(Kemetic) Calendar Chaos

Calendar work gives me epic fits…which is a problem,  considering the amount that is needed to put anything cohesive together when one is Kemetic.

Part of the work involved is the attempt to reconcile not only multiple calendar sources, but also multiple calendar types.  There’s a solar calendar involved, and a lunar calendar, and various city-based calendars.   Some festivals were celebrated across regions and some were region specific.  In addition to this, why not throw in the fact that the Kemetic year consists of three seasons made up of four thirty-day months each leading to a year of 360 days…and then let’s add on 5 extra days each year for good measure…after which the year starts over again?  And, oh yeah, all of this is based on when a particular star visibly rises before sunrise.

(Have I mentioned how frustrating this can be?)

So, when figuring out which festivals to celebrate I need to figure out not only which might apply to me from their descriptions in various sources but also when those festivals occur based on all of the available calendars.

(Yeah.  See parenthetical comment above.)

The first Kemetic festival I decided to try to celebrate, back in the day, was Wep RonpetWep Ronpet starts the Kemetic year and begins the season of Akhet (Inundation); it occurs on the day when Sopdet (Sirius) rises prior to sunrise. To determine the date, I happily went to my bookshelf and pulled down a copy of Ancient Egyptian Magic by Bob Brier, as it contains a calendar in Chapter 15.  Brier’s calendar is based on the Cairo Calendar discovered in 1943, with some modifications based on the timing of the rising of Sopdet; Akhet has moved from around the time of the summer solstice in 3000 BCE to August in modern times.

So, I noted on Brier’s calendar that Wep Ronpet was on August 1st and things were great…until I thought about the fact that I wasn’t in Cairo and that it was highly probable that Sopdet’s rising was on a different date in my part of the world.  I puzzled over how to figure this out…and then was given a link to the Naval Oceanography Portal, from which I got to the United States Naval Observatory website and was able to figure out when Sopdet would rise for me.  I then had a date that was specific to my region…and then realized I’d be on vacation and had to recalculate everything all over again because I wanted to be authentic.

Similar things happened after this when I tried to incorporate the festival(s) of Nut (before or after the new moon?), Opet (it lasts over a month and I don’t have a Nile to float down! ), and so on and so on and scooby doo-bee doo-bee.  I wanted to celebrate these things and add them to my every day practices and I couldn’t figure out when they were or what to do and even the sources I checked weren’t necessarily reliable because of missing footnotes or calendar movement over the years.  I finally decided that I needed to take the information I had, bring it back to my religious community and discuss it in order to understand where in my life it fit.

Fortunately, my lack of ability when it comes to calendar calculation doesn’t knock me out of commission; one of the members of my religious community has some of the best calendar-foo I’ve seen and she’s worked out a followable fixed date festival calendar that is continually updated.   As I figure out which festivals apply to me and my path, I don’t (usually) have to try and figure out when they happen.

Of course, we’re always coming across something new that has no rhyme or reason.  Last month, there was a long, involved discussion about the timing of the Return of the Distant Goddess and the fact that most of the established Kemetic groups celebrate it at different times of the year…and some of these celebrations would technically be during Her travels…and does the Distant Goddess’ Return apply to Her journey or Her arrival…and…well, you get the idea.

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16 responses to “(Kemetic) Calendar Chaos

  1. I’m going to sit here happily in the not-a-recon corner. If only I wasn’t mucking about with my own calendar foo, or I’d make some popcorn…

  2. Really weird that you should post this right now. I have just been thinking the same thing, i have been trying to shoehorn kemetic holidays into the wheel of the year but it just feels hollow and empty. I feel like i should just go back to the normal Kemetic Ca-lander, but then where do i take the rising of Sopdet from? At Thebes or here in Liverpool? Should i adjust the calender every year or just leave it “as is”? Or should i just follow what the Kemetic Orthadox do even though I’m not one of them?

    • For what it’s worth (FWIW), I stopped celebrating the Wheel when Sekhmet smacked me in the head and told me to knock it off; it didn’t fit with what she wanted from me. Kemetic holidays, unless you follow Tameran Wicca (AFAIK), just don’t fit with the Wheel.

      I’m not a member of HON and, therefore, not Kemetic Orthodox. So, I guess my question is: do you want to join a group that has a fixed calendar for you to follow? If not, what are the benefits to using the calendar of a group to which you don’t belong?

      Were I you, I’d probably calculate Wep Ronpet each year based on Liverpool and not worry about whether I was going to be in that exact location when it occurred. I’d not want to go through all the myriad calculations I did the first time, that’s for certain! I think starting that way will at least give you a foothold and a place from which to grow.

      There’s my $0.02. Your mileage may vary (YMMV).

  3. Yeah, this is why I have a fixed calendar. 😉 I decided very quickly I couldn’t be arsed doing the maths every year, so I commandeered my old Kemetic Orthodox calendars and used those to build myself a fixed calendar instead. It’s not based on the rising of Sirius though, because I wanted it to match the seasons in the southern hemisphere where I am, and using Sirius wouldn’t have allowed that, so I just picked a date for Wep Ronpet (today, as it happens), and went from there. Having it match the seasons down here was more important than sticking to tradition, but then I’m not a recon, so I don’t feel bad about that.

    • Given the seasonal differences, I think it makes a lot of sense!

      Which festivals do you celebrate on a routine basis, other than Wep Ronpet (if you don’t mind saying)?

      • Oh yeah, the energy is much better now. Everything makes sense.

        Apart from Wep Ronpet, the ones I always make sure I mark in some relatively significant way are: Aset Luminous, Opet, the Mysteries of Wesir, Return of the Distant Goddess/Establishment of the Celestial Cow, and any Sobek festivals.

        I know I should do more, but my path has been in such a flux over the past few years that I haven’t really had time to put together anything for the other ones, like the Wag festival, Soaring Falcon (which Heru-sa-Aset hijacked for Himself; it’s meant to be Heru-Wer’s, iirc), or Beautiful Valley. I don’t do the Beautiful Reunion because I don’t work with either Heru-Wer or Hethert.

        I also mark the Sabbats, and there are also some Greek and Roman festivals in there, though they aren’t switched around to match the seasons yet. I’m trying to get my head around marking Februalia in a month that is not Feburary, and not really succeeding. Considering renaming it to Vestalia if I end up switching it. But I’m still figuring that out. The Kemetic stuff is sorted, though.

        In case you are or anyone else is interested, my whole calendar is here: https://persebek.wordpress.com/practices/festival-calendars/personal-festival-calendar/

  4. I used to be vaguely into Celtic recon, and had the luxury of a scholarly tome which laid a lot of calendar stuff and festivals out. But just trying to follow it and have it make sense in terms of my actual life made my head hurt. I don’t know where I’d even begin to start working that out for myself. I raise my glass to you in awe.

    Also, “I don’t have a Nile to float down!”, gave me the first laugh I’ve had all day. 🙂

    • The Nile comment relates to the fact that a number of Kemetic festivals involved gods going to visit one another…and that meant processions from temple to temple with icons and things. I’m glad it made you laugh – it was meant to. 🙂

      Also, thanks for the compliment.

  5. Of course you also have to consider recalculating the whole thing EVERY year if you do the non-fixed deal, and of course, who’s dates to follow? I’ve seen suggestions of everyone picking a city, like the nation’s capital, or Cairo, for locking down the calenders, somewhat, but then you have the wonky ones that change from year to year no matter what! @.X
    (Yes, calendars suck when they get this complex. Why do we do this to ourselves?)

    I’m definatly gonna look at that fixed one you linked to and move it to where I am now if I can figure it out. My wep renpet for 2012 was August 11th as it turns out (which I missed, cause yay complex calendar! X.x;;;; ) and let’s not forget, depending on where yo uare in the world, it might be the middle of growing time locally and the calender-foo might be saying ‘PLANTING TIME! WOO!’. Kinda late to be thinking ‘where the seeds at’ when stuff’s already growing. O.o

    Sigh…. Calendars…

    • I cheat a little, in that I like to keep things growing indoors as well – if a festival calls for planting (in one fashion or another), I put some more seeds in my AeroGarden and we’re off!

      We do it for any number of reasons, including the possibility that we’re insane. 😉

  6. The calendar thing is on my extended to-do list. I am KO, but I also can’t ignore that the seasons where I live don’t match up with the Kemetic calendar. (I may be KO, but I still don’t consider myself to be a recon. The gods just grabbed me and said, “You! Get over here!”) I may decide to do personal celebrations based on the local seasons, and then celebrate the state version with the KO to cover my social bases.

    You say Wep Ronpet was originally closer to the Solstice? That actually works rather well for me because it’s near the beginning of the monsoon season here which could be an analogy for the flooding of the Nile.

    It does make you want to beat your head against the wall doesn’t it?

    • According to the Cairo Calendar (and Brier, FWIW) it appears it was closer to the solstice in 3000 BCE than now.

      How does celebrating on a personal and state level work for you?

      • As I said, that’s still on the to-do list for me. It’s just an idea I’ve been kicking around. Wep Ronpet seems like an obvious choice for that with the local monsoon season. I already have a few personal ‘holidays’ that match the seasons here. They aren’t really anything formal, more like, “Hey, that’s going on now!” The trick will be matching them up in a way that makes sense without trying to force it too badly. Maybe something when they open the dams and let the river flow to the farmers. Maybe an observance for dust storm season. I have a lot of material to work with. I just need to get it organized in my head.

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