A little before sunrise this morning, I put on clothing and regalia that I only wear once a year. The jewelry needed polishing, and I'm a little embarrassed to say that my robes are a little tighter than they once fit, but everything was clean and in good order, and once I'd gotten myself into the official clothes, I headed out of my office and down the hallway at Tawy House to the Truth and the Mother Temple room itself.
Priests were streaming in and out of the room: bringing in the portable air conditioner, sorting out where the offering mats would go, reading through the ritual scripts to make sure no tool had been forgotten and that no part had been neglected. One of the priests, unable to serve at the altar due to ritual purity requirements, could still serve in another capacity. She stayed downstairs and greeted each member as they entered the building, directing them to where they could change into ritual whites, or wait to be allowed to enter the temple on this most special of all mornings this year. There is always much to do, and many hands to share the work, and that work has incredible meaning.
This morning, the sun rose for the first time under Kemetic Orthodox Year 21, under the zep tepi, the "first time," of the new Kemetic year.
For religious purposes, this morning's sunrise was a symbol of every sunrise, and also of the very first sunrise. On a certain level, nothing existed before this morning. Our hands and voices and blurs of motion as we entered and exited the temple, making ready to greet Ra's rising, was as random and as mysterious as the subatomic particles that flit about the microscopic nuclei of our cells.
We sang. "It is pure, may it be made pure" rang out in the tones of an ancient tongue and people, as feet and bodies navigated around the temple's walls, as sweet incense and the clatter of sistra, a lamp of tiny fire and a bowl of water and natron were carried to bless and purify. One by one, those who had gathered for the festival ritual entered the temple and took their places, and then the lights were extinguished, and the particles stopped for a brief moment....
....and the sun rose.
Creation began again. The gods' icons were carried in procession through the cheers and songs of a joyous people bringing in a new year and a new start to everything. The icons were bathed, refreshed, reclothed, and reintroduced to the people who honor Those behind their simple wooden, stone, or metal imagery. After Their feast, They returned to Their sanctuary, the naos from which They will emerge only at need in the following time to come.
We named our fears and anxieties, our frustrations and our challenges, before Sekhmet, Eye of Ra. To Her we presented all the "arrows of the year," those things that we no longer wish to be injured by, and allowed Her to remove them, permanently, with a ritual of fire and symbolic destruction of all that might cause us pain in this coming year. We also offered our prayers and protections to any and all people, that they too might have a good and healthy year to come, a year without injury or injustice, a year of hope and joy and all good things.
The sun rose. We started over, just as we have already done fifteen times now as a people, in the official Wep Ronpet gathering. It was the sixteenth time this morning, yet just like the previous times...it was the first time.
Welcome to the beginning. May it be all that you dream it can be, and more.