The Understanding of Ma’at
With Ma’at having such an importance, I’ve grown to embrace it as a guiding way for my life. As one sacred writing says: the Honorables live on Ma’at. Yet, one will find many different explanations of Ma’at in modern writings. Some define Ma’at as a “goddess.” Some define Ma’at as a set of principles or ideas. Some define Ma’at as truth, justice, order, or even all three. But even among such definitions, there is little explanation given to the fundamental importance of Ma’at to the Kemetic ways of life. My aim is to share from what I have learned about Ma’at, that it may assist others on their road to discovering the full reality of Ma’at for themselves -- what I hold to be the only way to (truly) understand Ma’at. The following is more a task presented to me than a chosen endeavor, given the lack of clear and comprehensive information on Ma’at. As a student, some may say a mystic, of the range of Kemetic spiritual teachings, I have been moved to make many changes in my life. The choice of Ma’at was simple: despite the range of life approaches throughout Kemet (often called ancient Egypt), one thing was almost always, if not always, present is Ma’at. I stress that there was no one overarching Kemetic religion. Many scholars, usually from Western European cultural paradigms, interpret the spiritual components of Kemetic ways of life through their own conceptual lenses. Thus “Egyptian Religion” or “Egyptian Mythology,” as they often call it, is interpreted in ways that mirror Christianity: having one set of core principles which are dominant in all the sub-sects that break off from this main core. In reality, each city and village usually had their own primary Honorables (often translated as gods or goddesses) who occupied the most important places in their approach to life. One city may be designed to honor a covenant with one local Honorable who may not be widely known beyond that city, while further down the Nile River another city had covenants with two other completely different Honorables. There were few Honorables widely known throughout the entire Kemetic region, creating a pantheon of Honorables that reaches into the hundreds if not thousands. Yet, despite this reality, Ma’at as a She-Honorable, Principle that Western European cultures describe as many principles, energy, and probably more held a fundamental place in the multitude of distinct and differing Kemetic ways of life. Another point of interest is the prolific presence of symbols of Ma’at in surviving remains from Kemet. On many temple and pyramid walls, on scrolls, on crafts, on coffins, etc., you will find numerous symbols of Ma’at, one of the most notable being the feather. This is true throughout the Kemetic region. I sense the reverence for Ma’at was a strong unifying force for Kemetic peoples who sometimes had very differing ways of life. The basis for the modern translation of the Kemetic Symbol Alphabet (often called hieroglyphics) lays with the Rosetta Stone. It was discovered in 1799 by the army of France, led by Napoleon Bonaparte. The stone is said to have been created in 196 B.C., which is late in the history of Kemet. It contains a royal decree which was written in three versions: a Kemetic Symbol Alphabet version, a Kemetic Demotic Alphabet (a type of character script) version, and a classical Greek version. The translation of the Kemetic Symbol Alphabet is credited to a French scholar named Jean-François Champollion, who is recognized as the father of Egyptology. From his ability to read Coptic, an Asiatic language derived from ancient Kemetic, he “interpreted” some of the Kemetic Demotic text of the Rosetta Stone and linked this back to the Kemetic Symbol Alphabet version. With Coptic being derived from Kemetic language, one can reasonably argue that some words will have the same or similar meanings in both Coptic and the Kemetic Demotic. But there are words that are not...
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