Upholding Ma'at

Journeying through the modern world with ancient ways.


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Festival of the Beautiful Union: Preparations

Despite the beginning of the holiday beginning on the new moon in the third month of Shomu preparations for The Festival of the Beautiful Union began in the second month of Shomu.

In Dendera there were two weeks of preparing for the ritual. During this time several rituals were performed, many of which repeat throughout the festival. The first of such festivals is the Offering of the First Fruits. Offerings from the fields were presented to Het-Hert. It seems there were some connections to the myth of Aset mourning the death of Wesir, as the offerings were presented by mourners before Aset and lamentations sung.

Another ritual practiced during this time is the Driving of Cattle ritual. Cattle are driven around the primordial hill four times while dragging ritual chests. Even though the main idea of the ritual is self-explanatory there are certain specifics. One source states cattle and donkeys are driven. Another source states that four cattle –one red, one spotted, one white, and one black, but all calves –are required. It is agreed, though, the cattle are driven around the primordial mound while pushing wheat into the ground. This is possibly a reference to Ka-her-Ka where Wesir’s effigy is made with sprouting wheat and clay. If so it serves to further the element of regeneration during the holiday.

After these rituals were performed the priests prepared a barque to sail towards Edfu. This journey had its own rituals and entourage, which will be covered in the next post.

Sources
The Festival of the Beautiful Reunion.” Asetmeri, n.d.Retrieved from http://www.philae.nu/

akhet/BeautReun.html.(dead link).

Coppens, Filip. “Temple Festivals of the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods”. In Jacco Dieleman

and Willeke Wendrich (eds.),UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology Jan 2009. eScholarship.

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

Lloyd, Alan B. A Companion to Ancient Egypt. Google Books.

Ritner, Robert Kriech. “The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice.” Studies in

Ancient Oriental Civilization  54 (1993): 59. PDF.

Wilkinson, J. Gardner. The Ancient Egyptians: Their Life and Customs. New York: Bonanza

Books, 1988. Print.

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Festival of the Beautiful Union: An Introduction

It’s time for another holiday by my calendar, and this time it’s the Festival of the Beautiful Union. This holiday goes by other names, like The Festival of the Beautiful Embrace, The Sacred Marriage, or the Festival of the Beautiful Reunion. I’ve only seen the latter with members of the Kemetic Orthodoxy, however. Regardless of the variation of the name the holiday is celebrated the same way. The actual date of the holiday is the new moon during the third month of Shomu. Depending on the calendar observed this is marked either in May or June on the Gregorian calendar.

The significance of the Festival of the Beautiful Union features some complexity. This holiday focuses on when Het-Hert marries Heru at its surface. In Dendera this roughly month and a half affair where the Het-Hert statue travels with an entourage to the Temple of Edfu, where She marries Heru-Behedity, consummates the marriage, then returns to Dendera to give birth to Ihy. Sources note this holiday marks a harvest festival as well, though it seems there is more to it. There are some mortuary elements to the holiday celebrations in addition to creation aspects. Those rituals and aspects will be addressed in later posts.

The observance of the holiday is very lengthy and contains a lot of complexity. The main celebration in Edfu itself is two weeks long with an additional two weeks for preparation, the procession to Edfu also included. Each phase of the holiday repeats the same motifs but enforces the importance of the themes, which focus on the harvest, birth, and death. While the information I present is by no means exhaustive I hope to add to it as I learn more in future posts. The current posts I have will focus on the preparations in Dendera, the procession to Edfu, the rituals within Edfu, and the procession back.

Preparations in Dendera

The Procession to Edfu

Hethert Arrives in Edfu

The Festival of Heru Behedity

Celebrating in Edfu (Days 3-4)

The Gods Emerge (Days 5-6)

The Festival of Behedet (Days 7-13)

The Procession Home (Day 14)

Sources

Bleeker, C.J.  Hathor and Thoth: Two Key Figures of the Ancient Egyptian Religion. With 4 Plates.  Google Books.

Coppens, Filip. “Temple Festivals of the Ptolemaic and Roman Periods”. In Jacco

      Dieleman and Willeke Wendrich (eds.), UCLA Encyclopedia of Egyptology Jan 2009. eScholarship.

      Web. 5/8/15.

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

The Festival of the Beautiful Reunion.” Asetmeri, n.d. Web.

Lloyd, Alan B. A Companion to Ancient Egypt. Google Books.

Ritner, Robert Kriech. “The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice.” Studies in Ancient

      Oriental Civilization 54 (1993): 59. PDF.

Wilkinson, J. Gardner. The Ancient Egyptians: Their Life and Customs. New York: Bonanza Books,

1988. Print.