Richard Reidy’s “Everlasting Egypt” published posthumously

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Richard Reidy’s book, Everlasting Egypt; Kemetic Rituals for the Gods was published posthumously on July 20. Reidy had been a major influence in transmitting authentic ancient Egyptian (Kemetic) religious practices for the modern world.

Richard J. Reidy was born in Ohio on September 25, 1944. In 1997, he founded the Temple of Ra in San Francisco. Reidy and others went on to establish temples in San Jose, Sacramento, and Colorado. In 2010, he published Eternal Egypt: Ancient Rituals for the Modern World. Reidy died on November 22, 2015. Matt Whealton, along with other members of the temples founded by Reidy, edited this book; he recently spoke with the Wild Hunt.

Everlasting Egypt contains rituals for Amun, Amun-Ra, Ma’at, Sekhmet, Ptah, and 24 other gods and goddesses. It also contains rituals for eight yearly and lunar festivals. Whealton said it has general information on Kemetic ritual, as well as practical pointers on setting up a shrine, preparing ritual tools, and organizing a Kemetic temple.

Whealton said the “rituals are intended for use by anyone with the interest to do so. They can be abbreviated or elaborated. Each ritual contains a place for personal or group meditation and/or magical action.” Reidy set out to make those rituals and prayers accessible to the modern world. He wanted them to be available without secrecy or language barriers. Reidy believed in the “the power and beneficence of the gods and goddesses” of ancient Egypt.

Whealton described Everlasting Egypt” as accessible for all levels. He suggested  that people think of it as a “companion or preliminary text to this volume.”

Kemetic reconstruction

According to Whealton, the ancient Egyptians described their home as “the black land.” They contrasted “the black land” with “the red land.” These colors referred to fertile soil (black) and desert sands (red). In ancient Egyptian, the word for “black” would be something that sounded like “kem.” The religion of the people living on the black, fertile lands along the Nile would be labeled Kemetic.

The word “Egypt” came from the Greek word aigyptos The Greeks derived that term from an Egyptian term meaning, “the mansion or temple of the ka of Ptah.” The major temple in Memphis bore that name. Almost all Western European languages followed the Greek usage in naming Egypt.

Kemetic reconstruction seeks to recreate authentic ancient Egyptian spiritual practices. Ancient Egyptian religion existed before Khufu built the first great pyramid, around 2560 B.C.E. Whealton said It lasted until Justinian closed its last temple in the sixth century C.E.

Changes had to occur in those 3,000-plus years.  Contact with other cultures would introduce new gods. Political power struggles would change the relative power of a god’s cult and that cult’s priesthood. As trade spread across the Mediterranean, cultural exchange occurred on the religious plane.

This process occurred parallel to the military conquests of Alexander, Rome, and others. According to Whealton, “the temple priesthoods had extensive command of earlier Egyptian grammar and literature (both religious and secular) and  were increasingly conversant in Greek as well. The fading of native cultural forms into more general Mediterranean/Hellenistic ones occurred more rapidly and much more extensively during the Roman period.” Whealton stressed that “there is no one Kemetic tradition, neither now nor in ancient times.”

According to Whealton, Reidy based the rituals in Everlasting Egypt on those from the New Kingdom/19th dynasty through the third intermediate period/22nd dynasty (1291 to 720 B.C.E.). The New Kingdom marked the height of Egyptian power. Rameses II ruled during this period. King Tut preceded it.

Whealton said that “this is the first period in which we see ritual texts strongly documented.”  Before that date, not enough evidence exists to reconstruct rituals. Most of the documentation comes from temples at Abydos, Karnak, and Medinet Habu. Some comes from papyri. The Old Kingdom (2686 to 2181 B.C.E.) provided some supplemental material, as did the Ptolemaic and Roman periods (305 B.C.E. to circa 550 C.E.) Reidy did not translate the hieroglyphics himself. He relied on secondary academic sources.

Whealton described his editing as a tribute to a friend and spiritual teacher. “Rich considered Everlasting Egypt to be the fulfillment of his life’s work in bringing Kemetic rituals to life for everyone in the most authentic way he could. He has passed that sacred duty now to us, and I salute his memory.”

The 758-page book, which lists at $42.99 hardcover $28.99 softcover, can be ordered here.