Grave Moss & Stars

PBP Fridays: K is for Khepri, Khepera, Kheperu

Ancient Egyptians had a thing with having a god for a word or a concept (see ma’at/Ma’at, Sia, Hu, etc); Khepera (also known as Khepri) is both a god and the word “becoming.” He’s also a dung beetle–or, alternately, a man with a scarab for a head. The word for scarab is “kheper,” making Khepera-the-god a threefold pun, which is another thing ancient Egyptians greatly enjoyed; it’s theorized that puns contribute layers of meanings to a thing and thus give it greater effectiveness/power/depth. Some modern Kemetics use “Kheperu!” in the same way Christians use “Amen!” and Wiccans use “so mote it be”; it means “becomes” and is so a suitable way to end a prayer or ritual by supporting and affirming the message and/or magic.

Scarabs were a theophany (animal representation) of the Egyptian sun god(s); large, golden beetles, they rolled balls of dung around like the sun rolled across the sky. Young beetles sprang forth from the balls, seemingly created from nothing, and the ancient Egyptians considered this a metaphor for creation and rebirth. The word for the scarab is thus linked to the word for “to come into being” or “become” and, of course, tied to Khepera’s name along with the beetle symbolism and the attributes of rebirth. Khepera is the god of the dawning sun, harking back to that relationship to creation and rebirth that the baby scarabs represent, and He is thought to push the sun across the sky during the day and through the underworld at night. He forms a triad with other sun gods: Ra is the midday sun, Tem the setting sun, and Khepera is, of course, the rising sun being reborn from the eastern horizon.

A fun example of the many uses of the word “kheper” in its forms:

Kheper-i kheper kheperu, kheper-kuy,
m kheper n khepri kheperu m sep tepy.

“I became, and the becoming became. I became by becoming the form of Khepra, god of transformations, who came into being in the First Time. Through me all transformations were enacted.”

Personally, I really like Khepera, both for the unusualness of His depiction and theophany and for what He represents: rebirth and creation are a big deal in my life, and any god involved in that process gets my notice and appreciation. Dua Khepera!

This post brought to you as part of the Pagan Blog Project.