At this time of year, many Kemetics are embedded in heavy plans around the Closing of the Year, the Epagomenal Days, and Wep Ronpet. Today, for example, I am performing offerings and prayers to honor the birth of Heru-Wer (Epagomenal Day 2…when not in a Leap Year, of course). With so many netjeru to honor over the next few days, and with Wep Ronpet coming (for me) on August 5th, I have tons to do!
But my mind keeps drifting to Opet…which doesn’t happen until next month (around 2 Akhet 19, depending on the calendar resource you use). I’m excited about Opet in a way I’ve not been previously because it makes sense to me…and because I pushed at something that seems to have excited some other people, too. But, to understand why having a tangible Thing To Do for Opet is making me a little bit giddy, I guess I should back up and talk about the holiday itself, a little bit, and why some people just find it difficult to put in context nowadays.
Opet is a New Kingdom festival during which Amun, Mut, and Khonsu (the Theban triad) would travel from their residence at Karnak to the capital at Thebes. When the gods arrived, the king would greet them, coronation rituals would be done, and the bond between mortality and divinity cemented once again in the name of Order. One of the key bits of this whole thing is the acknowledgement of Amun as the father of the king…and the king as Amun’s son.
(This is a Thing when you consider how relationships are important in the context of ma’at.)
While all this great cosmic ordering was going on, Jane and Joe Hotep would be celebrating with feasting sponsored and supported by the state.
Opet 2013 will occur, for me, September 22nd through October 15th. It’s a long festival, and made seemingly longer and harder (minds out of the lettuce, people!) since I’ve had to find a way to celebrate it that doesn’t involve replenishing the kingly ka of, well, a king, and without having a mortal head of state that is also the divine head of state. Hard things are hard, and all that. Fortunately, there are ways we can make Opet work for us, even though we have no king. We can reconfirm our own place in the grand scheme of things, as the king did with Amun. We can nurture our relationships with our own communities (see parenthetical about relationships and ma’at) – families, friends, and community-at-large all fit into this box. We can also sponsor and support those that need it…which brings me right back to the reason I started this post in the first place.
I celebrate Opet by charitable giving (as we’ve been calling it in my usual spiritual hang-outs, ’emboatening the boatless’ because how on Earth do you cross the Nile without a boat?). For the past two years, I’ve given boat-related donations for Opet – one year, I donated toward a canoe for a summer camp and another year, I donated money toward a woman who needed fishing boat repairs. Funnily enough, a member of my religious community also donated money to the same woman…and this got us thinking about what a community could do for someone…which got to this point: a community project to emboaten can make further inroads than a single person.
For Opet 2013, I’m putting together a group of people to participate in micro-lending through Kiva.org. You can read more about the project here and, if you’re interested, let me know either in the thread or through a comment to this blog post.