Who is Wesir? What are the Wesir Mysteries? Just why is it that He and the Mysteries are so important? Why were they so widely observed in ancient times? How were they observed? What did they mean back then? What do they mean now? What does it mean… to me?
These are all questions that I found myself asking earlier last week. Many of the answers to those questions were explained to me, but Wesir and the Mysteries did not really resonate with me. I heard the answers, I comprehended them, but I didn’t really understand them. I think the part that really fell short for me was that I hadn’t yet found my own personal relation to Wesir and the Mysteries.
In short, Wesir is a dead God. He was killed, buried, and mourned. He began a new afterlife in the Duat as king, but He was never to return to the seen world – to the living. The Wesir Mysteries vigil observes this passing and His transition into the Duat. This is important for our akhu (our ancestors who live on in the Duat), as He watches over them, provides them with all that they need there. But what about you and I? We’re still here, living in the seen world. Sure, it’s great to know that our akhu are well cared for and getting all that they need, but what does that do for us? The Wesir Mysteries that I knew was simply a time of reflection on Wesir’s death and His new residence in the Duat. Simply knowing that is not very exciting or moving on its own.
All of that changed for me this past weekend.
I had started planning to celebrate the Mysteries a couple of months in advance. I observed them in a mostly informal fashion last year with Imti, but this year I wanted to see if I couldn’t pull together something a little more formal. So I set a date, sent out invites, and waited. I was more excited about the time I could spend together with my friends in the faith than I was about observing the actual festival. But then on the Wednesday before the date I had set, we had group chat night where we discussed various things about Wesir and the Mysteries. The questions I listed at the top of this post were some of the ones brought up during that chat, but never really answered (at least not for me). That night, however, I started having dreams related to Wesir. They didn’t let up the next night, or the one after that. I suddenly found myself rather inspired and encouraged to put a lot of effort into the ritual portion of the Mysteries and carry it out as formally as possible. I still didn’t really understand why at the time – I just felt that it was important to do so.
On Saturday, we all gathered at my place, and by nightfall we were all fed, had our offerings ready, and were settled in for the all night vigil. For those who don’t know, the vigil for the Wesir Mysteries is traditionally observed over the course of six hours, beginning at midnight. During that time, Wesir’s death is mourned. Gradually throughout the night, He becomes established in the Duat. Each hour, on the hour (according to the ritual), we were to do a reading and perform various actions relating to Wesir’s transition to the Duat, followed by some time that could be spent in reflection – either alone or with the others present. All in all, this ended up taking about 15 minutes per hour.
The First Hour
Just before midnight, I purified my shrine room and the attendees and made sure everything was in order. The candles on the altar were lit. The lights were turned out. All the statues were in their places. Wesir’s icon was covered. We all lined up in our ritual whites and proceeded into the room. I carried with me a candle and a piece of paper with the words that I needed to read for the first hour of the vigil. We all gathered around the altar and stood in silence for a moment. Then I read the words, put out the candle, and we all knelt before the altar.
The Fourth Hour
This was when Wesir started to be established in the Duat. It was a transition from loss and mourning to a very quiet glimmer of hope.
That which has died shall not remain unchanged.
That was the first thought which came into my mind. Wesir was dead, yes, but He wasn’t simply just gone. He was changing. Becoming something more.
The Fifth Hour
Wesir was becoming further established as ruler, Heru in the Duat. Ritually, we were revealing more of His icon, showing that He was becoming revealed once more as something new and different.
The faintest light brings hope of a new life; a new beginning.
This was when I started to understand the rest of the reason why the Wesir Mysteries are so important. It’s not just about death and mourning and loss. It’s also about hope, a life after death, becoming something new and different. The existence of an afterlife is something which many of us hope for, and which many of us struggle to believe in. I often have many fears and doubts myself about the existence of an afterlife, even when I have no problem believing in my Gods. It’s kind of strange in that context, but it’s not unreasonable. Death is a terrifying thing. It’s full of great unknowns and questions that simply can not be answered. It is said that Wesir guards those secrets. That saying has a little more context for me now.
Even in death, the effects of one’s life carry on.
I looked over to the plants that were on the altar. They were green and growing – a symbol of Wesir. A symbol which lives on and carries its meaning even after His death. This reminded me of something else that’s so very important. What we do in this life, in the seen world, carries on long after we’re gone. The effects we had on our friends, family, and the world will ripple on for generation upon generation. The bonds of love are not broken by death, and the memories we have live on within us. They still have the power to bring us strength, courage, and joy. They may also make us sad to know that they’ll never be seen again in this world, yes, but they have not simply vanished from existence.
The Sixth Hour
Wesir is established in the Duat. We present offerings to Him, honor Him, and celebrate.
Em hotep, Wesir. I see you rising. We all see you rising as You take Your place among the stars in the vault of Nut.
As it is with all those who have gone before us, the way we talk to them and interact with them has changed, but they have not left us. They’re still there, watching over us, listening to us, and talking to us if we take the time to listen to them.
And that’s what the Mysteries are all about. The mysteries of life, death, afterlife, and what lies in-between. Facing death, the sadness and separation it brings, and also the hope and new relationships it begins.
Carrying out this vigil in the way we did allowed me to finally see and understand the significance involved in this sacred time of the year. Seeing His death and resurrection in the afterlife carried out hour by hour really drove it home for me. Wesir was the one who I listened to that night – whose vigil I helped bring to life and observed. He prompted me to write down what came to mind, and those are the quotes which I made in this post. He is the reason why I began writing again and why I wrote this post here tonight.
Thank you, Wesir.
Dua Wesir! Nekhtet!
It’s been well over a year since I’ve made any posts on this blog. I could make all kinds of excuses as to why that is, but I’d rather focus on why I’m starting to write again.
Much has changed over the course of the last year. One of which being that I am now a consecrated W’ab priest of Heruakhety in the Kemetic Orthodox faith. This blog started out as my own personal views on my practices within the faith. That’s how I plan on keeping it. My primary focus is still on my spiritual Father, Heruakhety and my Beloveds, Ra, Set, and Yinepu-Wepwawet.
But every now and then, an unexpected God or Goddess shows up and surprises you by teaching you something that you never really understood before. That is exactly what happened to me with Wesir this past weekend. He is the one who encouraged me to start writing again. It started with just a few notes in a journal. Now I’m hoping to grow it in to something much more than that. I’ll be posting more about that experience shortly.
Ah, the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion! It’s an ages old celebration of the union of Hethert and Heru-wer, accompanied by offerings of music, dancing, and food! But what does it really mean for two gods who love each other to be joined in union? While that’s an answer which everyone needs to find for themselves, I found out what it means to me last night.
The Beautiful Reunion was the first festival I ever participated in after joining the Kemetic Orthodox church last year. I remember it as being one of the most joyful and uplifting celebrations of the year. This year, however, seemed to be a different story. My day did not seem to be in celebration of Their union at all. I was really struggling with loneliness at the time, as I came to the crushing realization that I really didn’t have any close friends who I talk to regularly any more. I no longer had that one person who I could always turn to and confide in and know that they understand. So, I started trying to reach out to people again, just to see how things are going.
Unfortunately, it seems that everywhere I turn, people are having a hard time. Illness, death, lost jobs, financial problems, and relationship problems abound. I was hoping to hear from someone about how good and joyful life is, but it just wasn’t meant to be. I wanted to talk to someone who could help turn my perspective around. But for each person I talked to, I learned of new problems in life. It wasn’t what I was looking for, but that didn’t mean that I just turned away from them. I offered an open heart and a willing ear, to still be someone they could talk to. There are far too many people who are lost in despair. Far too many who feel like there isn’t anyone left in the world who cares about them any more. It’s absolutely the worst feeling in the world and I can’t accept that anyone should ever have to feel that way. Maybe I can’t turn their lives around on my own, but damn it, I try anyway!
I can’t give jobs to those who need them, fix a broken family, cure sickness, or get people out of financial trouble. But what I can do, and what any of us can do, is to care. Let someone know that you care about what happens to them and offer to help in any way that you can. No one should ever have to feel alone or feel that any burden is too much to share. We were never meant to survive on our own in this world. We all need people who care about us and people who we can care about. Even if you aren’t someone’s best friend, you can still be a friend.
This is what the Beautiful Reunion taught me this year. The union of Hethert and Heru-wer is a celebration of love and companionship in its most powerful form. It’s the celebration two gods working together, who are so filled with love that it touches us all. It may not be possible to truly understand what the union of two gods means, but we can certainly understand the union of two humans. The beautiful bond that exists between two people who care for each other is surely but a glimpse and a humble offering to what this festival is about. It is that bond which we become a part of every time we reach out to someone.
There was one line at the beginning of the ritual which really spoke to me about this idea:
“Grant us the ability to feel Your love and to share it with others.”
That is what I felt that day, and that is what I try to share with others. It’s not always easy, but it is always the right thing to do. This is what the Beautiful Reunion means to me.
On Saturday morning, Shefyt, Imti, Peri, Tepta, and I stopped by a super epic awesome bagel shop before heading back into NYC. Freshly baked blueberry bagels are a great way to start the day! Once we made it into NYC, everyone met up at a university classroom, courtesy of Wasi and her mother (thank you!). After a little trouble with the guards at the front door, we made our way up several flights of escalators to the waiting classroom. We all gathered the desks in a circle at the front of the room around Hemet who took the teacher’s desk. The first thing she did was to start writing wing fest quiz questions on the chalk board (which she also posted on Facebook)! I don’t think that any of us were quite expecting that! The questions covered all things wings: Gods and Goddesses with and related to wings, species of birds, glyphs of birds and related to birds, and even a question about which Nisut received a chicken as a tribute.
One of the most interesting things I learned from the quiz is that the Eye of Ra hieroglyph is associated with mathematics and medicine and that its shape was the basis for the now ubiquitous Rx symbol. The other interesting tidbit of information was that the Nisut who received a chicken as a tribute (Djehutymose III) thought it was so amazing because chickens lay eggs every day. All of the birds native to Egypt only lay very few eggs once a year, so this was a shocking revelation at the time. It also probably helps that their eggs are so delicious. :P
The time passed all too quickly as we all went over what we came up with for the answers. It was an awesome time of learning and asking questions about the wonderful winged gods: what their feathers and wings represent, how they’re all tied together, and even gods that we’d never think of being associated with wings or feathers.
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This past weekend was our North East Wing Fest gathering! A weekend full of fellowship, learning, and good food! I actually wasn’t sure what to expect at first. There was a rough itinerary posted, but that didn’t even start to prepare me for what all was going to happen!
I drove up to stay at Shefytbast’s place Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately the traffic wasn’t in my favor and I ended up arriving much later than I originally intended. Luckily that didn’t turn out to be any trouble and I was able to find her house after calling and getting some extra directions. I was finally able to meet Shefyt, Peri, and Tepta for the first time. They all turned out to be super epic awesome! Oh, and Imti was there too… already asleep on the couch. We didn’t do a whole lot the first night aside from meeting each other and getting to bed.
This isn’t exactly something that I’ve tried before, but I attended the event with high hopes and I wasn’t disappointed! The heka itself is fairly straight forward. We each took a piece of origami paper, dedicated it to a winged god, and wrote a prayer or message on one side of the paper. We then followed a set of instructions created by one of the other House members to fold that paper into the shape of a bird. Some of the origami folds are a little tricky to get your head around at first. I might have been a little slow, but I got it done in the end! Once everyone had at least one bird folded, we all offered our creations to the god we wrote our prayers to. These birds will now spend the rest of the week in shrine, hopefully working some very effective heka. ^_^
I dedicated mine (rather predictably) to Heruakhety. I won’t go into detail about what I wrote, but suffice to say that I found the results to be rather immediate and very effective. I look forward to seeing what the rest of this week has in store.
In case you haven’t already heard, the Journal of Wings has been published and is now ready for purchase!
It’s a compilation of stories, poems, art, and heka dedicated to the winged gods in celebration of Wing Fest! I contributed an image for the publication as well. It’s at the very end – save the best for last!
No, it’s not about hot wings! Although I’ve been told that many people do enjoy those, as do some of the gods. :3
Wing fest is a week long celebration being done within the Kemetic Orthodox church to celebrate all of the winged Netjeru. It’s not a traditional or ancient festival, but this year it is official for the church and the first full week long celebration of the Names! The first day of the festival was yesterday. It’s been quite a while since I posted anything, so I made myself a goal to write one post for each day of the festival. It’s a little bit of a late start now, but better late than never. ^.^;;
I first started off my own celebration of wing fest on Monday morning with my regular practice of senut for Heruakhety. There are two winged gods who I am personally very close to. The first being of course Heruakhety, and the other being my first beloved, Ra. But Wings Fest isn’t only about the gods who appear specifically as birds. It also covers all gods and imagery which include wings and feathers (such as Aset, Ma’at, The Ba, winged scarabs, etc). This has really opened the doors wide for everyone to join in the celebration of these gods. And celebrate we did! For the first night of wings fest, there was an online gathering for an hour long session of praise, prayers, and conversations with the winged gods!
The gathering was somewhat similar to a standard heka prayer dua that is held once per month, but this one was more open, less constrained, and focused on the topic of wings. It was really very inspiring and a great motivational work of heka! Even being as separated across the country and across the world as we all are, there was still a tremendous and joyous amount of energy being shared that night. After it was over, everyone was left with a great sense of excitement and inspiration. It was just like a strong sensation of wanting to get out in the world and accomplish something! ^.^
Monday was a great beginning to the festival, and only the start of the energy which will carry through for the rest of the week!
Today is the second day of Shu and Tefnut’s birthday. They are the Twins, the original emanations of the Self-Created one, Atum. And before tonight, I had never spoken to either of Them.
Sure, I’ve known of Their existence and was somewhat aware that they were often spoken of as a pair, but I didn’t have even the slightest bit of personal experience with either of Them. Shu is associated with the air and Tefnut is associated with moisture; two things which are often seen together.
In celebration of Their birthday, the House of Netjer held a special dua tonight. It was a gathering to give thanks to Shu and Tefnut and ask for Their help where we need it most. As part of this, Hemet led us through some special heka to connect with Them. Shu and Tefnut are very abstract and somewhat difficult to quantify. This was even more true for me tonight since I had never even tried to wrap my head around either of Them before!
I didn’t exactly get off to a great start as I had almost completely forgotten that this event was taking place tonight. I noticed that the dua had started right around the time that prayers were beginning. I logged off quickly and ran to go purify myself before returning and approaching the gods. Luckily, I did have everything that was needed for the heka available and I was able to re-join everyone before the beginning of the heka. The two most important items were a bowl of water and incense.
Through the heka we practiced tonight, the incense and water were used as icons for Shu and Tefnut. Shu was present in the scent of the incense and Tefnut in the water. It was in this form that we communicated with Them. It was in this form that I asked Them to help me with some very personal issues that have been bothering me for a very long time. Issues that I had nearly forgotten and buried inside me. It wasn’t until performing this heka tonight that those issues were brought to light once more and I was able to speak them clearly.
Two gods who I had never talked to before and knew hardly anything about before tonight were able to bring out something in me that I thought could never be helped. This is the reason why I love Netjer so very much! Shu, being of the air, is a great god to be able to talk to! Indeed, it is the spoken word itself which He is able to help the most with. And at the same time, on a quieter, more moving level, Tefnut was present to help with the great ebb and flow of emotions. It is a truly wonderful thing to contemplate how these two gods are intertwined and play off of each other. The spoken word often carries with it great power of emotion, and emotions can be conveyed to others through the spoken word. The gentle breeze on a cool night or warm afternoon often carries with it a great feeling of peace and tranquility.
I’ve only scratched the surface of these two gods, but I can already see that They open up a whole new world of exploration and understanding. As part of tonight’s heka, I brought the incense and water outside on my balcony. There I stood, holding the quietly burning, sweet smelling incense in one hand, and the calm cool water in the other. Out in the night, in the kind of night where you want to be still and feel the air on your skin. It was pleasantly dark, cool, quiet, with just the softest wind. I looked up to the night sky and took in what I saw for a moment. It was too dark to see the clouds themselves, but I did see one plane up in the air, flying through the clouds. Its lights illuminating the haze around it as it disappeared and re-appeared every few seconds. That’s something I always love watching. Tonight I was able to see Tefnut in the clouds and feel Shu in the wind. It’s a great inspiration and I’ve just realized, today is only day two!
Yesterday seemed like a really good time to finally get around to doing some shrine cleaning that I had been putting off. This morning, I thought it might be a good idea to go ahead and take a couple of pictures before doing senut and inevitably making a mess of things again. :P
At the moment, I have two shrines for my gods; one dedicated to Heruakhety and one dedicated to my three Beloveds – Ra, Set, and Yinepu-Wepwawet. Since Heruakhety is my Father, He has his own separate shrine. If I had more room, I would have separated my shrines for Ra, Set, and Yinepu-Wepwawet as well. Fortunately, They haven’t complained about the arrangement so far. Both shrines are pretty simple and not the most elegant, but I do what I can to make them presentable for the Gods. ^_^
My Heruakhety shrine is used primarily for performing the senut ritual for my Father. I usually do this at sunrise every morning, one of the two times when I feel His presence most in this world (the other time being at sunset). This works out quite well since the recommended time for all Kemetic Orthodox Shemsu to perform senut is at sunrise. The shrine for my beloveds is used more spontaneously. I don’t have a schedule or regular practice for honoring Them. Any time I feel the need to talk to one of Them, I’ll present an offering and spend the time that I need with Them. Sometimes They call me to Them, and other times I seek Them out.
For everyone out there who keeps a shrine to the Gods, always remember: A clean shrine is a happy shrine! Not only is maintaining ritual purity important, but I believe it helps both me and the Gods feel better when we’re spending time together.