May 29, 2013
I swear, I do not go out of my way to look for really obscure Gods. The Names I already honor must be spreading rumors about me; either that, or I have a psychic door open somewhere.
Anyway, a couple of months ago I had one of those moments when I wake up with a Thing in my head. Last time it was the Phoenician Bast Oracle. This time it was something called “star salt.” What it was, I had no idea, but I had to make it. But first, I wanted to figure out where it was coming from. And after a combination of Twenty Questions with the Bast Oracle and some internet research, I finally narrowed it down. It was Opet-Nut.
The who? Nut at least is well known as the Goddess of the starry night sky, She who raises Ra into the sky in one myth, and in another swallows Him at dusk and gives birth to Him at dawn. Opet (aka Ipet; listed under Ipy at Henadology) is a hippopotamus-formed Goddess rather like Taweret. She was associated with protection and birth, and like other maternal Goddesses She was depicted nursing the King. She also has astral connections, being one of the Kemetic constellations. Her temple at Karnak, which was located in the Amun precinct near the Khonsu temple, featured a myth in which Amun dies as Wesir and is reborn through Opet-Nut as Khonsu (Arnold, 166). So yes, Opet-Nut is a traditional syncretization, although a very late one (Ptolemaic). Edward at Henadology cites a spell from the Leyden Papyrus that pairs Nut as “mother of water” with Opet as “mother of fire,” which is also a very interesting conjunction of the two. (Though as a hippopotamus Goddess She would seem to be watery, Opet’s attributes included candles or torches and incense offerings; thus fire.)
I did make the “star salt,” which ultimately consisted of salt, opalescent glitter, frangipani essential oil, powdered rose incense, and a pinch of natron “to make it brighter.” I offered it to Opet-Nut, then sprinkled it around and in my bed, and fell asleep embraced by the love of the Lady of Magical Protection.
Aly Abdalla, “The Cenotaph of the Sekwaskhet Family from Saqqara,” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 78 (1992) 93-111. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3822067
Dieter Arnold, The Encylopedia of Ancient Egyptian Architecture (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2003).
Edward Butler, “Ipy,” at Henadology. http://henadology.wordpress.com/theology/netjeru/ipy/
Jimmy Dunn/Jim Fox, “The Temple Opet (Ipet, Apet),” at Touregypt.net. http://www.touregypt.net/featurestories/opettemple.htm
Robert K. Rittner, “O. Gardiner 363: A Spell against Night Terrors,” JARCE 27 (1990), 25-41. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40000071
Richard H. Wilkinson, The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt (New York: Thames & Hudson, 2003), 184.
May 27, 2013
Garden madness has struck, I fear. I succumbed to the need to have all the plants, which now means I have to plant all the plants. In our lovely clayey New Jersey soil. I spent several hours today and got half of the irises in. Little by little I’ll get there.
Before I began, I set up a small shrine outside and brought out Bast and Wenut to oversee the work. There’s something remarkable about being in the midst of hard digging and having a sudden cool breeze bring you a powerful waft of incense. Sweetness from the bower of the Gods!
Here they are enjoying some of the annuals that are still to be planted: snapdragons, marigolds, verbena, and fragrant alyssum. Dua Bast! Dua Wenut! May You be satisfied!
May 18, 2013
Ah. Rough week, full of medical shenanigans and “Really? This is my life?” moments, but at least I haven’t completely lost it. I did shrine rite tonight, and with Bast’s blessing got my ritual for tomorrow’s chat sketched out, so I have not yet flaked on one of these chats. I have not fallen completely into the void of apathy and nonresponsiveness. I have not had to go on leave from the priesthood again. I have not given up.
Each of these times is a tiny victory. And I thank Bast for Her patience and Her love, and my temple family for their prayers of support, all of which help me to stand up again, to keep walking, to keep working, to keep serving.
I raise my hands in praise to the light of the Lady of Joy.
I’m still here, Mama.
Amber sitting in the sunlight refracted from the beveled edge of my bedroom mirror
May 12, 2013
Happy Beautiful Feast of the Valley! I’m sorry I didn’t manage to organize a blog celebration for this festival after all. I was derailed partly by needing to put some attention toward a freelance project, and partly by one of my periodic shifts of energy and focus. I started poking at one of my fiction writing projects and made some good progress there, but I always struggle to balance the non-God-related writing with my religious work. And Bast never pushes me back toward the God side, as She seems equally delighted no matter which kind of work I’m doing. (Both the creative writing and the overt God-service are dedicated to Her anyway.) So in any case, I’ve been deep in the internal creative world for the last week or so and thus not as active as usual.
But today was my weekly Tea with Bast fellowship chat, and as always, spending time with other members of the community has helped to shift me back toward equilibrium, at least a little. So today’s writing endeavor is this blog post, such as it is.
In addition to today being part of the multiday Beautiful Feast of the Valley festival, it’s also a feast of Wadjet, so tonight I gave Her an offering of cheese and crackers, dried cranberries, and cranberry-raspberry juice. Small as it was, She was pleased.
The Gods are happy to be remembered in ways great or small, simple or fancy. And the Gods are happy to see us fulfilling our potential, no matter what tasks we feel called to do. How much more gracious and understanding they are toward us than we often are toward ourselves!
As part of the Bast-as-Queen heka that I did last month, I wrote that I wanted to be able to fulfill all of my responsibilities — to myself, to my Gods, to my home and to those who depend on me — with commitment and grace. May it be so.
A temporary shrine for the Appearance of the Four Sons of Bast, a new festival that I also celebrated last month.
April 1, 2013
I think I overscheduled this weekend, and on top of that I got hit with an overwhelming bout of fatigue, so I only managed to celebrate the Feast of Wenut. It went really well, though, even if I didn’t quite manage to do everything for Her that I’d been planning to.
The shrine, with offerings of flowers and chocolate. And apples, even though they’re not at all seasonal, because Wenut really wanted them.
Another view, with incense and cool water.
Wenut having been processed outside to approve the flower plantings. (She looks so tiny!)
We have a lurker. Hello, Shrine Cat!
(The craft paints are there because I was painting a little wooden snake for Wenut.)
March 28, 2013
Saryt has posted about her experience with the Set, LotO ritual — awesome!
So her comment that she enjoyed sharing in another person’s ritual got me to thinking — wouldn’t it be cool to have a Kemetic-blog-wide shared festival event? Where people can share their initial plans for how they intend to celebrate, draw inspiration from and build upon each other’s ideas, and then post a description/commentary/photo essay on what the actual experience was like?
I was thinking the Beautiful Feast of the Valley might be a good one to undertake. It’s a pretty universal, major festival, and it’s far enough in the future that people would have time to plan and coordinate. (The festival begins on the new moon in the second month of Shomu, which is around May 9 this year, and it runs for ten days, which gives people a lot of flex in when they schedule their celebrations.)
- Rev. Neferuhethert on the Beautiful Feast of the Valley
- Kiya on looking ahead to and celebrating the BFV in 2012
- oh, hey — I’ve celebrated it too (though not in great depth)
March 27, 2013
For anyone who reads my blog in an RSS feeder and is finding that the links to the “Pacification of Set” story aren’t working, I decided after posting it that I needed to create a parent page of “Modern Myths,” and that changed the story’s URL. The ritual post has now been updated. Sorry!
(Am going to have to do something about my sidebar if I add a lot more stories….)
Here are my photos from this year’s Feast of Set, Lord of the Oasis. (See the ritual text for context.) The four shrine views are linked to larger versions of the images.
The shrine on the first night.
Another view, an hour or so later, when the candle has burned down quite a bit and some offerings have been partaken of.
(Nathan Fillion voice: The candle is Set’s penis.)
A minute or two before going out.
Set takes a nap.
The next evening: Roses for the ka of the Lord of the Oasis
Set enjoys His offerings of barbecued pork ribs and salad.
A closer view. Is it just me, or does He look rather smug?
Dua Set! Nekhtet!
(For those who don’t get the Nathan Fillion reference: Captain Hammer from “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog”.)
Notes and references follow the ritual. For copyright reasons, placeholder text is used for the incense-lighting prayer; if you don’t have access to the source text, use your own preferred prayer.
Advance warnings: This ritual is based on northern hemisphere seasons and is very UPG. Also includes sexual symbolism.
Ritual for the Feast of Set, Lord of the Oasis
Day One, The Pacification of Set
Establish two shrines, one for libations and one for Set.
Prepare the “milk of Bast.”* One portion is to be in a glass for offering; the rest in a bowl, with a small red taper candle standing in the center. The milk should be deep enough that the candle flame will eventually be submerged as it burns down.
Make the four-fold libation, as in Senut.
Upon the shrine of Set, light flame and incense.
[Lighting incense prayer from Siuda, p. 22]
Light the red candle in the bowl of milk.
Reading: The Pacification of Set
[see separate file]
Words to be spoken while offering the milk of Bast.
Here is Your milk, O Set!
Here is Your sweetness, O Red One!
The Lady of Per-Bast has come to You
in Her name of Mistress of Joy.
Song: Lord of the Northern Sky
Lord of the Northern Sky,
wearing the crown of winter,
far to the south Ra’s Eye
is walking the road in Her season,
bringing the summer,
bringing the sun’s light.
When will You cease Your raging,
soldier of many battles,
where is the end of fighting
when everything has been forgotten
except for the struggle,
the thunder and iron.
Look, here She comes, the Mistress of Joy,
bringing You sweetness, bringing You love.
Look, here She comes, Her hands full of pleasure.
Taste Her milk, close Your eyes.
Lord of the Northern Sky
for whom the whole world trembles,
let go the snow and ice,
lay down Your mighty scepter.
Lord of the Northern Sky,
dream of a desert wind.
Lie down and sleep for a while
until the new day.
And when You waken
a thousand flowers bloom.
Spend time in celebration while partaking of the offering.
Words to be spoken when the red candle has been extinguished.
You are pacified, O Set, Lord of Thunder!
You are pacified, O Set, Great of Strength!
May You look upon us with kindness when You awaken,
satisfied like Hethert on the field of Iunu.
Lay the image of Set down upon His back on the shrine.
To be whispered.
Remove spent offerings but keep the shrine up until the next day.
*The Milk of Bast (White Russian recipe)
2 oz vodka
1 oz coffee liqueur
Pour vodka and coffee liqueur over ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass. Fill with light cream and serve. (Note: You may need to increase the amounts depending on the size of your bowl.)
Ritual for the Feast of Set, Lord of the Oasis
Day Two, The Day of Feasting
Place flowers upon the shrine; present an offering meal; sing songs and give praises; ask Set for an oracle.
This is one of the festivals that I’ve celebrated most consistently over the last few years, but this is the first year I wrote up and performed a detailed ritual for it. My take on the festival is that it marks the end of the winter storms in my area and thus is a time to honor Set, to thank Him for sparing us from His wrath in the previous season, and to celebrate the changing weather and emerging flowers. (See some previous thoughts on the subject.) This year I further elaborated on it by bringing Bast into the mix to help explain Set’s mellowing mood; the result is the modern myth of “The Pacification of Set,” inspired by a line from Borghouts. (See the story itself for more details.)
I did not in fact ask for an oracle from Set on the second evening; I was really tired, and it slipped my mind. I did, however, “wassail” my early-spring-flowering trees and shrubs with the leftover “milk” from the bowl, with the words, “The Lord of Thunder is pacified. He comes to you as the Lord of the Oasis.”
(See pictures of the festivities!)
Edited to add: I was lucky enough to have a couple of volunteers to help “beta-test” this ritual, and Saryt has posted her experience here!
Borghouts, J. F, trans. 1978. Ancient Egyptian Magical Texts. Leiden: E. J. Brill. Google Books preview: http://books.google.com/books/about/Ancient_Egyptian_Magical_Texts.html?id=9f8UAAAAIAAJ.
Siuda, Tamara L. 2009. The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook. New Lenox, IL: Stargazer Design.
March 26, 2013
Sannion has a couple of recent posts (here and here) on the issue of there being too many writers and not enough do-ers in pagandom. That people are so busy venting their opinions on whatever the controversy of the week is that they don’t have time to build their own personal practice or community.
I think this is why I’m generally not very current on this blog. I see these topics come and go, and I think I want to say something relevant, but when I come down to it, formulating a point of view and putting it into words just feels wearisome. And if it’s not bringing me joy, working through some necessary issue in my own life, or serving the Gods, what’s the point? I’d rather babble on about going out at lunch time for my first long walk in ages to celebrate the early spring flowers (the first daffodils are out!) for the Feast of Set. Which was awesome, by the way. Such a pretty day, with the perfect amount of spring briskness.
The Gods know, we’re trying in the House to bring the doing. It makes such a huge difference when people are working on projects together or getting together in person; it builds a foundation that lifts everything up, personal and communal alike. It’s hard — inertia is always a factor, and attrition, and personal conflicts, and just the busyness and distraction of everyday life. But you have to keep trying. Whether in individual practice or as part of a group, you have to keep flowing, or else you stagnate.
There are probably too many readers, as well as too many writers, come to think of it. And I know this issue well from the inside, as I frequently find myself reading on a subject as a replacement for actually doing something concrete, like practicing meditation or developing my own relationships with the Gods. (I’ve even been known to carry books around like talismans, as if having them next to me will magically cause my life to be simplified and my wisdom and tranquility to be increased.)
Other people have said it, but I think it’s worth saying again: Do. Act. Live your religion. Nobody else can live it for you.
And now I’m going home to feast with the Lord of Thunder.