The Pilgrim's Walking Stick : Benben : The History of the Mask

The first mask in human history was the mask of Wsr (named Osiris by the Greeks), the God of the Dead.  "The story surrounding the first mask begins with the understanding that a God can move from one world to another.  Wsr, the God of the Dead, does just that - he moves from the world on Earth to the Kingdom of the Dead (Amentet) that he has created for the redemption of humanity.  Every year, Wsr dies with the vegetation and then rises again, and this reality is what has given birth to the death and resurrection of the modern-day religions, such as Jesus," began Master Naba.  "After Wsr created his Kingdom in the afterlife, since that day, all humans are striving to reach the Amentet.  But it is not only humans who want to go into that world; the other Deities that are not of the first trinities also go back and forth from the World of the Gods to the Amentet (World of the Dead)."

   Master Naba continues : "The first mask was created by the followers of Wsr (Osiris).  One thing needs to be understood : the highest priests of Wsr become the representatives of the God.  Wsr speaks through them, and this is why the priests of Wsr have the title of Maakheru, meaning "truth-teller".  Wsr, then, talks to people through his highest priests.  A problem arose, however, because some people began to mistake the words of the person with the words of the God.  "Physically, the priest still looked like any other human being.  The solution was to build the death mask to cover the face of the priest while he was speaking as Wsr so people would not be distracted by his human physical appearance.  This was the first mask ever made, and it came to differentiate when the priest of Wsr spoke as himself versus when he spoke as Wsr.  It then could become clear that when the priest was wearing the mask, he was no longer the priest as a human, but the God had taken over his body and was manifesting Himself through the priest."  Later, all of the other temples for Deities except the Gods of the two first trinities adopted the same approach - each priest wears a mask for his specific God while performing ceremonies.

   All real masks represent a God.  People tend to associate masks not with the God they have been adopted by, but by the characteristics or functions of that particular God.  For example, the mask of a God or Goddess that influences fertility is often seen as merely a "fertility mask" rather than the house of the Deity.

   Real masks (masks used in temples for spiritual reasons) are usually made by those who have been initiated at a high level.  The rules and guidelines for making a mask are part of the secret knowledge that is never shared among non-initiates or those initiates who have not reached a certain level.  One thing is known : a mask is not a real mask until it is adopted by a God or Goddess.  The mask must seduce the Deity, and while it is not clear to the masses what characteristics a Deity looks for in a mask, it is clear that that which is not pure and holy will contaminate that which is, and so all aspects of the mask and the making of it must be pure for a God to even take notice of it.  According  to Master Naba, there have been cases where a non-initiated person has made a mask that has seduced a God, but this is rare.

   Masks can literally be made of any material, but masks are typically made of material that are consistent with the type of God that houses them.  Wood is the most likely choice for Gods of vegetation, while clay or iron is more ideal for Earthly Gods, and celestial Gods are usually represented by stars.

   Masks are almost always worn by men, and the person wearing the mask is always an initiated person of high rank.  "Wearing a mask comes with the high responsibility of doing things in the name of the Deity.  The priest is literally taken by the God when wearing the mask.  The person is not merely symbolically representing the God or Goddess - the priest literally becomes the Deity.  The priest is required to know the dance steps and movements of the God before he can wear the mask.  Wearing a mask takes an enormous amount of energy, and this is one reason why women generally do not wear masks.  The movements require more energy than a woman can produce.  In fact, I am not aware of any masks that a woman will wear," shared Master Naba.

   Caring for the mask is a demanding task.  Masks live in different places, depending on the individual mask.  Some live in trees, others live in their own house.  Some require daily feeding, and some need to be bathed regularly.  Masks have different needs, depending on the type of Deity that inhabits them.  Some masks stay in their room or designated living quarters most of the year and only come out once every four years.  Some masks require that only one or two people have access to it.  Most neophytes see masks only during specific periods when it is time for the mask to come out.

   Real masks are very rare.  Since they are only handled and worn by initiates of a very high level, most people have no way of knowing whether a particular mask is a duplicate of a real mask or just a creation of a talented artist.  Many vendors claim that their masks are real duplicates, but unless they are a high-level initiate, their claims are not reliable.

   Because of the fragility of masks and the pure and holy Deities that reside in them, it would be disastrous if a real mask should fall into the wrong hands.  When this topic was addressed with Master Naba, he broke into a fit of laughter.  "Impossible!  A real mask will never, ever get into the wrong hands," he said seriously after finishing his bout of laughter.  "One must be very pure to even touch a mask.  Before wearing a mask, a priest must undergo months of purification.  He abstains from all sexual activity, increases his restrictions in his diet and taboos, and fasts.  But, there are many true stories about dishonest merchants attempting to steal a real mask.  Once a man tried to steal a mask that lived in a tree.  He and his friend went with a ladder to the tree, and the man climbed up to the mask while the friend held the ladder at the bottom.  When the man touched the mask that was in the tree, he immediately disappeared.  What I mean is that he vanished - with no trace, no possibility for reincarnation, and no existence at all!"

   Despite what non-initiates may say, a real mask is never destroyed.  A real mask will never be found in a museum or gallery - they are very powerful and will only be found in their specific temples or living areas.  They are only used in very specific ceremonies that are dedicated to the God or Goddess of the mask, and thus are very rarely seen.


Our Mission

The Earth Center is an 501C(3) Non Profit organization based on respect of human dignity regardless of race, gender, age, religion, socioeconomic status, philosophical or political belief. It represents the first mission or cultural outreach institution of the existing Kemetic temples.

Contact us

US Headquarters: (773) 359-4160
UK Headquarters: (0207) 175 4144
Meritah (West Africa): (226) 25-37-53-13
Canada: (514) 583-2320

The Earth Center
Preserving and Promoting Kem Culture