by Barbara Ann
Richter, (c) 1999, All Rights Reserved
From: http://www.hethert.org/ and http://www.kemet.org/
The Kemetic people were said by the Greek historian Herodotus to have been the most religious people in the world. They did not even have a special word for "religion," because for them it was an intrinsic part of their lives, not something to be done a couple of times a year or even just once a week. Homes had shrines in a place of honor, and prayers and offerings were left there on a daily basis. Ancestral busts or stelae were set up in niches in the walls, where prayers and offerings were also given to deceased relatives who watched over their descendants with love. Community festivals honored the Appearance of God, when the temple icon was taken in procession, and visits were often made to cemeteries to honor the blessed dead.
The multitude of Gods and Goddesses that the Kemetic people worshipped may at first glance seem bewildering. However, their concept of Divinity can be more easily understood in the idea of monolatry, the belief in one God with many forms. The One, the Divine Force or Power of creation, called Netjer, is completely beyond human comprehension. However, this Power is not only intelligent, but It also loves us and wants us to have a relationship with It. To enable us to get closer to It, Netjer differentiated Itself into many different Names, the Gods and Goddesses of Kemet. These are all intrinsic parts of the Whole, and each One is Netjer in Its own right. If one imagines Netjer as a jewel, each Name would be a different facet. Each of these facets has a personality, a way of doing things, and certain areas of human activity in which It takes an interest. All of the Names together make up the Whole of Netjer. With this concept in mind, it is easier to understand the idea of syncretization, in which one Name is combined with another Name, such as Amen-Ra, or Ptah-Sokar, to reflect the idea of combined functions.
Kemetic society based itself on Ma'at, which is both a concept and a deity. It is the fundamental order of the universe, what is right and just, and what is in balance. As a deity, Ma'at is personified as a woman with a feather on Her head. In Kemetic society, the King was the link between heaven and earth, between Netjer and the people. The King was the Living Heru, one of the Names of Netjer, and He (or She) was entrusted with governing the country in Ma'at and serving according to Netjer's will. One of the most important rituals in the temples was the offering of Ma'at by the King to Netjer, with the symbol encompassing the reality of the idea. As long as the country was ruled in Ma'at, the forces of destruction were kept at bay. It was the King's duty to insure that Ma'at prevailed, guaranteeing the continuation of Kemet and the world.
As in other African indigenous religions, the Kemetic people understood the idea of a Parent Name. This was one of the aspects of Netjer which had chosen that person at birth, had spoken the person into existence and given that person a soul. This Parent Name watches over and guides a person's life, and all people on earth have a Parent Name, regardless of their religion. In Ancient Kemet, a person was most probably divined at birth to determine the Parent Name. This can be seen in the theophoric names (those containing the name of a deity) that were so common in Ancient Egypt, such as Ptahhotep ("Ptah is pleased") or Sat-Hathor-Iunet ("The Daughter of Hathor of Dendera").
Today, in the present-day practice of the religion of Ancient Egypt called Kemetic Orthodoxy, this ancient faith has been rekindled. Netjer is again being worshipped and served as It was at the beginning, with the ancient rites and traditions having been brought back to life. We are fortunate that we can now read and understand the ancient writings in their original hieroglyphs and learn from their own words what the people of Kemet believed, how they worshipped, and Who were their Gods. With dedicated research and the guidance of Netjer Itself, we are now bringing this profoundly beautiful faith again to the world.