My Aset icon.

My Aset icon.

According to the Kemetic Orthodox calendar, the day of Aset’s birth falls on the 1st of August, 2015, on the Gregorian calendar. It is called “The Day of Readying Terror,” and follows the days marking the emergence of Wesir, Heru-Wer, and Set into Creation.

A short prayer to be said on this day, with the lighting of a candle (green or white):

O Aset, Eldest Daughter of Nut, Mistress of Heka Who paints its scrolls, Lady Who satisfies the Two Lands, Whose face is shining; Aset Who follows the Akhet Eye, Daughter of Nut, Mistress of the Two Lands: Save me from all bad and unholy things as You saved Your Son Heru, for I am the Brother of Your Sister!”

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As with Set for yesterday’s post, today on Aset’s day I am publishing something relating to Her that I should have in a more timely fashion.

Before this year — Year 22 under Aset, by the Kemetic Orthodox Temple’s reckoning — I had not been at all involved with Aset’s worship, and my “experiences” of Her amount(ed) only to those incidental encounters with information concerning Her in my academic work and independent research. This past Kemetic year, however (coinciding with the Kemetic Orthodox Temple’s first Bright Week celebration, no less), I felt drawn to Her presence and to the observance of two key festivals : The Dekan 34 Festival hosted by Wasiaset on the night of the 29th of June, 2015, and Aset Webenut (Aset Luminous) hosted by Tahekerutaset on the night of the 30th of June, 2015.

I perceived a “coming into my life” of Aset in the immediate wake of my husband’s dearest mentor and friend’s death, a mentor and friend who was so instrumental in my husband’s education before enlisting in the Marine Corps. My husband had received the news in the midst of his obscenely-demanding workday the day after his mentor died from myocardial infarction, and broke down. Not long after he received this news, he learned that he would not be able to attend the memorial service being held thousands of miles away, which visibly emotionally crushed him. With my husband in mourning and in need of comfort, and out of practice with his own (Asatru) religious observances for many months, there was what I perceived to be a mutual reaching out during Her Bright Week : I to Aset, and Aset to me.

It was and is certainly no mistake that this perceived “mutual reaching out” occurred at such a time. Aset is an obviously and undeniably central figure in the mourning rites as the wife of Wesir, Wesir having been “the prototypical mummy,” the first Divine being since the advent of Creation to experience death (that is, not counting the handful of Gods Who “died” in the making of Creation), and to triumph over it. Aset’s potent heka was crucial in the victory and efficacy of Wesir’s transformation, and is crucial in every observance and (re)enactment of His Mysteries. She and Her heka are also crucial in our own inevitable, eventual journeys into the West. Having discussed the situation with a few other Kemetic Orthodox during Bright Week, it seems that such “interventions” as I recently experienced are not at all uncommon, but rather a specialty of Aset’s.

Although I clearly was not the widow in my and my husband’s particular situation, and thus could not insert myself in Her position and in Her rituals in that way, spending time contemplating Her roles and functions, and Her dynamic with Wesir, more deeply and attentively during that first Bright Week helped me to better understand how I can comfort my husband in his time of grief. I came to better understand how I can help him navigate that grief with mourning rites conducted at home, together; how in the darkness of loss, I can help my husband kindle that light of remembrance and protection for his mentor and friend, who all too soon had embarked on his journey toward becoming an Akh in the Beautiful West.

Ancestor veneration has not been a strong focus of mine, and not an area I’ve had much success with on the personal-religious front in all my years as a practicing multitraditional polytheist, despite understanding how important it historically has been and still is to Egyptian religion(s) in particular. My husband’s case is much the same. We are infinitely more “Gods-persons,” for lack of better terms. Yet in the wake of that loss my husband suffered in the passing of his mentor, and in the midst of Bright Week, it became all the more apparent to me, on a personal-religious and not just academic-intellectual level, why the maintenance of our Akhu is so important, and why — along with my husband — I need to keep attempting, even if it never becomes the focal point of my family’s domestic religious practice.

More than likely not-coincidentally, it was also during this first-ever Bright Week that I was compelled by Aset to rededicate an icon to Her. I had chanced upon an AGI Aset icon many months earlier, purchasing it for a pittance, with the intention of having it represent the wife of Herishef of Henen-nesu, Hathor-Nebet-Hehet-Resyt (Hathor of the Southern Sycamore). Very little attention was paid to That Lady by me over those months, I am ashamed to say, yet I couldn’t bring myself to pass the icon on to someone else. I kept the icon installed, having the inkling there was some presence for Whom that was a dwelling — a presence that was, and would continue to be, important for me to acknowledge and pay homage to. And, too late indeed did it dawn on me how closely Aset is associated with that Hathor of Herishef’s, complementing Herishef’s own intimate unity with Wesir.

Dekan 34

My first-ever celebration of the Dekan 34 festival and meditations upon it was the event which drove home for me the importance of Akhu veneration, Aset’s prominence and guiding role in it, and the nature of our Akhu.

A photograph I took of the shrine after the conclusion of the Aset Dekan observance, which marks Aset's journey from Pilak (Philae) to Senem (Biggeh) to attend to and rejuvenate Her husband Wesir.

A photograph I took of the shrine after the conclusion of Dekan 34’s invocation and offerings. I placed Wesir’s bronze statuette on the base of Aset’s icon, and moved Wesir-Re’s to Her side opposite of Herishef’s place, to demonstrate the closeness of the lovers during that time, to demonstrate Aset’s protecting and sustaining Her husband, Wesir, Wenen-Nefer, Neb Duat.

In the event so graciously hosted by Wasiaset, we focused on Aset traveling to Senem[ut] to pay tribute to Her husband’s ka, to be with Him and make Him whole, with Wesir’s aspect as the Akh-like God in the Duat being foremost in our address of Him. The occasion mirrors our interactions with our Akhu : Aset’s role in attending to and strengthening Wesir is our role.

Yet, as I would come to understand a while after the conclusion of that Dekan 34 celebration, it is not simply a matter of Wesir being some manner of deus in absentia and Aset being the living deity existing a world apart, anymore than it is that our Akhu are “gone” and no longer living and we exist a world apart from Them.

There are a number of beautiful hymns from Pilak Temple which touch upon the dynamic of Aset and Wesir, and underscore the extreme importance of Aset to Wesir, Her equality to Him, sharing a similar status and being listed alongside His titles and powers. The one which stands out to me most is what Žabkar labels Hymn II, from Room X (p 123 – 124), which is provided below. Even with Wesir in the Duat, He and Aset are never truly and totally disconnected. Indeed, in the Pilak Temple inscriptions, He is described as a still-Living God. And not just a Living God, but as the Chief of the Golden Ones. In other words, He is described as the most golden living image of all the golden living images of Gods in the temples, just as Aset is concerning those of Goddesses by being addressed repeatedly as Wesir’s “Chief Royal Wife,” as His “Elect One,” and as “Queen of the Gods.”

Transliteration:

‘I3w n.t 3st wrt
Mwt-nTr nbt-pt ‘Ityt-nTrw

Ntt hmt-nsw tpt n Wnn-nfr
‘Imy-r imyw-r nbyw m gsw-prw
S3 smsw tpy n Gb

Ntt hmt-nsw tpt n Wnn-nfr
Ka m3i sXr sbiw nb
Nb hk3 Dt

Ntt stpt tpt n Wnn-nfr
Hwn nfr ir ‘Dt m h3kw-ib n t3wy

Ntt hmt-nsw tpt n Wnn-nfr
xw sn.s ir Dsr hr wrD-ib

Ntt hmt-nsw tpt n Wnn-nfr
Hh rnpw wTs nhh
‘Iw(t) r-hn’.f m Snmwt

Translation:

Praise to You, Aset the Great
Mother of God, Lady of Heaven, Queen of the Gods

You are the Chief Royal Wife of Wenen-Nefer (Who-is-Eternally-Perfect)
[He Who is] Supreme Overseer of the Golden Ones in the Temples
First-born Son of Geb

You are the Chief Royal Wife of Wenen-Nefer,
The Bull, the Lion Who overthrows all His enemies,
Lord and Ruler of Djet (linear time)

You are the Elect-One of Wenen-Nefer,
The Perfect Youth Who massacres the rebellious of the Two Lands

You are the Chief Royal Wife of Wenen-Nefer,
Who protects Her Brother, watching over the Weary-Of-Heart

You are the Chief Royal Wife of Wenen-Nefer,
The Eternal-One-Rejuvenating-Himself, declaring Neheh (cyclical time) :
You are with Him in Senem

It is not true nor total “death” for Wesir. He is not departed from our world — even while also being Lord of the Duat — and Aset is with Him both there and here, as demonstrated throughout countless hymns and rituals texts and funerary texts. Similarly, it is not a true nor total death for our Akhu, and we are not truly and totally disconnected from Them. Just as Pilak Temple Hymn II shows Wesir as both a Living God and a Dead-and-Resurrected God in the Duat, so too are our Akhu. Our Akhu are still with us, still living among and beyond us, differently. We are like Aset to Them, in our care of Them, in our giving sustenance and in turn sharing power with Them. It is a dynamic exchange of life in different forms. There is no true “death,” only a transition from one state of being to another (which the mourning marks). For that, there is every reason to rejoice.

Aset Webenut

This past Aset Webenut was, as noted above, my first. In all my years as a Kemetic, I never felt compelled to participate. I’m glad I finally did. My understanding of, participation in, and connection to Kemeticism (namely, Kemetic Orthodoxy) is all the more colorful and profound for it.

The shrine during Aset Webenut, with an extra candle left burning throughout the night hours, symbolizing Aset's presence of light during the darkness ad unraveling of the year.

The shrine during Aset Webenut, with an extra candle left burning throughout the night, symbolizing Aset’s presence of light during the darkness and unraveling of the year.

The festival showed me that Aset is the light shining in deepest darkness. No matter how hopeless and pointlessly-chaotic matters seem, there is always hope — however marginal — there is always potential. There is never not-anything; Aset Webenut vividly impressed upon me what “the end of something is the beginning of another” really means and implies. There is always a restructuring, a rebinding, a reordering. Aset Webenut occurs during a time when the “aged year” unravels, when things seem to fall apart and become darker. She is there, Her Light and Her heka are there, to see us through to the dawn of something new and pregnant with opportunity. As (Aset-)Sopdet, She heralds Time Reborn with Her mighty radiance. Time and Creation are no longer old and unraveling; they are new again by Her. We may fear, and difficulties may abound. But Aset the Fiercely Bright One is there, and the fears and difficulties will be overcome. Whatever our grievances and trials, we, like the paper boats we made for the occasion, are kept afloat by our gratitude and blessings, just as our thanks is a sweet incense so well-received which bears aloft our prayers and supplications to Her, and to all the Gods.

In the midst of pain and strife, it is easy to forget or completely overlook such things altogether. Aset Webenut was the realization I needed — the call to attention we all need at times unraveled.

Aset’s Year

This past year, the Year of Aset, clearly left quite an impression on me. Above all, it taught me a good deal more about Aset, Whom I had overlooked and previously felt absolutely no connection to. Though Year 22 was indeed difficult as the oracle had portended, at times quite painful and rife with intense bouts with anxieties of different kinds, I am grateful for and much improved by the experience.

There is no true and total death. There is never not-anything. Where there is darkness, there is also light. It is Aset, always shining, always present.

Thank You, Lady Aset, for the knowledge of You. Thank You, Lady Aset, for this past year and the challenges You presented through it. Thank You, Lady Aset, for being.

WORKS CITED

Žabkar, L. V. Six Hymns to Isis in the Sanctuary of Her Temple at Philae and Their Theological Significance, Pt. 1. JEA, Vol. 69, pp 115 – 137. 1983 : Egypt Exploration Society.

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