As the Sun following the Summer Solstice begins its late day journey into the West, a procession of priests and priestesses emerge from the Temple of Aset the Great One. They make way as a serpent down the colonnade to the Nile riverbank at Philae. A barque of the Goddess Isis is carried as night falls. Softly rattling sistra play and jubilant devotees express the range of complex emotions as differed as the energy of the Great Goddess Aset, also known as Isis, in Ancient Egypt. Some laugh, some weep, some shout and some are silent in sheer reverence for the Holy Mother of God.
Such a myriad of responses to the Fiercely Bright One and the Mother of the King who in later historical periods came to be known as the Mother of All and She of 10,000 names!
For that is the way She is, the Goddess Aset. There is not one single word to describe Her. Her presence is ineffable, yet tangible.
She is both a personal Goddess and one who is more Cosmic. She is Celestial and Chthonic at the same instance. She is both Solar and Lunar. Every time a human tries to peg Her into one area or one set of traits, She eludes entirely and is full of surprises!
All arrive at the riverbank and set objects into the waters as the sun starts to dip below the horizon. These objects are little prayer boats with lights placed in their centers. The little fleet of bright vessels reflects off the river waves.
Fire dances upon the water as taunting spirits to the night. The waves are aflame and the fire is extinguished not in the darkness. This is a festival held at night, carrying the light of the Lady of Life into the Duat.
Very fitting is such a festival for a Goddess who holds dominion over the seas, the realm of both Life and Death, who is also an Eye of Ra, the Second Sun, Royal Wife of Osiris and the Great Mistress of Magic!
This is Aset Webenut also know as Aset Luminous and the “Isis Festival of Lights”. It was also called the “Lyncanapia” during the Greco-Roman period. It was traditionally held during the Ancient Egyptian calendar time of the season of Shomu, the month of Ipt-Hmt. Today, this would be at approximately end of June/ early July of our Gregorian calendar year.
Kemetic reconstructionists, revivalists, Tameran Wiccans and just plain those who love the Illustrious Goddess Aset (Isis) still celebrate this ancient festival. It is a most auspicious holiday, next to the late July/ early August helical riding of Her sacred star, Sopdet (Sothis/Sirius) on the horizon at Wep Ronpet. This rising star heralds the Kemetic New Year and the “birthday” of Aset as the fourth child of Nut and Geb in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon of deities.
In modern-day times, we too can celebrate these holidays of luminosity!
So what takes place during Aset Webenut?
Temple ceremonies are held to invoke and honor the Goddess Aset. Feasting abound and the tradition of writing prayers upon paper (papyrus) fashioned into boats with small candles in them to release into the river at dusk. It is said that She hears the prayers as the waves take them out to the river, lake or sea…
On Sunday, July 2nd, in a Temple I serve in, we recently held our yearly ceremony in the Great Goddess’s honor. This ceremony was held away from the public eye with traditional passages. Part of the ceremony is ritual that was given to me by a highly respected Kemetic pagan reconstructionist and High Priest before he passed into the Beautiful West some years back. He required only two things in return from me:
- To share with him the details what was experienced with the ritual after the first time it was performed. He was of course walking the earth at that time before he became one with Osiris.
- To keep the rite secret and to not distribute without his direct consent. This rite, as well as other rites and components together, became our yearly Temple ceremony in honor of Her Illustriousness.
We did the official ritual, purifications, and made offerings, prayer & meditation as well as participated in an oracle. This is one of the most amazing aspects to the ritual. Sometimes it is pertinent to the officiants and Temple and thus more private and other times it is more expansive pertaining to the world-at-large. It is always rather cryptic in its delivery. Understanding it is an unfolding process. Aset is a Magician and thinking as a magician is as important as being more psychically receptive as a mystic in this regard.
Devotional fervor is increased and increased during the rites until at the culmination of the ceremony, Aset Herself may decide to impart an oracle upon an officiant and someone records the results. I emphasize the “may” because it cannot be something forced nor definitely expected. To be in that mindset is to be in the incorrect mindset if one is serving as a vessel.
Often enough, an officiant does not recall the entire experience as their own personal consciousness is temporarily silenced or at least willingly placed in the background. I must qualify that this is not an invasive situation nor considered to be passive mediumship. An officiant as Priest or Priestess, or devotee of Aset must be consciously willing to allow for this in a controlled ritual environment and trained in dealing with being a vessel for macrocosmic deity energy.
In the end, it is not we humans residing here in the physical world, but the Goddess who chooses the who, when and where if She decides to impart Her energy upon and within a human being. She calls Her shemsu, Her Priests and Priestesses into Her service, not the other way around. Anyone however can certainly choose to dedicate themselves to any deity or multiple ones. Aset in particular tends to be rather picky, and sometimes comes as a surprise to whom she chooses. Yet once She chooses you, rest assured that there are regular responsibilities associated with being in Her service. However the spiritual rewards are great. Aset Luminous is a time of scrupulous preparation and devotion. Purity not just in body, but also mentally is a must for officiants. The after-effects energetically are truly unique and wonderful. It is a time of great healing utilizing the esoteric powers of the Sun (fire) and Moon (water).
The whole Aset Webenut experience, year after year, is an awe-inspiring one and not one ceremony nor celebration is the exact same experience as the last. Aset is a Goddess of many facets. She is Mother, She is Queen, She is Daughter, She is Magician, She is Wife, She is a Lady of Life and of Death, Resurrection and Immortality.
The Goddess Aset is steady & changeable, cunning & gentle, extremely protective & healing, powerful, as challenging as she is merciful and loving. She is an active principle of the Divine Feminine in this world and the celestial realms. And, like all Ancient Egyptian deities, Aset is cannot be quite defined by the sets of temporal laws, and thus expectations, that we humans are so fond of.
And this is what makes Her so fascinating and endearing.
I love Aset. She is my Goddess and will serve Her always. I am part of Her and She is part of me.
Aset is OUR Goddess. She is the majesty of the Divine Feminine and our Mother in Her many guises and Names. She is part of us, and we are part of Her!
~by TjezAset Sat Aset Serqet meryt Wesir her Sekhmet Hethert
TjezAset (Daughter of Isis Serqet, Beloved of Osiris and Sekhmet Hathor)
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