Reaching Down to the Core

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What’s at the core of your religion? What is the foundation of your practice? Why is it so important to you?

I’ve been thinking about these questions a lot. And these last few months, my focus has been on stripping back my practice; thinking about why I’m Kemetic, why I worship the deities I do, what it does for me, and how it effects my  daily life.

So, here’s what I’ve found.

The core of my religious practice revolves around two deities.

The first is Ma’at. For me, Ma’at is in the cycles of everyday life; it’s in the rising and setting of the sun, in relationships between people, in supporting one’s community and telling the truth. I try to structure my life around maintaining good Ma’at (which sometimes works out and sometimes does not).

The second is Saule. She’s my favorite deity, and she’s been around as long as I’ve been in paganism. I remember once that I tried to stop worshiping her for a period of six months, during a time period when I was trying to be purely Kemetic. Guess how that worked out?

It didn’t. I couldn’t stop seeing her in the sunlight, or in apple trees, or the sun. I missed her a lot. Which is silly to say about an invisible being, but, y’know, it is as it is.

I’m weak. I need my imaginary friend.

The only reason I don’t put Saule before Ma’at is because Ma’at forms the basis of my worldview. Everything lives on Ma’at; Ma’at is the only way that anything can function well and consistently. (And it’s ironic that I give Ma’at this position because I don’t think I’ve ever done any rituals to Ma’at, whereas I pray to Saule all the time).

Anyway. I’m beginning to see the two of them as working closely together, at least as it pertains to order, love, and functionality.

Now to preface this. I know that there’s a rule among pagans that if you worship two different pantheons, you should keep your worship of the pantheons separate. Because, you know, that happened all the time in antiquity, right? People kept their pantheons and beliefs separate from one another with absolutely no integration. At all. Ever.

I’m being a little sarcastic, but truthfully, there’s no historical basis for the melding of the Egyptian and Lithuanian gods. How could there be? The time periods, areas, and cultures are as separate as they come.

However, even keeping that in mind, I do see Saule and Ma’at as working together.

Saule cares for children and mothers. Saule’s mythos is very cyclical a revolves around birth, death, and formation. Saule brings the dead to the underworld, caring for people even after they’ve passed away. She is the ultimate expression of love. And in this way, I see Saule as maintaining Ma’at.

It’s… probably a little bit blasphemous. The Baltic tribes did not have any concept comparable to Ma’at. How could they? As I said, Egypt was very different from Lithuania.

But… you know… I am a Kemetic. I’m a Kemetic that worships foreign gods. And that means that ultimately I end up fitting everything in my life into a more Kemetic worldview; seeing things in terms of Ma’at and Isfet, maintenance and destruction.

I mean, it’s a little bit weird. But it fits and it works, and Saule’s happy and I’m happy and Ma’at- well, who knows what’s going on with Ma’at- but anyway, everything’s still running smoothly. And with that in mind, I’m going to continue this odd sort of integration that my practice seems to be doing.

To be honest, it pains me a little to talk about this. I know that many people think that part of being a Good Pagan means keeping the pantheons one worships separate. That each pantheon is its Own Thing and doesn’t overlap with any other at all.

But I disagree. Gods, religion, and spirituality are all growing things. And while it’s true that one goes about worshiping the Baltic and Kemetic gods somewhat differently, I don’t think that means that they don’t interact with each other. And I don’t think that means that you can’t worship them together, so long as one keeps an ear out to what they’re saying (and stops if they start complaining about what you’re doing).

Anyhow. That’s what’s at the core of my belief system. What’s at yours?  Whatever’s at your center, thank you so much for reading, and may the sun always be at your back.

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4 thoughts on “Reaching Down to the Core

    kiya_nicoll said:
    May 30, 2016 at 12:12 am

    I tend more towards the opinion that cultures that came into contact have always blended in some fashion. Even if the ancient polytheisms had all survived, in the modern world they’d be blending now – the contact is there now. (I mean, I bet you out there in the world there’s a Lithuanian married to an Egyptian.)

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      ian288 responded:
      May 30, 2016 at 2:27 am

      (There has to be, right? It’s a big world, but it’s not *that* big, lol) I think it’d be interesting to see what sort of blendings would happen in a world where the polytheisms were intact. We’d definitely have a vastly different definition of ‘religion’.

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    Faemon said:
    May 30, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Good post! It’s all well and good for an individual practitioner to say that they personally have settled into juggling different separate spheres of religious practice, but when it becomes prescriptive as to how a Good and Proper Pagan does the thing…what I find that doing is it shuts down possible diversity in approach, erases the very presence or perspective of a practitioner, and denies any cultural development of living faiths. It might have started out as a way to discourage thoughtlessly appropriative soft polytheists and contemptible Campbellians. (Ahem.) You’re obviously not thoughtless!

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      ian288 responded:
      May 30, 2016 at 2:43 am

      Thank you! 🙂 I think that if paganism as a movement is going to take root, there’s got to be room for religious practice and theology to develop and grow- for the religions to become living faiths, like you said. If there’s no room to personalize one’s faith, I truly think that one’s religious practice can become stunted.

      I definitely think that the concept of keeping each pantheon/religion separate is good in intention, and there are a lot of people who do it quite well. I’m moving past it, though, and I think that for me, that’s a good thing.

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