The Kemetic Round Table (KRT) is a blogging project aimed at providing practical, useful information for modern Kemetic religious practitioners. This week’s topic: ”What about holidays? Do we need them? How do I figure out when holidays occur? How do I celebrate holidays? Can I make up my own holidays?”
Holidays: “the fun part of religion,” we used to say, as kids. For a Jewish child, holidays usually involve three majorly enjoyable things: parties, food, and presents (excluding Yom Kippur, of course, the bane of the Jewish child’s year of fun – no eating, a lot of sitting and standing, and definitely no presents!). Luckily for me, Judaism has a very established calendar – I lived the first 15-16 years of my life knowing exactly what to expect from the year as far as holidays and festivals go, and many of them were a great deal of fun. Not to mention, I was constantly involved in a community that was able to educate a child on the mythological significance of most holidays; and I lived with a family that took very seriously the word “tradition.”
Because of my childhood, and the very festive nature of the Jewish religion and culture (a culture, at least, that I am still very much a part of today), it really doesn’t come as much of a surprise that I have, since becoming a Kemetic, taken a deep and personal investment in the “Kemetic year.” Ok, let’s face: I just really love parties! In all seriousness, though, I find that religion is much more potent for me, much more alive, when one takes a vested interest in that religion’s holiday cycle. Why?
I should note, firstly, that having holidays or a calendar is not necessarily a requirement for Kemeticism. You could certainly be Kemetic, honor our Gods, do daily rituals, and never take one peep at a holiday or festival calendar. There would be nothing wrong with that. But it’s my personal opinion that ignoring at least the major holidays of any religion one chooses to follow is a shame – you’d be missing out! Holiday cycles can be an important reminder of how very tied to nature our Gods are, and how very tied to Their mythology we are (simply by choosing to believe in and interact with our Gods in the first place). And for me, taking a vested interest in the Kemetic calendar specifically really has helped me get a better sense of the Ancient Egyptian seasons, which continues to be a goal of mine for this new Kemetic year.
How many holidays one chooses to celebrate, or how one chooses to celebrate them, is entirely up to the person in question. Perhaps if you are close to only one of the Netjeru, you might choose only to celebrate feast days that belong to that particular Deity. If you are too busy for daily or weekly feast day celebrations in general, you might choose to only partake in the “major” Kemetic holidays (of which there are a few throughout the year, the only “mandatory” one, or significantly important one, being Wep Ronpet, the New Year). Or, you may not care for holidays at all. Like I already stated, for me, holidays are important. Understanding the ancient Kemetic calendar is important. Having a religious yearly cycle to follow, in conjunction with my secular yearly cycle (the cycle of work and school, etc.), is very important to me – it helps keep me balanced between my two lives (my secular life and my spiritual life), and it gives me even more to look forward to throughout each year. And also like I said, becoming more intimately aware of the Kemetic calendar is something I’ve wanted to do for a while now, so that I can better understand the ancient Kemetic seasons, and hopefully, through that, become even closer with my Gods.
In addition, holidays bring people together. Each Kemetic, even those of us in the Kemetic Orthodoxy who do the Senut, has a different daily or weekly ritual schedule/process. But when it comes to the holidays, even if we celebrate in different ways, it’s still the same myth/God/etc. we’re all celebrating. Take the Epagomenal Days leading up to Wep Ronpet, for example. Even if all of us do our celebrations slightly differently, or our dates are slightly different, it’s still something all Kemetics are doing together. We’re all honoring Wesir, Heru-wer, Set, Aset, and Nebt-het. That’s special, and vital, for our growing community, and for the Gods. Think of how much heka and power we are sending to Them when we all celebrate together, or around the same time, for the same purposes/reasons. It’s just a cool thing I like to think about in terms of the Kemetic community. Even if so many of us are different, and not all of us are a part of an established group (like KO), the calendar is something that has the potential to really bring us all together. My dream is for there to be places, in person, for more of us to meet and celebrate together on these special days someday. How fun would that be? ^_^
(And I will note, in regards to the Kemetic Orthodoxy, which I am a part of – it’s really nice to have an event calendar sent to me each month by email, and it’s awesome how many IRC chat-sessions there are for celebrating a lot of the holidays together, even if we can’t all be together in person due to distance. It’s one of the things I like most about being a part of KO – like I said above, I feel like the combined heka of all of us praying together, even in a chat-room, feels more powerful sometimes than me doing it all on my own. But that’s just me! ^^ And I hope to be able to attend some of the events in person someday, too!)
But going back to how one might celebrate solitarily to begin. Let’s say you’re someone like me – someone interested in the Kemetic calendar as a whole, in incorporating holidays (at least some, to start, if not all) into your spiritual practice. Where to start?
Luckily for me, and for you, I’ve already written an entire post on this. I urge you to take the time to follow the link and read it! It really is a part of this post too. That post is all about constructing a Kemetic calendar, how to do it, why one might want to do it, and what doing it means for one’s Kemetic practice as a whole. I’m not trying to “get out of” making this KRT post a long and detailed one, I promise ^__~ It’s a matter of practicality: I’ve already written all about this! So, consider clicking on that link the “part II” of this KRT post, rather than a separate thing entirely.
Finally, after you’ve read that post, all about making a calendar, know that there’s one other thing I’d like you to consider: it’s totally cool to make up your own holidays too! I have friends who have done that! It’s not wrong, it’s just another way for a person to celebrate his or her Gods, or spiritual practice! For an example of a “made-up” Kemetic holiday, I also urge you to read this post, within which I describe celebrating the holiday Heb Sabu, a made-up holiday by my friend over at Black Fur, Black Wing, in honor of the Jackal Gods Anup and Wepwawet. I’ve also been a part of Greco-Egyptian syncretic holiday celebrations before, so really, anything is possible! How you choose to celebrate the Gods is up to you! That includes the decision to honor the actual/historical Kemetic calendar, or just parts of it, and it also includes making up your own holidays too.
So good luck, and start celebrating! Dua Netjer!
((Also, the following post may also be of some relevance: Wep Ronpet 2013))