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The organization of the Kemetic calendar varies from denomination to denomination, from practitioner to practitioner. The New Year itself, and indeed the rest of the year, is determined by the “rising” of the star Sirius, which is normally obscured by the light of the sun. At the start of Wep Ronpet, Sirius (Sopdet, as She was named by the Ancient Egyptians) is visible sometime before the light of the sun spills over the Eastern horizon.

Sopdet, the Divine personification of the star Sirius. Art by Jeff Dahl. Image source.

The timing of this astronomical event is dependent upon one’s location on Earth. The Kemetic Orthodox Temple bases the start of Wep Ronpet — and subsequently the entire calendar — on the time of Sirius’ visibility before dawn at Tawy House, the main temple, which is located in Joliet, Illinois, in the Central United States. Some Kemetics base it off of the rising of Sirius over certain sacred locations in Egypt proper, or the timing of Sirius’ visibility over the location of their personal shrines. Whatever the case, this event signals the beginning of the New Year.

As per the Kemetic Orthodox tradition, at the beginning of each New Year, an oracle is consulted, the results of which are spoken during the celebration of Aset Luminous. According to this year’s oracle, the God presiding over the current year, the 20th year of the current Nisut’s term, is Nut. The exact words of this year’s oracle may be read on Tamara L. Siuda’s blog.

The Sky Goddess, Nut. Often painted on the ceilings of tombs, Her body is bedecked with “the imperishable stars,” representing ancestors whose souls have ascended to the heavens to become one and eternal with the Cosmos. At evening, She consumes the setting sun, giving birth to it once more at dawn, illustrating the concepts and cycles of revival and rebirth integral to Egyptian religion. Image source.

The Kemetic Orthodox calendar does not have a set, cyclical system of designated signs or Gods representing each year. The yearly oracle serves the purpose of establishing which God presides over the current year, thus determining what the current year will represent and yield for the community.

The yearly oracle is about far more than determining the God of the Year, however. It frequently stresses the importance of solidarity among all Kemetics, Orthodox and otherwise. Community is something of an issue within Kemeticism as a fractious whole, though by no means unique to it, which many Kemetics often do not wish to acknowledge or effectively address. The New Year is a time to “regroup,” to reestablish solidarity and communal bonds — a time to establish and reestablish good interfaith relations, both within the Kemetic religious overgroup, as well as with other religions (often minority ones) outside the Kemetic realm.

Art by fastpuck on Deviant Art. Ra-Heruakhty (left) and Djehuty (right) are two of many Gods Who are cited in various regional Ancient Egyptian myths as First Creator, Self-Created, and Progenitor of the Gods. Since the regional cults have long since disintegrated, most Modern Kemetics within Revivalist/Reconstructionist circles attribute these roles to Ra, as His was one of the most prominent solar and State cults over the course of Egyptian History.

Wep Ronpet itself is a reenactment of Zep-Tepi, also known as “The First Occasion,” when the sun first dawned over the new Creation, when all created things were in their purest state, and the Creator was at His strongest and most youthful. Most preparations, rites, rituals, and holy days within the Egyptian tradition seek to recreate this event in some sense or another, as much theological emphasis is placed upon the concepts of renewal and purity — not in a “morally restricted” sense as (especially American Protestant) Christians understand “purity,” but in terms of high standards of physical hygiene and spiritual well-being.

The New Year is a time of rebirth, renewal, and transition. Just as the ram-headed Auf or Efu-Ra, the corpse-form of Ra, weary from His arduous and perilous nocturnal journey through the Underworld with the burden of yesterday’s dead sun, is reborn at dawn as Khepri, bearing aloft the solar orb of light and life, so too are we renewed and revitalized each year. It is a time for new projects, business ventures, and changes of residence, among other major life-altering events.

The Wep Ronpet season is also one of the most opportune and important times of the year — though certainly not the only time of the year — to conduct purification rituals, both formal and informal, religious and secular. In the spirit of Zep-Tepi, purification is done so that one may begin the New Year tabula rasa.

Personal purification in a religious capacity typically takes the form of baths or “smudging,” among other methods. For Kemetics of various stripes, this process usually involves the use of ritually pure traditional oils, salts, and incenses such as myrrh, frankincense, and kyphi (kapet). Orthodox Kemetics often use formulas crafted by the Nisut herself, though fellow Temple members like my friend Ahmu Dyer sometimes make and sell their own. Homemade alternatives, whether created according to traditional protocol or no, can be just as effective, depending upon one’s sensitivities and needs. My friend and fellow “Set Kid,” Devo, wrote a handy article about methods of cleansing for the layman.

Not all cleansings and purifications carried out during the Wep Ronpet season, or any season really, require total ritual formality, however. It can be as simple as doing all that house cleaning and decluttering one has been putting off for some time. “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” as it is said. Alternatively, it could be a matter of one finally coming to grips with oneself, finally seeking the help of a licensed clinical social worker to “unpack” all the unaddressed psycho-emotional baggage one has accumulated over time. Additionally, it may manifest itself as an overhaul of one’s diet and exercise habits. These are examples of more tangible, practical forms of purification, and are in many respects very similar to the secular “New Years resolutions” many Westerners make just before or on January 1st.

The New Year is also a time to perform execrations. An execration is an articulation of heka, in this case a curse, in which an object representative of an enemy, illness, demon, et cetera, is symbolically destroyed with the intention of prompting the actual destruction of the intended subject.

Execration texts on pot sherds
© Naunakhte on Wikimedia, GNU Free Documentation License

Execrations are a longstanding tradition within Kemetic religion, and historically were performed for both individual and State purposes, as this www.reshafim.org.il article expands upon. The most common subjects of execration were foreign enemies of the Egyptian State and way of life; the demon-serpent Apep; and after His unjust demonization in later periods of Egyptian History and subsequent equivocation with His bitter nemesis Apep, the illustrious and infamous Set. They were all considered to be personifications of isfet (though Set doesn’t bear this unwarranted shame in Modern Kemetic Revivalisms), which is at odds with and constantly threatens ma’at and Creation. It was not only the King’s duty to execrate isfet and uphold ma’at, but the duty of every individual in Egyptian society.

During Wep Ronpet, many Kemetics take the opportunity to ritually destroy isfet via execration rituals. This takes any number of forms, though the most common articulation is the smashing of red pots. As the above-referenced Reshafim article states, and is likewise shown in the above image, insults and curses were written on the object to be destroyed before it was subjected to any manner of abuse. Citing Devo’s blog once again, she details her household’s Wep Ronpet celebration and the utter annihilation of red pots.

The past year has been an arduous one for me, and I am happy to see it concluded and left behind. Having only just begun to emerge from the miserable wreckage of the past year and washing myself clean of it, this year’s oracle reaffirmed many of the positive changes currently occurring in my life, the plans my partner and I intend to set into motion in particular. I have every confidence that this year will be a prosperous, fortuitous year, a year of structuring and growth, when the foundation of our hopes shall be set in strong stone, that we may realize them in good time. Previous years have been difficult, and this year will indubitably be hard work, but promising years lie ahead, if we remain consistent, dedicated, and faithful. This is the year of commitments. We will create a life for ourselves that will make our ancestors proud, uphold ma’at, and accept no other fate than the ones we create and intend for ourselves.

This is my first Wep Ronpet, and Year 20 will be my first full year as a conscious Kemetic and a member of the Kemetic Orthodox Temple. Perhaps this will be the year I am divined and take my Shemset oaths; however, I will wait for the Gods’ blessing on that line, should They deem it necessary and I feel confident in the decision.

Dua Nut, hail the Gods, and Di Wep Ronpet Nofret to all! May you walk forth renewed with strength into the New Year.