Whether or not Kemetic neo-pagans celebrate Christmas may seem like a complicated topic but it really doesn’t need to be.
Most practitioners — myself included — are notoriously practical people who incorporate ancient Egyptian religion and spirituality into everyday modern life. From this perspective, I’d like to think we have the best of both worlds. That is, the blessings and favour of the ancient Egyptian deities / netjeru with all our freedoms and mod cons intact. Not too shabby of a deal!
It would be practical for us then, to work with the prevailing culture and society in which we live, while also making contributions to our own personally chosen, neo-pagan culture that ultimately, enriches our lives and the lives of those around us. This is just my own opinion. I would never presume to speak for all Kemetics. I would add, however, that I am not alone in my opinion.
Other Kemetic neo-pagans who have blogged before me, such as Grave Moss and Stars and Loves Isis seem to have reached a general consensus and their conclusions are quite obvious. If and how Kemetic neo-pagans celebrate Christmas is entirely up to each individual. Further, each individual’s choices are inherently self-validating and shouldn’t require any defending in the community. Ultimately, it’s your choice whether or not to celebrate Christmas and it’s okay, either way. Whatever you choose to celebrate and however you choose to celebrate it, have fun and enjoy life!
While it’s true that we Kemetic neo-pagans have our own holidays, such as Wep Ronpet or the Egyptian New Year, our holidays are often solitary observances or at best, celebrated in small groups. I myself have celebrated Kemetic observances with an online community and have found it very satisfying. Still, the prospect of a massive public holiday, with time off work (in most cases), which can be spent with family and friends is something I find very appealing. For these and other reasons, I’ve chosen to continue celebrating Christmas, even though I fully consider myself a Kemetic neo-pagan.
Some Kemetic neo-pagans celebrate Christmas simply because, in the words of Isis, “It’s good for the soul.”
My first Christmas as a Kemetic practitioner is proving to be a rite of passage. One advantage I feel I have in my spiritual life, which has made decision-making regarding what to do about Christmas much easier, is the use of intuitive faculties. Anyone who knows me would be familiar with my reluctance to use words like ‘psychic’, due to the attached stigma but for the sake of clarity, this is the exact meaning I want to convey. Sometimes, you just have to say it. Psychic!
In previous posts, I’ve introduced the concept of Subjective Mystical Experiences (SMEs) to better explain and normalise psychic and spiritual perception as part of a wider experience of being human. There’s nothing irrational or primitive about having mystical experiences; quite the contrary, they’re milestones in spiritual development. I would like to expand on this concept further and say that collectively, Subjective Mystical Experiences (SMEs) construct a person’s Subjective Mystical Reality (SMR).
From the perspective of my own SMR, the netjeru do not seem to mind the holiday festivities, to which I’ve added Kemetic themes. This is the benefit of investing in your intuition. You can ask the netjeru directly if you are unsure about something. It makes navigating life as a Kemetic practitioner so much easier and less complicated. Don’t know how the netjeru might feel about something? Just ask Isis.
Her response to the holidays? “It’s good for the soul.”
Thank you, my beloved goddess! This is why we benefit tremendously from honing our intuitive skills. It gives you first hand experience, a direct line to the divine and moves you away from a cerebral localisation of the spiritual, which is far too limiting, if you want to fully experience everything this path has to offer. The netjeru are not mere myths nor archetypes. They are living energies, which brings us to the next point.
My own SME has seen the positive energy and atmosphere generated by the holiday spirit as something the netjeru both enjoy and receive nourishment from, thus making it easier for them to be present in our lives, whilst also enabling them to better work with us. I would further propose this is the same mechanism by which offerings are both favoured and effective. This is a topic I’d like to discuss more fully in the future but essentially, the netjeru are positive energy and therefore, thrive off positive energy. More to come on this.
So if Kemetic neo-pagans celebrate Christmas, here are some ideas on how to incorporate Kemetic themes into what was already once a pagan holiday.
At the time of this post, we’re approaching mid-December. Because of the positive psychic response I’ve gotten from the netjeru so far, I’m feeling confident to continue with a Kemetic observance of the Christmas holiday. But what does a Kemetic observance of Christmas entail? Again, I’m looking to those who’ve blogged before me to see what worked for these pioneering Kemetics and to acknowledge the achievements of our community so far. These sources suggest a re-paganisation of Christmas, if such a word exists. I’d like to quote a passage from Loves Isis:
“It’s easy to observe the birth of another divinity at the winter solstice. Now is the best time to celebrate any solar deity you wish. Instead of Christmas being a celebration of Jesus’s birthday, I often celebrate the birth of Horus the Younger, Son of Isis. During December I created a special devotion that focuses on the upcoming birth of Horus and the maternity of Isis. Early in the month I take Horus off my altar for the time being or place a cloth over the depictions of the infant Horus nursing at Isis’s breast. I think about the trials Isis went through as she wandered into the marshes away from all the comfort and luxury a goddess should have. She did this so her child would be safe.” — From Meresaset’s 2013 post, Christmas as a Kemetic
It’s a widely accepted argument that Christmas before Christ originally consisted of a number of pagan observances and many of the holiday traditions we have today are in fact, pagan with ties to Yule, the winter solstice in the Northern hemisphere and New Year.
Historically, there are three pre-Christian, Roman festivals that are similar to Christmas: the Kalends, the Saturnalia and the Sol Invictus (see the 2017 article, Christmas: An anthropological lens by Daniel Miller, who has also written the book, Unwrapping Christmas). Rather than go into each of these ancient festivals in detail, I’ll summarise by saying these festivals were celebrated with varying degrees of excess, gift-giving, feasting and celebration not unlike the holiday season we have today. It’s interesting to note, even Christian scholars acknowledge the strategic placement of the celebration of Jesus’ birth (see the 2011 article, The birth of Christmas by Joseph F. Kelly).
I’d also like to note, as a person with Catholic roots, that I do not hold modern Christians nor Jesus Christ himself to account for the past political decisions made by the Church. It is what it is, as they say. Plus, the Church has much bigger problems to contend with at present.
Christmas as we know it today, is a hodgepodge of pagan traditions from around the globe, superimposed with Christian themes. Examples include the Christmas tree, which is from German tradition; the filling of stockings is from the Dutch, Santa Claus believe it or not, is said by Daniel Miller to have begun as an American tradition, while the British claim to fame is Christmas cards, and many others. There’s absolutely no reason why we can’t add a Kemetic tradition to the mix, if we so desire. If not, we may be the only ones who haven’t! If everyone else is doing it, why can’t we?
My advice to others would be to gain enough confidence in your own practice to decide independently what you want to do about Christmas. Don’t worry so much if other Kemetic neo-pagans celebrate Christmas or not. If you want to celebrate it, then do so. Or, if you think Christmas is a bunch of hypocritical hoopla you could do without, then do without it! Either way, your decision should bring you peace.
To summarise, it’s purely a matter of choice if Kemetic neo-pagans celebrate Christmas or not. The Christmas holiday we have today consists of many different pagan traditions with Christian themes thrown into the mix. Ask the netjeru for input regarding the best decisions to make, then watch for signs and messages. Use your intuition. If you decide to celebrate Christmas, it’s recommend to incorporate Kemetic themes into the holiday, to give it more personal meaning to you.
Thank you, so much for reading Kemetic Blog! Stay safe and well. And remember, how you approach your practice as a Kemetic neo-pagan is up to you, mediated by your own relationship with the divine.
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