My religious calendar is action packed during the fall and spring months. It’s also a little busy in the summer, but spring and fall are some of the busiest religious shenanigans for me. There are a wide variety of festivals and feast days that I’ve added to my calendar over the years that I still haven’t gotten around to doing anything for. I found them of interest and tacked them on to remember about them later, and maybe do something for them at some unknown future date. Horus Welcomes the Nile is one of those.
I found this five-day festival because of the Daybook (found here). The blurb wasn’t much but it at least gave me some history to work on and mull over as I tried to figure out the two major questions I always ask when it comes to festivals: Is this something that I feel the need to celebrate? If yes, then how to modernize it for regular use?
It was the local cultus aspect to my practice that seemed to be pushing me towards this festival. It seemed to say that it was time to honor that part of my practice more. And I could agree to that, but how?
The purpose of the festival in antiquity was for the pharaoh to greet the Nile. This festival comes from the Edfu temple and according to the Daybook, the pharaoh would measure the Nile while the country collectively held its breath on how much silt they would get that year. The festival seemed to harken back to the days of Horus of Behdet (Heru-Wer) so it seemed particularly important for me to do something.
The initial issue for me was that I moved to a city without much in the way of natural water resources. Most of the ones nearby are man made structures – once used as quarries that were filled in with water or small ponds and bogs that grow immense in the rain. It’s theorized that they have found no permanent native settlements here because of how far away this area is to a natural water source [and the rocky composition of the ground].
But as I was combing through my crib notes notebook, I found the regional calendar I had written down some months back. And according to that calendar, snow season can begin as early as October 29.
Snow melt is essential for our local water cycle. Articles mostly focus on its necessity for the reservoir that’s about 40 minutes from me, but it’s important for our rivers and the tiny little creek that calls this city home. Snow melt helps the bog areas nearby which is called home by a variety of local flora and fauna. Greeting the snow seemed like the best course of action.
I try to be as symbolic as possible when it comes to my rituals and offerings. This may seem so obvious for some but symbolism is another, deeper way to convey what needs to be conveyed. It’s not all words and pretty images.
Sometimes it may mean pouring through flower language websites for hours, trying to find the perfect flower to bolster the initial message. Sometimes it may mean going through your ritual implements, trying to find the perfect item that would help to give additional layers of meaning to something that may seem so glaring when a stranger looks at it later.
Bread was the choice du jour. If I could have found a haunch of venison or cow, I might have added that to the list. I decided to use a faux rabbit pelt that reminded me of the fur of a lion. Lions are both powerful hunters and could defeat chaos: two things I needed for my rituals. I chose red roses for love. The candle is a scented winter candle that reminds me of cold days and snow everywhere. The lantern was just a convenient housing mechanism.
It rained all week. I couldn’t use the fur because of the rain. I spent my early mornings standing near my favorite spit of land in my yard, preparing everything. And as my fingers began to ache from the deep cold and rain, I whispered the story of This Horus (me) into the world as the sun, hidden behind rain clouds, crawled out from between Nut’s legs to be reborn. This Horus bore witness to the daily cycle and told the snow that, no matter what a New Englander might say about the dreaded snowfall, it was welcome here.
I dislike long rituals. They have their purpose of course, but the longer they take, the stupider I feel. This is an ongoing issue and it’s something that I’ve tried to work on (to varying success), but I didn’t think something long and drawn out was really called for. I appear to have been right.
It snowed on Friday morning. It began before I left for work and continued until about mid-day. The rain that morning seemed to be heavier, prep for the pending snow fall later in the morning. I found out snow was on the way two days before it came (Wednesday) because weather models were both predicting snow and claiming we would get none. I felt powerful as the snow came down.
I modified my ritual on Friday morning because I am scared of driving in the snow. I learned to drive in south Texas where snow is rare. Even with new tires and breaks, there’s still the worry I’ll get into an accident. I asked the snow fall to be a little lighter covering than some previous years’ Halloween snow falls. Maybe the world listened or maybe after being a New Englander all my life, I can just tell how much snow there will be.
The sun was still up when I got home from work and I really marveled at the beauty. I hate the cold. I hate shoveling. But there is something so beautiful about the trees being freshly covered in a layer of snow. It’s even more beautiful when the sun shines through the skeletal fingers of trees, gloved in an inch or two of snow. Breath-taking is the word I’m thinking as I write this. It’s breath-taking.
This Horus told the snow welcome and gave thanks on the final day of the festival. It was cold and I should have worn boots to trudge through to the table. I wore a scarf and gloves and a hoody that is for lighter weather because my winter one needs to be washed before I can use it. I stood behind the table for some time, soaking up the sun and happy that the snow had heard my words, found my lantern’s light, and was welcome.