A year ago today [at the time of the OP] I did a version of a kemetic ritual honoring the akhu that was specifically supposed to honor the “unmournable” akhu in Set’s name. At the time, I thought it would just be a one-time thing; a way to release souls who had not been mourned or had the opportunity to move on to the other side. Hoping to help aid them, I even summoned most of the psychopomps I knew the names of (Anubis, Hermes, and Jesus), hoping to get everyone to their preferred afterlife after an hour or two of fellowship. I thought that would be the end of it, but it very much wasn’t. (Spirit/astral work in a nutshell, huh?) A lot of them ended up sticking around, requesting sanctuary in the place where they’d been given food, booze, entertainment and attention for the first time in, apparently, a very long time. I hadn’t done very much of any kind of spirit work at that point, but I ended up deciding to let them stay. That ended up being a better idea than I could’ve imagined, and I’ve added veneration of the Outlaw Dead as a permanent aspect of my practice; one that’s arguably even more important than my veneration of my deities.
Originally, it was only a ritual to mourn and release the unmourned. Now, the term went from “unmournable akhu” to “Outlaw Dead”, because it includes not only people who died without being mourned or given the rites their culture required, but people who lived and/or died as “outlaws”, mourned or not; not only criminals and enemies of the state, but people who were marginalized by their societies for any reason (especially those who died because of said marginalization/oppression). And then, since the original ritual itself was specifically meant to help the “unmourned” dead move on, with only the spirits who chose to stay and work with me staying, most of the Outlaw Dead I currently work with fall under the “outlaw/outsider” category, rather than simply “unmourned”. For this and other reasons, the Outlaw Dead are great to call on for magic with an activist bent. They’re also great to ask for help in general; I’m still regularly surprised by how quickly, and how much, they help when asked. Other witchy people I’ve had over have remarked on the positive energy they sense from their altar, especially during and after rituals.
In this post I’m going to first give some general advice on working with them safely and respectfully, and then share some specifics about what I do.
If you already have a tradition, consider looking up what they did to honor their ancestors before copying what I’m doing here. Most religions have some kind of ancestor veneration, and the whole point (originally) of the ritual I did was to give some kind of mourning ceremony to the souls who weren’t properly mourned. If you have a tradition already, think of which kinds of people traditionally wouldn’t have been mourned, and make the required adjustments to make those souls the target of your rites. If you’re a strict recon, this may not be for you, as I have yet to find any prominent traditions that included veneration of specifically “outlaws” to their own culture. Working with them has also caused some run-ins with other deities; I’m pretty sure that Hermes, for example, wanted to bring more of the Outlaw Dead to the other side than wanted to go, and I suspect there was some sort of argument between him and Set about it. (Sorry, man. I guess I owe you a beer, if I ever visit a Hellenic’s altar and they’ll explain to me how Greek offerings work.) Heru and Tyr have both claimed that the chaotic/outlaw energy and goings-on can sometimes make their space uncomfortable to be in, so at the very least, separate the spaces where you venerate them from orderly, lawful entities.
Keep in mind that when you decide to invite the Outlaw Dead into your home….you are working with at least some spirits who did not, in their human lives, follow the rules. Be prepared for them to not do what you say right away, as you’re going to probably need to bribe or threaten at least some of them at some point. If you don’t want them to stay, tell them so, and be prepared to do banishing rituals if they don’t leave…although, whatever psychopomp you know best should be available and willing to help you carry any stragglers to the light for you, as an alternative to magical violence. It isn’t required to have a god or more powerful spirit in charge of the whole operation, but it’s what I do since I still don’t consider myself a particularly experienced or powerful witch, and therefore wanted to have the Set backing me up in case of emergencies. To their credit, though, the only real problems they’ve caused were political in nature; they haven’t ever, to my knowledge, gone back on their agreement to abide by the rules I gave to protect myself, my roommates, and our cat.
If you want them to stay, though…set ground rules immediately. Explain why the rules are there; “because I said so” doesn’t cut it. Bind them with your intent, but give them plenty of opportunities to escape if they so please. It’s not a bad idea to give them specific jobs, for example, the daily upkeep of your wards and protection of your household, since when I first started working with them I got more frequent requests for jobs than offerings. It’s also likely that if more than one or two are staying, they’ll want to be put into factions; in which case, it’s a good idea to give them specific ‘anchors’ in the form of pretty rocks or trinkets that you can move around as they request. I’ve taken to sometimes carrying a few of them (who’ve consented via divination) with me after asking them for luck, or protection. For more formal spells, though, I generally just use the sigils I made for them rather than their anchors.
Here’s the contract/binding words I used, after outlining the rules of the household and what I would expect from them while they stayed and received my offerings and veneration:
“And finally, I bind you with the description of our praxis:
From each according to their ability,
To each according to to their needs;
And so long as you harm only those who must be harmed,
Do what thou wilt will be the whole of the law.
With love, admiration, gratitude, and solidarity,
-[my real name]”
I made sigils for the 14 distinct “factions” of the Outlaw dead I work with, which I am including here with their permission. I don’t think that it would be necessary for anyone else who wants to honor the Outlaw Dead to use the same symbols, but these ought to call on the ones I work with when activated. They’re divided into either functions or identity markers, and I asked them each which faction they’d like to be in when I added eight more factions for a total of 14 a few months ago. I used to use sigils to represent them, but I’ve since started using skulls I’ve found to represent each faction. Another practitioner might create their own sigil to represent the Outlaw Dead, or use photos of deceased friends and loved ones they mean to venerate and give offerings to.
It isn’t necessary to use any specific ritual, or any specific sigils, to summon the Outlaw Dead, but this is an updated version of the ritual that I use. It is based primarily off of Richard Reidy’s work in Eternal Egypt, but several of my kemetic friends who also venerate the Outlaw Dead have contributed to this version over the years, and it includes a few more things I’ve realized were needed from the original ritual after two years of trial and error.
The Beautiful Feast of the Outlaw Dead
Offerings: traditionally, bread, beer, “water from the inundation” (water you’ve blessed beforehand is a good modern interpretation of flood water from the Nile), wine, milk, incense, and cool water. Bread, beer, wine, and milk can be replaced with another offering or with votive offerings for the purposes of this rite. However, the offerings and candles can also be substituted with a word offering alone: in Egyptian theology and philosophy, magic works on the principle of heka, the magical and mystical power of words and images: by portraying something or saying something, you make it so. This is why the hieroglyphics were kept a secret for the priests and literate elite to read, because they have enormous magical power to create the reality around us through faith and magical ritual. When doing these rituals, the practitioners take on the role of the gods themselves in order to work greater magic than a human can alone.
Bouquet of flowers/1 flower. 4 red candles, 1 white candle for the Outlaw Dead, or 1 for each of the Outlaw Dead you are currently venerating. Icon for Set. Icon for the outlaw dead as a whole, or pictures of the Dead you are venerating. Incense and incense holder.
Place four red candles before the icons.
Face the icon and recite, “Rejoice, O Netjer of this temple, for a perfect offering, complete in word and in substance, is accomplished in accordance with what has been done before. Awake in peace, Lord of the Red Land, awake in peace. I come to you, your servant, your son, I come to you. Your beautiful scent, it calls me forward. And upon you filling my nostrils I, your servant, your son, I come to you. I have made my way and I enter into your presence. I am one of you. Do not repulse me on the god’s path. My feet are not impeded, I am not turned back from the god’s place. I have looked upon you. I know you. Your mighty Sha have enclosed me. I have entered this place with ma’at in my heart in order to honor each and every Akh in the Duat upon this day.
Step forward or open the shrine. Recite: “I open your temple. I come to you. Your warmth and beauty surrounds me as I enter. I am not repulsed. Behold, I have come to you to offer Ma’at, to make sound the Eye for its lord.
The torch comes to your ka, O Set, Lord of the Oasis. Here comes he who promises the night after the day; here comes the two sisters from Ra; here comes she who was manifested in Abdju, for I have caused it to come to you. Even the Eye of Horus comes to you Because I have made it so.
Set out the first red candle and recite, “The torch comes to your Ka, O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, and the torch comes to your Ka, O Osiris Imperishable Stars, you spirits of the Outlaw Dead. There comes he who promises the night after the day; there comes the two sisters from Ra; there comes she who was manifested in Ombos, for I cause it to come, even that Eye of Heru which was foretold to you, O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis.”
Set out the second red candle and recite, “The Eye of Heru is your protection, O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis. It spreads its protection over you; it defeats all your adversaries. Truly your adversaries are fallen.”
Set out the third red candle and recite, “To your Ka, O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis! The Eye of Heru is your protection. It spreads its protection over you; it defeats your adversaries for you. Truly your adversaries are fallen. To your Ka, O Imperishable Stars! The Eye of Heru is your protection. It spreads its protection over you; it defeats all your adversaries for you. Truly your adversaries are fallen.”
Set out the fourth red candle and recite, “The Eye of Heru comes intact and shining like Ra in the horizon. May the four torches go in to your Ka, O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis. May the four torches go in to your Ka, O Imperishable Stars. O you children of Heru-Imsety, Happy, Duamutef, and Qebehsenuef- as you spread your protection over your uncle Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, so spread your protection over these Imperishable Stars so that they might live with the Netjeru. To your Ka, O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis! The Eye of Heru is your protection. It spreads its protection over you; it defeats all your adversaries for you. Truly your adversaries are fallen. To your Ka, O Imperishable Stars! The Eye of Heru is your protection. It spreads its protection over you; it defeats all your adversaries for you. Truly your adversaries are fallen.
It is Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, who causes a torch to be bright for the potent Bas in Bennu. May you make the living Ba of the Imperishable Stars strong with their torch so that they may not be repelled or driven off from the portals of the West. Then there will be brought to them offerings of things good and pure; you will send up thanks for this power, for the Imperishable Stars will be returned to their true shape, their true godlike form. Hear me, all of you, The Dead Unmourned, The Spirits Unvenerated, all you who has lived, has died, and wish to be reborn into the next life, or stay with the gods or with these spirits, you who is Pacified by the many offerings, who is made Pure by the many prayers, who is made Justified through this ritual.”
Take up water bowl/pitcher. Recite: “O water, may you remove all evil, I give you essential water, O Destroyer of the Damned One, a tide in your time. I bring the flood waters to purify your sanctuary. I bring you the flood waters to purify your temple and your statue in your place.”
Sprinkle water in each of the cardinal directions, reciting: “O Set, your altar is cleansed by the water; your altar is purified by the incense; you are cleansed by Horus; you are purified by Thoth. Water invigorates your body; it is I, your servant, who comes to you in the palace where you reside.
These your cool waters, O Set. I have come from your nephew, Horus. I have come to you having gotten Horus’s eye, so that your heart may become cool with it; I have gotten it under your feet. Accept the outflow that comes from you: so that your heart will not become weary.”
Present the offerings before the icons of Set and the Dead. Traditionally it should be seven offerings: bread, beer, “water from the inundation” (water you’ve blessed beforehand is a good modern interpretation of flood water from the Nile), wine, milk, incense, and cool water. It is acceptable to offer a regular meal or simply the votive offerings provided in this book (toy or paper drawings of the offering described) if this is not possible.
Recite, “An-Offering-Which-The-King-Gives to those who are in the Duat and in the land of the dead, to the Great Ennead and the Small Ennead, to Sutekh the Lord of the Red Land, to the followers of Ra and the followers of Osiris, to those watchmen who protect their Lord, and to the attendants who are beside the bier of Osiris-Wennofer justified, that your Ba and your Ka may receive the offerings of food: bread, beer, water from the flood by which the netjeru live, wine, milk, incense and cool water. O excellent Bas of the West, and Osiris Imperishable Stars, justified, these offerings are for you.”
Extend your arms toward the icons, elbows bent and palms toward icons, and recite: “Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, great Netjer, lord of Ombos, Osiris Imperishable Stars justified, the Outlaw Dead, if you are in Heaven, come to your Ba. If you are on earth, come to your shining spirit. If you are in the south, the north, the west or the east, come so that you may be content. Be strong in your body, so that you may come therefrom, you having become an incarnated Ba and a shining spirit, mighty as Ra and equipped as a Netjer. Come to this your bread, your beer, and your cool water so that you may become strong through every good and pure offering, Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, great Netjer, Lord of Ombos, Osiris Imperishable Stars justified, the spirits of the Outlaw Dead.”
Set out three bowls before the icons. Recite, “Praising Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, great Netjer, lord of Ombos, and bringing the Bas of the transfigured Outlaw Dead to the ritual of the Festival of the Valley.”
Pour (or mime pouring) milk into one bowl, wine into another, and water into the third. Recite, “It is pure, it is pure, An-Offering-Which-The-King-Gives. Accept this libation of the coolest water, wine and milk. O doorkeepers, lords of the Sacred Land, lords of burial, receive what is given to you and pull open the gates of the Duat. Open the gates of the West. Open the double doors of the silent region.”
Extend your arms toward the icons, elbows bent and palms toward icons, and recite: “Come forth, O Osiris Imperishable Stars, justified. Come forth, you spirits of the Outlaw Dead, sacred to Seth-Typhon, God of Rebels. Awake! Turn yourself about, back toward life! O Osiris Imperishable Stars, justified, raise yourself up. O Outlaw Dead, raise yourself up. Bring yourself to me. Arise and receive offerings from my hand. I will be a helper for you! May you emerge from the Earth and behold Ra. May you follow Amun in this, his beautiful festival of the desert valley.”
Light the incense and wave it slowly over the icons as you recite: “Crossing the river you see heaven, while the fragrance of incense is in front of you and you ferry across heaven adorned. As a transfigured and equipped spirit you are adorned most richly, and you eat bread and offerings in front of Ra, from the altars of Djehuty while your intelligence is given to you in the House of Intelligence and your heart in the House of the Heart and an offering is made for you and for your Ka and for your body. Your Ba is in heaven and your body is in the Duat, twice great and twice mighty. You wake up sound and intact in heaven and in your resting place, sustained by the deathlessness and ferocity of the Lord of Dread. You are nourished by the rain from his storms, you are protected from the horrors of the afterlife by his mighty arm. Take the name of Sutekh, who judges the honor of thieves, you spirits of the Outlaw Dead, Osiris Imperishable Stars justified.”
Continue censing the icons and recite: “O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, great Netjer, lord of Ombos, Osiris Imperishable Stars justified, heaven is open for you. Earth is open for you. The ways of your resting place are open for you, so that you may go out and come in with Ra, so that you may walk freely like the Lord of Eternity. May you receive bread from what is offered on the altar of the Bas of Iunu, your food being like that of the Great Ennead. May you accept offerings from what is put out for you, pure bread on the altar of Heru, so that your flesh becomes alive and your muscles flourishing, so that you may be clear-sighted on your dark way. Hapy will give you water; Nepty will give you bread; Hathor will give you beer; and Hesyt will give you milk. You cleanse your feet in a basin of silver and turquoise, with a cloth from the hands of Tayet. You drink water from the shore of the Nile, and offerings are given to you beside Sutekh. A seat is prepared for you, and you assume the form of a Netjer. You alight at every place according to your desire, like the Great God in Ombos. Your Ba goes to heaven and your body rests in the Duat.”
Set out a white candle in front of each icon, one for Set and one for each of the Outlaw Dead (if you are venerating one person specifically, use one candle for each person; alternatively, you can use one candle to represent the Outlaw Dead as a whole.) Recite: “When you are justified in your resting place, you raise your face to the heaven of Ra and you see Heru in his steersman. A luminous disk is made for you in your resting place, in front of your image so that it may light up for you the darkness in the Duat, so that it may shine as Shu on your head. A boat is placed in front of you. The two sisters glorify you and Djehuty spreads out for you his writing equipment so that you may become divine like the Netjeru. He leads you through the mysterious gates, and when you pass by ‘He-who-protects-the-dead’, Ra comes to you and gives you his brightness. His rays flood through your eyes while the arms of Tatenen are prepared to receive you. Those in the West rejoice greatly. All plans against you are abolished. They are abolished.
You receive illumination from the disk of Ra, being placed beside Ra in his barque in the Room of Awakening. He opens your face. He illumines your seat so that you may be like Deba-of-the-One-Joined-Together. Sepulchral meals are presented to your Ka beside Sutekh and Heru. You receive justification from those who preside over your resting place, and your Ba lives for ever and for ever. Your seat is established and your name flourishes even like that of the Great Noble in Djedu.
Raise yourself up so that you may feel joy again; and your Ba is alive for ever like sah in the womb of Nut. Ihy leads you across the stream, he brings you to the sanctuary of the forgotten Dead. May your beautiful face be content for you have received your bread and you have inhaled the scent of the incense- they shall be pure for your Ka, Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, lord of Ombos, in heaven, on earth, on your seat in the House of Reconciliation.”
Set out a separate bowl for libations from the previous three. With each of the seven declarations “to you belongs water”, pour a bit of water into the bowl, for a total of seven different pourings. Recite:
“To you belongs water,” and pour;
“To you belongs water, O Osiris Imperishable Stars justified,” and pour;
“to you belongs water,” and pour;
“to you belongs water of millions of millions,” and pour;
“to you belongs water of millions of nemset jars and a hundred thousands of meker jars,” and pour;
“to you belongs water of the Great River from the waters of Heru in the region of Heliopolis,” and pour;
“to you belongs water from the beginning of infinity to the end of eternity, O He Before the Sky Trembles, Lord of the Oasis, Great of Strength, O lord of infinity, king of the Desert, sovereign, ruler of Upper Egypt, O Protector of Ra, great God of Rebels, in heaven, on the frontier and in the dark places, great being of the first generation, beautiful of face, third of the five Netjeru; heir of infinity for whom the time has come; beneficent Ba among every Ba and every outlaw, excellent of heart, who has defeated A/pep, enduring for ever and for all eternity.” and pour.
Take the offering of water/sacred water and elevate them four times before their icon as you recite: “May Water be given to the noble Ka who rests in the eternal residence of Shu in Iunu, and in Mennefer. Your horizon is in the Castle of the Prince. The bas foremost in Iunu come to you. They present Ma’at to you as an offering every day. Your father Shu and your mother Tefnut come to you bearing nemset jars of turquoise, filled with water the color of faience, their content being pure water…”
Sprinkle sacred water in a circle around the images the first time and recite, “…and they give you this water which you desire, your body being received into their hands while your forebears and those who have begotten and given birth to you come to you; they loosen the bonds of your funeral wrappings daily like those of the Great Noble.”
Sprinkle sacred water around the images the second time and recite, “…Hapy comes to you from his cavern. He moistens the fertile land for you. The Netjeru of the First Time come to you every day, carrying offerings for you. Aset and Nebet-Het come to you; they raise you up into the horizon. The lord of the Duat comes to you, accompanied by his retinue, his female mourners preceding him. Equipped with the spells of Aset and Nebet-het, the Great Mourner, they unite your limbs. Djehuty reads the Book of the Opening of the Mouth for you, while Heru, your sem-priest, pronounces magic spells for you, Seshat opens for the House of Life. Aset and Nebet-Het make you divine, and Hu and Sia adore you.”
Sprinkle sacred water around the icons for the third time and recite, “Ptah prepares for you a burial cloth with his hands, with the garments of Tayet. He washes your body and he purifies you. Then Shu and Tefnut reanimate you with their hands with milk of Hesat, and water is poured for you in front of the excellent Bas. They say to you, ‘Stand up, because your heart lives and we have fashioned your flesh.’ They make your heart healthy. They place you into the earth and they protect you. They protect you. They receive their spirit in your resting place like that of Tatenen, the great Netjer.”
Sprinkle sacred water around the icons for the fourth time and recite: “Heru comes to you, having assumed the white crown, with the red crown shining upon his head. Aset rejoices at his sight, her son, a spirit who comes forth justified and who established Ma’at in her place, near the beauty of Nut. Water is given for you, O noble spirit, so that the heart of your spirit rejoices. Give water to this noble spirit when his Ba comes to see him. Rejoice, O Great Noble, for Heru is given his office; he comes forth justified from the ‘Hall of the Two Truths’, he comes forth triumphant.
Decree for the majesty of Ishtar, O luminous Queen of Heaven, consort of Sutekh, issued by her royal family, the holy Igigi: “We shall tell your brother Osiris of your mighty deeds so that he may hear what you have accomplished and praise you on account of your victories. May you remember all of your good deeds.”
Taking the part of Ishtar, recite: “O stormy Bull of Heaven, I have made for you your house with my qadishtu. I have tethered your severed thigh to the sky, where it has become your Sickle-Sword. Heaven rejoices, while my minister Ninshubur convinces the Igigi to appease my sister Ereshkigal. Your effigy is holy and the “Mansion of the Prince” bears your mystery. You are Šarru in the northern sky while I am Irnini as your protectress.”
Pour a libation for Set and recite: “Oh Sutekh, may you receive water from my hands, for I am your lover Ishtar. O Lord of the Desert, may every joy be with you. I have healed for you your love of Ma’at, and I have placed your Ba in the horizon. I have brought your blessed souls, the Outlaw Dead, into the Netjeru’s protection; O Osiris Imperishable Stars, justified.”
Pour another libation for Set and recite: “Receive for yourself this libation from your bride, in accordance with what you desire. I am your sister-in-arms. I am a daughter and Eye of Ra. I have caused your beautiful face to see. O my good lord, say what I should do in front of you so that I may assist these transfigured souls to their sanctuary, your Oasis. I have presented to you offerings consisting of barley cakes; they will last forever and forever. I have assembled for you the world into one single city and they make for you the ‘linen of one day.” I have caused you to rise upon the throne in Upper Egypt; I have caused you to rest in your palace. I have caused that your images appear in every land while you are in the horizon of Ra, your boat remaining beside his boat. Your statues appear in the temples while the Netjeru are with you as an Ennead; the divine lord of every temple offers to you even his own temple throne. I have placed the sky under your Ba and the Duat under your effigy. Every region has your statues, they being pure, while they praise you, Sutekh, Lord of the Outlaw Dead. You are rejuvenated for ever and over, O Osiris Imperishable Stars justified.
You are rejuvenated, O Seth-Typhon, you are rejuvenated in heaven. You appear in the eastern horizon of the sky, having spent days and passed hours, and you come in accordance with the proper time every year, and you rise as the moon at the time of the festival of illuminations. Your name endures in the ‘Mansion of the Prince’ and you come as Hapy to cover the fertile lands, so that all the world may live through your Ka. Your phallus is strong and you repeat your forms of yesterday. You are rejuvenated for ever and ever, O Osiris Imperishable Stars, justified, O Spirits of the Outlaw Dead.”
Standing before the offerings and libations already given, hold your arms outstretched with palm facing up and open, pointing toward the table of offerings. Recite, “An-Offering-Which-The-King-Gives. O Sutekh, I have poured for you, water which comes our from Elephantine and milk from Athribis. I have brought to you nemset jars full of fresh offerings from the estate of Ra so that you may receive that which Tatenen was given and loaves from what is offered. I have done this so that your Ba is able to come out to worship your god, there being no one who can turn you out from heaven or from earth. Your ba lives and your limbs flourish. You are rejuvenated as the ruler of ‘the rebellious ones’. You are great and you are elevated in Ombos and your seat is noble in Upper Egypt. A libation of cool water is poured for you consisting of the best liquid on the offering table in the middle of the mound of Tjeme. Rejoice, for you have joined gladness in the noble ished tree and your Ba is divinized in the realm of the dead. Receive for yourself offerings of every kind, and rejoice for you have joined Manu. Your father Shu praises you, O Sutekh, Lord of the Oasis, great Netjer, lord of Ombos.
Sutekh of Sepermeru who is in the Northern Sky, Seth-Typhon, Lord of Inebriation, the Red Lord, Osiris the beloved one, ruler of eternity, Imsety, Hapi, Duamutef, Qebehsenuf, Netjeru who are in the mound of Tjeme, Nejeru who are in the mansion of Sokar, Netjeru who are in the Mansion of Gold, Netjeru who are in the Great Place, great and noble bull, Great Ogdoad, oldest of the very primeval times, Osiris, Heru, Sutekh, Aset and Nebet-Het, enneads and divine bodies: may you receive, may your Ba receive and may your ka receive offerings and provisions -bread, beer, wine, milk, and water from the flood by which the Netjeru live.”
Pour a libation and recite, “Accept the Eye of Heru, I offer to you the water which is in it, fresh water as love and praise for Osiris, the Imperishable Stars justified, the spirits of the Outlaw Dead.”
Pour a libation of fresh water and recite: “Sutekh, accept this, your libation. Your libation belongs to you through in your name of ‘Storm Bringer’. Accept this vital fluid which comes from you and which Heru restores to you. The Eye of Heru is given to you, for the children of Heru recognize you as divine. The sky is given to you in your name of Champion of Ra and your enemies are fallen beneath in your name of Netjer; Heru recognizes you as ‘the Rejuvenated Ones’. Rejuvenate! Rejuvenate in your name ‘Rejuvenated Waters’. The waters exist as the strength of Sutekh. He is great, he is noble, he is strong, he is free and he is powerful through this living water. He has encircles for himself and he has given to himself, pervading each and every land. Sutekh, you are great and you are noble. You are strong and you are free through this libation of life-giving water.”
Pour a second libation of water. Recite: “Osiris, Heru, Sutekh, Aset and Nebet-Het, enneads and divine bodies, accept the Eye of Heru; I offer the water which is in it, fresh water as of love and praise.”
Pour a third libation of water. Recite: “O Osiris Imperishable Stars justified, you spirits of the Outlaw Dead, may you receive a libation of fresh water after the Netjer becomes satisfied, each and every day. May you live and may your ba live both now and forever!”
Place flowers, or a flower, before the icons of the Dead. Recite four times: “Khonsu causes Amun to be your protection as you live eternally. May Amun fulfill what you desire, O beloved one. May you be a favored one, and may Amun favor you for all your good deeds. May he favor you and love you. May he perpetuate you and overthrow your adversaries whether dead or alive.”
Recite twice: “May you and your ba live both now and forever!”
Play music for the Outlaw Dead if possible, and recite: “O you spirits of the Outlaw Dead, I am your descendant, I am your friend. Sutekh protects you from all harm, the Imperishable Stars who are like Netjeru feed and clothe and organize you. You are in the city of Ombos, you are in the city of Bennu, you are in the Oasis. This is the sanctuary for foreigners and immigrants, rebels, lost souls, for those who died unknown or unmourned, for those who were killed in the name of the law or of decency, for the freedom fighters and deserting soldiers; for the heretics and sex workers and persecuted queer folk; for the sick, disabled or mad, for the poor and starving; for the victims of empires or capital, for the victims of racism and genocide. If you would cause harm to any of these spirits, you are abolished! You are defeated! Seth-Typhon himself hates and destroys you! The enemies of your descendants are fallen! Truly, they are defeated by your living friends and by Seth-Typhon, in the name of your descendants! Your descendants will live free. Your descendants will not be martyred. Seth-Typhon himself hates and destroys your descendant’s enemies! They are defeated! They are defeated!
To all others, no harm will come to your spirit in this place. Rest and feast and be adored, then move on as you will, or stay and adopt the ways and laws of the Outlaw Dead: to each according to their need, from each according to their ability; nothing is true, all is permitted; and so long as you harm only those who must be harmed, do what thou wilt is the whole of the law. We address you with love, gratitude, honor and solidarity from the land of the living! Hail to our ancestors who lived as outlaws! Hail our ancestors denied burial rites and remaining outlaws everafter! Hail to our ancestors murdered, executed, starved, or massacred for being different. Hail in the name of Sutekh, god of foreigners and criminals, the souls of outsiders and Outlaws throughout history! We ask that you keep watch over us, your friends and allies, as our own ancestors. Your spirit lives in them and they honor your spirit and descendants.”
If you have any requests to make of the dead or any magic to perform, this is where you perform it. It’s also a good time to just meditate.
When you are done, begin extinguishing the candles (or removing the votive candles) one by one as you recite: “This is the Eye of Heru by which you have become great, by which you live, and by which you have power, O Sutekh. This is the Eye of Heru which you consume and through which you enchant your body. The Wedjat Eye now enters into the West, into Manu, but it shall return. Truly, the Eye of Heru returns in peace!”
Clean the area around the icons and recite: “The distress that causes confusion has been driven away, and all the Netjeru are in harmony. I have given Heru his Eye, I have placed the Wedjat Eye in the correct position. I have given Sutekh his testicles, so that the two Lords are content through the work of my hands. I know the sky, I know the earth; I know Heru, I know Sutekh. Heru is appeased with His Eyes, and Sutekh is appeased with His Testicles. I am Djehuty, who reconciles the Netjeru, who makes offerings in their correct form.”
Set aside the broom and bow toward the icon. Recite: “Djehuty has come. He has filled the Eye of Heru; He has restored the Testicles of Sutekh. No evil shall enter this temple. Ptah has closed the door, Djehuty has set it fast. The door is closed; the door is set fast with the bolt.”
Bow once again, and then left the offerings before the icons and recite: “O Sutekh, every adversary withdraws or you. Heru has turned himself to his Eye in its name of ‘Reversion-of-Offerings’. I am Djehuty. I come to perform this rite for Sutekh, and for the Osiris Outlaw Dead Justified. These, your divine offerings revert, they revert to your servants for life, for stability, for health and for joy! O that the Eye of Heru may flourish for you eternally!”
Take the offerings away from the icons. The ceremony is complete. A suggested traditional toast for the reverted meal: “For your Ka!”
I don’t do this ritual every time I offer to the Outlaw Dead, but when I have time and something special to offer or ask for, I try to. I’ve also decided to make it a custom to do this ritual on the first full moon of January, or the Wolf Moon, as that’s the astrological anniversary of my meeting them.
When working with them more casually, the process is as follows:
- Designate an altar space/ritual space.
- Light a candle for each faction you’re working with. This is the mains source of energy and focus for the corresponding spirits to dwell in while the ritual is in progress.
- Set out offerings.
- Play music. I always play this song first, and then put on this playlist.
- Greet the Dead.
- If you are going to perform magic or a ritual with/for them, describe it to the Dead and ask for their permission before beginning.
- End the ritual by blowing out the candles and turning off the music.
My process for performing spells calling on the Outlaw Dead for help is as follows:
- Using your divination method of choice for yes/no answers, obtain consent from specific factions to be used for a spell.
- Describe the spell to the Dead.
- Create a sigil for spell, incorporating the sigils for the Dead you’re calling on along with the object of the spell.
- Charge and activate sigil with preferred method.
- Spell jars can also be left on the altar for the Outlaw Dead to work on; adding sigils to the decoration of the jar describing the factions called upon and the spell itself recommended.
While I’ve added a bunch of warnings, and I do try to err on the side of caution when I work with them (as with all astral and spirit work), I would consider it unfair to say that these are particularly unsafe or malicious spirits. There have been some conflicts (such as the aforementioned issues with Heru and Tyr), but on the whole, they’ve been an overwhelmingly positive, generous, and helpful addition to my religious practice. I’m posting this with their permission and input because I hope that they can find more people to honor and work with them in the larger kemetic and pagan communities. I’m not sure anyone who asked for this post a year ago is still interested, but hey -better late than never.
It’s also a good idea to remember that “Outlaws” also includes the souls of people you, personally, would consider despicable. Personally, I just expect them to follow the ground rules I’ve laid out, and try not to inquire into exactly what kind of “outlaw” any of them were beyond the faction they requested to be sorted into. If you prefer, though, you could always add an aspect of your spell that bars, for example, the spirits of violent criminals from your space. I choose not to do this because I feel my role in my work with them is not to judge them for what they did when they were alive. The point of the practice is, as I wrote above, radical love, admiration, gratitude, and solidarity. No shortcuts to make myself more comfortable with the moral gray area all of us, especially “outlaws”, live in.
It’s not just about getting magical help and feeling like a particularly edgy necromancer (although I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t part of why I enjoy it). The core of this practice is about appreciation for other people, in particular people who it can be dangerous or inconvenient to be associated with, or hard to love and forgive because of the mistakes they’ve made. In this case, it’s dead people, but the practice of “radical love, admiration, gratitude, and solidarity” has improved my sense of empathy for other living humans, my sense of responsibility toward them, and lit a fire under my ass vis a vis activism and getting my life together so that I can one day have the power to defend the human rights of living outlaws as well. For this reason most of all, I sincerely hope other pagans find this post useful, and incorporate some level of veneration for the Outlaw Dead into their practices.