August 19, 2013

For the ancestors (Akhu): The Wag-Festival

Tonight is the eve of the Wag festival, one of ancient Egypt's earliest-attested celebrations. Tonight and over the next two days, those who continue to honor the gods of ancient Egypt will tend to the graves of their loved ones, remember their beloved dead, and honor Wesir (Osiris) and various other gods and goddesses associated with life, death, and renewal. Kiya did an excellent job of gathering some sources about Wag (also called Wagy in some texts) last year, and it's worth a read.

Other than knowing that Wag is to be pronounced to rhyme with "dog," and not "wag" like what that dog's tail does, what else do you need to know about this festival?

It seems simple: Wag is a little like the Day of the Dead in Mexican tradition, only earlier in the year, and, perhaps sad to say, without a single pharaonic sugar skull in sight. It is a time to remember our ancestors, those who have gone before us, and to re-establish our connections with them.

Many of us will be visiting cemeteries to serve the dead, with offerings or prayers, or even just by helping clean the graves of strangers. We will gather in festival and ceremony to give honor to Wesir, called the "lord of wine" at this time of year as the grapes begin to ripen, and to bake bread and make beer from the first harvest grains. The cycle of life, of grape and wheat and sun and stars and animals and human beings, turns, and we turn with it, in praise and in wonder.

This year, Wag also coincides with the first full moon of the Kemetic Orthodox new year that began a couple of weeks ago, and thus creates a doubly-strong holiday in honor of Wesir and His silent land.

What will you do for Wag festival?