Festival of the Lights of Nit

I sat down to read the Neith chapter of Barbara S. Lesko’s The Great Goddesses of Egypt today in honor of the Festival of the Lights of Nit, which falls on 5 February in my pinned-to-the-civil-year calendar.

To my moderate surprise, I found a reference in the book to Herodotus describing this festival, and thus actually have a basis upon which I can build a celebration:

At the times when they gather together at the city of Sais for their sacrifices, on a certain night they all kindle lamps many in number in the open air round about the houses; now the lamps are saucers full of salt and oil mixed, and the wick floats by itself on the surface, and this burns during the whole night; and to the festival is given the name Lychnocaia (the lighting of lamps). Moreover those of the Egyptians who have not come to this solemn assembly observe the night of the festival and themselves also light lamps all of them, and thus not in Sais alone are they lighted, but over all Egypt: and as to the reason why light and honour are allotted to this night, about this there is a sacred story told.

– from Project Gutenberg’s Herodotus’s An Account of Egypt

There is an earlier reference in Lesko to the Contendings, in which Nit is described as She “who shone on the first face”, so perhaps this sacred story to which Herodotus refers is honoring Her as the mother of the gods. Lesko quotes a hymn from Esna which concludes “the mysterious one who radiates her brightness”, as well as the sole known text describing Her as creator, a text in which the light shining from Her two eyes became the dawn.

So on this night, the Festival of the Lights of Nit, may all due praise be given to Her, the mystery Who illuminates creation.


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