Why study or practice an "Ancient" Religion?
Priestess speaks to the Young People
Ok, so I can just hear the questions you might have about why, in this modern age, anyone would want to know, (or even need to know, for that matter) about a lot of things that were supposed to have happened thousands of years ago. People today know the Earth is not flat, that our Sun does not revolve around this planet and that more than likely there have never been real Unicorns or flying horses like Pegasus.
So why get all worked up about some dusty old religion that had gods and goddess running around with animal heads; and a group of people who never had television, radios, vcr's or even electric toasters? No one in Ancient Egypt ever got on an airplane and flew to meet their Dad's new wife and the kids from her other marriage, so what did they know about anything? Right? Hmmmm...... For those of you reading this that think Elvis is "ancient history" and that anyone over age 25 is older than dirt,(and not to be trusted to know anything worth knowing) these are reasonable and pretty good questions. It's kind of like, who cares???? Soooooo......let's just sit and talk about this. Maybe a good place to start from is a discussion about Time.( No, not the magazine your Mom has on the coffee table, what I mean is the concept called Time, you know...hours, days, weeks, years...that sort of thing )
In 1957 a very smart lady named Mircea Eliade wrote a book called "The Sacred and The Profane" in which she talked a lot about the idea of time and what it means. I really like how she explained it, so I am going to tell you what she had to say about the different aspects or types of time using my own words. Let's kind of look at Time as having three different and separate aspects. First, there is the everyday time of things we do such as going to school on time, being at football practice on time, and remembering to set your alarm clock to get you up on time in the morning. That is called "mundane time"...the normal everyday things that all of us do and the way we regulate our lives by watches, clocks and calendars. Next, there is something called "Sacred Time" which is usually marked by regular Holy Days and Festivals ( Holy Day=Holiday ) like the Sabbath on Saturday if you are Jewish and Sunday if you are Christian. Christmas, Succoth, Yom Kippur and Easter all exist in Sacred Time, depending on you and your family and how they do things. For Pagans there is Yule, Litha, Samhain , Full Moon and other events that occur in Sacred Time.
Every religion has its own Sacred Times, I just selected a few to name...Ramadan is the Sacred Time of Islam, and entire month of Sacred Time every year. During these Times people eat foods that may be special or traditional and there are special religious meetings and gatherings with family and friends to celebrate whatever Sacred Event is being remembered or shared. Now comes the tricky part...there is also a third kind of time...and that is "theoretical time" which is a fancy way of saying " time that no one is sure about". One example of that is light speed. We know how fast light travels so we estimate the distance of other stars by light speed. It is really wierd to think that the light from the stars (that you saw last night) actually started on its way to your eyes hundreds and hundreds of years ago!
Most of the world's religions celebrate their Sacred Times based on actual events which can be measured by everyday time. When Christians celebrate Easter they are remembering an actual event that took place about 2000 years ago. We have actual historical records of what people ate, wore to work and who was the King or Queen at that time. We know about Rome from surviving written records and the words of people who lived then. When Jewish families celebrate Purim they are remembering Queen Esther and Mordachi and the time of captivity, when the Jewish nation was occupied and many of their people were carted off to live in Babalon as hostages. This event really took place and we have records surviving of that time in history. These two examples are of Sacred Time which has to do with things that happened in "mundane time". Christian Communion Rituals are in memory of a Sacrifice made in real time changed by the Event into Sacred Time. Most of the Ancient Religions did not work that way at all. They were focused around Sacred Time which had nothing to do with specific events but were set to Seasons of the year or things like Full Moons and Solstices, events which varied on their exact date from year to year and were measured by observed realities. How many people today can walk outside and know when it is EXACTLY noon by looking at the sun? Well, a long time ago , before watches and clocks, a lot of people could do that.
[note: a year is exactly 365 days 6 hours 9 minutes 9.54 seconds...a day is exactly 23 hours 56 minutes 4.9 seconds]
Several thousand years ago people living in Mexico knew that even to decimal points...amazing...so just because a civilization is "old" does not mean it was dumb and that poeple a long time ago did not know anything.
Sacred Time In Ancient Egypt
Thousands of years ago the Egyptians had their Sacred Times based on natural events, like the rising of Sirius ( the name of a star in the sky ) and the Inundation, or flooding of the Nile River. These were observed events that people could see with their own eyes. When the water of the Nile began its seasonal flooding people knew about this happening and looked forward to it because a good flood ment lots of silt depositing on their fields and that there would be good food for everyone as a result. A poor flooding could mean a lot of people would go hungry and if it happened several years in a row a famine would occur because after all the stored up grain was gone people would starve. There were not any local supermarkets or Burger Kings for people to go to then, so bad harvests were a terrible disaster.
A good flooding was not something people could make happen, so it is not surprising that they thought this event was a sign of how their Gods and Goddesses felt about them. People got together and had parties and went to their local Temples and celebrated by giving "gifts" to their gods for loving them and sending lots of water for their fields. That was one kind of Sacred Time.
Another kind of Sacred Time was when they celebrated the most important thing in the world, the Creation. Here we go into that " theoretical time" thing...
No one back then knew exactly how old the Earth was or how it had happened to come about, but they wanted to celebrate the fact that it had. They had Rituals that celebrated the Creation of the World and the Creation of humans and animals and plants. They had many stories of how this happened...keep in mind that they did not have the Bible to tell them about this from a religious point of view and Darwin was a long long time away from trying to explain the origin of Species because Charles Darwin was not going to even be born for thousands of years!
They believed that if they celebrated the Creation by doing Magickal Rituals and raising energies that they would be returning Life Force back into the Earth to restore and replenish the fertility and goodness of the land itself. The Egyptians were not the only people who believed this idea, many religions and cultures, some even today, believe something much like this. Considering how bad things are in our world today are you really sure this is such a bad idea?
The ancient Egyptians not only used fertilizers in their fields, they used the idea of energy as a means of putting back a little of what they had taken. The Egyptian religions did not celebrate the Birth of their Gods and Goddesses as having happened in real life time, no one knew when it had happened, so they used Sacred Time to remember these events. Their religion lasted for over 5000 years, so it must have had something going for it. I personally think that a system of spiritual beliefs and practices that lasted for that long is worth knowing about. I certainly am not telling you to go out and start saying prayers to Bast, but if you remember to say "thank you" to the idea of a Cat Goddess when your kitty gets well after being sick, it sure cannot hurt.
In closing, I want to let you know something else you might not have heard of. If you look at the links page follow the Rosicrucian link and read about the Doctors from Brigham Young University in Utah who have been looking at mummies. There are pictures of an X Ray taken of a mummie's leg that has a metal pin in it that is over 4000 years old. That pin was put into the man's leg by surgery done before electric lights were even thought of, and is as good as anything we are doing today.....also, there is no way anyone could build one of the major pyramids of Egypt today with the tools we think they had...Don't you think that just maybe learning about people who could do those things is worth it?