from their influence, or to see benefit in the lives of one's family, or the world in general. Ma'at is ma'at, and one can surely work to bring it into the world, stories or no stories.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Yabemyinepu on September 16, 2019, 02:48:50 pm
Hi Seta, thanks for such a thought-provoking question  :)

I think one important distinction between ma'at and more Western ideas of good/evil is that ma'at is not always about good or evil. All of the gods do follow ma'at in that ma'at is following the order of life. Even when gods do things that we perceive to be evil, it is done in balance with good. It does not lead to uncreation as isfet does. For example, Set's sexual misadventures were to oppress Horus - but Horus prevailed, and Set was humiliated. The balance was not upset by his actions. (This is my understanding of how ma'at works, but I am but a novice.)

In the broader sense - the amount of stories about the gods that have developed over many thousands of years can definitely contradict one another. Every city-state had its own patron deity and sought to elevate that deity; as different cities gained or lost power, certain gods gained or lost relevance, and the mythology reflects this (i.e. in the Contendings of Horus and Set). There is as much a political aspect to the myths as there is a religious one. This should be acknowledged -- there is, to my knowledge, little emphasis on our myths as being perfectly correct and truthful without err. They are human stories being told about gods.

To that extent, they are not meant to be taken literally. The Nisut has said that gods do not have sex, because sex is a very mortal-specific act. How then do we interpret Set's seduction of Horus? It is meant to be taken figuratively. There are morals to be found in the myths and they are great teaching tools. But they are not to be evaluated with the sense that they are the perfect words of the gods or anything similar to Western religious thought.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Teritui on September 16, 2019, 10:26:33 pm
" that extent, they are not meant to be taken literally. The Nisut has said that gods do not have sex, because sex is a very mortal-specific act"

I'd have to find the thread, and forgive me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was that gods don't have sex with humans, but with each other.

I do believe the gods are imperfect. I don't think that's at odds with Kemetic theology in the slightest. There are religions where the gods/God is perfect, all-knowing, all-seeing... but that's not our gods, IMO.

For example, take the blind form of Heru. It's suggested in mythology that he is weaker in this form. This is an imperfection.

I'm not directing this at anyone in this thread, but I find people have a double standard in regards to mythology.

On one hand, mythology has been changed by humans, and had been interpreted by humans- who will make human mistakes.

On the other, if one were to say "myths are human and may be mistaken, therefore I will pay no heed to any and go on my intuition alone"- I think the majority of people would find that unwise.

I think most myths are divinely inspired truths. Even the ones that contradict. It may hurt the human mind, but if we can wrap our minds around syncretism, then I don't see why Heru-wer and Djehuty can't both be world creators in a way we can't truly comprehend.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Yabemyinepu on September 16, 2019, 10:58:58 pm
" that extent, they are not meant to be taken literally. The Nisut has said that gods do not have sex, because sex is a very mortal-specific act"

I'd have to find the thread, and forgive me if I'm wrong, but I believe it was that gods don't have sex with humans, but with each other.

Hi Teritui, thanks for pointing this out -- I checked into the threads I was thinking of and you are correct, she was speaking of god-human relations, not between gods. I must have taken what was said about that and applied it to sex overall, or maybe I am thinking of someone else's interpretation of the Contendings and mixed up who said what. My apologies for my mistake -- and thank you very much for the correction!
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Padjaiemweru on September 17, 2019, 10:52:32 am
ma'at is not good or bad, it is order, truth, justice, and so much more. It's also not static, but fluid and ever changing.

Myths, like others have said, are hard to pin down. They were oral traditions, spreading and changing as Kemet became one, reinterpreted through conquest, rising and falling powers within and without the two lands, and so many many translations (which are also interpreted within and because of the cultures that did the translations).

It is my understanding (and please, someone correct me if I'm wrong) that the gods are not perfect. They strive towards ma'at, and ask that we do too. They aren't humans, like us, so they are closer to the concept of ma'at, but mistakes do happen. The story of how apep was accidentally created, Sekhmet and her blood-lust, Wesir being murdered by Set... They aren't common stories, but they do exist.  I'm not placing the myth where Ma'at is brought before the other gods for judgement, if you can link me to it, I would be very interested in reading it so I can learn more about Her!
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Tasedjeb on September 17, 2019, 11:56:05 am
I saw something in a Hellenic community that gave me pause for thought.  When you read or hear a story of a god doing something less than admirable, it isn’t a true story of a god being a jerk, but a way for us to relate our own struggles to the divine.

In that way Sekhmet’s story isn’t a true retelling of a time a goddess lost it and totally freaked out, but a way for humans who are known for losing it and totally freaking out to see Themselves and Their flaws reflected.  Sekhmet doesn’t really have an anger management problem.  But for those who do, She can be really really helpful.

Senebty,

Taji
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Shezatwepwawet on September 17, 2019, 02:59:57 pm
Ma'at is also about accountability.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Tatuayinepu on September 17, 2019, 06:00:37 pm
And, Cause and Effect. Paths.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Arienihethert on September 19, 2019, 08:34:51 am
There is so much good discussion in this thread! Thank you everyone!

I can only add that Ma’at is the whole shebang—if the universe is a machine that we are all parts of, Ma’at is the movement and the mechanic. Each of us can only see what is in our immediate view, so when Ma’at makes a correction (or some other cog’s actions have a trickledown effect near us) it can seem arbitrary. To understand the whys of anything requires a very broad, dispassionate view. If you approach everything with immediate judgments, right or wrong, you are unlikely to really understand what you’re looking at.

That’s an imperfect analogy, but that’s what came up for me as I read. Thank you Seta for the question and everyone for the thoughtful responses!
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Nedjuwy on September 19, 2019, 10:36:42 pm
Wow thank you everyone for this thread. I learned alot by reading this! Question to everyone, I know alot about my father yinepu, where would anyone suggests I go to learn more about my mother Sekhmet?
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Ushedimuti on September 19, 2019, 11:31:35 pm
Em hotep, Nedjuwy!

I'd be more than happy to talk about our Mother if you'd like! Just shoot me a PM, e-mail, or hit me up on Discord if you're on the unofficial server.

Senebty,
Ushedi
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Setjezusenu on September 20, 2019, 06:36:21 am
I see a lot of "Ma'at is not inherently good, so the Netjeru can do Ma'at without being good" or "good and evil are human things and the Netjeru are above that"

But I don't know if I can agree with that? If someone, even a Netjer, is abusive or cruel, that seems wrong to me no matter what. I know morality is tricky and full of biases, but I don't think it's a good idea to say that gods are above moral standards because that implies that they could hurt people as much as they want and it would be fine? I don't know.

I guess I feel like if Ma'at is not goodness, than being in Ma'at is not sufficient- one also has to be good. If Ma'at is just "the universe continues to exist, the laws of physics exist, etc" it feels like kind of a low bar for something to be in Ma'at, I guess?

I don't know. I guess I'm just trying to say that i think abuse and the like are wrong, no matter who perpetuates them?

I'm sorry if this is offensive to say.

Anyway, I tend to view myths as metaphors or human interpretations of things. I think they can have significance, but I think it's on a different level than the Netjeru themselves. So despite the myth of the pacification of Sekhmet, I don't think Sekhmet wants to or would commit genocide, for example. I don't know, maybe the ancients did believe that, but I don't want to worship out of fear.

I hope this makes sense? It's something I struggle with too.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Khenmetemnut on September 20, 2019, 09:09:36 am
Em Hotep Setjezusenu!

If I may restate and summarize; I think the jist of what has been said is that while Ma'at is good, it is because order, justice, accountability etc is often correlated with what we find to be good(at this time). Think of how old our Netjer are. They have been around while and  what is morally good has changed quite a bit over the time humans have been on earth. So some things that are done to uphold Ma'at may be beyond our comprehension or somewhat misaligned with western thoughts of  what "goodness" is.

To offer some perspective, think of other cultures where justice is seen as a necessary evil. To wish justice into the world is akin to wishing a bad thing upon someone. In that mindset Ma'at would not be be good, but evil. This (in my opinion) is why people say Netjer can transcend or be above our ideas of what is good and evil. What we think of as good and evil changes every other half century!

However, many of us perceive Ma'at and Netjer to be good and do good. In fact, I feel as though we should challenge our ideas of what we think good and evil are in general. It is always a good idea to remember that these simple perceptions are based in Human thought and not necessarily a characteristic of Her/Them. Some things that are done in the name of balance may not be what we perceive to be good but ultimately uphold Ma'at and perpetuate this world.

I don't view Ma'at as the low bar, but as the highest bar. Upholding Ma'at is equivalent with supporting all of creation. It is fairly easy to conform to be good person in the way that society defines but that is only one side of the balance. It is easy to accept the things we like about ourselves and the ones that are socially acceptable, but can we also be accountable for all the negative effects we create as well?
This is why we always strive to uphold Ma'at but ultimately it is She who maintains and balances life, because we will never be able to see the full picture.

I hope this helps?!
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Setjezusenu on September 20, 2019, 09:41:32 am
I guess my concern is that if we use subjective morality basically anything could be justified? For example, I feel that oppression is inherently wrong, but if morality is subjective than nothing is inherently wrong because someone out there thinks it's right? And that stresses me out a lot.

That's not specifically a spiritual issue though - it's something that I get anxious about in other moral discussions too.

I guess I also struggle to understand what Ma'at is, if not the force of balance in the world that brings us back to Zep Tepi. And Zep Tepi is good, so Ma'at is also good by extension, and anything that hurts is only hurting because it needs to happen for our future wellbeing, like setting a broken bone.

As opposed to things like oppression, abuse, and so on, which just hurt people.
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Tasedjeb on September 20, 2019, 09:55:35 am
I think ma'at is the balance of order in the Universe, the ebb and flow, the reset . . . and that it is inherently good.  It may not always be pleasant, but it's always good.  You know how in the Narnia books they say, "Aslan isn't a tame lion, but he is good." (I have a thing for benevolent lion deities.  :D).  It's kinda like that.

Anything that ma'at does contributes to creation.

Anything that is isfet contributes to uncreation.  This is NOT, mind you, the necessary destruction that paves the way for new growth.  That, while unpleasant, is also Ma'at.  Isfet is the uncreation, that destroys and leaves behind nothingness. It undoes. Like the echthroi in A Wrinkle in Time.

So yes.  Netjer will on occasion do things that we find troubling or unpleasant.  But it is never ever evil. 

Senebty,

Taji
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Khenmetemnut on September 20, 2019, 10:00:41 am
Tasedjebbast hit the nail on the head I think!

This is definitely a topic for discussion, and I hope to get more clarity from talking about it with more people and hearing more perspectives.

I hope I haven't made you more anxious! If I have, I apologize!
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Setjezusenu on September 20, 2019, 10:02:26 am
It's okay! I was anxious today anyway about something else, so it wasn't you don't worry. I do think discussions about this are important to have sometimes. I'm thinking that we might actually be on the same page and just describing it differently, actually  :)
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Seta on September 20, 2019, 12:11:01 pm
I will put this out there, though I suspect it's not what the House as a whole believes, and I will accept that, but...  I believe the gods, like us, have dark sides.  Sometimes that dark side comes through.  True, balance, but a disruption to what is generally considered the calm of ma'at.  About evil, I do not know...  I do not believe the snake is to blame for every misfortune.  Take from that what you will.  Also, change...  I realize that change is necessary and can be harsh, cruel... but can change also not be selfish of the one seeking the change?  I'm not saying there's no purpose, but the purpose does not consider the ones forced upon?  Dare I say, the gods may not be all we want them to be?
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Tasedjeb on September 20, 2019, 01:35:51 pm
I genuinely think that most misfortune has very little to do with the gods at all. And that the evils that humans do to each other is not Their fault.  Nor is misfortune evil by definition.  Oftentimes, it's just a real bummer.

I mean, the gods are also eternal beings. We are too, albeit very differently.  The gods know that our existence continues after death and consequently, I don't think they see death as a big deal or any sort of evil.  For us . .. it's a big freaking deal.  Just one example of how I don't think we can or should compare our perspective to the gods or cast any sort of moral judgment on Them. 
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Tjemsy on September 22, 2019, 10:46:05 am
Understanding Ma'at has never puzzled me. More than "what is good," Ma'at is (in my opinion) "what is right." I believe that the Netjer do what is right, and that what is right can change depending on the situation. What is right can be hard to pin down. Do they do Ma'at all of the time? Perhaps not. I am also very strongly of the opinion that our gods are flawed. But the vast majority of the time, yes, I would say they do Ma'at.

I do believe that Ra lost his temper and set Sekhmet on humanity. I do believe that Sekhmet got a little too enthusiastic in her smiting. SomeOne once said that it is hard to be perfect, even for a god. I think it is...strange for us to wave our hands and call all of these things metaphors, as if our gods must be perfect. Why? Why must they be perfect?

I do not necessarily believe that Ma'at is calm. For one, fighting back against your oppressors. Sometimes it gets loud. Messy. Sometimes it even gets physical. But to defeat your oppressors is to attain the highest good, for you and for others. Set is good for this. His qualities of being "the rebel" and the one associated with uproar and disorder need not be viewed as a bad thing. Take those and use them to fight for what is right. That is Ma'at. There is no one right "way" to do Ma'at. Fighting with Heru-sa-Aset was for his highest good, and for the highest good of the people of Kemet. And killing Wesir was for the highest good of the Akhu.

I do not believe the uncreated is to blame for every misfortune...but I also do not believe that makes Netjer responsible. And I do not believe that Netjer has unlimited power with which to stop every bad thing.

I think this would be an interesting question for Hemet: If our gods are flawed, does that mean they do not always do Ma'at?

Hoping some shred of this made sense. XD
Title: Re: Reality Check?
Post by: Yinepuemsaes on September 22, 2019, 06:55:01 pm
Also, all myths are recorded by humans and interpreted by humans.  Maybe some things get 'lost in translation'.