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Thoughts On Dogma & Reconstructionism

Souls of Abedju

Lately, an issue that has been coming up time and again in my work as a Priest is the question of traditions, religion, dogma, belief and what it really means to follow an ancient polytheistic faith in today’s world. I have, for inspiration and observation/ study, often looked to the Sanatana Dharma or Hindu religion as a means of seeing how a people may harmonize in the modern world with such a plethora of goddesses and gods and the ancient traditions that go with them.

Brahmins are the carriers of the most ancient sacred traditions in Hinduism. They are priests whose training, study, and level of devotion maintain an unbroken line of teachings, rituals and philosophies stretching back through thousands of years. Brahmins are expected to maintain the highest degree of ritual purity in order to carry out their responsibilities in the temple, and these responsibilities include the very elaborate rites and rituals through which the Gods are honored and their presences commune with their devotees.

Hinduism contains ritual forms that have been handed down by Brahmins for literally thousands of years in an unbroken chain. Because Brahmins have handed down these ritual treasures, guarding their purity and not changing them just to be “current”, people who need the Gods are able to commune with them through ritual and receive blessings. Brahmins I have spoken to about these rituals have told me that the same ritual gestures, mantras and icons have been used in Sanatana Dharma since time began, and that they have not been changed. Now that is a long time!

I happen to follow a religious and spiritual tradition that has not remained unbroken. The Kemetic or Ancient Egyptian religion lasted historically for at least 3,000 years, though Egyptologists now acknowledge the probability that there was an oral tradition of worship going back well before the first dynasty…before the written record. Texts like the Pert-em-hru or Book of Going Forth By Day retain fragments that can be found in the so called Pyramid Texts, and these contain phrases that some mainstream Egyptologists say point to an oral tradition going back at least 4,000 years or more.

However, unlike the rites and rituals of Hinduism, the ancient Egyptian religion was eventually all but stamped out in its own birth place, where Islam and Christianity became the predominant faiths. In modern Egyptian folk traditions there are still practices and beliefs originating in the ancient faith of Egypt, but as a national religion, the ancient beliefs are no longer mainstream in Egypt as they once were.

Kemetic Reconstructionism is embraced by many contemporary spiritual practitioners who desire to return to the traditionally Egyptian (Kemetic) way of honoring the Netjeru or Deities. Unlike the unbroken line of Brahmins in the Hindu faith, we do not have specially initiated and trained priests who have received the ancient traditions unaltered by time or social/ political circumstances. Kemetic Reconstructionists attempt to replace what has been “lost” by digging into the archives…the vast body of literature and archaeological discoveries produced by Egyptologists, in order to put back together our ancient rites and sacred texts. This is a very challenging task even at the best of times, leading some of us to learn the meduw-netjer (hieroglyphs) and spend years sifting through some of the driest academic studies on the planet!

Why bother? Why can’t we just do whatever comes to heart or mind in order to serve the Gods in the new era. Of course, we can do that, and most people would rather do that, because it’s much easier to just “go with the flow” than dedicate one’s life to the stressful task of piecing together a giant jigsaw puzzle, one in which a heck of a lot of pieces are still missing!

But then, what would have happened to the Hindu religion…where would modern Hindus be if they had lost many or most of their ancient rites and teachings? I’m sure their gods would manage to guide Hindus still and send them inspiration. But shouldn’t we be asking whether or not such practices, mantras, prayers and scriptures are worth preserving, having and handing down? I think they are, and I’m sure that millions of Hindus would agree with me.

My idea of dogma is blind faith and blind belief…strictly following an idea because you are told to follow it. Dogma leaves no room for personal inspiration or individualized expression. Dogmatism demands that we obey, adhere, and do not question. Dogma threatens. I have never felt that Kemetic Reconstructionism is being dogmatic. Quite the contrary, I feel it is a spiritual treasure hunt, where the Netjeru are hiding and welcoming us to find Them. As we dig deep into the ancient texts and reconstruct the Daily Temple Ritual, and the many other rites of the Ancients, we are communing with living gods whose presences brought inspiration, healing, life and abundance to millions of the ancients for nearly 5,000 years. The ancient Egyptian religion is a vibrant gathering of prayers, practices and gestures that enhances the experience of divinity within Nature and human nature. The ancient gods are alive and well, and Their presence can be felt as strongly today in the ancient rites and prayers as it was felt thousands of years ago.

Reconstructing an entire ancient religion based on textual sources sounds dogmatic to some, but I would argue that dogmatism is asserting one way of doing things over another. Dogmatism removes freedom of choice and individual conscience. What I follow is a 5,000 year old tradition of speaking directly to the Gods, and inviting Them to receive the very best the heart of humankind has to offer. For me, Kemetic Reconstructionism is a framework for carrying out a relationship between the living Gods and creation, as realized by the ancient Egyptians. Since their way of accomplishing this far outlasted all other civilizations, and existed much longer than our own, I think the ancients proved that their expressions of honoring the Sacred have staying power, and that we have so much to learn from them.

All text copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Living in My Own Divine World

Ptah-Sekhmet-EyeofRa-detail1-med - Copy
“SEKHMET THE EYE OF RA”~ An original Kemetic icon by master iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa / Extra fine watercolor & 22 karat gold on 8″ x 10″ archival panel (SOLD).   ORDER A MUSEUM QUALITY ARCHIVAL PRINT Genuine mineral pigments used as watercolor: Lapis lazuli (Chile), amethyst (Soladad, Brazil), jadeite (Alaska, USA), Mayan blue (Texas, USA), bloodstone (Alaska, USA), rhodonite (Bellahorizonte, Brazil) piemontite (Alaska, USA). Cabochon gemstones: Lapis lazuli (Afghanistan). Austrian crystal elements by Swarovski®

I wake up in the morning and before I distract myself with anything from the mundane world, my knees hit the floor in prayer.  Our Shrine to the Household Gods shines and glimmers in the little tea lights that have been placed just so, ornamenting the gilt cult images of the God Ptah and His Holy Family.  I light myrrh resin incense on a brazier of charcoal and waft its fragrance into a sweet cloud for the Gods to enjoy.  “Men nek irit Heru…”, I half-whisper as I raise the palms of my hands in the ancient gesture of worship.  “Men nek irit Heru.  Take unto yourself the Eye of Heru…take unto yourself the Eye of Heru”.

An Egyptian alabaster votive bowl is filled with powdered sugar-topped lemon tart, another topped off with red wine.  Yes, the Gods love their sweets, their alcohol, and in my household, both of these are given in profusion.  In the meduw-netjer, the divine language of ancient Egypt, I recite the traditional offering prayers, inviting the Netjeru-Gods to “bestow the giving of life” for my household.  I vigorously shake a sistrum- an Egyptian ceremonial rattle- to conclude my worship, after I have silently offered my own personal prayers for the ears of the Gods.  I bestow my prostrations to the Great God Ptah, Hearer of Prayers, and, in our temple, King of the Gods.  His gold-covered Kar-Shrine (or naos) containing a small cult image of the God now stands open to receive the morning rays of the sun’s light, and life in my household can spring to action once more.

I readily admit that I live an unusual life.  Our living room has no television.  Yes, we have the obligatory couch and (book covered) coffee table, however, in the place most people reserve for their entertainment center dominated by the almighty flat panel television, my husband and I have installed our Shrine to the Household Gods, which can be seen from every vantage of our flat.  It creates of our home environment a sacred refuge and place of peace from the stresses of the outside world.  It brings our sometimes fragmented focus back to the reality of the Gods in Their place at the very center of creation.  This is a space for prayer and ritual, where our innermost aspirations may be expressed or realized, but it is also the fuel parlor, the generator for my daily work as an iconographer.

An iconographer practices a trade quite different from that of other artists, who often explode with a creativity fueled by a personal drive to explore and express the human psyche.  The modern artist has at her or his center the Self with a capital “S”.  My experience.  My understanding.  My feelings.  My expression.  These are the seeds that sprout the trees of modern art, which is dominated, of course, by the modern artist.  However, in iconography there has been, historically, much less of an emphasis on the iconographer, on his identity or persona, and almost entirely a focus on the icons themselves.  Iconographers are not commissioned to create their own reality, but are instead asked to express time-honored ideals concerning how the Divine should be depicted, and the most important part of this is the impersonal nature of the work itself.

That is not to say that the creation of an icon requires detachment.  Quite the opposite, if the iconographer is true to his calling.  Iconographers are called like priests and nuns to their craft.  There is a drive behind the work that comes from the reservoir of the Sacred, a current of energy passing out from a deity or deities.  It is this higher energy or inspiration that fuels the creation of icons.  So, the work is impersonal in that it is not the artist’s ego or personality that is driving the work or providing the subject matter.  Icons do not glorify the personality of the iconographer, they glorify the Sacred, the Divine, and many well known icons remain the output of unknown painters.

In the case of ancient Egypt, we but rarely are privy to the names of individual painters and artisans, whose masterpieces may be household names and instantly recognizable.  Take the fabulous golden burial mask of Tutankhamun, as one example.  This tomb treasure is often hailed as an “icon of ancient Egypt”, in the sense that its fame and preciousness have come to represent, in the minds of the masses, the greatness of Egyptian civilization.  However, I would add that the mask of Tutankhamun is also an icon in the original religious context of the word.

To the ancient goldsmiths and jewelers who created it, the burial mask of Tutankhamun was a piece of sacred machinery, through whose great magic the deceased King Tutankhamun would be transformed into a living manifestation of the Sun-God Ra.  The mask itself, though carrying upon it a stylized representation of Tutankhamun, is in fact intended to represent the God Ra Himself- gold of skin with lapis lazuli hair- as the indestructible Lord of Heaven, untouched by death and wholly divine.  The Egyptians saw such treasures not as works of art, in the manner that we see them, but as holy objects embodying the powers of the Gods.  They were, in short, icons.

Not only the incomparable treasures of Tutankhamun, but so many works of ancient Egypt had a sacred purpose that took them beyond the realm of the human viewer.  So many works of art that stun and captivate us today were simply never intended to be seen again by human eyes, once they had been created and brought ceremonially, magically to life.  We do not know the names of the craftsmen who produced them, their genius preserved only in the astounding objects they gave life to.

To the ancient Egyptians, the personality of individual artists was practically insignificant.  Their mode of religion called for cult images wrought from the most precious substances on earth…gold, lapis lazuli, feldspar and turquoise, which represented to the Egyptian mind substances forming part of the anatomy of the living Gods.  The task of the artist was to give earthly bodies to the Gods, Who would be invited to take up residence in the precious cult images once they had been ritually awakened.  Thus the ego or personal experiences of the artisan served no purpose to the Egyptians, who saw ceremonial images as the dwelling places of their gods, not as representations of individual mortals.  My, how things have changed!

Enter me.  My profession must be, at times, an experiment, for I am not an ancient artisan of cult images dwelling in a nation where my gods and their servants are supported by the state.  Gone are the monumental temple sanctuaries filled with incense and solid gold cult images.  What we have today are small ceremonial centers and home-shrines, these lovingly filled with not-so-solid gold images of our ancient gods.  The incense and offerings have remained, though not on the scale consumed by the Gods in ancient times.  Gone too are the monolithic stone statues of the Gods and kings that led way to the imperial sanctuaries.  These things belong to a past that has now become a tourist trap.  What we servants of the old Gods have is the Gods Themselves, Who continue to inspire us in ways that may fall outside the realm of traditional pomp and circumstance, but in circumstances that are, nevertheless, effective as a living religion.

In my world, it is the icon, a small panel covered in intricate details, gold and semi-precious stones, that has as much meaning as a massive stone temple or a solid gold cult image.  Those things have meaning too, but for the past, and since we are living in the present, and the Gods are ever-present, our task is to find new traditional ways of honoring Them and asking for Their intervention in our world.

So, every morning, after I have awoken our household shrine with a heady cloud of myrrh or sandalwood, I sit in my studio at my massive table, where a modern panel of wood, which may initially appear inconsequential, will be transformed into an image of ancient splendor.  It is not only gold or lapis or amethyst that will make this little panel something of value, but, much more importantly, the love of the Gods that is poured into its glittering metal and mineral pigments.  Such love for the Sacred is what fuels and entices me to work fervently, day after day, in my own divine world.

All text copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Liturgy For Honoring the Ka of Richard Reidy

Richard Reidy Retouched
The Ausir-One Richard J. Reidy

Liturgy For Honoring the Ka of
Richard Reidy
In the House of Ptah(1)

Copyright 2015 ©Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa
Hwt-Ka-Ptah/ Temple of Ptah Nevada (West Wendover, Nevada)

Honoring the God Ptah
in the name of Richard Reidy

Prior to engaging in this rite, the celebrant or celebrants should observe the standards for ritual purity, both physical and spiritual. Physical cleansing is necessary, and a mental, emotional focus that permits engagement with the Netjeru (Gods) in Sacred Space. It is preferable to wear simple pure white linen (cotton is perfectly acceptable), a robe or garment that has been reserved exclusively for ritual work.

There should be at least one altar table given over to the adoration of the Netjeru. This ceremony honors the Blessed Dead (Akhu) in the company of the Netjer Ptah, the Netjeret (Goddess) Sekhmet, Their divine Son Nefertum, and the Bau-Souls of the ancient Sanctuary of Ptah called Hwt-Ka-Ptah, the “Soul-Mansion of Ptah”. A simple altar is workable for this ceremony, consisting of a white linen altar cloth upon which have been set cult images (statues) or pictures of the God Ptah, His spouse the Goddess Sekhmet, Son Nefertum, and a photograph of the Blessed Dead. A framed photograph will work much easier with this ceremony, but in lieu of this, a photograph may be propped up on the altar so that it will be stable during the ceremony. This may be draped with a scarf or covered to facilitate “opening” or “unveiling” during the ceremony.

You will also need at least one candle taper, oil lamp or tea light, a brazier or holder for the burning of incense, incense, a jar or cup of wine, a jar or cup of milk, and a tray for the presentation of offerings. It is important that your offerings are of the freshest and highest quality possible. Traditional offerings would consist of bread, beer, onions, dates, figs, pomegranates, roast fowl and beef. However, in contemporary times we may also choose to honor our Blessed Dead with food offerings (favorite dishes) personal to them, which may, of course, include ingredients not found in ancient times. The rule of thumb is always strive for the best quality offerings you can find, whether they be food or floral, or goods such as cloth, stones or ritual objects. An abundance of fresh flowers would also be highly appropriate for this offering ritual. A sistrum or ritual rattle is optional here, but strongly recommended.

Striking the Sacred Fire

We begin with the solemn rite of light offering, the most potent and significant act in the cultic service of the Netjeru. A dripless candle taper is preferable for this ceremony, but a small oil lamp, tea light or votive candle will achieve the same ritual aim. Light the taper/ oil lamp/ candle, and then, using your right hand, hold the candle out in front of you towards the sacred images on your altar. Raise your left hand with the palm facing outward towards the Gods (this is called the dua or “adoration” gesture), and then in a strong and clear voice recite the offering formula:

Irit teka en hruw neb en netjer pen Ptah neb Ma’at en Richard Reidy
(pronounced ear-eet tee-ka een hee-roo neb een netcher pen Puh-tah neb Ma-aat een Richard Reidy)

Repeat in English:
“Making the torch of every day for this God Ptah the Lord of Truth for Richard Reidy”(2)

The candle is now placed in the front, center position of the altar so that its light can fall upon the sacred images. Both hands are now raised before you in the dua posture, the palms facing outward towards the altar. Recite the offering prayer clearly and with complete conviction:

“Come You, come You in peace, O glorious Eye of Heru! Be strong and rejuvenated in peace! It shines like Ra in the double horizon, and the power of Your enemy hides itself straightaway before the Eye of Heru, which seizes it and brings it, and sets it before the seat of Heru. The voice of Heru is Truth by reason of His Eye! The Eye of Heru destroys the enemies of Ptah, the Lord upon the Great Throne(3), in all their places. I am pure!”(4)

Bestowal of Incense

It is preferable to use resin incense burnt upon disk charcoal for this ceremony, as our aim is to try, as much as possible, to link our ritual actions with those of the Ancestral temples of our tradition. Each of these gestures is a direct correlation with those that were performed for thousands of years, every single day, in the temples of the Netjeru in Kemet. Resin incense was the only kind of incense used by the Ancestors for cultic service, and it is readily available today. Temple of Ptah Nevada uses pure frankincense resin incense for our Daily Ritual, and this is what I suggest for use here.

However, if resin incense is not being used, then use the purest, highest quality stick or cone incense you can find. The emphasis in all ceremonial actions is on quality and intention. Traditional and organic ingredients are always preferable to modern synthetic ones, but we must also be prepared to use the tools we have at hand, and to use them with our best intentions. If true devotion and respect are present, then the materials will be infused with this, and will naturally be more acceptable to the Gods.

If you are using resin incense over disk charcoal, light your charcoal before your ritual starts so that there are no awkward pauses during the ceremony. If you light your charcoal prior to lighting your candle taper, the charcoal will be perfectly ready by the time you reach this second stage of the rite. Place a pellet of incense in the center of the charcoal, and, using a clockwise circular motion, wave the brazier of incense slowly in front of the sacred images. If you are using stick or cone incense, light it now, wafting the scented smoke over the altar before setting it to the right side of the lit candle. The offering formula is now recited, very slowly and with conviction:

Irit sa-netjer en Ptah neb Ma’at iri-ef di ankh en Richard Reidy
(pronounced ear-eet saa-netcher een Puh-tah neb Ma-aat ear-ee-eff dee onkh een Richard Reidy)

Repeat in English:
“Censing to Ptah the Lord of Truth that He may make the giving of life for Richard Reidy”(5)

Presentation of incense to the Family of Ptah
and to the Netjeru of the Soul-Mansion of Ptah

The Family of the God Ptah is now honored as the primary Netjeru of the Sacred House and the Custodians of the Blessed Dead (Akhu). The incense may remain at its resting position on the right side of the altar. Hold both hands, palms down, over the rising smoke of the incense, and, in a slow, clear voice, recite the offering formula:

Irit sa-netjer Ptah Sekhmet Nefertum pesedjet nebu Hwt-Ka-Ptah en Richard Reidy
(pronounced ear-eet saa-netcher Puh-tah Sekh-met Ne-fur-toom pe-see-jet nee-boo Ha-oot-Ka-Puh-tah een Richard Reidy)

Repeat in English:
“Censing to Ptah, Sekhmet, and Nefertum, and to the Company of Nine Gods, the Lords of the Soul-Mansion of Ptah, for Richard Reidy”(6)

Presentation of incense to the Ka of Richard Reidy

The photograph of the Blessed Dead is now unveiled or uncovered for all to see. Hands are raised in the dua adoration gesture while the offering formula is recited:

Irit sa-netjer en her-ek nefer en ka-ek djet a Richard Reidy
(pronounced ear-eet saa-netcher een hair-eek ne-fur een kaa-eek jet aa Richard Reidy)

Repeat in English:
“Censing to your beautiful face and to your ka eternally, O Richard Reidy!”(7)

Litany for Honoring Ptah as the Lord of Life
and Progenitor of the Netjeru for Richard Reidy

A sistrum (sacred rattle) is used to punctuate the recitation of the Litany. After each formula/ phrase/ name is recited, slowly and with conviction, the sistrum is shaken as loudly and vigorously as possible.

Anedj her-ek a Ptah-Sokar-Ausir netjer-aah neb ta-djoser hery-ab Amentet
(pronounced on-edge hair-eek aa Puh-tah-So-car-Aa-oo-seer netcher-aah neb taa-jo-zair hairee-aab aa-men-tet)

A sistrum is now shaken.

Repeat in English:
“Homage to You O Ptah-Sokar-Ausir the Great God, the Lord of the Holy Land in the midst of the West!”(8)

A sistrum is now shaken.

Anedj her-ek a Ptah en Richard Reidy Ptah-Sokar-Ausir hery-ab Shetit netjer-aah heka Amentet nefer meri
(pronounced on-edge hair-eek aa Puh-tah een Richard Reidy Puh-tah-So-car-Aa-oo-seer hairee-aab shet-eet netcher-aah he-kaa aa-men-tet ne-fur mare-ee)

A sistrum is now shaken.

Repeat in English:
“Homage to You O Ptah, for Richard Reidy (who is) loved by Ptah-Sokar-Ausir in the Shetit Shrine, the Great God, the Lord of the Beautiful West!”(9)

A sistrum is now shaken.

The formal Litany or Wehem of nine of the God Ptah’s names/ epithets should be presented as slowly as possible. Take your time. Draw out each syllable for as long as possible, and if chanting or singing comes naturally, then chant or sing these sacred names of Netjer. It is not necessary to repeat the names of the God in English, unless it feels right or necessary to do so. The recitation of the names of the Netjer forms the primary element in the Daily Ritual, which invigorates and activates the temple/ shrine/ Sacred Space. This rite especially calls upon the Netjer to manifest directly as the preserver of life and restorer of the Dead. Punctuate each name with a vigorous shake of the sistrum. These too should be drawn out as long as possible.

Ptah at hatu
(Puh-tah aat haa-too)

Ptah the Father of beginnings(10).

Ptah iru-netjeru
(Puh-tah ear-oo-netcheroo)

Ptah who created the gods(11).

Ptah neb-er-djer
(Puh-tah neb-air-jair)

Ptah the Lord to the limit(12).

Ptah neb ankh
(Puh-tah neb onkh)

Ptah the Lord of life(13).

Ptah nisut neheh djet neb ankh
(Puh-tah nee-soot nay-ha jet neb onkh)

Ptah the king of eternity and everlastingness, the lord of life(14).

Ptah iri ankh
(Puh-tah ear-ee onkh)

Ptah the Maker of life(15).

Ptah netjer aah wer shaa kheper
(Puh-tah netjer aa wear shaa khe-pair)

Ptah the very great god who in the first beginning came into being(16).

Ptah at-atu uwser-uwseru
(Puh-tah aat-aatoo oo-sear-oo-searoo)

Ptah the Father of fathers and Power of powers(17).

Ptah nen tjenuw iru
(Puh-tah nen chenoo ear-oo)

Ptah of innumerable forms(18).

Honoring the Bau-Souls in the Mansion of Ptah
When Advancing to the Holy Place for Richard Reidy(19)

The Ancestral Spirits that link the contemporary temple/ shrine/ Sacred Space with the Netjeru of the most ancient sanctuaries are now honored prior to the central rite of this ceremony. Two offering jars (or bowls) are now presented to the sacred images; one containing milk and the other containing wine. These are placed to the right side of the altar beside the brazier/ burner of incense. A sistrum may be sounded at length prior to reciting the formal prayer, loudly and slowly:

Words to be spoken:
“O You Souls of Mennefer, Souls of Hwt-Ka-Ptah!(20) If You are strong then I am strong; if I am strong, then You are strong. If Your Kas are strong, then my Ka is strong at the head of the living; as they are living, so too shall I live! The Two Jars of Atum contain the preserving essence of my flesh. Give to me, O Sekhmet the Great Goddess, the Beloved of Ptah, life, stability, and increase round about my members, which Djehuty has assembled for life! I am the God Heru of the heavenly heights, the beautiful one of terror, the Lord of Victory, the Great One of awe, the exalted one of the double plumes, the Great One in Abedju! An offering the King gives, I am pure!

Hotep di nisut wab-kuwa (spoken four times)
(pronounced ho-tep dee nee-soot oo-waab-coo-waa)

A sistrum is now shaken.

Repeat in English:
“An offering the King gives, I am pure!” (spoken four times)

A sistrum is now shaken.

Hotep di nisut hery-ab Hwt-Ka-Ptah en ka en Richard Reidy wab-kuwa
(pronounced ho-tep dee nee-soot hairee-aab Haa-oot-Kaa-Puh-tah een kaa eek Richard Reidy oo-waab-coo-waa)

A sistrum is now shaken.

Repeat in English:
“An offering the King gives in the midst of the Soul-Mansion of Ptah, for the Ka of Richard Reidy, I am pure!”

A sistrum is now shaken.

Performing the Rite of ‘An Offering which the King Gives’ For the Ka of Richard Reidy

The htp di niswt or hotep di nisut, “an offering which the king gives” is one of the most significant and prevalent versions of offering prayer that exists from ancient Egypt. Technically speaking, the King of Kemet was the highest priest of each netjer/ netjeret (god or goddess), and was the one person who could directly intercede with the Gods on behalf of humankind. Thus all offerings were said to be the boon of the King, acting as the chief priest of every deity in the land.

Today we are given the opportunity to link our ceremonial actions and Sacred Spaces with the Ancestors through the use of these most powerful words. These are words that have been spoken and written by countless souls, each invoking the divine and kingly presence through which all sacred offerings flow. The recitation of this prayer gives us an immediate connection with all those who spoke it before us. It invokes the Blessed Dead (Akhu) and invites Them to participate in this exchange of the vital spiritual essence of our offerings. This is what brings our Blessed Dead back to us in the present moment.

The tray of offerings is brought out and set reverently to the left side of the altar. The celebrant faces the image of the Blessed Dead, extending her/ his right arm- hand stretched out with fingers together- towards the face of the image (this action is known as nis, “invoking” or “summoning”). A sistrum may be sounded, loudly and at length, before the offering formula is recited:

Hotep di nisut Ausir neb Abedju
Anpu tepy-dju-ef
Ptah-Sokar res-ineb-ef
pesedjet am Abedju di sen
khet nebet nefret wabet ankhet netjer im
en ka en imakhy Richard Reidy ma’a-kheru
(pronounced
Ho-tep dee nee-soot Aa-oo-seer neb Aa-bed-joo
On-poo tep-ee-joo-eff
Puh-tah-So-car res-ee-neb-eff
pe-see-jet aam Aa-bed-joo dee sen
khet nebet nefret waa-bet onkhet netcher eem
een kaa een im-aa-kee Richard Reidy ma-aa-kheeroo)

Repeat in English:
“An offering the King gives. An offering Ausir, Lord of Abedju, and Anpu on His Mountain, and Ptah-Sokar, He Who is South of His Wall, and the Nine Gods at Abedju give!(21) May They give all things good and pure on which a god lives, to the spirit of the revered Richard Reidy, the true-of-voice (justified)!”(22)

A sistrum is now shaken.

“An offering which the King gives to Ptah-Sokar and to Anpu Who is upon His Mountain, that They may grant to go forth on earth to see the sun in the heavens every day, for the Ka of the revered Richard Reidy, the true-of-voice (justified)!”(23)

A sistrum is now shaken.

The offering tray is now raised high before the image of the Blessed Dead, and then lowered and placed gently before him.

Now say:
“May you, O Richard Reidy, wake up pleasantly and remain eternally. Every illness that comes before you will be driven away. Your mouth is opened by Ptah! Your mouth is opened by Sokar, with this copper instrument of his.(24)  Your mouth is opened by Ptah. Your mouth is opened by Sokar, and Djehuty puts your heart in your body.”(25)

Using the extended index and middle fingers of your right hand, touch the mouth of the photograph of the Blessed Dead. The offering formula is now recited:

Djed medu en Ptah-Sokar radi imakh nefer en Richard Reidy
(pronounced jed medoo een Puh-tah-So-car raa-dee im-aak ne-fur een Richard Reidy)

Repeat in English:
“Ptah-Sokar says: I have conferred a beauteous veneration upon Richard Reidy!”(26)

A sistrum is now shaken.

Now say:
“Homage to you, O Richard Reidy, you of the beautiful face, the Lord of Vision, whom Anpu has put together and Ptah-Sokar has lifted up!”27

Once again the offering formula is recited:

Djed medu en Ptah-Sokar hery-ab Hwt-Ka-Ptah a Richard Reidy men en-ek ankh djed was neb seneb
(pronounced jed medoo een Puh-tah-So-car hairee-aab Ha-oot-kaa-Puh-tah aah Richard Reidy men en-eek onkh jed waaz neb sen-eb)

Repeat in English:
“The words spoken by Ptah-Sokar in the midst of the Soul-Mansion of Ptah: O Richard Reidy! Take unto yourself all life, stability and strength, all health and happiness!”(28)

A sistrum is now shaken.

“O Richard Reidy, may your ba follow the Great God Ausir, and may your memory remain in this temple, and may you be allowed to join Ptah in the Duat!”(29)

The Presentation of Offerings to the God Ptah
For Richard Reidy(30)

The offering tray is now raised and lowered four times, very slowly, before the sacred images of the Netjeru Ptah, Sekhmet, and Nefertum. This part of the ritual may be done as slowly as possible, and, if there are multiple celebrants, the sistrum may be sounded very reverently by one celebrant as the other performs the ritual action. After the fourth elevation of the offering tray, the tray is returned to the altar before the sacred images of the Divine Family. The following prayer is now recited:

“Homage to you Ptah upon the Great Throne, the ruler in White-Walls!(31) Come, O attendants, and elevate offerings before the face of the God! Elevate offerings to Ptah upon the Great Throne, the Lord foremost in the Soul-Mansion of Ptah!(32) All life emanates from Him! All health emanates from Him! All stability emanates from Him! All good fortune emanates from him, like Ra, forever!”

A sistrum is now shaken.

The recitation of the offering formula:

Ankh neb kher ef seneb neb kher ef djed neb kher ef was neb kher ef mi Ra djet en ka en imakhy Richard Reidy ma’a-kheru
(pronounced onkh neb care eff seneb neb care eff jed neb care eff ooh-aaz neb care eff mee jet een kaa een im-aa-kee Richard Reidy ma-aa-kheeroo)

Repeat in English:
“All life emanates from Him! All health emanates from Him! All stability emanates from Him! All good fortune emanates from him, like Ra, forever, for the spirit of the revered Richard Reidy, the true-of-voice (justified)!”(33)

“O Richard Reidy, the revered, the true of voice (justified)! You are welcomed by Ptah-Sokar with His artistic arms. You are embraced, and He Who is South of His Wall praises you, and those who are in the Duat make you blessed, their hands being filled with food!”(34)

A sistrum is now shaken.

For the bestowal of the final offering formula, the right arm is stretched out over the offering tray with the palm of the hand facing down. The ritual offerings are consecrated with the ancient invocation offering formula:

Peret er kheru (spoken four times)
(pronounced pair-eet air khee-roo)

Repeat in English:
“Sending forth the voice!” (spoken four times)

The final prayer is now spoken:
“An offering the King gives to Ptah-Sokar and to Ptah, Lord of what exists, remaining in everything, that They may give invocation offerings (peret er kheru) of all things good and pure, upon which a god lives, to the Ka of the revered Richard Reidy, the true-of-voice (justified)!”(35)

A sistrum is now shaken.

The Reversion of Offerings

At the conclusion of the Daily Ritual and all offering rites, it is customary for the ritual offerings to revert back to the priesthood, or in this case to all celebrants present. The offering tray is removed from the altar respectfully, and the consecrated offerings are distributed to those present. In recognition of the Blessed Dead, use this time as an opportunity to share not only the offerings just consecrated, but also memories from the life of the “revered” and “true-of-voice”. Speak his name out loud, and let his life be shared, out loud, so that our Sacred Space becomes a repository of the fruits of his Blessed Ka.

Notes

  1. It is imperative for me to acknowledge the immense debt I owe to the work of my dear friend, mentor and peer Richard J. Reidy, author of Eternal Egypt: Ancient Rituals for the Modern World (iUniverse, Inc., New York, Bloomington, 2010), whose labor of love through the Temple of Ra in San Francisco has been a much needed touchstone for my efforts to restore an authentic devotional practice for the God Ptah in my own Temple of Ptah Nevada. His passing in late November of 2015 came as a devastating shock to myself and others, for whom Richard and his work in Kemetic Reconstructionism have become such a guiding force.This ritual and liturgy for honoring the ka was designed via necessity for use at the time of Richard’s passing into the Duat, and what is seen here is largely informed by the guidance and mentoring he so richly showered on me. I have, as a general rule, used a form of pronounceable transliteration- and a suggested pronunciation beneath each phrase in the ancient Egyptian- instructed through my many and often animated conversations with Richard Reidy. I have done my level best to remain faithful to Richard’s style of transcribing ancient Egyptian texts, though I also owe another debt of gratitude to my Kemetic brother in the Temple of Ra San Francisco, Matt Whealton, KhonsuMes, who has been very generous to me in the providing of advice based upon his vast experience with the study of ancient Egyptian phonology.
  2. Here I have taken the recitation of “making the torch of every day” (which in the unabridged Daily Temple Ritual occurs after the offerings and reversion of offerings) and placed it together with the recitation for “striking the fire”, which I have adapted from the text of the Daily Ritual given to Amun-Ra in His temple at Ipet-isut . See “Certain Reliefs at Karnak and Medinet Habu and the Ritual of Amenophis I- Concluded,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 8 (1949): 320 (Fig 30), 321-323.
  3. Here I have given the name-epithet for Lord Ptah that corresponds to the name and appellation of Amun-Ra given in the original text (Amun-Ra neb nezet tawy, “Amun-Ra the Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands”).
  4. Adapted for Ptah from the Daily Ritual of Amun-Ra of Ipet-isut (modern Karnak). See MORET, ALEXANDRE. 1902. Le Rituel du Culte Divin Journalier. Paris: Annales du Musee guimet, Bibliotheque d’Etudes 14, Ernest Leroux, Editeur, pages 9-10. Also BUDGE, E.A. WALLIS. The Book of Opening the Mouth: The Egyptian Texts with English Translations. First published in London, 1909. Reissued in 1972 by Benjamin Blom, New York. Reissued in 1980 by Arno Press, New York, page 197.
  5. This phrase behaves as an announcement to the deity of the intentions behind the ritual action(s) to be performed in the God’s House. It also serves to define the symbiotic relationship that exists between the deity and the officiant(s) of the rite. Here I have adapted a censing formula originally presented to Amun-Ra in His temple at Ipet-resyt (modern Luxor).The epithet for Lord Ptah inserted here- neb Ma’at, “Lord of Truth”- is used for the Netjer in His chapel at Abedju (modern Abydos), in the scene depicting King Sety thurifying the ark-shrine of Ptah (north wall, western section). See THE EPIGRAPHIC SURVEY. 1998. Reliefs and Inscriptions at Luxor TempleVolume 2 (University of Chicago Oriental Institute Publications Volume 116, Chicago, Illinois: University of Chicago), 9, Plate 147. See also CALVERLEY, A.M. and BROOME, M.F. The Temple of King Sethos I at Abydos- Volume 2 (London and Chicago: Egypt Exploration Society), Plate 23.
  6. Adapted from Papyrus Harris I, 44, 2. See M, SANDMAN HOLMBERG. 1964. The God Ptah (Denmark: Lund), 201.
  7. Adapted for this ritual from the thurification text for the God Amun-Ra in His temple at Ipet-resyt (modern Luxor). See THE EPIGRAPHIC SURVEY, Ibid, 9, Plate 145.
  8. Adapted from an inscription found in the tomb of Pennut at Anibe in Nubia, time of Ramses VI. See HOLMBERG, Ibid, page 143, 35*.
  9. Adapted from an inscription from a tomb in Bibān-el-Mulūk from the time of Ramses III. Ibid, page 142, *35.
  10. Adapted from BUDGE, E.A. WALLIS. 1904. The Gods of the Egyptians: Studies in Egyptian Mythology. Vol I (London: Methuen & Company), 501. Wherever I have referred to Budge during my gathering of ancient textual sources for Ptah, I have not adopted Budge’s transliterations or translations. It is now universally acknowledged by scholars that Budge’s transliteration and/ or pronunciation of ancient Egyptian (together with his translation of Egyptian texts) is much outdated. Many significant advances have been made in the study of ancient Egyptian language since Budge’s time, thus I have opted in my (pronounceable) transliterations and translations to follow these current advances.
  11. Adapted for Ptah from a hymn to Amun. HORNUNG, E. 1982. Conceptions of God in Ancient Egypt (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press), 149.
  12. I have here attributed to Ptah the epithet given to the Creator God, and to other gods as a description of the extent to which their authority and/ or powers extend. See HORNUNG, Ibid, 169.
  13. BUDGE, Ibid, 500.
  14. BUDGE, Ibid, 510.
  15. BUDGE, Ibid, 511.
  16. Adapted and transcribed from BUDGE, Ibid, 501.
  17. Ibid.
  18. Adapted from BUDGE, Ibid, 510. Budge does not give a transliteration for this epithet of Ptah, citing only the hieroglyphic text together with his translation of them. Here I have given my own (pronounceable) transliteration and translation.
  19. Adapted from the text of the Daily Ritual of Amun-Ra of Ipet-Sut (modern Karnak). See MORET, Ibid, pages 20-21.
  20. The original text presented to the God Amun-Ra calls on the Bau-Souls of Annu (or Heliopolis), but I have adapted this text for use in the House of Ptah, linking our contemporary sanctuary of Ptah with the Bau-Souls of ancient Mennefer (present day Memphis), also adding the ancient venerated sanctuary of Ptah, the Soul-Mansion of Ptah, Hwt-Ka-Ptah.
  21. Adapted from a sacrificial formula found on a Middle Kingdom stela from Abydos. HOLMBERG, Ibid, 130, 33*.
  22. This section of the htp di niswt formula presents the standard phrases that can be most commonly found in examples of this important offering text. Concerning their use in texts relating to the God Ptah in one or more of His aspects, I have relied entirely upon the examples cited in Maj Sandman Holberg’s volume on Ptah, though I have adapted them to suit the aims of the ritual format used here. See HOLMBERG, Ibid. See also DAVIES, NINA DE GARIS and GARDINER, ALAN H. The Tomb of Amenemhet (London: The Theban Tomb Series, 1915), pages 42-43. Also SMITHER, PAUL C. “The Writing of Ḥtp-d’i-nsw in the Middle and New Kingdoms”. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 25.1 (1939): 34–37. For a comparison between elements, reference GARDINER, ALAN H. Egyptian Grammar: Being An Introduction To the Study of Hieroglyphs, Third Edition, Revised. (Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxoford, 1999), pages 170-173, and ALLEN, JAMES P. Middle Egyptian: An Introduction to the Language and Culture of Hieroglyphs. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1010), pages 365-367.
  23. Adapted from a htp di niswt formula from the eighteenth dynasty tomb of Amenemhet in the Theban Necropolis. See DAVIES and GARDINER, Ibid, page 42.
  24. Adapted from the medical Papyrus Berlin 3038. See HOLMBERG, Ibid, pages 96-97, 24*.
  25. From a funerary inscription in the Cairo Museum. See HOLMBERG, Ibid, page 96, 24*.
  26. Adapted from an inscription on a Middle Kingdom coffin from Deir el-Bahri. HOLMBERG, Ibid, page 129, 33*.
  27. Text from a twelfth dynasty funerary mask from Meir. See HOLMBERG, Ibid, page 27, 7*.
  28. Adapted from a text in the Hall of Sokar in the Temple of Sety I at Abedju (modern Abydos). HOLMBERG, Ibid, pages 131-132, 33*.
  29. Adapted from a text on an eighteenth dynasty stela in Vienna. HOLMBERG, Ibid, pages 100-101, 26*.
  30. Adapted from the “spell for elevating offerings” in the inscription of King Sety I at Ipet-isut. See NELSON, HAROLD H. “Certain Reliefs at Karnak and Medinet Habu and the Ritual of Amenophis I,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 8 (1949): 201-232 and 310-345. See Fig. 34, pg. 329.
  31. Here I have added the common praise form anedj her-ek, “praise to you”, or “homage to you”, whereas in the original inscription we begin immediately with the title of the recitation, or “spell” as given by Nelson. Also, the original is consecrated to Amun-Ra (of His temple at Ipet-isut or modern Karnak), and is preceded by his name and the epithet heqa Waset, “ruler in Waset (Greek Thebes)”; thus I have given the appropriate name-epithet for Ptah as a substitution, citing him as ruler in his sanctuary in White-Walls or Mennefer. See NELSON, Ibid.
  32. Again I have adapted an inscription of Amun-Ra for Ptah. Sety’s inscription at Ipet-isut gives Amun-Ra neb nezwt tawy,“Amun-Ra Lord of the thrones of the Two Lands”. See NELSON, Ibid.
  33. Adapted from the “spell for elevating offerings” in the inscription of King Sety I at Ipet-isut. See NELSON, Ibid.
  34. Adapted from an inscription in the eighteenth dynasty tomb of Ahmes at Thebes. See HOLMBERG, Ibid, page 99, 25*.
  35. Adapted from a htp di niswt formula from the eighteenth dynasty tomb of Amenemhet in the Theban Necropolis. See DAVIES and GARDINER, Ibid, page 42.

Striking the Sacred Torch For Ptah: Rites & Rituals of Hwt-Ka-Ptah

Offering Light to Ptah

Fire is the quintessential offering to the Netjer (Deity), and in the Daily Ritual forms one of the most significant episodes of the cult service. In ancient times the kar-shrine (or naos ) containing the living cult image was sealed and maintained in darkness, until that moment when the God’s servants broke the seal and initiated the complex series of ritual actions known as the Daily Ritual. An oil lamp or taper had been lit at the entrance to the God’s sanctuary, and it was this action that magically dispelled any vestige of chaos, signaling the creation of the world from the Netjer’s hand.

Today we may seem to be separated from the very ancient rites of the Daily Ritual and their ultimate meaning. We cannot seem to be able to wake gently, ease into our day with devotion as did the ancient priests, nor can we seem to find even a few moments of mental stillness in the jolt to move our bodies to work, school or pressing responsibilities. Mornings are usually spoken for, not a proper time, it would seem, for elaborate prayers and rituals.

However, my own experience is that when we can set aside a little time even once a day, be it morning or not, and we clear a space to celebrate a brief but powerful rite, we will find our life being energized, bit by bit, through the activity of invoking the Sacred.

One of the ways I achieve this is through the striking of the sacred fire, or striking of the torch for Lord Ptah. He is my primary Netjer, my namesake and my first Father, and it is to His shrine that I go when first I wake, or whenever I am in need of a mental or spiritual awakening. Following in the footsteps of the Ancients, I light an oil lamp before our awakened cult statue of Lord Ptah, and I offer to Him a prayer that invokes the beginning of light for all created things.

If you cannot set aside time in the morning, then make time where you can, and clear a space that will be used exclusively for devotion. This really is essential, to give over one space to the Netjer, where prayer, thoughtfulness, and the activities of cultic service may be performed. A small table fitted with clean white altar cloth will serve well enough. If one does not have an icon or cult statue of Ptah, then find a photograph of a statue or painting of Ptah, and use this by propping it up in the center of your altar space. When all else fails, use a mental picture, and you may even use a mental flame, if a live one is impossible to produce because of external limitations.

Keep in mind that it is always one’s attitude, mindfulness, and concentration of purpose that is vital. We cannot always control our immediate environment; we can, however, control our mind and our intentions. When you enter that space of sacred service, physically and mentally, be prepared to offer the very best you are capable of. The Gods always understand our very human limitations. What They do not excuse is laziness, carelessness or irreverence. Any ritual act, be it ever so grand or humble, requires a mind prepared to serve with respect and integrity. One’s heart cannot be brought unyielding into the presence of the Divine. Our heart must be ready to give.

The Rite

Previous to engaging in any ritual act, the celebrant needs to be as physically and mentally pure as possible. Try to offer this and any other rite after taking a shower, and taking at least a few moments to stop and adjust one’s mind and intentions. This is a rite of rejuvenation and creation. It awakens the presence of the Netjer within our material world, and this certainly includes the human condition. This is an act where a meeting between the Sacred and human occurs, where mortal life is invigorated by the direct presence of the Immortal.

Enter your shrine or altar area in an attitude of respect, with a mental focus on honoring the Netjer. Although the ritual text has been composed for the God Ptah, it may certainly be adapted for any other Netjer (God) or Netjeret (Goddess). Ritual prostration- going down on one’s knees and then bending forward until one’s forehead touches the floor- is the traditional way to show reverence to the Gods, however, it is also acceptable to bow one’s head, raising both arms in front of the body with palms of the hands facing outward (towards the deity). This is known as duwa, the gesture of adoration.

Have a candle taper, tea light or oil lamp ready. Since I serve in a traditional or Reconstructionist Temple, we prefer to use a replica of an ancient Mediterranean ceramic oil lamp, which has a natural fiber wick and uses olive oil. This is much closer to what the Ancients had; but, times being what they are, I say make use of the tools you have, and use them to the best of your abilities.

Hold the taper, tea light (in a glass or ceramic holder) or oil lamp in your right hand, and your fire source in the other. Take a moment to focus your eyes, heart and mind on your image of the Lord Ptah (or any other Netjer you choose). The candle/ oil lamp is now lighted. Immediately after doing this, recite the following prayer:

Striking the Torch Before the God Ptah(1)

“Come You, come You in peace, O glorious Eye of Heru! Be strong and rejuvenated in peace! It shines like Ra in the double horizon, and the power of Your enemy hides itself straightaway before the Eye of Heru, which seizes it and brings it, and sets it before the seat of Heru. The voice of Heru is Truth by reason of His Eye! The Eye of Heru destroys the enemies of Ptah, the Lord upon the Great Throne(2), in all their places. I am pure!”

The candle/ oil lamp is now presented to the divine image by very slowly moving it back and forth, in a right to left motion, in the presence of the deity. The sacred fire is now set before the Netjer so that its light illuminates the deity image. The following prayer is now offered:

“O Ptah, Tatenen, O Ptah-Ra, You shining one, Who does keep the Gods alive! You radiant one, Who does rise on His sun-mountain, Who lights up the Two Countries with His luster! O Lord of light, shining in brilliancy, when He arises before every eye. Living, when He opens the darkness, glowing sun disk, which moves over the sky and passes through the Netherworld(3).

Your entourage, they praise You. The Company of Nine Gods, of Your first primeval time, it rejoices at Your rising, and it rejoices at Your setting in the West. They say to You, ‘Praise, praise!’

You open up the ways of the sky and the earth. You pass by in Your own boat, when You rise elevated over the Gods, after You have driven away the clouds, to provide for the Netherworld, to visit the souls of the West when You descend in the Western mountains.

You have joined with the people in the Kingdom of death and roused those who are in front of their caverns(4)”.

Making the torch of every day for this God Ptah the Lord of Truth(5)

Your arms should again be raised in the duwa-adoration gesture as you recite the offering formula for bestowal of the sacred fire, which is followed by a formal prayer:

Irit teka en hruw neb en netjer pen Ptah neb Ma’at
(pronounced: Ear-eet tee-ka een hee-roo neb een netcher pen Puh-tah neb Ma-aat)

“Making the torch of every day for this God Ptah the Lord of Truth!”

“O Ptah of light, the torch comes to Your ka, O Ptah the Lord of Truth!(6) There comes that which predicts night after day. The Eye of Ra appears gloriously in White-Walls(7). I come to You, and I cause that it come, the Eye of Heru, arisen upon Your forehead, established upon Your brow! To Your ka, O Ptah, the Eye of Heru is Your protection! Hail to You, Ptah the risen land! You are awake and in peace, You awaken peacefully. The Wedjat Eye awakens in peace. The great Wedjat Eye, Who has created offerings, awakens peacefully!”(8)

If possible, it is preferable to leave the sacred fire burning for as long as possible, and until it burns out completely, if it is a small taper or tea light. If you must extinguish the flame after the conclusion of the rite, do so after a few moments of respectful silence and contemplation on the presence of the Netjer, offering the God your gratitude for His (or Her) presence.

All text copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa


Notes

  1.  Adapted for Ptah from the Daily Ritual of Amun-Ra of Ipet-isut (modern Karnak). See MORET, ALEXANDRE. 1902. Le Rituel du Culte Divin Journalier. Paris: Annales du Musee guimet, Bibliotheque d’Etudes 14, Ernest Leroux, Editeur, pages 9-10. Also BUDGE, E.A. WALLIS. The Book of Opening the Mouth: The Egyptian Texts with English Translations. First published in London, 1909. Reissued in 1972 by Benjamin Blom, New York. Reissued in 1980 by Arno Press, New York, page 197.  Wherever I have referred to Budge during my gathering of ancient textual sources for Ptah, I have not adopted Budge’s transliterations or translations. It is now universally acknowledged by scholars that Budge’s transliteration and/ or pronunciation of ancient Egyptian (together with his translation of Egyptian texts) is much outdated. Many significant advances have been made in the study of ancient Egyptian language since Budge’s time, thus I have opted in my (pronounceable) transliterations and translations to follow these current advances.
  2. Here I have given the name-epithet for Lord Ptah that corresponds to the name and appellation of Amun-Ra given in the original text (Amun-Ra neb nezet tawy, “Amun-Ra the Lord of the Throne of the Two Lands”).
  3. Adapted from Papyrus Berlin 3048. See M, SANDMAN HOLMBERG. 1964. The God Ptah (Denmark: Lund), page 151.
  4. Adapted from Papyrus Berlin 3048. Ibid, page 152.
  5. Here I have taken the recitation of “making the torch of every day” (which in the unabridged Daily Temple Ritual occurs after the offerings and reversion of offerings) and placed it together with the recitation for “striking the fire”, which I have adapted from the text of the Daily Ritual given to Amun-Ra in His temple at Ipet-isut . See “Certain Reliefs at Karnak and Medinet Habu and the Ritual of Amenophis I- Concluded,” Journal of Near Eastern Studies 8 (1949): 320 (Fig 30), 321-323.
  6. Adapted for Ptah by placing His name and common epithet here in the place of Amun-Ra.
  7. The “White-Walls”, Mennufer, the primary cult center of Ptah. This has been adapted for Ptah by replacing the Ipet-isut of Amun-Ra.
  8. Adapted from Papyrus Berlin 3048. See HOLMBERG, Ibid, page 118, 30*. As the purpose of these rites is to awaken and renew the power of the Netjer in sacred space, the awakening or restoration of the god is linked to the awakening and restoration of the Wedjat Eye, the whole and indestructible power of the Netjer.

Honoring Anpu

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Adoration of Anpu Lord of the Sacred Land
when He comes from the Beautiful West
by the artisan Ptahmassu, beloved of Ptah.
He says:

Homage to You, Anpu, Forerunner of the
House of Ausir, Foremost of the Westerners
whose coming forth predicts the day
following after the night.

O Dread Lord, terror of millions,
fear of You possesses the hearts
of those enemies of Ausir Wennefer,
and their blood has watered the earth
on the day of the Haker-Festival.
It brings joy to your heart to see
the rebellious punished,
your seat upon the mount
being raised upon their bones.

O Anpu tepi-dju-ef, He Who is Upon
His Mountain, the Nine Bows submit
to your hand, Ma’at acclaims You,
the Two Banks are reconciled before
your feet, and the Sacred Land
makes a welcome of the Blessed
in your holy presence.

Homage to You, Anpu khenty sekh-netjer,
O Anpu Foremost of the Divine Booth!
The Place of Purification draws the
Blessed to your waters, where the Wedjat Eye
is filled, where the Bleary Eye regains its
sight, where Wennefer is healed and His seat
elevated within the Duat.

O Head of the West, wherein are renewed
the forms of Ausir, whose limbs are
unfettered by You, who becomes the
Seat of the Eye through your power,
where Ra is reborn by way of your
purifications in the East.

Come Anpu, Lord of the Hidden Land,
take up your skin in your name of
Imy-uwt, He Who is in the Wrappings;
wherefore the Weary One is filled
with seed, wherefore He, Wennefer,
is transformed into the Sovereign of
the West.

Likewise, all those weary ones are
filled with life,
through You they come forth by day
as dwellers in the light.
The well-equipped Spirits salute You,
the Effective Ones hail your potency,
while those enemies of the Netjeru (Gods)
are united with the slaughter block
by your silvery claws.

Homage to You, O Anpu of the Hidden Chamber.
Your place of coming forth is the Door of the
West, shinning, blinding, making a body of
light from the shade, opening the way for
those who follow after You.

Hear these, my words, O Lord of the Sacred Land,
and may I be one of those counted amongst
your entourage, going in, coming out,
and glittering as the indestructible Spirit
of the day.

– Hymn to Anpu Lord of the Sacred Land
to celebrate the initiation of a cult image in His name
by Master Iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

O Anpu, Lord of the Sacred West,
open the Doors of Heaven,
and open your mouth in the
presence of the West!

Homage to You, Lord of Natron,
whose scent is the scent of the
First Occasion, whose breath
brings life to the one who inhales it.

Make the giving of life, O Lord
for the one who sleeps,
make a path in the Sacred West
for the one who has journeyed forth.

Open your mouth, O Anpu,
and may my mouth be opened
by that tool of heavenly iron
by which Ptah opened up the
mouths of all the Gods.
May You in your leopard skin
place your powers upon my shoulders,
your breath in my nostrils,
your terror in my hands.

You breathe, O Anpu, and I breathe!
You take your seat in the Wedjat Eye, O Anpu,
and I too am seated in the Wedjat Eye
at the hour of its filling!
You sit upright, O Anpu, and I am erect,
never impotent, never weary like the
Imperishables.

Homage to You, O Anpu the Lord of Natron!
Your purity is the purity of the Nine Gods,
whose sweat composes me, whose brows flare
with power over my flesh and my members!
I stand in the Sea of Reeds, rejuvenated
from the efflux of your body,
and what dwells in the Gods dwells
within me.

All praise to You, Anpu, Lord of the Sacred Land,
Dweller Upon His Mount and Foremost of the
Westerners!

-Prayer honoring Anpu Lord of Natron
by Master Iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

All text and image copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Honoring Hwt-Her: Prayers & Invocations to Hathor

Hwt-Her_Mistress_of_the_Sky_1024x1024
“Hwt-Her-Mistress of the Sky”/ An original Kemetic icon by Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa. Extra fine watercolor, gold, semi-precious stones on 8″x10” archival panel. Genuine mineral pigments used as watercolor: Lapis lazuli (sourced from Chile), Amethyst (Soladad, Brazil), Bloodstone (Alaska, USA), Jadeite (Alaska, USA), Piemontite (Alaska, USA), Rhodonite (Bellahorizonte, Brazil), hydrated iron oxide (red and yellow ochre). 22 karat gold, turquoise (Tibet), Shattuckite with malachite (from the Shattuck Mine in Bisbee, Arizona). Austrian crystal elements by Swarovski®.

Homage to You, Hwt-Her, Lady of Life,
Enveloped in turquoise with the lotus
as your diadem!

O Golden Lady, how can men approach you?
How can the Gods behold your glory,
shining as electrum in the Eastern heaven.
To look upon You is to be blinded
by the fire of your body, casting the
shadow of the Sun as that Great Cobra Goddess.

The Sun’s light does not reveal your completeness,
Though your embodiment is the circuit of the
Wedjat Eye in its time;
it is unknowable, and the Gods cannot fathom
your strides across the Imperishable Stars.

O Goddess, the Mistress of the Sky,
how fair is your countenance,
how dazzling your lips,
your eyes of green malachite,
your eyebrows like the iridescent plumage
of the Sacred Falcon.

How He comes to you, erect upon His perch,
His lofty standard shining with your love.
He embraces you, the One of the Two Horizons,
His two wings not spanning the length of your
divine body.

Smitten, the Lord of Valor becomes yours,
as you, the long-legged Goddess, cause the
faces of the Gods to be turned away,
Ensnared by your beauty.

Homage to You, O Lady of Love
who bestows rapture by the very sight of Her,
whose body challenges the Sun for His light,
whose Father is born through Her,
whose brother becomes the Lord of the Earth
by way of Her thighs!

You, O Hwt-Her, are the sovereign Mistress
before whom the Gods submit their powers.
Mysterious One, who in secret gives birth
to the Sun in His moment of becoming.

Let me, too, come near to You in the hour
of your rising, when in shards of turquoise
your face becomes the illumination of the
Sun-God.

May my two eyes behold You,
may my ears hear the shaking of your papyrus reeds,
may my nose inhale the intoxication of your lotus-fragrance,
and may I be one of those in your entourage
who lives forever on account of You.

– From the Hymns of Hwt-Her Mistress of the Sky
By Master Iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

These are the words of the artisan Ptahmassu,
Beloved of Ptah, the master color artist,
Great Director of Craftsmen in the House of Ptah
Who has spent his life making images of the Gods,
Who propitiates the Gods through the works of
His hands, dynamic in the Soul-Mansion of Ptah,
Whom Ptah the Lord of Ma’at loves:

Rise, O Goddess, bedecked in the trappings of Ra,
Shining of face like the Disk at sunrise,
Acclaimed by the Vault as its mistress,
Heiress of the sky whose embodiment glitters
With fine gold!

Rise, O Hwt-Her, Hand of the Netjer!
Your body, young and perfectly appointed,
Causes Atum to rise in His season,
His passion becoming the verdant land,
His seed bearing the fruit of the Sacred Land.

Rise, O Hwt-Her, the Golden One,
Upon whose brow radiates the Eye of the Disk,
Whose radiation flares as the Cobra Goddess,
Her terror filling the hearts of gods and humankind.

O Beautiful One, the perfect countenance of
Her father in his sky, Ra has lifted you up,
Your body forming the domain of heaven,
Your navel becoming the great Mooring Post.
The Ark of the Day shines by your light!
The Ark of the Night follows your glistening
Thighs into the realm of the Blessed.

Rise, O Hwt-Her, Mansion of the Lofty,
The House of the Falcon, the Residence of the
Elevated One!

Your embodiment is the seat of the Eye,
Whose wholeness becomes you,
Whose powers shine through you,
Whose life is renewed at your coming home
From the south.

Djehuty the Lord of Eight-Town comes out
To hail you, acclaiming your powers, and
Leading you to your throne at the Filling of
The Wedjat Eye.

Rise, O Hwt-Her, Mistress of Turquoise,
Mistress of real Lapis-lazuli, upon whose
Limbs glitters indestructible gold,
That skin of the gods which brings joy
To the hearts of humankind, through whose
Magic the netjeru possess the entire circuit
Of the sun.

Rise, O Goddess, O Hwt-Her, O Mistress of Love,
Lady of Intoxication swimming through the
Thighs of men!

They see you, their hearts beat fast and their
Loins shudder in rapture.

They hear the music of your feet, the shaking
Of your breasts, the swaying of your hips.
All men make a dance for you, you who grant
The joys of lovemaking, the beauty of the flesh.

Rise, O Hwt-Her, the Daughter of Ptah, His beloved,
The ornament of Ra Whose brow dazzles as the
Eye of the Sun!

Come, O Goddess, in peace and in beauty!
Awaken in peace, O Hwt-Her, awaken in beauty.
Awaken in peace, O Golden One, awaken in beauty.
Awaken in peace, O Lady of Life, awaken in beauty.
Awaken in peace, O Lady of the Green, awaken in beauty.
Awaken in peace, O Eye of Ra, awaken in beauty.
Awaken in peace, O Mistress of the Sky, awaken in beauty.
Awaken in peace, O Mistress of the West, awaken in beauty.

O Goddess, your holy image is established on earth and
Outshines the circuit of the sun, the zenith of your powers
Becoming this image in the eyes of humankind.

Let all honor be yours in it, and the fruits that come forth
Be all things good and pure!

These are the words of Ptahmassu, having consecrated
This body, this ba of the Great Goddess Hwt-Her,
Calling it after Her “Hwt-Her Mistress of the Sky“.

-Consecration prayer for the icon Hwt-Her Mistress of the Sky
By Master Iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa 

O Goddess, Hwt-Her,
What light heaven has
Belongs to You.
O Divine Hand,
Mansion of the Falcon!

In the east, where You dazzle,
Giving birth to the beetle
Of scintillating armor;
In the west, where the tips
Of your golden horns
Welcome the spirits of
The Blessed Dead.

Homage to You, Hwt-Her!
Mistress of Turquoise,
From whose glittering limbs
Ra in the vault draws pleasure,
Between whose loins
The face of the sun emerges.

Dawn, beckoning, shining with joy,
Your face captivates the eyes of the Gods,
Whose heads are turned in your
Eastern direction.

Lapis lazuli, your hair,
A token of the Sun-God’s glory.
The curves of your muscles and sinews
Shifting beneath a gown woven of
Transparent illumination.

Your mandrake lips, your honey breath,
Leaving all gods breathless,
And bestowing the breath of life
To humankind.

O Goddess, Hwt-Her,
Enwrapped by the falcon wings
Of your beloved,
Whose name your womb enshrines;
Heru, His ardor finds fulfillment
Within your house of rosy flesh.

Homage to You, Hwt-Her!
Mistress of Heaven who renews
The foreign lands,
Whose deft fingers draw out
From the earth all that is precious.
Decorated with the turquoise light
Of the sun, its rays find You,
Its magnificence crowns You
Like a royal diadem,
Shooting forth the awesome terror
Of the Cobra Goddess.

O Hwt-Her, your music resounds
Throughout the expanse of the vault,
Awakening the sleepers,
Giving eternal life to the well-provisioned
Spirits, who find their home in your
Indestructible beauty.

May your light touch my face.
May it awaken the Gods.
May your grace adorn the earth,
Renewed by the power of your love.
May I find a home in your womb,
So that I, like the Ancestors,
May be birthed as the eternally shining
Sun, like Ra, to live forever in the
Ark of Millions.

O Hwt-Her, O Goddess,
Mistress of Turquoise!
Your feet stride softly,
Providing a mirror of golden light
To those twilight dwellers,
To those who abide in the outer darkness.
Ra Himself comes into being
Through your womanhood,
As do all living beings,
Who draw strength from your body
Like the earth from the sky.

– From the Hymns of Hwt-Her Mistress of the Sky
By Master Iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

What desolate voices have called me out
Beneath turquoise skies and wasted valleys?
To make love beneath Your embrace,
To empty my loins within Your intoxicating
Influence;
Hwt-Her, am I under Your Western sky?

Stars kiss the lapis vault without obstruction,
How far my eyes may behold Your grace.
O bovine gilt and wet with the Milky Way’s
Lust, never spent, ever ambitious in Your
Holy light.

O moon, fresh, painted only in naked white
Veil, I stroke Your tender thighs, I sweeten
My tongue with Your beauty!
Hwt-Her, am I under Your Western sky?

When I kiss, make love, taste the nectar of
My true love’s bud, I wonder at the
Passionate sweep of starlight, the horns of
The Celestial Cow prodding the noble Moon.

The desert, so ambitious, possesses my eyes
Relentlessly, and yet is Your favored cavern,
Where deep inside the miracle of life is
Renewed.
Hwt-Her, am I under Your Western sky?

O Golden One, the Hand of the God,
Hwt-Her, within Whose house the ardor
Of the Falcon arises!

Mountains in the West open their portals
Upon hearing the sweetness of Your voice,
The Sun coming home again, alighting
On the noble perch, swathed in the
Turquoise beams of Your sacred body.

O Hand, blushing cheek, honey lips,
Tresses of blue-black like real lapis lazuli;
Yours is the countenance that ensnares
The hearts of gods, Whom Ptah the
Beautiful of Face cherishes.

O Star, sweet bovine, the Ark of the Sky-Lord,
There is no remedy for a man who holds
Fast to Your scent, when breezes like the
Northern gust take heart and eyes with
Sudden delight.

Hwt-Her, the very body of the God, Whose
Dazzling plumage shines in Your Sun,
Whose eyes are ruled by Your eye,
Whose nobility is the power of Your loins,
Whose beauty is the mirror of Your love.

O Holy Lady, Mistress of the Western Mountain,
I call You to come in Your glory, bestowing the
Boon of love, the favors of Your Lord, Whose
House on high is the House of Your golden
Loins.

Hwt-Her, the sweet essence, the fire, the Eye of Ra,
Appear not in Your terror but in Your beauty, come,
Enchant the heart with goodness, and make of my
Flesh a vessel for the miracle of Your love!

– From the Hymns of Hwt-Her Mistress of the Sky
By Master Iconographer Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

All text and image copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Listen To Your Gods

Altar Offering

How do we know what our Gods want from us? How do we know what They expect from us? How can we please Them, honor Them? People who are new to Kemeticism often confide in me how much they want to engage the Netjeru, but are afraid of offending the Gods, or making mistakes in the process of trying to connect with Them. What advice do I have for those who have these very legitimate concerns?

Within the Heathen Community (contemporary followers of the Norse Gods), there is a term that I think can apply equally well to the beliefs and activities of Kemeticists, Kemetic Reconstructionists, and to other Recon communities: UPG, otherwise known as unverified personal gnosis. This term is used to describe those personal spiritual experiences that fall outside the realm of authenticated source texts, lore/ mythos or the historical record. These are very personal experiences that many devotees believe are communicated by their gods, but cannot otherwise be traced within the generally accepted literature or historic track record of the tradition.

Throughout the many years I have been in contact with others who profess a belief in Kemeticism, I have encountered a fairly common phenomenon, which I think can best be described as UPG. Individuals subscribing to Kemeticism tend to develop very close relationships with their Netjeru (Gods), so much so that the Gods take on active roles in the lives of Their devotees, becoming almost part of their family. The Gods tend to hold conversations with us in our heart, send us signs in the outer world, and connect with us in ways that truly feel like our relationships with our biological family, closest friends or peers. That is because the Gods want to be part of our life directly.

Unlike the mainstream monotheistic religions, where the deity tends to be viewed as separate from his creation, and removed from the intimate lives of humankind, the Netjeru of Kemet have shown in the track record of history that They are very engaged with the material world, and are active in the daily lives of human beings. In contemporary times, devotees of the Netjeru often find it difficult to access the academic, scholastic resources on the Gods, sacred texts, and religious practices of Kemet, and feel obliged to connect with the Netjeru on their own terms. This can often lead to some very colorful contemporary practices that are not necessarily linked with those of ancient times.

I have corresponded with a devotee of Bastet who swore that the Goddess adored the fruit flavored gummy fish she had been placing on the altar. Okay. Who am I to question personal displays of affection between a Netjer and their admirer? If an offering is truly given out of love and respect for the deity, then I have to accept that this is a good action, even if I question the rightness of offering a candy treat of little nutritional value to a great goddess.

My point is that UPG, unverified personal gnosis, seems to be a strong force amongst those who are trying to reconnect with very ancient faiths that have been broken down by the machine of monotheism. There are gaps in the historical record, or access to that record is more or less limited to those with strong academic tendencies and/ or resources, those for whom Reconstruction is the surest way to reclaim our ancient faiths. But how can the average devotee make such a connection?

What is happening is that individuals are reconnecting with the Netjeru via intuition and instinct, following their own inner guidance as they determine who the Gods are and how They should be approached. UPG comes in the form of little epiphanies or flashes of inspiration, where one just knows that Sekhmet wants that shiny red and gold altar cloth. When one lays the cloth down for the Goddess, one just feels very right about it, and things feel like they’ve fallen perfectly into place.

Of course, the Recon way to approach this situation would be to dig into the appropriate cultic text to check for references to red and red fabrics in the mythos and worship of the Goddess. Does red cloth play a role, however small, in the rituals or festival celebrations of Sekhmet? What about Her titles or epithets? Can we find a link with red cloth there? How has the color red played a role in the mythos of the Goddess as preserved in the historical record? I think the reader has the idea.

The Reconstructionist approach strives to fill in as much as possible from the actual records the Ancients left us, which span an enormous length of time and provide us a road map to recovering our ancient traditions. However, for many people, the Reconstructionist approach can be difficult, if not a little challenging to one’s patience.

One might be forgiven for cursing on the other side of one’s face, when simply wanting to touch base with one’s deities, but feeling instead like it’s a process of jumping through academic hoops in order to do the simplest thing. This kind of experience can remove the joy and spontaneity from one’s connection to the Gods, if one is constantly worried about “getting it right” according to the available record.

UPG, therefore, offers the average aspirant the luxury of allowing instinct- rather than historical necessity- to guide, making the spiritual experience feel readily accessible, instead of the exclusive domain of those in the academic know. These are the feelings I’ve had expressed to me consistently by those who inquire about Kemeticism and Kemetic Reconstructionism, and wish to understand how I approach it.

I think UPG is fine, and it works for many people. It tends to give practitioners a hands-on feeling to the Netjeru, and comes without constraints. One simply “feels” one’s way through it. Far be it from me to disparage a person’s heartfelt experiences with their Gods. If Bastet really wants gummy fish from you, then I suppose that’s between you and the Goddess. I’d probably advise they be of the highest quality possible, and at least served on the most traditional offering vessel you can find. But then that’s just me, as I tend (as a hem-netjer or priest) to be a traditional kind of guy.

My advice to practitioners is to make a sincere effort to get to know your Netjeru before you decide for sure that yes, Bastet loves gummy fish and always has. I feel that getting to know the Gods is kind of similar to how we get to know our human friends. It takes work, effort, sincerity, and a willingness to learn something new.

The Netjeru of Kemet are very ancient deities, Who have operated within a specific cultural framework for thousands of years. These Gods are used to the types of offerings They’ve received in Their cults for the duration of millennia, and, in my experience, They still expect to receive. With only a little effort, one can indeed find all the basic information one needs in order to honor the Netjeru respectfully and traditionally. It is just as easy to pick up a bottle of wine or a bunch of figs as it is to head over to the candy isle for that very dignified bag of gummy fish!

One might be very surprised by the reaction of the Gods when you have put effort into finding the things They’ve loved for thousands of years, and offer them in a respectful manner that extends true reverence. These very reverential experiences are the ones that build the most powerful relationships between us and our Gods. Try it, and you will see how satisfying the results can be. You may even find yourself becoming enchanted by the traditional way of communing with these most ancient Gods.

First and foremost, whichever road you choose, UPG or solid Reconstructionism (and perhaps, if you’re like me, some of both blended happily together), learn to open yourself up fully and respectfully to the Gods you worship. Learn to speak your heart to Them, to meditate on Them, and to ask Them for Their direct guidance. Yes the Netjeru can and do speak directly to Their devotees. It may take quite a while before you really feel that level of communication growing, but through honest effort it will happen.

Lastly, learn to listen, to take the time to follow that inner guidance that you will eventually be able to discern as coming from your Gods. There is no magical formula that can produce these results, but you can rest assured that the Netjeru of Kemet, Who have guided and engaged humanity for countless thousands of years, will guide you as you make the honest effort to know Them.

All text and image copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

A Goddess Great of Heart

HeartSekhmet

Sekhmet the Eye of Ra, the Great Goddess, Mistress of Heaven, Great of Slaughter, She Who Heals. The Goddess Sekhmet manifests in ways that seem to contradict or work against one another. This is a Goddess Who nearly ended the human race, Who relished the blood and carnage of Her victims, Who seeks vengeance when the Gods are dishonored. Her Seven Arrows are the plagues, storms, waves of searing heat, and terror of death. We cannot come before Her with anything other than awe, reverence, and respectful fear. How do we embrace Her, love Her? More importantly, why would we?

There are difficult Netjeru, like Sutekh ( Setesh, Set), Who at first appear to go very much against the grain of our human sensibilities. We want our Gods to be beautiful, tender, generous, strong, but not out of control. But that is precisely what the Netjeru ultimately are. They are Gods, and we are humans. They are the Eternal, and we are subject to the whims of immediate mortality. Gods like Sekhmet and Sutekh terrify us because we know, deep down in our gut, that They bring us the very face of REALITY, without candy coating or sweetness. They bring us our medicine, and They make us swallow it, without a spoonful of sugar!

Sekhmet is the merit or “beloved”, “spouse” of the Creator Ptah, and this seems at first a very strange match. Lord Ptah, for all intents and purposes, is a benevolent creator-god Who hears our prayers and watches over craftspeople and the arts. He’s kindly, “benevolent of countenance” (wen-nefer her); so, why Sekhmet? Beyond the academic approach of how cults and deities intermingle, we can see, if we actually engage Sekhmet, that Lord Ptah chose Her, quite wisely, because Sekhmet is the most dynamic Goddess Whose very embodiment is the sekhem or vital power through which creation can evolve. Sekhmet is the necessary ingredient within the creative process, which always begins with a certain explosiveness or violence. Think of the pain of childbirth, yet its ultimate joyous conclusion. Sekhmet IS the pain of violent contractions and the hand that tears life from the flesh…She is the process of beginnings.

Sekhmet watches over the processes that impact our mortal condition the most, thus She is the Patroness of physicians and healing. But She is also the Physician of the heart. She gives the boon (hetep) of peace (hetep) at the time of trauma, even if She uses that trauma ultimately to our benefit. This is what Gods like Sekhmet and Sutekh really do, so how can we NOT embrace Them, fully and deeply, and give Them our sincere respect?

The terrible presence of Sekhmet is only caused by our fear of our own mortality, and the fire of our mind and emotions, and our ego, running out of control. Sekhmet threatens to tame and harness these forces for our own good, and that is why we can also call Her the Good Goddess. She is good, beautiful, and necessary, the Goddess Who appears when we need to take the right kind of medicine, even if it goes down very hard. It is Her hand that touches the heart with healing, soothing, and ultimately profound peace. To love Her is to come into the awareness of our fullest passions, emotions, intellect and physical vitality. No matter what course we travel, Sekhmet the Eye of Ra is traveling beside us, alive in Her terror as the Great Goddess with the healing hands.

All text copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa

Gratitude Should Be Our Foundation

PENTAX Image

We always have needs to bring before our Gods. This seems to be human nature. We have Sacred Powers for a reason; They bring us the things we need most in our life, not least of which is emotional and physical survival. We pray for relief from our bad back or migraine headaches. We pray for that important promotion at work…the one we need so that we can finally afford to fix that used car of ours that is far beyond its sell by date. We pray for healing in our human relationships too, for love and acceptance and help to repair our family ties. We constantly bring our cares to the Gods, because They are there for us, really there for us, and They want us to commune with Them as we would with our closest allies.

But we need to remember that the Gods, like our biological parents, wish to hear from us not only when we need to borrow money or ask for something we want; They need to hear from us just because we love Them, and we’re grateful for the things They bring into our life. I’m talking about gratitude, folks.

I’ve been asked recently how it happens that I have this very close relationship with my Netjeru…with Lord Ptah and Lady Sekhmet, with Auset and Her Sacred Family. How do I have such a direct and heartfelt exchange taking place at all times between myself and my Gods? There isn’t some deep, mystical, hidden secret in answer to this. Quite simply put, I show my gratitude, every single day! The first thing I do when I get up in the morning is hit the Shrine floor. That’s right. Before I get my coffee, read through my emails or check my social media, I’m on the floor doing my prostrations. I light the candles in the Shrines and make my offering of incense, and I pour out libations of beer and wine for the Gods and the Ancestors. I say thank you, and I let my Netjeru know that They come first in my life.

When I say my morning prayers, I put the Gods above all. I mentally and emotionally clear everything else from my personal space, no matter how pressing or vital or important these external things may seem to be. The first part of each day is reserved for my Gods, for honoring Them and making sure that They are my ultimate priority. Throughout my day, no matter what I’m engaged in, I take little snippets of time in the back of my mind just to say a prayer, bring my focus back to Netjer, feeling that sense of gratitude and connection with Them. Because I do this every single day, my Gods know me, They respond immediately to me, and They give me Their direct presences throughout all of my daily concerns.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; our relationships with our Gods are a two way street. The Gods are going to engage us and meet us with the same effort we are willing to give Them. Give a little, get a little. Give a lot, get a lot. If you only give a few scant moments here and there, if you aren’t taking your relationships with your Gods as a serious priority, then They are going to remain a very casual presence in your life. If you want to have that close connection that remains with you at all times, then you will have to prioritize it, work for it, and earn it, as I have. The Gods give because we give, and They engage because we engage. The first step of engagement is learning to come first to the table, show your gratitude through offering, and truly, respectfully give your best self to the Gods.

When we make our relationships with the Sacred Powers our priority, we find a source of strength and power and healing that can never be depleted. We find our Gods as close to us as our biological family or dearest friends. In Them we will find healing and empowerment, despite our shortcomings or failures. But first, we have to take the vital step of making that connection, respectfully and lovingly. Our key is gratitude. Give to the Gods because They have given to you, and in so doing, you will have everything you really need.

All text and photo copyright © 2015 Rev. Ptahmassu Nofra-Uaa