Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.

When Ma’at Means Hotep

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I thought for the first time ever I’d participate in the Pagan Values Project. I’ve always wanted to participate, but something always came up and I couldn’t post in time. This time I have a chance and no excuses.

I think the main value Kemeticists strive for is to uphold Ma’at, and I’m no exception. Given how there isn’t a direct English translation of the word—though it’s usually something like “order”, “cosmic justice”, or “balance” just to name a few major ones—I’ve seen the idea of upholding Ma’at take many forms. For some it means serving the gods. For others it may mean community service. There are plenty who interpret upholding Ma’at to mean something beyond service. The latter applies to me in some respects. There will always be a part of me who will strive to help someone in need because I know what it’s like to wont. I also enjoy seeing people living up to their highest potential and try to help them achieve it in whatever way I can. I’ve also come to understand sometimes the best community service starts from within.

In Ancient Egyptian the word for peace was htp. One thing I try to focus on my blog is my interpretation of the Ancient stay calm within chaosEgyptian religion and peace currently plays a major part in it. People even in the Pagan community don’t fully understand why I’m not focused on living a positive life, and people outside of the community will try to construe peace to still mean positive. I feel there’s a difference between what I’ve observed as positive living and peaceful living. I’ve observed those who live positively (and truly positive lives, not just ignoring that bad things happen) don’t let adverse situations define them nor let it get them down. While one does that with a peaceful life as well, I’ve found the difference lies in the approach.

My way of approaching a peaceful life differs from how I’ve seen people handle living positively in the approach of finding opportunity in an adverse situation. To illustrate my point I’ll use meditation because of one common problem of poor concentration due to noises. When I lived with my partner we lived across the street from a college campus. One thing about college campuses is they have some bell (or like my alma mater a steam whistle) to signal when classes were over. This would go off regularly and posed a bit of a problem with meditating. When I discuss this scenario I found people trying to live a positive life were more inclined to look for a different spot to meditate. I found a pattern, on the other hand, with the bell and incorporated it into my meditation. I learned to do this with the other noises eventually. While someone living positively may also incorporate the bell I started to incorporate it with other noises. I found peace in finding the patterns to noise and turned it into music. I’ve found living peacefully mean learning to work within a situation as well as making the situation better.

meaningofpeaceI find Ma’at in peace because it isn’t about making the most of a situation. I’ve found in finding my balance peace is essential, and part of my peace is seeing a situation for what it is. In ascertaining what the situation seems to be I look for a solution. I try to do this with as little judgement and personal biases as possible. Sometimes I perform a Tarot reading to help me in removing those biases. Sometimes I will meditate before my Het-Hert shrine. I will read wisdom literature at times. Sometimes I sit down and try other methods, such as confiding in a friend. Whichever method I try I keep my aim at upholdling Ma’at by finding the solution which gives me the most peace without compromising my integrity.

I’ve found when I’m willing to compromise myself rather than compromise in a situation for the sake of peace is deceptive. If not for the fact I’m fooling myself it’s the feelings afterwards. I’ve found if I compromise myself I tend to feel resentful towards anything and everyone involved in the situation. The only thing I can do at that time is examine the situation and learn from it. Sometimes I need to vent before I can examine it. I run the risk of ruining my peace if I don’t clear my emotions. I’ve taken to the passage of the Maxims of Ptahhotep of letting someone vent in these instances.

[…] A man in distress wants to wash his heart
more than that his case be won. […]
Not all one pleads for can be granted,
but a good hearing calms the heart.

Even though this passage is reference a court case and letting people air out their grievances it also applies in my case. Sometimes to regain my equilibrium I need to vent and move on. If I can’t move on after venting I can then look at the situation and learn from it. I understand how this isn’t always possible as well.

learn to surfThere will always be something that throws us off. There will be that person at work who’s attitude is something we internalize, or inexplicable anxiety sets in, or a myriad of other things which could ruin our peace. It’s why I don’t see peace as something stagnant; just like bop bags our peace gets knocked off center from time to time. We lose our peace as we flail about to regain our center. Part of regaining that peace for me is to practice my faith. When I go to my shrine to regain my peace I find myself first at my shrine before Het-Hert. I feel calmer when in Her presence at my shrine, one that is loving and often sympathetic without coddling. When I calm down I regain my peace either with that act alone, or it calms me down enough to figure out what I need to do.

Finding my peace is an integral part of my values. In finding peace I learn about myself and find ways to examine my religious practice within that value. It’s reminding myself of my tools like the wisdom literature. Sometimes it’s reminding myself I can breathe and move forward. Whichever way I use I go forward in my peace as one of my ways to uphold Ma’at. In that I regain my balance.

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2 thoughts on “When Ma’at Means Hotep

  1. Pingback: Beauty, Strength, Peace, and Equality | The Pagan Values Blogject

  2. Pingback: PBP: I Is for Isfet | Upholding Ma'at

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