Regional Calendars: The Backbone.

Recently, TTR began posting a series of articles about how to add a regional flavor to your calendar and how to bring all of that together to better help you through the lens of celebrations. This topic is near and dear to my heart since the local cultus push has been steadily increasing now that spring has sprung.

I’ve also been looking forward to it because the regional flavoring is supposed to help me in some way to better outfit my calendar throughout the year. My calendar is very busy because I was told when reworking it to add “everything that could conceivably be related to something or someone you have ties to”. I didn’t think my months would look as busy as they ended up, but they did.

After doing this, I started getting regular notifications every morning about anywhere between 2 – 6 holidays related to my gods in some form or way. Most of the holidays don’t actually interest me the way that I had once found myself interested in the handful of Sekhmet holidays throughout the year or the Beautiful Reunion. They were effectively useless.

Ra and Osiris both mentioned that this would eventually change, but I had to at least know what was available for me to celebrate before I could pare it down. While this made sense, I find myself annoyed by each daily notification and have to actively assess each one to ensure I’m not missing something of Great Import [to Me].

When TTR and I began talking about adding to calendars from a regional aspect, I was immediately on board. Ra seemed to be particularly interested as well as he seemed to intimate that this would begin the Great Re-Work of Calendar Nonsense 2020. After having reworked my calendar pretty consistently for the last 3 years (there’s always something that comes up that makes me realize it’s not right), I’m hoping this will be the last push.

Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Gathering Information

After reading the first post in the series, I was surprised by the focus on weather. When I think local cultus or local ecology, I forget about weather in its entirety. I usually focus on local flora and fauna with only a passing thought given to what the weather and its patterns entail in the region. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how important something like weather is to all of this. Weather and its patterns allow the local flora and fauna to exist in the ways that they do; without it, well, things would be drastically different around here.

Part of the other reason that I had a lazer focus on plant and wildlife is because that’s what I see every day. Since moving, it has been the growth and death and rebirth of the plants around us that have snagged my attention in a way that, while they always interested me of course, I have become far more intent on that focus. I also have a different ability after having moved to watch local wildlife; something that was harder in the middle of the city because local wildlife is very, very good about hiding in plain sight.

So, I added a few crib notes on local flora and fauna to the notebook I’ve designated as my “personal practice” notebook and moved on. (This notebook is full of a lot of shit right now that will hopefully, one day, become cohesive and make sense. That, of course, remains to be seen.) I was ready for the weather-specific post and curious to see what I would find.

 

Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: Creating the Backbone

While the general layout for weather gathering was in the first post, it wasn’t until TTR had published the second post that I actually got around to getting that information together. I felt like I needed the visuals they supplied in that second post to better understand what I had already looked up a few times, confused and not quite sure what I was looking at.

I focused first on the hottest and coldest days of the year for where I live.


The hottest day is July 20th and the coldest day is January 29th around these parts. That tracks with what I’ve found throughout the year, but the item of interest I found was before the pretty little graph and the specific dates. Weather Spark adds a general timeframe for “hot season” and “cold season” and other items that I’ll get into as this post continues on. According to this website, the warm season is 3.6 months long (May to September) and the cold season is 3.4 months long (November to March), on average.

The reason I found these details interesting is because it doesn’t track with what I know to be true due to climate change. Our hotter times tend to last until close to October in recent years. Colder weather isn’t lasting as long and we’ve had unseasonably warm weather in March. While March also brought with it bitterly icy winds, the visual stimulus of cold weather (snow) was notably absent.

Something that TTR didn’t include based on their post was cloud cover. Clouds and cloudiness is a big thing where I live because of the typical weather patterns we should experience. According to the website, we have a “cloudy season” for about 7.6 months of the year with a large portion of this season taking place in winter. The cloudiest day tends to be January 3 while the opposite day is September 5. Both dates track with my own review of what I’ve come to expect from my local weather patterns.

I went through the whole damn website and compiled a list of dates that either will prove useful or I’ll jettison them off into the sun at a later date in time:

  • Hottest Day – July 20
  • Coldest Day – January 29
  • Cloudiest Day – January 3
  • Clearest Day – September 5
  • Rainiest Day – June 3 & October 3
  • Snowiest Day – January 25
  • Muggiest Day – July 29
  • Least Muggiest Day – December 13
  • Windiest Day – February 26
  • Calmest Day – August 12
  • Predominant Wind Direction – West
  • Brightest Day – June 29
  • Darkest Day – December 22
  • Growing Season – April 30 – October 11

I decided to forego the additions about spring & fall only because of how things have been going as far as both seasons due to climate change. Since I’m not sure where climate change will eventually land us, I felt it safest to, as much as I hate this, bar them entrance to any regional calendar I may make until I can figure out a good average.

And I truly hate this. I love spring and I love fall the most. They are my two very favorite seasons, however I can admit that both have been excessively short in recent years. For a few years running, May started the hot season and air conditioning units would begin to run closer to the first of May and than the first of June. September, usually a beautiful time for fall foliage, has been hotter on average than when I was a child. I’ve spent many a-September day, sweating and cranky or in a pool to cool off than I can recall being the norm from my youth.

This year, we do appear to be getting a spring because May has been cooler than it has been the last few years. Mornings, I wake up deliciously chilly with all of my windows open wide to temps in the 40s. I wear a sweater or hoody to start the day before jettisoning it around 10 or 11 in the morning. And I love it, but I also recognize that this will most likely not be the norm for a very long time.

So for now, my seasons will simply have to fall within the dynamic of winter, summer, and rainy.

Creating a Calendar Around Local Ecology: The Backbone

With the backbone all but created, I’m taking a break from working further on the calendar. The next steps, for me at least, require a good deal of further research since I’m still relatively new to this area. I only know the bare bones of historically significant sites, local landforms, and have only just started to source local foci that feel like they need my attention.

Ra had been the driving force in getting me to get these details together and now seems perfectly content with letting me take a break before I move onto the next section in the series. He seems to prefer that I better focus on the ritual prep for the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion, which is currently 23 days out for me.

For the hilarity, I recently pulled out the current iteration of my religious calendar and looked up some of the dates that I had come up with for this project. Each date on my religious calendar actually does correspond with an existing ancient Egyptian holiday. Some of them actually line up pretty well, I think, with those existing holiday forms, so I may keep them when I complete the reworking of the overall calendar. But then again, I might not.

I’m glad that the first portion of this calendar rework project is at least completed. I have a lot more to do besides and it sounds like this will most likely take me the entire year (much like my last calendar rework did). I’ve already at least made a small list of important festivals that have to be kept (The Osiris Mysteries, WR/Intercalary/Propitiation of Sekhmet, and the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion) and those that can go (the smaller one-offs, many of which have to do with Hathor since she had a holiday just about every day) and I’m looking forward to seeing how things look once I’ve finally gotten this project completed.

Local Cultus: Neighborhood.

When I was 9, we moved to a suburb after living for most of my life close to downtown. There was a multi-tenant house before the apartment but I don’t remember it that much. What few memories I do have from my youngest years are in the apartment on the bus route that took my mom to work every day.

The neighborhood we moved to was on the edge of another neighborhood so we straddled the divide between “the good zip code” and “the so-so zip code”. We lived in a good area frankly, and most of the houses and shops were from the post-WWII building boom in that area. It was the first time we had a yard and there were trees and plants everywhere. No weeping willows though, which had been the only tree in the tiny dirt backyard of the apartment we lived in before. My first walk through the neighborhood had me feeling like we had moved to a magical place.

I can remember stopping under a tree and becoming dazzled by the way the sunlight filtered through the leaves. The feeling I had that day wasn’t so much that I was home but that I was finally discovering something meant for only me. The following year, I recreated that walk, hoping to find the magical quality that had so enchanted me that first time. It wasn’t there.

It took me a while to find the flow of that neighborhood. It was quiet until the kids came out like you expect a suburb to be but it felt tired and cranky for all of the childlike adventures the neighborhood kids went on. It was like it had been put through its paces for so long that it needed a rest. And that’s the truth; the neighborhood was filled with blue collar workers who has “paid the dues” to buy houses away from the busy city center. Nowadays, it is resting as all the people who snapped up homes there say goodbye to their children and grow older, quieter, and more housebound.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

My original forays into local cultus had me focused on local landforms. The idea felt a bit like all of the mountains and rivers and parks and fields needed attention; they needed some form of homage or tribute paid to them. The wildlife of these places, too, needed attention and affection in some way. The world in which I inhabited, an urban hellhole with animals that hardly made an appearance day or night, required no love, no attention, no tribute. It existed merely as a place to live for those who couldn’t or wouldn’t ever live close to a rural, or more suburban, flow.

Years have gone by and while I had started and stopped attempts to get in touch with my city, to pay it homage in some form, it never worked out. I had a bad attitude about it. I was trying to force things to fit in while being disgusted with my urban home. Neither of those, being disgusted or forcing things, was ever going to make it work. It was never going to happen if I didn’t let the process evolve naturally. And frankly, it wasn’t until the last year or so that it really began to develop.

I think the idea began when I really started noticing how many bunnies called my yard home. Or, it could have been the night a skunk silently waddled through my yard while my heart leapt into my throat in fear of being sprayed. I had never actually seen a skunk that wasn’t dead before then. But it may have begun when I started taking daily walks along the river that sometimes included walks in the city instead and I noticed so many little details of the yards, the houses, and little things that spoke to the history of the neighborhood I lived in.

I came to be fascinated about what happened before I even came into existence and would spend hours reading and downloading historical tidbits from bloggers, webpages, and city funded surveys. With each new thing I learned, an appreciation for the city I had called home for most of my life developed into a sort of childlike wonder at all the things that had come before to form what I see everyday all around me. It was a trip.

The more that I learned, the more I came to realize that to leave out the neighborhood in my local cultus forays wasn’t a good idea. Whether I liked it or not, I lived there and to think that ignoring its existence for some imagined “grass is greener” ideal was faulty and rude. I began to focus more and more on my neighborhood and all the ones that had come before, trying to piece together what my intuition was telling me.

The spirit of these neighborhoods may have changed dramatically through the years, but they were still there in some form. And some of them wanted the attention that I had been paying to other things. They wanted just as much to feel that breath of life blown back into them that I had been giving to others.

When I realized this, I mused and researched the idea of paying homage or tribute to your neighborhood. It didn’t seem particularly common from what I found. It was as if everyone wanted to ignore their home setting for something else. Or maybe those who had been pulled in this direction were silent on the topic, uncertain on how to speak of it. In either case, I began trying to figure out how to make this work especially in an urban setting.

The first and most important piece I found was that research was the key. In many cities, we live in areas that have been around a far bit longer than we have been alive. Researching the areas that I felt most connected to, or the area that I lived in, gave me a sort of general feeling and idea about what the neighborhoods had originally been created for. While that purpose is no longer the case for any of the neighborhoods in my city, it’s a good starting point. To know a thing is to know its history.

The second piece was to begin searching out specific areas mentioned in the research. Those pieces of the neighborhood may still exist, or they may have been torn down. But those areas were central, once, to its existence and it may still play some large part to the overall spirit of the neighborhood. I found that that is the case for only one of the neighborhoods (ish) that I lived in over the years; the rest had changed and morphed into whatever the city needed after their primary focus had been taken away.

The third was to focus on the plant and animal life that made the neighborhood home. As I mentioned above, most wildlife in the area that I had been living in hid away from human eyes. We had encroached so heavily into their territory that even many birds tended to stay away from the urban sprawl. But if you look hard enough, you’ll begin to find their habitation all around you. You just have to know what to look for.

And finally, when I felt ready, I began to explore the sense I was getting from the spirit of the neighborhood. I would close my eyes at random times of the day, take a deep breath (sometimes with a bit of smog mixed in), and try to connect with the feeling of the place around me.

I’ve done this twice now since I began realizing that I was doing myself, and my home, a disservice by ignoring it: once in a truly urban setting and again in a suburban setting. It’s worked out well so far.

The Village Within the City

After moving back up north, we found ourselves a tiny-ass apartment at the end of a quiet city street and the end of the main street through the neighborhood. It was literally on the very edge of the city; our yard was the last one in the city and the sign proclaiming entrance to the city next door was on the edge of the property. Across the river was another city, easily accessible from the 75 year old bridge that was the easiest way in and out. It was a nexus of sorts, simultaneously quiet and overlooked as well as busy and noisy.

The neighborhood proclaimed itself a village, which was technically true. It was one of the last neighborhoods to be truly settled in the city and was a village unto itself until the industrial boom of the early 1900s that was its claim to fame. A large river separated the village from the city across from it and it was on that river, towards the edge of the village, that the mills and factories were built with tenement buildings for the workers. The main street was picturesque with trees and sidewalks. The railroad had a depot in front of the mill and factory area along the river. Another railroad, still functioning, cuts the edge of the village off from the city-next-door.

The houses that line the streets are a hodgepodge. There were three-deckers for apartments, bungalows and ranches, multi-unit buildings, American foursquares, and the like. Every available space in the village had been taken up for some urban use, either commercial or residential. Victorians and Queen Annes made up smaller sections of busier roads, everyone with a postage stamp sized yard to call their own. Trees decorated the city sidewalks and offered shade for those who needed it.

For all the beauty of the river, the planning board didn’t give much thought to parks or conservation. Three parks call the village home. One is difficult to get to, another has a water feature and is used by many, and the final largest park was in talks to be sold off for a parking lot years back. The largest park is the only local home of a decent basketball court and the parking lot lies full for hours at night and on the weekends during good weather, yet another reason the city thought about selling it off since the majority of the population are Hispanic, black, and poor. The only conservation taking place are the hilly spaces on the outskirts where building more plants or mobile home parks are nearly impossible. There is nowhere for preteens and teenagers to really go to hang out.

The village lost its image after the mills and factories closed. It had a face to present to the world. It was a good face: the face of hard workers (men, women, and children) happily working in the mills for pennies on the dollar. When the factories and mills along the river dried up and closed down, the buildings were shuttered and the tenements were raised to make room for parking or commercial needs. A large swatch of cracked blacktop sits where pictures were once taken to document the child workers in the mills.

Two major businesses still call the village home, though on the very edge of the village, and one of them pollutes the air or the river with their runoff. The smoke stacks puff heavily into the morning sky, and either blanket the mobile home park or the part of the village that I once called home with chemicals. No one had raised an alarm against this business; they are after all interconnected with very big government names and who cares, really? The village was built on the idea of the factory and the mill: isn’t it grand that a single token of that heyday still stands? And besides, who cares about the poor?

Once when I was talking with an old-timer about the area, he told me a little anecdote that encapsulates this point:

“I can’t believe they built the elementary school there. There were better places to put it,” he said to me.

“Why do you say that?” I had asked, not knowing a lick of history about the area at the time. It had never interested me before.

“Well, one of the old factories turned uranium rods into slugs. And it was down the street from where the elementary school is now. You know it; the place that’s fenced off looks like it should be a parking lot? That was the dump. The solar farm is where the factory was and they dumped the uranium there. They say it’s ‘remediated’ now, but how can anyone think a school within a mile of that place is a good idea?”

I drove by that place every day on my way to or from work.

The village never rebranded itself. It didn’t seem to want to. Walking down the streets early in the morning or late at night, a desire for an identity seemed fleeting. It was as if it had had its heyday and couldn’t be bothered to come up with a new image, a new face. The councils have tried rebranding and marketing the busy little village as more than a pass-through for people on their way to work in the morning or people on their way home at night, but nothing has truly stuck.

The village often felt like it had been forgotten. As if it had once served a valuable, capitalist ideal and had never recovered from that ideal later. It was a mecca for travel but not for anyone looking to stay for long. People who drive by perhaps look at the older store fronts with picturesque windows and brightly painted signs, hoping to entice people to stay for a bit and shop. But the store front windows are mostly dusty and unused, a reminder that what had once been important isn’t any longer.

The overall feeling of this little village with a vast mix of people is tired. It is a place to go home to but little else. It only bustles on the weekends for all the people driving to somewhere else. The village often seemed to me like it had had enough. Not unlike that first neighborhood that I mentioned above, it was done with it all. Only instead of cranky, the village felt more resigned than anything else. It was as if it had seen it all and nothing could surprise it anymore.

As the village seemed to not want to interact, I respected its wishes. There were places where a hint, a whisper of a desire called to me and I paid these tiny little spaces homage with little offerings of food or pictures. These tiny little bastions of want weren’t common and on the by and large, I did my best to leave the sad, little village alone. It wanted to be left behind and progress refused to allow its wants. So the best I could do was to walk the sidewalks and wonder what things had once been like a hundred years before and whisper that I could understand how it felt.

The Bedroom Community

As some readers may remember, my husband and I finally bought a house last summer. The area we moved to is filled with an historical pretension it doesn’t have. There are only about half a dozen houses that date to between the 1750s-1850s, but most of the houses built here are trying desperately to hearken back to ye olde days.

There are a lot of houses built during the 1900s revival era: Georgian colonials, Cape Cods, Dutch colonials, and New England colonials. Some people may like to think their homes are older, but none of them were in fact built then since our little bedroom community was originally wild forest before it was turned into pastoral grazing land for the town next door. And this isn’t to say that we don’t have the standard ranch, split level, bungalows, raised ranch, or A-frames in the neighborhood because we do. However they’re more like beacons amid the historical throwback attempts of the other homes on the block.

My town was incorporated only 126 years ago, but people had moved here only starting in the mid-1700s. Most of those original houses were lost and there’s only a single one that claims to be from then. The rest of the handful of older houses are from the 1800s and every single one registered with the historical society are within walking distance of where I currently live.

This place is a bedroom community for the metro area beside it. And as I stated above, it has staked a claim on a history that was not properly recorded and so, therefore, is most likely inaccurate in many respects. But that doesn’t stop my neighbors from putting cute little decorative carriage house hardware on their garages and front doors, or the pristine green of their perfectly manicured front yards.

After the quarries dried up in the early 1900s, the city rebranded itself as a bedroom community for the metro area. It also focused heavily on conservation efforts across town, many such efforts centering on one of the hundreds of quarries that once called this place home.

Many houses in my areas have been built to conserve as much nature as possible with thick copses of trees and wildlife strategically found up and down the city streets. I have a bog and a few hundred feet of wooded area between me and the houses behind us although strengthening wind storms due to climate change have downed many of the trees back there. There are 470 acres currently devoted to conservation areas and they attract many hikers.

They built one of those rail-trails a few years back across a good portion of the town. The original train depot still exists and they’re working to conserve its legacy as the stopping point for visitors and the loading point for the stones mined from the quarries to places unknown. Nowadays it’s used so often by locals and non that I prefer to stay away from it. There’s too much going on over there.

The wildlife is everywhere, making itself felt in the hoards of geese and ducks that call the baseball fields by the tiny man-made lakes home. The birds and bees and rabbits and squirrels and chipmunks all scramble through the yards and streets on their way to finding the next delicious morsel for sustenance. The deer keep to the outskirts of town, but they’re easily found if you look hard enough. They claim there are bobcats around here, but I couldn’t say for sure. I can only assume that there may be.

The overall feeling of this community is hopeful. They saw the writing on the wall when the quarries began to close down and realized that they needed to do something to keep their home functional. They hadn’t seen it all having only had its incorporation legal for twenty years, if that, by the time the quarries began to close and knew that they had to do something to keep their home alive.

As I walk through the twilight hours down to the cemetery nearby or down the hills towards the center, the feelings that come to me are peaceful. I am still a bit in awe of all of the beauty around us with the trees and shrubs and flowers coming into bloom now. But I have always felt relaxed and at peace here (my grandparents lived here when I was a kid so we visited a bit) and that feeling has never diminished.

In Conclusion…

I know this has been a long entry and for anyone who has continued to read to this point, thank you for sticking it out.

I wanted to convey the point that while the idea of living in either an urban or suburban settlement may preclude the idea that we can find local cultus there this isn’t necessarily true. It may require more time, focusing on the research of the history of your home or just spending time outdoors with eyes closed to catch the sense of the world around you, but it is possible. And I think, on the by and large, we may be doing our homes and ourselves a disservice by not finding that spirit, that sense, that feeling of home and giving it the attention that it truly deserves.

This is fraught with issues for a variety of reasons (and I won’t get into them all). I can’t tell you how many times I left a little offering out on the crossroads beside my home in the village with semi-trailer drivers staring at me from their temporary red-light home while I started back, nonplussed. Or the amount of looks I get from old-timers in the bedroom community as I stop for a moment to soak up the way the sunlight hits the blooming flowers in their yards in awe and wonder.

But it helps to feel that connection with your home, to build upon its connection with you so that you can, in turn, build upon it as a form of foundation to branch out into other local cultus arenas.

Stand in the Sun.

As a baby pagan, after I had gluttoned myself on all the books by all of the authors that older pagans cringe at now, I found a website that told me believing and worshiping the ancient Egyptian gods was real. Floored by what I had found, I read through the list of names of the gods over and over again. I formed their names with my lips and wondered what worshiping them might look like. And as I went through those list of names, perhaps influenced by early divine goddess rumblings or merely my own past, I swore I would never worship the male deities. They had had enough worship; I would only honor the women goddesses.

I’ve thought about that time in my life and I’ve come to the conclusion that this was a childish form of rebellion against the wrong religion. All my life, I had been indoctrinated to believe that while God has no true sex, it was He this and He that. I was tired of all the He. Even my irritable changing the He in prayers and Bible readings to She wasn’t enough. I was sick of male deities after living a lifetime suckling the teet of male deity propaganda. (Side note: churches should only use They for God now.) So, I decided the ladies was where my attention would go and that was that.

Hoo boy, has shit changed in 20 years.

A Wild God Appears

In very late 2018, shortly after Samhain, I felt the first real kick from Ra. I was distinctly uncomfortable with the attention. As anyone who may have followed me for a while knows, we don’t get on. But there he was like a towering statue out of the thick fog. I knew why of course; the 2019 Year of Rebirth project may have started off about Sekhmet but it really was about more than just she.

One thing I’ve found more and more as I go deeper down this road is the fact that hard polytheism only works so much when it comes to the NTRW. If you’re working on things for one deity, invariably what you’re doing will no doubt effect or benefit others. Sekhmet, created from Ra’s power, is as connected to the other gods as the rest of them. Dying for Sekhmet’s benefit was dying for Ra’s benefit.

He was patient and quiet, which is what I needed to get over some things. Say what we will about gods busting down doors without knocking, occasionally they seem to be able to read the room before they even get in there. So he was mostly quiet while I came to terms with the idea that he was around, he was going to stay around, and that most likely his presence would continue well past 2019.

It didn’t start to become more of a relationship until about Spring of 2019. Things started kind of piecing together for us. He asked for very few things other than attention and a few little baubles. I asked him once if this would turn into something more. He kind of snorted and said no. I had assumed originally that this relationship would turn into a shrine, an icon, altar space for prayer. But when I had asked, I got the distinct impression he found my question amusing before he told me no.

He did ask for a daily rite that I had written for him for the Year of Rites project, which I managed to finish before 2018 came to an end. While the Year of Rites project fell apart about midway through 2019, he didn’t seem too unhappy that I had stopped doing the daily rites with the words I had written. I did the physical portion of the rite and that seemed to be enough.

For a while anyway.

Once you start down the rabbit hole, you get a little lost. No matter how many times you try to back track to the start to find your way out, the labyrinth closes up behind you until the only way out is through. The way through looked weird and strange to me. Not completely at any rate, but a good bit of it was new territory. Ra merely said to keep it up; I’d know where the exit was eventually.

That Wasn’t an Exit

As 2019 came to a close, I began to register that Ra’s presence was dimming so to speak. I don’t know how to put it that will make it clearer but as October hit, he seemed to have collapsed in on himself. I assumed it was because the year was starting to come to a close and he needed strength for the actual birth of the new year. I was partially right, but not completely.

It was the week of Samhain that it all came together. The clock change was set to begin the Sunday following Halloween and I could sense that this was it. He was going to do one of those dramatic exits that the gods seem to love to do and leave me with some vague request. The request wasn’t completely vague oddly enough.

“Look beyond the trappings and you’ll find me there,” he seemed to say as his time with me grew ever shorter. I remember standing in my backyard the weekend of the time change and staring at the sky. “My time for now is over. Use this quiet to figure out the puzzle.” Not like I needed clear cut answers anyway.

That winter, as the world cooled and the snow refused to fall, I would look up at the watery light of the sun and wonder what Ra was up to. I would imagine the rays of sunlight trying so desperately to reach me in my backyard but unable to do so through the winter wind and ice cold frost. I tried to play his playlist and found it didn’t work for the way the land and world around me had changed to winter.

The trappings are encapsulated by my altar room. That was the place where I found my gods over and over again and while I have pieces that are designated for Ra in there, I had never really felt him there. He was always outside, in the land, in the air, and in the world around me. I had looked beyond the trappings and found the god in the natural world.

This isn’t strange; it’s not abnormal. I’ve long had a local cultus push for my gods, but it was Ra who solidified it in a way I hadn’t been able to do until he showed up. The physical reminders of worship and altars are for the priests; the natural world and the worship within is for everyone else.

Timing is Everything

Since Ra all but disappeared at the time change, I wondered if I could expect him back in 2020 when it changed again. I waited throughout the winter, wondering if my hunch was correct. The Tuesday prior to the time change, my calendar told me there were Ra festivities coming up (feast for three or four days in his and the Irt-Ra honor) and just after the time change, the Divine Birth of Ra lined up nicely with his return.

I looked back to see what was going on, calendar-wise, in October as I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the holiday alerts since fall is a busy holiday time for my calendar. Nothing so concrete as a “say bye to the sun” but there were a few hints that I missed back then, which will become important in another entry.

It seemed that I had figured out that my relationship with Ra was to coincide with the world around me. As spring approached and the whispers of birds and plants began to grow louder, I could feel him more and more in the air and beside me. I remember waking up one morning between the time change and Ostara whispering, “oh there you are.” And there he was.

He hasn’t given any directives since he showed up and other than a matter-of-fact hello-how-are-you, he’s been pretty quiet while I try to figure out what all of this means. It’s one thing to understand, finally, the reason and the push, but it’s quite another to turn it into reality.

I kind of feel like I’ve been stumbling along, occasionally picking up clues and messages that tell me I’m headed forward to somewhere else. After talking about this a bit with TTR, I was happy to find that I’m not the only one in this boat, but it doesn’t necessarily help anyone at all. We may all be headed in the same direction, but who really knows what it will all look like at the end of the day?

Ra, probably.

The Beginning is Now

My local cultus push has been a thing for some years now. It started in fits and spurts around 5 years ago, maybe more, and has been increasingly felt throughout the rest of my relationships with my gods. Part of this push has caused decay in some of my relationships (Sekhmet and Ptah, who I have yet to find in the world around me) and solidified others in ways I hadn’t ever expected (Heru-Wer, Hetheru, and of course Ra).

Over the winter, I read through Hathor: A Reintroduction… by Lesley Jackson. One of the quotes that I ended up posting on my Tumblr has stayed with me most often, especially now that I understand the next phase of where this relationship with Ra is supposed to go:

…but the Egyptians also detected her presence in nature; in the rustling of papyrus in the swamps, in the breeze through sycamore leaves and in places in the desert where there were conspicuous outcrops of rock

P 198, Hathor: A Reintroduction to an Ancient Egyptian Goddess by Lesley Jackson

This isn’t, by all means, the only clue-by-four that’s showed up leading me down this road, but it’s the one that stuck with me the most often. Usually it comes up when I’m sitting outside, staring up at the sun and trying to parse out the nuance of how local cultus is supposed to formulate the basis for many things going forward.

All of this, whatever this may actually end up being, is a reset in a manner of speaking. The ongoing path project has always been a bit of a disappointment for me. I’ve always felt the push in one direction and never really felt comfortable in going that way. But I’m reminded that my path is ever-evolving and has always been best summed up by the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken.

Now, the path ahead is forged with oak and grass, bees and tree frogs, hawks and owls, mayflower and staghorn sumac. There are gods within these places as there always has been; the gods of these places may be gone now or colonized into silence, but there are other gods who seem to want to be found there, gods who have followed me for most of my life in some form or another. And while I’m not sure whether I have the right to see them there since I am living on land stolen from indigenous peoples, I see them there anyway.

In Conclusion…

In February, I did a month-ahead Tarot reading for the month of March. I didn’t foresee the pandemic (sorry) since I was looking at myself. The Theme of the Month was a card called Spellwork, which we can sum up as meaning this: “create a recipe of your own choosing; gather the ingredients together to gain clarity and insight; you know exactly what you need so follow your intuition.” If that doesn’t tell me what I need to know, then what does?

Ra has made it very clear that he is here to stay and while sometimes I still feel like this is all an elaborate prank on the stupid human, sometimes I think everything will be okay. His entrance into my life has overtaken many other areas of my practice, almost like he’s clearing the slate to a point where I can actually start over. I’m a little hesitant only because I don’t want to fully sacrifice the carefully created relationships I’ve already made, but I’m also interested to see how this could play out. And I can admit that I haven’t felt interested in my religion in a very long time.

The other day, as I was taking my daily walk, the sun threw its life-giving rays between a thick scattering of white pines. The rays of the sun were clear and reflected off of a small creek that traveled through the wooded area. I managed to snap a picture of it, and it looks like there are two suns: one in the sky and one on the ground. The rays of both suns meet in the middle in a sort of new horizon. I take a lot of nature pictures, but that’s my favorite so far. I think it neatly captures my religious life and where it’s always been headed.

Lent 2020.

It was early February when I polled my office and asked them what I should give up for Lent. I’ve been out of good ideas for a long time, so I figured I would put the question up to group-think. It was practically unanimous: they chose diet Coke which makes sense. I drink a lot of it. There was one who “courteously abstained” from voting because “Lent is stupid and no one should have to give things up.” I made a polite remark about how I didn’t have much choice about this, and moved on.Diet Coke [again], it is.I suppose it could be worse; it could be something I’ve never given up before. I’ve given up diet Coke, and by that act, drinking soda entirely for forty days. I’m a pretty big bitch about it, too. Diet Coke is my afternoon caffeine intake since I dislike drinking coffee after the sun hits the zenith. (I don’t know why; just don’t.) Thus far, I’ve staved off the caffeine headache by shoving a ridiculous amount of sugar into my gullet, but at least I’m properly hydrated throughout the day for once.A few people at the office seem to think this is the start of me “getting healthy”. This of course means that I would be healthy by their standards, not my own. I know I’m not healthy by any stretch of the imagination (not including mental health in that assessment), but I also find it curious how the conversations always come back to “getting healthy”. It baffles me why they think the person who eats fruits, salad, vegetables, and maintains a calorie count of food intake somehow doesn’t have healthy eating habits, or the ability to manifest them?It merely goes to show that the people who think this is about healthier living don’t understand the purpose. I wouldn’t expect them to; they aren’t Catholic by any stretch of the imagination. And the gentleman who told me giving things up for Lent was stupid has his own preconceived beliefs and notions relative to this.Sometimes, I think it might be better to educate the masses than to politely listen to the ideas that others have about all of this, but then I think, why bother? Nothing I would say would change their point of view [probably]. It would fall on deaf ears and I would continue to have to listen to their own points of view on something that is an experience unto itself and has nothing to do with America’s fatphobia.I suppose I’m just bitter.The purpose of Lent is more than simply giving something up. We are supposed to be giving up vices; faults in ourselves that can negatively impact us. While one may not necessarily see where diet Coke can be a vice, I say that it is. It is a sort of security blanket against caffeine withdrawal the horrors of the world. Diet Coke doesn’t fail me (although it will with all the plastic that’s probably forming in my brain) the way everything else does.I knew one woman who would give up gambling and swearing every Lenten season. She would come into work on Ash Wednesday with her smudge of ashes and say that she would keep her language clean and her gambling at bay. She managed every year and she would save her gambling money and put it into her rainy day fund. She never completely gave up either vice of hers though; she needed them to get through another lackluster day just as I need diet Coke for the same.But this doesn’t really explain it all because Lent is about way more than simply giving things up. I’ve read up on it numerous times – and blogged about my findings for the last 7 fucking years – but I think it was the book I got for Christmas that helped to kind of solidify it all for me.

Remember that we are but dust and ashes, yet by God’s grace we have died in Baptism and have put on the Lord Jesus Christ. Each year we keep these Forty Days with prayer and penance and the practice of charity so that we may come to the Easter festival ready to renew once more the life-giving commitment of our Baptism.P 93, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

Also…

May our fasting be hunger for justice;
our alms, a making of peace;
our prayer, the chant of humble and grateful hearts.P 95, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

And finally…

The Church asks us to give ourselves to prayer and to the reading of Scripture, to fasting and to giving alms. The fasting that all do is together on Fridays is but a sign of the daily lenten discipline of individuals and households: fasting for certain periods of time, fasting from certain foods, but also fasting from other things and activities. Likewise, the giving of alms is some effort to share this world equally – not only though the distribution of money, but through the sharing of our time and talents.P 96, Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

People get hung up on the idea that something must be given up because that’s what forced down everyone’s throats. How many commercials have people seen about businesses offering fish meals on Fridays at a discount rate? I got hit with a blast of ads about it on various social media platforms as well as Hulu. How many articles have been re-posted or written anew about the giving up of things for Lent? Google gave me 110,000 news articles about the act of giving up things for Lent when I asked.But it’s also about the giving of charity; you know that very line item that most people seem to forget has a very specific and very central part to all of this? Alms-giving is as much an integral part of this as the denial of vice. We just don’t hear about that part as much because maybe it doesn’t sound as cool or as weird as the act of denying yourself something that you would really rather keep.And it also requires a focus on your religion. Many people use the time to focus on the reading of Scripture or the focus of prayer. I’ve been getting up in the mornings and trying to say a Hail Mary (I like those). I’m not familiar with the prayer and I stumble over it, but it’s an important part of the Catholic faith and I can remember my grandmother and mother saying Hail Marys when I was a kid. It seemed like a good focus.But for others, they read through the Bible. They choose maybe a book that they’re not as familiar with, or a specific theme throughout the Forty Days to focus on.At the heart of all of this, the purpose of the Forty Days is an act of rebirth, an act of renewal. People deny themselves these things and give things away in an act of public mimicry of Jesus’ 40 Days of Fasting in the Desert. At the end of it all, they are [hopefully] ready for the spiritual rebirth that will [again hopefully] occur as part of the celebrations of Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday.I always wonder how many people feel truly renewed at the end of Lent. It’s always been hit or miss with me.I’m not Catholic and have never been, baptized into the faith though I may have been. I was never confirmed and I don’t see myself going through that. At this point, my Catholic ancestors seem content with dragging me through the processes, directing me to educate myself on what I’m doing and why, and saying the prayers when they want. The veneration of saints has been a recent addition, but it’s here to stay. Besides, who can pass up a good prayer to Saint Anthony when your shit goes missing? (He always comes through.)I don’t go into the renewal aspect looking to renew my Baptism, or to learn more about Jesus. I always look at it from the perspective of my own chaotic attempts at religion. It’s a time of renewal – something that as a Kemetic I am keenly aware of in many ways – and I use it in an effort to do just that.I am hoping to renew my path, renew my desire to learn more outside of what I’ve already established, and maybe even renew my desire to continue forward. It can get really hard to want to be religious when everything seems like such a fucking crawl up the sheerest of mountain faces. But I’d like to renew, like to feel a bit of Zep Tepi during the Forty Days ahead. I’d like to… just remember what it felt like to be happy with what I’ve established at any rate.And hey, maybe I will get with this whole “healthy” business. I doubt it, so don’t assume I’ll succeed, but I’ve been known to surprise even me.

The Question.

 

One of the many little parts of my daily ritual includes the pulling of a daily card. I leave it out on the window sill beside my cupful of Ma’at to soak up the morning rays or the leaden skies that are forecast for the day. Sometimes, when I pull the card, I immediately understand it. It’s a reminder, a suggestion, and push in the right direction. Sometimes it begs me to slow down and to take care of myself. And sometimes it makes no sense whatsoever; it means nothing to me at the time. Whether it means something to me later is a matter of debate.

As part of this little ritual, I select a single deck to use for the month ahead. I prefer to use the same deck day-in and day-out for the full month because it helps me to understand decks that I may not use regularly and it also helps me to rotate my various decks. I have many, many types of oracle and Tarot cards and I can never use them all as much as I would like to.

This month of January I allowed my hands to float over my various decks until I pulled out a deck that I had been gifted with last year that I had side-eyed when I opened it but have found myself enjoying using: The Heart of the Faerie Oracle.

I know very little about the fae; it’s just not an area of interest to me. I love the posts about fae politics and culture and culture that go around Tumblr, but that’s about it. That’s why I didn’t understand why the deck was sent to me, but as I’ve used it over the last year, I’ve begun to understand the draw. Sometimes the cards are oblique, immaterial, confusing; sometimes it is like a punch in the gut.

Today’s pull was puzzling.

The candle is from CottageWicks and frigging amazing.

The guidebook had this to say about the card, The Question:

Intention / Dialogue / Answers

In Faerie, questions are very important. Questions, answers, and wishes, all of those things that help or hinder us on our journey are very much a part of our relationship with Faerie. “Who am I? What is your quest? Why have you come here, and what do you seek?” are questions often asked by the individuals you meet in Faerie. They don’t as often ask you who you are. It is more important for you to discover who they are.

It is important to know why you are traveling in Faerie and to be able to express that reason. You will be asked. When you cross the border into the otherworld, you should have a reason to be there. Are you a tourist, just looking around, hoping to send a postcard home? Are you on a quest, a journey of the spirit? Do you want knowledge? Experience of the otherworld? Are you looking for love? Are you searching for something that you have lost?

If you draw the Question in a reading, try to answer those questions for yourself. When you have answered, you can ask one of your own. What is that question, and of whom are you asking it? If you are clear about your quest (in Faerie and in life) and what you seek, you will then be able to ask the right questions and be ready to hear the answers.

This was all very nice and lovely, but it didn’t really explain why this card had come up this morning. I wrote in my Tarot Journal that I truly didn’t understand the purpose of all of this and figured that either I would eventually come to an understanding, or I wouldn’t. Sometimes I’m lucky and something pops up that allows me to connect the dots and other times, I’m left with a puzzled frown on my face, trying to understand what the cards are trying to say.

I was lucky that I was able to figure it out a bit after settling down to read through my WordPress Reader. I had a number of outstanding posts that I had been saving up for when I had a free moment and I had nothing to do for a bit while I waited for the world to wake up. The last post I had to read through was a post by someone I’ve known for years. I found myself at first uncomfortably interested and then visibly intrigued by what they had to say.

As I sat back, phone on my lap staring at the ceiling, I could understand what they had been going through. I, too, have watched as others have managed to bring to flesh their religious practice in a way that I cannot fathom. It is as if the language those people with fleshed out practices speak is so close to my own and yet, it is nothing like my language. I, too, have found myself envious and admiring of what those people have posted and wondered what that would look like for me.

I’ve known for a long time that the practice I’ve been kind-of dealing with hasn’t been enough. I knew it wasn’t enough four years ago, but I kept sticking to it because Kemeticism is what I knew and what I wanted. I can admit that it is still what I want; I want the relationships with the gods that I have and I suppose I’m amenable to exploring the relationships pushed upon me by such gods as Osiris and Ra. But I want flesh to cover the bones.

I want to be able to sink my hands into the dirt of my practice and feel it soak through my soul. I want to see it and smell it like a verdant garden, ripening eternally in spring-like splendor. I want to hear it and touch it. I want to know that it is there and it is made not only myself whole, but my life whole. I want to feel the ecstasy of release and the comfort of it all. I want.

I pulled my phone back up to my face and carefully typed a response to the post, “I’ve had similar issues myself. I can feel and see the bones but the flesh isn’t there. It’s been an ongoing issue for me for, well, a long time. Part of that is because I’ve felt very adrift lately.”

After leaving the comment, I put my phone down and stared at the ceiling some more. (This is actually something I do often when I’m lost in thought. I’m not sure that a ceiling has ever been able to answer questions, but it has been able to form the questions I was looking for.) The Question was there buried in the meat of my mind and it finally took form: “What would it feel like to have a fleshed out practice? What it would it look like to have something with tone and form and more than just tossing a dart at a dart board? How would I even do that?”

We don’t see this sort of stuff in Kemeticism; not really. The only person who really talked about it was TTR and they’re gone for the most part. I don’t doubt that there are Kemetics with something that is concrete and comfortable and livable, but if they’re out there, I haven’t seen them. Oh, I see people effect that persona and make it seem like that’s where they are, but I can see through the veneer. They’re no better off than I am.

When I compare what I do with what others have done, I see the difference. My practice and the practices of many other public Kemetics appear to be charcoal drawings. Others’ practices from other faiths look as if they have been shaded and painted and have a form that I can only marvel at. I want to know what that would be like for me, but alas.

Personally, I’m just cruising around, letting the flow of the world around me push and pull me wherever it decides I should go. That’s normal for me; I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of person and (contrary to popular misconceptions) I don’t like to cause a fuss. I just want things to be smooth, simple, easy, and ready for the taking. I’m just a little lazy that way.

But it doesn’t feel good. And as I’ve mentioned a time or six, it doesn’t seem to be working. As usual, I have to decide what’s best and where to go from here and I have to admit that fuck if I know. Fuck if I know.

So… well… This day started with a card pull; I should finish it with one.

The deck is the dual deck The Hidden Path & Well-Worn Path Deck which is a Raven Grimassi deck. I’ve had it since long before I learned how to better vet things and people in the pagan sphere.

I decided on this deck because it was always the one, back in those early 20-teens days that I could turn to and find a form to what I was looking for. It was the stop-gap when I felt like I was going off the rails. I needed to feel that foundation again; that feeling of knowing where I was going and what I was doing and using the very deck that steered me so well back then seemed to make the most sense.

I chose the ten-card spread called The Cauldron Spread from the book. The ten positions are listed below along with the cards I pulled for each:

  1. The Present Situation – Yule
  2. The Challenges Ahead – Ostara
  3. The Underlying Root – Tree in Summer
  4. The Querent’s Appearance in Relation to the Question – The Altar
  5. The Influencing Aspects – Faery Door
  6. Aspirations and Concerns – Wheel of the Year
  7. The Probable Course – Between the Worlds
  8. The Possible Alternative – Earth
  9. The Final Outcome – The Old Ones
  10. Transform the Outcome – Oath

I found it interesting that the card that represented my personification of this spread was The Altar. This card tends to mean a balance between the divine and yourself, which is the basis of one’s altar. The Altar is the direct interface, according to this deck anyway, between the divine and yourself. It is that physical connection that allows you to develop those relationships in many, many ways.

The reason I found this an interesting card for myself is that, no matter how many times I try to push it away, I keep coming back to that post from TTR, Ma’at Shines Through my Body and how it should relate to the utilization of one’s body as an altar-of-sorts for our gods, for our religion, and everything in between. Based on the card, I am a confluence of the physical and the divine.

The second most interesting card was the card, Between the Worlds. In effect, the card tells you that your vision isn’t clear and that in order to manifest what you want, you must have clarity of thought, clarity of vision, and cut out the distractions so that you can focus on that which you manifest.

The reason this was interesting is that it was low-key calling me out on my bullshit. I have a tendency of saying, “I will do this,” and then just not doing it. I did my Ritual365 last year, but I cut it back, cut it down, and didn’t bother to finish any of the entries I had originally intended on writing last year. Part of that is work and that nonsense, but I could have made more of an effort… which ties into that whole lazy thing I mentioned above.

And that is the crux of my issue, card reading or otherwise: I am a lazy creature. I do not want to do. I want it handed to me if it can be. That doesn’t mean that I won’t, it just means that I will put off until I cannot put it off any longer. Perhaps lazy isn’t the best word for it but that’s what I’ve always assumed it was. (That’s what all the adults told me when I was a kid. But it really goes hand-in-hand with the genetic heritage of sticking one’s head in the sand when big things happen, hoping that they will go away.)

To start, I suppose, I should solidify my vision. I should make a sort of vision board to give me clarity, to focus my desire in a specific arena that I want to flesh out first. But where? I’ve had so many ideas in the last year alone – reading subject matter that has little to do with Kemeticism but explores other avenues of religion so that I can try and figure out where I go from here – that I’m not quite sure which ideas make sense to include and which ones don’t.

I think I’ll just start with writing out the things that I want to include in my practice and see where that leads.

The Twelfth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The final hour completes the rebirth and regeneration of the sun and life. “In the freshness of the morning, “the sky is gold, the water lapis lazuli, the earth is strewn with turquoise”. [p 140, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife.]

The World-Encircler from the previous hour is shown on the ground. It is ready to receive the solar barque with all of the gods and the dead. They travel through the serpent’s spine to be rejuvenated. The Sungod is transformed into the scarab-headed god, Khepri, and is lifted in the horizon by the arms of Shu.

The lower register show the primeval gods of the Ogdoad as they work to assist in the act of creation. They are drawn beside the eight gods of the oars. The final depiction of the final hour ends with a jubilation at the regeneration of both Re and Osiris. Osiris is depicted in mummiform and is attested that while he may have to remain within the netherworld, he is awaiting the next return of the sun.

The Book of Gates

And so finally, we have come to the final hour and the conclusion.

The sun god has finally arrived for his impending rebirth, ready to enter the gateway to the day beyond:

The mystery of sunrise, into which the dead are here inducted, unfolds in several individual scenes, beginning in the upper register with gods who “carry the blazing light,” which is represented concretely by the sun disks in their hands. Stars again prefigure the appearance the sun, while goddesses seated atop serpents surround the solar child.

Before the sun god’s solar barque, A/pep is rendered immobile and tied up. It is depicted to show that it is unable to prevent the upcoming rebirth of the sun from continuing. Behind this, four baboons announce the sun god at the horizon. The lowest register shows symbols of power, crowns specifically, which are to be worn while leaving the netherworld. Isis and Nephthys, symbolized by uraei, guard the final gate.

The conclusion of this book is not divided into registers. The whole course of the sun is condensed into a single image. “Half hidden in the depths, the god Nun raises the solar barque out of the primeval waters, which are indicated by wavy lines. In the barque, the sun, in the form of a soaring scarab beetle, is embraced by Isis and Nephthys, while he betel pushes the sun disk toward the sky goddess Nut, who receives the god Re.” [p64, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

All three of the interior spaces of the cosmos are thus contained in this complex representation: the primeval waters, the height of the heavens, and the depths of the earth (the netherworld). From above and below, arms are stretched toward the sun, arms that hold it and move it through these cosmic spaces, day after day.

The Book of Night

The name of the gateway for this final hour is “She Who Repels the Destructive Ones”. This hour is associated with Nut’s thighs as the sun rolls down towards her feet. The hour itself is named “She Who Sees the Beauty of Re” and the solar barque continues to be towed forward. The guide is another crocodile-headed deity known as, “The Primordial One of the Lower Sky”.

Ma’at stands before Re and offers him up the sign of life, the ankh, to symbolize his rebirth. The solar barque sales upon the primeval waters of the Nun, and it is through these waters that the inundation occurs again, only this time bringing forth the sun into the new day.

Though it may seem as if everyone may attain the moment of rebirth, it is possible that not all will make it even in this hour. Standing in the upper register of this hour is “He Who Causes Enemies to be Forgotten”, ready to ensnare the travelers so that their living memory is forgotten and annihilating all traces of their life.

In the lower register stand “He Who Judged According to His Knowledge”, “He Who Severs Heads”, “Frightening of Face”, and the “Trapper in the Sky”. The nets of the trapper are waiting to trap those who are opposed to the way of the sun-boat, those who may try to stop the solar barque from moving forward into the turbulent final hour of rebirth.

An image of a potter’s wheel is shown near Nut’s vulva. The potter’s wheel stands on a sledge and upon the wheel is a scarab beetle with a stream of liquid coming forth from its head. The liquid flows down toward the hieroglyph for the sky, which is supported by another scarab beetle. Beneath the beetle is a seated child. Kneeling before the potter’s wheel are two gods of the Ogdoad, Huh and Hauhet, the two known as Endlessness.

Beneath Nut’s feet stand Nephthys and Isis, hands held aloft beneath the sun. They are the midwives of this hour, helping to bring forth the sun, supporting the newborn sun when he comes forth from Nut’s body.

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

The Eleventh Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The upper register is associated with the mystery of time and with the birth of the hours. The double-headed Sungod is depicted as “Master of Time” gesturing to the two representations for time, Neheh and Djet. Beside this image, Atum holds the wings of a serpent with legs. The following serpent is depicted with stars around its head. The stars represent the night hours.

The middle register shows preparation for the upcoming sunrise. The “World-Encircler,” a giant serpent that is being carried before the solar barque by twelve deities. Isis and Nephthys are shown at the end of this register as Uraeus-serpents that carry the crowns to the Gate of Sais, the eastern gate. They are met by four figures of Neith, who was the goddess of the town of Sais.

The final register is used to prevent any threats that may attempt to stop the rising of the sun. Punishment is used against the condemned who may try to stop the sun from being reborn. They are shown in fiery pits, which are drawn like hills. Several goddesses armed with knives stand before these pits, spitting fire. Behind these pits, the “desert valley of those who are upside down” is shown. “They are decapitated and set on fire, their hearts are torn from their bodies, their heads placed at their feet, their bodies upside down.” [p 132, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife.]

The Book of Gates

The Eleventh Hour shows A/pep in the upper register. It is bound, dismembered, and rendered completely harmless. The top which it is bound with includes its assistants, and is held by a giant fist. The central imagery of this hour depicts the face of Re as he enters a barque, allowing the deceased to gaze upon him. He is preceded by the stars. The final register both the oarsman of the sun god and the goddesses of time are shown. A few of these deities are already undertaking the job to announce the sun god’s appearance at the horizon in preparation for the next hour.

The Book of Night

The crocodile-headed god called “Gold is God” leads the solar barque through the eleventh hour gateway. This gateway is known as “She Who Protects Her Lord”. This hour is associated with the legs of Nut, and it is in this hour that rebirth truly begins.

At the bottom of this hour, all of the akhu who have been justified appear in their divinized state. Above the solar barque various deities stand guard, bearing names such as, “the One with the Holy Eye”, “the Brilliant One”, “Benben“, and “He Who Loves the Female Unique One”.

Through their service of Osiris the night travellers are now granted the supreme visiion of cosmic rebirth at the eleventh hour in ‘the following of this god’, seeing the radiance of Re and his uraeus companion shining at dawn. Towed by the ‘Unwearyin g Stars’ and guided by “Gold of the Gods’, those in the sun-boat come to see that nothing in the world dies, that death is not destruction but change and becoming, a transmutation of all beings in a recreated world.

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

The Tenth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The upper register shows the cure and protection of the solar eyes. These eyes are marked in red and are cared for by two goddesses. Beside this imagery, we find eight Sekhmet deities (four with human heads) and eight images of Djehuty in monkey-form, holding the restored eye within his hand.

The middle register shows twelve guardians of the solar god who protect him from his enemies. The first four guardians carry an arrow, the next four carry a spear, and the final group of four are shown carrying a bow. The texts indicate that they accompany the Sungod throughout the entire twelve hour journey of the night and during the twelve hours of the day.

The lowest register shows the regenerating water of the Nun. This region is known as “with deep water and high banks”. There are bodies within this watery rectangle floating in various positions until Horus assists them with coming ashore. He prevents them from decomposing although these deceased beings were not provided a standard burial. They share the same fate as Osiris.

Here we have the consoling part of the Amduat, that even those who – by a natural accident – do not have the benefit of ritual preparation for the afterlife are preserved by the divine intervention of Horus.

The Book of Gates

The central imagery of the Tenth Hour shows the battle between A/pep and the gods who fight against it. Fourteen deities hold nets within their grasp, lifted above their heads. Within the nets are magical power and lifting these nets seems to render A/pep immobile and defenseless. A single god, known as the Old One and possibly signifying Geb, ties A/pep up.

The register above and below this central scene show special forms of the sun god’s various manifestations. He appears as a griffin in the upper register, surrounded by two serpent deities who also focus on the attach of A/pep. A single rope connects the figures. The sun god’s form is that of a falcon, though it is referenced as Khepri. “The accompanying text mentions ’emergence’ and stresses that the journey is proceeding towards the sky.” [p. 64, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

The Book of Night

The tenth hour gateway is called “Lady of Fear”. The solar barque is guided through the gateway by a crocodile-headed deity, who is named “Good Fortune of His Mother”. The body parts of Nut that are related to this hour are the vulva, for this is when the rebirth of the new day truly begins.

In the upper register, there are a number of divine beings. One is “The One who Causes Breath”, who knows the secrets of divine utterance. There is also a divine being called “The One who nurtures his Father”. This relates to the Bull of His Mother epithet, meaning that the son has become the father. They have become unified.

When the two are experienced as one, complete and perfect in unity, so the divine nature is realizes whilst traveling onward to the place of dawn and pure light. Such a unity is also recognized in the text of the justified:

Those who adore Re on earth, and those who cense the gods in the Duat, will be in the following of this god.

The lower register shows two identical transfigured or justified ones, wearing the divine beard. These beings have become divine and their mummified bandages have been removed: “Your head-covering has been taken away, your bandages have been undone, and there will be no removal of your bread.” [p 156, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.] This passage seems to indicate that the mummification process is only needed for the first few hours; once we enter the tenth hour, the soul no longer is necessary for the deceased’s continued existence.

This hour is a place of memory, invoking images of one’s past and name:

During the tenth hour the essence of a person’s existence in experienced in the glorious state of unity reached through the heart. Empowered by memory at this sacred place of birth, the initiate comes to understand the mystery of totality in which all contrasts are subsumed, all opposites dissolved.

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

The Ninth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The central imagery of this hour shows the crew of the solar barque, which are depicted in the middle register of this hour. There are twelve oarsmen shown. In front of them, there are three idols which are in charge of the provisioning of the dead with bread and beer.

The lower register also depicts gods that are associated with the provisioning of the deceased. These gods are the Field Gods and they hold large stalks of grain in their hands. They “cause all the trees and all the plants to be created.” [p 112, Abt & Hornung, Knowedge for the Afterlife.]

Behind the Field Gods, there are fire-spitting Uraeus serpents depicted sitting above the hieroglyph for cloth or fabric. These serpents are “those who spit fire for Osiris with the flame in their mouth… They are those who illuminate the darkness…” [p 112, Abt & Hornung, Knowedge for the Afterlife.]

The Book of Gates

The central imagery of the Ninth Hour shows the barque within a rectangle of water with images of drowned people within. The water represents the Nun and those adrift within the primeval water being refreshed by the regenerative properties of the water. Ra is depicted within, also taking in the renewal properties of the Nun.

The upper register shows a group of ba-souls who are being given bread and vegetables by people within the scene. The lower register depicts punishments for the enemies against Re. The Fiery One, a giant serpent with the Children of Horus standing upon its coils, spew fire at the enemies. Horus condemns these pictured enemies for what they have committed against his father.

The Book of Night

The gateway of the ninth hour is named “She Whose Flame is Painful.” The solar barque is guided forward by “This Ba“. The hour is related to Nut’s intestines, “the place in the body where food is digested and non-assimilable elements rejected.” [p153, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother]

The ninth hour celebrates the shining countenance of Osiris and those who have been transfigured: “O shining rampart, hear the words of the underworld dwellers. Tend to the needs of those who are in the Duat.” [p150, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother].

Sia commands all beings within this hour, directing them forward. Those who have been transfigured have been ordered to come forth from the inundation waters to receive their offerings. Those who have been transfigured heartily reply to Sia that they have done no harm while within the confines of the Duat. Sia also indicates that all wrong-doers will not be able to see the light of Osiris.

 

Further Reading

  • The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
  • Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
  • My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts

The Calendar Conundrum.

Seven years ago, I created my own religious calendar. At the time, I was not confident in my abilities to figure out when Wep Ronpet was and knew that I was getting into something that I felt uncomfortable with. I was terrified I was going to Fuck It Up.

Guess what?

I absolutely did.

I spent an hour comparing dates back and forth. I thought the heliacal rising of Sirius was at the end of July; it was actually in August. I had done all of that hard work to then only have the wrong day listed for my new year celebration. I figured out that I had screwed it up a few months after I had already entered my holidays into my Google calendar. I decided to just suck it up and celebrated my WR on the 30th of July.

My celebrations were earlier than most other Kemetics, but I was remarkably okay with all of it. Even though I had gotten the timeframe wrong, it didn’t negate the joy I felt when I thought I had figured it all out. It didn’t make the Intercalary Days any less chaotic (placebo effect maybe) and it didn’t negate my celebrations at all. It just meant that 7/30 was the date of Sat’s calendar renewal.

It was earlier this year that Ptah said to me, “you know… we could make some adjustments now. You’ve made the backbone of festivities that I wanted; why don’t we revisit your calendar?” Since I knew I would be moving and my religious path has long since changed from what it looked like seven years ago, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

I decided to revisit this under the assumption that I wanted the heliacal rising of Sirius out of Memphis. It made sense to me at the time. My primary gods are Ptah and Sekhmet; why not start there?

Ptah seemed pleased with the notion; or at least he made no overt request for me to cease and desist. I went out and purchased a cheap $1 calendar since I found it easier to write things out than to start updating my Google calendar and went to town.

After finding the new date of my Wep Ronpet, I filled the whole calendar with every possible festival I could dream of wanting in my religious calendar. I combed through every inch of the Daybook, notating festivals for my current gods, for gods I might one day care about, and everything in between. I figured that when I sat down to update my Google calendar, I could add notes and comments, questions about what I thought the holiday meant.

I was on fire and feeling particularly pleased with myself. For once in my life, I had finished doing something well and truly in advance. I was on such a high horse of positive sentiment about my success that I carefully tucked my $1 calendar away to update my Google calendar later. I had months to go before Wep Ronpet and I, for once, was ahead of the curve.

Until I forgot where I carefully tucked away that $1 calendar. The one, single place I had made my notes. The one I had accidentally spilled coffee on one fine morning and moved it to a much safer place than the end table. That calendar that had me feeling so very, very pleased with myself.

I honestly have no clue where it went.

The day I was packing up the last of my books before we moved, I realized it was missing. I tore apart the whole living room under the seeming idea that I was packing things away, but in fact I was searching for that damn $1 calendar. It was absolutely nowhere to be found. And I even lifted couches and ripped apart cushions in the hopes that it would appear, but I was disappointed all over again.

After the move, I griped to Ptah about it. I said clearly, “if that calendar was to be mine, help me find it now.”

And. It. Never. Appeared.

I decided that having to find a new Wep Ronpet date wouldn’t be so bad. I could spend time making sure that I got the Memphis date correct, but when I went to enter the coordinates for Memphis, the website wouldn’t load. I gave it a day and tried again, but met with the same type of error.

When I thought about it, I realized that using Memphis probably wasn’t the best idea. Ptah was mostly silent on the matter; I had to fly solo on it. While I did experience trouble putting in my new address, it was easy to bypass those issues to get what I needed. I problem solved until I has yet another new date for my new year celebration.

I asked Ptah about it later, worried anew that I had messed it up again. He told me to stop being a whiny brat and move on. I figured he was tired of me complaining about it, or maybe it was because I had already messed this up once without any major problems. What would it matter if I did it again?

This time, I chose two methods to catalogue my holidays. I used the same method as before, a simple $1 calendar for quickly scribbled notes, but I also wrote them down in a day planner. I wasn’t going to run into the same problems a second time and now, so close to the new year.

Ptah seems remarkably happy with what I’ve done so far, though I am sorely missing my Google calendar notifications. I have to actually look now to know what holiday (of many) is occurring on any given day. And I didn’t have room for all of the notes I was hoping to add eventually, which means I will probably jettison the planner idea after 2020 is over to go back to something that bugs me with alerts and has more space for notes on a day with 9 different holiday possibilities.

When I asked Ptah why I couldn’t use the Memphis calendar I had compiled, he was finally able to give me an answer. He said, “the old is gone; the old was forgotten. We’re forging ahead towards the future, or did you forget that part?”

I hadn’t, not really.

Still. It would have been nice to know that before I lost the calendar I had worked so hard on.

Further Reading

  1. The Calendar Project