Our book, Egyptian Paganism, was written to address the need for a book that would introduce newcomers to this form of Paganism with some basic practices for daily devotions, while at the same time giving some insight into the deeper or esoteric aspects of the religion. Fifteen years ago, when we first became interested in the Pagan religion of ancient Egypt, there was very little published that would be of help to the beginner. People starting out on the path often had to look for advice in general books on Paganism and magic, or try to write their own modern forms of ritual inspired, perhaps, by the Egyptian Book of the Dead, which can be hard to understand. Sometimes it was possible to gain some knowledge of Egyptian Paganism by reading scholarly books, which may of course be not only hard to understand, but written from the point of view of a historian, rather than a practitioner of the religion as a living faith. Even as other forms of Paganism grew in popularity, Egyptian Paganism was still lagging behind with regard to published material accessible to the general public.
The situation today is very much improved, as Llewellyn and a few other specialist publishers have in recent years published books on various aspects of ancient Egyptian religious beliefs and practices, some of those written by members of the Fellowship of Isis (FOI), the international Goddess organization to which we both belong. In 1994, we formed a group within the FOI called an iseum, and began performing rites with another couple who had similar spiritual beliefs. For this purpose, we composed eight seasonal rites, based on ancient Egyptian texts, and these we later put into a book. However, only half our objective had been achieved, as that book addressed only the exoteric aspects (outer mysteries) of the religion, and rites for groups. The most important aspects, the esoteric side (inner mysteries), of the religion had not been included.
That is why we wrote Egyptian Paganism. It is aimed at solitary practitioners, includes prayers and other ancient texts which may be used on a daily basis, and introduces readers to the deeper, esoteric aspects of the religion. Jocelyn, who is an archpriestess-hierophant in the Fellowship of Isis, has for a number of years been successfully training other FOI members for the priesthood, and we have been able to use some of the material from her training course in this book. Students frequently ask where they can find genuine ancient Egyptian sacred texts, prayers, and invocations that they can use in their daily rites, so some of these, taken from various sources translated by scholars, have also been included in the book. We have included texts that apply to most of the main Egyptian deities, and many followers of the Egyptian spiritual path, not just beginners, will find it extremely helpful to have these sacred writings gathered together in one book, instead of having to search through many books over a period of years, as we had to do.
People are often attracted to Paganism because of a love for the natural world, but reverence for nature, observance of seasonal changes, and an awareness of being one with nature are only the outer teachings of Pagan religion. The inner, or esoteric, teachings concern the immortality of the soul, the divine nature of the higher self, and eventually, an experience of oneness with Deity. These esoteric beliefs can be found in most religions, but they can be quite obscure, and practitioners of the religions may not even be aware of such teachings. This is surely true in Paganism as well, and especially among beginners. Furthermore, with the rapid growth of all forms of Paganism as a spiritual path, many people come to the religion through reading books on the subject, rather than being initiated in secret groups, as tended to happen twenty or more years ago; so while it is good to see so many newcomers to this path, one disadvantage is that shallower forms of Paganism tend to develop, as some people remain entirely unaware of the inner teachings that they would have learned if being initiated within a group. For this reason, we are pleased to be able to describe in Egyptian Paganism some of the aspects of this hidden side of the ancient Egyptian religion.
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