Kemetism (also Kemeticism; both from km.t, the native name of Ancient Egypt) is a term for Egyptian neopaganism, i.e. neopagan revivals of Ancient Egyptian religion which developed in the United States from the 1970s onwards. There are several main groups, each of which take a different approach to their beliefs, ranging from eclectic to polytheistic reconstructionist.
Pan-Africanist or black nationalist: The Ausar Auset of Ra Un Nefer Amen is a syncretic approach targeted at the African diaspora. The Ancient Egiptian Order (a.k.a. “Nuwaubian Nation of Moors” and other names) was a black supremacist cult led by Malachi York.
Kemetic Wicca (also Tameran Wicca, from t3 mry “land of two riverbanks”, another native term for “Egypt”) is an eclectic approach combining Ancient Egyptian elements with Wicca.
Kemetic Revivalism and Reconstruction, a reconstructionist, which include academic approaches informed by Egyptology, notably Kemetic Orthodoxy of Tamara L. Siuda and Kerry Wisner’s Akhet Hwt Hwr Neo-Atenism is a neopagan revival not of Egyptian polytheism, but of the monotheistic faith introduced under Akhenaten in the Amarna period (r. 1353–1336 BC)
History and demographics
Kemetic revivalism appeared in the 1970s with the rise of neopaganism in the United States. The Church of the Eternal Source, promoting New Age receptions of Egyptian spiritualism, was founded in 1970; and the Ausar Auset Society, promoting Pan-Africanism, was founded in 1973; Tamara Siuda’s Kemetic Orthodoxy followed in the late 1980s. By the mid 2000s (decade), there have also been “Kemetic” movements outside the USA, with Ta Noutri arising in Podensac, France, in 2004; and Kamitik in Aulnay, France, since 2004. The black supremacist group in Paris, Tribu Ka, was described as having Kemitic views.
The movement is composed of a mixture of New Age, Wicca, and Afrocentrism, the latter in the context of “Afrocentrist Egyptology” which emerged in the United States in the 1990s.
Black nationalism : Ausar Auset Society
The “Ausar Auset Society” is a Pan-African religious organization founded in the early 1970s by Ra Un Nefer Amen. It is based in Brooklyn, New York with chapters in several major cities in the United States. The organization was created for the purpose of providing members a societal framework through which the Kemetic spiritual way of life can be lived daily. The organization provides afrocentric-based spiritual training to the African American community and to the African diaspora. The religion uses the “Kemetic” Tree of Life (Paut Neteru) as the basis of its cosmogony and philosophical underpinning. It seeks to reunite the traditions of the founders of civilization into a spiritually empowering way of life that aims at the awakening of the Ausar principle (the Divine Self) within each individual.
Ancient Egiptian Order
The Ancient Egiptian Order or “Nuwaubian Nation” was a black supremacist quasi-religious movement, active during the late 1990s and early 2000s (decade), centered at Tama-Re, an Egypt-themed compound which housed about 100 adherents. The compound was demolished in 2005, after the conviction of founder-prophet Malachi York to a 135 year prison sentence for child molestation.
The Church of the Eternal Source (Burbank, California, since 1970), and the affiliated Temple of Ptah and Circle of Anubis (since 1975, based in Portland, Oregon) are “open to all interested Pagans and Wiccans who have an interest in the Ancient Egyptian Religions.”
Polytheistic reconstructionism is a tendency within Neopaganism, apparent since the 1990s, to aim for greater historical accuracy or “authenticity”.
“Kemetic Orthodoxy” is a specific tradition within Kemetic reconstructionism. It gained federal recognition in the United States of America as a religion under the name “House of Netjer” in 1994. Although based on ancient Egyptian beliefs and practices, the religion is a modern one which was founded in 1988 by Rev. Tamara L. Siuda, known formally within her faith as “Her Holiness, Sekhenet-Ma’at-Ra setep-en-Ra Hekatawy I, Nisut-Bity of the Kemetic Orthodox faith”. She underwent her coronation as Nisut-Bity in 1996 through ceremonies performed in Egypt by herself, and in 2000 she achieved a master’s degree in Egyptology. Within Kemetic Orthodoxy she is considered to have been imbued with the kingly ka, a concept which mimics the divine quality bestowed upon the pharaohs of ancient Egypt.Because of this, devoted Kemetic Orthodox members see her decisions regarding the church to be at least partially divinely inspired.
The organization is centered around the Tawy House temple in Joliet, Illinois but there are followers of the faith located around the world who correspond via the Internet. The House of Netjer was legally recognized by the state of Illinois in 1993, and granted tax-exempt status in 1999. By 2007, Kemetic Orthodoxy claimed some 450 members.
Kemetic Orthodoxy is a Monist approach to polytheism in translating Netjer (the Egyptian for “deity”) as “the supreme being” and considering the names of the various Egyptian deities as “names of Netjer”.
Within Kemetic Orthodoxy, there are three categories of devotion which are recognized. The first is state ritual, which include rituals which have been reconstructed from those in ancient Egyptian texts and which are performed in by the priesthood. Next is personal piety, which is practiced by every Kemetic Orthodox and includes all personal religious practices. Most notably, personal piety includes the shrine ritual called senut which is taught to all Kemetic Orthodox as a daily devotional ritual and can be found in The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook. Finally, the third category is devotion to one’s akhu, or ancestors.
Modern Atenism is a revival of the monotheist faith developed under the reforms of Akhenaten. While there a number of Neo-Atenist websites appeared on the internet during the 2000s (decade) (atenism.org since 2001; kamitik.com 2004-2008), it is unclear whether it is being actively practiced in any form.
Last updated: September 2, 2014 at 10:14 am
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