We begin the journey through African Spirituality in ancient Egypt (Kemet). The term African Spirituality is generic. Once you delve into the subject, you learn how many directions it takes, full of twists and turns. Yet, no matter the direction, there is still a very similar underlying cord.
Harmony, order, justice, and proper conduct, Ma’at, were the broad and enduring beliefs of ancient Kemet (Egypt). Ancient Egyptians believed that the physical body was khat and that the life force was ka. Ba, is the personality or the psyche. This was the primordial science that clarified what makes up a Being.
I suppose that from as early as 6 years old I loved nature. Playing outside would turn into a forage mission. Interesting looking leaves, flowers, old birds nests etc., became my outside “toys”. Unfortunately, much like many other things in life, we unlearn our innate instincts and childish enthusiasm. Thankfully though, my cells, spirit, and mind never let me totally forget who I am. I believe that it is the same way when it comes to finding our spiritual paths. Spirit is always available to answer the questions that we may have.
Following a family tree gets muddled before too long. It is virtually impossible to follow one cord back to its original singular state. Yet, once you have a basic understanding of your bloodline, and understand the cultures of the world, you can asked the Great Goddess to assist you in the journey inward to find the truth and put the pieces together. Throughout my life there has been an unraveling or awakening to my African blooded self. My African blood called to itself within me, and my journey began. This is what brings me to this series.
According to quantum physics, our DNA carries an ancestral imprint. This is part of the reason we that seek spiritual enlightenment, journey deep into our spiritual, and cultural legacies. I believe that time is an illusion, and that what IS is what was, and what will be. All energy is malleable yes, therefore the way things take shape changes constantly. In the truest sense, you ARE your ancestors. Even if we choose a different spiritual path than our ancestors, knowledge of indigenous practices would still offer clarity of self.
I developed a keen sense of Spirit early in life. It is who I am. When I began the journey inward and outward to learn my ancestral roots, I was pleasantly awestruck to learn that lots of the ideas, concepts, rituals and practices that I am drawn to and had been practicing, were not too far from African Traditional Spirituality. The Earth, the Air, the Fire, and the Water. There is no magic without the elements. Ancient Kemet was the beginning of understanding nature and our relationship with it.
Egypt! The Jewel of The Nile! The principle of duality governed the spiritual beliefs of ancient Kemites. Natural wonders gave great inspiration of the Universal view for the ancients. The rise and wane of the Nile River, the recurring actions of the Sun and the Moon, also day and night were all naturally reflective of existence. The duality of man and woman also inspired foundational spiritual beliefs. It is these natural ebbs and flows of developing nature that shaped the spiritual practices of ancient Egyptians and allowed them to understand the universe as renewable instead of linear.
Circa 5500 BCE- 3050 CE is the period of recorded history when ancient Kemet was a self contained and flourishing empire, a time when gods ruled the Earth. It is well known that Greek philosophers like Pythagoras and Plato borrowed or stole, depending on how you look at it, the creation and reincarnation beliefs from Egypt. Let’s not also forget, that the ancient Romans took many religious practices from ancient Egypt and made them their own. It is accurate to say that both Greek and Roman religious philosophies and ways are built upon many of the ways of ancient Kemetic culture.
Before the unification of Egypt all the towns and villages venerated, or honored their own unique totem. It was customary and acknowledged that each town revered different deities and were welcoming to the concept of numerous deities existing at the same time (polytheistic), while preserving their loyalty and devotion to their own deity. Approx. 2,000 gods were available to be worshipped in ancient times. After Upper and Lower Egypt joined, certain cults began to rise and so did their gods and goddesses. The more well known Egyptian gods and goddesses are the result of this unification. The lack of doctrine made Egyptian religious beliefs more of a system built on harmony, balance and constancy of the cycles of life.
Religious practices day to day by various family cults were upheld through generations. Deceased family members were still considered a vital part of the family. That is why it was imperative to pay respect to immediate family members who had passed on. Bestowing them with offerings was the best way to honor dead relatives. Similarly to how we, in modern times, visit the grave of a lost loved one. We take them flowers and such. This is an ancient way of honoring and giving offerings.
Every culture around the world has a creation story. It goes something like this: There was nothing, the great void, then there was something, creation. That’s pretty much it! Simplified sure. The thing is though, humanity BEGAN in ancient Egypt (Kemet) so THIS creation mythology is what allllllllllllllllll other creation mythology was made from. There are many many books and resources that tell the Egyptian creation story. That is not my purpose here.
The ancient Kemetic viewpoint was that our (humanity) existence is a tiny part in the journey through eternity. All the deities and supernatural beings coordinate and rule over the course of our voyage. Sound familiar? Sounds like this perspective is the overarching belief of MANY of the world’s religious and philosophical cultures. In each culture of the world this statement takes shape differently, but most all have borrowed from this Kemetic outlook of existence.
Ancient egyptians believed in the Afterlife. It was conceptualized that how one lived their lives on Earth, would directly impact their life after death. In essence, if one desired a peaceful/great life after death, then they ought to live their life in such a way.
Ritual was a huge aspect of Kemetic culture. Ritual was performed for religious, spiritual, and seemingly practical reasons. Ritual for seeking guidance, to protect the dead, to maintain peace and order, and various other reasons were the norm. There were animal and human sacrifices. Daily, Egyptians would bring offerings to the temple for the Gods such as food, clothing, carvings and the like. Temple Priests would oversee the daily offerings. As far as animal and human sacrifices go, particular animals were chosen for a particular reason, some more powerful a sacrifice than others. I won’t go into the whys and wherefores of human sacrifice in this post but I will say that mainly, over the course of time in Egypt human sacrifice became a thing, mostly prisoners, rebels, or criminals were used in human sacrifice. The subject of sacrifice is too in-depth for this post and will be revisited in another.
That’s it really. I could go into Egyptian Goddesses and Gods and how they are related to one another and how they are related to us, and how these goddesses and gods became even further synchronized with other cultures and religions, and how many of the goddesses and gods in popular culture were once Egyptian but morphed to fit the motif of the story of a different region…but I won’t. I simply needed a jumping off point for African Spirituality, and since Egypt is the cradle of civilization, we had to begin here.
The next post will be all about Heka, ancient Egyptian magick and how certain religious and spiritual practices of the Kemites spread throughout other parts of ancient Africa, and which areas and tribes believed/believe what. Until then, be well. Thanks for continuing this journey with me.
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Blessed be. Ashe
credits: kemetway; angela sleeping; egyptiantoursplus
references: egyptian mythology, stephan weaver; Egypt, roy jackson