A reader question I recently received on social media highlights the moral and ethical dilemma some of us face when exploring Kemeticism (also known as, Kemetism) for the first time. Those of us from non-Egyptian and non-African backgrounds often struggle with the appropriateness of our desire to become more involved in Kemetic neo-paganism. As such, I wanted to include this reader question here, as it has become typical of the types of questions I’m receiving more and more. I hope the following advice will help put people’s minds at ease.
I have a question about Kemetism.
I am British, am I not allowed to be into Kemetism? Or do I have to be from Egypt or have Egyptian in me, I’m VERY interested in this and wanting to believe in the gods, but I feel bad because I am not Egyptian. I’m just full British (from what I think – anyway).
A: That’s an excellent question. It’s one I get a lot and the way I reply to people is this: if you feel drawn to ancient Egyptian spirituality and its deities (or a particular deity for example, Anubis, Isis, Set, or Sekhmet) it’s usually because they’re already working with you and their influence is something you can intuitively feel. You are not taking away from anyone else’s identity, race or culture through your interest in Kemeticism. Of course, there are some racially charged opinions out there, but that’s all they are.
None of the netjeru have ever proclaimed they’ll only help modern Egyptians, or that only people of African descent can be Kemetics. These are human fallacies. I became a Kemetic myself after feeling powerful, positive beings around me at night and when I asked who they were, I was flooded with images of ancient Egypt. After doing some research, I found Kemeticism. So, the short answer is yes, anyone can become a Kemetic practitioner if they choose, regardless of race or nationality.
Also noteworthy, is the fact that modern Egypt’s national religion is Islam. While modern Egyptians celebrate their ancient heritage, they aren’t known to practice ancient Egyptian religion, though I have pondered the notion and am convinced there may be exceptions to the rule. I’d love to hear from any modern Egyptian pagans, if there are any!
In hindsight, I should have also assured the reader that I, too have reflected on similar ethical concerns as an American-Australian, who happens to be caucasian. My issue was how I might be impacting African Americans by practicing Kemetic spirituality, while our reader question from the UK focuses on modern Egyptians. Both of us are attempting to right the historical wrongs of colonialism, which I think is a positive sign of healing the past.
Unfortunately, colonising black spaces is something I’ve been attacked for in the present, albeit by a rare number of people. As a result, I now acknowledge the connection between Kemetic practice and Traditional African Religion at the end of each post I write, and I also advocate for the Afrocentric point of view to the best of my ability — as an outsider looking in — because it’s the socially responsible thing to do.
Yet, I still practice Kemetic paganism. That’s not something I’m willing to give up, simply to make other people feel more comfortable. From my point of view, the gods have chosen us for this path, not the other way around. That’s a tenet of my Kemetic faith. I don’t expect everyone to understand or agree with it, and I don’t need them to because the gods do. Ultimately, if someone wants to worship or work with ancient Egyptian deities (who we call the netjeru), or follow ancient Egyptian philosophies such as Ma’at, it’s a matter between that person and the gods; it really doesn’t involve or concern anyone else. I do however, exercise cultural sensitivity and respect as best I can. I’m not here to steal anything from anyone, obviously, and I think anyone who believes that might want to reconsider who truly ‘owns’ ancient Egypt.
Thank you for visiting Kemetic Blog. I hope my discussion on reader questions has made a positive contribution to the conversation. Of course, I’m always open to more reader questions; I may not always know the answer, but I should be able to point you in the right direction! Please share this post on social media and include your own thoughts in the comment section below.
Acknowledgement of African Origin The author of Kemetic Blog acknowledges and respects the African ancestral origins of ancient Egypt and recognises the practice of Kemetic paganism as a modern reflection of Traditional African Religion.
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