Back to Quotes

Thus, wine is depicted being offered, often by statuettes of the king on the palanquin, or within the shrine; incense is burnt; libations are poured; bouquets and piles of offerings are presented. These are among the most common ritual acts depicted on temple walls and called for in temple liturgies. Priests practiced these rites daily. They also practiced them in processions on a regular basis. Thus, there were only a few special episodes, such as cutting the grain, which were not acts performed at least several times a month by the performers. This repetition stabilized the festival celebration and incorporated the powerful–and potentially dangerous–elements of the festival into the predictable fabric of everyday life.

Ancient Egyptian Temple Ritual, Katherine Eaton

I think this may be one of the hardest things to really get under the skin about Egyptian stuff, this idea that breaks in the daily routine are perilous, more prone to things going wrong, and need to be normalised.

I think that a lot of people are more accustomed to an idea of festival time as celebration, as special, as holiday, and certainly there are aspects of that to many festivals, but the precariousness of non-standard time is also a thing that has to be handled gentle, and hemmed in with normalcy, to keep it all grounded.

Wp Rnpt

The most important of the Decan stars was Sirius. This star was represented by a goddess known as to the Egyptians as Sopdet and to the Greeks as Sothis. She was shown as a woman wearing a crown surmounted by a five-pointed star. Each year the period when Sirius rose above the horizon at dawn coincided with the coming of the inundation. This event also marked the start of the Egyptian year. In the Pyramid Texts, Sopdet is named as a manifestation of the goddess Isis. Later in Egyptian history, Sopdet was equated with the Eye of Ra and the heliacal rising of her star was linked to the myth of the return of the Distant Goddess.

Egyptian Mythology, Geraldine Pinch

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

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 and 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.


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….


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.