Pagan Paths

Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

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Living the Ankh Life Part 1

b2ap3_thumbnail_scribes.jpgMany of us are drawn to ancient Egypt, and of those a small number linger to find and follow the spiritual path embedded there.  Soon we find that for all the wealth of published material about Egypt, there is very little about modern spiritual practice.  Egyptian Pagans are also a small minority in the wider Pagan world, so it can be difficult to connect, find teachers and gather for ritual.

My early years on this path were probably characterized by more bumbling and feeling alone than anything.  But much of the first advice I received was to read the Egyptology literature, surely a daunting task for the non-scholar.  After all, few have set out to simply write about religion; more importantly, there was no monolithic single religion in ancient Egypt, at least not as we understand religious affiliation today.  Here are a few things I learned along the way.

1.   Trust your inner voice.  Many of us fell into the Nile because we had an encounter with an Egyptian deity.  Hold to that original vision, learn all you can about her or him, connect with her in your meditations, set up a simple altar in your home.  It’s a relationship—build it. The neteru will never force themselves on you, but will meet you halfway. Go there and see what happens. No need to grovel, but be respectful.  Be aware that if you open to one, others may follow.  That’s a good thing.

2.   Do read the scholars.  Don’t waste too much time with Budge even though you see his books everywhere.  Here’s my short list:

a.       Ancient Egyptian Religion by Henri Frankfort.  It’s old, but short and sweet, a good intro.

b.      Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egypt by Geraldine Pinch.  Outstanding, goes into more detail, but still manageable.

3. Yes, I saved the mystics for next because it will help if you have some familiarity with the old stories related by Frankfort and Pinch before you dive into theology.

a.       Temple of the Cosmos by Jeremy Naydler.  Beautifully written, deeply insightful, required for my Osireion students.

b.      Eternal Egypt by Richard J. Reidy. Indispensible resource, actual ritual translations, and he is working on a second volume, to boot.

There are a number of books written by Pagans, Goddess people, and metaphysical folks in recent years.  Nikki Scully, Normandi Ellis, Rosemary Clark, Peter Paddon and others have produced admirable works on modern Pagan practice.You'll get more out of them if you read the above texts first, however.

As in ancient times, there is no standard way to practice, so you will have to spend time immersing yourself, meditating, connecting with the neteru, and developing the path that best suits you.  Here is a very simple prayer-invocation that I used from the very beginning.  Each morning the priests of the temple went to the sealed room where the deity figure lived, broke the seal and entered, then conducted an elaborate ceremony of waking, censing, feeding, washing and clothing the neter.  The priest said each morning, “Awake in beauty, awake in peace.” 

For years I have said that to myself before I get out of bed each day, and I open my own devotional with those lovely words, “Awake my soul, awake neteru, awake in peace and beauty.  On most days, that sums it up for me, the desire for a life of beauty and peace.  More in my next post.

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Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (, founder of Osireion (, editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table,, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at


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