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Author Topic: Logistics of an Open Statue  (Read 21409 times)
Bastemhet
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« Topic Start: July 28, 2010, 02:02:33 pm »

For those who have considered using the Opening of the Mouth ritual on a statue of z deity to do worship in the way that it was done by priests in a temple in the past, what are some of the things you have thought about before deciding to do so or not do so? 

What do those with an open statue recommend for those who do not have one but are thinking of having one? 

What would be the ideal setup? 

What are some creative modifications that you've made?

Is having an open statue a possibility for everyone?

What are the responsibilities that one must be aware of?
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« Reply #1: July 28, 2010, 02:08:05 pm »



I'm not a Kemeticism, so please forgive silly question, but what is an open statue?  I've been following your conversations and am trying to wrap my head around what you are discussing. 

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« Reply #2: July 28, 2010, 02:25:40 pm »

I'm not a Kemeticism, so please forgive silly question, but what is an open statue?  I've been following your conversations and am trying to wrap my head around what you are discussing.  



In ancient Kemet the priests would perform a ritual on a statue to make it a suitable body for the deity to put some of their power in.  In this way, the statue would become alive and would require the priests to take care of it by offering it food, washing it, dressing it, putting makeup on it, etc., every single day.  The deity would only put some of their power in it, so it's possible to have more than one statute of a deity become alive after the Opening of the Mouth ritual.

This ritual was also used on the deceased so that they could come back to life after death.

You can read more about it here: http://www.philae.nu/akhet/OpenMouth.html
« Last Edit: July 28, 2010, 02:27:53 pm by Bastemhet » Logged

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« Reply #3: July 28, 2010, 03:31:54 pm »

For those who have considered using the Opening of the Mouth ritual on a statue of z deity to do worship in the way that it was done by priests in a temple in the past, what are some of the things you have thought about before deciding to do so or not do so? 


Just to add a question or two that I've always wanted to know about with open statues:

-Does the openness wear off? As in, do you need to perform the opening of the mouth periodically? Or does a statue always stay open?
-How does the feeling/interaction with the deity differ when using a closed vs. an open statue?

Just curious!

-Devo
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« Reply #4: July 28, 2010, 03:37:49 pm »

For those who have considered using the Opening of the Mouth ritual on a statue of z deity to do worship in the way that it was done by priests in a temple in the past, what are some of the things you have thought about before deciding to do so or not do so? 

I'm only able to say I'm at the "considering" stage. Well, I can't really say that. I want one and I want to perform the Opening of the Mouth Ceremony on said statue, however, I have yet to find a statue of the goddess, Sekhmet, that I really like. They all seem so fake and not something she would even remotely consider to grant with a fraction of her presence, no matter how much formal worship I performed. So, consider me "wanting to have a statue but not quite able to yet."

I've thought about, mostly, where the placement would be. I think before anyone can consider purchasing a statue, they have to consider their kar-shrine. Is it something that the netjer/et would be pleased to call home, even if only for a short while? Does it meet the requirements you believe your deity will need? Does it meet the requirements of an ancient Egyptian personal shrine? Is there enough room for libations and other offerings? If you perform a full-fledged ritual, is there enough space for everything you will be placing on the shrine?

So, before you get to the statue part, you have to get to that first. At least, that's what I think.
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« Reply #5: July 28, 2010, 03:39:38 pm »

-Does the openness wear off? As in, do you need to perform the opening of the mouth periodically? Or does a statue always stay open?

From the bottom of the website I provided: "As long as the temple stood, the statue was functioning and the god was inhabiting it. The consecration ritual was often repeated each New Year. If reasons happened to demolish the building or rebuild it, these statues had to be stripped of their senses by destroying eyes, mouth etc."
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« Reply #6: July 28, 2010, 03:40:09 pm »

-Does the openness wear off? As in, do you need to perform the opening of the mouth periodically? Or does a statue always stay open?
-How does the feeling/interaction with the deity differ when using a closed vs. an open statue?

Answering both at once:

WebenBanu (who posts here intermittently) told me a story once about encountering an ancient statue of Sekhmet and immediately being struck with a profound sense of the goddess's inhabitation of the icon.  She went on to say that the next time she visited the statue had been placed in a transparent box, and guessed that other people had been more disturbed by the presence....
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« Reply #7: July 28, 2010, 03:56:10 pm »

For those who have considered using the Opening of the Mouth ritual on a statue of z deity to do worship in the way that it was done by priests in a temple in the past, what are some of the things you have thought about before deciding to do so or not do so? 
By means of the Opening of the Mouth ritual a sacred statue or carved relief the ancient Egyptians perceived that a god/goddess became resident in that which had been crafted by human hands.
Much like the soul/spirit inhabits our physical body, the statue becomes the abode of a divinity.
Such a statue or relief is therefore not just a symbol of something ABSENT, but it is the locus for a specific divine presence.
For myself I was fully aware that I could remain a devotee and that I could honor and serve the god as a devotee, without taking on the serious obligations of a hm ntr (servant of the god)--what in English we refer to as a 'priest.' But I wanted to do something additional and this seemed like the path I should pursue.
 
What do those with an open statue recommend for those who do not have one but are thinking of having one? 
I would suggest doing what my local temple family strongly recommends: Do a daily ritual including a brief statue awakening recitation, the lighting of a tea candle with the reicitation "Come, come in peace, O glorious Eye of Heru....; then take a clean cloth and lightly wipe off any dust from the image; then the embrace of the image with one's arms (in order to renew the life of the image--based on ancient text), offerings of water, then bread, then any other food item you might like. Then some time in personal meditation or prayer.
Do this ritual for a full year BEFORE opening the mouth of a statue or relief. This is a test to determine whether the person can really remain stedfast and reliable. If, at some point, the person decides that it's just too much of a commmitment, then he or she will know that priestly service is not for them. And that's okay. Some of us are wired so that we just don't want to have an "obligation" of this sort. But some of us will find it a wonderful means of daily contact with the god or goddess that we feel so drawn to.

What would be the ideal setup?  

It's important that the enlivened image be sheltered in a small two--door box-like house or dwelling--away from curious eyes. The living image is NOT a conversation piece for outsiders.
Making such a shrine-house is in itself a meditation and very rewarding as you see it take shape.
Personally I leave the lighted tea candle--or sometimes a 7-day candle--burning--safely--before the closed doors of the shrine-house. Not everybody's living situation permits this.

What are some creative modifications that you've made?
The very fact that I am not doing the full lengthy daily temple ritual is already a big modification.
I do the long ritual once each month as a personal devotion.
Is having an open statue a possibility for everyone?
I don't see how it could be for everyone. Like I said, some folks don't feel comfortable being "forced" so to speak to do a daily rite before a statue. And that's okay. The gods may prompt people in different ways. Some people are at their very best when they get to decide how and when to serve the gods--thru prayer, praise, ritual, social action, etc. One size need not fit everyone.

What are the responsibilities that one must be aware of?
First, it's a serious obligation. Just as we would not adopt a puppy and only feed/care for it when we felt in the mood, so having an open statue is an equally serious obligation. if anybody doubts this, then definitely do not open a statue!
The ritual I described above takes about 10 minutes or so. The ritual should be done slowly and thoughtfully--not rushed, or with the mind distracted by other thoughts.
The foods offered should be consumed, and not thrown away. As in the ancient temples, the food offerings "reverted" to the priests and their dependents.
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« Reply #8: July 28, 2010, 04:20:05 pm »


Thank you very much for your input Setnakht!

One more question: If you do not have an open statue, is it still possible/advisable to make offerings if you do not have a pure place, i.e. a consecrated temple in which the deity may focus their power/presence?
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« Reply #9: July 28, 2010, 04:30:44 pm »

One more question: If you do not have an open statue, is it still possible/advisable to make offerings if you do not have a pure place, i.e. a consecrated temple in which the deity may focus their power/presence?

The ancients did - remember that ancient temples were not public access - so why couldn't you?
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« Reply #10: July 28, 2010, 05:36:48 pm »

The ancients did - remember that ancient temples were not public access - so why couldn't you?

Here's a place where I'm ignorant.  I know that people had altars in their homes, but do we have evidence that they did ritual offerings, or were the statuettes there merely as a focus-point or representative of the deity with it being understood that the deities did not actually inhabit the statue?
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« Reply #11: July 28, 2010, 06:16:47 pm »

Here's a place where I'm ignorant.  I know that people had altars in their homes, but do we have evidence that they did ritual offerings, or were the statuettes there merely as a focus-point or representative of the deity with it being understood that the deities did not actually inhabit the statue?

Obviously not Darkhawk, but the way I interpreted her statement was less that the average person did ritual offerings in their own homes (though I'm sure there were those who did), but that they conducted ritual offerings period- at local shrines, outside the temples, etc. Plenty of people did ritualized offerings who did not have access to an open statue, so why couldn't a modern person do so as well?
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« Reply #12: July 28, 2010, 07:09:24 pm »

Thank you very much for your input Setnakht!

One more question: If you do not have an open statue, is it still possible/advisable to make offerings if you do not have a pure place, i.e. a consecrated temple in which the deity may focus their power/presence?
You are very welcome.
RE your question: I do not think we have proof-positive that people made food offerings before their private house shrines. Such evidence, archeologically, is highly perishable; anyway, it would have been removed daily, as in the temple rites. The bigger question seems to me to be this: Can the Netjeru benefit from offerings presented to them before simple (non-opened) images? Theologically I do not see the gods as being restricted in this matter. It's the most natural thing to leave tokens of love for the dead--flowers at the grave; food at the grave in the case of some Asian religions. It's my hunch that deities are pleased by our offerings. In ancient times families visited their relative's gravesites and left food offerings--in fact, enjoyed a picnic type meal during at least one annual celebration--the Beautiful Feast of the Western Valley.
It's so unfortunate that so much has been lost over time; we have to use our wits to figure out some of these issues. I do believe a Netjer would be pleased--and be able to partake of the spiritual essence of the food offered. The Netjeru are not restricted from doing what they wish in the physical world. I hope this throws a little light on the issue.
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« Reply #13: July 28, 2010, 08:11:09 pm »

For those who have considered using the Opening of the Mouth ritual on a statue of z deity to do worship in the way that it was done by priests in a temple in the past, what are some of the things you have thought about before deciding to do so or not do so? 

Bastemhet!  Thanks for starting this thread.  I was going to start a similar.  I guess great minds think alike Wink

You asked us to cut/paste our posts from the RPD thread where we started discussing open statues. I think I'm just going to link to the place where the thread started to drift into that area, when Setnakht responded to Sat Aset's question about whether non-priests can do the same rituals as priests.

http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=13283.msg223962#msg223962

I'm linking back to this just so people reading this later on know where the discussion got started. 
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« Reply #14: July 28, 2010, 09:07:01 pm »

I would suggest doing what my local temple family strongly recommends: Do a daily ritual including a brief statue awakening recitation, the lighting of a tea candle with the reicitation "Come, come in peace, O glorious Eye of Heru....; then take a clean cloth and lightly wipe off any dust from the image; then the embrace of the image with one's arms (in order to renew the life of the image--based on ancient text), offerings of water, then bread, then any other food item you might like. Then some time in personal meditation or prayer.

There's a brief ritual in Eternal Egypt on page 205 that can be used for taking care of an open statue if you don't have time to do the full ritual every day.  It includes the mystical embrace that Setnakht is referring to.  I'm basically "practicing" on my non-open statues.  Some people have said that people who aren't priests shouldn't do the same rituals as priests but I can't imagine a better way to learn. 

Do this ritual for a full year BEFORE opening the mouth of a statue or relief. This is a test to determine whether the person can really remain steadfast and reliable. If, at some point, the person decides that it's just too much of a commmitment, then he or she will know that priestly service is not for them. And that's okay. Some of us are wired so that we just don't want to have an "obligation" of this sort. But some of us will find it a wonderful means of daily contact with the god or goddess that we feel so drawn to.

This was something Weben Banu recommended to me awhile back.  I've been doing this experiment for a few months.  So far I'm really enjoying it.  I like the fact that there are at least a few minutes of my day that belong to the Gods, no matter what.  I've had to put up with a few awkward things.  For example, going through airport security with a statue.  I started to think about what it would be like if it was  open, and how I'd feel about getting my suitcase searched and having my statue handled by strangers who thought he was nothing more than a pretty knickknack.  I wasn't comfortable with the idea, but I realized I'd have to deal with that possibility.  There was no way I was checking my statue in baggage and risking that it might get lost or broken.  So, I ended up wrapping my statue in a clean white cloth and taking it in my carry-on bag.  This is the kind of thing I'm glad I'm working out now instead of opening a statue and then later thinking "What am I going to do if I have to take him on a plane?"

I think the logistics of having an open statue are something I can only figure out by acting as if I already have one.  So, I'm glad that's what I'm doing. 

I'll let you guys know how the "experiment" works out Smiley
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