Back to the Beginning, Again: Embodiment

Okay, I fell off the blog wagon again, but let’s take the new year as it goes and get back to it, and start at the beginning again, again.

Consider the structure of ritual, the practice of being. The real basics, not the fancier things, the tools we apply to resonate with the souls.

We light fire: we kindle sight.
We burn incense: we bring life to the nose.
We speak prayers: our ears are opened.
We make offerings: we taste of the Eye of Heru.
We perform gestures: our bodies answer the call.

Religion is an embodied act. This is not an accident, a happenstance, because the point is not just what we do before the shrines, but what we take with us into the world, which is full of substance.

I am as prone as anyone else to wander off into the abstract and the transcendental (honestly, I am perhaps more so than many, for various reasons), but the truth of the matter remains: religion is embodied. And there is a lot out there that would teach us to de-body ourselves, or deny our bodies, or to try to escape them like a Houdini’s performance.

But if we come back to ritual, we come back to sight, to scent, to sound, to taste, to touch. And, if the ritual is well-constructed, these bring us to spiritual awareness, to presence, to a full grasp of being.

One of the reasons I have always preferred to do my Kemetic rituals at night is this: when I strike the light in the darkness, when I kindle Zep Tepi, it feels like it means more. There is a deeper resonance for me to bring the light out of the darkness. Perhaps – were I a morning person at all – I could get the same effect kindling the light in the pre-dawn, letting the lamp rise with the sun. (But the twilight of dawn is still light, so that is a large maybe.)

It is presence in the moment.

It is worth cultivating.

(It is also hard. At least for me.)

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4 thoughts on “Back to the Beginning, Again: Embodiment

  1. warboar says:

    Being in the moment is wicked, WICKED difficult. I hear you there.

    Also good to know that I’m not the only Kemetic who tends to perform ritual after dark/before dawn.Thinking more on that tendency, I see the symbolic significance of it, which I hadn’t quite noticed before. It just felt more natural for me to commune with the Gods in the dark, “striking lights.” So much emphasis is placed on the sun, on performing in the light (which there’s nothing wrong with), and the act of striking light in the darkness and going a more . . . dare I say primordial route, is overlooked more often than not.

    • kiya_nicoll says:

      If I’m putting the pieces together correctly, the light-striking in an ancient temple would have been done at dawn – but it would have been done in the dark of the inner sanctum of the temple. So there’s the “I strike the light and Ra returns” thing, and the “Every light I strike is Zep Tepi bringing illumination out of darkness” thing. They did both, because they were waaaay more organised about this shit than me. ;)

  2. Ekunyi says:

    As another Kemetic who generally performs ritual between sunset and sunrise, I’ll note that for me a lot the draw to this time frame is that it helps me more effectively reach what you’ve described here, “But if we come back to ritual, we come back to sight, to scent, to sound, to taste, to touch.”

    Somehow the light in the darkness allows me to connect with these senses more fully. To shut off my surroundings beyond that which the candlelight touches, to acknowledge that the rest of the room and all the mundane, secular things it holds are obscured by the absence of natural light which would, during the day, stream in through windows and even the crevices of doors. It’s a tremendous aid in shifting my mindset to the simplicity of being and feeling and sensing, a simplicity that I lose when all the input of all the… okay, eloquence fails me, but all the damn *things* in my home and in my day-to-day life overwhelm my capacity to just exist.

    *chuckles* But yes, I appreciate the symbolism of what you’ve written here as well, I suppose I’m also just appreciating the practical side of things, if you will.

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