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Author Topic: Traditionalism  (Read 752 times)

Offline Ghost_Medic42

  • Beginner
  • Country: us
Traditionalism
« on: March 08, 2018, 09:46:57 pm »
Hey y’all

I’ve been spending the last week trying to find an answer, but nowhere can one be found.

What is the role traditionalism plays in Ma’at? Wikipedia said “resistance to change” was in there, but nowhere else could I find something saying as much from modern priesthood.

Can anyone provide me with some help?

Offline Sedjfaiemitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Traditionalism
« Reply #1 on: March 09, 2018, 12:09:29 pm »
Em hotep nefer, Ghost_Medic42! :)

"Resistance to change" I think gives a wrong impression as to what ma'at entails, both historically and presently. Frankly, I don't think "resistance to change" describes most so-called "traditionalist" religions very well at all.

Historically, "adherence to tradition" meant not altering ritual performances arbitrarily. Ancient Egyptian society was what Classical Archaeologist and Egyptologist Jan Assmann refers to as a “cosmological society.” By Assmann’s definition, a cosmological society lives by a model of Cosmic forms of equilibrium and stability, which it transforms into socio-political equilibrium and stability on Earth by means of meticulous and repetitive observance of time-honored rituals. (Assmann, Jan. The Mind of Egypt: History and Meaning in the Time of the Pharaohs, p. 205)

The consistent observance of time-honored religious traditions is part and parcel of ma'at, the moral-ethical and aesthetic ideal in all things. These time-honored traditions relate not simply to how temple rituals were/are performed -- and indeed how and to what extent their integrity is preserved -- but also to the production of visual art, to internal and external engagements concerning philosophy, to music, etc.

Where the concept of heka* is concerned, the value of tradition is accumulative: utilizing the same images, the same written and spoken formulae, the same ritual tools, the same types of offerings, etc., causes their power to grow, the power of the rituals and the words to grow, thus making the desired effect (namely, the mutual maintenance of Cosmic and societal ma'at) ever more lasting and potent. It also serves as a connection (either real of imagined, it doesn't particularly matter; it's the religious reasoning that matters, here) to the "First Occasion": These are conceived and idealized as the words, practices, behaviours, and institutions established "in the beginning" by the Creator. Performing as one's Ancestors have performed edifies Creation, as the Creator is believed to have intended.

Modernly, it's crucial to note that none of us seeks to "play Pharaoh." Not even remotely everything we all do as Kemetics is an attempt at a 1:1 recreation of Ancient Egyptian life. As Modern people living in a Modern world, that's highly impractical, to say the very least. Some elements which concern ma'at in Ancient Egypt cannot be "reproduced" by us, in our own time, and many of them we shouldn't wish to ever "reproduce" (an obvious example being the institution of slavery, and the role oblation of slaves to temples had with respect to the popular piety of wealthy property-holders, both within Ancient Egypt and all other Mediterranean and Ancient Near Eastern cultures until the early centuries CE). But the giving of offerings to the Netjeru (Gods); venerating our Akhu (Justified Dead; Ancestors); the adherence to basic, consistent Egyptian philosophical precepts (cf. many of the ideas expressed within The Maxims of Ptahhotep, The Instructions for Merikare, The Instructions of Ankhsheshonqy, etc.); these things are part and parcel of what ma'at still means to Modern Kemetics today.

Social innovation can be a part of ma'at. Social inequity, both in Ancient times and now, can be perceived as a breakdown of the Order which the Creator desired. We see this addressed by some Ancient Egyptian satires, where the judicial system and certain Kings during certain periods are criticized for their inefficiencies and cruelties which cause the entire land and its people to suffer unduly. Renewal and revitalization through the implementation of new policies, laws, and assorted practices is not a process innately and diametrically opposed to the moral-ethical and aesthetic ideal of ma'at. Change for the sake of improved public welfare and greater respect for human dignity is within the scope of ma'at. That's the crux of the matter: "change for good reason," not "change for the sake of change."

I hope this helps!

Seneby,
Sedjfai

____________________________________________

*Heka is often translated by Modern Westerners as meaning "magic," but this is highly inaccurate and misleading, especially if we're going with Bronislaw Malinowski's and Sir James Frazer's fundamental definition of "magic," which is derived primarily from Roman mores and utilizes some terms and notions out of Hellenic (Greek) religion(s). Malinowski's and Frazer's sweeping definitions place "magic" outside the realm of formal, State-sanctioned religion, and identify any and all personal, non-temple practices as "subversive" in whatever sense. In Ancient Egyptian religion, heka was involved in every activity at every level, including and especially temple ritual and the giving of offerings. It was not at all inherently "subversive," much less exclusively existent outside the bounds of State-sanctioned religion.
"Endowed by Two Fathers"
𓁣 𓁠
Sat Set her Amun-Re-Banebdjedet
Meryt Herishef, Wesir-Narefy, Heru-Wer, her Yinepu

Offline Ghost_Medic42

  • Beginner
  • Country: us
Re: Traditionalism
« Reply #2 on: March 09, 2018, 08:50:21 pm »
In short, the Akhu did it for a reason so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. However, if it is clearly broken, then by all means go ahead and fix it.

Is that the jist of it?

Offline Sedjfaiemitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Traditionalism
« Reply #3 on: March 09, 2018, 10:03:39 pm »
In short, the Akhu did it for a reason so if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. However, if it is clearly broken, then by all means go ahead and fix it.

Is that the jist of it?

Em hotep nefer, Ghost_Medic42! :)

Well, the gist of it is more like "there are a lot of elements of the religion that were/are just fine, and ought not to be fudged-with. There were some elements of Ancient Egyptian society that clearly weren't 'just fine,' but fortunately we've long since moved away from those sorts of institutions and assorted foibles."

Or, put a different and simpler way: The moral-ethical system is great, and there's certainly nothing wrong with the Netjeru and worshiping Them. However, Ancient Egyptians sometimes didn't live up to the values (that we can glean from the extant written evidence, that is) very well. We try to be better than some our spiritual Ancestors were, and we try to emulate the better representatives of the Ancient religion(s) we're cribbing from.

As a whole, we Modern Kemetics (not just Kemetic Orthodox) also try our best to balance what we know of the ritual traditions with our Modern ways of life, and try to fill the gaps in our understanding and create new rituals in a genuine and devout spirit without egregiously "making **** up as we go along." :)

I hope that answers your questions and made some kind of sense!

Senebty,
Sedjfai
"Endowed by Two Fathers"
𓁣 𓁠
Sat Set her Amun-Re-Banebdjedet
Meryt Herishef, Wesir-Narefy, Heru-Wer, her Yinepu

Offline Ghost_Medic42

  • Beginner
  • Country: us
Re: Traditionalism
« Reply #4 on: March 09, 2018, 10:45:13 pm »
The religion itself hasn’t changed, just the people who practice it and the society around them.

Is that accurate?

Offline Sedjfaiemitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Traditionalism
« Reply #5 on: March 09, 2018, 11:51:59 pm »
The religion itself hasn’t changed, just the people who practice it and the society around them.

Is that accurate?

No, the religion has changed. I've been saying that right along. :P There are a number of elements Modern Kemetics try to preserve as best and as much as is humanly possible, but with significant breaks in active worship (centuries of Christian and Islamic "domination" in Egypt, for one thing), inevitably a lot was lost in the way of knowledge and praxis. Obviously, the forms our Modern worship takes isn't going to greatly resemble, say, the belief and worship of the New Kingdom Period "as it truly was." Even over the course of Pharaonic history, when Ancient Egyptian religion(s) was in full-swing, there were changes made to the religion by polytheistic Egyptians -- and by foreign invaders, like the Hyksos and the Persians -- consonant to various political and social transitions and upheavals. Quite a lot of knowledge about their own language was lost in their own time, too. For example, by Ramessu II's reign, people had pretty much forgotten what the name "Herishef" -- "He Who is Upon His Lake" -- referred to, and the variant "Harshefy" -- "He with the Magnificent Face" -- became increasingly popular when referencing that God.

No religion is static. Religions are like living things. There are, of course, certain unique threads that run through each religion, unique threads that make Hinduisms Hindu, Islams Islamic, Judaisms Jewish, and Kemeticisms Kemetic, etc. But none of them remains unchanged throughout all time and space.

As much as I am loath to make comparisons to other, and especially monotheistic, religions: Modern Kemeticism, particularly Kemetic Orthodoxy, is a bit similar to Roman Catholicism in the following respect: There are plenty of traditions the RCC has maintained over the centuries, traditions which have changed little if at all, but there have also been many, MANY significant changes to certain aspects of canon law, and to common worship, and to what Books of the Bible are now considered apocryphal that weren't in the 9th Century CE, and so on. Roman Catholicism in this day and age doesn't resemble Roman Catholicism during the Italian Renaissance, and Roman Catholicism during the Italian Renaissance didn't resemble Roman Catholicism in the 9th Century CE, etc. Moreover, the way Roman Catholicism was instructed and practiced during the Medieval Period varied a great deal between Rome and "East Jesus" (that is, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE :P ) Ireland, to give but one of many examples of local discrepancies.

Much like Roman Catholicism, Kemetics have a long and fairly well-documented history to pull from, even with intimidating and perplexing gaps in the historical record to contend with. What survives (and what is continually [re-]discovered) of various beliefs and rituals dating to different periods informs the current state of our worship. Inevitably, some of that is going to change to some degree -- for reasons not the least of which being that new discoveries are made fairly regularly that overturn the understandings we have cultivated about certain cults, practices, and belief structures.

Hopefully you get what I'm driving at with these analogies.

Senebty!
Sedjfai
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 12:05:32 am by Sedjfaiemitui »
"Endowed by Two Fathers"
𓁣 𓁠
Sat Set her Amun-Re-Banebdjedet
Meryt Herishef, Wesir-Narefy, Heru-Wer, her Yinepu

Offline Ghost_Medic42

  • Beginner
  • Country: us
Re: Traditionalism
« Reply #6 on: March 10, 2018, 07:48:46 pm »
Which brings us back to the original question- we try to reconstruct it as much as possible, but Reconstruction will never be 100%, as you can’t pick a particular set of rituals and beliefs because they themselves changed over time.

I think I get it now. A Shemsu can try to maintain the original faith as much as possible, but a total reversion is impossible.

Offline Sedjfaiemitui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Traditionalism
« Reply #7 on: March 10, 2018, 10:28:25 pm »
Right: 100% reconstruction is impossible, and even Reconstructionists will generally admit that. Besides, the goal of Reconstructionist methodologies isn't to "play Viking" or "play Senator" or "play Pharaoh," or whatever the case may be. It's about using as much historical data is available to arrive back at a functional model of the religion being revived, so that it may sensibly be practiced and effectively lived-up to again. :)

That being said, it's important to bear in mind that our religion of Kemetic Orthodoxy here isn't a Reconstructionist religion. All Reconstructionisms are Revivalisms, but all Revivalisms are not Reconstructionist. We're under that open-ended heading of "Revivalist." That is not to say that none of us care about Pharaonic history, and/or incorporating historical elements. We do. A lot of us make a point of being historically-informed in general, but particularly concerning our personal practices -- myself included, being an ANES specialist myself and thoroughly invested in the study of Classical Middle and Late Egyptian alongside Akkadian (namely, the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian dialects of the latter language, but that's neither here nor there :P ). The Modern religion of Kemetic Orthodoxy is a lot less about getting tied-up with historical minutiae, and a lot more about seeking what Ancient practitioners of Egyptian religion(s) sought in their own times, in response to the fundamental issues presented by the human condition that we Moderns still have to contend with. ;)

Senebty!
Sedjfai

*Edited half a dozen times for grammatical flubs, ugh.  ::)
« Last Edit: March 10, 2018, 10:33:47 pm by Sedjfaiemitui »
"Endowed by Two Fathers"
𓁣 𓁠
Sat Set her Amun-Re-Banebdjedet
Meryt Herishef, Wesir-Narefy, Heru-Wer, her Yinepu

 


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