Last weekend, I gave a little presentation to the younger members of the Unitarian Universalist church we attend on Sundays. Because the summer months provide a break from the usual Religious Education classes given to the small people, there is typically a drive during the last weeks of the school year to sign up volunteers from the congregation who are willing to host a Sunday group. You choose the topic, as long as it’s kid-friendly and ties into one of the seven UU principles. One weekend I was the assistant to a couple who brought in supplies and taught all the kids how to make guacamole. When it was my turn, I decided to try my hand at giving kids ages six to fourteen a brief intro to Kemeticism.
It went better than I thought it would. I had children coloring two small designs I’d printed (an ankh and a wedjat eye), after which they’d cut out the pictures and glue them onto pre-cut card-stock circles. One of my children, Noodle*, had hole-punched the card-stock and cut lengths of cord to accompany each one. So, as my audience created their “amulets,” Noodle and I read to them a story about how Ra created the Netjeru, the world and everyone in it, followed by a brief description of exactly Who each of the major Netjeru were and what Their purpose was. I tried to make it kid-friendly but also informative. It appeared to get their attention: a few of them neglected to make the art projects because they were turned around watching me as I read to them. (Noodle says it’s my style of speaking, especially to kids, that got them to tune in.)
In any case, I was pleasantly surprised. The best part, I thought, was that three of them had questions for me. That showed they actually WERE listening! One little girl, although polite, was intent on challenging the Kemetic ideals of the afterlife, letting me know she was less than impressed with the concept of the weighing of the heart, or more specifically, the consequences of having your heart weigh heavy. Ammit, she said, didn’t exactly sound scary to her.
So, right away, I got to demonstrate to all the kids one of the UU principles in action: that of respecting the right of other people to pursue their own belief systems.
Another child gave me a very skeptical look and asked me how I could truly believe that all those gods were real. I explained that it was called “faith,” and it was exactly how other people were confident that their versions of god were real. I told her that no one was wrong; the gods take any and all forms necessary so that the children of Ra see what they need to see in order to believe. “No matter what others feel,” I said, “we do not judge anyone as being wrong in their faith. After all, there’s one Universal Creator, and no matter what name you give to that force, it all comes back to the same Being. We just happen to call Him Amun-Ra, among other names, and believe that He gave us many other Netjeru to help with all the parts of creation that have to be managed for life to work like it should.”
When a boy of about 12 or so asked how I figured out that the gods were not just a myth, Noodle answered him by explaining that “the gods choose you, you don’t choose them.” That seemed to be confusing to him, so by way of explanation, I told him about how sometimes a person feels a divine presence leading them towards a certain path. Through meditation and prayer, eventually that person will come to know the deity that is calling to them. It’s possible that a person finds a name for the One they hear that’s different from the name someone else might receive through their meditation. If it’s the Netjeru, though, They will want you to know Them as They were seen through the eyes of the ancients, and They’ll let you know just Who is calling you.
“That happened to you?” he asked, a bit awed, it seemed. I just smiled and said yes.
Because that is exactly what happened to me. I could have tried to tell the children how I never expected to see the Netjer Who had called to me; I knew I had been chosen, but for weeks I could not see Who it was that had chosen me. How could I have explained the emotional tumult that accompanied the revelation, though? There are no words for the elation and excitement I felt, or the touch of fear at sensing that kind of power, or the frustration of not knowing Who I was looking for specifically. It was through my art that His form came to me; I subsequently buried myself in research, whereby His name and His story came to me. Although I attempted to take a solitary path, I felt that I must seek out further teaching and instruction on how to honor Him – and the other Netjeru – correctly.
Which is how I came to be at Per Akhet, a Temple which is transcendentally guided and blessed.
My experience was, and is, the most profound mystical connection I’d ever encountered. I continue to reach back to that moment even now, in times of confusion or stress or depression, knowing that I will find that my patron Netjer is there, still leading me and providing me the strength that only a divine being with such ancient roots could give. Even the briefest recollection of that initial touch of the god makes me pause and smile softly; it brings peace to my heart; I whisper to Him of my devotion many times per day.
If the gods have chosen you, it is indeed a hallowed attainment. They speak to many, but few have the insight to recognize Them. When you have been blessed by Their presence, allow yourself to understand how cherished you must be, how sublimely unique your Ka is to have been singled out for the gift of Their power in your life.
It is, after all, a gift like no other. Cherish it, and honor Them.
*I have four children, who will be identified by their nicknames: Punkin – age 16, Noodle – age 13, Bean – age 11, and Boo – age 7. Collectively, they’re known as the Space Monkeys.