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Author Topic: Reality Check?  (Read 689 times)

Reality Check?
« 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.
"Give sorrow a Sailor smile."
~ "Makenai" by Hanazawa Kae; Sailor Moon Stars, Season 5, episode 200

"Beyond this road, running on far and long, must surely be something we can believe in."
~ "Pure Heart" by Rikki; Final Fantasy VII, "Aerith's Theme"

Offline Ma'atnofret

  • Rev. A'aqyt - Ordained Clergy
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #1 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.
A'Aqytsekhmet "Sekhmet's Servant"
Sat Sekhmet meryt Sobek-Ra, Yinepu, Nebthet, Nefertem, Wenut, Sokar-Wesir
Nekhen Iakhu Ihy Neferu Khau
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Online Storm

  • Remetj
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #2 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.

Offline Yabemyinepu

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #3 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.
YABEMYINEPU, meaning “presented to/by Yinepu.” (pronounced ee-YOB-em-yin-EHP-oo). Son of Yinepu-Wepwawet, Beloved of Djehuty and Hethert-Sekhmet.

Offline Teritui

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #4 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.
Teritui: I respect my Two Fathers
Daughter of: Ptah-Sokar-Wesir and Heru-wer
Beloved of: Sekhmet-Hethert, Set and Taweret

Offline Yabemyinepu

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #5 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!
YABEMYINEPU, meaning “presented to/by Yinepu.” (pronounced ee-YOB-em-yin-EHP-oo). Son of Yinepu-Wepwawet, Beloved of Djehuty and Hethert-Sekhmet.

Offline Padjaiemweru

  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #6 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!
Padjaiemweru
The Great Ones provide (for) me

Son of Bast-Mut and Heru-wer
Beloved of Sekhmet-Hethert, Seshat-Nit-Nebthet, and Set

(Avatar based on work by Jennie Breedon)

Offline Tasedjebbast

  • Divined Remetj
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #7 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
Daughter of Bast-Mut & Hekatawy Alexandros (AUS)
Beloved of Yinepu, Sekhmet, Set, Heru-wer, and Aset

Offline Shezatwepwawet

  • Moderator (Kemetic Orthodox Q&A)
  • W'ab Priest - Lay Clergy
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #8 on: September 17, 2019, 02:59:57 pm »
Ma'at is also about accountability.
Senebty,
Zat (She who makes Sekhmet laugh)
Sau apprentice | Fedw | The Library | zat@kemet.org

Sat Wepwawet-Yinepu her Hekatawy Alexandros (AUS) meryt Seshat-Nit-Nebthet her Heru-wer her Aset-Serqet

Offline Tatuayinepu

  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #9 on: September 17, 2019, 06:00:37 pm »
And, Cause and Effect. Paths.
Tatuayinepu "The one Yinepu sustains"

Child of Yinepu-Wepwawet and Hekatawy Alexandros I (AUS); Beloved of Sekhmet-Hethert, Heru Sa Aset, Set, and Heru wer

Sau Apprentice/Fedw diviner for Yinepu and Sed/Fundraising Team

Offline Arienihethert

  • Tawy Bak
  • W'ab Priest - Lay Clergy
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #10 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!
Look out the window. And doesn't this remind you of when you were in the boat, and then later that night you were lying looking up at the ceiling, and the water in your head was not dissimilar from the landscape, and you think to yourself Why is it that the landscape is moving but the boat is still?

Offline Nedjuwy

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #11 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?
Daughter of Yinepu-Wepwawet and Sekhmet-Hethert
Beloved of  Aset-Serqet, Nut, Khonsu, and, Ra

Offline Ushedimuti

  • Shemsu-Ankh
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #12 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
Ushedimuti | "My Mothers address me."

{ Sat Sekhmet-Hethert her Mafdet, her (Hekatawy-Alexandros)|, meryt Set!
Self-Care Sekhmet Supporter / Advocate | Self-Care Set Keeper | Fedw Diviner
daughter-of-the-red-land.tumblr.com }

Offline Setjezusenu

  • Shemsu
  • Country: ca
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #13 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.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2019, 06:50:33 am by Setjezusenu »
Child of Hethert-Sekhmet and Set, beloved of Heru-wer and Yinepu-Wepwawet

Offline Khenmetemnut

  • Shemsu
  • Country: us
Re: Reality Check?
« Reply #14 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?!
"The pitcher cries for water to carry and a person for work that is real." - To be of use by Marge Piercy
     
Khonsu & Yinepu & Nut & Sekhmet & Amun

 


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