After a lot of thought, and being three weeks into it, I finally decided to take part in the Pagan Blog Project. I find the concept of doing something for an entire year fascinating and also, challenging. I hope that I can keep up with it!
The akhu is the immortal aspect of the human soul, as shown in the ancient Egyptian culture. This aspect was the radiant part of the intellect, will, and intentions of the deceased that was transfigured after death. This was the aspect of the soul that ascended to live with the gods or among the stars after death. This aspect of the soul only came about after the ka and ba were rejoined after the deceased had passed judgement in the Hall of Two Truths. It was this portion of the human soul that could come back and reconnect with their family members. It was, also, this portion that would grant wishes and affect changes in the lives of the living. This portion of the soul was always represented, in hieroglyphs, by an ibis bird. It was also represented by a mummiform object, also known as a shabti.
In ancient Egyptian culture, the akhu were probably venerated in shrines in the home. It’s possible, anyway, although I don’t think we know for sure. And if we do, I just haven’t read that book yet. Heh.
One time a year, however, all the akhu throughout the nation were venerated. This was the Feast of Wag. (A quick note: the website that I linked to is run via the KO and so therefore, the beliefs that they hold are similar but not the same as mine. However, they do have a decent amount of information out there being the largest Kemetic-based faith out there.) The Wag Festival was held during the month of Akhet and dates back to the fourth century, BCE. The Wag Festival is very much akin to the Mexican Day of the Dead. However, in the ancient Egyptian culture, the offerings left were usually in the form of oil, flowers, food stuffs, and alcoholic beverages.
A key part of the ancient Egyptian religion is, in fact, veneration of the akhu. I couldn’t say for sure, but this would appear to be common in most African-based religions and the African diaspora religions that have gone out into the world. I’ve actually noticed that there is a fair amount of pagan religions out there that offer ancestor veneration as an integral part to the faith. (I’m not saying that this is the case with all pagan variants, but a decent amount of them do have this as an option.) In my practice, which is nominally ancient Egyptian in nature, akhu veneration has only recently become part and parcel. It was actually via the introduction of Vodou and the integral aspect of the Ghede in that path that I began to really pay close attention to my Deadz. This is neither here nor there, but I felt like throwing that out there.
As I said, it has only been recently that I have begun to consider my akhu. And it is only now, as I write this entry that they begin to take shape in my mind.
To me, they are all the Deadz that have come to me lately. They are not just my dead family members or the lost ones of TH’s family, but the lost and lonely dead who stay attached to their tombstones in the myriad of cemeteries that I have been grave-tending in lately. They are the forgotten. They are the sad. They are the happy and filthy-mouthed Ghede. They are every aspect of death that has any relation to this world, from haunted places to the being that guards you while you sleep. They are every aspect of the spirits that have morphed from simple human spirit into the Shining Ones (another term for akhu). They may not have found their way into the Hall of Two Truths and they may have not been able to say all the spells necessary to see them on their way, but they are well and truly transfigured into the Deadz… the akhu.