02) Netjer and Netjeru – The Kemetic Orthodox Conception of God

“So do not place any confidence in your heart in the accumulation of riches, since everything that you have is a gift from God.”

– The Maxims of Ptahhotep

Netjer is the Kemetic Orthodox concept of “God” or “Divineness”. Divinity in both totality and plurality. Netjer is an abstract concept that can not be explained, only experienced. As Kemetic Orthodox, we experience Netjer as manifest in the Netjeru (plural, “gods” or “God’s manifestations”), the various Names of Netjer. Netjer is made manifest in Them and when we honor the Netjeru, we honor Netjer.

Worship of Netjer – Then and Now

In a lot of ways, conception and worship of Netjer bares a close resemblance to the ways in which the Hindu gods are conceptualized and worshipped.

In antiquity the Netjeru were generally approached one at a time in everyday prayer and worship by the people, not collectively. Exceptions would be made for certain holy days and the occasional reference to Ogdoads and Enneads in liturgy. Each god, each netjer, took on the role of the “Great God,” being the most important god for the individual worshipper in the moment.

“Only in certain contexts do our gods ‘defer’ to each other – most of the time, each is considered to have the characteristics of a head/leader god, and is approached in that way. Even in liturgical reference, what will change in the liturgy from temple to temple is not the content of the rites but the names – we worship the same ‘god’ over and over and over, and just change the names at different locations.”

– Hekatawy I

“While we do occasionally refer to all the Kemetic deities (and I admit that I do it fairly often in our modern Kemetic Orthodox contexts), ANCIENT contexts rarely do so. About the only ways that gods are referenced in groups during liturgy are by familial relation (i.e., when praying to one god you might reference Their siblings, parents, or children, but you’re still praying to that one god). In Saqu, we have never once had more than one deity appear at the same time, despite the fact that we could invoke them all at one time, and in fact have attempted to do so on at least one occasion. There are no records of any ancient oracles or ceremonies that manifested simultaneous expressions of the deity/deities. We can get Them consecutively, one after another, but when They come, They come one at a time, and we acknowledge Them one at a time. This is the literal definition of monolatry – a polytheism that worships deities one at a time, and for the duration of that worship, only concerns itself with that deity, but does not deny the existence of any others.”

– Hekatawy I

Today, I too approach my gods one at a time. Though this is not necessarily the case for all House of Netjer members. Great emphasis is placed on personal piety, fostering a personal relationship with Netjer via a daily shrine rite which consists of making offerings and private prayer. In addition to this though, we also have a priesthood responsible for carrying out formal state rites on behalf of the Kemetic Orthodox community.

What does it all mean?

To sum it all up, as Kemetic Orthodox, we believe in both One God and Many Gods at the same time in more than one way. This idea has been referred to as both Henotheism and Monolatry by practitioners of Kemetic religion. Kemetic Orthodoxy has been defined as a Monolatry by our Nisut (AUS), Hekatawy I (see second quote above).

“It is my understanding that the terms differ generally not in theory (both are forms of polytheism, both acknowledge many gods despite the ‘mono-‘ at the beginning of monolatry that so many seem to see and run screaming from), but in the expression of the individual religious practice.”

– Hekatawy I

I have provided a link at the end of this introduction which will hopefully adequately explain the differences if you aren’t familiar with them already.

We also have both formal state rites performed by a trained priesthood and a personal practice and relationship with Netjer which is unique to each individual member of the faith.

 

For a list of the Names of Netjer please visit the Glossary of Names. Note however, that this list is not meant to be all-inclusive. There were many more Names known to the ancient Egyptians than are described here.

For an explanation of the differences between Henotheism and Monolatry please visit What are Henotheism and Monolatry?

Also, please remember that you are always welcome to pose questions in the House of Netjer public forums at Netjer.org.

 

Senebty,

~ Zabet

9 Responses to “02) Netjer and Netjeru – The Kemetic Orthodox Conception of God”

  1. Beautiful Zabet. I feel this is truly what I experience Netjer to be. I will certainly share this piece with friends of mine who have become interested in Kemetic Orthodoxy, since my definitions of Netjer are rather vague (predominantly due to the unknowable aspect of Netjer as a whole).

    Thank you for this :)

    • I am so glad that you liked it. Sometimes I question whether or not my explinations are coming across in the correct way. I chose to use Hemet’s quotes as an aid because they verified quite clearly for myself what I have always percieved Netjer to be.

      It also helps, when thinking about Netjer in the abstract, not to think of it as “a” god. I understand the concept of Netjer and that it is manifest in my gods, but it is not the focus of my worship in the abstract. Just know that when we honor the Netjeru in name, we honor Netjer.

      Does that make sense? LOL!

  2. That makes perfect sense! I had this interesting thing happen today. I had lost the key to something very important and I prayed to the Divine… I acknowledge you and my need for your help to be guided to the key.” and I kept searching calmly. I didn’t get impatient, I just kept looking, one step at a time, under things, in cabinets, old purses etc. and then I found it. I gave thanks and praise! I didn’t use a name, just ‘You who are most Divine’. I don’t think this Divinity is so concerned with what name we use in our acknowledging and thanking, but just that we have this wonderful connection, peace, and grace. Of course, there are times I do use names and descriptions in poetic form, but today it was simply “Divine”

  3. Yes, I totally agree with these texts by our Nisut (AUS)! Intuitively, I always experienced Netjer by this ways, I invoke Name by Name in shrine and prayers, and even when I was in the beginners classes I said for example: “Netjer, I invoke Your Name of love Hethert… now I invoke Your Name of knowledge Djehuty…”
    so yes, They come to us one after another, and occasionally They teach us to call Them one after another, that was my case :)

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    • You are very welcome to quote me so long as it is understood that the opinions represented on this website are my own and do not necessarily reflect any kind of “official doctrine” or the opinions of other House members.

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