(Note: the following post is an extended metaphor on boats and barques. I do not claim to have a great deal of knowledge about boats, so it might not be the best metaphor, and I apologise to any sailors out there who see any inaccuracies.)
A while ago, Benzenwepwy wrote about an idea called “The Sacred Barque.” It’s a theoretical approach to Kemeticism: everyone is on a boat, and while the boat needs to be sturdy enough to ride the waves of life, it can’t be weighed down with the trappings of the world. It interested me, because I for a long time have been playing with the ideas of Kemeticism as islands (an idea that I think Devo planted in my fledgling brain). I’ve talked a little with Benzen (as well as others she is working with to build the Sacred Barque philosophy) and while I do know that this idea is not where she intends to go with the way of the Sacred Barque, the metaphor has been eating at me long enough that I am posting it anyway.
So, we are all on a barque. The barque is a wooden vessel, and so the wood it is made of is a critical element to its effectiveness. I chose the heart as the critical element to this metaphor, because of the importance of its place in ancient thought. Now, if your barque is made of a wood that is too heavy, it’ll sink and drown everyone on it. So too with our hearts – the funerary texts reflect this with the weighing of the heart, and one of the “42 Purifications” that speaks to me is the purification against the eating of the heart. Wood needs to be treated properly before it can be exposed to water: if the water gets into the wood, it can rot, mold, decay (the eating of the heart and isfet). So we coat our hearts in ma’at to help us stay water-tight and strong.
Next, the wood must be shaped. This is akin to personal theology and practice. Perhaps your boat has a strong prow, ready to push through any wave. You might be research focused, ready to find an answer to any question within the text that informs your practice. Your boat might be slender, the type of boat that can squeeze through tight channels and skid around rocks. You may be a person who finds comfort in the polyvalent logic of soft-polytheism, the idea that Netjer is both one and many. Maybe it’s a small boat carrying one god, maybe it’s a large one holding as many as you can carry with you. The ways to make a boat and the ways to be a Kemetic are infinite, all having their own unique purposes.
Of course, after building a barque, it does not sail on its own. Its sails are ritual, allowing it to capture ma’at as a movement force; its oars are heka, pushing us a little harder, a little faster, to our destination when we break it out. The crew is you: the practitioner; but it is also the gods and spirits we choose to work with. We carry goods to trade to others: our ideas about the gods, ritual, ma’at, heka, etc. We carry traditions for the next generation of sailors.
Sailing through life is not without its perils. Isfet threatens to corrupt our boat. The Uncreated seeks to overturn it and put out the lights we shine. Sometimes the people we trade with seek to sabotage us. Strained relations between the crew can cause slow movement. But all these things can be overcome.
We are all in our boats, moving through the sea, flotillas or alone, and we will not sink.