Wep Ronpet 2015.

July 30, 2015 – August 2, 2015

When I was reading The House of Horus at Edfu by Barbara Watterson, I discovered that the celebrations for Wep Ronpet went much longer than I had realized. I had always thought that it was a six day long festivity: five days for the birth of the children of Nut and Geb and a single day for the actual new year celebrations. The day after the new year, the populace went back to work and the world was reset and everything was as hunky-dory as it could get.

Evidently, at Edfu, they celebrated WR for 9 days and there was reference to other places that continued the celebrations up to 11 days after the start of the epagomenal days. That kind of made the panic in my chest slow down to a crawl, which was nice. I always have a lot of ideas about what in the world I plan on doing during the celebration of Wep Ronpet, but I never feel as though I have enough time to see it through. The knowledge that these types of celebrations were a few days’ long made it possible for me to see to everything I wanted to see to.

The sun just touched the morning;
The morning, happy thing,
Supposed that he had come to dwell,
And life would be all spring.

– The Sun’s Wooing by Emily Dickinson

Dua RaI have a love-hate relationship with the sun. I’m not a morning person, although I’m not usually cranky after my first cup of coffee has been ingested. Some mornings, I sit and watch as it climbs above the trees outside the window, marveling at the majestic beauty. Other days, I wish it to be covered with gray cloud cover, a hint of rain on the breeze heading in my direction.

The morning of the 30th dawned bright, though, and I didn’t feel like the rejuvenating rays of Re needed to be covered. After I felt awake enough to see it through, I brought all of my icons, excepting Sekhmet of course, over to greet the dawn. I tried to imagine what it must be like to sit and feel the sun’s rays, feel it renewing me just as much as it must have been renewing my icons. This was something the priests did in antiquity – bringing the sacred icons out to greet the sun. But I have to wonder if, besides all of the pomp and circumstance, did they try to imagine what it was like to be renewed too?

When I went out to see to my dog that morning, I closed my eyes and turned my face to Re. I don’t know if he was inclined to give me a bit of his power, but it felt good. I felt like I could feel it working its way into the pores of my skin, giving me a little added boost for the days, the months, the year to come. Maybe he did give me a little added bonus. As I opened my eyes and turned toward the house, ready to get on with the day, I swear I saw the icon of Djehuty wink at me.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
“Hope” is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson
Last year, I created a sa for my car. I had decided to make it before I got rid of my rusty Oldsmobile so the original intent was because that bucket of bolts was in the middle of its final death cries and I needed it to last a little longer. But just before Wep Ronpet last year, I bought Karen who was in much better shape and didn’t need as much gas to fill her. I decided that just because I had bought a new car didn’t mean I couldn’t make myself a sa. One should always be mindful of the needs we have for keeping ourselves safe.
This year, I decided to create another sa which will go into the significant other’s car. I didn’t really tell him I was doing this until the day before the intercalary days began, “Oh, by the way, I’m making you an amulet of protection for your car because you clearly need it.” He asked me why and I just kind of stared blankly for a minute and said, “Well, it’s as demonstrative as I can be at the moment with my affections. Don’t ask questions. No, you don’t have to hang it from the rear view mirror like I do.”
Kemetic Arts and CraftsWhen I made my sa last year, I had chosen to use red felt (red being a major power color) to create it. I was looking more for durability than anything else. I found it difficult to force the felt into the shape that I wanted, but with slowly lost patience, I managed to get the shape I needed. I swore then I would never, ever do this with felt again but since I needed to retain durability and I knew (or vaguely remembered) how to make my fingers force the thing into the shape I needed, I figured I was okay.
The SO’s sa is a little thinner and a little smaller than the original. I had unmade the original amulet to follow its steps as well as to recreate the symbols I had drawn inside. I annointed each symbol with some crown of success oil. I then rolled them up, cursed quietly under my breath while I tried to get the silky cords to do my bidding with clumsy fingers, and then managed to tie the beasts together. Professor, in his Aspect as Maurice the Netjeri, has been looking over the amulets and helping me to charge them, to keep them filled with their purpose. (Guide to make one yourself.)
YOU cannot put a fire out
A thing that can ignite
Can go, itself, without a fan
Upon the slowest night.
You cannot put a fire out by Emily Dickinson

Over the months, I’ve managed to create a lot of heka for various reasons. Some of it is for myself, but most of it is for friends and family. A lot of the stuff in the pot is months old, waiting for the moment where it can be released and set free. I have a very large, old, and ornate jar that I keep my heka hut works in and every year, I try to burn it all. Last year, I found it difficult to do so because there was so much of it and because it was all folded paper. I decided to write out heka on strips of paper, hoping it would be easier to burn.

I chose to do this at my in laws’ house for a variety of reasons. With there being so much to burn, I’m finding that my little cast iron pot isn’t large enough. I also find it irritating to burn things while the bar across the street is hopping or my neighbors are home. I don’t really feel like answering questions. The in laws have a very private back yard with a burn pit anyway. So, I took the jar and Professor in his Aspect as Maurice the Netjeri on over to get everything settled in and burned.

This may be surprising, but I’m not very good at the fire bug thing. I actually had to have the SO light everything up for me. Once he managed to get it lit in multiple places, the flames took over and I just watched as everything that required destruction was destroyed. I got eaten alive by mosquitoes but it was pleasant just sitting in the heat and humidity of the evening, a slightly cooling breeze coming in off the pond in the back, while everything was burned asunder.

I not only fed the heka hut accumulation into the pot, but I tried to feed it my newly minted depression as well. I received some… not good news after work on Friday. I’ve been job hunting at a particular place, but I can’t start off with a full time position evidently. That’s not how the company works and I began to feel like a listless asshole, stuck in this hell hole that I’ve been working in for two and a half years. I can just see the months of hell stretching in front of me before I break down entirely, destroyed and defeated by this place.

My mental health, or so I’ve been informed, is important. And because I know that I could get into this place easily, I chose to throw all of my hopes into a single basket. Well, unfortunately, my hopes were shattered. I realized while I watched the flames dance in the night that I needed to stop doing that. I also recognized that I needed to stop feeling sorry for myself, but it can be really hard to do that when you’re primed for it.

I didn’t do anything on Saturday. I rarely feel like I can just take a day off and not bother with anything. There’s usually offerings to provide in the morning or cleaning to do in the afternoon/evening. But on top of feeling sorry for myself, I also somehow managed to wrench my knee in a very unpleasant way that I was feeling all the way into my bones Saturday afternoon. So, I chose to spend another day of the WR celebrations sitting around and reading Chapterhouse Dune.

With the final day of my celebrations (I can handle 9 days, but I think 11 is a little overboard personally), I decided to do a large execration against A/pep. I haven’t done one in a while and I was due for one. I had also indicated to Sekhmet before she closeted herself away that I would at least consider it and do something A/pep related while she was away. This is when owning Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts by J.F. Borghouts comes in handy because I didn’t have to figure out what to do on my own or make something up on the fly: I chose to utilize spell 144.

It’s a little weird to use some of the older spells. I’m not talking about the ones that call for crocodile dung or other seemingly weird ingredients. It’s mostly the wording of the spells. I gets the point across, though, and it actually has given me a seemingly better understanding as to what could be considered heka with a purpose, or heka hut shenanigans, versus merely paying attention to what words I’m using when I speak aloud and/or write something down.

But I stumbled and I mumbled. In the end, though, I felt like my representation A/pep was good and destroyed. I flushed the remnants into the abyss that is the public sewage system and reminded the pieces that they were destroyed; they were less than nothing; I had not only survived the battle but won.

I won the battle over this last year.

I know I will succeed and win the battles over the upcoming year.

Just watch me.

Kemetic Round Table: Execrations.

The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. For all the entries relating to this particular topic, take a peek here!

Execrations are a form of curse, as far as I am concerned. For me, there is no quibbling about it; the very act of execrating something, by virtue of the modern-day definition of what cursing is, means that it is a curse. In many pagan circles, more specifically of the Wiccan variety, such things are frowned upon. However, there are no such compunctions in most of the religious traditions that will generally be categorized under the broad heading of “polytheistic.” In many ancient cultures, it was quite all right to use your words or actions in an effort to enact judgment or penalties against people and things that you felt had wronged you. That is precisely what the point behind execrations is in the ancient Egyptian religion. And, from one Kemetic polytheist to another, I can safely assure you that doing them is pretty damn cathartic, too.

Dating as far back as the Old Kingdom, the left over shards of broken pottery have been found buried in necropoles at Giza and Saqqara, bearing a distinctive formula. The basis for these destroyed pots appears to be on the Pyramid Text utterance 244, “O [Osiris the King], here is this Eye [of Horus]; [take] it, that you may be strong and that he may fear you – break the red jars.” (The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Textstranslated by R.O. Faulkner.) This particular passage seems to indicate that by breaking these red jars, strength will be granted to the deceased, or more specifically as this particular utterance relates to the burial of the royalty, the strength of the spirit of the pharaoh. Later, this particular utterance is re-established in The Coffin Texts in spell 926 as, “Wash yourself, sit down at the meal, put your hands on it; divert the god’s offering, break the red pots…” (The Ancient Egyptian Coffin Texts translated by R.O. Faulkner.) In this particular spell, it appears to indicate less about gaining strength from the subjugation of the enemies listed upon the red pots, but as a part of the mortuary cult itself. It is not until the New Kingdom where we find evidence of the execration of the red pots to have moved outside of its mortuary cult associations when Amenhotep III broke two red pots at the temple of Amun-Re at Luxor during a festival or rite.

In many instances of these execrations – formally known as the Execration Texts – the enemies listed within were classic ancient Egyptian enemies: Nubia and Syria-Palestine. The distinctive formula mentioned above, often times referred to as the “rebellion formula,” are used and reused through the dynasties of ancient Egypt. Examples of these particular texts can be found in Egyptian forts within hostile territories, such as in Nubia and Syria-Palestine. In some instances, the formula and naming convention of this particular form of execration is so specific that some potsherds inscribed with these utilize the specific names of enemy kings: ones that were long since dead in examples found in the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom.

While I am no Egyptologist, I believe that this shows the ancient Egyptians’ belief in “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Each ritual action of these execrations would have been symbolic anyway and while the names of the particular enemies may not have changed, that didn’t necessarily mean that the ritual was null and void. On the contrary, according to Robert Ritner in The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice, “…the execration lists contain nothing which, in itself, could be called magical, serving merely to identify the individual, nation, or force with the inscribed pot or figure. The desired magical effect of the assemblages must thus derived not from the text but from the ritual to which they were subjected.” As we know nothing about what actual ritual was performed to imbue the potsherds with the magic required to desecrate the enemies of the Egyptian state, we can only guess that the lack of name changes throughout the years is another indication that that words weren’t nearly as important as the actual ritual used.

This, of course, poses a very severe problem for modern day Kemetics. How does one perform a ritual that we aren’t entirely sure about how it was performed? But, more importantly, why would we perform a ritual that appears to have been a state run affair?

Not all found remnants of these rituals show the classic “rebellion formula” associated with the standard enemies of ancient Egypt. Some fragments are specific to a given individuals, either of foreign or native descent. In those cases, the particular execration becomes more in line with a type of poppet than anything else. Again, we do not know the nature of the ritual utilized against these clay pots, but it appears that the enumeration of the bad things these individuals may or may not have done, possibly coupled with a few insults, was enough to attach that person and their misdeeds to the figurine or clay pot. The images associated with these individual-associated execrations always show a bound figure in some form or another, either as the image itself or within the body of the text itself. Binding, apparently, was incredibly important to the task at hand, which makes sense.

If you want to perform a magical rite against someone, you don’t want them capable of fighting back.

So, we do have evidence that execrations were done against individuals, although it was not until later periods in Egyptian history when it became a more popular amongst the laity. This is quite common in ancient Egyptian history. In the Old Kingdom and the Middle Kingdom, literacy rates were at all-time low. But more specifically, the state religion was specific to the needs and requirements of the state and less about the needs and requirements of the laity. While I am not saying that the laity did not have access or the ability to beseech the gods, I am saying that there may have been huge tracts of the traditions that were denied to them. Again, the literacy, or lack thereof, is another aspect to this. As the act of execration is entirely dedicated to the written word, then how you can take part?

It wasn’t until the New Kingdom, with the advent of scribes-for-hire when such things as the Book of the Dead and pots for execration that we find the general populace taking part in the religion at large. (On a side note: OK and MK era laity would not have questioned whatever it was we see them as lacking in. It was not their place. The function of their lives was to till the land and survive, while it was the function of the priesthood and the pharaoh to make sure that the country was not destroyed either physically by enemies or cosmically by the gods.)

What does all of this history lesson garbage have to do with modern-day practices?

Even Neil DeGrasse Tyson is willing to take a step back and listen.

Even Neil DeGrasse Tyson is willing to take a step back and listen.

Well, since many of us who are historically informed, it bears thinking on whether or not it’s something that we should even attempt to reproduce. As we do have historical evidence that the ancient Egyptian laity did participate – if rather late in the game, I suppose – in execrations, I don’t see why we shouldn’t participate in such rites. We do still have the problem of knowing what the actual ritual entailed. Our best bet in this particular instance is to go with what feels right. Some Kemetics may take aspects from previously written rituals, such as thought found in Eternal Egypt by Richard Reidy, or they may prefer to go with a self-made execration ritual that feels “correct” to them. In other instances, they may ask the netjeru themselves on how best to go about all of this. Whatever the case – I think that, yes we should absolutely utilize these in our practices and that the how of the matter is less important as each of us are individuals and may find something that works for one of us may not work for all of us.

Now while I fully endorse everyone in creating a ritual that works for them on how best to go about an execration, the real question is whether or not it is ethical to do so. As I noted above, execrations are curses as far as I am concerned. And if one looks to the ancient Egyptians for indicators on what could or should befall the people or entities they are creating these texts for, it looks as though “curse” is an accurate definition here. As far as the ethics relating to it, I don’t think it’s such a terrible thing to attempt to take back your personal power from people or things that are taking it away from you.

When someone harms us, we have few options available to us in an effort to take action against them. In this day and age, we can seek legal help or we can “turn the other cheek.” (Whatever that actually means…?) After having been on the receiving end of everyone else’s power and its hold over my life for years, I can safely attest to how intensely wonderful it can feel to take some form of action – even if it is only as a wish fulfillment action – against others. Legal recourse is all well and good, but sometimes you may not particularly like the verdict the courts hand down. Allowing people to continue to harm you in whatever manner they decide is as equally unsatisfying. After a while, you get to the point where you have to say to yourself, “Well, we’re at this again? Why am I doing this?” It gets so monotonous and/or painful that actions have to be taken either to protect yourself, your friends and family, or to inflict a modicum of pain/rage/monotony back at the person or people who have been taking advantage of you in the first place.

I wasn’t joking when I said that execrations can be incredibly cathartic.

The thing is that many modern-day Kemetics may not even use the acts against people, but in many cases, they may take it out on things. I know a few times, I’ve done execrations against the “gremlins” that have been infesting my car. I have also done execrations against my head-in-the-sand mentality, my inability to feel my emotions properly, my lack of energy, my anger, etc. The beauty behind this form of curse is that it doesn’t have to be specific to people, but it can be specific to emotions, mentality, places, and things.

Of course, just as with all forms of magic, sympathetic and otherwise, actions on your part are required to see the fixes through. We can do execrations against “gremlins” infesting a car, but it won’t do much good if you don’t take your car to the mechanic to get shit fixed in the first place. We can do execrations against our lack of spoons or energy, but it won’t do much good if we don’t figure out how to budget those spoons or that energy. It’s a temporary fix in cases such as this unless you also do what you can on the mundane end of things to see these things through.

Many modern-day Kemetics only utilize execrations at extreme moments in their life or during the new year celebrations at Wep-Ronpet. Ritual execrations against the serpent of isfet, Apep, were done as well. However, by limiting the time frames for when we perform execrations, we are doing ourselves a severe disservice. As I’ve indicated numerous times, it is very cathartic to perform these rites. While they can, and will, take a lot out of you if you aren’t careful with the budgetary requirements of energy needs to perform rituals of this sort, this shouldn’t mean that we shouldn’t perform them regularly. Just because we’ve done the mundane aspects needed to either get back at someone or remove a block from our lives doesn’t mean that we should stop with just a single execration. Things may change – circumstances may change, but the issue clouding the matter may still be around. In re-doing the execration, you’re adding more power behind your original intent.

And well, who doesn’t love more power?