Per Bastemhet

Posts Tagged ‘Isfet

Purification 14

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

Hail Hot-feet, coming forth from the dawn, I do not damage myself with lies.

Hot-feet is an epithet for Set. 

In Purification 8 I wrote about lying in general.  This purification deals more with the understanding that lies not only harm those around you, but also yourself.  The ancient Kemetics make clear here that they not only value being able to present ones’ self as pure in front of the netjeru, but also that one take care to prove themselves of good character.  Part of that ties into being polite and humble to others, as well as taking care to be true of voice.  By lying we damage our own character and make others see us in a poor light.  Social harmony is important to the maintenance of Maat. 

Besides damaging character, we increase our chances of being eaten by Ammit.  With each lie, with each act of Isfet, we make our heart more heavy.  At the end of our travels through the Duat our heart is weight against the feather of Maat, to see if our actions as a whole were just enough that they were as light as the feather of she who personifies order. 

With this purification I caution all to be conscious of our actions not only to maintain Maat, but also to avoid destruction.

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Written by Bastemhet

September 10, 2010 at 12:35 am

Purification 5

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

Hail Terrible-Faced One, coming from Rosetjau, I do not disobey requirements.

Says Rev. Siuda:

Our fifth purification invokes the guardian of the necropolis of Mennefer (Memphis), modern-day Saqqara. The "requirements" mentioned can be translated as "necessary offerings." So beyond being a simple rule of doing what one is told to do, this purification can be read as a specific statement concerning the importance of honoring the dead.

Let’s look at how translating from whatever the Kemetic word in this purification is to “requirements” would change the meaning depending on who would be saying these prayers.

If a priest were saying they’d not disobey requirements, then it would lead one to wonder, what are the requirements of a priest (besides the obvious dedication to being a literal servant of netjer)?  The number one thing, I think, would be ritual purity.  This involves a few things, but as I interpret it, it seems that spiritual cleanliness translates to physical cleanliness, and vice versa.  There is a bit more to this, but I plan on making a post just for purity itself because it can be quite a big topic.  One has to also keep in mind that there was very likely an oral tradition or culturally understood ideas that are not mentioned in the texts themselves, so we might never know the full requirements of priesthood.

One thing that’s worth mentioning is that I don’t as of yet feel called to priesthood, nor should everyone.  Check out I Am Not A Priest, a clarifying rant by Darkhawk who considered her role in the practice of her religion to not be called to priesthood.

For those who say these purifications in the afterlife, they are done to show how light their heart is and purify themselves in the presence of the deities they hail.    So besides honoring the akhu, one thing that is required of both the pious in life and the pure in death, is to be ritually pure by maintaining maat in the company of the gods.  I don’t think this is so much a prohibition to never even think of praying to the deities when one is unclean, but to be reasonably thoughtful about that which the deities find odious, and have some manners about how one appears before the deities.  Besides the literal idea of cleanliness, since purity can be achieved by not doing isfet and conversely doing maat, one can also be pure by being righteous in the eyes of netjer.

Besides requirements for righteous living, what are some of the requirements you need to honor in order to be true to yourself?  I think honoring your own requirements to live healthily is another way to achieve spiritual satisfaction. 

With this purification, I will try to be physically and spiritually pure by cleansing with natron, not doing isfet, and honoring my personal requirements to keep myself spiritually healthy.

Written by Bastemhet

August 8, 2010 at 4:29 am

Purification 1

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

Hail Strider coming from Iunu (Heliopolis), I am not doing (making) Isfet.

Rev. Siuda makes the distinction that doing Isfet is not the same as being an evil person.  She uses this distinction to emphasize the old adage “Hate the sin, not the sinner.”

Besides the obvious problem with universalizing theological concepts from another religion, I take issue with seeing this purification as proscriptive in itself.  While it says that the person making the prayer is not doing Isfet, it makes no comment on how other people should feel if they were doing Isfet.  I don’t know if the general opinion in the Kemetic culture is that people are separated from the actions that they do, nor do I know if the people of Kemet assumed that all people were good until they proved themselves otherwise.

Modernly, as people we are judged not on what we think or feel, but on how we choose to act upon these thoughts or feelings.  No one is ever a good person by intention; they’re good because they do good things.  Similarly, in ancient Kemet people were judged not only on what they did but on what they didn’t do, which is the main thrust of these purifications.  For example, the quiet person who does not react on their anger, nor take their anger out on others, is ideal. (see Instructions of PtahHotep)  In this sense what the person does not do is an indication of what zie does do; by not reacting in anger, zie practices restraint.

The phrase “hate the sin, not the sinner,” to me, is a way of casting off others’ responsibility to moderate their own actions.  “Good intentions” does not forgive harmful nor chaotic actions, but in the end, we are all ultimately responsible for our own actions, which is what the focus of the purifications is about.  With that, I intend to keep in mind the way I react to others’ actions that perpetuate Isfet, and not let my anger, however righteous it is, get out of hand.  I am responsible for my own actions, and I must be mindful of the consequences of what I say and do to make sure that I am not doing Isfet.  I must be responsible, apologize and learn from my mistakes when I do.  My ultimate goal must always be not just to advocate Ma’at, but to speak, do and live Ma’at; by emulating Ma’at, I also advocate Ma’at.

Written by Bastemhet

July 24, 2010 at 4:20 am