Hotep, which is also commonly known as and spelled Hetep, is a concept of ancient Kemetic origin. It originally meant “to rest,” “to be happy,” “to be present,” “to be at” or “to go to rest,” “to rely upon,” and “to be at peace with.” Ancient Kemites were a peace-loving people and considered Hotep to be not just a part of everyday vocabulary, but a concept that extended beyond a calm demeanor or behavior.
The ancient Egyptians used this concept mainly as a salutation or greeting. Hotep was also used during the course of call and response ceremonies, such as found in many parts of Africa. Although it is widely believed that Hotep was used mainly in greetings, the spoken word possesses a physical bioenergetic aspect. Delivered by the way of word-sound-power, ancient Egyptians believed that words have the ability to transmit either positive or negative energy depending on the intention behind the utterance.
In fact, Hotep (or peace, ease, and rest) was attained by living out the precepts or laws of Maat, the way. Maat represents truth, balance, reciprocity or justice, and right actions. The 42 laws of Maat manifest how a person may achieve a “peaceful” demeanor, experience, and life. This may be the origin of the 10 Commandments and other man-made laws. There is also a widely recognized literature or doctrine of Ptah-Hotep, which embodies the concept of Peace.
Furthermore, according to Nefer Amen, hotep is the often unrecognized conception underlying human endeavor as this state of serenity is a purpose for living. Hotep, in this view, is the master and primordial energetic configuration of the spirit. This is what people desire and most need, and it is the highest goal of meditation. It is not a state of peace that depends on outward conditions, such as with money, weapons, or lifestyle; neither is it running away from the trials and tribulations of life. Believers thought that this knowledge or relationship and connectedness to the divine power is what brings about happiness or hotep. Implicit in people's quest for happiness is the urge not only for emotional gratification, but also for security, and there is nothing that can give one more security than the acquisition of this divine power.
Believers in the power of hotep assert that balance and peace can be attained by being elevated to one's original primordial level of being in the subjective realm. Eternal peace or hotep can only be truly achieved when people elevate themselves to the highest part of their being, their spiritual selves.
- Amen, R. U. N. (1990). Metu Neter (Vol. 1): The Great Oracle of Tehuti and the Egyptian System of Spiritual Cultivation. Brooklyn, NY: Kamit Productions.
- Jacq, C. (2006). The Wisdom of Ptah-Hotep: Spiritual Treasures From the Age of the Pyramids. London: Constable.
- Myers, W. W. (1905). Hotep: A Dream of the Nile. Cincinnati, OH: Robert Clarke Company.