Neterism, The Original Kemeticism
Kemetic Yoga is one of the practices associated with the ancient religion of Kemet, or Neterism meaning deity, practiced 5,000 years ago in ancient Egypt. Due to recent popularity, the rise of Egyptian Neopaganism blossomed with Kemeticism, a resurgence of ancient spiritual and religious practices that connect practitioners to divine lifeforce, nature, and the many faces of the divine. The Gods and Goddesses worshiped in Kemeticism include Amon, Isis, Osiris, Thoth, Sekhmet, Bastet, and Hathor, to name a few, but there are certainly more than can be explored.
As with many of the polytheistic representations of spirituality, or the monotheistic representations of spirituality where God is seen to have many manifestations (all be it one personality), the practitioner selects a deity that represents their lived experience and connection to a higher power. Then this deity is represented in the form of a statue or picture that engages the practitioner in constant recollection of the individual and his or her attributes. This helps to invoke those attributes and qualities in the practitioner’s personality and overall life.
Kemeticism is a new take on an ancient tradition that originally leveraged the psychic spiritual connection found both in ancient Egypt and in yoga philosophy. Here is where the most profound overlap is between Yoga and ancient Neterism, which is the basis of Kemeticism as we know it today. In Neterism, and all of the Egyptian Paganism practices and mythology view god through a multi-faceted lens. Westerners have in the past viewed this as polytheistic, but that didn’t take into consideration the deep philosophical connection to the Vedas and the human chakra system (nervous system). Just because a culture embraces the multiple faces of God does not mean that they believed that there were many gods, necessarily.
As we see in Hinduism, multiple representations of divinity simply showcase the myriad faces of the divine. In appreciation for warmth, we worship the Sun God, in appreciation for the rain we worship the Rain God but are these two separate “Gods”? Some historians would argue that they are not separate.
This becomes important as Kemeticism is making its way into mainstream religion in the 21st century. The practices, rituals, and ceremonies surrounding ancient Neterism involved the ancient Gods of Egypt, and practitioners are encouraged to bring these Gods and Goddesses into their lives, infusing objects in their homes with the psychic essence of the Divine. Through ritual, objects infused with the divine light of Gods and Goddesses can live eternally, yet these objects are not looked at as idols. In fact, In ancient Egypt, infusing inanimate objects with spirit and giving them eternal life was a psychic phenomenon that occurred through rituals and charms. It was done to link the world of the living to the world of the Gods. From a historical perspective, Egyptians and the Nile culture did not believe in idolatry or the separation of God and man because they have interwoven psychic expression and connection into their spiritual practices.
The resurgence of Kemeticism and the revitalization of the traditions and cultures surrounding Kemet have sparked a lot of interest into Kemetic Yoga. Yes, it’s true that Yoga was a part of the ritual and practices of Neterism. What we have to understand is that one didn’t come before the other, and one is not beholden to the other.
What is Neterism
Neterism is the traditional term for what people are now calling Kemeticism. Neterism is the practice of Egyptian Paganism where Gods and Goddesses were worshiped, not in separation, but in wholeness. When we investigate a pyramid we see hieroglyphics that depict a relationship between the different aspects of God and the individuals (usually pharos) who built the structure the paints adorned. This relationship is far different from the lack of relationship we see in other religions where God is a feared omnipresent overlord ruling the world. The relationship that the Egyptians had was supernatural, and yes, psychic.
Yoga has been teaching humans how to leverage the energy within to maintain optimal health and wellbeing for over 6,000 years. All religions, everywhere, came from the Vedas. The Vedas talk literally about the God of fire, the God of Water, the God of Wind. The Vedas bring us back to the most simple time when the aspects of the universal forces of nature were respected as aspects of God. No celestial show was required; God’s might in providing warmth, rain, food, and shelter was enough and humanity was in tune with the harmony of Universal flow.
This is important because we need to understand this is not a chicken or the egg situation; quite simply this is a historic proliferation of ancient practices that were shared and transmitted from ancestors for thousands of years. During that time, these practices (specifically yoga) was intertwined in many different cultures and cults including the religious and spiritual practices of Neterism. That said, to say that Yoga is the backbone of Neterism would be a disservice to Neterism and Kemeticism as a resurgence and spiritual movement.
Followers of Kemeticism follow Gods that resonate with them and their lived experience but recognize all Gods as facets of the divine. Altars are typically erected in homes, similarly to Vedic altars, where the deity, candles, incense, crystals, and other objects of significance are placed.
Similarly to Hinduism, there is a strong emphasis on order, harmony, and universal flow. In Kemeticism this order is called Maat. Maat means the social, societal, natural, cyclical flow of the universe, or harmony. Each human has a responsibility to do their duty within each phase of life, stature, social situation, or caste to ensure the harmony of the world. This is the prime responsibility of humanity, according to Kemeticism.
Embracing Kemeticism As a Rebirth
Allowing our perception to dawn a new vantage point empowers us to revisit our roots as human beings. We are all touched in some way by the ancient traditions found in Egypt, India, and Africa. The fertile crescent, the birthplace of modern man, is all of our home and the origin of these beautiful rituals and traditions. May we have a genuine interest and desire to integrate the history, philosophy, and modern applications of Kemeticism and its roots, Egyptian Neopaganism.