“Khnumness”

Back in November, after a friend of mine asked me which gods I believe in, I wrote this post, explaining how that question may not be the best to ask a polytheist if you’re trying to discern which deities are part of his or her religious life. As a rule, I and others like me do not deny the existence of any god or goddess, which means a better question would have been which gods I worship, a relationship which, as added, may change and bring specific deities into one’s practice. That’s what happened to me recently, with a new god calmly moulding a somewhat natural place for Himself in my religious life: Khnum, the divine potter of the Nile.


The first time I felt any sort of connection with Him was a few weeks after I finished the statue of Father Saturn for last December’s Saturnalia. At one point, my mind started recalling the image of an Egyptian deity I’d read about a year and a half before and a quick search online led me to it again. It so happened that it was Khnum’s, a potter god, and then it clicked! There was immediate curiosity from my part and then some empathy, too: play doh was one of my toys as a kid, for years the “decoration” of a whole table at my grandmother’s home and the raw material of a Nativity scene of around ten characters I’d made just before my teens. This meant that at school, in my 5th and 6th grades, clay felt natural and my memory kept record of a few tricks I learned back then. They would prove useful when, after a hiatus of several years, my hands moulded clay once again to make the statue of Frey that now adorns my shrine to Him at my parents house. I actually made two before that one and others of other gods afterwards: Janus, Vesta, Minerva, the small altars I use here in Lisbon, and Saturn. Becoming a polytheist gave a practical (and religious) usage to what as a child was mere play and school projects and now Khnum stepped in.

Maybe this is just me, infatuated by a god with Whom I can relate not just the present, but also my childhood past. Maybe He appeals to me because He’s a sort of middle ground between Frey and Minerva, as Khnum is a creator and a live-giving deity that provides the Nile with its fertility, but also a Power of crafts, starting with pottery. Maybe I raised an eyebrow of His and He made it felt that He wanted something along the lines of what I did for Father Saturn. In any case, regardless of for how long, He’s in!

So I planned a clay statue, at first a sort of incense burner with Him sitting with a bowl on His lap. Then I started incorporating the ideas and information given to me at mailing lists and forums by kemetics and other polytheists and soon the incense burner became an image of Him sitting on a river rock with His feet touching the water, the Potter God at the spring of the Nile. And I didn’t want something like that to be just anywhere, so I cleared a shelf in my room and decided to give Him a shrine. The statue was finished yesterday, with an offering of incense before and after dedicating the work to Him, but given that it was after sunset, you could say it was done by the 30th of January, which will be my feast day to Him. The day I gave my “khnumness” a physical existence in the form of a clay statue of Khnum, a double offering of both handwork and outcome.

Of course, I’ll have to wait several days for it to dry, then paint it, dry again, and finally set the shrine; also add to the statue a metal ankh I retrieved from the box of random items from my teens. It will all be done in due time and a final photo will be posted here. For now, Khnum has made His entry and hopefully I’ll be able to honour Him with the respect a deity deserves and the piety required towards the gods of one’s sacra privata.

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