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: The Procession to Edfu

After the preparations finished in Dendera the procession to Edfu began. This procession took many days with some stops and rituals along the way. On the day of the procession the party, along with the statue of Het-Hert, set forth on a barque named nb mrwt (“The Mistress of Love”). While the party fit on the barque it was a considerable size.

In Dendera it seems the procession consisted of many parties who weren’t necessarily clergy. The priests, the mayor of Iunet, as well as other officials joined the procession. It seems as if there weren’t any pilgrims on the ship, but pilgrims did meet the ship along each stop.

During the few days of the procession several stops occurred. Some of the stops included Karnak, Pi-Mer, and Nekhen. At each stop pilgrims gathered. During this time they petitioned Het-Hert, called upon Her for divination, and witnessed a ritual at each stop. The particular ritual was called The Observance of the Renewal of the Earth and All Things That Come With It. While there were visits to the various gods at the respective temple of each stop the ritual consisted of visiting each god and honoring Them. It is known that the various forms of Heru from each stop joined the procession to Edfu.

However, the procession from Dendera to Edfu was not the only procession. Heru-Behedity had His own procession in Edfu. He is accompanied by Khonsu and the Edfu ennead, as well as other gods. The Edfu procession boarded their barque “The Brow of Heru” at Wetjeset-Hor, where it met The Mistress of Love on the new moon.

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.


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PBP: F is for Flame

I read once that flames were part of the offering in Kemetic rituals. I’m not sure how much I believe it, but I can certainly see why the person asserted that about flames. Harold H. Nelson mentioned how a torch was listed in the offerings given my Thutmose III for Ptah in Karnak. Besides mentioned in the offerings of one king there are other things to consider why someone would consider flame as part of the ritual offering. Flame not only has direct ties to ritual significance, but also religious implications.

Fire is an important element in Kemetic ritual. Flames open up Kemetic rituals. There are formulas for lighting lamps (or candles for most modern Kemeticists) and extinguishing them after rituals, assuring the flame will still exist for the deity. The practical element of having flame in ritual is apparent given the darkness in some areas of the temple, which has symbolism in its own right. The flame, as with many elements in Kemetic ritual, also shares a symbolic element. In one translation of the flame being extinguished the flame is paralleled with the Eye of Heru as well as the Ra’s death and rebirth in the form of the sunset. In this respect not only is the flame “kept alive” but it is also associated with the light of a deity. Fire served another purpose besides a lighting element.

Outside of lighting purposes fire plays an important role in rituals. Flame is mentioned in the formula for lighting the incense. In one formula for incense (Utterance 269 of the Pyramid Texts, R.O Faulkner’s translation) the flame is mentioned as kindled before the incense is even said to be burned. While this is obvious as to the importance of flame in incense it also hints to the connection between the flame and its sacredness in ritual. In the rituals of Amenhotep there a few connections made with fire set up for a brazier and the spit roast in connection to Heru or the Eye of Heru. The formulas for the two not only connect to the Eye of Heru, but to other deities and even the king. The possible connection to flame with the Eye of Heru further enforces not only the practicality of including the flame in ritual, but its significance to the gods. As mentioned with the flame in connection to lighting with the Eye of Heru providing the light within a deity, the Eye of Heru in this instance provides nourishment and life to the gods. In turn the gods are able to provide these necessities for their followers.

Flame when connected to the gods serves as a practical as well as religious significance in Kemetic ritual. It was a way of ensuring the gods provided vital necessities to the followers by providing for Them. Part of that is accomplished by relating the flame to a deity or the Eye of Heru, while another part places emphasis on the flame in terms of how it provides for the gods.


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PBP: E is for Egg

When Pagans think of eggs they usually associate it with Ostara or other Pagan faith. What most Pagans, let alone Kemeticists, realize is eggs have a symbolic significance with the Ancient Egyptians as well. It seems odd to think about eggs in Kemeticism for some, but eggs do have a place in the religion. It’s not focused on often, but it also demonstrates the limited scope of which eggs are examined. Part of that scant coverage stems from the limited scope of eggs.

The egg, in one of its most obvious symbols, represents life. The cosmic egg shows up in a couple of creation stories, namely the Hermopolitan and Theban creation stories. In the Theban creation story Ptah creates the primordial egg, as mentioned in Siegried Morenz’s Egyptian Religion. The primordial egg then houses Nun. Ptah in this creation story embraces the role of a primordial deity. Djehuty, while considered a primordial deity, is not a creator of the primordial egg in His myth. In the Hermopolitan creation story Djehuty emerges from the primordial egg formed by the eight primordial gods. The egg’s association with life doesn’t end with creation.

Another significance of the egg deals with creation, but in a different light, as it is also a symbol of rebirth. We see this in the Sokar festival preparations, which calls for the ingredients of the Sokar statuette to be combined and then either placed in an egg-shaped mold or formed into an egg shape by hand. Given the time of the year when the Sokar festival takes place it’s not hard to figure out the formation of this statuette is symbolic of the death and rebirth of Sokar. Some believe Sokar’s rebirth happens around a holiday now celebrated as Shamm El-Nessim, though given some research it’s hard to discern (though evidence doesn’t seem strong for it). Still, one cannot overlook how eggs play a role in the holiday as dishes with eggs are eaten and eggs are decorated. In spite of the evidence or contrary evidence of when Sokar is to emerge as reborn the link to rebirth implied during the Sokar festival preparations is not to be overlooked.

The sense of birth and rebirth is not just related to Ostara when it comes to egg symbolism. The Ancient Egyptians related it to their creation stories as well to at least one holiday. There is also a holiday in which the egg possibly shares a commonality with Ostara in respect to the symbolism of eggs.


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Daily Ritual (My Abridged Version)

I originally posted this as a link to an outline on the Daily Morning Ritual from the Temple of Karnak during the 22nd Dynasty.  I thought it was a great outline to share at that time, and I still believe so.

Over time, though, I realized that people may not want to work on plugging in their own wording or look up what was said.  If that’s the case I recommend Richard Reidy’s book Eternal Egypt: Ancient Rituals for the Modern World.  I also realized some folks will feel obligated to follow through every step of the temple ritual.  If you don’t have time, that’s cool.  Based on the aforementioned ritual outline I linked here’s how my morning ritual tends to go.  You can adjust it accordingly.

Preparations

Formula for lighting the fire

Formula for taking the censer

Formula for placing the incense on the flame

Formula for proceeding to the sacred place

Another formula

Opening the shrine

Facing the image – hymns to the deity

Formula for kissing the earth

Formula for placing oneself on one’s stomach

Formula for placing oneself on one’s stomach and stretching out

Formula for kissing the earth, face down

Another formula

Incense

The offering of the goddess personifying What is Right Maat)

Formula for the offering of Maat

Food Offering

Libation

Incense

Reversion of Offerings


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Craft Friday: Sokar Mummy Net

In preparation for the Sokar festival this past month a mummy was made to look like Sokar. Each year a new one was made and the previous year’s mummy was given a funeral. Part of the preparation for that funeral included wrapping the mummy of the previous year in a net made of lapis lazuli. I try to recreate it not only for personal use, but so others may have an idea of how to make this net too.

I wasn’t sure on all of the details and I had to make adjustments as well. I couldn’t afford lapis lazuli beads at the time so I made some very crude beads and painted them to look like lapis lazuli. I wasn’t certain what type of cord was used for making the net, so I went with my waxed linen thread. I figure as long as a strong, plant based beading thread is used it should hold.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

  • Lapis lazuli beads
  • Scissors
  • Waxed linen cord
  • Ruler (optional)

1.  Cut the thread out to roughly 8 to 10 inches. Arrange the thread so it makes a cross hatch. I cut as many strands as I have beads since I’m using so few, so I ended up cutting 10 strands. In hindsight it would have been better to base it off the intersection points. I’m also very aware that my lap desk is in sad shape.

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2.  Make a square knot at each intersection point. When adding a bead make a square knot, string the bead, then make another square knot.

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3.  Repeat until finished.

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There are a few things to keep in mind when making this. Work on a flat surface and try to keep the strings in their arrangement to avoid the eventual mess up I made. I used the measurements for the length of the strings because my Sokar mummies tend to be small. Adjust the length according to comfort and size of the mummy you’re making.


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Kemetic Round Table: Happy Multi-Holiday Observance Time!

When anyone converts from a belief in which they were raised to a new one there’s always conflict. If it’s not reconciling old beliefs with new ones it’s reconciling old religious traditions with new ones. I’ve been down this road in many ways before converting away from Christianity. I grew up thinking having to change tradition was a norm. My family is apparently very odd, yet very American, in that respect.

 

My father worked for a German company during my teens, which meant lots of traveling for him. He traveled so much I lost track of which country he was in most of the time. I’m sure my teachers suspected he was running out on us (it was one of those small towns that made Petyon Place look like Mayberry) since they grilled me often about his whereabouts. Awkward school situations aside it meant having to adjust holiday traditions. Since my father was out of the country a good portion of the time he missed out on holidays often. Holiday gatherings that once took place as a family had to be adjusted. Christmas gifts weren’t always opened together as a family or they arrived late. We stopped watching certain movies or specials because they were specific ones he requested and wasn’t there to request them. My father, since he still travels, ordered a Christmas tree this year instead of following tradition of picking out one at a tree farm.

 

Sometimes because my father travels new traditions were added or halfheartedly added. One summer my father insisted we observe Bastille day after coming back from France and missing Independence Day, even though we have no significant French ancestry nor ties to France. What happened was a confusing disaster and a house smelling of cheap wine. All but my father were against this practice for obvious reasons and felt it saw it for the contrived attempt to excuse poor wine choices. We gave up and left him to his cheap liquor. Despite this disaster some other traditions have been introduced with greater success, like a new holiday decorating tradition or a new holiday dish. After all, we’re Midwesterners and easily bribed with food.

 

There were times where family traditions changed not just because of absent family members, but due to changing circumstances. It used to be an Easter tradition to dye eggs for a family Easter egg hunt. As the children grew up there was less need to keep this tradition: we were at an age where we didn’t want to do it and there weren’t any children around for whom to keep the tradition going. There are others, and most changed because the tradition was no longer practical to keep. However gorging ourselves on food is still a family tradition.

When I moved away from Christianity not much changed, though there was some controversy over how I would observe holidays. It wasn’t so much of how my family felt my faith nor theirs would prohibit observation. I lucked out in that respect. My father’s side of the family are predominantly atheist so there was no issue about faith and the holidays. I grew up not attending church as a family, let alone on holidays. While we knew the religious significance my family raised me to observe it as a secular holiday. The issue of my faith stemmed from the holidays I wanted to observe coinciding with theirs, and the dietary restrictions prove to be an issue. My mother knew how to adjust to the family members who converted to Catholicism, but she wasn’t fully sure how to adjust for Kemetic practices. Luckily this is only an issue around Thanksgiving as that’s when I observe Ka-her-Ka and practice the rituals more rigorously. At first I was adamant about my dietary restrictions. As years have worn on I’ve grown too tired of the heated culinary debates and relented. I just do what I can and hope for the best.

 

When I’ve looked at this issue of overlapping holidays I’ve lucked out compared to the stories I’ve heard about Pagans and fellow Kemeticists. Most families are not multi-faith and tend to be hard nosed about what will and won’t be observed during the holidays. My family has made adjustments where possible but also knew what needed to be in which corner. As long as I’m not forcing my family to sit for long periods of time while I perform rituals in front of them they’re tolerant. My Catholic family members don’t expect the rest of us to attend Mass. The Baptist and Lutheran family members attend services and then spend time with the rest of the family. My atheist family members treat holidays like Christmas as secular holidays. The key for us is to understand when it’s time for someone to be religious and when it’s time to celebrate as a family. It’s probably why I don’t have any issues but personal ones about holidays.

 

I think what is key for my family is also the same advice I’d give anyone about celebrating multiple holidays: just know the time and place. Know when it’s time to celebrate family and being with family, and know when it’s time to celebrate it as a holy day. Don’t expect your family to burn a yule log if it’s never been done just because you observe Yule. Don’t look at the family attending church service as religion being shoved down your throat because you’re not Christian or Catholic. I know it’s hard not to look at that situation as forced, but understand to them it’s also an important family tradition. Even though sometimes traditions change there’s usually a new one in place where the whole family can enjoy it. Sometimes finding that new tradition for everyone will take work and tolerance.

 


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Ka-her-Ka 101

So it’s that time when I observe Ka-her-Ka (thanks to the folks at Per Djeba for correcting my spelling on that) and I thought I’d give folks a quick, basic rundown of the holiday. I’m mostly doing this because there actually isn’t a whole lot out there from a Kemeticist’s perspective even with basic information. I will note, however, the myth of Ka-her-Ka I use is the most common one so I haven’t cited the source for it as I assume it’s common knowledge. I also do not cite a source for the Kemetic Orthodox information as I used to be a member and feel a little too lazy to look up where exactly that information is listed on the cite. I apologize for my laziness.

So What Exactly Is Ka-her-Ka?

Ka-her-Ka (sometimes written as Khoiak) translates to “sustenance upon sustenance” roughly. Members of the House of Netjer / Kemetic Orthodoxy refer to this holiday as “The Wesirian Mysteries”. Ka-her-Ka is a festival commemorating the death of Wesir and the birth of Heru-Sa-Aset. The death of Wesir in later periods, and Dendera is no exception, is attributed to the work of Set, Wesir’s youngest brother. According to this myth Aset and Nebt-Het search for Wesir’s body and find it in a river. Upon recovering the body Set cuts up Wesir’s body into 14 pieces. Aset and Nebt-Het recover all but His member as a fish ate it when Set tossed it into the Nile. Aset formed a substitute member, revived Wesir long enough for Aset to procreate, and Aset gave birth to Heru-Sa-Aset. This was also a time when Sokar was observed to have His own death. His statuette was made at roughly the same time as the corn mummies, but buried much sooner.

The myths surrounding Ka-her-Ka reflect the changes in the season .It marks the time when the harvest time wound down and the time to prepare for next year’s crops in Ancient Egypt. This is also believed by some as to why Wesir’s death is reenacted with the creation of corn mummies. In the earlier steps of creating the mummies the molds are watered so as the wheat and barley sprouts. While actual sprouting seems to be of little importance in its creation (more on that later) reenacting the myths reflected on Wesir’s agricultural aspect of the end of crop yield that, with proper care, would grow and yield the next year.

When Is Ka-her-Ka Celebrated?

This question is tricky to answer because it depends on how one chooses to celebrate. In Dendera the priests started the ritual preparations with mixing the seeds for the corn mummies on 4 Akhet 12 and ending on 4 Akhet 30 with the raising of the djed pillar and burial of the corn mummies. On the Gregorian calendar most modern Kemeticists observe this holiday around October or November (though sometimes a bit later if there’s an intercalary month) if they practice like the priests. The Sokar Festival was observed on 4 Akhet 26 in Dendera, which also places it in November on the Gregorian calendar. However, the statuette started work much sooner. This statuette started later than the corn mummies on 4 Akhet 14 but was completed at the same time as the corn mummies. It was also buried with them on 4 Akhet 30.

As with many records on Kemetic holidays there are more records about how the temples observed each holiday. It’s harder to discern when laymen celebrated except for 4 Akhet 22, the day of the funeral procession. Many people participated in the procession and even made pilgrimages to Abydos. Various stelae have been found in Abydos which mark the procession and serve as something of a script, indicating when the audience could interact and when to be bystanders. While there was a procession around the Sacred Lake in Dendera it’s hard to determine, though it can be assumed it happened, if laymen attended. Later that evening people would hold a vigil by lamplight. While there is evidence the laymen also produced corn mummies it’s uncertain if they followed the same formula as the priests did. On that point I will omit the practice and focus on the procession and vigil. If one focuses only on the procession and vigil this would place the holiday observance in November on the Gregorian calendar.

How Was Ka-her-Ka Celebrated?

How the holiday was celebrated depends on which perspective is taken. As mentioned before the priests as Dendera observed this time through making statuettes: one of Khenty-Imenti, another Wesir figure (which has yet to be determined whom it represents), and a Sokar figure. These statuettes were given a procession followed by a funeral, including a burial with preparations starting at 4 Akhet 23 and ending on 4 Akhet 30. In the process of burying the figures the figures of the previous year’s figures were removed on 4 Akhet 24.

The common man, conversely, had a less elaborate time. As mentioned a procession was held in which Wesir’s death and rise of Heru-Sa-Aset were reenacted. Later that night a vigil was held. The layman also made their own corn mummies as excavations have uncovered large amounts of corn mummies buried in pits.

What Are Corn Mummies?

Corn mummies are statuettes made to look like Wesir. In the temple there was another corn mummy made, but not much is known about it at this time. They are made of wheat, barley, and sand. The corn mummies are made over a timespan of roughly ten days. After soaking the wheat and barley for six hours sand is mixed in with the seeds and water. This mixture is placed inside the corn mummy molds (which are lined with linen) and sandwiched between reeds, where it is watered day and night and the reeds changed at each watering. The reeds are buried while the water is collected. This begins on 4 Akhet 12 and ends on 4 Akhet 21 in Dendera.

On 4 Akhet 21 the mummy halves are removed from their molds and joined with incense. The funerary cloth is woven. The mummies are then wrapped in a papyrus cord in four places (the knob of the atef crown, the neck, the arms, and legs). Finally the corn mummies are prepared for burial on 4 Akhet 23 when the mummies are covered in 14 amulets, bandaged, and placed in a coffin chaped like Sokar.

The mentioned creation of the corn mummies is how it was done in temples. In the temples the corn mummies were created by the shentayit, a priestess who enacts the role of Aset. We do know the corn mummy mold was made of a precious metal or even an alloy of gold and silver, though clay molds have been discovered as well. It is uncertain how the corn mummies were made amongst laymen, but it is believed by Egyptologist that laymen had access to the resources to make their own. Some excavations have uncovered pits of several corn mummies by the Nile, leading to the theory that sprouting corn mummies at the time of their creating wasn’t important as much as the symbolism or even being sprouted by the Nile waters.

How Does Sokar Play Into All of This, Then?

Sokar is a god who predates Wesir and even exhibits similarr traits. He originally had a festival much like Ka-Her-Ka which was observed on 4 Akhet 26 in Dendera, but eventually merged with Ka-her-Ka. Like the corn mummies Sokar took several days to be formed though of a different composition. The Sokar statuette was formed of soil, resins, oils, and gemstones and faience beginning on 4 Akhet 14 in Dendera. This was annointed, baked, and shaped into Sokar. It was eventually painted with a yellow face, turquoise jaw, and black eyes. A wig of lapis lazuli was placed on its head.

The ritual on 4 Akhet 26 was very simple at Dendera. A procession circled the temple four times. The procession led into the Chamber of Heru where libations were offered. Afterwards the procession returned to the “House of the Divine Mansion”. On 4 Akhet 30 the Sokar statuette was buried in the crypt, thus replacing the previous year’s statuette. The previous year’s statuette along with previous year’s corn mummies were removed from the crypt days prior on 4 Akhet 24. The previous year’s statuettes’ bandages were removed, and the previous year’s Sokar received beaded netting made of lapis lazuli. Along with the corn mummies the statuette was anointed, bandaged, and buried elsewhere on the temple grounds.

I know for an introductory post this is absolutely overwhelming. It’s why I recommend reading the sources I used for this post to get a better grip on the ritual if a formal ritual is desired. Even if the formal ritual isn’t followed it’s great to get a better understanding of the holiday anyway. In the meantime I think the easiest way to observe Ka-her-Ka is through making a corn mummy and a night vigil given what we know the laymen practices. I’d even go as far as to simplify it by only practicing a night vigil. The important thing to remember about this holiday is the passing of the harvest season, and subsequently Wesir and Sokar. Even though they pass now we work to plant the seeds and sow the fields in order to produce a yield next season in whatever way one wishes to understand growing a crop.

Sources

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

“Khoiak Festival”. Digital Egypt Online. Web. Retrieved 2009.

Meeks, Dmitri and Christine Farvard-Meeks. Daily Life of the Egyptian Gods. Google books.

Ritner, Robert Kriech. “The Mechanics of Ancient Egyptian Magical Practice.” Studies in Ancient Oriental Civilization 54 (1993): 59. PDF.

Schulz, Regine. “A Corn Mummy Decoded”. PDF

Teeter, Emily. Religion and Ritual in Ancient Egypt. New York, Cambridge 2001. Print.

Tooley, Angela M.J. “Osiris Bricks”. The Journal of Egyptian Archaeology, Vol. 82 (1996), pp. 167-

179 JSTOR. 2/21/11.


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Craft Friday: Corn Mummy Molds

With the Ka-Her-Ka season upon me I thought about how corn mummies are essential both in temple and layman practice. Given that I’d share how to make a corn mummy mold as corn mummies.  Corn mummies are miniature statuettes made from a combination of sand, wheat, and barley, with soil added to the mix depending on the region.  These mummies were shaped like Wesir and bandaged with linens and finally given a mask and atef crown made of wax.

The sources I found call for the molds to be made out of silver or gold (or both), but there are molds also found made of clay. I am not awesome enough as a goldsmith nor can afford the tools necessary, and I suspect I’m not alone so clay is the media I chose.  If you can get gold-colored oven bake clay I recommend it as it skips painting it.  Plus my paint job is rather embarrassing given I didn’t realize how little gold paint I had.

I’m not making the molds to scale with the corn mummies found in excavations. If you wish to make them to scale the mummies were roughly 17 1/2 inches long, 5 1/4 inches wide, and 5 1/2 inches deep.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED:

  • Oven bake clay
  • Gold acrylic paint
  • Toothpick
  • Wax paper
  • Paint brush
  • Cardstock
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Sculpting tools (optional)

1.  Knead the clay until it’s soft and workable. Form two block from the clay.

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2.  Slightly flatten the blocks. Try to keep the blocks identical dimensions so when used they halves will match up.

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3.  Draw an image of the outline of Wesir onto the cardstock. Cut it out. This will serve as a stencil for the molds so they will match up later.

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4.  Place the stencil on the clay and trace with a toothpick. Scoop out some of the clay.

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5.  Poke holes in the sides leading into the mold.  It won’t drain very well, but given the mold is there to shape germinating seeds it seems to be a non issue.

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6.  Bake in the oven as per the instructions. Let cool, then paint.

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When using it remember to line the mold with linen fabric, as this was what was done when making corn mummies.  In Dendera the molds were also covered in reeds when in use.