Pagan Kemetic Federation & Faith

Paganism Kemetic Pagan Federation home of the Kemetic faith.

The Priesthood

The Priesthood

Unlike the orthodox priesthoods usually found within Western society, the role of the Kemetic priest or priestess is vastly different within  society as a whole. Rather than seek the divine and develop a rapport with the gods, the role of the priest was akin to an everyday job. For, as the pharaoh is seen as a god himself, the priests and priestesses are seen as stand-in's for the pharaoh; as it is the greater job of the priests and priestesses to keep kemetic society in good order, as is the case with most theoretically based societies. The mystical attributes of the priests and priestesses take on a secondary role, when one considers the heightened role religion plays within kemetic society. Not only is religion a way to attain the ethereal and basic needs of the faith full, but it also serve's as a mechanism to order society, to create a hierarchy, and to preserve the culture for future generations. As such, the role of the priests and priestesses is both functional and mystical on both levels.

A priest or priestess is generally chosen by either the king, or attained their post by hereditary means. In either case, the priests who received their positions hereditarily and through the kingare not set apart from mundane life. In fact, such priests are made to embrace the mundane life to keep kemetic society functioning properly (and as stated above it is a job of fairly high status). Though the priesthood  started out simply, with relatively few temples, in the later dynasties the temples expanded into the hundreds. With such growth, a large bureaucracy was needed to keep the temples in good standing; and thenceforth, the small priesthood's of the faith full grew from an estimated hundred priests into the thousands, and with it came a priestly hierarchy.

The daily life of a priest or priestess depends on their sex and also their hierarchical standing within the priesthood. Priests were often rotated from position to position within the priestly hierarchy and are integrated in and out of mundane society. This rotation system generally means, that a priest will enter into temple life one month, at three times a year. This rotation system has a direct connection to the often stringent purity rites of the priests. Regardless of what status the priest is, there are numerous taboos and tradition's a priest has to or can not partake of. Of these taboos and traditions, a priest or priestess can not eat fish (a food thought to be ascribed to peasant life), can not wear wool (as nearly all animal products were unclean), are generally circumcised (only common among the male priests), and it is not uncommon for priests to bathe three or four times a day in "sacred" purificatory pools. It is also not uncommon for the "oracle" tending priests (one of the most sacred positions), to shave off all of their body hair, partially in the past  to get rid of lice, but partially for purificatory functions. These "oracle" priests symbolically give food to the statues of the gods, cloth the statues of the gods, sealed the temple chamber in the evening, and are known as stolists. As can be seen from the example of the stolists, the need for purity extended not only upon the mundane level, but also holds true within the afterlife as well. Further, from such purificatory rites the priests are often  known as the "pure ones" regardless of status within the temples.

The hierarchy of priests consists of a milieu of offices and duties. At the top of the hierarchy of priests is the high-priest, also known as the sem-priest, and as "the First Prophet of the God". The high-priest is often very wise in years, and old. Not only does he serve as political advisor to the pharaoh, but he is also a political leader for the temples he belongs to as well. The high-priest is in charge of over-seeing magical rites and ceremonies as well as advising the pharaoh. Maintaining a fairly ceremonial position, the high-priest is often times chosen by the pharaoh as an advisor, however, it is not uncommon for a high-priest to have climbed through the ranks to his official status.

Below the high-priest are a number of priests with many specialized duties. The specialization of these second tier priests run from "horology" (keeping an accurate count of the hours through the days, extremely important during the time of the sunboat worshippers, but also for agricultural reasons as well), "astrology" (extremely important as well to the mythology of Egypt as well as to the architectural and calendrical systems of Egypt), to healing. As is obvious by the specialization of the priests, the cycles of the cosmos is extremely important, as they decided when crops should be planted, when the Nile would wax or wane, and further when the temple rites are to begin in the morning. .

In addition to the political administration, the priests and priestesses take on both magical and economic functions, however set apart from the hierarchy of priests are the lay magicians who supply a commoners understanding of kemetic religion. Through the use of magic and their connection to the gods, lay magicians provid a service to their community, usually consisting of counseling, magical arts, healing, and ceremony. Lay magicians who serve within this last and final caste of the kemetic priesthood belonged to a large temple known simply as "The House of Life". Laymen wil come to "The House of Life" to meet with a magician, priest or priestess to have their dreams interpreted, to supply magical spells and charms, to be healed and to counteract malevolent magic, and to supply incantations of various types. Though the House of Life provided it's Laymen with many prescriptive cures for common ills, it is largely shrouded in mystery in ancient times. In fact, the library of The House of Life is shrouded in great secrecy, as it contains many sacred rites, books, and secrets of the temple itself which are thought could harm the pharaoh, the priests, and all of mankind itself Though the magicians of The House of Life, are seen as another step from the ceremonial duties of the priests, they are by no means less important.

One final position within the priesthood highly worthy of mention is that of the Scribes. The scribes are highly prized by both the pharaoh and the priesthood, so much so that in some of the pharaoh's tombs, the pharaoh himself is depicted as a scribe in pictographs. The scribes are in charge of writing magical texts, issuing royal decrees, keeping and recording the funerary rites (specifically within The Book of The Dead) and keeping records vital to the bureaucracy of the true faith The scribes often spend years working on the craft of making hieroglyphics, and deserve mentioning within the priestly caste as it was considered the highest of honors to be a scribe in any kemetic court or temple.