Per Bastemhet

Posts Tagged ‘Purifications

Purification 16

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

Hail Swallower of Intestines, coming forth from the Thirteen, I do not plunder cultivated lands.

Now this one is pretty straightforward.  We should be conscious of what belongs to whom, whether that which we enjoy is cultivated by another, and to be thankful.  Along with other purifications, for example Purification 15, Purification 14, and Purification 12, this involves our relations with other people.  Maat is itself not just order but also social harmony.

With this purification I will continue to contribute to social harmony, rather than damage it.


Written by Bastemhet

September 11, 2010 at 2:13 pm

Purification 15

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

Hail Swallower of Blood, coming forth from the chopping-block, I do not commit usury with grain.

Rev. Siuda said it’s tempting to translate “Swallower of Blood” as an epithet to Sekhmet, but it’s not certain.  Besides Sekhmet, it might be possible that this be one of the epithets for some netjeru in the Duat.

Mentioning grain here is relevant because it was one of the items used as payment in the barter system, along with bread, beer, meat, and cloth rations. *  The modern day equivalent would then be paper/coin money.

Usury is lending money at an exorbitant interest rate.  This would entail that those who lend are greedy and only do it for self gain.  The people who are willing to get a loan are people who do not have the means to make sufficient money for something that is important for them, and are willing to bet on their future in order to take care of necessities right now.  Usury is taking advantage of these people.  Ptahhotep also warns us against the evil of greed:

If you wish your conduct to be good
and to save yourself from all evil,
resist the opportunity of greed.
It is a sore disease of the worm,
no advance can come of it.
It embroils fathers and mothers,
with mother’s brothers.
It entangles the wife and the man,
it is a levy of all evils,
a bundle of all hatefulness.
The man endures whose guideline is Right,
who proceeds according to his paces.
He can draw up a will by it.
There is no tomb for the greedy hearted.

Take note of the last line.  To not have a tomb is to be denied an afterlife which is very serious indeed.  Not only will we not continue to live on, but we will be denied being in the presence of the netjeru, and in the presence of our ancestors.  We would also be denied the opportunity to help our own that come after us.

With this purification I will guard against greed, and be mindful of my own generosity.

Written by Bastemhet

September 11, 2010 at 1:49 pm

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.

Written by Bastemhet

September 10, 2010 at 12:35 am

Purification 13

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

Hail Bast, coming forth from the shrine, I do not eat my heart.

This purification invokes Bast in her epithet of Devouring Lady. 

This reminds me of an expression I heard from either a Korean or Japanese movie.  The phrase was to “eat bitter tears.”  When someone is having an extremely hard time, the only thing they can satisfy themselves on is their own bitterness.  This purification has a similar sentiment.  Traditionally the belly is associated with heated emotions that blind us from thinking reasonably.  Here are a few quotes from the instructions of Ptahhotep that illustrate the connections the ancient Kemetics have to the belly:


The trusted man who does not vent his belly’s speech,

He will himself become a leader.

He whose heart obeys his belly

Puts contempt of himself in place of love


The next time you’re angry at someone and are about to tell them the first thing that comes to your mouth, I recommend you pause just for a moment and ask yourself, “Is this what I really think, or are these the heated words coming from my belly?”  The ancient Kemetics valued the person who did not boast nor make arrogant displays, but rather listened thoughtfully to others and showed humility.


Do not boast at your neighbors’ side,

One has great respect for the silent man:

A man of character is man of wealth.


If [a friend] does a thing that annoys you,

Be yet friendly with him, don’t attack;

Be restrained, don’t let fly,

Don’t answer with hostility,

Neither part from him nor attack him;

His time does not fail to come,

One does not escape what is fated.


This is probably my favorite passage from Ptahhotep’s instructions:


If you are mighty, gain respect through knowledge

And through gentleness of speech.

Don’t command except as is fitting,

He who provokes gets into trouble.

Don’t be haughty, lest you be humbled,

Don’t be mute, lest you be chided.

When you answer one who is fuming,

Avert your face, control yourself.

The flame of the hot-heart sweeps across,

He who steps gently, his path is paved.

He who frets all day has no happy moment,

He who’s gay all day can’t keep house.


As you can see, the ancient Kemetics valued moderation.  There is a time for everything, and they certainly had no aversion to emotions, since this was one of the ways that the netjeru let us know of their presence and their wishes.  But as a general guide to how we should approach everyday life, moderation and balance are key.

With this purification, I seek to find balance in my words, to not speak from my belly but from humility. 

Written by Bastemhet

September 5, 2010 at 10:20 am

Purification 12

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

Hail His-Face-Behind-Him, coming forth from his roof, I do not give the wink.

This epithet is for the keeper of Ra’s boat in the Field of Reeds, he “who looks behind himself.” 

Rev. Siuda explains further the meaning of giving the wink":

To ‘give the wink’ in ancient Egypt was a phrase used to describe people, in particular judges, who were corrupt or able to be corrupted; when paid off correctly, they would let a prisoner go, ‘giving the wink’ to the person who put the fix in to let them know it had been done.

This reminds me of the verb “hoodwink,” which means to deceive or trick.  In effect, when the judge gives the wink, the system and justice itself are hoodwinked.  When considering Maat, what seems to help in the moment will hurt in the long run, because by cheating justice, we cheat ourselves.  We should think not only of how much our own hearts will weigh in the time of judgement against the feather of Maat, but also for those we coexist with during our lives on earth. 

With this purification I seek to keep balance in Maat and strive to do that which is just.

Written by Bastemhet

September 1, 2010 at 11:06 am

Posted in Declarations of Innocence

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Purification 11

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

Hail Qererti, coming forth from Amenti, I do not fornicate with minors.

Qererti is an epithet for Ausir, which means “He who is in his caverns,” Amenti meaning “the West” which is the traditional orientation for the Duat. 

A note on the translation by Rev. Siuda:

Quite literally, the purification is dedicated to Wesir, "He Who is in His Caverns" (Qererti) in the West (Amenti). It speaks against, again quite literally while still remaining readable by our younger members, "having sex with a sex-boy." There’s a play on words here. The verb nek, the most vulgar way to say "intercourse" in Egyptian, is played off of the very similar looking word "nekek," literally a prepubescent boy who is used to nek — a child prostitute.

It is interesting that the ancient Kemetics had this view about sexual relations with minors.  I read in another book that pederasty (sex between two men, commonly with one of them being a minor) was a common and accepted thing in ancient Greece.  That the Kemetics have a point of view that is similar to our modern one is a good thing, but even then, I think we should be aware that there are going to sometimes be discrepancies between what was accepted then and what is accepted now.  Rather than the words be law themselves, I think the spirit of the law, and the moral concerns which governed them should guide us.

With this purification I will remember that children were cherished in Kemet, and also be aware of not only the differences of the Kemetic culture with my own, but also that which brings us together. 

Written by Bastemhet

August 21, 2010 at 9:19 pm

Purification 10

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

Hail Bright-Flame, coming forth from Ptah’s temple in Mennefer (Hwt-ka-Ptah in Memphis), I do not dislike myself.

This purification addresses Sekhmet by her epithet Bright-Flame.  Rev. Siuda says that the verb keni-i can be translated not only as self-dislike but also as self-pity or being too hard on one’s self.

Personally one of the things that makes me hard on myself right now is that I feel somewhat inadequate in the worship that I do.  I constantly want to do more, but I also think that devotion to study of how to do things properly is very important to honor the netjeru in the right way.  My compromise is to do the best with the information that I have right now, and realize that everyone begins somewhere, and sometimes our goals are not always attainable.  I trust that Bast will bring me not just to what I want, but to what I need.

In this purification I will remember that I am making good time on my path and that things will come to me “in their time.”

Written by Bastemhet

August 21, 2010 at 1:52 am