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Old 11-21-10   #1
Darth Brooks
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Default Egyptian Holy Days

The observation of Egyptian holy days in the contemporary environment has always been somewhat problematic, or at least potentially so, due to a slight inconsistency between the Egyptian calendar and our own. Our calendar today consists of 365 and 1/4 days, the extra quarter of which is accounted for by our "leap years." The Egyptians, however, accounted for only 365 days, minus the extra fourth. This resulted in what is known as "the Wandering Calendar," in which each heb ("festival") would move back one day earlier every four years. One way in which this problem was dealt with was when the Egyptians "rebooted" their calendar whenever a new Pharaoh took the throne. But the confusion persists today, as can be seen from any number of "How to be an Egyptian Pagan" books, many of which cite entirely different dates for Egyptian holidays. Some sources, for instance, cite July 16 as the epagomenal Birthday of Seth, while others cite July 18, July 29, etc. Many of these sources do not bother to explain to their readers about the "Wandering Calendar" either, giving the impression that these various dates were literally always used bythe Egyptians themselves. Another problem is that, since Egypt is much closer to the equator than the countries in which most Kemetic pagans tend to live today (Europe, the U.S., etc.), the ancient Egyptian seasons were somewhat different from ours.

As Egyptian or Kemetic pagans today, how do we address this problem? Do we simply assign specific dates for our holidays that always stay the same each year? Or do we attempt to reconstruct the "Wandering Calendar," perhaps based on the approximate number of years that have passed since the fall of Egypt to Greece? Or do we appropriate more conventional holidays and reinterpret them on an Egyptian basis? I am interested to know how other Kemetics here at ESF may or may not tackle this issue.

To provide some examples of how we've handled this problem in my own coven, we celebrate the Birthday of Seth on the Summer Solstice, because that is the turning point of the year at which the nights begin to get longer, little by little. We think of it as the "birth" of the dark half of the year, plus it saves us the trouble of having to recalculate a different date each year. Nor are we comfortable with the various dates given in most Neopagan publications. Likewise, we celebrate the death of Osiris by Seth on November Eve, otherwise known as Samhain or Halloween, because that date seems to make the most sense for such a rite here in the northern hemisphere. We also observe other holidays that are not specifically of Egyptian origin, such as the Jewish Sabbath and Friday the 13th, which we have appropriated by way of Seth's connection to these dates by way of Hermetic syncretism and numerological significance.

So, how do others celebrate the Egyptian Holy Days today? What is your preferred method? Is it something that you struggle with, or something you don't really think about, or perhaps something in between?
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Old 06-13-11   #2
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Default Re: Egyptian Holy Days

There's a simple solution I use. In later periods the Ancient Egyptians had an intercalary month. This month occurs when the lunar month of I Akhet would occur before the civil I Akhet 1.

Apart from that I use the lunar calendar for the time being until I can fully figure out the stellar calendar.
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