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Kemetism (from km.t, the native name of Ancient Egypt) is a term for neopagan revivals of Ancient Egyptian religion which developed in the United States from the 1970s. There are three main groups, each of which take a different approach to their beliefs, ranging from eclectic to polytheistic reconstructionist.
- Kemetic Wicca (also Tameran Wicca, from t3 mry "land of two riverbanks", another native term for "Egypt") is an eclectic approach combining Ancient Egyptian elements with Wicca, a religion based on pagan practices, which utilises witchcraft.
- Kemetic Revivalism and Reconstruction, a reconstructionist, which include academic approaches informed by Egyptology, notably Kemetic Orthodoxy of Tamara L. Siuda and Kerry Wisner's Akhet Hwt Hwr
- The Ausar Auset of Ra Un Nefer Amen is a syncretic Pan-Africanist approach targeted at the African diaspora.
History and demographics
Kemetic revivalism appears in the 1970s with the rise of neopaganism in the United States, the "Church of the Eternal Source" promoting New Age receptions of Egyptian spiritualism, founded in 1970, and the Ausar Auset Society promoting Pan-Africanism founded in 1973, Tamara Siuda's Kemetic Orthodoxy following in the late 1980s and Kerry Wisner's Akhet Kemetic reconstructionism in the 1990.
The movement is composed of a mixture of New Age, Wicca, and Afrocentrism, the latter in the context of "Afrocentrist Egyptology" which emerged in the United States in the 1990s, making Ancient Egypt a "Black Culture".
Ausar Auset Society
The "Ausar Auset Society" is a Pan-African religious organization founded in 1973 by Ra Un Nefer Amen. It is based in Brooklyn, New York with chapters in several major cities in the United States. The organization was created for the purpose of providing members a societal framework through which the Kemetic spiritual way of life can be lived daily. The organization provides afrocentric-based spiritual training to the African American community and to the African diaspora. The religion uses the "Kemetic" Tree of Life (Paut Neteru) as the basis of its cosmogony and philosophical underpinning. It seeks to reunite the traditions of the founders of civilization into a spiritually empowering way of life that aims at the awakening of the Osiris/Ausar principle (the Atman (Hinduism),Divine Self) within each individual.
Church of the Eternal Source
The Church of the Eternal Source (Burbank, California, since 1970), and the affiliated Temple of Ptah and Circle of Anubis (since 1975, based in Portland, Oregon) are "open to all interested pagans and wiccans who have an interest in the Ancient Egyptian Religions."
"Kemetic Orthodoxy" is a specific tradition within Kemetic reconstructionism. It gained federal recognition in the United States of America as a religion under the name "House of Netjer" in 1994, and its tenets emphasize monolatry, ancestor veneration, and personal devotion. Although based on ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices, the religion was founded in 1988 by Tamara L. Siuda, known formally within her faith as "Her Holiness, Sekhenet-Ma'at-Ra setep-en-Ra Hekatawy I, Nisut-Bity of the Kemetic Orthodox faith." She underwent her coronation as Nisut-Bity in 1996 through ceremonies performed in Egypt by herself, and in 2000 she achieved a master's degree in Egyptology. The organization is centered around the Tawy House temple in Joliet, Illinois but there are followers of the faith located around the world who correspond via the internet.
The House of Netjer was legally recognized by the state of Illinois in 1993, and granted tax-exempt status in 1999. By 2007, Kemetic Orthodoxy claimed some 450 members.
Kemetic Reconstructionists acknowledge that there is no unbroken Kemetic tradition and because of this believe that to really understand ancient ways requires much serious study. Kemetic Reconstructionists emphasize the Reconstruction of the ritual and religious practices of the ancient Egyptians as accurately as possible based on Egyptological and archeological academic research. They identify themselves with Pagan Reconstructionist Religions
The experience of Netjer occurs in the context of ritual practice and daily life. Each member is seen as having a unique and personal relationship with Netjer. The truth of the one's experience of Netjer is always measured against the scholarly sources so as to avoid falling into "personal gnosis" (Knowledge of the divine based solely on experience) .
There is little discussion of culture in these groups which tend to believe that as moderns applying such ancient cultural constructs to modern lives outside of religious practices is in most cases unnecessary.
An example of this is their position regarding the role of the "Nisut". They believe that in modern times there is no nation thus no basis or need for a King. Further they believe that giving that sort of power to any one individual in modern times is dangerous and ultimately may lead to a cult. The temples leadership runs like a modern committee making decisions for the faith based on research and experience.
The Largest of these organizations is Akhet Het Heru which describes itself as a mystery school like other occult organizations and provides material for individual study and practice which draws on both western mystery schools and Egyptological sources.
A big difference between the reconstructionists and both the Orthodox and Traditional Kemetic practitioners is the focus on solitary practitioners and individual distance instruction.
In addition Kemetic reconstructionists are most likely to identify themselves with modern neo-pagan and occult organizations although through the influence of the two other schools of thought more and more reconstructionists speak of Kemetic faith as an African religion. However, neither practices nor teaching draws on African sources or those of other African Traditions. Rather they feel the ideas and principles of Kemetic Religion are best understood through Egyptological sources and the mystery traditions.
Along with this Akhet Hwt Hrw defines itself as “An educational resource and school for esoteric studies”
The leader of Akhet Hwt Hrw is Kerry Wisner. Mr Wisner is trained in hypnosis, a martial artist and is a certified Forsensic Hypnotist. He has studied and practiced within the western mystery tradition for over 20 years before starting Akhet Hwt Hwr. He was initiated into the “Egyptian mysteries” more than 20 years ago
Modern Atenism is a reconstructed religion based on the practices of Ancient Egypt as developed under the reforms of Akhenaten. While it is reconstructed, it is also an evolving religion that combines ancient and modern practices to create a new, living religion.
The history of modern Atenism has been one of growth, followed by some stagnation. During the early years of the internet there was work on creating and defining Atenism, but in time the groups tended to dissipate. At the present moment there are only a couple of semi-active Atenist groups.
- Marilyn C. Krogh; Brooke Ashley Pillifant, Kemetic Orthodoxy: Ancient Egyptian Religion on the Internet: A Research Note, Sociology of Religion (2004).
- Ellen Cannon Reed, Circle of Isis: Ancient Egyptian Magic for Modern Witches (2002), ISBN 978-1564145680.
- J. G. Melton, Encyclopedia of American Religions, 5th ed., Detroit (1996).
Wiccan and esoteric
- Church of the Eternal Source - Wiccan/Kemetic
- Kemetic FAQ from eCauldron
- Temple Harakhte by author Rosemary Clark
Revivalist and Reconstructionist
- Kemetic Orthodox House of Netjer
- Akhet Hwt Hrw "A school of Ancient Egyptian and Esoteric Studies"
- Nuhati-am-Nutjeru "founded by His Holiness Ptahmassu Kaamptah Marianptah Nofra-Uaa and Brother Sonamnuhati Uwserhatuwatchit Ariaanmaat in 2001"
- International Network of Kemetics
- Ta Noutri French kemetic group (in French)
- Akhetaten Fellowship (Atenism)
- Temple of Maat, a Kemetic temple devoted to the ancient wisdom of Maat