Been a while since I’ve posted here but I caught sight of this in my inbox and realised I had input (I should really try to be more active).
I am currently a Shemsu-Ankh in Kemetic Orthodoxy, although I consider myself to be an independent Kemetic and boat paddler in addition to that. I was also an independent Kemetic (and non-KO member) for many years, having joined the temple and then left.
I find KO pretty flexible on the “how do you view the Gods” scale. I consider them hard polytheists regardless of what terminology they use (after a very convincing article a long time back, I consider most “soft polytheism” to either be hard polytheism or monotheism and soft polytheism to not, or only very rarely, exist).
Kemetic Orthodoxy provides a lot of things for me. Structure, ritual, community and family, tools, a path. And it provides as much or as little of those things as I desire. If I wanted I could be Remetj and have very few commitments to the temple or to the Gods they divined for me, I would basically be an independent. If I wanted I could be a Shemsu, but I could interact with the community the bare minimum amount. And if I wanted, I could be Shemsu-Ankh but firmly on my own independent path. Nothing about the structure KO has mandates that your religious life must be strictly structured.
I ended up Shemsu-Ankh because a) I was impulsive and young and at the time you could become Shemsu-Ankh extremely fast, so I did, I was one of the fastest that they’ve had I think. But b) Because I feel that the temple is my family. It’s a loving connection. Now, you don’t always like your family. But they’re still your family. I feel this more with the temple than I ever have with blood. Because of this I felt the need to connect strongly to that family and to possibly be in service to it. I also came to know Rev. Siuda better, and I trusted her as my king (which does not mean what we think it does in the West, or what people make it out to mean when they rag on KO).
I’d like to become a priest some day, if my health improves, and for me KO is the perfect place to do that. They have a good framework for both priesthood and post-priesthood training, and also, being in KO, and my time serving as a priest outside of KO, has driven home for me that priesthood is about service to a community. To a nation, in essence. Even when I was independent, I was in many ways a priest of KO, just not in any official capacity.
The way to not be a poobah, is to recognise that priesthood is not about a title, about being “a priest of X”. It’s just a ritual that you do to uphold Ma’at for the good of all. You don’t even need to ever call yourself a priest. I didn’t, for most of the time that I did it. You’re a servant, that’s it. Nothing poobah about it.
(FWIW, I don’t feel I’ve been “initiated” and I don’t think anything in KO is classed as, nor would I class it as, an “initiation” really. That or everything in KO is an initiation but that’s really looking at it from a different, looser angle, kind of the angle mentioned here that doesn’t involve anyone doing anything to you.)