We preempt your normally scheduled Kemetic vs. Atheist post to bring you some information on Kemetic mourning rituals. Well, at least the ritual from my temple.
A few minutes ago, I got word that a friend of mine died yesterday. We weren’t especially close, but I took the news that she was dying with some shock, and I spent some time with her at her last SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event. (The SCA has been part of my story for over 28 years, off and on. It’s how I got to meet real live pagans and come to accept them and their existence. But I’m getting off track.) And I did cry when I heard that she’d passed.
The ancient Egyptians mourned their dead for 70 days, primarily because it took 70 days to make a mummy. They believed that while the body was being prepared for mummification, the ka (roughly translated as “spirit”) was going through trials, aided by the prayers in the Book of the Dead, in preparation for entering the Field of Reeds.
So today, modern Kemetics also mourn for 70 days. Specifically, I take this part of Daily Rite (I say these words as I pour water into a small bowl):
I pour cool water for the akhu [blessed dead], shining like gold in the vault of Nut. May they be cooled. I pour cool water for my sebau [teachers, priests], who guide us on the Way. May they be cooled. I pour cool water for Wepwawet, Who opens the Way for us. May He be cooled. I pour cool water for Ma’at, Who IS the Way. May She be cooled.
And I add this to it:
I pour cool water for _________, may he/she join the akhu.
Now, in all honesty, I tend to do this, as the saying goes, more in the breach than the observance. In other words, I don’t do this literally for 70 days. I do rite whenever I’m moved to do it (maybe a few times a week), and stop pouring cool water for the particular deceased person on the 70th day after passing. But this time I’m moved to try something different – to actually do Daily Rite for 70 days, to pour cool water for my friend for the proper amount of time. I haven’t been especially eager to push myself to do rite daily because I’m afraid that it will become rote. I guess that’s a risk I’ll have to take this time.
Do you do anything special to mourn the dead? Please leave your comments below.