We are in the middle of a five-day Kemetic holiday called the Mysteries of Wesir (Osiris). In short, it is an observance of Wesir’s death, the lamentation of the Netjeru Who love Him, and His emergence into the realm of the dead. It is one of the most foundational holidays to Kemetic Orthodoxy.
I have been formally Kemetic for only about a year and a half; I’ve been pagan for a decade. This celebration of death, especially timed at the seasons’ change, is very familiar to me. In some ways, my own cycles mirror the dying and hibernation of the world. But I hadn’t really celebrated the Mysteries before.
Last night, ideally, one would hold a six-hour vigil from midnight to dawn, with prayers and offerings on each hour; the experience of sitting in shrine is a loyal witness to Wesir’s loss and His transition into the Duat, the Unseen, the otherworld where the dead are. Hemet, Kemetic Orthodoxy founder, has written some beautiful words on the night-long vigil.
But I work a dayjob, and I could not last until dawn. So I compromised and chose a one-hour vigil from 11 pm to midnight.
No electronics. No food; no water. None of my sacred jewelry or accoutrements. Just me and death, stretched out in front of the fire in the hearth.
I had a tiny shrine set up: a purple seed-filled “pillow”, about the size of a palm, from Nebt-het’s shrine, on which rested the green sigil I painted for Wesir at Wep Ronpet, as though She laid Him in Her own bed to watch over Him. Standing vigil were Her black bone ankh and Yinepu’s onyx stone. And I had a bowl of clear, pure water set next to it all.
It was the water that gave me the insight I had been seeking, even though I didn’t know why I’d set it out at all, beyond listening to that wordless urge of “this should be done” that so often drives my offerings. I lay down on the floor, my chin on my hands, and I saw the firelight reflected in the water’s still surface perfectly.
I have been struggling to understand Wesir; how can a god be dead, yet still have human worshippers and devotees? How can He be as gone from us as gone can be, gone like my father’s father and my mother’s mother, and yet still bless us and speak with us?
The water was the answer. Just because the flames were not housed in the bowl into which I gazed did not mean that the flames did not exist and burn somewhere else, a little farther from me but still visible nonetheless.
Just because Wesir is dead does not mean we cannot reach Him; only that He is not in the same place as the living Netjeru, like the fire is not in the same place as the water, even though, to my eye, they appear to be.
I understand so much better now.
I wrote out the translations of the Lamentations of Aset and Nebt-het then, by hand; it took me most of the hour. I savored each line, following the story closely: They start by calling for Him to return, then reciting the things They have done to protect and re-establish Him, then end by welcoming Him as the god of the dead. When I was done, I read it aloud, quietly.
In the middle of this, almost exactly the middle of the hour, the fire went out. I’d gotten absorbed by my writing and hadn’t fed it quickly enough; I added a few smaller sticks, turned the gas back on to help relight it from the still-glowing embers, and waited.
Then, after a few long moments, it flared up spectacularly. I finished writing out the Lamentations by its flickering light.
Welcome back, Wesir.