Creating a Calendar: One Possible Method

Introduction
I’ve gone quite a while (7 years) celebrating just a few, sparse holidays: Wep Ronpet, an Akhu festival, and a moment of reflection at the two solstices (while not inherently Kemetic, I am a nature lover at heart and always incorporate a few natural cycles into my practice). Needless to say, my religious year is a quiet one. During the year, when secular or Christian holidays were celebrated, I had always thought it would be nice if they had some religious meaning for me. Without holidays that are religiously meaningful, its up to the holidays of my country and/or culture to celebrate and remind me of my religious values or events via their own themes (which may or may not be directly important to me).

The idea of creating my own calendar was daunting, for the reasons outlined in this post. If you don’t know too much about the Kemetic calendar, I recommend you read that post before continuing to this one; it will give you a reference point. This morning, I FINALLY sat down and created my own calendar. For those of you hoping to do this yourselves, I’d like to share with you how I did it, just as one possible approach you might have at your disposal. For those of you have who have already created their calendar, if you have any input, I would really love to get it. My method uses some UPG and less strictly-reconstructionist methods, but I’ll tell you when that occurs and you can decide what you think.

Choosing What to Celebrate and Why

What is the purpose of a religious holiday?
Before deciding which holidays to celebrate, I had to figure out why I wanted to celebrate them in the first place. I decided that holidays serve as reminders and celebrations of our values, Netjeru, and the traditions/stories of our faith/spirituality.  Most important to my practice is Ma’at, and so holidays should also touch up on Ma’at in some fashion, no matter how slight.

Identifying which holidays to observe
Now that I had my purpose, I had to decide which holidays would best serve that purpose. I started by listing the following:

1. The Netjeru I worship
These deities are central to my practice, and as such, these Netjeru and their myth cycles/stories embody the things I value/base my practice on.

2. The myths I find communicated important values; elements of my faith that are important and should be remembered/celebrated
While these were often the myths surrounding the above Netjeru, some myths did not include these deities but were still important to me. The “elements” pertain to major themes or concepts I emphasize in my practice, like the Akhu or living Ma’at.

3. Holidays (Kemetic and secular) that are important to me due to the sense of community AND the values they communicate and other elements of my faith that are not included in the above.

I didn’t so much as write these down as I kept them in mind. They were: The Feast of the Celestial Cow (“Moomas”), Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter. I do value community, friends, and family. Considering the dates of some secular, Catholic, or cultural holidays was important for me, as it ties me to my American and Cajun roots.

These three points created a list of deities, religious elements, and myths. In many cases, they already had an associated holiday. If they didn’t, made one up myself. In the end, I was able to find established feast days or holidays for each myth or deity. The most central concept of my practice is Ma’at. In reviewing the items on the created list and in thinking about the holidays, I came back to that concept and how the holiday connected to Ma’at.

Placing them on the calendar
This section will have a few subparts:
-When and why I used the Ancient Egyptians’ system of setting a date (traditionalist)
-When and why I connected a holiday to a secular or Catholic holiday (cultural)
-When and I why I connected a holiday to “local” agriculture (agricultural/geographical)

Remember my purpose for a holiday: aligning myself with and celebrating my values and foundations. Thus, when setting the date for holidays, I attempted to analyze which system of date setting was most aligned with this goal. I will show you how I set dates for a few holidays. Please note that these are not the only holidays I celebrate, just a few of the ones which best illustrate the points of this post.

Wep Ronpet (Traditionalist (with a geographical bent)
I used the Ancient Egyptian system of discovering when Sirius rose for my area (as opposed to Egypt) and setting the date at that point.

Why did I make this decision:
This festival is concerned with a number of natural phenomena: Sirius’s rising and the Nile’s flooding. There are no rivers lay a coat of fertile silt upon the shoulders of my fields, but Sirius can rise above my land’s horizon just before dawn. This connection to the homeland of my reconstructed faith is important. While I do strive to make my practice meaningful to the world I live in, I always seek to wed it to its own roots. And while Sirius doesn’t hail an important agricultural event to which my very survival is pinned (as it did with the Ancient Egyptians), this time of year does hail the start of a “busy season”, so to speak. Years of schooling and work schedules has ingrained the idea that in the fall, some new cycle is starting. Thus, this time of year as the start of a cycle makes sense for me psychologically and religiously. Thus, for this holiday (and a few others, like Opet and the Feast of the Beautiful Reunion), I decided to use the ancient method for setting the date.

The Mysteries of Wesir (Cultural and Agricultural/Geographical)
Traditionally, this week-long festival occurs at the end of the season of Akhet. Sirius becomes visible in my area around the 7th of August. This means that if I used the traditional means of setting the date for the Mysteries of Wesir, it would be around the end of November/beginning of December. I celebrate it in September, to coincide with a crop harvested where I grew up.

Why did I make this decision:
The mysteries of Wesir, are, at the heart of it (to me), a metaphor for harvest, death, and sowing the seeds of birth. Even where I live, in a temperate climate, the end of November isn’t a quintessential time of harvest. Sure, we are harvesting things, but its things we’ve been harvesting…celebrations are usually a “kick off” for the harvesting period. However, there is a very important crop where I am from that is harvested in the fall whose harvesting we still celebrate. Furthermore, much like Set scattered the parts of Wesir in some versions of the myth, it was always a yearly milestone to see the ashes of this crop drifting across town, sometimes miles from where it was being burned, in preparation for exacting the sweet “fruit” from the plant. I’m speaking of sugarcane. Sugarcane is generally harvested around the second to last week in September. Its a very important crop for our area, and one that can decide the economic fate for many individuals. Further, it is still culturally quite important. The myth of Wesir’s death also reminds me of the cycle of life and death; the new generation is born of the old one, much as the new cane springs from the fallen stalks.

For these reasons, its connection to a crop that has always been important and whose “remains” are visibly scattered as the ash from the cane floats across the land, I choose to celebrate this festival at the end of September, making it both a locally and agriculturally based holiday for me.

Akhu Festival and The Feast of the Celestial Cow (Cultural)
Akhu: I celebrate my Akhu at the start of November

Why did I make this decision:
To be honest, I’m not sure if there is a specific Akhu festival (though I am fairly certain I have read about one at some point). This is a holiday I celebrate because my akhu are an important part of my practice. Many pagans (particularly Neo-Wiccans, Wiccans, and Celctic reconstructionists/pagans) use Samhain (October 31) as a time to honor their ancestors. Catholics and other Christians celebrate All Souls day on November 2nd.

My ka is a continuation of the families I was born into who have passed away. They are my “family in the Duat”. Further, these holidays (other pagan ancestor holidays and All Souls day) are a continuation of traditions and culture I am presently a part of, connecting me to the family (whether blood or otherwise) in this world. Because of this, I use Catholic and other Pagan holidays to place this particular holiday. I can celebrate my Akhu with both my pagan and Christian friends at a similar time. Celebrating your akhu with your living loved ones repeats the overall theme of connectedness and community.

The Feast of the Celestial Cow: I have read that this particular festival was not likely one that was celebrated in Ancient Egypt. Rather, it was created as a counterpart to Christmas and other winter solstice celebrations. It centers about the myth in which Nut (or Het-hert), in the form of a cow, lifts Ra up to the heavens. He retreats there after nearly destroying the world due to his displeasure with humanity. It is, to me, a story of our own imperfection, but also of Divine mercy and compassion.

Thus, for the spiritual reasons it carries that speak to me, I celebrate it. However, it also ties me to the Kemetic community and other communities to which I belong, who celebrate Christmas. While not celebrating the birth of Christ, it allows me to harness the feelings of love, joy, warmth, and togetherness that this part of the year brings.

Why bother matching your celebrations with secular, Catholic, or other cultural celebrations?
Quite simply, to take advantage of the “air” and “excitement” or the “energy” my culture imbues those times of year with. For example, October is always a time where I feel the “veil is thin”, because ghost stories are on the radio, houses are adorned with skeletons, people are willing to playfully indulge in “supernatural” explanations, and, on All Souls day, I have relatives that bring fresh flowers to graves and light candles to the Blesssed Virgin for our deceased family members. It creates a palpable atmosphere of, well, spiritualism and remembrance on which I would like to capitalize. It links my religion to my culture. For this reason, I also celebrate Aset in her name of “Great of Heka” in October. (I see her Heka in two ways: a source of power, dominance, and shape-shifting, like when she learns the name of Ra or uses her heka to destroy/trick the allies of Set and/or Set. I celebrate/revere that in October, congruent with the above explanation. Her heka also allows her to heal. I’m experimenting with celebrating that aspect of her heka in the spring.)

Making up holidays
I do this, unabashedly. I do it for myths I enjoy, for times of the year that are important to me but which I haven’t connected to other holidays (like the summer solstice). For example, another myth that I love is the story of how humanity was created from the tears of Ra. In some renditions, it is the tears wrought by the reunion of Ra with his children that creates humanity. In others, it is the tears born of Ra’s separation from his children that creates humanity. Either way, that communicates alot (to me) about how we can perceive ourselves: we are born of the divine, and the despair of separation and the joy of reunion from/with the divine is what bore us. *mind exploding* So guess what? Because that myth gives me the warm and fuzzies, reminds me that the Netjeru are within all of us, and that I am born of Ra’s tears, I made it a holiday.

When do I celebrate it? On my birthday. The day that I was born, I celebrate not just my own creation, but the creation of all humanity. Our species is a hardy and yet also delicate thing. Its good to remember to be appreciative and compassionate of your fellow man, and to remember that we all carry within us the seed of the Divine.


You tied your holidays to events where you live. What if you move?
I more than likely will move. When appropriate, I will change those holidays set with geography in mind. If I am assimilated into a culture with values I come to treasure, I may incorporate that into my practice as well.

Conclusion
Needless to say, you can create your own calendar using only known holidays and celebrating them only on the days they were meant to be celebrating on. Or, you can make up your own entirely. Or you can sprinkle some UPG and personal thoughts into your reconstruction like I did. I plan on ironing out the details of how I will celebrate each holiday closer to the day of. These will likely be much more in line with what we know about the Ancient Egyptians’ celebrations of these holidays.

There are a million ways you could create your own calendar. In my opinion, it took me far too long to finalize my own. But I look forward to the religious structuring it will give me. And, honestly, I also hope that as I mature even more, it will provide a beautiful backdrop upon which I can live my life, and perhaps one day even share with my children.

I invite your thoughts on the methods I used to create this calendar, how you created your own calendar, and what you think about the topic in general. 😀

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