Within most religious traditions there is a concept of divine order. truth, justice, or law which is viewed as central to those religions. Thus within Judaism the Torah is central and plays a equivalent role to that which Jesus plays within Christianity. Within Islam the concept of Islamic law, the Sharia, is second only to the Koran in importance. Within both Hinduism and Buddhism the concept of Dharma is central. Within the Zoroastrian religion a central theological tradition is that of the Seven Bountiful Immortals / Angels. Of these the most important conception is that of Asha / Asa which is divine truth / righteousness / law, etc. Within the Pagan society of ancient Egypt a central role was played by Ma’at. Maat for the ancient Egyptians was both moral ideal and endeavor but also the Goddess who manifested those qualities. These are just some examples of the centrality of this concept(s). There are many more.
When thinking on this divine law or justice we should not think of this Law of the Deity as being something that is imposed from the outside by some arbitrary dictatorial God. On the contrary this order / law / ma’at exists both within and without of our very being. Without the physical order of nature which is enfolded within the Divine Nature, the physical being of life and of our bodies could not exist. Without a certain degree of order and justice, societies and nations could not exist. Instead they would collapse and the result would be failed states in which in which social anarchy and a war of all against all is the norm.
Order in its forms of symmetry and proportion is also central to the beauty of both nature and cultural productivity. Without order, proportion, and symmetry nature would not be beautiful, nor could the visual arts, dance, manners, and many other aspects of culture exist.
In worship when we invoke the Name of the Angel of Order, Law, and Justice as either Asha or Ma’at or by some other name, we are acknowledging and confessing the fact that we need to live by the norms of the righteousness / justice / the law of Thea / God. We are also invoking the help of the Angel to aid us in this endeavor. And in invoking the Angel we are also invoking Thea herself.
The problem of course is that a counter tendency exists within the world and within humanity. This tendency is conceptualised within Filianism / Deanism as “kear,” within the Jewish and Christian traditions as sin or the evil urge. Within these and many traditions, It is seen as that within us that is destructive to our own selves and to others, and to society as a whole. It is also destructive to nature on which society must reside. In Deanism and many traditions it is seen as the false self as opposed to the true self. It is a selfishness and ingratitude to Thea; an egotism which refuses to live according to the order, the pattern of Ma’ at in right relationship with self, with society, with Thea.
Thus we must struggle against this false self in all ways by striving to discipline personal life so that it is devoted to Thea, while simultaneously pursuing a struggle against injustice within, community, society and nation, the earth itself. We can not do this based only on our own powers, but we may call upon the name of Thea for the power to live within her will. This may be best done by calling upon in her angelic persona particularly upon the Janya of Righteousness. We can call upon her in the Name that resonates most closely to us. For me that name is Ma’at.
What is it about the name of the Lady Ma’at which is so compelling. As stated previously, Egyptian civilization was based solidly on the principle of Ma,at as order / justice / truth in both the physical and the spiritual moral world. All activity within Egyptian society, that of the pharoanic government, that of the nobility, that of the people was ideally based on the foundation of Ma’at. In fact the destiny of the dead was decided within the Hall of Maati / Truth / Judgement in which a judgment was made upon the dead based on the criteria of how they had lived in relation to Ma’at. The purpose of the famous 42 Negative Confessions was to determine this. Thus we have confessions such as:
“I have not deprived an orphan of his property, … I have not caused pain, I have not made hungry, I have not made to weep, I have not killed, I have not made suffering to anybody, I have not commanded to kill, etc.”
The emphasis on the importance of Ma’at is also witnessed within the epitaphs that were often marked upon the walls of tombs. Thus upon the tomb of the noble Sheshi is written these words as a part of his declaration of virtue.
I rescued the weak from one stronger than he as much as was in my power ….I gave bread to the hungry, cloths to the naked. I brought the boadless to dry land. I buried one who had no son…I respected my father, I pleased my mother, I raised their children.”
Many other examples of this kind of literature can be found within the wisdom literature of Ancient Egypt. Within the Instructions of Ptahhotep one of the most important pieces of Egyptian wisdom literature we have this bit of instruction for government leaders.
“If you are a leader who governs the affairs of the many, seek every excellent deed so that your conduct may be blameless. For Ma’at is great; it endured and is effective. It has not been disturbed since the time it was created. It is a path even for the unlearned.”
Of course Egyptian civilization and the normal behavior of most ordinary Egyptian probably did not conform fully to the idea of Maat any more than the ordinary behavior of most Christians conform to Jesus’ teachings within the “Sermon on the Mount.” However as Egypt’s social ideal, it no doubt did motivate the behavior of many people.
Of course Maat was also the Goddess who personified and ruled over the actitivities of Maat. Thus according to Wallis Bundge within his
“The Gods of the Egyptians” it is stated that she was praised as the “Daughter of Ra, the Eye of Ra, the Lady of Heaven, Queen of the Earth, and Mistress of the Underworld.” She was also the “Lady of the Gods and Goddesses, the Lady of the Judgement Hall / the Hall of Ma’ati.” She and her male counterpart Thoth the God of knowledge, wisdom, and scribal skills guided the great solar barque / ship which sailed over the sea of the Egyptian sky each day carrying the Creator Ra through the heavens. Ra and the other Gods were said to “live on Maat.” She was seen to be like the food which we eat, our drink, and air which we breath.
Thus while on one level Maat is a principle, a way of life manifested by the saying of Ma’at and doing of actions of Ma’at, She was also the personal Goddess who supports those actions. She was so much that so that according to the noted Egyptologist Geraldine Pinch when one died often the term “joining Ma’at” was used to announce that person’s death in a way similar to today’s expression that one has “passed away.” Ma’at was viewed as a personal divine presence and not purely as depersonalized abstraction.
According to the exclusivistic Monotheistic traditions of the West, the monotheistic ideal excludes belief in the multiple traditions of the gods and goddess of the pagan societies such as those of Ancient Egypt or Greece. However alternate forms of Monotheism have also developed within the Zoroastrian and Hindu traditions which envisioned the many Gods and Goddesses as Aspects of or Delegations of the power of the One whether that One is called either Brahman or Ahura Mazda. The Filianic / Deanic tradition has built upon that tradition with its theology of the Janya. This makes perfect sense to my mind and heart. And with my mind and heart I believe in the great Janya, the Lady Ma’at.
To the Righteous One
Praise be to Aset Mayat, the Righteous One, the Just One.
May she be blessed who whispers words of righteousness into the mind
Thanks be to the one who places justice before our sight,
who can make the doing of works of righteousness to be as food to us.
Lead us that the rule of Thea may be established upon this earth.
Egyptian Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Goddesses, and Traditions of Ancient Egpyt
by Geraldine Pinch
Maat: The Moral Ideal In Ancient Egypt by Maulana Karenga
The Gods of the Egyptians by E. A. Wallis Budge
The Filianic Scriptures, New Celestial Union Version edited by Sarah A. Morrigan