It’s very fitting that on this fifth and final of the ancient Egyptian Epagomenal Days (according to my reckoning of the Cairo Calendar), this liminal time between the year that is ending and the one that is beginning, that we celebrate the birth of the Great Goddess Nebet-Het (Nephthys), Wife of Set, Sister to Auset and Ausar, Mother of Anpu (Anubis). She is “the Lady of the House,” i.e., the embalming tent, the mourning kite and funerary goddess, the One Who Welcomes Those Who Enter Amenti.
I truly do believe in my heart that She Wyrdly marked me, to borrow the words of Edgar Allan Poe, “from childhood’s hour.” The parade of funerals in my own blood family starting from my early childhood (and shocking deaths too, I might add, such as my being the first person to surprisingly discover my maternal grandfather’s body after he had hung himself; I was 8 years old at the time) were, in hindsight, an Ordeal Path that ultimately baptized me into Her service. Her eerily-lit Underworld pathways are not for everyone but I look back on none of those profound episodes of loss with self-pity. Nephthys is absolutely my heart’s delight, and the Chief Power to Whom I dedicated myself for lifelong service when I became ordained as a Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis nine years ago. She is also the Patroness of my Death Midwife work.
According to the way I reckon the old Cairo Calendar, today is the Third of the Five Epagomenal Days, sacred days set aside as certain Gods’ (the Children of Geb and Nut) birthdays during the liminal period of the old year ending but the new year (Wep Ronpet) not having yet begun. (The New Year in ancient Egypt was calculated by the heliacal rising of the star Sirius, which usually takes place between what we know now as August 1-3.) Day Three of the Epagomenal Days commemorates the birth of my most cherished Kemetic Holy Power: red-hot, ultra-dynamic, take-no-bullshit SET!
No matter how dedicated we may be in our service to our Deities and spirits, and the communities in which we live and serve, I find that it’s good to periodically take time out for a spiritual battery recharge. It’s all the better when that experience can be accompanied by a drastic change of scenery, one that squarely situates you in Nature’s nurturing bosom for a few days, allowing you to simultaneously connect with unfamiliar/non-ordinary terrain and with your own inner resources of flexibility/willingness to endure hardships, physical strength and stamina, and the commitment to be fully present in the moment. Those are the reasons why I like camping (in “primitive” conditions) so much, and why I couldn’t pass up the chance to attend this year’s Green Spirit Festival in southwest Wisconsin. Sponsored by Circle Sanctuary, this annual festival affords community celebrants the chance to create an intentional Pagan village for a three-day weekend, attuning to the land and nourishing the body, heart, mind, and spirit with educational workshops, nature walks, communal rituals and home-cooked meals, at least one handfasting, a major mugwort harvest, a concert from Celtic folksinger and comedienne Celia, Tailteann/Highland Games, a candlelit labyrinth meditational walk at night, and joyous socializing with members of your Tribe that you’d be hard pressed to connect with in person at any other time of the year.
This year’s Green Spirit Festival occurred from Friday, July 28 to Sunday, July 30. It was the spiritual battery recharge experience I was seeking and so much more. It’s taken me a full week to process my experience internally and to integrate its manifold benevolent effects spilling forth, Ace of Cups style, into all aspects of my life, giving me added reason to give profound thanks not just for this Sabbat season of Lughnasàd, but for the Sacred Time of celebrating my Kemetic Gods’ birthdays in that liminal period known as the Epagomenal Days in the ancient Egyptian calendar, that which divides the Old Year from the New.
“Sekhmet the Healer” stained glass by Chicago artist Thom Lausch, now hanging in my living room’s east-facing window. This gorgeous piece was my birthday gift from a dear friend who also happens to be the Executive Director of the Life Force Arts Center of Chicago, where Mr. Lausch often exhibits (and sells) his work. This is my photo; please do not use it without my permission.
If any of my coworkers happen to be reading this, they’ll learn in advance that I plan on calling in a sick day for work tomorrow, as my kidneys are in extraordinary pain. The infection I was diagnosed with last Monday has only worsened with the antibiotics regimen I commenced that day. I was hardly experiencing any pain when I saw my primary care doctor; by the following morning, a dull thud in the middle of my back morphed into a screaming, burning pain that’s only gotten worse in the course of the week.
When I’m in the midst of ritual activity, my body takes a back seat to corporeality, if that makes any sense; instead, an involuntary process of readying myself to be a fitting receptacle for engaging Powers and spirits overrides whatever biological processes I might otherwise find to be more pressing concerns (e.g., hunger, fatigue, having to relieve my bladder, etc.). Given that all last week had me in rounds of devotional rituals during the Epagomenal Days, I dismissed my kidney pain and the regimented schedule of antibiotics and other meds as inconveniences to be dealt with at a later time.
The night of July 31 witnessed the most frenzied activity and invoked many a fiery correspondence: the Blue Moon would wind up overseeing my participation in the Polytheist Day of Protest Against Daesh, wherein I unleashed a doozy of a curse with the aid of a variety of Deities I invoked from the Fertile Crescent as well as Egypt and Greece—Nebet-Het (whose birthday was celebrated in the fifth and final Epagomenal Day; She is also my Patroness), Sekhmet, Set, and the Triple Hekate I honor at both the night of Dark of the Moon as well as Full Moon: Hekate Khthonia, Hekate Brimo, and Hekate Phosphoros. The vessel for my curse was my workhorse of a massive cast iron cauldron and the roaring fire it contained; the fire was comprised of a base of rubbing alcohol (91%) and epsom salts, to which I added my own urine, cactus quills from Texas, asfoetida, and powdered ague root and leaves. Continue reading
It’s a beautiful day here in Chicago to be celebrating the 4th Epagomenal Day, the birthday of the Great Goddess Isis! Hail to the Throne, She Who Takes Possession of the Two Lands! Hail Weret Hekau, Lady Great in Magic! Continue reading
Few times of the year are busier for me in terms of religious activity than the period leading from the end of July to the beginning of August. Continue reading
Strap on your dildo and cue the Norwegian black metal soundtrack! Today is Day 3 of the Epagomenal Days in the ancient Egyptian calendar, celebrating the birth of the most awesome, dynamic, powerful, ¡muy caliente! God in the history of human religious expression: the Great God Set!
According to the nineteenth-century Egyptologist E.A. Wallis Budge, the hawk was probably the first animal that was worshiped throughout ancient Egypt (The Gods of the Egyptians, Vol. 1, Ch. XV). When you consider that along with the polytheistic cultic focus of what the Egyptians called the Njwty, the “local God”, it helps make the discovery of the profusion of Horus Gods in ancient Egyptian religion a little less baffling. Continue reading
In ancient Egypt, magic and religion were indivisible. Priests were magicians and magicians, priests. Hekau was a general term for anyone who used magic, but the “Hekau of the House of Life” were probably specialists in ritual magic who served as the highest rank of temple clergy. Classical writers (Plutarch, Apuleius) refer to the daily ritual performed in Egyptian temples to animate divine statues as an exalted form of magic. This ritual was comprised of daily service for the temple’s chief Deity, in which Its ba, or manifestation, through the statue was purified, fed, clothed and praised. Continue reading