Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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Pagan Blog Project: A is for Ancestors

I’m a little late in starting this project, but I thought I’d give the blog posts correlating to each letter in the English alphabet a whirl. Some of what I pick I’m sure I’ve gone over before, but sometimes I’m not as creative as some of my fellow bloggers. I’ll try to have sources on hand where possible, but most likely I won’t. If you want to know a source feel free to ask me in the comments.

In Ancient Egypt there was ancestor veneration. I’m using “veneration” because many people feel the term “ancestor worship” gives the wrong impression about how ancestors were treated at this time. Tombs were visited regularly, offerings were provided by the family to a statue of the ancestor, or offerings were provided hired clergymen. Some had stelae with the offering formula listed, so upon recitation the deceased could be provided the necessities. All of this was done as a way to ensure the deceased were cared for in the afterlife and would survive. Just as a body needed things in the living world a soul required the necessities to survive in the afterlife. The consequences could be dire if the ancestors weren’t provided the essentials. A departed soul, if neglected, could haunt the living if the deceased felt neglected. We know this based on letters written to the dead found at excavation sites, as writing letters to the deceased was common. While there were letters begging the dead to stop tormenting the living most of these letters consisted of asking for assistance in some manner.

In modern Kemetic practices in a similar vein as the ancients. However there are some major differences in the modern practice. Many keep the offerings quite simple. In lieu of statues being presented offerings or reciting offerings from a stela many Kemeticists use a photograph of a loved one. Not all ancestors have an image dedicated to them, and some ancestor shrines are set up in a general manner so not any particular ancestor is offered. Food and drink offered to the ancestors in general aren’t ingested as it’s considered ingesting the essence of the dead by some, which has ill implications for those who do ingest offerings. The reason behind it is if ingesting food and libations from the gods is like ingesting the essence of a deity (for the lack of a better term) and thus the life-giving qualities of a deity, then ingesting food and libations from ancestors would mean ingesting the essence of a dead person.

There are some modern Kemeticists who don’t offer to their ancestors period. The reasons for this vary. Some Kemeticists do not feel a connection to their ancestors. There are others who don’t feel the practice is necessary for their personal religious practice. There are other reasons, and some have multiple reasons for not offering. In my case I was averted to offering to my ancestors for personal reasons, but reconsidered my stance after problems in my life after some tribulations in my life. Whether a modern Kemeticist offers to their ancestor or not – in my opinion – doesn’t affect the validity of their religious practice. It is a matter of the individual’s choice and their comfort level.

If one wants to learn more about the practice from a modern Kemeticist’s perspective I recommend Richard Reidy’s Eternal Egypt. There are quite a few other Kemetic blogs which discuss the matter as well. At the core of offering to the ancestors consists of providing food, a libation (water being the most common), incense, and cloth for images of any ancestor. If providing offerings is an issue I highly recommend making a hotep tray with images of what should be offered. To get ideas on how to make your own I have a tutorial on how to make one from clayboard.

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Craft Friday: Stellar Menat

I sat down to relax and finish a few projects.  One project I had on the back burner for too long was a very delicate menat I’m using for a ritual.  Here’s what it looks like:

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I used all glass beads except for the stars.   I dubbed it the “Stellar Menat” because it has this celestial feel based on how I designed it.  Apart from the star beads I based the strand design off of the necklace design which holds the Silver Crystal from the manga version of Sailor Moon.  The reason I held back on finishing it was because I hadn’t found the right pendant.  I found that about a month ago at a craft store, and it’s the perfect size for my hand.  Since my menat is too delicate for everyday use I’m confining it only to rituals.

If you’d like to learn how to make your own menat, or even learn more about them, follow this link to my tutorial.


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Craft Friday: Painting Update

Some of you will remember the painting I showed the world, and thus my penchant for making bad art.  After the encouragement of some of my readers and my co-sister-in-law I decided to salvage the painting.  I’ll probably add to it still as I dislike how much negative space I left.  Just the same I’ll share more of my saga with this painting.

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Craft Friday: Three Piece Plaque Banner

I really like wall hangings for holiday decorations. They’re fairly easy to make and you can tailor them for most holidays. When I saw a cute wall hanging on pinterest I was inspired to make my own for Wep Ronpet. I ended up using chipboard for this because I acquired a whole bunch of it. If you end up using a different material (like wood) you will have to adjust the tutorial accordingly (wood works best with screw eyes for this project as opposed to eyelets).

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WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • 3 chipboard pieces, 5 1/2 x 5 1/2 inches
  • 10 1/16 scrapbooking eyelets
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • paint
  • paintbrush
  • ribbon
  • beading wire, 26 gauge
  • needlenose pliers
  • jewelery wire cutters
  • eyelet setter
  • decoupage sealant
  • scissors

1.  Measure 1 3/4 inch on both sides of the chipboard and mark. Repeat on the bottom. I made a mark too close to the edge, so I used a pen to mark where I felt it would be better placed.

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2.  Insert eyelets and use the eyelet setter per directions. TIP: Some great online instructions for using an eyelet setter can be found here.

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Repeat the first two steps on the second chipboard. Only make holes on the top of the third one.

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3.  Decorate the panels. After the paint dries apply a coat of decoupage sealant.

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I decorated the panels with the hieroglyphs for the Wep Ronpet holiday (thanks to the wonderful head of Per Djeba for helping me with this) followed by a picture of Harsomtus, only I didn’t have space for the headdress (next time I’ll plan better). For some reason I couldn’t center anything to save my life.

4.  Take the beading wire and cut out 2 pieces, roughly3-5 inches. Take the second panel and make a loop with the wire between the bottom top panel and the top second panel. Twist the ends together and trim the excess. Repeat this process between the second and third panel. TIP: Beading also works instead of ribbons, or jazz it up with both. Just remember to string the beads before tying up the ends, and if adding ribbon as well leave space to tie it.

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5.  Tie ribbons on the loops made.

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6.  Thread some ribbon through the top holes. Tie a knot at each end in the back.

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There are many ways to get creative with this, such as using beads and beading wire in lieu of ribbon. Show off your banner in the comments.


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Craft Friday: Paper Pockets

After trying to follow a nice box project only for it to go horribly awry I decided to try my hand at other projects on my Pinterest board.  I tried my hand at making some of the pockets from a tutorial on a mini pocket album.  Quite frankly I’m more pleased with the results of this than with a video tutorial that requires half of the video on pre-creasing and then manages to leave out vital steps (I will have a tutorial sometime that demonstrates why planning your projects is vital, and doubly so for tutorials).  Here’s how it turned out:

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If you looked at the link you’ll notice I didn’t stitch the pockets together.  That’s because I don’t feel like it.  Despite the fact it looks like crumpled paper and I didn’t bind the pockets I have to say I like how it looks.  I’ll have to see if I can translate this to a few pockets on book covers for the next few bookbinding projects.


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A Neat Craft Link

I admit it, I blanked out on Craft Friday.  I don’t have pictures ready and I’ve been too focused on another project (or ten).  I did want to share a nice link I found on how to construct an Ancient Egyptian costume.  While one could complain about the inaccuracies I’m excited someone finally put up instructions on how to make a beaded collar.  Seriously, I was hard pressed to find these instructions thanks to wonky googlemancy.

I haven’t tried out these instructions yet, but I’d love to hear if you have and what you thought.  I also want to take this opportunity to say if there’s a specific Kemetic craft you’d like to see let me know in the comments as well.