Last year I made a half-hearted attempt at taking part in the Pagan Blog Project for 2012. I think I made it through C – five or six entries. I was behind to start with, which curbed my enthusiasm, and then I just stopped blogging altogether. Anyways, now that the secular year has restarted, so has the Blog Project, and this time I’d like to make a better effort to participate, if only to keep working on my writing skills.
To start, I’m going to borrow Ekunyi’s subject for the first submission for A!
A is for Arranging Sacred Space!
Having a sacred shrine for Netjer is pretty crucial in Kemetic Orthodoxy. If you have not been divined, your sacred space should be neutral, to Netjer as a whole, or if you so choose, devoted to gods and/or goddesses that you feel are active in your life, or that you have a special affinity for. The reason we are expected to have such a space is for a ritual called Senut, one of the main cornerstones of the faith. Senut was designed by the Nisut (AUS), and is unique to the faith, though many of the components are derived from familiar places such as The Book of the Dead.
The ritual is meant to be performed daily, and you must be purified before entering your shrine space. This includes taking a bath with natron salt and a little heka, and then donning clean ritual whites. The rest of the ritual takes place before your shrine, thus the importance of creating your own sacred space.
When I initially began my beginner’s course, I was instructed to create a shrine that would be neutral and leave me open to Their influence. While I had plenty of great statuary for such a shrine, I was nervous for the longest time about assembling one and performing Senut. It wasn’t until my class was over that I finally pushed myself to make a shrine. I wanted to do my RPD, but I wanted to be comfortable performing the rite before I made that next step.
I never took photos of my initial shrine because I was still at a stage where I didn’t feel comfortable sharing my private space with anyone. I don’t think this is uncommon – shrines are not meant to be a public spectacle. In fact, they’re supposed to be kept in a private place that is not frequented by people, even covered or closed up if possible when not in use. It is also recommended that you do not keep your shrine in your bedroom, but for some of us (like me!) that isn’t possible with the living space that we are afforded.
So, while I do not have a photo of my initial beginner’s shrine, I do have one of my offerings from the night of my RPD that I have posted in the past. The main things that you really need for a shrine are a light source, preferably a candle, a way to burn incense or hold oils, and cups and plates for offerings. It’s not strictly necessary to keep these objects as part of your shrine, but you’ll want them handy, as any time you’re in shrine you should at least offer cool water, light, and scent.
In my photo you can see that I have a two plates of food offerings, I believe lotus buns, mangoes, and cherries. I also have three cups with liquid offerings, red orange juice, soda, and wine. I have two scented candles lit, offering both light and scent, and an incense holder with some burning, as well as a vase of flowers which also provides a scent offering, as well as beautification.
The statuary is the same that I used for my “neutral” shrine. In the top right corner is an incense holder with statues of Bast at the base. I believe She’s been in my life for most of it, constantly appearing, and I just didn’t listen until recently. It’s fairly common as I understand it for Bast to guide people to Netjer and the House. In the top left corner is a statue of Aset (Isis) with her wings spread, though when in shrine at the time, I focused on the statue as representative of Ma’at, our Lady of Truth and Justice. The cloth is a simple white linen, traditional for a Kemetic shrine, though you may use what you feel is most appropriate for your gods, especially if They make it known that They prefer something else!
You can also see a wooden scarab there, that I placed on a whim, before I knew Khepera was my Father, and before I really knew anything at all about him. Scarabs have just always been a huge symbol of Kemet for me, and I read in a few places while I was taking my beginner’s class that they were a symbol of protection and guidance for students.
You can choose as I often do, to create separate shrine areas, or alter your space for specific Duas (festivals). Most (probably all, but don’t quote me!) of the Names have special days that honor them, and if you wish to make a space for Them on the days that call to you the most, that is a great idea! In the past I have created an offering space for Bast, on Her Day of Chewing Onions. I’ve posted the photo previously as well, but will stick it here for posterity’s sake.
No less than four statues in Her honor, as well as my incense burner again, and a bowl of sweet red onions cooked with honey mustard. I can’t for the life of me remember what liquids I offered though!
Once I had my RPD completed, my shrine space slowly changed as I obtained pieces meant for my Divine Family. You still want to keep the vitals – incense, light, plates, and cups, but your statuary is where you can really get creative.
This photo is from after I received my Serqet-Aset votive. At this point I just moved things around, didn’t really have to remove anything. You can also see my copy of the Prayerbook written by Hemet (AUS) that was gifted to me by a member of the House, Nityinepu.
My bowls and cups are not currently present, but my candles are generally a stationary part of my shrine.
This next photo is from a time right after I received my Khepera votive, which I just posted about. The photo quality is a little blurry, I apologize for that. It’s also a bit messy because I started to run out of room for all the things I wanted to keep in shrine. As you can see, in addition to the Khepera votive, I also have a large white lotus candle, a new set of three small offering bowls (gifted by Meket on my birthday), and a larger fourth plate with a scarab stamping (gifted by my friend Cory on my birthday). The small coil in front of the Khepera piece is a scarab necklace that Meket gave me when I started my beginner’s class.
Shortly after this was assembled, I had to pack it all away and we moved. It was not until recently that I finally reassembled a makeshift neutral shrine for temporary use until I could afford to get the shelving unit that I had wanted for months as a shrine space. I recently posted this photo in a regular entry, but will post again!
It’s just a simple wooden bookcase from Ikea, nothing fancy. I wanted multiple shelves because of the way I envision my shrine space. A space for my Father, a space for my Beloveds, a space for my Akhu, and a space for Dua offerings and for Netjer as a whole.
There are a lot of new additions here, namely the Khepera statue on the top shelf, a recent acquirement, the Khepera miniature, and the lotus painting.
Right now the space is still kind of set up from the Kemetic celebration of the Establishment of the Celestial Cow – hence the “Moomas” cards.
My shrine is still a huge work in progress, and I think it always will be. I see new things nearly every day that I want to add to it, and of course the offerings you make keep it changing all the time. I imagine once I get the remaining statuary that I’m fiending for it will look a lot less like a mess, but in the meantime, I’m happy with what I have.
The most important thing (in my opinion) to keep in mind when building your shrine space is to keep it true to your heart. Your shrine be as cluttered as mine, or clean and concise. It all depends on who you are, and Who is directing your hand during your creation. Above all else, honor the Names and your Akhu!
*Banner courtesy of Emky of HoN