The spiritual turnpike is a dark and dank place, but it also tends to have some pretty light spots on it. Sometimes, you end up in places you never really expected, which is currently where I am because I can safely assure anyone and everything that I never thought I’d be willing to start building a functional calendar for my religious persuasion. I always just assume that if I did do anything with it, I would utilize the Julian calendar with mathematically figured out and properly placed holidays in the mix. Then, I just assumed that I would utilize others’ work and go from there. Then, I whined about how that didn’t seem right in any way, shape, or form and whined about how difficult the whole adventure was being. It was at that point that I decided to stick with the whole pagan thing and work with the eight Sabbats, which again didn’t work for me. So, suffice to say when I go on about how the spiritual turnpike is full of convoluted paths that will bring you to places that you’re not expecting, you can pretty much be assured that I am not full of shit.
Honestly, when I really started thinking about the calendar issue, I figured that the reason I wouldn’t go anywhere with it was because of numerous issues. There’s the fact that holidays in Greek and Roman are fairly easy to correlate data on. The Romans were excellent record keepers and the Greeks don’t appear to have been half bad. Of course, then you have the other side of the spectrum, which I feel is where we can find Celtic and Kemetic people finding issues. (And in regards to something that was pointed out to me by a recent blog addition to my blog roll, Mountain, Path, and Pool, this is also an issue in certain reconstructionist religions based on the Maya, Aztec, and other North American native populations.) I figured that since the information, while there, seemed overly complicated, I wouldn’t bother getting into it. Obviously, Hetharu (since this is definitely a part of Hetharu’s ongoing projects) has other things in mind, which is currently where I end up finding myself.
I’ve decided to work on the calendar and get that out of the way. Evidently, according to my last post, I feel that I’m ready for that work. And I would really like to see it completed for this year’s Wep Ronpet festival. The thing is that I have to choose a jumping off point. I have to decide how to build this calendar and while trying to affix it to our current Julian creation sounds like a really awesome idea, it doesn’t function well for me. The Kemetic calendar is a lunar creation, which obviously makes it difficult to coincide it with a solar calendar. Other issues abound: the number of seasons, the length of the months, and there was no account for Leap years. While I can work with the timing, the seasons, and the months, the Leap year aspect is kind of daunting. I know that Kiya has managed to make a functional calendar with work done to take into account the Leap year that’s necessary to keep the Egyptian calendar flowing properly, otherwise, we get stuck with winter being celebrated in the dead of summer and the New year taking place during the winter season instead of during harvest.
I’ve decided that my jumping off point is that I have to decide where I want to base the calculations necessary for the heliacal rising of Sopdet.
Now, initially, I had been amenable to the idea of basing it off of where I live. In all reality, this makes the most sense. But, for some reason, this doesn’t feel exactly right. I’ve come to realize that while I may think that something works well in some aspect or another, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that is the case. I’m not exactly positive why this whole idea doesn’t work out as well with what I want, to be frank. I think it’s because I want a firmer connection with the land that my practice is based on. I also think it has to do with a closer connection to the homeland of the gods that I worship and follow. While I’ve begun trying to see my gods here (and they enjoy that) it’s come to the time where I realize that while I do live here and I’m trying to work with them here, some portions still have to come from the homeland and home time, so to speak. And that’s why, even though I thought that basing the rising of Sopdet here was a good idea, I’ve come to conclude that just because it is easier or obvious doesn’t necessarily make it true. And so, with that going on in the background, I chose three possible locations to base this off of.
The first idea was Thebes, or Waset. I’ve always been a big fan of Thebes and it’s actually based on their cosmogony that I’ve been teaching my son about the ancient Egyptian gods. The reason I’m swayed toward this ancient necropolis mostly stems from my obsession with all things from the late Eighteenth Dynasty Pharaohs that ended in Horemheb coming to power. So, this decision isn’t based on anything, per se, that could be considered of a Kemetic or ancient Egyptian persuasion. This idea stems from the fact that I’m most familiar with the Theban Cosmogony and the role of Thebes during the New Kingdom. I’m most comfortable talking about Thebes as opposed to some of the other major cities, such as Memphis or Herakleopolis or Avaris. And while I’ve done some research on Thebes, I’ve begun to jettison this idea. It wasn’t anything in particular about it that really came to mind that said, “No, this just won’t do.” It was mostly an idea that it was lacking or insufficient. This ended up coinciding by a comment from Pickle Walsh a while back. I’ll get into that in a minute because I had another idea before Pickle Walsh made some sense.
So, in casting out possibilities, I began eyeballing Sekhmet for a possible idea. And it suddenly came to me, why didn’t I choose her ancient cult center of Taremu (Leontopolis) as a possible place to base this on? I mean, I work with Hetharu and I will (in future) work with other gods. But who has the most sway over me and always has? Who is that I love more than any other god in the world? Sekhmet, of course, and that’s when the light bulb went off with a giant eye-blasting flash. When I mentioned it to her, I got this distinct response, “LULZ, NO.” The laughter wasn’t because what I had suggested was infantile or anything, but because she found it cutely amusing that I would suggest such an idea. Well, when trying to plot and figure it all out, I realized that while I wanted to honor her in such a way that anyone who looked at the start of this calendar would know and understand, it only dawned on me later that I was being silly.
As I said, when I first threw Waset out there as a possible location for all of this, Pickle recommended to me about Memphis. He reminded me that it was in Memphis that was the ancient religious capital of ancient Egypt. This was a sound idea, but really, I didn’t know much about Memphis. To be perfectly frank, I still don’t. But, while I was reading something last night, I had one of those bone-headed moments when I realized that he had given me the answer, I just had to remember a few key points to this puzzle. Last night, before bed, I was reading Akhenaten by Cyril Aldred again. He was talking about the triads that are so prevalent in ancient Egypt. And he pointed out that Ptah-Sekhmet-Nefertem were a triad… of Memphis. I got a distinctive click as though everything had slid completely into place in my head when I read this. And the laughter that I had been plagued with, off and on, from Sekhmet just suddenly stopped. It was as a pointed silence.
And that’s when I realized. I should probably base the start of my calendar, not off of quicksilver ideas that I’ve been tossing out there as a possibility in the hopes of someone agreeing with me, but on an idea that makes the most sense. And if nothing else, Memphis makes sense.