The Kemetic Traditionalists in my temple (Per Ankh) have figured out a way to determine the Kemetic New Year. Basically, you use an astronomy program (I use Stellarium) to figure out the day of the heliacal rising of Sirius (Sopdet to the ancient Egyptians). That day is the Kemetic New Year. The ancient Egyptians calculated the heliacal rising over Memphis, but modern-day Kemetics can use the city closest to them if they want. I actually use my little town of Crawfordville, Florida.
The five days before the Kemetic New Year are known as the Unyear, Days Upon the Year, or Epagomenal Days. See, the ancient Egyptians knew that the year was 365 days long. But their calendar consisted of twelve 30-day months – that’s 360 days. So they needed five more days, so they tacked them onto the end of the calendar year. On these days, the birthdays of Wesir (Osiris), Heru-Wer (Horus), Set (Seth, who has a false bad reputation as an evil being), Aset (Isis), and Nebet-Het (Nephthys) are observed. Having no special instructions to observe these birthdays, what I do consists of doing a ritual called Daily Rite (which I got from Per Ankh) to each Netjeru (god) on Their special day.
By my calculations, Wesir’s Day was yesterday. I actually did not have to work – in years past, I have had to worry about my previous employer’s summer convention, which has caused a certain amount of distress – but I had spent part of the day reading a book called “Religion Explained”. So my head wasn’t exactly in the right space for celebrating Wesir’s birthday. But I wasn’t sure I wanted to blow it off either. I spent the entire day going, “What do I do?” until I was in bed at 10 pm thinking, “I can’t believe I didn’t do Daily Rite today. Is this really what I wanted to do?”
So today, on Heru-Wer’s Day, I did Rite to Wesir and Heru-Wer. They went easy on me, thankfully, and I think I’m back on track. Clearly I’m not ready to give up being a Kemetic.
On Monday, the New Year, at sunrise, you’re supposed to break clay pots with your isfet (chaos – your bad habits) written on them. Then you’re supposed to take the shards to the nearest body of flowing water and dump them. I tried this one year, dumping the shards at a local beach called Shell Point – my husband, who served as my accomplice in this endeavor, and I waded out a bit and surreptitiously emptied plastic bags of broken pots into the water. The environmental guilt was unbearable. Clearly these rituals weren’t written for the present day, when we have to think about not littering. So I came up with my own procedure, which involves me writing down my isfet in a Word file and deleting it at sunrise. Go ahead and laugh if you want – I have actually had one lady in the pagan circle I used to belong to laugh at me – but this is the only way I can do it and still call myself an environmentalist. I guess I could burn a piece of paper, but that can be hazardous if you don’t have a fireplace, depending on how you do it (I’ve tried it before for a different ritual).
I’m still doing better than I did last year. In 2014 I clean forgot about the Unyear – despite having put it in my iPad calendar – until the last day, Nebet-Het’s Day. I observed that day and the New Year and ended up doing a “makeup Unyear” later in August. Of course, last year I was a bit more distracted – not only did I have summer convention to deal with, but I had an ear infection, and my favorite boss was leaving in the next month. There was a lot going on.
Last year I lamented about not having the time off, which would have helped me remember. (What Christian fails to remember Christmas?) I vowed to ask for it off as a religious holiday this year. As it turned out, I’m between temp assignments, so, for better or worse, I didn’t have work as an excuse this year. Now our checking account would much prefer that I get an assignment soon, but whether I will get one tomorrow or Monday remains to be seen.
I know I have a few Kemetics reading this blog, so let me ask you: Do you celebrate the Kemetic New Year? What do you do? Do you take the time off? Let me know in the comments.