November 20, 2019/IV Akhet 18
I started thinking about what to do for the Opening Ceremonies in October. Opening ceremonies can be very important and tend to highlight the look and feel of the event even after it has begun. I racked my brain, trying to figure out what would be appropriate and what was something that I could do.
As is my wont, I started with really over-the-top ideas. I have such a bad habit of going overboard with things because I want to show that I am a Real Polytheist™ like everyone else proclaims to be. But the problem with that is that I am a spoony, so I don’t always have the energy to do what I had originally thought up. And I don’t always have the available cash flow to do what I had originally planned. Just because the budget looks bright and shiny a month in advance that doesn’t mean it actually will when you finally get to that point.
The other part of this is that this year’s Mysteries are a sort of test run. Usually, I would have accompanying words and gestures to go along with all of this. But since I have never once participated before this year, Osiris and I agreed that this would be a word-less venture this year: no rites, simple gestures with intent, no words of power to accompany everything else.
So all of my over-the-top ideas were quickly jettisoned as time went by.
I would periodically worry the thread of what I should be doing over the month in advance that I thought about all of this. Sometimes I came up with little ideas that I didn’t feel were too terrible, or at least Osiris didn’t seem to offended or annoyed with what I was suggesting. (And to be quite honest, there were a few times where my ideas actually were very annoying or repulsive to him.)
Not only did I have to do something to commemorate the opening salvo for the Mysteries (since everything to this point has been preparation, more or less), but I also had to come up with some way to show 34 boats as Osiris is accompanied by 34 gods, each in their own individual boats.
From The Ancient Egyptian Daybook:
Boats for Osiris and his companion deities were floated on the Dendera sacred lake on IV Akhet 18. There were 34 boats total:
- Hapy (one of the sons of Horus)
- The Capturer
- Who Acts Violently
- Horus Who Beholds his Father
- Who Creates His Own Name
- Who Is in His Lifetime
- Horus, Beautiful of Front (Face/Front Side)
- Their Thrones
- Maker of Boundaries
- Khonsu the Construstor
- The Divine Falcon over His Arm
- The Terrifying One
- Who Creates Himself
- In Front of Two
- She Who is Great in Age
- The Two Runners
- Name Lost
- Name Lost
- Name Lost
- Name Lost
- Who Doesn’t Give His Flame
- The Two Red-Eyed Ones
- Foremost of the House of the Red Garment
- The Lion of the Night Who Brought Him Low
- The Destroyer
That was a lot of gods and while the idea of origami was palatable, I could also admit that it was completely out. I’m not good with paper folding as I’ve tried repeatedly and it doesn’t work out ever. I don’t know how people with magic fingers can make things out of paper, but I do not have magic fingers and my paper folding tends to end up in a crumpled up ball of frustration at my feet.
I lit all of my candles and then sat down in the living room to make the boats.
It may seem ridiculous to take out a piece of white paper and just draw 34 boats on it, but sometimes that’s about as much energy and pizzazz as you can do. I actually ended up with two copies.
The first one, I tried to be very precise with my boats, keeping them evenly spaced and about 1″ long. I found it irritating and stupid, so I free handed the second sheet. I outlined each little boat in black sharpie so it could be seen clearly from far away.
I am, what you may call, a perfectionist. I stared at the boats a couple of times on my second sheet and seriously considered throwing it away as well. It wasn’t… it didn’t come out right. I looked back at the first sheet of my carefully spaced, 1″ long boats and realized that having them so “perfect” looking didn’t work. The boats would have all looked the same in antiquity, but they wouldn’t have all looked exactly alike.
I also kind of felt, as I looked harder, that having them kind of not-so-evenly spaced on the paper gave it the appearance of boats floating randomly on the water. It took me a bit to warm up to it, but I eventually got there.
Once I was done with the boats, I turned back to the Opening Ceremonies themselves. I had a couple of ideas which was basically music and rattling my little paper of boats around over the altar space I use for Osiris.
Music is also a very important part to any religious festival, so I worried about what I would choose. Inevitably, as I thought about it, I realized that having horns and drums announcing something was probably the greatest way to go about it, so we listened to Fanfare for the Common Man on repeat a few times.
As I walked into my candle lit space, I decided that I was being ridiculous for just holding a sheet of paper over the space, letting it waft in the breeze I created. But I can remember a million times before now where being ridiculous or silly or a little joke-y about things wasn’t so bad. So I went with it. And it seems to have worked out.