A Devotional Ritual for Nephthys to Bless and Protect the Dead

This past Saturday at World Tree Healing, I led a workshop on “Loving and Serving ‘Dark’ Deities.” It was a well-attended workshop and for the first hour, I engaged the participants in a series of discussions based on the following prompts:

  • How has staving off criticism from mainstream religions made Paganism afraid of its own shadows?
  • How do you help outsiders to your tradition distinguish between “darkness” and “evil”?
  • Has anyone ever had an experience of invoking Dark Deities in a group ritual context and then been castigated for invoking Them?
  • How is the function of the Trickster valuable to a society? Who is devoted to Trickster Gods?
  • In his Manifesto for his powerful Apocalyptic Witchcraft, Peter Grey has declared: “We call an end to the pretense of respectability.” What are your thoughts on this? What do Pagans lose by attempting to claw their way to the interfaith table, begging for scraps of acceptance from Abrahamic religions?

It was a great discussion that appeared to make two people with Abrahamic allegiances very uncomfortable, so they left after I had announced that we’d be taking a short break before our ritual to Nephthys would begin. Good riddance, I thought. I certainly didn’t want the miasma, or spiritual pollution, of their presences to spill over into my devotional ritual to my Patron Deity. The major risk of hosting a public Pagan ritual is that you never know what kind of people may show up, especially folks with overtly hostile ideologies (read: patriarchal monotheists) who attend solely to destabilize the gathering, which is why I absolutely favor doing private ceremonies in the company of fellow devotees I can vouch for.

At any rate, I made sure to triply purify the space consecrated for this group ritual after the two frauds made their exit. After I grounded and centered myself, I was ready to begin. I purified all participants individually as I welcomed them across the threshold, asking them:
“How is it you come forth shining from the Field of Reeds with heka?”

Participant answers: “I am that pure Heka who is in the utterance and the body of Ra. I am His ba, Heka. Hu is in my mouth, Sia is in my heart: my speech is the shrine of Ma’at.”

Once everyone had filed in, I was ready to begin my Opening Song in Egyptian, which I had translated for everyone in a handy program guide. My ritual appears in its entirety below:

Opening Song:

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                         I rejoice

Ma a-ᾴ paut neteru                                        May I look upon the company of the Gods.

Nuk ut’a tep ta ҳer Rᾱ mena-a nefer           I am strong upon the earth before Ra,

Ẋer Ausȧr                                                        May my arrival be happy before Osiris

Nuk t’a pet                                                      I have sailed over heaven

Nuk ȧȧh                                                          I am the moon

Ba-ᾱ pu neteru bai u en neheh                    My soul is the Gods, who are the Souls of Eternity

Au-ȧ ab kua neteri-kuᾴ                                I myself am pure, I am mighty

[SHAKE SISTRUM; BOW BEFORE NEBET-HET’S IMAGE]

A net’-hra-k Neben Neferu                          Homage to Thee, Lady of Welcome

A net’-hra-ten nebu heh                               Homage to Thee, Ye Lords of Eternity

Nuk ab per em seҳet                                     I am the pure one coming forth from the field

Ȧn-na en Ɵen netersenƟer                          I have brought you incense

[BOW BEFORE ANPU’S IMAGE; ARMS IN OSIRIS POSE]

Tu a Anpu                                                       You are Anpu

Suten heh                                                        Lord of Eternity

Ta-k-na uat seś-a em-hetep                         Grant to me a way that I may pass in peace

Ȧn-na kert ᾱb-kua                                         I am silent, I am pure

Ĺ-nᾱ, ҳerk-k neb Ra                                      I have come to Thee, O my Lord Ra

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                       I rejoice

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                                                       I rejoice

[BOW AND SHAKE SISTRUM]

Lighting Fire Prayer—[TO BE SAID UPON LIGHTING ALTAR CANDLES]

Welcome in peace, Eye of Heru,

Shining, perfect, healed, in peace!

May you shine like Ra-Heruakhety!

Heru’s Eye is victorious!

Heru’s Eye repels the enemy!

 

Lighting Incense Prayer—[LIGHT INCENSE AND HOLD SMOKING BRAZIER ALOFT TO THE EAST]

I give incense to the eastern Ba,

Heru of the East,

Bull of His Mother in the Aten,

He of Terror Who Shines with two Udjat Eyes,

Ra-Heruakhety the great god, Power with Wings,

Foremost of the Southern Heaven.

 

Censing the Circle Prayer [SMUDGE THE AUDIENCE WALKING CLOCKWISE]

It is pure, it is pure for your ka!

You are pure for your ka.

Your head is pure with sweet incense;

The incense makes you new.

Holy fragrance is on your limbs;

Heru and Set, the Two Great Ones, cleanse you.

I cense you with this Eye of Heru.

I make you holy with this Eye of Heru.

I make you holy,

The Eye makes you holy,

Its scent washes over you,

The perfume of Heru’s Eye lies upon you.

 

And now let us invoke the aid of the Divine Pillars of the Cosmos, the Four Sons of Heru.

4 sons of Horus

My canopic jars, made in Egypt, depict the Four Sons of Horus aligned with the four sacred directions: Hapi in the South, Qebshennuf in the East, Tuamautef in the North, and Imseti in the West. Volunteers called them forth in the ritual.

[SHAKE SISTRUM]

Hapi, Qebhśennuf, Tuamᾱutef, Imseti,

ȧnet’ hrȧ-tem mebu maᾱt

t’at’at ha Ȧusȧr

t’at’at śat em asfat,

ȧmiu-ҳet hetep-seҳus,

Mᾱ-ten-uȧ í-kuȧ ҳer-ten.

 

Hapi, Qebhśennuf, Tuamᾱutef, Imseti,

Homage to You, Lords of Right and Truth

Divine Beings who are behind Ausar

Causing to be annihilated defects who are in the following of hetep-sekhus,

Grant ye that we may come to you. Companions, let us begin by turning to the South to welcome Hapi.

[ALL FACE SOUTH]

Volunteer 1 / Water Sign:        Neter Hapi! I welcome You from the South, with Your gift of life-giving water. Welcome, Son of Heru!

ALL: Welcome, Son of Heru!

[VOLUNTEER 1 POURS WATER INTO BOWL]

[ALL TURN AND FACE EAST]

Volunteer 2 / Fire Sign:              Neter Qebhśennuf! I welcome You from the East, Hawk Who Soars from the Horizon of Light. Welcome, Son of Heru!

ALL: Welcome, Son of Heru!

[VOLUNTEER 2 LIGHTS CANDLE BEFORE QEBHSENNUF’S CANOPIC JAR]

[ALL TURN AND FACE NORTH]

Volunteer 3/Earth Sign:            Neter Tuamᾱutef! I welcome You from the North, Jackal of Desert Domain. Welcome, Son of Heru!

ALL: Welcome, Son of Heru!

[VOLUNTEER 3 POURS SAND IN BOWL]

[ALL TURN AND FACE WEST]

Volunteer 4/Air Sign:                                    Neter Imseti! I welcome You from the West, Imseti, with the Breath of Life. Welcome, Son of Heru!

ALL: Welcome, Son of Heru!

[VOLUNTEER 4 LIGHTS INCENSE BEFORE IMSETI’S CANOPIC JAR]

Thank you, companions of the Four Pillars. Please take your seats.

Anet’ hra-ten nebu maᾱt! [I GENUFLECT]

 

ALL: Anet’ hra-ten nebu maᾱt! Homage to You, Lords of Right and Truth!

[I PERAMBULATE THE ALTAR, SHAKING SISTRUM]

The Heavens are opened, the Earth is opened, the West is opened, the East is opened,

The Southern Half of Heaven is opened, the doors are opened,

And the gates are thrown wide open to Ra as He Cometh Forth from the Horizon!

 

Invocation of Nebet-Het

Nebet-Het

Nebet-Het: “the Lady of the House,” She Who Dwells in the House of Life (i.e., the Temple).

 

Let us awaken Nebet-Het with our call-and-response invocation. I’ll speak in Egyptian and you’ll reply with the English translation, line by line.

 

Nehes, nehes, nehes                                                                 Awake, awake, awake

Nehes em hotep                                                                        Awake in peace

Nehes em neferu                                                                       Rise Thou in peace

Nebet hotepet                                                                            Lady of peace

Weben em neferu                                                                     Rise Thou in beauty

Nutjert en Ankh                                                                         Goddess of Life

Nefer em pet!                                                                              Beautiful in Heaven!

Pet em hotep                                                                              Heaven is in peace

Ta em hotep                                                                                Earth is in peace

Nutjert sat Nut,                                                                         O goddess, Daughter of Nut,

Sat Geb,                                                                                          Daughter of Geb,

Weret, Sedjmet-nebet,                                                          Great One, Lady Who Hears,

Nutjert asha renu!                                                                   Goddess rich in names!

Anekh hrak,                                                                                  All praise to You,

Anekh hrak,                                                                                  All praise to You,

Tu a atu,                                                                                        I adore You,

Tu a atu,                                                                                        I adore You,

Nebet-Het!                                                                                   Nephthys!

 

And now let us say the following prayer from the Pyramid Texts together to let the Lady know we come before Her with pure hearts:

I have come to You, Nebet-Het,

I have come to You, Night-Boat,

I have come to You, True Before the Red,

I have come to You, Birth-Brick of Souls.

Remember me.

Gone is Orion, caught by the Underworld,

Yet cleansed and alive in the Beyond;

Gone is Sothis, caught by the Underworld,

Yet cleansed and alive in the Beyond;

Gone am I, caught by the Underworld,

Yet cleansed and alive in the Beyond.

It is well with me and with You

It is peaceful for me and for You,

Within the arms of Our Father,

Within the arms of Atum.

[SHAKE SISTRUM]

Presentation of Offerings to Nebet-Het

Nebet Sekhem, Powerful Lady, with pleasing eyes accept our offerings of this beer to slake Your thirst, this bread to quell Your hunger, and these flowers that reflect back to You Your great beauty.

O Nebet-Hotep, Lady of Offerings,

Deign to comfort us in our hour of need, You who are no stranger to the soul’s dark passage,

Mourner of Ausar who gathered His body together, who pulled Him together,

Who split open His mouth for Him.

Nebet Resh, Lady of Watchfulness,

Protect our beloved and blessed dead

Offer them welcome

And grant us fortitude and solace

Until the day we can be reunited again,

Blessed before the throne of Your Brother, Lord of Eternity.

And with Your Wayfinding son, gentle and wise Anpu,

Neb-ta-djeser, Lord of the Sacred Land,

Come to us and witness well the works of healing, remembering, and laying to rest

That which must go to the West.

Praise to You, Netjeryt! Holy One! Hail, Nebet-Het!

 

ALL: Hail!

Let us turn now to Anpu, that Good God whom the Greeks named Anubis.

[SHAKE SISTRUM]

 

Invocation of Anpu and Presentation of His Offerings

Anpu

Who doesn’t love Anpu/Anubis?

Anet hra-k, Anpu!

Khenty-she-netjer, Imy-ut!

Come to us, O High One, O Mighty One,

O Master of Secrets for those in the Underworld,

O Pharoah of those in Amenti,

O Chief Physician,

O good son of Ausar,

He whose face is strong among the gods,

You should appear in the Underworld before the hand of Ausar.

You should serve the souls of Abydos in order that they all live through You,

These souls, the ones of the Sacred Underworld.

Come to the earth!

With pleasing eyes, accept our offerings of this meat to quell Your hunger, pure water to slake Your thirst, and myrrh oil to anoint You for Your sacred work.

Reveal Yourself to us today,

Opener of the Ways!

Hail, Anpu!

 

ALL: Hail!

[BOW IN OSIRIS POSE]

 

MAIN RITUAL ACTIVITY

Nebet-Het and Anpu mark well our words and are here to lend their energies to the workings we are about to commence.

altar for the dead

Our altar for the dead. The framed photo is of my brother, Mark, who lost his life violently and suddenly at the age of 20.

As the corpse of Ausar, also known as Osiris, became encased in a sycamore tree, I invite those of you who have lost a loved one to inscribe their names on scraps of gauze—remember, Nebet-Het’s hair is likened to linen wrappings that formed a mummy’s shroud—and to those scraps to a branch of our own Tree of Memory Eternal. At the end of the ritual, you may remove those scraps or leave them on the tree, as the bulk of my devotional practice at home is ancestor work and I will add the names on this tree to my own litany of the dead.

The other ritual activity is one of release. If there has been woundedness in your life from some other loss besides physical death—the loss of a relationship, job, friendship, health, even the loss of a dream—I invite you to grab a bay leaf and breathe on it while focusing on the loss in question. Your breath will imprint the leaf with your sahu, your vital energy. Once you feel you’ve charged the leaf and you’re ready to let it go, take the leaf and bury it in this pot of soil, which I will take to the huge compost heap in my parents’ backyard when PSG is over. That way, you will symbolically bury the loss and make space in your heart and in your life for new and good things to enter.

In honor of Nebet-Het, who speaks with the silence of the tomb, let us do our work in the next few moments in silence.

[DO RITUAL WORK IN SILENCE]

Offerings to the Dead

As Nebet-Het’s chief function is to guard our beloved and blessed dead and Anpu to guide them, it is to our ancestors that we now turn.

Children of Heru! Hapi, Qebhśennuf, Tuamᾱutef, Imseti,

As You spread Your protection over Your father, Ausar, Foremost of the Westerners,

So spread Your protection over us, and over the living bas of our beloved and blessed dead.

 

Hail to our beloved and blessed ancestors, blood of our blood, bones of our bones,

The sky is yours, the earth is yours, the cemetery roads are yours,

Praise to you in peace!

You will not be separated from the Lord of the West.

Nebet-Het spreads Her arms over you,

She grants you peaceful rest forever.

O Gods, grant that the names of those we honor today be true of voice

And among You in the House of Beauty!

Here is your cold water, blessed ones! Refresh yourselves with it!

 

[POUR SOME ON GROUND AND SPRINKLE TREE]

[ADDRESSING THE AUDIENCE NOW BY OFFERING PITCHER/GOBLET, SAY:]

 

Drink, and may Memory Eternal be with those you carry in your heart always!

 

[PASS PITCHER/GOBLET FOR ALL TO TAKE A SIP FROM]

 

[ONCE RETURNED, PLACE VESSEL OF WATER ON GROUND AND HOLD ALOFT BREAD:]

 

Ancestors, take this bread which we give as your loaf,

Which Heru, great in Upper Kemet, gives you;

Be filled with what we bring.

It is the Eye of Heru.

 

[TEAR OFF PIECE AND OFFER THE REST; SHARE ANOTHER WHOLE BREAD WITH CROWD]

 

Antiphonal Chant

As our ancestors, shining in Amenti, enjoy peace and freedom from fear,

So too may we live our lives in peace, growing in health, abundance, and wisdom,

Protected from evil in all of our undertakings.

 

ALL:       Nedjen ma sebet! Nedjen ma fa-u! Protect us from evil!

 

Laying on of Hands (Optional)

If anyone is feeling stuck in their grief, or if their heart chakras hurt, signal to me and I’ll come do a blessing on your head and your heart. I’ll place my hands on the crown of your head, forehead, temples, sternum, and nape of your neck, which the Egyptians believed was the most spiritually vulnerable part of a person. I have blessed water and a special concoction formulated to avert evil—it has a citrus base of essential oils and herbs.

Would anyone like to receive a hands-on blessing?

 

Silent Meditation (Optional)

And now, let us sit for a few moments in silent meditation, honoring Nebet-Het in our hearts and inviting Her to impart any messages to us.

 

[PAUSE FOR 3 OR 4 MINUTES]

 

OPENING THE CIRCLE

And now let us thank the Holy Powers we have invoked and send Them our love as our ritual concludes.

Let us turn first to Anpu, gentle guide—the one who shows the way.

 

[SHAKE SISTRUM]

Thanksgiving to Anpu

Hail, Anpu!

Neb-ta-djeser, Lord of the Sacred Land!

Wise herald and guide, lead us in the ancient ways.

Be with us in our journeys.

And when our time comes to be led into the Hall of the Double Truth,

Be our unfailing wayfinder, illuminating the darkness,

And our steadfast companion, Gentle Weigher of the Heart.

Son of Nebet-Het and Ausar, protect and guide us.

May our arrival be happy in Amenti.

Hail, Anpu!

ALL: Hail!

[SHAKE SISTRUM]

 

Let us now give our thanks and praise to our Blessed Lady, Exalted in the Duat!

 

Thanksgiving to Nebet-het

Glory unto You, beautiful Nebet-Het!

Lady of the Temple Glorious,

Sister to Aset, with whom You speak the Divine Utterances to unfetter all from evil,

As Heru was unfettered from the blades of Set.

May You deliver us from everything evil, from all diseases of darkness,

As You safeguard the body of Your Brother on His funerary bier,

Calling unto Him in tears!

Merciful Mother of Jackals,

Veil of Brilliance,

May we ever be mindful of Your gifts,

O Revealer of Hidden Things,

As we stand on the threshold of that which is a place, yet not a place.

Ease our hearts of grief as You enfold us within Your indigo wings, Mistress of Sorrow,

We make open the napes of our necks to You, Netjeryt.

Make us receptive to Your voice of silence and its whispered wisdom, Lady Great in Heka!

Goddess of Earth,

Goddess of Heaven,

Goddess in the Duat,

Watch over us always!

Hail, Nebet-Het!

ALL: Hail!

[BOW IN OSIRIS POSE AND SHAKE SISTRUM]

 

Thanksgiving to the Four Sons of Heru

And now let the companions who invoked the Four Sons of Heru step forward. We begin in the West with Imseti.

 

Volunteer 4 [FACING WEST]: Thank You, Imseti, for attending this rite. May the incense lit in Your name carry our prayers to the Heavens. In peace may You ever stand watch in the West.

ALL: Stand watch in peace, Son of Heru!

 

And now let us turn to the North, to Tuamᾱutef.

 

Volunteer 3 [FACING NORTH]: Thank You, Tuamᾱutef, for attending this rite. Be our unerring pathfinder as we tread across Your domain. In peace may You ever stand watch in the North.

ALL: Stand watch in peace, Son of Heru!

And now let us turn to the East, to hawk-headed Qebhśennuf.

 

Volunteer 2 [FACING EAST]: Thank You, Qebhśennuf, for attending this rite. May Your flame of righteousness ever burn brightly in our hearts. In peace may You ever stand watch in the East.

ALL: Stand watch in peace, Son of Heru!

 

And finally we turn to Hapi in the South.

 

Volunteer 1 [FACING SOUTH]: Thank You, Hapi, for attending this rite. May our lives always be blessed by Your flowing Waters of Life. In peace may You ever stand watch in the South.

ALL: Stand watch in peace, Son of Heru!

 

[SHAKE SISTRUM]

Final Proclamation

Repeat after me:

Reҳ hᾱᾱiu                               I rejoice!

Ba-ᾱ pu neteru                    My soul is the Gods, who are the Souls of Eternity.

 

There is no part of us that is not of the Gods. Blessed are those who would listen and know.

NebetHet

 

 

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4 thoughts on “A Devotional Ritual for Nephthys to Bless and Protect the Dead

    • How did I not know of this anthology? LOL. Yes, I absolutely will submit this as well as a devotional poem I’ve written in Her honor. I see your email on the Call to Submissions page and I will be writing to you momentarily. Thank you for finding me and reaching out! Seneb-ti / Blessings!

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