How to Celebrate Winter Solstice the Kemetic Shaman Way

14 12 2017

Hetepu (Peace & Blessings) Family

I have been meaning to write this post for the longest time so finally, here it is and hopefully it helps.

If you are like most people interested in your spiritual development, you have most likely come across people talking about winter solstice. I am not going to go into the full explanation of winter solstice is because there are plenty of sources available on the Internet.  Instead I am going to give a little insight into how I got into it, why I stopped observing and why I chose to celebrate it now.

Before we begin, I have to tell you that when I first got on this path, there were people who explained to me that winter solstice was the original Christmas. Now either because 1) I was new to the whole practice, 2) my disgust for the over commercialization of Christmas and those dreaded Christmas songs that are played 24 hours for 35 days beginning on November 26, and/or 3) because these individuals were very zealous and did not understand the full meaning either.  All I got out of it was that we were supposed to do all day fasts prior to the 25th of December, on the hope of receiving new things for the coming year. (Please note that I am knocking anyone who observe Winter Solstice in this manner.  I am just stating my experience. ) It was also impressed upon me that if you did not fast and meditate, that you would not be blessed.  So, for several years, I tried to observe this event as best I could even though it was presented to me as a dogmatic ritual.

However, it became increasingly difficult to observe Winter Solstice this way because: 1) I still had to go to work and, going to office parties, while fasting brings a whole lot of unwanted and unnecessary attention, and. 2) Not only that it never felt like a real celebration but more like a boring, monotonous chore.  So I stopped observing it for a while, but I returned to celebrating it after I discovered the Maa Aankh. Then, when my daughter was born, my wife and I wanted her to have a more profound experience for this event without feeling isolated or out-of-place from other family members and friends who celebrate Christmas and Three Kings Day in the typical fashion.

So, that our child has a more profound understanding of this event and develops an interfaith and multicultural understanding, it was decided that we would celebrate Winter Solstice as the “Receiving of the Name”.  This way she is not weirded out and sees the celebration of other peoples’ holidays as just another form of Winter Solstice.

What is Winter Solstice?

Now, before I explain how the “Receiving of the Name” works, Winter Solstice is the start of the solar year and it begins on the 21st of December marking the first day of winter. It is an astronomical event like a solar or lunar eclipse, or shooting stars, but a little more significant because the earth rotating on its axis tilts in a way that sun appears to be sitting still.  Thus, making the length of the day appear shorter and the night the longest night of the year. (Note that during the summer solstice the opposite occurs and the sun appears to sit still making the day the longest day of the year and the night the shortest). Immediately after the 21st of December, the days the sun shine during the daytime will get longer as the nights will get shorter.

So, in a nutshell scientifically speaking, Winter Solstice is when the earth tilts making it appear that the night is longer than the day. It is an annual, natural astronomical event, which means it affects all of us regardless if we believe in it or not, like gravity.  Since it affects us all, each culture interprets it differently like we do when we see an eclipse. Some people go out and gaze at the eclipse, others avoid being out during the eclipse for fear of the influences it may have upon an unborn child (My wife and I heard them all this past year). While some people see eclipses as an opportune time to conduct rituals, so it all depends upon what you believe or how you interpret the Winter Solstice.

Since it affects everyone, Winter Solstice has been celebrated by people all over the world based upon their cultural belief.  This means there is no right or wrong way to observe Winter Solstice. Choosing not to observe this astronomical event is similar to choosing not to watch a solar eclipse or Haley’s Comet. However, if you choose to observe it, you can do what others have done in the past, which is allegorized the entire event.

For instance, for some people who saw the darkness as an extension of evil and daytime as an extension of good, Winter Solstice was seen as the birth of a solar savior.  During this time they created a tradition to ensure that the various trickster spirits in the darkness were kind.  This is how Santa Claus comes into the picture and why he is offered sweets to make him more favorable towards you.  For some other cultures, they observed this event by setting an evergreen tree in the north. Then the tree was decorated with a star above used to represent the “invisible sun” (some say the star Sirius) and the various orbs and lights decorating the tree symbolized the spheres of the Tree of Life. Another version of this same tradition seems to build an elaborate bonfire and observe that the “Invisible Sun” provides warmth during these dark times.

In case you are wondering, the reason for allegorizing this astronomical event is because most people would get lost with the science of it.  Imagine explaining to a child about how the earth tilts, and now that we have people who are questioning on if the earth is round or flat.  You can easily see how it becomes very confusing with all of these beliefs, ideas and theories but, people cannot deny this astronomical event.  All you have to do is go outside and you will see that the days seem to be getting shorter and the nights longer. For instance, the other day (December 12th) the sun set around 5:30 – 6 o’clock and did not rise until 7:30 the next morning. That’s between 12+ hours of darkness. And, the closer we get to the 21st the shorter the days will be. So people from all over the allegorized this event to help them to remember, celebrate and observe it, and you can too.

Most of us are familiar with the Christianize version of this event which was changed to December 25 by Emperor Aurelian to celebrate the “Invisible Sun”. Then, in 273 AD the Roman Catholic Church changed this astronomical event to a literal historical event to celebrate the birthday of Christian savior. However, it is believed that January 6 was the original date the Kemetic sages chose to celebrate Winter Solstice, which the Catholic Church adopted in order to celebrate the Three Magi or Three Kings Day.

How to Celebrate Winter Solstice the Kemetic Shaman Way

Artwork courtesy of Jeff Dahl

Since I follow a Kemetic shamanic path, Winter Solstice has a more profound meaning to me – one related to the Kemetic concept of Ra, Shu and Tefnut. Ra or Rau in the Kemetic life force or chi energy symbolized as the Sun.  Shu is the Kemetic version of the Chinese Yang and it represents activity, light, warmth, heat, aggression, etc. and is anthropomorphized as a masculine energy. Shu’s sister Tefnut is the Kemetic version of the Chinese Yin and she represents receptivity, darkness, coolness, water, passivity, etc. Since, the dyadic relationship of good versus evil does not exist in ancient African thinking.  Shu is not the symbol of good and Tefnut is not the symbol of evil. Rather good and evil in Kemetic thinking is balance and imbalance.  In other words, too much and too little of a thing is considered evil, while good is considered balanced.  Therefore, the Winter Solstice is considered the most Tefnut day of the year, thus signifying that the Ra energy is trying to establish balance. The entire event on the Maa Aankh is overseen by Amun Ra (Hidden Ra), thus making Winter Solstice a time of rebirth, hence the “Return of the Light” or actually the heralding the receiving of Amun Ra or the “Hidden (Invisible) Ra”, according to the Story of Ra and Oset (Aset, Auset, Isis in Greek).

Remember, in the Story of Ra and Oset, Ra reveals that he is “Khepera in the morning, Ra at noon, Tmu (Ra Atum) in the evening” thus alluding he is Amun Ra at midnight.  So, upon receiving Ra’s secret name, Oset received a soul which she passed on to her child Hru, thus giving him immortality so long as he lived a righteous life.  This means that through Oset, we all became her children (Hru) because she shared Ra’s secret name or Amun Ra with us (for more information see Kamta Primer).

Therefore, Winter Solstice is a period of rebirth and nourishment for our soul.  It is during this time that we naturally tend to physically slow down and conduct most of our activities indoor because we have less daylight and more warmth inside. It also during this time of the year, we also tend to emotionally move inward and reflect on the past events that occurred during the year, as we prepare for the upcoming year.  It is natural during this time of the year to reflect inward on our health, relationships, careers, dreams, etc., make New Year’s resolutions by asking, “How can I improve my life or the life of others?”

Draw the Maa Aankh, and place five tea lights on the five points. Then on:

  • December 21st: Light the Khepera candle symbolizing the Birth of Ra we celebrate all new beginnings and give thanks for all blessings that have come into being.  This is also a special day to also honor children who signify the future and are protected by Khepera. To make this day even more festive, Khepera’s colors are black and/or indigo, so one’s space can be decorated with these colors or one can purchase dark colored flowers.  Khepera is symbolized by a scarab beetle and rising sun.  Dark colored foods can also be served on this day and children given toys to raise Khepera’s energy.  To further ritualize this day, write a list of the goals you want to achieve in the upcoming year and place them in the center of the maa aankh.
  • December 22nd: Light the Ra candle symbolizing the Visible Ra’s Day is a day of action and it is set to honor all of the young adults and adults (except for elders who are given a special day on their own). Ra’s colors are bright red so to raise this energy decorate one’s space with bright red colors. Spicy foods can be served on this day colored with achiote (annatto seed), chili, paparika, cayenne, etc.  Also, spicy and warming beverages such as spiced apple cider, ginger beer, cinnamon teas, etc.  To further ritualize this day, write a list of the obstacles you must overcome and barriers you must break through to achieve your goals from the Khepera moment. Then, place them in the center of the maa aankh. This is also a time to ask for the protection, good health, vitality and strength for all loved ones.
  • December 23rd: Light the Ra Atum candle symbolizing the Completed Ra who oversees all things that have come to an end. Ra Atum reminds us to remember our elders so that we can learn from their experience and wisdom.  Ra Atum’s colors are white so to raise this energy decorate the space with white and shiny things like silver.  White colored foods and drinks can be offered at this time.  As well as white colored beverages such as coconut milk, peanut punch, coconut water, coquito, etc.  To further ritualize this day, write a list of the things you are willing to give up in order to achieve your goals in the upcoming year and place them in the center of the maa aankh.
  • December 24th: Light the Amun Ra symbolizing the “Hidden Ra” who oversees our ancestors and spirit guides, therefore this is the day to honor and remember our honorable dead.  Amun Ra’s colors are yellow and/or gold, so to help raise this re-birthing and renewal energy, decorate the space with the color yellow and serve yellow colored foods and beverages. Offer yellow candles and light colored foods such as pound cake, etc. to the ancestors.  To further ritualize this day, imagine how your goal will improve the life of everyone. Amun Ra’s symbols are ram, sheep, spiral patterns, etc., which all signify a return.
  • On the December 25, light the candle in the center symbolizing Oset sharing the name with Hru. Then, burn all of the request and imagine the end results of your goals for the upcoming year.

Hope this helps. Happy Winter Solstice.

How will you celebrate Winter Solstice?

Please share.

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What is Kamiticism/Kemeticism and the Various Kamitic Paths?

7 12 2013

Hetepu (Peace) Family,

sphinx_3902918

In past articles I have talked about the uniqueness of Kemetic/Kamitic spirituality. I have indicated in previous post that Kemetic/Kamitic spirituality means something different to many people because the Kemetic/Kamitic philosophers and sages didn’t leave any detailed instructions on how to practice their spiritual tradition, thus resulting in it being interpreted in a number of ways.  Consequently, there are several Kemetic/Kamtic paths that can be practice as it was in the days of Ancient Egypt (Kamitic/Kemetic), but as one reader reminded me.  What I failed to explain is what these paths are and how they differ from each other, which I will do in this post.

western_religious_symbols

First, in order to understand these paths, we must first understand that Kamitic spirituality is different from Westerns spiritual traditions because the latter is based upon the concept of good versus evil. From the Western perspective, everything that is considered to be good is associated with godliness, whereas everything else is considered ungodly or evil.  Thus we have good versus evil, white versus black, male versus female, spiritual versus secular and vice versa. So we have it that if a philosophy, music, poem, lifestyle, career, etc. does not in any way talk about God or is not somehow relate to it. It is not considered to be good, godly or spiritual, and therefore it is deemed according to Western thought to be secular, ungodly and hence evil.  When an individual in the west has unpleasant experiences, it is commonly seen as being the work of evil forces.  To remove this evil one simply has to do good works.  Doing good works regardless if one is teaching, speaking, making money, etc. is seen as doing godly acts, regardless if the individual is religious or not because from the Western perspective one has to be saved from evil.  Anything that is considered good in nature, is seen as being godly and classified as being a part of a ministry, a part of the white practice, a light path, etc.  The same holds true for non-Western traditions that have been adapted and modified to address Western needs as well.

evilvsgood

Kamitic spirituality differs from the start because it does not necessarily believe in good versus evil per se. Good and evil from the Kamitic perspective are seen as subjective manmade concepts used to measure. Meaning what one person sees as being good may be bad for another. This can best be seen in the proverbial question, “Who do you think God favors in the web, the spider or the fly?”

aspider

This is because from the Kamitic perspective good and evil are seen as polar opposites of each other.  In other words, both are needed because one cannot exist without the other like right and left, light and dark, hot and cold, fire and water, etc. This is because evil from the Kamitic perspective is seen as anything that is extreme, while good is more like anything that is perfect.  This state of perfection is called Maa. In short, Western traditions can be said to be based upon opposition and conflict between good and evil, God and the devil, etc. But the Kamitic traditions are based upon affinity, harmony, understanding the interconnectedness between these forces, thus requiring one to be patient and still.

Maa is commonly translated to mean, order, law, justice, righteousness, karma, etc. but it refers to Absolute Truth, which extends beyond rational thinking and experimentation and is obtained by trusting your intuition.  To understand Maa we must recognize that everything in nature such as our ecological system, the seasons, etc. is all composed of dualities. With night comes day. With hot comes cold and so on. One cannot exist without the other because everything is cyclical and interdependent upon the other.  For instance, the sun does not shine in the same place all the time because it would be extremely hot and plant life would not be able to grow and sustain life. Hot days are therefore balanced with cool days and vice versa, which is Maa.

scale-of-justice

The vagueness about Maa exists because Maa exist throughout nature, between people and even within oneself, which is why Maa translates to mean order, law, justice, righteousness, karma, truth, etc.  Coincidentally, we all are given a chance to practice Maa on a daily basis, but most of the time we are not aware of it.  For instance, whenever we are in a heated argument with a loved one or close friend. When we sense that the other party is becoming agitated, it is quite normal to continue to argue and run the risk of jeopardizing our relationship.  But, instead of continuing with the argument, if we were to agree to disagree or do something else to quell the argument from preceding any further, even if it means apologizing or staying silent and refusing to rebuttal.  We would notice that it would neutralize the heat generated in the argument, thus creating a balance situation. When we cease to follow the normal path during an argument and take what some would refer to, as the higher road.  We have just created a balanced or Maa situation, because we were still, which restored harmony.

Scale of Maa

As you can see, from the Kamitic perspective, evil is anything that is done to the extreme, while good is balance or Maa. Therefore, when ill befalls one under the Kamitic belief such as an illness, loss of fortune, etc. Instead of seeing it as punishment from God, a curse, etc., it is interpreted from the Kamitic perspective as an imbalance. An illness for instance could be due to excessive amounts of stress, worries over money, too much fatty foods, etc. The loss of a job could be due to excessive idleness from an employee or employer, and so on.  Never is any kind of ill credited to an outside force, as is the case in Western thinking. Blame is always placed on the individual(s), so that they can take responsibility for their actions and therefore make amends to restore Maa. In a nutshell, whenever anything occurs on the natural or human plane to the extreme, the remedy is to do the complete opposite, which will restore balance or Maa because everything is cyclical.

The Maa concept is the basis of the Kamitic legend of Osar (Ausar, Asar or Osiris in Greek) and those involved in the Kamitic tradition can be classified as being either on a religious, mystical and/or shamanic path, and each explains and practices Maa differently.

Oset and Hru

For instance, those on the Kamitic religious path choose to see Osiris somewhat as a savior similar to Jesus Christ, focusing on the part of the legend that after Set was defeated by Horus (Heru, Hru).  He resurrected his father Osar (Ausar, Asar, Osiris), hence his goodness, mercy, prosperity, etc. returned to the world.  It should be noted that this path incorporates a lot of syncretism and mysticism in it because most of the Christian stories regarding the birth and death of Jesus were borrowed directly from the Kamitic tradition. For example, the announcement of the birth of Jesus to the Virgin Mary can be seen as Thoth’s (Tehuti, Djahuti) informing Isis (Auset, Aset, Oset) on how to conceive a child. The Immaculate Conception is Isis’ Virgin birth. The Star of Bethlehem can be seen as Osar. King Herod obviously is Set the jealous brother trying to kill Osar’s rightful heir. The infant Jesus of course is Hru, and the Holy Family (Joseph, the Virgin Mary and the Infant Jesus) fleeing into Egypt is Npu (Anpu, Anubis), Oset and the Infant Hru fleeing from Set. The syncretism in this path is so strong that nativity scenes are sometimes purchased and the icons to reflect Npu, Oset and Hru.

osar

The Kamitic mystics like most mystics focus upon spiritual enlightenment and they practice Maa by focusing on becoming more like Osar (Ausar, Asar) seeing Osar as being the perfect role model of Maa, as indicated by his balanced crook and flail. This path usually consists of a lot of metaphysics and other esoteric sciences. For instance, most individuals following this path are familiar with all of the sciences regarding the winter solstice, which was a major celebration in ancient times as it related to the dog-star Sirius.

dogstar

The Kamitic shamans, which is the path I have succumb to after spending a number of years in the previous paths, focuses upon practicing Maa by harmonizing with oneself, others and nature.  It is basically a healing path that focuses upon establishing and maintaining Maa in one’s health, relationships, career, finances, etc.  In the shamanic path, particularly Kamta – an Afro-American shamanic tradition, Osar and Set are both seen as being polar opposites of one another.  Consequently, Osar (Ausar, Asar, Osiris) is seen as being an example of an individual that was too spiritual, seeing the spiritual realm as being superior over the physical (ultimately resulting in his death); while his youngest brother Set is seen as being an example of an individual that is too materialistic and engrossed in the physical world (resulting in the destruction of planet). The heir of Osar, Hru (Heru, Horus) standing on the edge of both lands (the spiritual and material world), is seen as being an example of what it means to live according to Maa as indicated by his dual red and white crown.

The Double Pschent Crown

In the shamanic path, since most of the work regarding Maa occurs within the mind, those on this path are free to adopt, adapt, borrow, modify and change anything according to their desire, because they are focused more on healing (spiritually, mentally, physically, etc.), which means obtaining physical results.  Maa from the shamanic perspective is not concerned with beliefs, dogma and theory, but what works. For instance, those on the shamanic path may easily set up a nativity scene but deliberately not place the infant in the manger, to express the idea that they are awaiting the arrival of their divinity. At the same time, they may take the infant Jesus icon and tie petitions on it for money, better relationships, better career, improved health, etc., because they recognize the symbolic truth and how it relates to Osar, Oset and Hru.  A Kamitic shaman may also use the 23rd Psalms, seeing the “Lord” in the scripture as a reference to Osar. The options are limitless, because the boundaries are determined by the individual’s thinking.  As you can see, a Kamitic shaman, is more like adventurist that explores the various avenues of both realities (spiritual and physical realms) in order to establish and maintain Maa by simply focusing on what works in order to help humanity.

In each of these paths, Maa is the basis and if you are interested in learning more about Maa, I would highly recommend that you first learn how to meditate because it is fastest way to discovering the Maa within yourself, but, be prepared for a serious paradigm shift. As I mentioned earlier, Kamitic spirituality is nothing like Western spiritual traditions, because there is no savior or someone to cast blame upon. Maa is about Absolute Truth and as the saying goes, sometimes “the truth hurts,” but rest assure, “the Truth will set you free” from all of the illusion preventing you from reaching your full potential by coaxing you to take responsibility for your actions and behaviors.

Hope that helps.

Hetep (Peace)





Communion for Osar (Asar, Ausar, Osiris)? How Religious Syncretism Occurs

24 04 2011

OMG! I can’t believed it happened but it did? Today is Easter and it is celebrated by Christians worldwide as the resurrection or ascension of Jesus Christ. And, if I had not had my unique Afro-experience. I would be celebrating Christ’s resurrection as well, but I did have that unique experience and it changed my perspective on it all.

To make a long story short, my Afro-experience began when I was searching for God. I had already read a number of books, so I knew already of the so-called “pagan” origins of Christmas, Easter, St. John the Baptist Day, etc. and how these holidays related to the solstices and equinoxes. I understood what it meant intellectually, but when I met my padrino, a little black man from Cuba.  He totally gave me a different perspective on the whole picture.

Papa, I called him, was a babalawo in the Lukumi/Santeria religion, a member of the all-male exclusive Abakwa society and an omo of Ellegua. Like many practicing santeros (practitioner of Lukumi/Santeria), he was also a Catholic and his Afro-religious beliefs were blended with Catholicism.  A concept that is very hard for a lot of us that weren’t raised in North America to understand.

Anyway, one day I remember while talking to Papa he told me that it was his custom (from how he learned the religion) that when it is Easter, to place white kerchiefs over the faces of the orishas/saints/spirits to recognize the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Now, for an Apostolic Pentecostal, preacher kid, that raised in North America, it was very hard for me see how religious syncretism between the African and Christian ideologies could exist. So, placing anything on an object and even having such an icon was foreign to me. Fortunately, Papa somewhat seeing my confusion displayed on my face, with a smirk told me to write it down in my libro (spiritual notebook) anyway, like he knew one day it would all make sense. So, I did just that.

In time I lost contact with Papa but as the years went by I would on occasion read what I had transcribed from Papa in my libro, which helped me in the lonely times.  During the time as I made my transition from the spiritual intellectual to practicing spiritual principles. I learned that  the Catholic church was well-known for constructing cathedrals on top of indigenous religious sites, which helped to strengthen the Church’s agenda but it also encouraged religious syncretism. Some of the earlier churches were constructed in…Guess? That’s right Egypt, which were influenced by the Copts (Christianized Egyptians), who derived a bulk of their spiritual practices from their earlier ancient Egyptian or Kamitic ancestors. In fact, some scholars are now in agreement that most of the Christian ideologies about angels was directly due to the Copts, but that’s another post.

Anyway, when my relationship with my spirits finally began to blossom from intellectualizing them to seeing them as archetypes that represent the multi-facets of life. Osar (Asar, Ausar or Osiris) the Kamitic Obatala or Oxala became the spirit that represented the lessons learned from Kamitic communalism and ideas about peace and unity. It occurred after reading the Story of Osar so many times that it began to become a metaphorical tool used by my Spirit.

That’s when it happened. It wasn’t by design (at least I didn’t plan it)… All I know is that my Afro-spirit took over and the next thing I know Osar and Jesus were combined, because spirits aren’t supposed to represent the  perfect aspects of life, but the various ways one can choose to live their life. Osar is the spirit that truly wants peace, prosperity and knowledge for all people regardless of who they are and where an individual comes from, just like Jesus.  Destruction, sin, violence, war, etc. are all due to ignorance, lack of self-discipline, hatred, jealousy, etc., which are the by-products of Set, the envious and youngest brother of Osar, who later became Set-an or Satan in Christian lore.

So when Jesus was crucified by the Romans, my Afro-spirit saw it as Osar being murdered by Set.  When Jesus tells his disciples to eat of the bread and wine in remembrance of  him. You guessed it right… My Afro-spirit saw it as Osar’s body that was hacked up into 14 pieces by Set (See the Story of Osar), to prevent Osar from being “RE-MEMBERED.” Can, I get an Amen?

I didn’t know that this religious blending had occurred within me until I went to church today. I only did it out of respect for my mom.   (Yeah, my faith is strong like that, besides I am not heartless… got to meet the people where they are at. Smile.)  Anyway… they did communion and I didn’t want to participate but Spirit told me to do so anyway. When, I did…that’s when it was confirmed to me and that’s when I witnessed religious syncretism.

The next thing I knew, this salt-less, hard, tasteless cracker was indeed the body of Lord Osar and the bitter red wine, which by the way all alcoholic beverages are taboo to pure spirits of the white cloth – Osar, Obatala, Oxala, the Dravidian Tara, etc.. When I drank the wine, it reminded me of the beverage that led to Osar’s death. The partaking of this ritual gave me a closer connection to Osar because it reminded me of my responsibilities to my community and the peace that Osar expects from me.

After communion, the congregation sung a portion of a Christian hymn by Alfred H. Ackley called He Lives. Like many Black churches, they never sing the whole song only the most pertinent portion of the hymn. The words are….

I serve a risen Savior
He’s in the world today
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
He’s always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and He talks with me
Along life’s narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart.

Religious Syncretism occurs whenever you begin making comparisons with another culture’s religious perspective. We naturally learn by associating new ideas with old ideas that we have in our personal spirit/subconscious. So, what this means is that there is nothing new under the sun.  Yes, you ask me how I know Osar lives…it is because He lives within my heart.  Sidebar…This means that the revolution against Set is truly on. SMILE

Happy Easter. SMILE,

Ancestrally yours.