I belong to a reconstructionist faith. I place value on historical knowledge, on research. Knowing what the ancients did matters to me, because it informs how I do what I do, and gives me insights to my gods that I had not previously considered.
But it’s not everything.
Kemeticism isn’t mere reconstruction, but also revivalism. And like the capital-R Revivals of Christianity, sometimes we have to go back to the beginning. In the beginning, there were no gilded monuments, no texts, no researchers or scribes. There was only doxa: the knowledge from one’s heart.
For myself, doxa – also called unverified personal gnosis (UPG) – is the critical turning point of my practice. Doxa takes the framework we build through research and gives it life. It means that my practice might be drawn from the solemn rites of priests, but can be given the joy of the common woman. During the Mysteries of Wesir, Kemetics might speak a heka from thousands of years ago: the Lamentations of Aset and Nebt-het. I do not deny how moving I have come to find it, but the language, metaphor, and symbolism are lost on me. I join my sister Qefat in singing Aset’s loss in a modern song.
Doxa means writing my own rituals, and developing personal relationships with the gods, even when there is a lack of sources from antiquity. Doxa means that when we cannot access sources, when we are not capable of research due to our lack of training, we can still carry on. I still believe we should research our gods and practice according to our own capabilities (I see no issue with well sourced bloggers and “coffee table books” being a source of knowledge, because that is all I am capable of, and research ability and access should not be a barrier to religion).
In addition, Doxa forms the “Orthodox” of Kemetic Orthodoxy. What makes us Orthodox is a set of shared beliefs with which other Kemetics may disagree. Kemetic Orthodox shemsu have agreed to follow a system of soft-polytheism, lead by a Nisut, which has a formal clerical structure: all of which are controversial subjects!
The problem with doxa, however, is that it is intimate, personal knowledge. Some people have doxa that makes them ridiculed or shunned. Others try to pass their beliefs as “authentic” or “historical” knowledge that they think any true Kemetic must follow. Both of these things tend to lead people keep their personal beliefs hidden: we don’t want to appear pushy, and we certainly don’t want to be ridiculed. Instead of creating a vibrant Kemetic culture, with a diversity of beliefs, we limit ourselves to what seems to be universally true.
For this, I applaud our mystics, our godspouses (though there are no open Kemetic godspouses, I simply cannot believe there are none), and our otherkin. I applaud those who share what makes them different from the fold, because they are what make us consider the whys of our practices and beliefs at a deep level, just as we try to consider the whys of theirs.
The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. You can join us every other week as bloggers answer a single question, providing a variety of perspectives for beginners and learning from each other. This session asked: “UPG/Doxa: What is it, how you do get it? What are the rules on it? How important is it? Should we rely on it? Should we pay attention to others’ UPG, or let it influence our own UPG/practice?”