Monday, November 19, 2007

Building a Modern Kemetic Temple

This is something that's been on my mind for complicated madness-in-motion reasons, but the practical parts of it are worth throwing out for people to chew on.

Ancient temples were built to some very exacting standards, all of which are deeply rooted in the theology of Egyptian thought. This is not minor stuff, folks, but a part of the underpinning of the universe here. :} If we are going to, in any way, be thinking about building sacred sites or mansions for the gods, this is stuff we're gonna need to think on.

An ancient temple was a fortress, walled against the disruptive chaos that might leak into the world around it. It was a magical support point, pinning down reality in one location, with the spellwork not merely written on its walls but inscribed in the very shape of the construction. The stabilising influence of the perfectly constructed temple extended to the world around it, helping to hold things in place and maintain ma'at.

The walls were laid out with reference to the astronomical truths of the area, to get the alignments in tune with the cosmos. Foundation walls were dug down until there was groundwater in the trenches, a layer of sand was poured in, and then construction proper began -- the groundwater being a manifestation of Nun, the neutral uncreated, the well of possibility; I'm guessing that the sand was intended to be protective, possibly a reminder of the encircling desert that kept invaders rare.

The sanctuary of the god included a columned hall in which the columns were carved to look like marsh plants, bundles of papyrus, similar things -- plants hearkening to the First Time, the creation of all things on the benben, which was logically speaking a swamp. I think all non-Amarna temples got narrower and darker, sloping upwards, as one got closer to the abode of the god, seated in darkness on the mound in the instant before creation, constnatly in the act of bringing forth reality from unlight. (Amarna temples were open-roofed so one could see the actual sun disc.)

This is what the ancients built -- a carefully designed fortification that pulls back through time to the moment of primordial creation, centreing on the god, from Whom order could emanate, spreading outwards through the recapitulation of time and from there into the rest of the world.

(This is from memory -- the book I'm pulling this stuff out of is 'Temples of Ancient Egypt', which goes into more detail about things like the fortification origins of the temples, some more structural stuff, and so on. The book is .... lemme see if I understand how to make the amazon link, here. It's a cool book, if you're a GIANT NERD.)

Obviously, building on that scale is an undertaking that's a bit beyond modern Kemetics at this time.

So what can we do that gives respect to the importance of these things, of rooting in the Nun and protecting ourselves, of retreating back through time and into the dark to find the emanation of the god Who holds this place? What is a scale that's workable and doesn't abandon the hope of building things fit to hold the world together?

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