Celebrations, great and small.

How do you celebrate Festivals and Holidays the Kemetic way?

My style of celebration is best described as “casual”. 😅 What I do will depend on what festival I’m celebrating and how important it is in my personal practice (or the State religion).

For your average holiday, my go-to is making a special offering in Senut to the gods in festival. For instance: we have the solstice festival of She-is-led-back, or Intues, this season. I celebrated with the House of Netjer through the simulcast ritual led via IRC; I offered Hethert a glass of milk and a raspberry chocolate cookie. That’s all! For something more elaborate, like a festival of one of my Parents, I will spend more time in shrine, and will make more elaborate offerings. One festival I offered a bouquet of flowers, a bottle of wine, and a plate of gourmet chocolates. Even though the offerings are more elaborate, it still fits the same format: offerings and shrine time.

Occasionally, when I am able, I will celebrate with other Kemetics. When this happens, the celebrations vary depending on the festival. I’ve participated in overnight vigils for the Mysteries of Wesir, sunrise rituals for Wep Ronpet, paper-boat-making and candle-lighting for Aset Webenut, and more.

Even non-Kemetic holidays can take on a Kemetic spirit. For example: my ancestors would have celebrated Christmas, and I spend the 25th of December celebrating with family who still observe the holiday. I spend the day reflecting on family and my Akhu, and make offerings to my ancestors in honor of their traditions. If I have to go to church, or engage with any non-Kemetic religious practice, I take the opportunity to reflect on my Akhu and meditate on their role in my life.

I’ve learned that celebrations don’t need to be elaborate to be satisfying — especially when celebrating on my own. A little quality time and a special gift for the gods goes a long way.

Solstice Party!

This Saturday, I went to a small get-together hosted by a friend of mine, who has recently been reading up on Norse paganism. She ran a short but sweet dawn ritual for midsummer, which followed an all-night vigil full of good conversation (and kittens!). While the ritual itself was pretty firmly grounded in Norse religion, the gathering itself was pretty eclectic. In attendance were myself and my partner (both Kemetics), the hostess (Norse), her partner (sort of animist-y/magician-y), a friend with Jewish heritage who is researching Norse paganism and her partner, whose religious orientation I’m uncertain of, and another friend who is mostly Wiccan with her partner, who proudly professed his worship of science.

In other words – an alphabet soup of deities.

I’ll admit, I’ve gotten pretty uncomfortable with the idea of mixing traditions. I’ll honor other deities based on holidays, or on small interactions we’ve had — but I haven’t spent much time in a place where all participants come from such different backgrounds. What surprised me the most was how well it worked. The hostess and her partner ran the main ritual, and once that had closed, we were all invited to offer our own praise or celebration for the solstice and the sunrise. Earlier in the evening I spoke about Sekhmet, the Destruction of Mankind and the Wandering Goddess; at dawn I read a prayer to Ra, and my partner read a prayer to Set – both from Rev. Tamara Siuda’s Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook. Others read little prayers, or offered discussion on where they are in their own paths. We compared our traditions, discussed myths we’d like to know more about. Everyone had the opportunity to share something from their own traditions.

While I’ve always been wary of doing anything that smacks of eclecticism, it seems like there’s ways to do it that gets the right point across, so to speak.

The Eye Returns!

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Even though I’ve been sick all week,and totally out of sorts with work for another two, I still managed to keep my tradition of keeping a light out for the solstice night. There isn’t any historical precedent for this that I know of, but I feel lighting the candle is a way of helping the Eye of Ra find Her way home again. As I write this the sun is rising now – we’ve survived the longest night yet again. May the goodness in our lives grow with the light of day!

Episode 7: Seasons and Holidays; the Kemetic Calendar

I celebrate the seasons of the year according to the festival calendar researched and compiled by Rev. Tamara Siuda – so the dates of my calendar are aligned according to the astronomical events relevant in Kemetic Orthodoxy. Other dates for similar festivals might differ!

The year, for me, begins in August, with the festival of Wep Ronpet, or the Opening of the Year. There are three seasons: Akhet (the first season), Peret (the second season) and Shomu (the third season), each with four months. There are five days at the end of the year known as the Days Upon The Year, which are days that do not belong to either year, existing in a different kind of time between the years.

There are a number of major festivals: Opet, which is a Theban festival celebrating Amun-Ra, Mut and Khonsu; the feast of the Beautiful Reunion, celebrating the marriage of Heru and Hethert; the Beautiful Feast of the Valley, celebrating the ancestors and the Theban triad. There are some minor festivals that have become fairly beloved in Kemetic Orthodoxy: Aset Luminous, a feast of Aset, Mother of God; The Feast of the Establishment of the Celestial Cow (or “Moomas”), celebrating Nut and Hethert; the seasonal feasts of the Eye of Ra, as She flees South.

Even as I am so far from the land of the gods I serve, I am immersed in the rhythm of its festivals. Right now, we are approaching the feast of the mysteries of Wesir. This is a solemn festival of the death of the God Wesir and His establishment in the Duat as judge and lord of the Akhu. I have never been very in touch with Wesir, but even I feel the appropriateness in this festival; as the leaves turn brown and fall away, the greenness of the land dissolves – the lord of the green growth, the lord of fertility, prepares to die. As He is established in the West, the green returns.

As the days grow colder, I am reminded of the cycle of the Eye of Ra as She now turns toward the South, gracing them with Her light until She returns in the Spring. At the summer solstice, She flees, leaving each day growing shorter and colder without Her light. At the winter solstice, She begins Her return, and the days grow longer as She moves closer to us.

I have found that the best way to celebrate a Western land in a Kemetic context is to remember the spirit of the seasons – in seasons of abundance, growth and heat. To meditate on all of these things at the appropriate times, and to honor them each in turn. The festivals that occur throughout the year may or may not have relevance in my life; the major ones do, for sure, but I’m not so sure about all of the minor ones. I’m taking the calendar step by step, to be honest – if you’ve ever seen the Kemetic festival calendar, with a holiday every friggin’ day, you know it’s all you can do.

Cast in a New Light

Well, today was the first full day of winter. The winter solstice was sort of a poignant holiday for me this year. I was keenly aware

Looks like Wepwawet wants some light too.
Looks like Wepwawet wanted some light here, too.

of the change of seasons this year – the days growing darker during the Mysteries of Wesir (late November), as the son of Nut and father of Heru dies and takes His throne in the Duat. I reflected on death. God has died. This God, unlike Jesus, stays dead. He stays dead because the ancestors living there need a King. Now that’s love, if you ask me– I’m sure He could come back to life just fine if He really wanted, but he doesn’t. And the world is dark, and getting darker. The plants are dying, everything is cast in a cold, hard shadow. And then, in the middle of winter, there is light. The solstice signifies the return of the Eye of Ra, who has wandered to the South. At this time, She turns back to us, and is bringing Her light back to us. She is carrying with Her a new light, a growing light, to warm and brighten the Nation. We have spent some time contemplating the darkness of the death of Wesir and now, we once again return to a place of joy and celebration, illuminated with Her love.

This past weekend, I celebrated a festival of Bast with some local Shemsu. We sang, lit candles, and played sistra for the Perfumed One. The quiet fellowship, the solemn ritual and the joyful song and dance renewed my faith with great fervor. I stepped from that time of quiet, dark contemplation, and into a light of joy and fellowship with my brothers and sisters in the faith. I had some deep, burning questions answered by Bast, through a little bit of informal fortune cookie divination. But most of all, I remember what I love most about this religion. Not the stories, though they are intricate and beautiful, not the making of offerings and the reverence, but the pure delight of being in the presence of God alongside others who share in that joy. It is one thing to stand before one’s altar and sing and dance, but to do it with others with no fear of feeling foolish– that is one of the single greatest things I have ever experienced. I vowed as I left to invigorate my spiritual practices– well,  just as soon as my sinuses de-stuffed from sleeping with four cats.

I really do feel as though I am cast in a new light, and I look forward to the experiences I will be sharing in light (pun intended) of this.