The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, click here. This topic: Mythology: How necessary is it? Does it affect your practice? Should it?
How important is mythology to a budding kemetic? Priceless.
A little background: My practice has been Wiccan for years. I started drifting more into pagan witchcraft as I became more polytheistic, but I still honored divinity in a Wiccan context, until both Bast and Aset made it clear to me that they did not want to be worshipped as such. The gist of it was they let me know, in no uncertain terms, that there was a precedent for their worship and they expected it to be upheld. Alrighty then!
What was I to do? I was unable to worship the gods the way I always had, but I still felt compelled to honor them. Unlike many kemetics, I did not have a strong love affair with ancient Egypt. In fact, what I knew about AE was nothing more than I had learned in history class. Aset was pushing me to go towards a reconstructionist path but I knew next to nothing about the culture or the faith. Oy.
The first books I picked up were ones that covered the mythology of the region. I needed to be introduced to the gods, as I had worked with almost none of them. (Picture me sitting puzzled: How many Herus again?) I knew the basic pantheon but through researching the myths, I came to know the gods in a more intimate fashion, and doing so enriched the beginning steps of my reformed practice in a way it had not been for some time.
The mythology that has been handed down to us is a primer on the gods. It tells us, from the filtered-down perspective of those who lived it, what the gods liked, what their strengths and weaknesses were, how they interacted, what they expected of their followers, what offerings to give, what personalities to expect. It is a crash course in how the politics and culture of the region colored their divinity. To ignore the mythology means ignoring the entire cultural background of the faith at best, and Really Messing Things Up at worst.
Is mythology infallible? Nope. There are multiple tellings of the stories. Sometimes a child becomes a spouse, as the family tree gets shuffled around. Gods are added and taken away. But I firmly believe that these myths are the best starting point for a fledgling kemetic. They have given me a road map through the unfamiliar landscape of a new faith.
Should it affect your practice? Until the training wheels come off, yes! As one learns and grown in a faith, of course, people change some things and look towards their own gnosis. It comes with experience. As the understanding of the gods deepens, people may find they don’t work as closely with the “known” aspects of their gods. And that’s fine, but I do feel it’s important to have a good grounding in the basics before branching off. To me, it’s the difference between growing within a faith and making kemeticism “whatever you want it to be”.