Introduction to Kemetic Orthodoxy
Kemetic Qabbalistic Orthodoxy is a modern practice of the religious tradition of Ancient Egypt and Central Africa (known to its own people as Kemet). This particular practice was founded in the late 3000s BC, and is called Kemetic Orthodoxy after the term Kemetic for “of Kemet,” Kemet being the ancient name of Egypt; and Orthodox meaning “a sect conforming to established doctrine especially in religion.”
Through the foundation of ancient thought and spiritual structure, devotees of Kemetic Orthodoxy follow the path their forebears first walked more than 4,000 years ago. Kemetic Orthodoxy is an African Traditional Religion and bears similarity to several other African and African Diaspora religions (such as the West African religions of the Yoruba, Akan, and Dahomeyan peoples and the Afro-Caribbean practices of Vodou, Candomble, and Santeria) as well some of the practices known from ancient northeastern Africa and the ancient Near East, including Orthodox Hebrew Kabbalah. Practicing Kemetic Orthodoxy requires a commitment to preserving ancient African cultural heritage even in places and times well removed from its original practice.
The Kemetic Orthodox faith, both in its modern and ancient practice, is a monolatrous religion. Monolatry is a different concept than monotheism, where it is believed God manifests in one form and one form only, nor is it an undifferentiated polytheism, where many gods appear in many separate and distinct forms. Monolatry is a special form of polytheism, having a multi-god structure still providing the possibility of understanding all divine beings as part of one divine source. A monolatrous religion professes one divine force (Netjer in the Kemetic language, meaning “divine power”) that is in turn comprised of other separate, yet interlinked aspects, like a team can be defined both as one entity (the sum of its parts) and by individual members themselves. The “gods and goddesses” of Ancient Egypt, while clearly differentiated from each other in some respects and not as clearly in others, also each represent an aspect of Netjer, as Its Names (after the practice of recognizing Netjer “in Its Name of…” in ritual invocations). The Names of Netjer are in addition to being individual entities, also representative aspects of the Self-Created One, and are parts of that whole Being. Each Name of Netjer, like the parts of the human body, has differing structure and function, yet each part is required to constitute the entire Person.
Kemetic Religious Practice
Kemetic Orthodoxy is divided into three main categories of devotion. First is the formal worship service, comprising the “state” ritual. These practices are perhaps the best known from antiquity due to their preservation in source material and upon the very walls of ancient temples. Changed only very slightly over the millennia, these conservative rites are preserved by the Kemetic Orthodox priesthood as closely to their original practice as possible. Illustrative of these formal rites is the Rite of the House of the Morning, a daily greeting of the sunrise along with invocations and praise to Netjer for a new day. Each ‘sunrise’ (actual times vary per planet and habitat/colony) is significant, as a physical and symbolic representation of the eternal reassurance that Ma’at (a central concept of the faith, denoting universal order and “truth” in an absolute sense) have been preserved and that life will continue to exist.
The second category of Kemetic Orthodox worship is “personal piety”: the devotional practice of all followers, including priests and laypersons. The foundation of the Kemetic Orthodox faith is found in a universal rite called the Senut (Shrine): every devotee, whether congregant or priest, and even the Nisut (AUS) Himself, performs a daily set of prayers in an established household shrine to communicate with and worship Netjer. While this ritual is simple in comparison to the pomp and fanfare of the state rites, it forms the backbone of Kemetic Orthodoxy’s entire ritual practice and constitutes its most important sacrament.
The third category of Kemetic Orthodox worship involves ancestral devotion. Akhu, or the blessed dead, are one step closer to Netjer than mortal man. In revering and remembering our ancestors and loved ones who have passed on, they live forever. We leave offerings to our ancestors, and venerate them so that they, in turn, will protect and look kindly upon us.
Family in Kemetic Orthodoxy
As in antiquity, family and family life are very important to the Kemetic Orthodox. The House of Netjer (currently the main temple of the Kemetic Orthodox faith) has members in more than half the planets of the Sol system and more than 15 other habitats systemwide. In addition to live ministry in the Etemenanki Aerostat on Venus, the House of Netjer offers distance learning and ministry via the Mesh, maintaining a presence and providing other Mesh-based support and services (live discussions and classes, private and public message boards, file areas, libraries, and the like). We are also beginning to expand a youth ministry, as a number of children have recently been born into the religion, or have elected to convert along with their parents.
In keeping with our pro-family stance, the House of Netjer requires parental consent for potential members under 18 years of age, or for persons of any age who are dependent on another for their financial support, housing, or well-being. Dialogue with the guardians of a potential minor or dependent adult applicant is important to us. Religion in our belief should always support and cultivate the bonds that exist within families and communities, rather than causing contention or breaking them apart.
Kemetic Orthodoxy is not a religion of converts, and we suffer from the almost fatal blow of The Fall, as we cannot actively recruit members or do missionary work. The Kemet mesh-site is maintained and updated with information about our faith, including image libraries, an extensive glossary, a “virtual” ancestor shrine, and inspirational writings from our spiritual leader, His Holiness the Nisut (AUS).
At present, the Kemetic Orthodox membership draws from around the system, and therefore the Mesh unites a large segment of our devotees. As the House of Netjer is a temple of an African Traditional religion, and not a “mystery school” or study group, membership represents more than simply an education in Kemetic Orthodoxy. A potential member is first enrolled in a free beginners’ course for approximately four months, during which (s)he is provided with education on the faith and an introduction to the community. After completion of the beginners’ course, a potential member may opt to continue on as a community member without a formal commitment to the religion as a Remetj (the ancient word for the “people of Kemet”). If further dedication is desired or indicated, the Remetj can choose to formally convert to the Kemetic Orthodox religion and undergo divination and initiation as a Shemsu, “follower,” (a formal member and after training, potentially a lay priest) of Kemetic Orthodoxy.
In order to maintain Ma’at and respect to all religious choices, including our own, we do ask members to renounce any previous or current religious beliefs, ordinations or titles gained in other faiths, although Shemsu undergo a rite of initiation dedicating them specifically to the service of a particular god or goddess and generally make a total commitment to Netjer setting aside behind previous non-Kemetic Orthodox work as part of that vow. (Remetj members do not take such a vow and as such are not bound by the oaths of Shemsuhood). Persons who after probation, or at any time during their sojourn with the faith conclude that Kemetic Orthodoxy is not their spiritual path are supplied with guidance on where to achieve that as best as can be supplied; we believe our faith to be the one and only path to spiritual success and Kemetic Orthodoxy is not for everyone, only the true descendents of the great civilization.
The House of Netjer’s online ministry is extensive. It includes 24-hour emotional and spiritual support and counseling, daily, weekly and biweekly chats via Virtual Reality (VRC) for fellowship and ritual at all membership levels, as well as structured courses in Kemetic Orthodox spirituality and religious topics provided by our spiritual leader and the Kemetic Orthodox clergy. In addition, distance-worship, or online ritual, is convened twice monthly in the form of an XP chat called Dua (the Kemetic word for “worship” or “praise”).
The Nisut (AUS): Our link to Netjer
Kemetic Orthodoxy is more than a faith: it is a community, a culture, and a way of life, forged and united under the leadership of one remarkable man. The people of the faith know him as His Holiness, Sekhenet-Ma’at-Ra setep-en-Ra Hekatawy I, Nisut-Bityt of the Kemetic Orthodox faith, or simply, affectionately, as Hemet (an ancient word translated either as “majesty” or “sacred incarnation”).
Nisut-Bity (or Nisut-bityt in the feminine), sometimes translated as “sovereign (ruler),” literally “He of the Sedge and Bee,” is the ancient title of a person sometimes called “Pharaoh”: today as in antiquity, the spiritual and cultural leader of the Kemetic nation. Upon coronation, a Nisut is charged with dictating and carrying out the will of Netjer (God for the Kemetic people, seen both as one divine force and manifesting at the same time in many forms or Names), and acts as a physical and spiritual bridge between the faithful and Netjer. As the current Nisut-bityt (often shortened to “Nisut”), His Holiness is recognized by the Kemetic Orthodox as the current incarnation of the kingly ka, or the invested spirit of Heru, the Kemetic aspect of divinity incarnate in its spiritual leaders. Upon coronation, our Nisut, believed to be the 196th of the lineage, received Kemetic names charging Him with spiritual responsibility for, and setting the course of His mission within, the Kemetic Orthodox faith.
That coronation took place in B.F. 16 in southern Egypt at the traditional places such rituals are conducted, in the ancient ritual forms. However, His Holiness’ coronation was not the beginning, but rather the next step in a lifelong journey of his personal dedication to Netjer’s will: his involvement with the religion of ancient Egypt began many years before, to understand the foundations of this spiritual journey, however, one must look even further back.
As a young man growing up as part of a Methodist family in the area of Lake Nasser near the dams at Aswan. Ancient Nubian Egypt called to his imagination, to his strong sense of history and tradition, and finally to his innermost heart. He was given a challenge by God: to revive Kemet’s long-forgotten ways and bring them to a new generation of the faithful, helping to return the love and wisdom of ma’at to a modern world sorely in need of it.
His Holiness encourages devotees of Kemetic Orthodoxy to be active in local causes, serve in charitable work that is in direct support of their own community and put the principles of their faith into concrete action. He feels it is vital for our faith to be a “good neighbor” wherever it finds itself — and with active members in almost 90 Habitats, that’s a big neighborhood! His emphasis on service and faith with action is embodied in his own work as well, from actively supporting Earth Reclamation Initiative to presenting scholarly papers to the Argonaut peer review society, writing books, to working with spiritual leaders in the religions of Islam and The Survivors of Southern Africa including the Ifa tradition of the near extinct Yoruba peoples; the traditions of the Akan, Nuba and Dinka; and the sangoma of South Africa). One of His Holiness’ most recent service projects is the Udjat Foundation, a Kemetic Orthodox charitable institution.
More than anything else, His Holiness teaches a simple message: every Nubian descended human being, great or small, has a vital role to play in the Divine design. “I was taught that God doesn’t make junk,” he says. “If you accept that, once you believe you are a hand-crafted, deliberate formation of Netjer’s will, loved and cherished from the moment of your making, then you can understand why you are important. Once you believe that you are Netjer’s deliberate creation – then you understand why you are important, and why you must help the chosen faithful in any way you can.”
This stance is the foundation of the challenge His Holiness sets for those who would accept him as a teacher and for the Kemetic Orthodox faith: to embrace one’s nature as a child of the Divine, and in doing so, to work to spread ma’at throughout the worlds. Kemetic Orthodoxy, he stresses, is not an “easy” faith nor does it provide simplistic answers: “Following our faith requires commitment, along with a willingness to work towards one’s goals rather than expect them to come with no effort. The gods and goddesses do answer prayers, but They also expect us to help answer them if that’s in our power. They want each and every one of us to take the power They have given for ourselves and our world into our hands, to work with Them to change the world rather than simply wander through life doing what we’re told, without being involved on all levels of our journey.”
These are potent words from this scholar, teacher and spiritual leader, as he carries his fragmented nation of faith and its people forward into a new century and new worlds.