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 Ronpet. Wep 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.