Per Bastemhet

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Reversion of Offerings

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I was looking around the KIN forums and came across this quote by WebenBanu that I really liked and pretty much sums up perfectly why I think it’s inappropriate to take the food you’ve offered to netjeru and dispose of it by leaving it on the ground for wild animals.

I can see how it may seem strange the first time you come across the concept, but it’s actually really a beautiful part of the ceremony.

On one level, the bread and water are wonderful symbols of the relationship between the gods, men, and the land. Mythologically speaking, the grain was a gift from the gods. Drawing on the strength of the land, the grain grows and ripens. Through the craft and service of mankind, the grain is harvested, ground, and baked into bread, which is then offered back to the gods Who continue Their benevolence and presence among both mankind and the land. Water is the stuff of life, and without it nothing could thrive–enough said. The consumption of these offerings–after they have been presented to the gods–is symbolic of the cyclical nature of giving between the gods and men. We bake the bread and offer it to Them in an act of ma’at, and They return to us what we need to sustain our bodies.

Another way of looking at the concept is that the gods consume the spiritual aspect of the offering, and return the physical aspect to us in a kind of divine communion. There is no more primal and powerful way to form a bond than the sharing of a meal together. This is one of the gods’ great gifts to us.

The ceremony of the reversion of offerings is a standard, but fascinating part of both ancient Egyptian religion and modern Kemetic religion. On the surface it’s a very simple act, but deeper in there’s a great deal more to be seen.

Thanks Banu!

There’s a personal note I’d like to make in regards to offering: I remember worrying about how much to give.  Technically a spoonful of whatever you’re offering should be fine.  I think the act of offering is what contributes to Ma’at, not so much the quantity.  The netjeru appreciate our offerings but don’t need them to survive, so don’t overexert yourself and give them an entire bowl of chili- that’s chili you’ll have to eventually eat yourself!  Not exactly convenient when you’ve offered a bowl before dinner and had one at the same time, now you’re eating twice as much!

On we’re given an idea of what to say after having offered the food, given the netjer time to eat, and before we take the food ourselves:

In Kemetic:
hotep Netjer em shabu en imenti her iabi
(ho-TEP net-JUR em shaBU en ih-MENTI hair ya-BI)

Or, in English:
May Netjer be satisfied with the repast to the right and to the left.

I believe there is another formula offered in Richard Reidy’s Eternal Egypt.


Written by Bastemhet

July 30, 2011 at 9:59 am

Posted in daily life

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Purification 9 part 2

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This is an extension to Purification 9.

I was thinking about it more and came across a post on The Cauldron by fiamma that made a helpful observation about the difference between offerings and sharing food.  Though of course, not everyone feels like the gods are in the same sort of relationship as they are with their friends, this comparison was made: there is a difference between planning a special dinner with friends and preparing to give them the best meal you can give them, and having a friend drop by unannounced and offering some of the food you prepared for yourself for a snack.  While it may not be always appropriate to share food you were already eating or giving the gods something less than fresh, healthful foods, I’m sure the netjeru may be pleased with the thought at least of offering something.  Ultimately your own relationship with them and what they let you know that they like and don’t like will drive your choices, but it’s good to think about how your own actions come across the netjeru, as a relationship takes two people.  Or one person and one netjer!

Written by Bastemhet

August 20, 2010 at 11:33 pm

Purification 9

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For an explanation of this series, read the introduction here.

Hail Bone-Breaker, coming forth from Neni-nisut (Hierakonpolis), I do not carry off the offering-bread.

This epithet belongs to Heru-Wer.  Rev. Siuda says the “offering-bread” translation can also mean the entirety of the offerings at the temple that day. 

The food that was offered at temples were “reverted” to the priests to eat after the netjer had eaten hir share.  This would not be considered stealing.  The key is that the priests had done the reversion before taking the offering.  This is an admonition to not partake of the offering before the netjer has had hir share.  That which you offer should be set aside specifically for the netjer, and given to them before you munch on it yourself.  According to this, then, leftovers are probably not OK.  I think if anyone is at a loss for what to give the netjeru, the traditional bread and water is a sure thing.

With this purification I will remember to conserve that which is for the netjeru apart from that which I will conserve for myself.

Written by Bastemhet

August 19, 2010 at 7:46 pm