Grave Moss & Stars

Archive for the ‘Magic & Ritual’ Category

Quasi-Guest Post: My Partner’s Wep Ronpet

As I’d hoped, my (non-Kemetic) partner did indeed make pansnakes and ritually slay them on the first day of the new Kemetic year. More than that, however, he sent me a narrative, accompanied by photos, which I am sharing with you all. I laughed so hard I cried when I got them on Saturday. :D

*cue ominous foreshadowy music* From the murky Teflon depths of isfet…
It’s alive! Alive!
Back, foul creatures! Back, I say!
Ho! Ha ha! Guard! Turn! Parry! Dodge! Spin! Ha! THRUST!
Taste cold steel… and justice!
If it bleeds, we can kill it.
Hisssss! (Translation: Run away! Run away!)
No surrender, no retreat!
Usually one goes from the frying pan into the fire, not the other way around…
Villain! Have at thee!
You may be quick, but my blade is quicker. En garde!
Ha! Missed me, missed me, now ya gotta ki… Ya know what, never mind. Hya!
Tsunami CHOP!
*shinnng!* *slow motion choppy sound from Samurai Jack*
One two! One two! And through and through. The vorpal blade went snicker-snack!
…and with its head he went galumphing back. Oh frabjous day! Callooh! Callay! Hail the conquering hero!
What is best in life?

To crush isfet, see it driven before you, and eat the tasty tasty remains. *nomnomnom!*

historical heka, modern heka

Going through Faulkner’s translation of the Coffin Texts, I’m finding some gems.

Spell 470: “I have appeared as Pakhet the Great, whose eyes are keen and whose claws are sharp, the lioness who sees and catches by night. … I find Orion standing on the path with the staff in his hand, and I set up the staff and receive it, and I am a god by means of it.”

Spell 471, written on a man’s coffin: “A man has power through his magic. I have stood up as a holy woman, I have sat down as […] the sky, because you know my magic which I take to the sky.”

These make me gleeful, because I am nerdy and queer, and I like finding obscure lioness Netjeru and references to men standing up as women. This is a big part of this soft-recon / researchy-revivalism path that appeals to me—I like finding others’ words and integrating them into myself and my worldview. I nom language, and it nourishes me. I feel connected when I can read or hear something from a different time, culture, or just a different person and understand it, grok it, digest it, use it.

But I don’t live entirely off others’ words. I am a writer, too. I write my own heka, some shared publicly, some still private. My tone of voice when writing heka is based on the historical sources I’ve read, and that tone evokes a particular feeling that helps me remember that it’s heka, not just journaling or pondering or wishing. For example, check the difference between “My eyes are the eyes of Nebt-het” and “I have Nebt-het’s eyes.” Both are entirely valid!… but one feels more like heka to me than the other.

(Of course, this is all from a strictly English view. I can’t read Middle Egyptian (yet?), so I can only speak to the language in which I am fluent and in which I do most of my verbal thinking and discourse.)

Finding and using historical heka, and writing and using my own, is a balancing act for me. While some Kemetics may prefer one source over the other, I really enjoy having a blend of ancient heka that resonates with me and heka I create for myself. So I write heka and prayers in a paper journal multiple times a week, and I peruse the Coffin Texts, seeking both style and inspiration from ancient voices filtered through the pages.

“. . . his pen is a wand which lets him surpass; he will perform deeds and achieve governance – so says Osiris of [name]. One who has recourse to the storm, with protection in his hand . . .”

(Spell 665, CT.)

subtle gods

I gather the usual supplies: incense, candle, cool liquid. I resist the urge to get the I’m-sorry-it’s-been-so-long wine from the fridge, choosing instead Nebt-het’s other favorite, blackberry-grape water. I pour some for Her, then savor the rest—the taste takes me back to the first summer-soaked days in Texas, when our house was yet empty and I was only beginning to know Her.

I make the offerings, kneel before the shrine, and call on my Mothers. There is no tangible response, and wise words ring through my head, remembered: Most of the gods are subtle. That is one thing They can be said to be, overall. We tend to miss Them, rather than Their not being around.

When I shift my own perceptions to a finer grain, looking for the hints of grey that fill the gaps in the primary spectrum, I find a sense of Her. Nebt-het is subtlety squared, soft and velvet like shadows, and if I shine the light of my attention too hard towards Her, I’ll never see Her.

She likes the drink, and I think She likes the necklace I made for Her; it’s enough of a response, at least, for me to wear it around my neck. It loops twice and is heavy.

Hethert-Nut is more palpable, but I have to stretch to reach Her, and I do not have enough of a stable root system threading through the hard clay soil that I can extend myself beyond the atmosphere without wavering, unbalanced. I feel like a sea fern, all lace and undulation, but at least I glimpse Her nebulae and can feel Her radiant, suffusive love.

I ask two questions of each of Them, and the answers They give are what I had expected, save one which is humbling. For the umpteenth time, I wonder how I could do this better, how I could perceive my Mothers more clearly and strongly; I know I’m capable of sensing more, given my interactions with Ma’ahes, Who can paint the insides of my eyes His sunset-orange.

But I already know the answer. It’s the way I initially approached Serqet: heart-felt action with zero expectations. Going into shrine with high hopes of a mind-blowing, visceral experience with the Netjeru will frequently prevent me from being open enough to feel what actually happens—which is often more subtle and quieter than I might wish.

Thank You, Nebt-het, for showing me how to look for the subtle nature of Netjer, just by being Who You are. I love You.

Treading the Fishes

I took a bit of catfish from my partner’s dinner plate and squirreled it away with a piece of crabcake from my own meal, wrapping them both in a napkin and tucking it into my shirt pocket. When he didn’t bat an eye or remark on my seafood hoarding, I laughed. “It’s for Treading the Fishes,” I told him, and he made the ohhh of recognition. For a non-Kemetic, he’s pretty savvy.

Treading the Fishes is a multi-day festival that celebrates recurring fertility and kingship; lasting from III Shomu 19 (Monday) to III Shomu 23 (Friday), it involves the king treading on dried fish, hence the name. Stomping the fish is symbolic of conquering isfet (uncreation), but also ties into the cyclical fertility of the land, as the fish are buried to provide nutrients to the soil for the next growing season. The king would also re-dedicate herself to her nation of Kemet and offer the Heqa sceptor, a symbol of rulership, to Khnum, the Netjeru Who makes the each human on His potter’s wheel.

So I took my tiny bit of fishes out to our little garden-like section near the front door and dug a shallow pit, then tucked the food, now wrapped inside a folded paper, into the soil. I covered the packet with fresh dirt, watered it with pure water (to help the paper start decomposing), and gave it a good couple stomps; I am certainly no king or representative of one, but I am happy to participate in symbolically refertilizing the earth and helping ensure the next good growing season. The act of setting aside some bounty to fuel and welcome the next surge of abundance feels very important to me, not to mention useful and applicable in many different areas of life.

On the paper that held the now-dried fish, I had written a little heka:

As the land provides for me,
so I provide for the land in what ways I can;
as Netjer provides for me,
so I offer to Netjer in what ways I can.
I give back part of what I receive
to open the way for abundance.
Dua Wesir and Set, Who dance the cycle
of green growth and fallow rest,
both equal in the eyes of Ma’at!
Dua Geb, Who encompasses both crest and trough,
Who makes us mortals live with His gifts!

KRT: Heka

This post is part of the Kemetic Round Table, which aims to answer some of the most common questions and provide a wealth of diverse options for the Kemetic novice to explore.

Today’s Kemetic Round Table post covers heka; specifically, what it is and how it is used.

I would like to, first and foremost, direct your attention to two exemplary posts: the first by Sarduriur as a general academic overview of what heka is (and is not), and the second by Saryt as an interpretation of heka applied to music. They are both stellar reads and speak volumes beyond what I will cover here.

Furthermore, since I’ve already written my take on the basics of heka, I would like to give some examples of heka, rather than restate myself or repeat portions of the aforelinked fantastic essays.

To sum up briefly: Heka is not magic as Westerners think of magic; it is authoritative utterance or meaningful speech, and it is a power that lies within every person and every Netjeru. Heka is a natural and neutral tool, neither innately positive or negative, and can be used to defend and attack as well as propitiate and strengthen. Heka was frequently used to identify oneself with different deities in order to assume Their characteristics (and powers) and can be akin to sympathetic magic in that regard; to speak (or scribe) is to make it so.

Now, let’s get to a couple of modern heka samples, shall we? They should illustrate just how simple and clear-cut heka can be; it’s not all fancy ceremonial litanies that take half an hour to recite! (Not to knock long-form heka, mind; it has its place, as do the briefer kinds.)

first heka: for migraines

I suffer from migraines, and while I have them in hand for the most part, they can still take me out at the kneecaps if I’m caught unawares. Because a migraine feels like my brain is unraveling in a rather painful and messy fashion, I liken it to uncreation, and I invoke the Eye of Ra Who has made me to protect me. (In my particular case, the Eye can be both Nebt-het (Nephthys), my divine Mother, and Sekhmet.) While this heka could also be done by my directly assuming the role of the Eye goddess, I am usually too swamped by the migraine symptoms to confidently pull that off.

This migraine seeks to uncreate me!
Its darkness is the darkness of Apep‘s coils;
its pain is the pain of Apep‘s teeth.
My Lady the Eye burns away the shadows;
She burns away the pain and cauterizes me.
My Lady the Eye has created me
and no force shall undo Her work in me.

second heka: for eye trouble

I wear contacts, and on rare occasion, I’ll get some little grain of grit sandwiched between a lens and my eye. It’s deeply uncomfortable and often sharply painful, and since I don’t currently have glasses of an appropriate Rx, I’m stuck hoping I can wash the offending particle out and put my contact right back in. Given that I’d be legally blind without contacts, it’s kind of vital that I be able to wear ’em, especially at work or while driving. I’ve used the below heka a couple times to considerable effect; the first two lines are paraphrased from an ancient prayer to Bast-Ra.

Turn to me, peace-loving Netjer, forgive me;
Make light for me so I can see Your beauty.
My eye is the eye of Heru that was wounded and made whole again.

third heka: job-hunting

This heka was made for my partner, the first part to be spoken before starting a job-hunting session (online or in person) and the second part to conclude that session. I involve Heru-wer only because He’s willing, but other deities could easily take His place if the need arose.

Heru-wer, accept this incense and grant me opportunity.
My eyes are Your eyes, my hands Your talons;
I will swoop down and seize success.
. . .
Thank You for Your long sight and swift wings, Heru.
May we enjoy victory together – nekhtet!

fourth heka: protection

This is part of a longer execration heka; I conclude the heka by invoking my personal Netjeru (plus Set) for protection.

Nebt-het watches over me,
Hethert-Nut uplifts me,
Ma’ahes guards me,
Serqet guides me.
Sekhmet is over me,
Set is behind me,
Netjer is around me.
I am safe from all isfet.

If you enjoyed this post, please check out the other takes on heka by my fellow Round Table bloggers!

Sepa, Centipede God

Today is a Feast Day for Sepa, the centipede god of ancient Egypt. Sepa is considered to be a protector against poisonous bites and stings, which is a common attribute among deities of venomous creatures, including scorpions (Serqet) and snakes (Wadjet and others). He’s also invoked against the Uncreated One in its serpent form, reinforcing Sepa’s ability to protect mortals against everyday snakes.

The Kemetic Orthodoxy calendar lists Him as Heru-Sepa, or Horus-Who-is-Sepa, and as a son of Sekhmet. Unfortunately, on short notice, the most reliable information I can find on Sepa is the aforementioned link to Henadology, and the primary reference for that article is in French (which is fine) but not among my personal collection (which is less fine), so I can’t verify it first-hand. Nothing in the Henadology article, nor in the quick’n’cursory research I did, shows me how Sepa is a form of Heru; it seems like Sepa is more thoroughly linked to Wesir (Osiris) and funerary purifications, only encountering Heru when He brings Sepa (linked to the inundation) to Cairo. I freely admit that my initial spark of curiosity about Sepa was due to His being a son of Sekhmet, but without knowing from whence that came historically, I am hesitant to put my full weight on it as a bridge to Him.

All the same, I have been thinking about seeking out Netjeru with Whom I am unfamiliar or unacquainted and saying hello. Centipedes freak me right the hell out, so why not start with their god? (I have a strange sense of what constitutes a good idea.)

Things I have been extrapolating, inferring, and/or contemplating, which I have not verified in any historical source:

  • Most centipedes are primarily carnivorous and only eat vegetable matter when starving, but are otherwise opportunistic feeders. That means I feel pretty good about offering meats and/or cheeses to Sepa, but not fruits, and not really sweets (which are frequently grain-based).
  • Centipedes tend to be nocturnal, which means approaching Sepa after dark is not only a-okay but potentially downright preferential.
  • Centipedes are heavily dependent on water, since they dry out easily, so cool water is an exceptionally appropriate offering for a centipede god of the desert.
  • And since centipedes are so water-dependent, perhaps that partially explains Sepa’s link to the inundation: centipedes flourish as the flood courses through the land, providing them the essential moisture to thrive.
  • Some (unverified) online sites suggest that Sepa is associated with fertility for one or both of these two reasons: centipedes follow along after earthworms, which fertilize the soil as they pass; and Sepa has been depicted with the head of a donkey, linking Him to donkey manure used in fertilization of the fields.
  • Likewise, some sites suggest that part of Sepa’s protective role, especially in regards to protecting Wesir, is due to the fact that centipedes will eat the bugs that feast on a dead body.
  • Sepa has been depicted as a mummiform man with two small “horns” on His head; I wonder if these horns correspond with centipede forcipules?
  • Here (unverified site; I want to look this scene up in a book soon), Sepa is invoked as a god of the east in a purification by a sem-priest; I can only imagine He’s being called upon to purify the body or ka of all toxins.

So, tonight, I did a light purification and laid a modest offering spread for the Feast of Sepa: sausage slices and sharp cheddar, cool water, incense, and a candle. I invited Him in to partake of the food and drink and spent most of the time in shrine contemplating what little I had learned of Him and what other parts I was guessing at. I wondered if I was the only Kemetic who, in that moment, was offering to Him, as He is not a well-known god, but rather than feeling the enormity of a mostly-undistracted Netjeru’s direct attention, I got the distinct sense that He stays quite industrious in the Unseen, in the underworld, working to protect Wesir and to purify the kau who come to be weighed against Ma’at’s feather. I did have the pleasure (eh-heh) of receiving a few impressions of a rather large centipede, enjoying the offerings I’d laid out on my altar; I haven’t the faintest whether it was my imagination, one of Sepa’s netjeri, or Sepa Himself. Took a bit of self-control not to flinch, either way!

I reverted the food offerings, but left the water on the shrine to evaporate naturally (a slow process in a humid environment), my way of providing a longer-term offering symbolic of that which sustains all life—including centipedes.

Dua Sepa! May You never thirst!

Celebrating Feasts, Festivals, Processions, etc

When I was planning my Pagan Blog Project topics, earlier in the year, I listed “Feasts and Festivals” for one of the weeks of F. The Kemetic calendar has a lot of types of holidays, and I thought it would be really useful to my practice, and potentially to my readers, to figure out the differences and how I’d celebrate/observe them.

And then another Kemetic blogger beat me to the punch with a really well-written post about keeping Kemetic holidays, based on what we know and are willing and able to celebrate. *shakes fist!* :)

In all honesty, though, having that post already written sort of nullifies my need to go into great detail, so instead, I’m linking to it for my readers’ benefit and will do a quick, mostly-for-my-own-reference breakdown below.

Please note that I’m discussing how I myself do or will celebrate, not suggesting it be the end-all for anyone else! Holidays are a learning experience for me, and I don’t really do any of ’em the same way twice. Also, I do not actually celebrate every single Kemetic holiday… especially given that there’s one or more almost every day of the year! I pick and choose, based on my available time, my purity, and how close I am (or would like to be) to the Netjeru in question.

Feast: The perfect excuse to have a little extra awesome in one’s diet! I dedicate the meal of the day to that particular god, or offer Them a special small treat or drink.

Festival: No holds barred! I’ll usually base my activities/offerings on the characteristics of the Netjeru in festival and what They’re associated with, such as martial arts for Sekhmet or music for Hethert-Nut.

Procession: This is a hard one for me, as I don’t normally celebrate them currently. My ideas consist of taking a physical representation of the god on a walkabout, or taking myself out for a walk/drive and offering the time and experience to the god in question, almost like a walking meditation.

Saq (Appearance): Like festivals, these can be very flexible holidays, but I think I’d like my fallback idea to be a candle and incense in offering, and a few minutes of quiet contemplation/interaction in shrine. I feel like a Saq is a time for me to be receptive and attentive, rather than proactive and celebratory.

God Birthday: A time for gifts! Offerings of activities (like music-making) or physical presents (like art or flowers), as well as more traditional offerings of food, drink, candles, and incense. Like festivals, offerings and gifts will be Netjeru-specific.

Lunar Celebration: I’m not close to any of the traditional moon gods, so I currently don’t do anything here. What I’d liiike to do is establish one Netjeru as my go-to lunar deity and begin actually getting back into touch with the cycles of the moon…

Major Holiday: There’s usually enough information on the big holidays, like Wep Ronpet (New Year) and the Mysteries of Wesir (Osiris), that I don’t have to invent my own way of celebration, happily.

Magic to the People

Drew Jacob, of Rogue Priest and Altmagic fame, has a new project: to open his door in New Orleans to anyone who wants or needs a dose of magic.

Through crowdfunding, Drew hopes to raise enough money to create “an open-door workspace to provide spells to whoever needs them, at no fixed cost. Together we can outfit the space to serve the community with positive, life-changing magic ceremonies.” Located at a cultural cross-section of New Orleans, Drew is well-positioned to be able to offer help to a wide diversity of folks who could walk in, sit down, and be heard.

Whether magic is metaphysically real or “just” a psychological tool, the validity of magical experiences to create change in an individual’s life has been experienced in nearly all cultures and ages. Like faith, like love, the intangibility of magic has never stopped it from making an impact. And like faith, like love, cost should not be a barrier preventing someone from getting the benefits of magic.

Drew wants to create a pay-what-you-can magical workshop to serve anyone who needs it, in a city already rife with magic. What’s not to love?

Come support the project—or, if you can’t afford to, please spread the word!

The Name, The Quest

On Wednesday, February 6, 2013, I took vows to become a Shemsu of Kemetic Orthodoxy, along with my sister and a son of Ra-Heruakhety.

A Shemsu, or “follower,” is a sworn devotee of Kemetic Orthodoxy; in antiquity, the term was used to describe “a member of the Kemetic court, sworn to serve the nation as a ‘follower of the royal household,'” as per The Shemsu vows are pretty simple, once boiled down: to honor the gods of Kemet firstly (not exclusively, mind) and to explore the meanings of one’s Shemsu name. (There are also expectations of good character, primarily around a charge to uphold ma’at in one’s life, and to participate in the Kemetic Orthodoxy community, but those are more general and not explicitly part of the vows.)

The Kemetic name is bestowed upon each new Shemsu by their Parent deity/ies; Hemet, leader of Kemetic Orthodoxy, divines the Shemsu name and its meaning. A new Shemsu receives their name and takes their vows at the same time during a communal naming ceremony, which is a public celebration of the Shemsu’s devotion, as well as an initiatory experience.

My Shemsu name is Itenumuti, which means “Mystery of My Two Mothers,” itnw being ‘mystery’ and mwt being ‘mother.’ My nickname is Tenu, which is what I’ll be going by from here on out.

Much like when I was divined a child of Nebt-het and Hethert-Nut, those closest to me grokked the appropriateness of my name before I did. It took me a few hours of pondering, and a lot of conversation with my sister and my (non-Kemetic but still brilliant) partner, before I felt the first shivery bolt of understanding.

The mystery of my Mothers is one of unconditional love, deep and raw compassion, strong and steadfast protection, and comfort during grief and vulnerability. These are some of the qualities They embody and emanate; these are some of the qualities I am most engaged in practicing myself. Of course I am named after Their mystery which I strive to understand and integrate into my own life and self.

But there was another insight, a deeper reverberation of that understanding. My name can also imply that I am the Mystery myself, too. That I am, perhaps, not only a student of my Mothers’ wisdoms, but also a piece of Their essence. And perhaps, when people quest to understand those mysteries— in the same way that I now quest to understand the secrets and meanings of my Shemsu name— perhaps I can engage with those truth-seekers, those veil-lifters, and offer them what insight and experience I have. And perhaps that will heighten and deepen their own understanding, and the hard-won qualities of compassion and joy will be less mysterious, less distant, to them.

For me, knowing only these two potential interpretations of my name, I am deeply honored and content.

Dua Nebt-het! Dua Hethert-Nut!

PS~ It’s common practice to investigate alternate meanings and puns to one’s name as part of exploring the layers and “secrets” of the name. Not only does itnw mean “mystery” (or riddle or obscurity), it can also mean sun disks, crack in the wall, ashes, one who is complained about, and… fluffy. (That’s right, I am my Mothers’ fluffy. *laugh*) I’m also extremely pleased that the “sun disks” definition can relate to Sekhmet and Ma’ahes both being the sun as an Eye of Ra.

PPS~ Meanings for my nickname, Tenu (tnw) include boundary mark, number / to count, distinction / refinement / honor, to be difficult, senility, to grow up, and to lift up / to promote. Quite a few of these are personally significant: boundary mark relating to Sphinx who guards sacred spaces, to grow up relating to maturing in my spirituality, and to lift up relating to Hethert-Nut lifting Ra upon Her head into the sky. (Of course, I can also be difficult and often feel like I’m a wee bit senile, so it’s not just the wonderful meanings like “an honor” that ring true! ;D)

a promise to make

Tuesday was my birthday, and I was blessed with surprise snow (in Texas, THIS IS AMAZING) in the morning, a zillion wonderfully happy-making birthday wishes from friends and family, and a truly lovely evening spent with my gods in shrine.

Today is a festival of Nit, Who is one of my Mother Nebt-het’s three faces, and my heart is glad: After discourse with Netjer and some months of contemplation, I have made an important choice in my spirituality. I will be taking Shemsu vows, swearing to honor my gods foremost and devoting myself primarily (but not exclusively) to Kemetic Orthodoxy, both the religion and the community. I’ve let Hemet (AUS) know, and I will be standing for my Netjer-given Shemsu name on Wednesday the 30th of this month, at 8h30 CST. It is my great pleasure and honor that my sister Ekunyi and I will be named on the same day; she announced her intentions to become Shemsu earlier this month, to the joy of our Kemetic family.

It has been fourteen months since I underwent the Rite of Parent Divination; it has been almost two years since Sekhmet led me to the House; it has been a lot more years than that that I’ve followed the Red Lady and wholly adored Her. I have loved this community and the Netjeru Who have become my family, and I have grown as a person, for better and for deeper, since I have been a part of Kemetic Orthodoxy. I am proud and excited to step up as a Shemsu, and the four Netjeru of my divination– and Sekhmet as well– support my decision to take these vows.

Dua Netjer! Nekhtet!

Nebt-het, A Winter Goddess?

Two weeks ago, I returned to the mountains of Nevada for the first time I moved almost two years ago… and for the first time since I met the Netjeru Who would be divined my Mother: Nebt-het.

My Mother is quiet and more subtle than any of the other gods of my divined family. While I’ve drawn incredibly close with my Beloveds, Ma’ahes and Serqet, and while I have a lot of indirect interaction with my Mama Hethert-Nut through my love of space and all my creative hobbies, Nebt-het and I remain much less… talkative.

On Christmas Day, white misty clouds rolled in over the gorgeous Nevada mountains and brought with them the snow that I have pined for since leaving for Texas. I stood outside, in socks and a flannel overshirt, and watched the mountains disappear and the first snowflakes begin falling.

It was cold, and still, and shushed-quiet, though I could hear the happy burble of my rowdy extended family inside the house behind me. Everything was calm and greyscale and absolutely, perfectly beautiful.

And I realized… this was Her. This was my Mother; this was Nebt-het. This greyness, this chill, this solemn quietude, these tiny white pieces of the sky drifting downwards, this half-light between day and night. This was Her peace, the soothing touch of cool hands that help the living transition from life.

I started Wiccan, and there’s enough of that left in me that I find it no stretch at all to link the death-stage of the Wheel of the Year, winter’s cold hibernation, to the death of individuals passing from warm and vibrant life to the Otherworld, and thus to the goddess Who facilitates that transition and Who comforts those left behind. She is, after all, married to Set, the god of all storms– including even blizzards. It is not so hard to believe that a Netjeru of Egypt could be linked to snow in the Nevada desert.

Standing in the cold, my nose and feet gone numb, my hair dusted white, I was surrounded by my Mother’s presence, and quietly overjoyed.

Mysteries of Wesir Shrine

Wesir’s green sigil lying on Nebt-het’s “pillow,” overseen by Nebt-het’s black bone ankh, Her sigil, Aset’s lighter sigil, and Yinepu’s onyx stone. Offerings: pure water, jasmine incense, hand-picked winter flowers from my yard, and a green tea candle.

A Vigil for Wesir

We are in the middle of a five-day Kemetic holiday called the Mysteries of Wesir (Osiris). In short, it is an observance of Wesir’s death, the lamentation of the Netjeru Who love Him, and His emergence into the realm of the dead. It is one of the most foundational holidays to Kemetic Orthodoxy.

I have been formally Kemetic for only about a year and a half; I’ve been pagan for a decade. This celebration of death, especially timed at the seasons’ change, is very familiar to me. In some ways, my own cycles mirror the dying and hibernation of the world. But I hadn’t really celebrated the Mysteries before.

Last night, ideally, one would hold a six-hour vigil from midnight to dawn, with prayers and offerings on each hour; the experience of sitting in shrine is a loyal witness to Wesir’s loss and His transition into the Duat, the Unseen, the otherworld where the dead are. Hemet, Kemetic Orthodoxy founder, has written some beautiful words on the night-long vigil.

But I work a dayjob, and I could not last until dawn. So I compromised and chose a one-hour vigil from 11 pm to midnight.

No electronics. No food; no water. None of my sacred jewelry or accoutrements. Just me and death, stretched out in front of the fire in the hearth.

I had a tiny shrine set up: a purple seed-filled “pillow”, about the size of a palm, from Nebt-het’s shrine, on which rested the green sigil I painted for Wesir at Wep Ronpet, as though She laid Him in Her own bed to watch over Him. Standing vigil were Her black bone ankh and Yinepu’s onyx stone. And I had a bowl of clear, pure water set next to it all.

It was the water that gave me the insight I had been seeking, even though I didn’t know why I’d set it out at all, beyond listening to that wordless urge of “this should be done” that so often drives my offerings. I lay down on the floor, my chin on my hands, and I saw the firelight reflected in the water’s still surface perfectly.

I have been struggling to understand Wesir; how can a god be dead, yet still have human worshippers and devotees? How can He be as gone from us as gone can be, gone like my father’s father and my mother’s mother, and yet still bless us and speak with us?

The water was the answer. Just because the flames were not housed in the bowl into which I gazed did not mean that the flames did not exist and burn somewhere else, a little farther from me but still visible nonetheless.

Just because Wesir is dead does not mean we cannot reach Him; only that He is not in the same place as the living Netjeru, like the fire is not in the same place as the water, even though, to my eye, they appear to be.

I understand so much better now.

I wrote out the translations of the Lamentations of Aset and Nebt-het then, by hand; it took me most of the hour. I savored each line, following the story closely: They start by calling for Him to return, then reciting the things They have done to protect and re-establish Him, then end by welcoming Him as the god of the dead. When I was done, I read it aloud, quietly.

In the middle of this, almost exactly the middle of the hour, the fire went out. I’d gotten absorbed by my writing and hadn’t fed it quickly enough; I added a few smaller sticks, turned the gas back on to help relight it from the still-glowing embers, and waited.


Then, after a few long moments, it flared up spectacularly. I finished writing out the Lamentations by its flickering light.

Welcome back, Wesir.