February 26, 2013
Notes and references follow the ritual. For copyright reasons, placeholder text is used for a couple of prayers; if you don’t have access to the source text, use your preferred flame and incense prayers.
Full Moon Ritual for Honoring Khonsu-Heru as the Young King of the Gods
Light candle and incense.
[Lighting incense prayer from Siuda, 22]
[Lighting fire prayer from Siuda, 111]
Pour a libation of cool water.
Song: Sa Bast
Nefer neb, sa Bast,
shining like the plume of Ma’at!
Sa Bast, neb awt-ib,
Khonsu-Heru, You make us live!
Lift our hearts so that we might live!
Words to be spoken.
O great disk who illuminates the Two Lands, You are Ra of Upper and Lower Egypt.
You rejuvenated yourself that you might go forth upon the lotus in the pool.
You are the living body, the son of your mother, who goes forth upon the lotus
to travel in accordance with ma’at to the place where Your majesty is.
Khonsu-Heru, son of Bast, rise up and take Your two crowns!
Khonsu-Heru, master of joy, rise up and take Your was scepter!
Khonsu-Heru, young King of the Gods, adorned in white linen,
You shine like Djehuty, You shine like Geb, You shine like Ra.
Your barque sails forth upon the river of stars;
it carries You across the sky.
All things come to fulfillment at Your glorious appearance
in Your name of Khonsu-Heru-Tem.
Perform your own contemplations or devotions here.
O Khonsu-Heru, may You be satisfied with what is before You!
May Your heart be refreshed; may Your ka be pleased.
Dua Khonsu-Heru — nekhtet!
It is come to an end, as shown in writing.
So. I don’t know how useworthy anyone else will find this ritual or my thoughts on it, given that I’m just about the only person involved with this particular, rather obscure syncretism, and that both God and ritual are enmeshed in my own still-evolving, very-Bast-centric theogeny and ritual calendar. But it might be of some interest, either as a work in itself or as an example of how one person starts from traditional material to create a new religious ritual.
Khonsu-Heru appears to be a relatively late syncretism; He was well known in the Third Intermediate Period and into the Ptolemaic Period (Cruz-Uribe, 186). He was identified as a son of Bast on a naos shrine from Per-Bast (Spencer, 41) and was the fourth of the Seven Arrows of Bast (Rondot, 267). Another attestation is on the gate of Ptolemy III Euergetes at the Temple of Khonsu in Karnak, where He appears as “the left eye who unites with the right eye in the horizon…who takes [the sun’s] place, when [the sun] enters into his mother (Nut)” — in other words, as the moon-son who assumes the role of his sun-father and becomes the king of the Gods in his own right (Kaper, 191-92). In a sense, Khonsu-Heru stands at a point of mythological fusion of the Amun-Mut-Khonsu and Wesir-Aset-Heru triads: Khonsu receives the crown of His father Amun just as Heru-sa-Aset is the heir to the throne of Wesir (Cruz-Uribe, 185-86, 189).
The main prayer of the ritual above turns on this idea of Khonsu-Heru coming into His full power and majesty with the appearance of the full moon, and adds a salting of Bast to the mixture as well. The first part (“O great disk…”) is an adaption of text from a Ptolemaic offering scene featuring Khonsu-Heru (Cruz-Uribe, 174); changes to the original translation include a shift from third-person to second-person, a substitution of “son of his father” to “son of Your mother,” and some general reworking (and/or cherrypicking) of sentences and transitions to help smooth out the poetry. This portion evokes the glory of the lunar disk, restored to its fullness and identified with Ra.
The second part is my own original text and focuses on the attributes of royalty and purity (crowns, scepter, linen; Gods associated with rulership) as Khonsu-Heru becomes King and sets out on His metaphorical and nonmetaphorical journey across the sky (i.e., both the to-be-continued story of His coming reign and the celestial travels of the moon-barque). Ultimately I address Him as Khonsu-Heru-Tem, Khonsu-Heru the Complete One, who has reached the pinnacle of his power and attainment.
The epithets in the song “Sa Bast” (also written by me) are: nefer neb (beautiful lord), sa Bast (son of Bast), and neb awt-ib (lord of joy).
One of the things I struggled with for a long time as a Kemetic was what to do about the moon. So many lunar Gods! I couldn’t figure out who I was supposed to talk to when I looked up and saw the moon in the sky. Djehuty, Khonsu, Wesir, Heru…none of them felt quite right.
Related to this, I wanted very much to do something to celebrate the new and full moons (it’s traditional!), but because I was having difficulty identifying with a moon God, there was no context, and nothing clicked. (Yes, the restoration of the Eye of Heru is a Big Thing, but I don’t have a particular connection with Heru-sa-Aset — or Heru-wer, depending on your mythology — so while it was all very symbolic, it just didn’t have a deeply personal meaning for me.)
What a change when I stumbled across a mention of Khonsu-Heru, lunar God and son of Bast! My vague but unrooted attraction to Khonsu suddenly hooked up with Bast-the-sun-and-center-of-my-life, and all of a sudden we were in business. Moon falcon, white lion, young bull of the Gods, youthful king in the first glorious fullness of His strength — the electric thrill of bright lunar energy blazing against a black sky, excitement, inspiration, the push to accomplish great things — a cool fire, both healing and invigorating, uncompromising but nevertheless gentle — the son of Bast-of-the-sun-and-stars, of the fiery Eye. Wow!
So finally, after taking a little while to get to know Him better (although I still have so, so far to go on that score), I was ready to write my full moon ritual. The result is what you see here.
And as a final note, as I was walking to a mid-day appointment today, I heard a hawk crying out overhead, and I looked up to see it circling above me. I was amused, given that I’d just been working on this ritual only minutes beforehand, so I began to talk about it to the hawk, addressing it as if it were Khonsu-Heru. It continued to circle as I spoke, still calling.
“Are you satisfied with what I’ve done?” I asked at last, and the hawk turned in the smallest imaginable circle — nearly pivoting on one wingtip — directly above my head.
I think I’ll take that as a positive response.
(Now for the new moon ritual.)
Cruz-Uribe, Eugene. 1994. “The Khonsu Cosmology.” Journal of the American Research Center in Egypt 31: 169-189. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/40000676.
Kaper, Olaf E. 1995. “The Astronomical Ceiling of Deir el-Haggar in the Dakhleh Oasis.” The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology 81: 175-195. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3821814.
Rondot, Vincent. 1989. “Une Monographie Bubastite.” Bulletin de l’Institut Français d’Archéologie Orientale 89: 249-270. Available online at http://www.ifao.egnet.net/bifao/Bifao089_art_17.pdf.
Siuda, Tamara L. 2009. The Ancient Egyptian Prayerbook. New Lenox, IL: Stargazer Design.
Spencer, Neal. 2006. A Naos of Nekhthorheb from Bubastis: Religions Iconography and Temple Building in the 30th Dynasty. London: The British Museum. Available online at http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/publications/research_publications_series/research_publications_online/a_naos_of_nekhthorheb.aspx.