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Author Topic: Ritual purity - natron, blood and others.  (Read 9101 times)
sefiru
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« Topic Start: March 27, 2007, 08:48:21 am »

As I recall the ancient egyptians had some pretty strict notions about ritual purity, and it was pretty important to the religion.
So let's have a thread on that ... here are some questions to start.

1. Natron. What is it, how do we make it (ie recipes), how do we use it.
2. Blood -- in particular, menstrual blood, for those of us of the female persuasion. I vaguely recall someone once mentioned they'd come up with a work-around so that they could do rituals during "that time of the month", but they didn't elaborate and I forget who said it.
3. Theologically speaking, what does purification *do* -- what are we removing? Sin? distractions? mundane life? what?
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Chabas
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« Reply #1: March 27, 2007, 09:11:23 am »

As I recall the ancient egyptians had some pretty strict notions about ritual purity, and it was pretty important to the religion.
So let's have a thread on that ... here are some questions to start.

1. Natron. What is it, how do we make it (ie recipes), how do we use it.
2. Blood -- in particular, menstrual blood, for those of us of the female persuasion. I vaguely recall someone once mentioned they'd come up with a work-around so that they could do rituals during "that time of the month", but they didn't elaborate and I forget who said it.
3. Theologically speaking, what does purification *do* -- what are we removing? Sin? distractions? mundane life? what?

I've actually always considered the ritual purity mainly a matter of respect by not approaching Netjer while all dirty from whatever it is you've been doing. Natron, at the time, was readily available, and pretty much the best way to get clean. Thus, I've never been quite convinced of the need to use natron, specifically, in this day and age. After all, my shower gel will likely get me as clean, if not cleaner than natron. One of the things I've done at time is use shower gels with minerals in them, as a nod to natron. However, as mentioned before - I tend to be very casual.

Making natron - IIRC ideally, you'd mix baking soda and kitchen salt, dissolve it in water, then put in the oven or such to dry it again. Or, if that's too much work (or, as in my case, if your oven tends to be too gross to consider anything that's been near it pure - the joys of student housing!) you can just mix soda and salt and make do that way.

The blood thing I've heard Darkhawk describe as leaking energy - it'd hardly be pure to leak anything all over the place. And if, as in my case, you're involved with Sekhmet, having blood near her might not be a good idea anyways.

I'm honestly not sure about the stricter meaning of ritual purity, historically speaking. I know that for me, it's not unlike "I wouldn't show up for a date sweaty, smelly and without make-up", but Gods only know what I'm basing that on.

--Chabas
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« Reply #2: March 27, 2007, 01:20:22 pm »

1. Natron. What is it, how do we make it (ie recipes), how do we use it.

I consider the natron that can be made (the stuff with salt and baking soda) sort of a pseudo-natron; it's not quite chemically the same as the stuff in Egypt, though it's a very high match (lacking trace elements, mostly), and the stuff from Egypt is illegal to export.

Which is a recon question, really -- what level of match matters, what substitutions are legit.

Personally, I go back and forth for how critical I think it is to purity concept; I have spent long periods in which I did what Chabas describes and treated my generalised bathing soap stuff as equivalent substitution.  However, I have had occasional nudges, generally when I'm doing ritual with my ritual group, to use the natron there; I've been in the habit of it since the last one of those.

My UPG on the subject is that for routine practice, a good scrubbing and such is perfectly acceptable, but that They appreciate the nod towards ancient tradition for festivals and important ritual.

Quote
2. Blood -- in particular, menstrual blood, for those of us of the female persuasion. I vaguely recall someone once mentioned they'd come up with a work-around so that they could do rituals during "that time of the month", but they didn't elaborate and I forget who said it.

I took apart the standard Kemetic base ritual into sections -- flame and incense offering, the four libations, prayer and contemplation -- and paid attention to what the ritual bits were doing.  From my perspective, flame and incense are normal things that get done outside of sanctified space, prayer and contemplation likewise -- and in at least the Siuda-based water libation text, there is explicit opening of space in the invocation of akhu and Wepwawet.

So if flame and incense and prayer and contemplation are acceptable in closed, profane space, and the water libations open the space (and presumably bring the energies into contact), doing ritual without the water libations is equivalent to doing said ritual in front of a closed shrine.

Quote
3. Theologically speaking, what does purification *do* -- what are we removing? Sin? distractions? mundane life? what?

How I look at it is in terms of ma'at and Zep Tepi, myself:

Consider the First Time as that moment of initial perfection.  Things are working perfectly, there is no grime or accumulated problems, nothing is run away from true.  Entropy works on that and wears it down; our rituals are trying to push things back towards that ideal state, to maintain, to clear the grit out of the gears of creation.

So purification is dusting our part of the cosmic clock, washing away the accumulated not-ma'at that just picks up like dust on the road.  Because things are basically and fundamentally ma'at, this cleansing goes a long way to keeping the gears meshing properly -- so long as we keep the rust clear, the gears will continue to mesh properly.

The ritual itself is winding the clock.
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SatAset
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« Reply #3: March 28, 2007, 12:22:27 am »

As I recall the ancient egyptians had some pretty strict notions about ritual purity, and it was pretty important to the religion.
So let's have a thread on that ... here are some questions to start.

1. Natron. What is it, how do we make it (ie recipes), how do we use it.
2. Blood -- in particular, menstrual blood, for those of us of the female persuasion. I vaguely recall someone once mentioned they'd come up with a work-around so that they could do rituals during "that time of the month", but they didn't elaborate and I forget who said it.
3. Theologically speaking, what does purification *do* -- what are we removing? Sin? distractions? mundane life? what?

Well, natron was used like soap, since they didn't have any.  Natron was their soap.  I just mix baking soda with kosher salt in a bowl of water--pour it over my head and take a shower or pour in a bathtub.  I can definitely feel the energy difference in doing this and just using my own modern soap.  I feel "cleaner" when I use natron. 

I've complained about the blood taboo thing and a link to Darkhawk's entry about the solution here:  http://www.asetnet.net/menstruationblood.html

I have an essay on purity here:  http://www.asetnet.net/essayimpurity.html
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I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --Me
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« Reply #4: March 28, 2007, 02:58:03 am »

Well, natron was used like soap, since they didn't have any.  Natron was their soap.  I just mix baking soda with kosher salt in a bowl of water--pour it over my head and take a shower or pour in a bathtub.  I can definitely feel the energy difference in doing this and just using my own modern soap.  I feel "cleaner" when I use natron. 

I've complained about the blood taboo thing and a link to Darkhawk's entry about the solution here:  http://www.asetnet.net/menstruationblood.html

I have an essay on purity here:  http://www.asetnet.net/essayimpurity.html

Thanks. I may just go and save your site to my harddrive, it would save me time. Trying to be recon without books -- what fun.  Tongue
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sefiru
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« Reply #5: March 28, 2007, 03:03:20 am »


Which is a recon question, really -- what level of match matters, what substitutions are legit.

Personally, I go back and forth for how critical I think it is to purity concept; I have spent long periods in which I did what Chabas describes and treated my generalised bathing soap stuff as equivalent substitution.  However, I have had occasional nudges, generally when I'm doing ritual with my ritual group, to use the natron there; I've been in the habit of it since the last one of those.

My UPG on the subject is that for routine practice, a good scrubbing and such is perfectly acceptable, but that They appreciate the nod towards ancient tradition for festivals and important ritual.


It looks like the solution here will be to have a few interchangeable purifications in different levels of formality, like I suggested for daily practices on the other thread.

And thanks for the thoughts on ma'at and purification ::takes notes::
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SatAset
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« Reply #6: March 28, 2007, 10:36:33 pm »


3. Theologically speaking, what does purification *do* -- what are we removing? Sin? distractions? mundane life? what?

I'd like to add that this purification identified one with the King symbolically.  You are Heru when you emerge from the water and go before the God. 
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I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --Me
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« Reply #7: March 28, 2007, 11:08:37 pm »

I'd like to add that this purification identified one with the King symbolically.  You are Heru when you emerge from the water and go before the God. 

Interesting. Especially since that could be an argument against the need for a modern Nisut.
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« Reply #8: March 28, 2007, 11:27:44 pm »

Interesting. Especially since that could be an argument against the need for a modern Nisut.

Mumble, mumble, okay, I'm gonna go start the thread I've been thinking about starting ... :}
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« Reply #9: March 28, 2007, 11:37:22 pm »

Mumble, mumble, okay, I'm gonna go start the thread I've been thinking about starting ... :}

It's catching ... seriously, I have a boatload of threads I want to start, I just don't want to dump them on the board all at once.  Wink
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SatAset
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« Reply #10: March 29, 2007, 12:47:48 am »

It's catching ... seriously, I have a boatload of threads I want to start, I just don't want to dump them on the board all at once.  Wink

I would love them!  Post away!   Grin
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I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --Me
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« Reply #11: March 29, 2007, 12:50:38 am »

Interesting. Especially since that could be an argument against the need for a modern Nisut.

I have an essay for that here:  http://www.asetnet.net/essaynisut.html

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I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --Me
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« Reply #12: March 29, 2007, 10:26:03 pm »

As I recall the ancient egyptians had some pretty strict notions about ritual purity, and it was pretty important to the religion.
So let's have a thread on that ... here are some questions to start.

1. Natron. What is it, how do we make it (ie recipes), how do we use it.
2. Blood -- in particular, menstrual blood, for those of us of the female persuasion. I vaguely recall someone once mentioned they'd come up with a work-around so that they could do rituals during "that time of the month", but they didn't elaborate and I forget who said it.
3. Theologically speaking, what does purification *do* -- what are we removing? Sin? distractions? mundane life? what?

Hmmm. I've never used Natron on anything but my hands-and even that only in certain, *important* rituals. Doing rites while on my period is something that I'll never do, not because of the impurity notion of it, but because of the frustration and extra stress that seems to come around that time of the month.

Now, onto the theological point. Magically speaking, we are removing mundane life. But I think it depends on the circumstances each time we cleanse. A way to get rid of the day's stresses and their filth, perhaps. When we purify, we remove the physical dirt that's accumulated over the day, and when we are truly purifying, we are removing the mental stress we have held throughout the day.

How much of the day's buildup do we really want to get rid of? That depends on the situation, too. The Egyptians would have spent much of their time working in the boiling hot sun. If you think about it, the sweat buildup wouldn't be so great for ritual. Same with the stuff we get from our days. We have stress, heaters turned up too high, occasional falls, and the air's toxins themselves to cleanse ourselves of. That's the physical matter of it. The Egyptians would have had different mental issues but as many as we do today, especially the slaves. I'm going to go UPG on this one, and say that it's merely to remove the day's work state of mind and move us into the ritual state of mind.

(See, now I want to start a thread, too. My forum addiction grows!!!)
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« Reply #13: March 30, 2007, 12:23:25 am »

After all, my shower gel will likely get me as clean, if not cleaner than natron. One of the things I've done at time is use shower gels with minerals in them, as a nod to natron.

The blood thing I've heard Darkhawk describe as leaking energy - it'd hardly be pure to leak anything all over the place. And if, as in my case, you're involved with Sekhmet, having blood near her might not be a good idea anyways.


I've had some various questions/thoughts about purity - it's probably one of the things I'm most "traditional" about.  (Just seems polite...)  So here goes...

1.  I read a discussion online about avoiding bath products/lotions/stuff with urea in them, since it's a component in urine, which is taboo.  That makes a lot of sense to me, although I was suprised that in the ensuing discussion no one mentioned that urea is artificially produced - I think it was one of the first compounds to be synthesized. Of course the question is, does that make a difference?  What do you think?

(This question reminds me of the Jewish idea of "building a fence around Commandments" - don't do anything that is anything close to what is forbidden.  I don't know if that's Kemetic at all, though.)

2. I understand the blood as leaking energy idea, and that you also shouldn't do ritual when your sick for similar reasons.  (potential TMI ahead.....) I've noticed that sometimes I feel more disordered before my period (if it's irregular), and like I'm back in balance when it starts.  Just a semi-random thought.

3. I've sometimes seen the "knot of Aset" amulet referred to as representing Her menstrual blood.  I'm not sure how good the sources are.  Does it?  Do we know?  If so, how does it relate to purity?
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« Reply #14: March 30, 2007, 01:15:16 am »



3. I've sometimes seen the "knot of Aset" amulet referred to as representing Her menstrual blood.  I'm not sure how good the sources are.  Does it?  Do we know?  If so, how does it relate to purity?

I have something on that. ::scrummages throughs stuff::

Excerpt from my paper on Aset and Isis:

The goddess's blood was said to be potent. This was illustrated by a specific amulet attributed to Aset called the tyet or "Knot of Aset" and was associated with her blood. Egyptologists speculate as to its original function, but it has been found in tombs worn around the neck of the dead (97). This would align her even further as a funerary deity.

Spell for tyet-amulet of red jasper:
Words to be said by [name]
You have [your] blood, Aset.
You have [your] effectiveness, Aset.
You have [your] magic, Aset.
The amulet is a protection of this Great One,
guarding against the one who would do him harm (98).

The tyet amulet was often found with the djed pillar, a protective amulet symbolizing stability (99); both of the amulets together could represent the “binary nature of life” (100). According to Barbara Lesko, the amulet may be attributed to sanitary napkins and some feminists may associate it with menstrual blood (101). Since the ancient Egyptian word for red jasper was derived from the word to delight, Carol Andrews linked this amulet with the positive properties of the color red such as, “power”, “energy” and “life itself” (102). As this amulet was associated with Aset, the goddess would also share these attributes.
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I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --Me

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