Pagan Paths

Out of the deeps rises the mysterious lotus. Stop in for refreshment, heka, and reflections from the sacred waters of ancient Egypt.

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Going to My Ka: Part 1

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b2ap3_thumbnail_osireionNut.jpgLast night an old friend came to me in a dream.  He has been a genuine soul-mate, both before and after his earthly passing.  Our affair of the heart was stormy, but in matters of spirit he always drew me to my best self.  I blocked him out for many years, but for a while now have been aware of his benevolent and supportive presence.  And he is not the only one.  On the periphery of my awareness there is a veritable cloud of witnesses, as one sacred text refers to those who have crossed over.  I don’t seek them out so often as I simply know them to be with me and part of me. 

Not unlike contemporary Pagans, ancient Egyptians had a complex set of ideas about the afterlife which often look like contradictions without study and reflection.  After the weighing of the heart in the Hall of Maat one might ascend to the sky as an “imperishable star” along with other ancestors.  Or one might face defeat by the monster Ammit should the heart be out of balance.  Most Egyptians simply hoped to live in comfort and happiness in a new world beyond.  Those of a more religious ilk imagined detailed journeys through the Duat, including encounters with all manner of beings and neteru (gods).  They understood this trip to be an alchemical sort of transformative process, describing the path of spiritual development. 

b2ap3_thumbnail_osireionbookofcaverns3.jpgWhile passing through the twelve hours of the Duat night, the newly-dead came upon many individuals who were in various phases of their own metamorphoses.  Like caterpillars in cocoons, many are shown sleeping; some are still en couchant but have waked and lift their heads.  Ultimately, these sleeping mummies are reborn as new, whole creatures.  The new form mirrored the previous earthly life, but was not the same.  Egyptians would have been shocked to find a departed loved one come back home to take up life where they left off, but they did believe that their ancestors were very much alive in a new form and place.  This was the reason tombs were designed to be visited, and included an offering table.  The gods and the dead, being of the spirit world, consumed the psychic energy possessed by the offerings, leaving their material manifestation for the earthly family to enjoy after the “reversion of offerings” part of rituals. 

More about “going to my ka” in the next post.


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Holli Emore is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary, the premiere educational resource for Pagan and other nature-based religions (, founder of Osireion (, editor/writer for Wild Garden: Pagans in the Growing Interfaith Landscape at, and serves on the board of directors for Interfaith Partners of S.C. (  She is co-founder of the original Pagan Round Table,, and author of "Pool of Lotus," available in print, or for Kindle or Nook, at


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