Banu (fyrekat) wrote,

Meditation on the Heb Sed, ma'at, kingship, and community

Today, in Egypt, the Nisut of the House of Netjer- Sekhenet-Ma'at-Ra setep-en-Ra Hekatawy I - is celebrating her Heb-Sed festival. This festival will be a renewal of her coronation and the seating of the kingly ka within her, a rejuvenation in body and spirit, in order for her to continue serving her community as a king and a teacher. Today, she presents herself and her work thus far to the gods for Their judgement.

A king's first duty is to sweep away isfet and set ma'at in its place. The king is an incarnation of ma'at, in a way- acting on earth to protect Her interests and embody Her ideals. Seeing such a real, tangible manifestation of this principle gives people hope, and inspires them to reach toward their own full potential in the divine order- that one which feeds their ka and the gods on the breath and bread of ma'at, given life through their actions. As such the king must be relentless in the pursuit of ma'at, as must those who serve under him, setting the example for everyone else in the community- proving the attainability of ma'at as a way of life, and paving the way for others to follow in his path. I have noticed in life that whenever one element of a system is brought into alignment with ma'at, it becomes easier for those around it to follow in its wake- snapping into place around it. When one person lives their life in ma'at, it becomes that much easier for the other members of his or her community to respond in ma'at. The king is the foremost among us- it is his job to blaze a trail through the isfet which has built up around us, stagnating and strangling the community; it is his job to open the way back to ma'at.

I've met Hemet a total of three times so far, but it wasn't until early last month that I really got to spend a good amount of time with her and get a feel for what it is that she's teaching. I came away from that retreat with a profound sense of connection to the people around me. Before I attended I had come to understand the concept of community welfare as explained to me in my texts, the wisdom literature, and museum lectures on the ancient Egyptian economy. The responsibility to take care of others rises in direct proportion to a person's wealth and ability to do so- the king was known by the title of "Hemet," meaning "servant," and his was the greatest power, with the greatest responsibility... his every action being magically or physically dedicated to the welfare of the people. However, this responsibility was not borne entirely by the king- it fell to all people to strengthen ma'at in the land with respect to their means. Without giving up their rights to hard-won privileges, the Egyptians maintained that with privilege comes responsibility- and when those responsibilities are upheld, the community as a whole becomes stronger. I knew this, and had done my best to adopt it as a personal way of life and yet still- it had not dawned on me how incredibly powerful this concept could become when a large group of people wove it into their communal practice, on a daily basis.

This was the greatest impression that I brought home with me from that weekend visit- there really is a movement to bring this way of living back to the world, and a king who has begun to forge the way. We, the people of Kemet, have begun to weave a network of ma'at- literally surrounding the planet. Each of us can tap into it for our own welfare when needed, and each time a new person joins their hand to the group we reach a little farther. I have seen this network in action within those areas of our own community which are under the direction of the king. Since I can not live in the temple, however, in such close personal contact with the members of that community, I take this inspiration and extend the network into my own city. There are many people in need of support as they clear a path for themselves back into their lives, back toward their potential- and by giving a portion of my strength to the programs in place to help them, I strengthen those programs to help myself in turn should I ever find myself in their place. So I have been looking into shelters, food banks and soup kitchens, medical research, and environmental programs- there are many options for service and all of them are in need of assistance. I will give what I can- and what I can gives back to me, my community, and ma'at. I find that doing this feeds my ka, my life- it gives me hope and healing. And when the time comes, I pray that I am able to say proudly, "I have given bread to those who hungered, clothing to those who were naked, and shelter to those who had none. I have given a home to the homeless, direction to the weary and the stranded, and hope of healing to those who were ill. I have upheld ma'at in my heart and my domain; I have fed my ka on justice and compassion. I have not overextended my means, nor have I shirked my duties. I have made offering to the gods of my actions, for life is more precious than all the riches of the ancient temples and no offering is more pure. I have arrived as a dweller on the Earth, and I have done what is right."

I am grateful to the community who supports me and to the king who has revived the spirit of ma'at in the world- who has done so much to reawaken Kemet in the modern day, and whom I am sure will have no problem justifying her reign so far before the gods today. I'll keep doing my part.
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