As the title says, it has been an awesome year for me- and I hope for all of you as well! As some of you know, last year I decided to check out the House of Netjer community. What I found was a group of passionately dedicated people, full of inspiration and information, and a well-developed community with facilities that were fairly impressive. I'm glad that I went back to see them again, that I went through their Beginners' Class, and that I can count myself a member of their community at the Remetj level. Even though I don't always agree with the temple's approach to the religion, and my disagreement has been enough that I doubt I will ever go further than Remetj, I have learned- and continue to learn- a great deal from them, and my differences have usually been politely accepted.
This year has been, according to the KO calendar, watched over by the Bawy- a composite god combining Hrw-Wr and Stkh, in balance. Knowing Them, probably in a highly dynamic sort of balance, heh.^_^ The community was called upon to donate art for the calendar, and in hopes of getting it published earlier I finally took up a pen and came up with my own submission:
It's mostly tracing, fortunately for me Egyptian art is so formulaic that I was able to borrow lines drawn by far more talented artists than myself- but having read some of the symbolism of position and composition, I was able to find figures in the poses I wanted, move an arm here or there, put things in hands, and transpose the heads of deities until I had a full image! It's crude and I've probably made a few mistakes here and there, but what I was trying to express with this image was the concept of a balanced, united Duality. Hrw and Stkh take center stage as the Bawy, and as They are the most important figure here They are depicted as larger than everyone else. I placed a knot in Their girdle, to represent the way Their forces are joined here- bound together in a complementary harmony which is further illustrated by the similar and compositionally symmetrical- yet different- types of scepters They hold: in Stkh's hand the djam (Dam) scepter, and in Hrw's hand the was (wAs) scepter.
On either side They are approached by Djhwty- a famous Reconciler of Differences, even though that aspect is usually associated with a different pairing of Hrw and Stkh. Nevertheless, I have always been enchanted by the role of Wisdom in balancing such opposites, and for that reason I find Djhwty's role in the Reconciliation to be exquisite. I allude to that role here, where Djhwty offers to Hrw the Udjat eye, and to Stkh a pair of twin was scepters (a stylized form of His testicles, which I figured would be less provocative and more friendly to calendar art). Actually, the ancients seemed to get Hrw-sa-Ast and Hrw-Wr mixed up sometimes, too, and I have seen ritual text which alludes to the Bawy along with the imagery of the Eye and the Testicles, so it's not that far of a stretch.
Finally, I decided to show Ma'at- as Djhwty's wife- supporting His arm as He presents the offering- to underline the Truth and Rightness of the offering, and of the joining or "reconciliation" of this Duality. The knot over Bawy's head once again emphasizes Their unity, and invokes the protective heka of this type of knot- which is frequently found in amuletic form on its own power. I wanted to place lotus and papyrus flowers in each corner of the border, but haven't been able to find a suitable image to trace (and I really have no artistic ability with which to draw them myself). The rest of the border is meant to mimic the bindings of reed bundles- a traditional motif and- to me, it seemed- another symbol of unification; alternate black and white stripes on the bindings are a further echo on the general theme of Duality.
Ironically, despite my best efforts the calendar still was not published until after I hit my annual Holiday Season Financial Crisis- so I have been unable to purchase a copy and do not know if my submission was accepted... or even received, lol. I just ordered a copy today- I know, it's pretty late, but I would really like to see the artwork that others submitted- and I'll still get 6 months of use out of it.^_^
In addition to this, I finally set up that Hrw and Stkh shrine I've been meaning to create forever. Or at least, ever since Nebra sent me that lovely pair of Hrw and Stkh icons.^_~ At this point shrines are taking up nearly every available horizontal surface in my house- including over the entertainment center and the shelf above the computer. But I found one of those corner-shelves, a nice glass and brass one, and set Them up with a red, white, and gold neckerchief altar cloth, a glass lotus-shaped candle holder with a red (or red and gold, when available) candle, and the two glass votive holders (one red, one blue) which were dedicated to Them during a celebration in Their honor hosted by the Temple of Ra. I have a pair of white ostrich plumes which I have managed to prop up behind the statues, but would love a more permanent way of anchoring to the shrine, and I'm on the lookout for a brass offering dish and small brass cup. I figured gold would be ideal, but since I'm unlikely to find (or afford) that, brass is at least gold-colored.
Speaking of the Temple of Ra, that brings me to another wonderful thing which has happened in this past year.^_^ I have been fortunate enough to find a group- here in my own area, no less!- whose commitment to a traditional approach to ritual and understanding of the religion as Kemetic reconstructionists is more in tune with my ideals and values than Kemetic Orthodoxy has been (no offense meant to Kemetic Orthodoxy, of course!^_^). Through a set of improbable events, I have gradually been steered toward a connection with these fine folks and have been grateful for it ever since! Thanks to them, I've been able to make some wonderful friends and join up with them regularly for celebrations which are far more similar to what I see in my texts when I'm researching ancient Egyptian religion than I've seen elsewhere. They've had a very comfortable, almost family-like feel to them, and I've really enjoyed our talks and after-ritual feasts together!^_^ The founder, Richard Reidy, has recently published his first book- Ancient Egyptian Rituals for the Modern World, which outlines seven traditional rituals found in ancient texts (usually, reliefs from temple walls) along with commentary on their significance within the religion. The book was formally presented for the first time at this year's PantheaCon- where he also gave a talk on the often misunderstood roles of Skhmt and Stkh in ancient Egyptian religion. I was pleased to see that the talk filled to the brim- all seats taken, people lining the back wall, and a few even sitting in the aisles between the seats. His book sold quickly, so I left others to buy it there and just purchased my copy today from a local bookstore- I will, of course, review it here once I've been able to curl up for some Quality Time with it.^_~
This year's PantheaCon was sadly lacking in Kemetic events- just Richard's talk and one other... which was scheduled during the same time slot in the room next door! But that had the advantage of concentrating the Kemetic contingent in one area, so I was able to to meet up with a couple of folks I haven't seen in years. Some old friendships may be about to rekindle, dua Ntjr! You know who you are- thanks for speaking up!