The fluidity of Isfet

Jeremy Naydler, in Temple of the Cosmos, has one of the best descriptions of isfet that I’ve read to date:

“…Through the meditation of the king, therefore, it was possible for maat to be brought down into the human and natural spheres.  Or, put another way, it was possible for these lower spheres of existence to be magically projected into the First Time and thus assimilated to maat.  For this to happen, however, the antithesis of maat – isfet (generally translated as “disorder” or “falsehood”) – had to be overcome and driven out of the land…”

He goes on to write:

“… Either side of the First Time, the world swings toward disorder, whether it be the primeval chaos of Nun, or the contingencies that accompany temporal existence.  Maat is established only at the creation.  She is, in a sense, the very substance of the First Time, and since the coming into being of temporality, Maat must constantly be renewed and reestablished in the face of the cosmological and moral tendencies toward disorder.” (Chapter 5, pg 96)

This opposite of order, this annihilation, toward which we inevitably move is isfet.  It is isfet against which we struggle while trying to live in ma’at, and it is isfet that pushes back in an attempt to “un“- everything.  If the idea is giving you trouble, think about The Nothing from The Neverending Story or the L’Engle’s Echthroi and you’ll have an idea about what I’m writing.

As most readers of this blog can tell (from the blog name and some earlier posts), I’m a believer in the fluidity of ma’at.  As isfet is ma’at’s opposite, it therefore stands to reason that isfet is also fluid – and that standing against it requires ever changing tactics.

In the struggle against isfet, there is no threefold law.  There is no concept of good works, or salvation; there are no bright blessings.  There is only assessment of the situation and determination of action, and that determination must be able to be change as needed.

As we work to uphold ma’at, we cannot be constrained by “harm none” clauses or we risk not being able to do what is required .  I remember once reading a post by someone who stated that Sekhmet must have been unhappy with the unrest and rioting in Egypt.  My response was to remind said individual that Sekhmet’s nature involves the upholding of ma’at by any means necessary.  What’s a little rioting to Her if it means Order is restored?

Ma’at must be upheld no matter the cost because isfet is *not* an acceptable outcome.


11 responses to “The fluidity of Isfet

  1. As a Sekhmet kid, who kept a close eye on the riots in Egypt, I have repeatedly stated that THIS IS SEKHMET. That’s what she does.

    I’ve also repeatedly stated in the time since that someone needs to send some red beer down that way.

  2. I think that still begs to be asked- what is ma’at? If we must do whatever needs to be done to uphold ma’at- what is ma’at? Does doing ‘harmful’ things uphold it? Can one step outside of the realm of ma’at in order to uphold it, etc. A good example would be Set’s killing of Osiris. Many say he was upholding ma’at by killing him, but some have stated that he performed acts outside of ma’at in order to uphold it… etc. It leaves one to wonder.

    • I’m of the school that Set’s killing Osiris was upholding ma’at because it was what needed to be done to do so, but I agree with you that ma’at needs to be better defined. I plan to give it a stab at some point; I’ll end up (I’m sure) referencing Kiya’s theological-foo to do so.

      • I think the CPS idea is a lot more clear cut than killing someone, etc. When I learned about unconditional love, I began to feel that Ma’at and UCL had a lot in common. Both are misunderstood, and both have a lot of similarities under the surface. Sometimes actions that appear to harm are doing someone more good than first appears.

  3. Pingback: How Can You Support Community When You Suffer From Misanthropy? « The Twisted Rope

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