I’m twenty days in to this Lenten season and I have to say that I am still dreaming about diet Coke… only now it’s literally. Since I can’t have diet Coke because, like an idiot, I gave it up, I’ve been having dreams about it. They’re not every night, at least. I don’t know if I could handle it if I had to do this every night where I wake up from a dream in which I’m scheming in an effort to take a sip. I don’t know if this is what addicts of things go through when they give something up, honestly. All I do know is that at twenty days in, I’m still fucking missing the taste of diet Coke. I thought that after forty days, I could just give it up. I would be done with this addiction and could move on to other addictions in the upcoming years. But I have to admit that I don’t know I’ll be all said and done with diet Coke after this. I also have to mention that I haven’t seen a damn change in my waist line because of giving up diet Coke, so even that bonus appears lost to me here.

Obviously, that’s not the point in this post, but I find it weird that I’m dreaming about diet fucking Coke.

I’ve been thinking about baptism a lot the last week.

It’s kind of an integral part of what Lent is about so it makes sense that I would be honing in on it. As I stated in my last post about Lent, I don’t really understand the requirement of baptism. I’m sure there’s more to it than just immersing a child’s head in water around the baptismal fount or dunking one’s entire body under a body of water for the same reason. Since I didn’t understand why people did that, I started looking up what the point in baptism, according to Christian theological discussions and dogma, happened to be. According to this page, “Christ Himself ordered His disciples to preach the Gospel to all nations and to baptize those who accept the message of the Gospel. In His encounter with Nicodemus (John 3:1-21), Christ made it clear that baptism was necessary for salvation: ‘Amen, amen I say to thee, unless a man be born again of water and the Holy Ghost, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.’ For Catholics, the sacrament is not a mere formality; it is the very mark of a Christian, because it brings us into new life in Christ.”

Okay, but this didn’t really track with me. I mean, I can understand the point behind it when it comes to Christian requirements, however that still didn’t make sense to me. Why would Christ want people to cover their heads in water for a couple of minutes to mark them as being one of his followers? So, I went Google searching and found this answer. However, since I wasn’t sure if this answer was specific to a single branch or if it was true in all forms of Christianity, I had to read the response aloud to TH in order to verify that this was the case. As he pointed out to me, “Why in the world would Jesus want his followers to throw down serious money to convert people? Plus, oil wasn’t easily accessible, was expensive, and not commonplace. So, why not water?” The man certainly has a point and so did that response on ask-dot-com. Okay, so now I understand why water was used and now I understood why it was the whole point.

But I still had a fundamental issue: I still stand by the belief that baptism is something that people should decide on their own. But did that really negate what I was supposed to be ruminating about regarding Lent? I didn’t think so.

I started focusing on this quote, “”The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism. Preparation for Baptism and for renewing baptismal commitment lies at the heart of the season,” as I found on this FAQ. Okay, so, what exactly is baptism? Maybe the reason why I couldn’t quite grok the issue had to do with the fact that, maybe, I didn’t understand what the hell the word actually meant. According to the dictionary, “Ecclesiastical; a ceremonial immersion in water, or application of water, as an initiatory rite or sacrament of the Christian church. Any similar ceremony or action of initiation, dedication, etc. A trying or purifying experience or initiation.” Okay, so this had to do with an initiation into the Christian religion. I was on much firmer ground here. I could understand initiatory rites and the like. Well, maybe not the specifics of the initiation into the religious tradition, but I could at least understand that baptism equates to initiation.

As my mind focused on the fact that baptism is a form of initiation, I started to understand it. I also found it very ironic that I was focusing on the act of the initiation after having gone through one not a few weeks previously. The difference here, though, is the fact that I was thinking about it in terms of Catholicism and Christianity, as a whole, versus how such an act would impact me. But the point in Lent is to renew oneself. It was a moment of rebirth for the tender flock. How they went about that is inherently personal, I would expect, but all in all, it still comes down to the fact that they are renewing their commitment to the choice of their religion.

Rebirth is a very common topic in Kemeticism, so I was on firmer ground here. I could understand the idea behind Lent as a form of renewal, rebirth, and recommitment to the overall goal. But in this particular case, what exactly am I supposed to be renewing? Papa Legba explained that I needed to be more philosophical in my approach than I was last year (which was just about giving up chocolate). And when I pointed out that I didn’t understand philosophy and had purposely ignored those humanities style classes because, you know, it sounded boring, he pointed out that I could at least be more thoughtful. I assumed that he was trying to point out that I jump whole hog into something without really looking into something a lot of times. (This isn’t always the case, but I am a Leo so it’s kind of the case sometimes.) I figured he just wanted me to be more aware of what Lent was about and that it was more than just “giving some things up.” Okay, I could handle that. But the more I’ve looked into this, the more I’ve realized that it’s more than just me needing to be thoughtful regarding what it is I’m supposed to be doing.

The facts don’t really line up here – there’s something more here.

Papa Legba tells me that I need to give up an addiction and my religious affiliations for a while. He admits that I can’t quite push all of Sekhmet out after a very grueling and painful initiatory process since I have obligations to meet in the form of my Kemetic laity articles, the rites and services I offer, and the Kemetic Round Table posts that I write. He admitted that these particular obligations would happen during Lent and that I had sworn to do them, so therefore, I had to do them. (I’ll tell you what, I seriously thought about just saying, “Fuck all of this shit,” and running away screaming but Papa Legba is really good about keeping me committed to the things I’ve committed to.) He then points out that I had to be philosophical about the point behind Lent. He also tells me that this isn’t really a sabbatical, as I’ve referred to it, but that it’s a time off to get perspective.

Okay, so what perspective do I need?

I kept coming back to baptism, though, and how it’s about initiation. But more specifically, this is a time of renewal of that initiatory rite.

Again, I was on firmer ground because Kemeticism is all about the whole rebirth process. We have a deity with a scarab on his head who rolls the sun – in the form of a giant dung ball – across the sky. The phases of the day are about the whole cyclical process, in my opinion, of birth (the initiation) and rebirth.

We start off the day as new and bright with a happy-go-lucky sun rising over the horizon. This is the form of Khepri. The sun matures into an adult to become the noontide sun. This is of the form of Re. The sun further matures into an older man, which becomes the evening sun. This is the form of Atum. Then Re goes through the Duat, slaying what beasts would get in his way, only to be reborn in the morning in his aspect as Khepri. And thus it happened over and over again, every day. Day in and day out. This cycle thing can be hearkened back to the whole point of Zep Tepi, which is in and of itself an act of renewal – the start of a new cycle.

Zep Tepi is one of those complicated, but not complicated topics that come up in Kemeticism. (Hell, this is the case with a lot of shit in Kemeticism, to be honest.) This whole thing is something that I’ve discussed once or twice before. Zep Tepi is the period of time when the gods walked upon the earth and ruled the humans that had been created. Discussions regarding Zep Tepi, in a modern context, tends to be more related to how the restart of a cycle. That moment of a restart – no matter what the restart is – hearkens back to that First Time on earth, that moment when things were, well maybe not perfect, but pure in its beginning, innocent at its start, and uncomplicated.

In a weird way, I can kind of see the actions taken during Lent to be a sort of hearkening back, in a Christian sort of way, to that Zep Tepi. The decision to commit to the tradition has been made, either by the person’s choice or through the choice of the parents during the initial baptism. And then, each following Lent is a recommitment to that choice, either of their volition or otherwise. They are bringing the cycle back, each year, to the original commitment of what their baptism meant; specifically, they are recommitting to being a part of the teaching of Christ and a part of the doctrine that He spoke to the people. Their original baptism creates that choice; the observation of the Lenten season brings them back to that moment. And just like the daily, the yearly, the momentary cycles of birth and rebirth in everyone’s lives that brings Zep Tepi into focus, so too does Lent bring Zep Tepi into focus.

But what, oh what, does this have to do with what I’m aiming to achieve this Lent season?

Well, if Lent is about recommitment, renewal, rebirth, etc. regarding the commitment the believers have made to their religion then why can’t that also be the same in my religious tradition(s)? They’re not the same as Catholicism, of course, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t use that time to do the same. I think the point that Papa Legba was trying to make was that I need to observe the point behind Lent, specifically, but I need to formulate that in a way that keeps me true to my religious path. While I was baptized into the Catholic Church and raised in the Methodist church as a child, I made a conscientious decision to convert to Kemeticism. While there was no water upon my brow when I made that decision, I committed myself to this religious tradition anyway. But sometimes, things get tiring. I get fed up. I go through phases of deep angst and bitterness. And it can’t always be bitterness and angst. Sometimes I need to be spiritually reborn, too, through whatever process may be to hand.

In this case, that means observing Lent.

And getting more thinky-thoughts regarding the point of Lent.


I see what you did there, Papa. I see that.

All this time I was thinking about Lent as a break. And that is the case, of course, because I’m studiously not paying attention to the pushes that Sekhmet has been throwing my way. (I swear to the fucking gods, she is testing to see how much resolve I have here. And let me tell you: I got me some fucking resolve.) But it’s also a moment to make a formal decision regarding my commitment. For the last few months, I’ve been not doing very well regarding my faith, my belief, and what the next stage in the process, for me, is supposed to be. I’ve had a lot of hitches in the last few months, which is mostly why I thought of Lent as a break from the intensity of everything that was going on around me. When in fact, it’s a moment to recommit myself, to renew myself.

I said to Sekhmet, “This is my path and I will do these things.”

And now I have to remember why I said that and recommit myself to that.

I hope the reason why I said that was less about wanting to be accepted and more about wanting to be spiritually connected.


Alternate Title: Zep Tepi II.

Since Devo’s comments on my last post relating to this subject matter, I’ve been thinking extensively about Zep Tepi and cycles. Whenever a spare moment would hit me, I would be knee deep or brain deep in whatever it was I was hoping to achieve with the thought processes and Zep Tepi. This morning, I was thinking harder than I have in the past few days on the subject of Zep Tepi. When I was beginning to fall off from figuring out the answers to Devo’s questions in that comment, this song came on. Particularly what grabbed at me was the lyric, “I’m gonna change you like a remix; then I’ll raise you like a phoenix.” Well, if that isn’t something that relates to cycles, in a way, then what the fuck does? It was around that moment that I began to really interpret what Devo had said on Friday.

Honestly, my trouble with figuring out where I wanted my thoughts to go related to my rather narrow interpretation of what we need to utilize Zep Tepi in as lay people. I was trying to focus on Zep Tepi in a really big, huge way. So, I associated it with grandiose things like Wep Ronpet and the celebrations therein. I thought about the beginning of a year as opposed to all the other daily, weekly, monthly cycles that people can and do go through. I was trying to focus on something that I felt was easily graspable but I was failing to relate this to me. As the lay person here, I think I kind of failed in that regard. And that’s why having a community – by the way – is kind of a good thing. They’ll check your shit, force you to re-think things, and then give you a cookie if you do a good job. (Just kidding about the cookie part. That hardly ever happens.)

I’m about 99.9% percent certain that my failure to understand Zep Tepi and its relationship with all cycles stems from a rather unsatisfactory work life. (Love the job – hate the environment. You know.) I find it very difficult to even note that a whole new day has started, even upon waking. After nights filled with dreams about items that weren’t taken care of properly or things that I’ve had to constantly put off or delegate to others, it gets to the point where your waking life feels very much like your sleeping life. And that’s just no good. Since I have a difficult time differentiating between one really bad day and the next cantankerous asshat that makes me feel badly about my work ethic, my work ability, et cetera, it kind of gets to the point where you stop thinking that each day is different. Your mind starts to interpret each day as just a new extension to the next, but this isn’t the case. Each day is the start of a new cycle. As the sun rises in the morning, which I’ve been awake for more mornings than I care to admit lately, brings a rejuvenation to me, to my day, to my thoughts, and everything in my between. And that is something that I need to remind myself.

By seeing the new cycle in the upcoming day, the rejuvenation and the changes that can come with renewal, I can at least attempt to feel closer with this important concept in my religion.

And maybe, stop feeling like each bad day at work is just an extension on the one preceding it.

While pondering my inability to actually appreciate the cycles and instead seeing them as another addition, I began to think about my car, Olga. She is a very old car and she has a lot of things wrong with her that I just cannot afford to fix right now, if ever. At 12 years old and nearly 200k miles on her, I have to admit that placing a Band-Aid on the things that are wrong is not in my best interest, financially speaking. But I really do love this car. She has been very patient with me and has always seemed very understanding when I have been unable to get her into a mechanic in a timely manner. Recently, she started idling very hard when I sit at a stop. She has always idled very hard at stops – we joke that she thinks she’s a race car instead of the 4-cylinder Alero she is. But the idling has become much rougher to the point where I will start to seriously worry that she will stall out on me. I’ve noticed, however, that this comes in a cycle.

She drives really terribly one morning on my way to work and is fine for the next few days.

Bouncing off of the idea about how I needed to pay closer attention to Zep Tepi, cycles, and the renewal therein, I started paying attention to how often she does this to me. Now, there’s no guarantee as to when she will start idling harder than normal. And there’s no set time frame as to how long each cycle of “good idling” I can expect. But I began to see that I could at least anticipate this eventuality in future because, really, it is something that will happen. And then, when this particular idling happenstance comes to pass, I can look forward to relative smooth sailing for a few days or maybe even a week. Obviously, this doesn’t fix the overall problem – I’m attempting to find a mechanic who will work for beer and parts to fix two hot ticket items that may be the cause for the idle – but it’s something that brings comfort.

It’s almost like, and stop me if you’ve heard this one before, this is part of the cycle.

As I was driving to work – and Olga’s idling was as good as I could hope – I began to think of it, almost ruefully, as a metaphor for the entire year of a Kemetic calendar. We have ups and downs, which would be the days when I need to put gas in the car or add other fluids. But the rest of the time, it’s all just a general ride. Then, we get to the point where the idling is really, really tough and painful, reducing me to tears, swearing, cursing, pleading, and outright misery. I tend to view that drive to work as a kind of metaphor for what can be expected during the intercalary days, just preceding Wep Ronpet. We’ve all noted that those days are hectic and chaotic, difficult to handle in some ways. So, in a huge metaphor, the intercalary days are the very days that Olga ends up idling a good deal more painfully and more frightfully than she normally does.

By golly, I think I’m on to something here.

Almost like I was on to something, I picked up the book I’ve been reading lately and found something of interest that I think, sort of, relates to Zep Tepi and why lay people need to pay attention to this.

Okay, so, I’ve been re-reading The Priests of Ancient Egypt by Serge Sauneron this week. I don’t really remember how I felt about the book when I first bought it and I honestly wonder if I just skimmed through it. In either case, I decided to start re-reading all of my Kemetic books (for funsies) and this is the smallest one I own. Plus, in a perverse way, as a lay person, it’s almost like know thy enemy or something. I kind of think that by reading about this, I will be able to better understand what it is, specifically, about the priesthood that prevents me from honestly moving in that direction.

Be that as it may, I started reading it and found a lot of very interesting items, as well as amusing items. But what made me think in relation to Zep Tepi was how many of the offices of the priesthood were inherited. As Sauneron says on page 43, “Moreover, stelae of the Late Period sometimes list the genealogies of the individuals to whom they were dedicated, invoking the memory of as many as seventeen generations of ancestors who were priests of the same deity: we can truly speak of dynasties of priests.” Hm. They were pretty big on the “keep it in the family” adage.

While I understand the requirement of ancient Egyptian religion and belief to have a long line of distinguished ancestors, this reminds me that not all things “new” were very interesting to the ancient Egyptians. If we were to use the phrase “set in their ways,” I think it may just come off as a bit of an understatement. Anything new was considered anathema and in many, if not all, instances it was believed to be a part of isfet. Each new change to the ancient Egyptian ruler dynasties came with huge, catastrophic changes as they transitioned from one ruling family to the next period of lawlessness. All in all, things like change were to be feared. They liked the idea of rejuvenation and cycles – they celebrated such things like Wep Ronpet and with daily rituals to gods such as Khepri. But, when it came to things like installing a new priest? One has to wonder if their reaction to such an idea wasn’t something like: “Why bother? Why shake the tree? Or destroy the status quo? We already have a good thing going, so to speak, so let’s keep it! We don’t know what kind of crazy a new person has!”

Now, obviously, they weren’t always able to keep a line of priests in generational succession. Some lines died out; sometimes the pharaoh decided who went where. In some instances, according to Sauneron, they took a sort of collective vote on who got to be a priest and who didn’t. (I’ll explain all of this more in depth when I’m finished reading the book and write the post it inspires.) But in many instances, we have a long line of families who were able to provide priests to a particular nome’s temple deity throughout the years.

Modern day practitioners have a more mercurial ability, I think, to handle changes on an epic and minor scale than the ancient Egypt priesthood. We have had so many years of learning about world history that we are able to take into account the amount of changes that humanity has gone through. Instead of fearing that by mispronouncing a single word, we may bring about the end of the world, we know better. These religious traditions have fallen out of favor for millennia and the world kept on spinning, people kept on being poor or being rich, and living their lives. We don’t have to freak out that a new face in our particular religious path is going to upset the balance. Living in ma’at, traditions, heka, and even Zep Tepi have all changed their standard definitions in the thousands of years since this was a practicing religion. And that, I think, above all else, is why Zep Tepi is still an integral part to the practices of the laity.

It reminds us, always, that things change.

And it reminds us that there is always going to be a beginning, middle, and an end.

You know, I started this journey thinking about Zep Tepi in relation to altars. And I still have a feeling that there may be more here relating to Zep Tepi and the altars of our icons. But, I think, really, the overall point that I’ve come to discover is that this particular aspect of our practice is still important, whether we are a big headed somebody or a head-in-the-sand nobody, whether we are of the literate priesthood from ancient Egypt or the illiterate laity from ancient Egypt, and whether we are the historically informed polytheists of today or otherwise. What matters is trying to remember that Zep Tepi is about cycles and how that relates to you, on an individual level, in your practice. And if you can remind yourself, even a few times a day that change is coming and that the bad isn’t going to always be so bad… then maybe, just maybe, that really is just what the whole point is.

Zep Tepi.

When I was a baby Kemetic, I spent a lot of my time on the Internet forum, The Cauldron*. In fact, I spent so much time on the forum because it was the first place where I was able to see other solitary Kemetics interact with one another and it was, really, the best place to get a good jumping off point to start this crazy Kemetic adventure. I can remember sitting in the forum one day while I read someone wax poetic about just what an altar should be to people entering this particular polytheistic path. I can’t recall who the member was who was saying this stuff and I’m going to look for the thread in question. All I remember is that they explained that the point in the altar, in the shrine, in the mix therein was to achieve Zep Tepi. It was the action of trying to attain a replica Zep Tepi – the First Time –that was the ultimate goal to creating sacred space. That particular depiction has stuck with me through the years and while I cannot say if I am always emulating Zep Tepi when I rearrange and reincarnate my various altar set ups, I can tell you that periodically, I at least think about it.

For anyone who may not be aware, Zep Tepi is the period of time when the gods walked upon the earth and ruled the humans that had been created. To put this into a context that Kemetics may understand: This was when we can expect such titillating mythologies as the Distant Goddess, the Destruction of Mankind, Aset Tricks Re, and the Wesirian Myth cycle to have happened. If we were to associate this with a time period in ancient Egypt’s history, as shown in the various periods hammered out by Egyptologists, we would say that this was prior to the period known as the Pre-Dynastic Period. In effect, this is when all of ancient Egypt’s various cosmogonies and mythologies came to pass.

Considering Zep Tepi from a laity perspective, I have to ask myself if it is even remotely important. Does it play even the tiniest role in the reconstructed practice I am aiming for? My entire stance has been entirely devoted to laity, whether I’ve been specifically stating that or not. And I have to ask myself if Zep Tepi played even a minor part in the personal practices of the men and women and children who made up ancient Egypt? If by recreating the religious perspective of a lay person, am I falling into a desire to understand everything when, maybe, I don’t need to?

I have to assume, though I may not be correct here, that the lay people of ancient Egypt would not have known anything about Zep Tepi. They may have had oral traditions relating back to the telling of the myth cycles. It may have been a form of entertainment for the family: they all get together before going to bed and tell the children stories of the netjer. But since this is speculation, I cannot say if it’s even remotely something that was interesting or worth knowing about for the average ancient lay person. I have to assume, without adequate laity based research under my belt, that they really wouldn’t have known of this type of thing and wouldn’t have cared if they had known. It’s not like the First Time would make their daily toil any easier. It wouldn’t help facilitate the growth of their crops, the health of their family, or their relationships with their gods. Looking at this as logically as I can, I have to just go ahead and say that the lay person probably didn’t know or didn’t care.

Of course, from the other side of the coin, it’s possible they would have known. But again, I have to come back to, would it have mattered? The only time when Zep Tepi really becomes something that the ancients would have needed to at least acknowledge is when we are celebrating Wep Ronpet. While Wep Ronpet (from this blogger’s perspective) isn’t quite the same as Zep Tepi, it’s kind of like a cosmic do-over for the previous year. But as Warboar mentions here, “Wep Ronpet itself is a reenactment of Zep-Tepi, also known as ‘The First Occasion,’ when the sun first dawned over the new Creation, when all created things were in their purest state, and the Creator was at His strongest and most youthful.” Or, as the KO website, WW Wiki states, “On Wep Ronpet, Zep Tepi or the ‘First Time’ occurs again, renewing the year and bringing renewal to ma’at and to the world.”

So, from a modern perspective, the two are intertwined. But I keep coming back to the same question I keep asking myself, does this shit matter from a historically informed laity specific religious practice?

I have to admit that I do think the concept of Zep Tepi is important. Not for the comment that I related above, which I’ll get back into momentarily. I have to think that it’s important because we, as Kemetics, are attempting to recreate a religious tradition based off of whatever we have access to. And while Internet searches mostly come up with items about starseeds when I do a Google search for Zep Tepi, it’s still kind of important. I mean, it’s only just the time when the gods ruled the earth and the time when all of our mythologies came to pass. It’s only just the whole foundation, really, for what it is that we do. So, I think, in that context, it is something that we need to pay attention to and attempt to understand whether we are of the laity or of the priesthood.

Now, I don’t think that this concept needs to be something that we need to spend a lot of time on. It’s important, but it doesn’t rank nearly as high as items like heka or ma’at. Both of those concepts should rank higher, in my opinion, on the Kemetic neophyte “think about” list. But, it’s something that should be taken into consideration when one starts recreating this religion.

And here’s the reason we need to pay attention to it: remember that first rambling paragraph about the totally awesome sauce comment on altars that I started this post with? That is why we need to think about this, get in tune with it periodically, and assess its role in our religion. It isn’t just because it’s the foundation of our myths. It’s not just because we should think about it, at least partially, when we celebrate Wep Ronpet. All of that is fleeting, really, when it comes to reconstructing this religious persuasion. However, what isn’t transitory is the fact that many of us will have created altars to our netjer possibly even before delving into the meat and potatoes behind theologies, mythologies, and concepts. And as that commentary from years ago intimates, the creation of our sacred spaces for the netjer needs to hearken back to Zep Tepi.

While I stood over that altar this morning, I thought about what it was that could relate to Zep Tepi on my altar space. While I have other deities to whom I pay daily homage to, it’s to Sekhmet that I attempt to be the most reconstructed in my religious practices. (I don’t know why. I just… that’s just how it is here, I guess.) And while I studied her altar after having lit the cone of incense and setting flame to the candle, I glanced over that sacred space. Was there anything on there that would make her feel like she was back at Zep Tepi? Were the flowers enough? The flame? The incense? The cool water? The intent? Did any of this even remotely add up to what I was hoping to gain by going through this?

And I have to admit that my cursory moment, stumbling along as I normally am, fell short.

I didn’t need anyone to tell me that. I just knew it.

The thing that the original commenter all those years ago failed to mention is that recreating Zep Tepi is a lot more than just items. Hell, maybe they did mention that part of it and I have just forgotten in all the time since then. Whatever – it doesn’t matter. I know that I failed the task of creating Zep Tepi in that moment. There was something off, something missing. So, how does one attempt to recreate a time period that you have absolutely no real context for, but only ideas and half remembered dreams? How does one end up back to the start of it all – not your start, of course, but the start of life, the universe, and everything – without knowing what it was like?

When I find out, I’ll be sure to update you.

* If any of you look for this page after reading this post, please be aware that I do not advocate it for neophytes unless you have very thick skin. They are very acerbic and clique like. As someone once told a friend of mine, “lurk but never post.”