Wingfest: Khonsu

This week is Wingfest in the House of Netjer: a celebration of all winged Kemetic deities. I have resolved to honor four winged gods in particular this week: Ra, Khonsu, Djehuty and Heru-sa-Aset. Each deity has a particular meaning or place in my life, which I hope to share as we celebrate. Today I will kick things off by sharing a post I wrote last year about my newest Beloved, Khonsu. At the time I wrote that, Khonsu was not yet affirmed as my Beloved. Since that confirmation, His place in my life has not changed. He remains the firm but friendly force in my life, happy to accept my offerings and contribute His aid when needed. He is silvery and strong, joyful and fierce – the sharp talon of the crescent moon. I give thanks for His presence in my life and pray that I can know Him better in the future.

Hail to you, Khonsu, Who pierces the darkest night with your light! May You dispel evil and restore joy. Nekhtet!

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Five years ago…

… I sat breathlessly in the shrine at Tawy, barely able to watch as Hemet (AUS) – who I had only just met, then – cast handfuls of shells into a tray. I was anxious – I had been overwhelmed, strangely, by my Akhu reading. Partly because the deities who were associated with that reading were Heru, Set, and Yinepu – which made me worry that Wepwawet would not be a part of my divine lineage, something I had been quietly confident about, though I swore I would approach the rite with an open mind.

The night before, we had sat in the shrine singing and drumming quietly, because we enjoyed each other’s company and the presence of the gods; the RPD candidates slept in the shrine, our mattresses lined up on the floor. The morning before that, I was welcomed with hugs and warmth from a priest of the temple – something I will never forget.

The moment of my divination is a blur of clattering cowries, whispered conversation from the observers behind me, and the rustle of papers that Hemet used to take notes. What I remember most clearly is the announcement that I had two Parents and two Beloveds, and the question: did I want to guess? I didn’t, and that seemed to be met with surprise.

I replay this moment repeatedly at this time of year. Each anniversary takes on a different meaning, as my role within the faith changes. By the second anniversary, I had done Weshem-ib and was a Shemsu-Ankh. By the fourth, I was a priest. And even beyond my changing place in the temple, my own life changes. When I was divined, I was a college freshmen, just starting my second semester. I went through my entire college career, which literally changed everything I thought I knew about myself. I bought cars, I lived on my own, I moved back home, I had relationships and heartbreak. I got bitterly wounded by both strangers and those I thought I could trust. I took on responsibility and I ran from it.

I will never stop being grateful for that day, for the gods who stepped forward to look after me, for the gods who came later, for the community I have come to love, and for every blessed moment within it.

Five years is such a long time for something that takes no time at all.

Loving the Moon.

In my life, Khonsu is a god of purification, exorcism, protection, and fierce cleansing; He is also a god of the moon. In spite of his stringent role, Khonsu doesn’t seem to -want- much from me. He quietly reminds me of His presence now and then, and sometimes I remember on my own and He smiles at me. He is a comfortable, well-beloved presence in my life for which I will always be grateful.

Not long after Khonsu indicated that He wanted to be added to my shrine, I’d had a divination done to confirm whether that meant He would be an additional Beloved deity for me to honor. The answer was ambiguous – He gave me a choice. At the time I elected to think about it – and I thought about it for nearly two years.

I wanted to be sure that I wasn’t just accepting a new Beloved out of a desire to “collect” the gods. I truly wanted to avoid the “Pokemon” syndrome of divine relationships. It was difficult for me to understand what it would mean for me to gain Him as a Beloved. How would this change my relationship with the gods I already honor? So many questions.

Finally, a few weeks ago, after feeling a strengthening of His presence, I came to an answer. Beloveds are unique. Their relationships with their beloved followers are individual – some people will never have a strong relationship with their Beloved gods; the gods watch over them and influence them from a distance. Others are almost closer with their Beloveds than with their Parent(s) – and still others honor Them all equally.

I am now a daughter of Wepwawet and Sekhmet-Mut, beloved of Bast, Nut, and Khonsu – daughter of the Opener of Ways and the Powerful Queen, and beloved of the sunrise, the crescent moon, and the star-speckled night sky.

Peret.

Today is the first day of Peret, on the Kemetic Orthodox calendar. Akhet brings the flood, and Peret brings the growing.

It is also the first really wintery day here. The sky is beautifully blue and clear, and the air is dry and cold. I’ve been relying on chapstick and hand lotion pretty heavily. This is probably the season with the greatest disconnect for me, as a Shemsu in a very different climate. It is hard for me to imagine Kemet with snowy fields and frozen lakes, but that’s what Peret means here.

It encompasses the depths of winter, complete with blizzards and sleet and hail. It also touches the beginnings of spring, the verbal equinox, just at the end of the season.

Peret is a word referring to coming forth, to emerging. It is the word in the Kemetic title of the Book of the Dead: the prt m hrw, the Book of Coming Forth By Day. I know I don’t feel much like coming forth at any point, day or night, during the winter. And yet, I will always emerge on the other side, cautiously peering out in the spring. Perhaps the coming Forth is not something done during this month, but at the end – after I have spent time withdrawn, curled in a quiet space, growing in my own way.

This season, my thoughts turn to the colder gods. To Sokar, to Nebthet, to Set, Yinepu, Nut. And especially to my Akhu, whose stars are more visible in the clear winter sky, and mirrored in the holiday decorations around town. May we be blessed in this season of quiet growth.