Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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The Epagomenoi: The Birth of Nebet-Het

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The final epagomenal day marks the birth of Nebet-Het, the youngest child of Nut and Geb. Most of this post is introductory and will focus on the practices of Edfu and Dendera during the Ptolemaic period. Despite this I tried to include some trivia and a bit of an explanation of the significance of the holiday. It is in no way complete.

In the Leyden I papyrus the day is called, ‘the child in the nest’ according to Spalinger, and the name of the day isn’t too different in the Leyden II papyrus. This is also the name mentioned in the Cairo Calendar. There is another manuscript which refers to this day as, “the pure AbDw-fish in the front of the barque of Ra”. However from the New Kingdom onward the former name of “child in the nest” is used. Much of this seems to be due to the emphasis on Aset’s ties to Sirius and thus more emphasis on the fourth epagomenal day as opposed to this day. Aset in later periods became more significant of an epagomenal day due to Her later associations with Sopdet, Who is the personification of Sirius. Since Sopdet was tied to the inundation of the new year more emphasis was place on Aset and the transference of Egypt to Wesir.

In Edfu there is a feast and the ambiguous instruction of “all rituals are performed”. The calendar for Het-Hert of the same temple is of little help as enough of the text is preserved to infer there is a feast. I personally repeat the ritual from the birth of Aset based on mostly a hunch and how they two days are treated interchangeably.

Modern Kemeticists like to say a prayer on this day while lighting a candle. While the translation provided from the Cairo Calendar is questionable, it provides some groundwork for anyone who’d like to practice it:

O Nephthys, daughter of Nut,

sister of Seth, she whose father

sees a healthy daughter…I

am the divine power in the

womb of my mother Nut. The

name of this day is The Child

Who is in his Nest.

Sources:

Brier, Bob. Ancient Egyptian Magic. New York: Quill, 1981. Print.

van Bomhard, A.S. The Egyptian Calendar: a Work for Eternity. London: Periplus, 1999. Print.

El-Sabban, Sherif. Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Google books.

Spalinger, Anthony. “Some Remarks on the Epagomenal Days in Ancient Egypt”. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 54.1(1995): 33-47. JSTOR.

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The Epagomenoi: The Birth of Aset

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The fourth epagomenal day marks the birth of Aset, the eldest daughter and fourth child of Nut and Geb. Most of this post is introductory and will focus on the practices of Edfu and Dendera during the Ptolemaic period. Despite this I tried to include some trivia and a bit of an explanation of the significance of the holiday. It is in no way a complete resource.

The epitaph for this day is puzzling because of an issue with the name of this holiday. In the Leyden I papyrus the day is called, “Sobek, great of…”. Sadly much can only be surmised due to the damage of the papyrus. Spalinger notes in the Leyden II papyrus the day was called, ‘the pure one in the field’, though this is possibly an attempt to parallel the holiday back with Wesir (more on this in a moment). The Cairo Calendar calls the day, “the one who makes terror”. Some contention about this day arises from the discrepancies found in some calendars about the recording epagomenal days ending on this day. There is little record following about the fifth day since the records stop here. This day, like the day of Nebet-Het, is also called “the child in the nest”, though the changing of dates may be due to Aset’s association with Sirius.

As suggested in the post about Wesir’s birth, it may be something of a parallel to the couple astronomically as well as mythologically. The constellation Sah’s not only associated with Wesir but with the end of a year cycle. In associating Aset with Sopdet (Sirius) the associations with the new year arise in a different light. Spalding notes that Wesir is tied to the new year through the revival concept as well as Aset in the form of Sopdet passing along Her ownership of Egypt to Wesir. In this sense He also plays a role in the revival of Egypt as well as the revival of the year. We see this reflected in not only in Aset’s epitaph referring to Wesir’s epitaph on His birthday, but as noted in the syncretizing of Sopdet and Sah with Aset and Wesir respectively. Since Aset and Wesir must bring in the new year the emphasis on focusing on the fourth epagomenal day as opposed to the fifth makes more sense. While Spalding dismisses Leyden II on the count that the text seems too distorted to be of any worth, I feel the astronomical and mythical parallels are too big to ignore.

In Dendera, a procession and feast took place in honor of Aset the night before. Other temples had additional rituals, such as the possibility of dedicating the temple to Aset in Philae. In Edfu there is a procession which leads to the “Place of the First Feast” where, alongside Ra, purifications are performed as well the robing ceremony. The procession then moves to the Mesenet-chapel for the night. The Het-Hert calendar of Edfu adds the “festival of the revealing of the face”. It also specifies offerings of fowl, bovine, milk, and wine.

Modern Kemeticists like to say a prayer on this day while lighting a candle. While the translation provided from the Cairo Calendar is questionable, it provides some groundwork for anyone who’d like to practice it:

O this Isis, daughter of Nut, the

eldest, mistress of magic,

provider of the book, mistress

who appeases the two lords,

her face is glorious. I am the

brother and the sister. The

name of this day is He Who

Makes Terror.

Sources:

Brier, Bob. Ancient Egyptian Magic. New York: Quill, 1981. Print.

van Bomhard, A.S. The Egyptian Calendar: a Work for Eternity. London: Periplus, 1999. Print.

El-Sabban, Sherif. Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Google books.

Spalinger, Anthony. “Some Remarks on the Epagomenal Days in Ancient Egypt”. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 54.1(1995): 33-47. JSTOR.


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The Epagomenoi: The Birth of Sutekh

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The third epagomenal day marks the birth of Sutekh, the third child and youngest son of Nut and Geb. Even though Sutekh had some worship in earlier periods in Ancient Egypt, much of that was lost over time due to His later associations with chaos. Most of this post is introductory and will focus on the practices of Edfu and Dendera during the Ptolemaic period. Despite this I tried to include some trivia and a bit of an explanation of the significance of the holiday. It is in no way a complete coverage of the topic.

There seems to be, just like with the birth of Heru-Wr, some interchanging of names. In the Leyden I papyrus the name of the day is, “The pure gAs”. Spalinger notes there is no name for this day in later periods due to how Sutekh was perceived and His subsequent erasure. Conversely the Cairo Calendar called the day “powerful of heart”, which is also the name listed for the birth of Heru-Wr. Another manuscript refers to it as “the night of purifying sxm-pgs”. It is also noted in some manuscripts how the solar barque presented itself on this day. This would be consistent with boat themes found in other manuscripts concerning the names of the epagomenal days.

What is difficult to discern is how this day was observed. It’s a little difficult to determine how exactly this holiday was observed in the temples due to Sutekh’s poor reputation and erasure in later periods. The temple of Edfu notes on the Het-Hert calendar that burnt offerings were given with water libations at all hours of the evening, but that is to Het-Hert rather than Sutekh. This was followed by a evening procession to meet with Heru-Behedity.

Modern Kemeticists like to light a candle and say a prayer on this day. While the translation of the Cairo Calendar is questionable, it should provide some basis for anyone who’d like practice it:

O Seth, son of Nut, great of

strength…protection is at

the hands of they holiness. I am

they son. The name of this day

is Powerful of Heart.

Sources:

Brier, Bob. Ancient Egyptian Magic. New York: Quill, 1981. Print.

El-Sabban, Sherif. Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Google books.

Spalinger, Anthony. “Some Remarks on the Epagomenal Days in Ancient Egypt”. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 54.1(1995): 33-47. JSTOR.


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The Epagomenoi: the Birth of Heru-Wr

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The second epagomenal day marks the birth of Heru-Wr, the second eldest child of Nut and Geb. Most of this post is introductory and will focus on the practices of Edfu and Dendera temples during the Ptolemaic period. In that light the information will be more focused on the practices which are possibly more Hellenized than other periods. Despite this I tried to include some trivia and a bit of an explanation of the significance of the holiday. It is in no way complete.

The name for the birth of Heru-Wr is interesting. There are a few variants as to what this day was called. In the Leyden I papryus the day was called, ‘Who bails without His oar’. It’s called in Leyden II, ‘Who sails in the pool of the alty canal’ according to Anthony Spalinger. Spalinger notes the day is called, “it is the strong of heart” in the Cairo Calendar. Yet another manuscript about the epagomenal days calls it a “pure bull in his field”. There are a couple of ideas as to why there are so many different epithets for this day. One is the possibility of a scribal error like the aHA-fish in a pool attribution to Wesir. Spalding hypothesizes, on the other hand, the interchangeability may have more to do with later associations with Wesir as opposed to Heru-Wr.

The celebration of this holiday is fairly elaborate in the temples compared to information available of the other epagomenal days. The temple in Edfu focused on not only the robing ceremony like the birth of Wesir, but also notes how the daily rites are performed. Het-Hert also had a procession in Edfu where She’d stop in Her shrine, later resting in “the Palace” for the evening. There isn’t any record available to me about how this day was observed, if it was observed at all, in Dendera.

Modern Kemeticists like to say a prayer on this day while lighting a candle. While the translation provided from the Cairo Calendar is questionable, it provides some groundwork for anyone who’d like to practice it:

O Horus of Letopolis…The

name of this day is Powerful is

the Heart.

Sources:

Brier, Bob. Ancient Egyptian Magic. New York: Quill, 1981. Print.

El-Sabban, Sherif. Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Google books.

Spalinger, Anthony. “Some Remarks on the Epagomenal Days in Ancient Egypt”. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 54.1(1995): 33-47. JSTOR.


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The Epagomenoi: The Birth of Wesir

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The first epagomenal day marks the
birth of Wesir, the eldest child of Nut and Geb. Most of this post is introductory and will focus on the practices of Edfu and Dendera during the Ptolemaic period. Despite this I tried to include some trivia and a bit of an explanation of the significance of the holiday. It is in no way complete.

Coinciding with the myths Wesir is the first epagomenal day since He is the eldest child of Nut and Geb. There were a few names for this holiday. Anthony Spalinger notes in the Leyden I papyrus the first epagomenal day was in reference to Wesir despite the illegibility of the name. Meanwhile the Leyden II papyrus noted it as “HAsgw, who does not know his oar”. Spalinger also noted in the Cairo Calendar the “pure bull in his field” was the name for the Birth of Wesir. However another manuscript about the epagomenal days notes the day refers to the an aHA-fish in a pool, though this is possibly a scribal error. All of these are referencing the new year and connect Wesir with being responsible for it in some fashion.

This connection with the new year was further reflected astronomically through a few aspects. One of the aspects was with the constellation Sah (which many in the Western world will recognize as Orion). Most Kemeticists are familiar with the associations of Aset and Sirius as well that association with the new year. What is less noted is the constellation of Sah and its stellar association with the end of the year. Part of this is suggested by His depiction of looking away from Sopdet (Sirius), whereas Sopdet looks towards Him. They both are believed to look in the direction of the decans and Sah’s turning away suggests and ending of that year, whereas Sopdet looks towards Him as a suggestion of the start of a new year.

One possible interpretation for this connection to the constellation Sah lies in some of the associations of Wesir in other temples. In the temple of Opet there is a passage to Wesir which refers to Him as a harbinger of new beginnings. While the inscription in Opet is most assuredly about the first epagomenal day, there is some suggestion Wesir is also tied to the new year through passages such as this. Some of this comes from the interpretation of how Wesir begins the epagomenal days and, therefore, must begin the new year in the same fashion. A way this is tied is through His birth being visited by Ra at Opet, where a form of Wesir’s father is mentioned as Amun. In the inscriptions there are further inferences about Wesir’s traits of rebirth and rejuvenation. He also is said to bring the new year through “inheriting” Egypt from Aset in Her form of Sirius.

In the Temple of Edfu this festival consisted of dressing the pillar of Behedet as well as Edfu’s ennead. Meanwhile in the temple of Dendera there doesn’t seem to be an observance of this day. On the other hand the calendar for Het-Hert in Edfu notes how the robing ceremony was performed on a statue of Wesir from Dendera. In that light it’s possible there was something observed in Dendera but the information is unavailable to me.

Some Kemeticists light a candle and say prayers during the epagomenal days. While the source I found is a questionable translation of the Cairo Calendar, it should give some idea of a prayer to use if one wishes:

O Osiris, bull in his cavern

whose name is hidden…Hail

to thee; I am thy son, O father

Osiris. The name of this day is

The Pure One…

Sources:

Brier, Bob. Ancient Egyptian Magic. New York: Quill, 1981. Print.

van Bomhard, A.S. The Egyptian Calendar: a Work for Eternity. London: Periplus, 1999. Print.

El-Sabban, Sherif. Temple Festival Calendars of Ancient Egypt. Google books.

Spalinger, Anthony. “Some Remarks on the Epagomenal Days in Ancient Egypt”. Journal of Near Eastern Studies 54.1(1995): 33-47. JSTOR.