A few days late, but I made it!
Before I get started on the meat of my post I want to explain the ranking within the hierarchy of Kemetic Orthodox.
Beginner – member who has chosen to take the Beginner’s class to learn more about the faith and KO practice
Remetj – member who has completed the course. Kemetic word meaning “royal subject” and implies that someone is a friend of the faith.
Divined Remetj – someone who has had their RPD performed by Hemet (AUS) but at the present time has not taken Shemsu vows.
Shemsu – someone who has received their Kemetic name and taken vows to put Kemetic Orthodox and their Family gods before other religions and deities.
Shemsu-Ankh – someone who takes additional vows to serve and honor Netjer, the Nisut (AUS), and the Kemetic Orthodox community during the Weshem-ib (testing of the heart) Ordeal.
Past these designations are rankings of the clergy, all of whom are chosen from the Shemsu-Ankh. While these rankings help keep our Temple in order, a person is no less important or welcome within the faith depending on their rank.
B is for Becoming a Shemsu
Upon simple explanation of the tasks involved, one might think that earning the status of a Shemsu is no big deal. Fill out an application, attend (or don’t) some classes, read lessons from your email, apply for an RPD and get divined, receive your name and take your vows. In general, the most it really takes is time. It’s not until you take those final steps that the hard part really begins.
The application is fairly straightforward. You are required to provide personal information such as your physical address and your legal name. I believe requiring such information is an attempt to keep people honest, you are not permitted to be an anonymous entity in the faith simply because a majority of it takes place on the internet. However, this information does remain private, and the applications at this point in time are only seen by the Nisut (AUS).
Personal information is followed by a short series of questions regarding your reasons for wanting to take the class and be a part of KO, as well as your feelings regarding the internet aspect of the religion (most of our fellowship and activities are carried out online via live chats). If you are under 18 you are required to provide parental consent.
Depending on when you stumble on the community, or decide that you want to take the class, you might have a long wait before the next one. Classes occur on a rolling basis, usually every three to four months. You might mail in your application and it can be months before you hear a response, which can be pretty nerve-wracking. On a bright note though, the declines for acceptance are few and far between. As I understand it the main reason someone is declined is because their reasons for joining the faith have nothing to do with wanting to be closer to Netjer, or exploring their spirituality, but rather to “be different from their family” or something like that. Being Kemetic and/or pagan shouldn’t be about what other people think, but about what you want.
After you receive an acceptance letter from Hemet (AUS) and the class starts you’ll receive a number of emails from the person teaching the class, in my case it was Reverend Sedjemes, one of the most familiar faces around the HoN community. The emails include everything from information on how the classes will work to a list of books that might be of interest to you as you explore the faith and Kemet in general. It can take a couple weeks for this process to be complete. In my case the official lessons didn’t begin until about three weeks after I received my acceptance email.
There are ten lessons total, numbered 0 to 9. They are received in parts on a weekly basis. You can choose to read them straight from your computer, or print them out and keep them in a binder. I’ve even known a few people who converted the pages into PDFs and uploaded them onto their eReaders for convenience. Each lesson is accompanied by a quiz that you are asked to return to your teacher. You are not required to do them weekly, but asked to do them at your convenience. It’s much simpler to complete them on the weeks that you receive them, but schedules and life do not always permit such a thing.
In addition to these lessons and quizzes there are live chats with your classmates and teacher twice a week. They are scheduled and will likely occur at the same times each week. You are not expected to attend these classes, but it is highly recommended because the emailed lessons are really only the tip of the iceberg and will likely lead to many questions that can best be answered by your teacher. Sometimes there’s just no way you can attend the classes (time zone difficulties and schedules that you cannot alter). You can always email your questions to the appropriate person if you cannot attend the class, but before you do, I would recommend reading the chat log that will be sent to you after each live class session. It is possible and likely that the teacher answered your question in lecture, or that someone else asked the same question.
Once the class is finished (after roughly two and half months) the clergy involved with the beginner’s course will schedule one on one time with you, whether it be via email or a live chat so you can discuss any remaining questions or feelings you may have about the course and Kemetic Orthodox in general. You will have the choice to accept the ranking of Remetj and remain on the forums as a friend of the faith, or not. Taking the course does not require you to do this, and becoming a Remetj does not come with any vows to the faith or to Netjer. It simply means you’ve completed the course and have an understanding of Kemetic Orthodox.
After you graduate and have decided to join as a Remetj (if you do!) you will get added to mailing lists for House events, the monthly devotional calendar as written by Hemet (AUS) each month, and other pertinent information that members might pass on to the lists. I don’t know if there’s a specific schedule for when Hemet (AUS) offers you the possibility of taking part in an RPD (Ritual of Parent Divination), but I received an email concerning this about a month after my class officially ended.
Some people are ready as soon as their class is over, some people aren’t. I know of at least one of my classmates that waited over a year to get his RPD done. The ritual is not a requirement of the faith, or of practicing any Kemetic themed faith, it is simply a step in becoming a Shemsu of Kemetic Orthodox.
The Ritual of Parent Divination isn’t something to go into lightly. To choose to have Hemet (AUS) divine your Parent(s) and Beloved(s) should signify that you have faith in her connection with Netjer, and as your spiritual teacher/leader. You should (and not everyone does) go into the process accepting that Whomever is divined for you are indeed the deities that created your soul and have a personal interest in your life path, even if They turn out to be gods you didn’t expect. It is my humble opinion that if you leave with RPD results that you are dissatisfied with, you likely didn’t have the faith in Hemet (AUS) that you should have had in order to choose to allow her to divine for you.
There is nothing wrong with choosing your own path and deciding on your own which deities are your patrons. I feel it is important to really sit down and think about what is right for you as a person, and not choose to continue these steps simply because you’re curious about what Hemet (AUS) will divine, or because you want to eventually get a Kemetic name. It’s far easier to pick up a dictionary and choose your own name (one you’ll for sure like!), and doesn’t involve making a vow to gods that you might not intend to keep.
Once the deities of your Family line up have been divined you will have the choice to continue to the next step and make your vows as a Shemsu and receive your Kemetic name. It is not required, and if you are not certain that you’re ready to make the vows of a Shemsu, then I recommend waiting. Choosing not to take the vows immediately does not mean that you’re turning away from the gods of your RPD. Many people want time to get to know their Family, especially if a deity that they weren’t familiar with has shown up. Some just aren’t ready to make a commitment to honor Kemetic gods above all others – this happens frequently with people that meld multiple paths of spirituality, and it’s perfectly acceptable for you to do so. Two friends of mine, one of them in my beginner’s class, have both only recently decided to take Shemsu vows and be named after more than a year since they’ve been eligible. There’s no one way to do this, the only way should be what is right for you and for your spiritual road.
Naming ceremonies take place once a month, usually the last Wednesday and Friday, if there are people that are eligible and ready. I’m not certain if you can be Named in private, but I imagine if it’s absolutely impossible for you to make either time frame ever, then Hemet(AUS) would make a special allowance. Your Kemetic name will include your Parent’s name if you have a single parent, and if you have two, it will somehow signify Who your parents are. For example, my Father is Khepera, and my Kemetic name is Shukheperas’ankhi – loosely meaning Khepera’s sunlight makes me live. My spiritual sister is a daughter of Khepera and Set, and her name (Tanakhtsenu) means the one belonging to two strong ones.
Once you have been named you are charged to learn the secrets of your Shemsu name and to keep them well. In addition to this, by becoming a Shemsu you are making a vow to honor the gods of your RPD first and foremost, and that Kemetic Orthodox is your primary spiritual commitment. (not ONLY, but primary!)
If this is a path that interests you, in any way, I encourage you to tread on! But make the choices of your heart, and the ones that are right for you, and not because of what someone else says, does, or thinks. Vows to a god or gods should never be taken lightly, no matter what pantheon They’re from!
*Banner courtesy of Emky of HoN