Season’s Knowings

In the second civil month, the great New Kingdom celebration of Opet predominated. It was a rite expressly connected with the pharaoh and his father Amun(-Re). This extensive festival, also set by the moon, saw the pharaoh-to-be traveling to the temple of Luxor at Thebes in order for his father Amun to give him the powers of kingship as the living Horus falcon. By the New Kingdom, the intimate connection between Amun and pharaoh was solidified in official state religion by this festival, and its twenty-seven-day duration in the twentieth dynasty indicates how significant it had become.

The Ancient Gods Speak: A Guide to Egyptian Religion, Donald B. Redford, editor.

And the regular Opet reminder

The Emboatening Crew on Kiva is once again cycling through its yearly team-focused charitable lending to provide boats to the world’s boatless. (Or boat repairs, or, you know, whatever.)

We’ve got someone who just needs $200 on our radar right now, so that’s eight loans.

If you’re a member of Kiva, please join the Crew and make this happen this Opet.

If you’re not you are of course welcome to come join us.

Opet Upon Us Again

The Eight Great Gods were your first incarnation
to complete this world, while you were one alone.
Your body was hidden among the oldest primordial beings,
for you had concealed yourself as Amun from the face of
the gods.

You fashioned your form as Tatenen, the Land,
to bring the first gods to birth back in your primeval time.
Your comeliness was honored as Kamutef, strong bull of
his mother;
you distanced yourself to the midst of heaven, remained as the sun,
Came as the fathers who engendered their sons;
and a splendid inheritance was left for your offspring.

You began Becoming–
there was no Being, there was no Void:
The world was from You, in the Beginning;
all other gods came after.

— Leiden I 350, as rendered in Hymns, Prayers, and Songs: An Anthology of Ancient Egyptian Lyric Poetry, translated by John L. Foster

The Naming of Cats (And Other Things)

What was the basis of this idea of creation through the word? One might make two points. First, we have here the ancient concept of identity between the word and the object it describes; for this reason, the mouth which ‘pronounced the name of everything’ was thought capable of really creating things; on the other hand, things do not exist unless they are named, and thus the primeval condition may be termed ‘when the name of anything was not yet named’. Secondly, we must realize that in a sacrosanct monarchy people automatically carried into effect the commands given to them – and it was a ‘command (wd*)’ that issued forth from the god’s tongue in our text.

Egyptian Religion, Sigfried Morenz, trans. Ann E. Keep

(* that d should be underlined, I’m not up for digging up the code to make it do.)

Offering and Life

Offerings, as ankh, were consubstantial with god. That such a large portion of them consisted of food makes their link to life force clear. Texts speak of the animal’s thigh and heart as awakening life and transmitting life force to the god. Such texts help us understand the symbolism of presenting the ankh-signs and ib-heart to god during the offering ritual. A god was not immortal in the absolute sense; a god’s life force needed replenishment. Of course, the life force that was returned to god in offerings had previously come from god, the source of life force. Thus offerings to god were consubstantial with god. The circular flow of life from god to king/Egypt and back again prevented the cosmos from winding down. Offerings were more than gift giving; they were reciprocal creation.

– Byron E. Shafer, “Temples, Priests, and Rituals: An Overview”, Temples of God in Ancient Egypt (ed. Shafer)

Appeal To A Higher Court

(Apparently the way my life goes I pull these from whatever book is handy because the baby’s asleep on me, more often than anything organised. Oh well!)

Egyptians saw death not as an end but as a transition. Physical death would place them in the immediate neighborhood of the gods, who are only indirectly present on earth. Thus in a text from the same period, one judge concludes: “Behold, I address myself to you with a legal plaint and you will not hear me. I shall go hence and complain to Anubis about you.” The litigant is not saying that he will offer a prayer at the nearest temple of Anubis; rather, he is threatening to commit suicide so as to cross the threshold between indirect and direct access to the gods and thus appeal to divine justice.

– Jan Assmann, The Mind of Egypt