Sometimes Research = More Reasons To Want To Set Things On Fire

Calendar again, of course.

I was looking into Rekeh-Wer and Rekeh-nedjes, the festivals of Greater and Lesser Burning, because I figure things that matter enough to get recorded at least for a while in month names should be considered as things to put on the calendar.

Which led to running http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rekeh-wer and http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rekeh-nedjes through Google translate and swearing a lot. Because not only are these festivals, as I vaguely remembered, named for “the months you really need the furnace going ‘cos it’s cold”, but which months they were celebrated in apparently changed over time! (Possibly with the precession of the calendar, even, to keep them at the same time of year.)

Which means – for one – that the concept of these festivals, no matter how significant, has a major northern/southern hemisphere split and is thus incompatible with the goal of a calendar that makes some bloody sense regardless of location and is more localisable than that. (Here, the Lesser Burning would probably fall earlier than the Greater, for example.)

So what the fuck do I do about that? I mean, aside from research to see if there were any other associations for these festivals if I can find some information about them. Even if they were month names in the Middle Kingdom (by the New they’d been replaced, more or less) and thus worth considering, they’re just. Argh. Local. Essentially by the power of their naming.

Mutter mutter kick things set things on fire LOOK I AM CELEBRATING A BURNING FESTIVAL. JUST IN TIME FOR THE NEXT BLIZZARD.

I love it when a plan comes together

So my last post led to an astronomer friend calculating the relevant appulse for me, which is doing wonders for my calendar revs. And I started poking around at the structural underpinnings of things as a result, and came up with something I could have come up with years ago if I’d been paying attention from the right angle.

Specifically, that if I assume the appulse of Sirius and the sun falls at the midpoint of the period of invisibility, it would be interesting to see what festivals fall around the start of it.

There is one. Which I faithfully recorded in my calendar spreadsheet when I pulled it out of the El-Sabban book, timed for the start of the disappearance of Sopdet. In my notes it is, from the Esna calendar, “Feast of the beginning of the year, revealing of the face, like 2 Peret 8″.

Me, when taking notes into the spreadsheet: “WTF is a feast of the beginning of the year doing in 2 Shomu?!” All of the other festival notes on this date refer to Nit (as to the 2 Peret 8 ones), so that’s a thing to track down.

Also? If I look up the date of the conjunction, the point when Sirius/Sopdet and the sun are closest?

That’s Aset Luminous.

State of the Research

I am off on calendars again. (Cue laugh track.)

The current bunny I’m chasing is figuring out how to locate or calculate the appulse of Sirius and the sun. I’ve found a few sites that give their conjunction as falling on between 4 and 6 July, with some consensus on maybe the 5th, which would, by my mythological-and-technical calculation as previously done, place a location-neutral Wep Renpet around 9 August. (With the seventy-day period of invisibility centred on the conjunction, and thus beginning on 30 May. I should look for interesting festivals around the end of May, huh?)

But that’s conjunction (sun and star at same right ascension) not appulse (sun and star at closest approach) and I would prefer appulse. (I wonder if my astronomy textbooks have information on how to calculate this. Not that I can get to them easily, them being up in the attic somewhere, me being six months pregnant and unsuited for ladders, and it being freaking JANUARY.)

Conjunction would be a place to start, at least….

Justice and Peace

There is a chant that goes “No Justice, No Peace”.

We offer ma’at; we establish ma’at; we allow Ma’at to ascend to her shrine. Ma’at is the fundamental offering to the gods, the law under which we establish our societies.

Ma’at is justice. Ma’at is order, is law.

Ma’at is truth.

And the truth is there in the chant, in the slogan. Without justice – without ma’at – there is not order, there is not law, there is not truth, because these are the same thing. Without ma’at there is no balance, no reciprocality, no connection between people.

(And my favorite quote on the subject remains “Ma’at is that force which gathers people together into communities.”)

Substitute in words: Justice is that which gathers people together. Truth is that which gathers people together. Play with these concepts a little. Explore.

According to Sylvie Cauville’s Offerings to the Gods in Egyptian Temples, there is a gift back from the gods when ma’at is properly offered.

I ensure for you that the palace remains stable thanks to your perfect conduct….(p 198)

When we give justice….

…. there is peace.

Thanks to Fred Clark of Slacktivist for the seed for this thought.

Mesore

More rhythmic ponders:

Most of the months of the Egyptian year have a name referencing their primary festival. The last month of the year was called “Mesore”. Birth of Ra.

In ~2500 BCE, the heliacal rising of Sirius would have fallen in early to mid-July, meaning the previous month would have contained the relevant hemisphere’s summer solstice.

Which is interesting.

One of the calendar books I’ve read – and oh gods I have no idea which one anymore – suggested that Ra had twinned birthdays, as with other forms of twinning – the northern and southern birthdays, corresponding to the solstices. I seem to recall there’s some surviving columns that can be archaeoastronomically tied to the northern and southern reaches of the solar motion. (And that there is an inscription about them – Hatshepsut maybe? – describing the “two roads between which my father walks” or some such. Maybe someone will be able to footnote my brain.)

So there’s an interesting pole to put on the year. Maybe. If one’s so inclined.

It is of course not attested in the way that other things are. But it has an interesting feel.

I dither about it every so often.

(In case it’s not obvious, I have just figured out how to schedule posts on WordPress which means that I may have interesting runs of braindump while I chew on specific problems.)

Time and Pacification

So I was thinking about the Great Festival of Djehwty after referencing it in the previous post.

Here is another thing that fits together:

The day after the Great Festival of Djehwty is the Festival of Drunkenness.

Among the associations of that Festival, of course, is the pacification of the Eye – one may recall the red beer offered to Sekhmet in the myth of the Destruction of Mankind. During the unsettled time of the transition from year to year and the Days Upon the Year, the Eye goddesses are ascendant, powerful, dangerous; amulets of cats and lions may have been exchanged to ward off their dangerous attention.

So: if my theory about Djehwty’s guidance over the delicate flow of time in the transition between years is accurate, then the Great Festival is the point at which time is reasserted as entirely, safely normal.

And the day after that the Eye is pacified.

This does not strike me as coincidental: it seems to me that the Eye, having been released and likely enjoying her rampage, needs to be brought back into ordered time, and the point at which that can and must be done is at the point at which time is brought back into its proper place.

… whoa.