Festival of the Winged Disk 2015.

November 2, 2015 – November 4, 2015

The Legend of the Winged Disk is one of my favorite myths. I can admit to being biased, though. There are very few myths specific to Heru-Wer that I have been able to find, so it is truly no surprise why I’d like the Winged Disk myth so much.

Copies of this myth were inscribed at the Edfu Temple complex, which was a very old temple rebuilt during the Ptolemaic era. As with many of the Heru myth cycles that we have read, the basis is a Heru, in this case Heru-Wer as the son of Re, goes forth at Re’s request to tear asunder enemies. Heru of Behdet was sent forth as a great winged disk and was able to achieve victory over the enemies. (A full recount can be found here.)

This is where the winged sun disk gets its name: behdeti.

I looked for this holiday in the two Edfu books I have. These are my main resources at the moment in my ongoing search for more information regarding Heru-Wer. Unfortunately, as seems to often be the case with most of the information that relates to the various forms of Heru, the information I have found seems to mostly be glossed over in an effort to jump through to the Osirian myth cycles.

Based entirely on the name for this holiday, I can only assume that we are celebrating the Winged Disk and perhaps its victory over the enemies of Re. I can’t be sure if that is the case, however, as this celebration comes prior to the Festival of Victory which occurs (according to The House of Horus at Edfu by Barbara Watterson) in the second month of winter.

Even though this celebration comes well before the Festival of Victory, I think it’s probably an important celebration in its own right. It is specific to Heru of Behdet whereas Watterson’s discussion regarding the Festival of Victory seems to be more inclined towards all of the various victories that have occurred because of one of the Heru.

I think this is a reminder, a signpost so to speak, that Heru-Wer, in his aspect as Heru of Behdet, was an important warrior in his own right and something that we, as modern polytheists, should celebrate.


Lintel above the entrance to the Edfu temple.

One of the things that I have often found when I’ve interacted with other people regarding Heru-Wer is that he is very “chill.” I guess relaxed would be the most appropriate word. But something that has always rang true for me was an online friend’s description: that he is a tired vet, enjoying the quiet and solitude after having been there and done that.

The prevailing idea that Heru-Wer is a “chill” deity, while not inaccurate, forgets the fact that he is also a deity who has slaughtered enemies. The link above says it all: he brought forth such a dizzying array against the enemies of Re that they became confused enough to kill one another. In effect, he did his job so splendidly that he was able to get the enemies of Re to do the hard work on his behalf.

While combing through Borghouts not that long ago, I noticed that there seemed to be a lot of mention of a Heru standing behind the hekau while the heka was being conducted. While I can’t say definitively which Heru was referenced, it still kind of stuck with me. It almost seemed to me, as I mentioned to a friend of mine in the last few months, as though the hekau was stating, “I am bad ass and I am so bad ass that I have Heru at my back who will definitely mess up your day if you do not do what I am telling you to do.”

This is unverified of course, but it always kind of made me think of Heru of Behdet, of that solar disk with its wings outstretched, with the dazzling array slammed against the enemies of Re. Maybe it wasn’t really just a Heru standing behind the hekau but all the power and might of the behdeti itself.

Edfu Temple

Edfu Temple

This festival was quiet for me. I haven’t been myself lately. I’ve often felt the need to sit and retire early, a requirement to sleep more and to pay better attention to what my body is telling me. (It’s telling me that I need to slow down even more, honestly.) I wanted to do something big and expansive – after all, Heru-Wer is very important to me as a deity.

But it occurred to me that if this is about the Winged Disk, if this is about its dizzying display, if this is about its victory over the enemies of Re, then I could use that to my advantage. This festival became less about big and expansive; it became more about me. It became a few days in time, a space between the ticking seconds to sit back and breathe, to plan my mode of attack so that I, too, like my deity long ago could unleash a dizzying display and destroy my enemies in a massive display as well.

I guess you could say that I used this time to plot with the intention of one day unleashing that display. I can’t be a good warrior if I don’t know what the end game is supposed to look like and I can’t offer a good display of frightening plumage if I’m too tired to do much more than stare blankly until I fall asleep. Self-care is important – integral – to maintaining the status quo.

I’m taking back the crown
I’m all dressed up and naked
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah
The crown…
So close I can taste it
I see what’s mine and take it
(Finders keepers, losers weepers)
Oh yeah

Emperor’s New Clothes by Panic! at the Disco

I would like to think that Heru-Wer agreed with me on my determination that taking care of myself was important here.

For the first day of the festival, I saw a northern goshawk streak over my car. The shadow it left reminded me of the behdeti. Yesterday, I heard the shriek of a hunting hawk in the distance. And this morning, a rough-legged hawk flew over my car before flying passed my open window.

I’d like to think that he was letting me know that he’s watching over me, providing me with the skills I will need in order to embody the winged sun disk.


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