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Osirian Mysteries: A Ritual

Long before I came to Kemeticism, when I still identified as a Wiccan, my SO concocted a rite to do for Osiris, which he taught to me. I can’t really say where he got the idea from- neither of us really knew much about Kemeticism or its holidays. But the rite seemed to fit, and the more I’ve learned over the years, the more I see the correlation between it and the Mysteries of Osiris. I had written about my rites briefly last year, but this year I’d like to do a full ‘tutorial’ on the rites I perform every year for O. This is based entirely off of UPG, but I think that this UPG is rather applicable to this holiday. The rite I’ve written out below isn’t exactly the original format- the ritual has grown and changed a little bit over the years that I’ve done it. It’s a growing practice and feel free to modify it to fit your needs as well.

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The first step is to cleanse yourself in whatever format you feel works best. You will then want to cleanse your shrine area and icon as well. This can be as simple as wiping it down with a cloth, or going as all out as using natron, incense, etc.

Then, create mound of sand in center of shrine area. In my case, I placed the sand in a small dish- so that it wouldn’t go everywhere. I use the sand for multiple reasons. One, it purifies the area. It creates a clean space to place the icon on (this was typically done in the Opening of the Mouth rites as well (Eternal Egypt, 292)). For me, the mound of sand recalls Zep Tepi, the first time. It stands for rebirth, change, and growth- which is what the Mysteries is all about.

I then take my icon, and wrap it in its entirety in a specific blue cloth that I have. This cloth is only used for this purpose. I don’t use it for anything else. Originally, the blue represented the water. For me, Osiris is the river, it is his domain (and in some cases, the location of his felling), so the blue made perfect sense. According to Wilkinson, the color blue could “represent the heavens as well as the primeval flood, as will be seen, and in both ways it functioned as a symbol of life and rebirth. …Blue could represent the river Nile and its associated crops, offerings and fertility..” Once again, we have rebirth as the theme.

If you don’t have a blue cloth, I think the next best choices for colors would be green (for the vegetative aspects of the Mysteries), black (for the black fertile silt that allows the crops to grow) or something that is remniscent of the sky or Nut- such as a cloth with stars on it (this is tied to the Imywt fetish and also the practice of painting Nut on the lids of coffins- she is often used as a vehicle for his rebirth).

You will then place icon on the mound of sand.

I then perform a Ka embrace on the statue. You can say whatever you like, or nothing at all. The typical words that accompany the Ka embrace in Eternal Egypt are:

Djehuty has come to you. Awake when you hear his words.
I have come as the envoy of Atum.
My two arms are upon you like those of Heru.
My two hands are upon you like those of Djehuty.
My fingers are upon you like those of Anpu.
Homage be to you, I am a living servant of Osiris/Wesir.

I then present offerings to Osiris. These are to accompany him during his trip to the Duat. Typically, I will offer incense, water and bread. I think that flowers would also be appropriate. Use your discretion, and use something that won’t go horribly bad if left out for quite a while. And, yes, Re-ment is still an option here. You can present these offerings with words, or without.

I then close up my shrine for the duration of my celebration (which I celebrate for a full month- New moon to new moon). If you don’t have doors, I’d recommend draping a cloth of some type over the shrine.

I do this for a couple of reasons. One, this is the time when Osiris is gone. He’s been taken from us, he’s in the river, Aset is searching, Heru and Set are battling it out- it’s a time of chaos and loss. This is the field after the seeds have been planted. You know that the seeds are there- but you can’t see the plants just yet. The whole purpose is to notice a loss. And for me, it doesn’t really sink in as a loss until I can’t see him for such a duration. For my own personal practice, the point is to mourn his loss. You can’t mourn him if you can go see him in shrine (see the icon) every day.¬† Second, I go a full month for cycle and completion. The moon disappears during the New Moon phase, as Osiris has disappeared from us. And I feel that waiting out the full cycle of the moon helps to bring out the full cycle of rebirth that Osiris goes through.

I then place my Anup and Aset statues on top of my shrine. If I had a representation of Nebhet, I’d place her there, too. These three are heavily laced with the mythology of Osiris. Anup helps to protect and embalm Osiris. He helps Aset and Nebhet find pieces and put him back together. Aset and Nebhet are the primary mourners of Osiris’ loss. So I like to involve them in the process.

I keep the shrine closed for the full month. During this time, I will leave offerings on the outside of the shrine. Offerings could be of any format- words, food, candles, items- whatever. I usually use this time to notice how my practice and life feel different without him being right there. I usually reflect on the nature of death, rebirth and sacrifice.

Once the month is up, I open the shrine, revert the offerings (I typically won’t eat these ones :P), unwrap the statue and set the shrine back up in its normal format. I then lay a big spread out for Osiris and celebrate in his return, his rebirth.

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I know that many people don’t consider Osiris’ mythos to be that of rebirth, but for me it plays a heavy role. I tend to work with Osiris as a vegetative deity. A god of the land, of agriculture. He is the land of Egypt. He is what sustains the people. And every year, the river, land and vegetation of Egypt go through a cycle of death and rebirth. The river recedes, the land dries up, the plants die. And then the waters issue forth in the inundation, the silt is deposited, seeds planted, live is grown, cared for and cut down to feed the people. For me, he is intrinsically linked to all of this, so most of my rites to him involve layers of death and rebirth- as well as sacrifice, as he has to sacrifice himself so that others may live.

Please let me know if any of you try this format of ritual and the type of response you get from it. I think that the Mysteries can have a profound effect on you, as you continually consider what life and death mean to you, and the fact that death must occur in order for life to continue. I’d love to hear anyone’s experiences from any Mysteries rites that participate in this year!

Also, please check out my article about this over on Shrine Beautiful. There are more pictures of my setup there for you to enjoy!

 
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Posted by on November 29, 2012 in Kemeticism

 

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Shyu-ki Taisai: The Great Fall Ceremony

We are finally moving into the last phase of this year. At each quarter point within the year, there are Taisai, or great rites and festivals which occur. The last one was at the beginning of summer, where everyone got to walk through the Chi-no-Wa And now we are hitting the last major festival before the big shabang at New Years.

From what I can tell, this ceremony involves the opening of the inner doors of the shrine, which only happens twice per year. Another strong element for this time of the year is harvest- as the rice harvest happens in Sept and October.

For myself, I did what I always do for any Shinto observance- I cleaned. I cleaned everything. Dusted. Vacuumed. Rearranged the pantry, under the sink, my desk. Everything gets a good cleaning.

And of course, there are offerings. The kami got a nice bottle of sake and a longer norito.

Offerings for the kami.

The netjer got cupcakes.

They are called “Tuxedo Cupcakes”. For gentlemen only.

I also finished up some magix I was working on, and started some new magix. One of the things I worked on was a type of bowl magix. In Shinto, it’s suggested that we leave some of the salt we’ve offered in the Northeast and Southwest corners of our houses- for cleansing, prosperity and happiness and all that. I normally replace this salt with each quarter point of the year. This time, though, I decided to add some extra oomph to my salt bowls. I got these ramekins from the Gu keylime pies that I bought last week.

The pie inside of them was good, too.

And as I looked at them, I was like ‘man, I need to do some magix with these’. And so my bowls were born.

They contain sand/dirt from a special location. A feather, ground up incense sticks, salt, leaves, bark, some cactus bits and rosemary.

I then walked around my house, cleansed in a less physical manner. Re-amped up my wards and all of that. Like normal, there was good food in the afternoon and evening- because every holiday has to have good food! I look forward to what the rest of the year will bring. I feel like big things are on their way- for better or worse. And I will do my best to meet these things head on!

What are your plans for the rest of 2012? Are you excited to see what the end of the year will bring?

 
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Posted by on October 7, 2012 in Shintoism

 

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Wish Upon a Star (Tanabata)

Today is the 7th day of the 7th month, otherwise known as Tanabata. This is often called the star festival, and it relates to wishes. According to Barrish-sensei, here is the back story to the festival:

Two stars, Weaver Princess Star and Herd Boy Star were in love. The Weaver Princess Star was very good at weaving, and her father was a heavenly king. Although the Herd Boy Star was a boy of lowly birth, the king, kind-hearted, let them marry. But because they were in love so much, they forgot to do their work. The Weaver Princess Star did not weave the cloth and the Herd Boy Star did not take care of the herds of sheep. The king became so angry that he decided they must be separated. They were told to live at the opposite sides of the Milky Way, the Sparkling River of the Heavens. They were only to meet on the night of July 7th, when they cross the sky.

There are multiple versions out there. As always, wikipedia has something to say on the matter. No matter which story version you follow, today is the day for making wishes. This is usually done by writing your wish on a piece of paper, a tanzaku. You then tie this wish to a bamboo plant or pole. Little Tokyo has a couple of bamboo plants that always have wishes on them. To the point that the bamboo looks like it is stunted from it.

Me and SO decided we would participate this year at home (we participated last year in Little Tokyo). We took out some of our special origami paper and cut a nice piece for ourselves. We focused on what we wanted as we wrote. We then took our papers outside to hang on our wisteria plant (I know, it’s not quite the same). I also left some offerings out for the local fauna, so hopefully they will like it.

Tanzaku on our wisteria.

The offerings are tea and water- the only two beverages on tap in our house anymore, and cookies. Back when I offered to the fae regularly, they seemed to like sweet baked goods- sugar cookies and mini-cupcakes were the most common. Since I had some lying around, I decided to offer them up. If I would have had any, I would have offered daifuku as well.

Offerings

If you could wish for anything right now, what would you wish for?

Relevant Posts:

 
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Posted by on July 7, 2012 in Shintoism

 

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The Great Mid Year Purification

Today, the Tsubaki GSA is celebrating the Great Mid-Year Purification or the Nagoshi-no-O-harai. This event is usually held in the 6th month, and it corresponds with the last day of the 6th lunar month and the protection and purification needed to get through the second half of the year.

As with all rites in Shinto, there is a heavy emphasis on purification and clearing out tsumi, or impurities, and this is done with katashiro and the chi-no-wa.

Katashiro take different forms, but typically, they are little paper people. You take these pieces of paper, and you rub them all over your person. In so doing, you soak up all impurities and negativity. To finish it, you breath out a long breath to get rid of impurities inside and out. After this is done, the Head Priest takes all of the katashiro from all of the Shrine members, and throws them into water to be purified. The source of water is different for each shrine. For Tsubaki, it’s a river. In other places (as stated in A Year in the Life of a Shinto Shrine) it could be a small pond or font of water.

Walking through the chi-no-wa is usually done last. I’ve seen a couple of different stories as to the origin of the grass circle. In the book mentioned above, the story goes:

It was a hot day in summer during the rainy season and a traveler was passing the last two farmhouses before the trail lef into the mountains. Being late, he stopped at the first and politely asked for a night’s lidging but was rudely refused. As the second house, however, they kindly took him in and treated him well. As thanks the next morning, he revealed himself as a Kami and foretold of an epidemic soon to come. “But don’t fear,” he told the terrified farmer and his family, “if you make a ring out of the long-stemmed grasses growing near your house and put it above your door, you’ll all be spared.” And so it came to pass.

As per Barrish-sensei, the story goes:

Susano-no-Mikoto was traveling incognito and was offered the hospitality of a poor but sincere man named Somin Shorai. In gratitude, Susano-no-Mikoto taught Somin Shorai how to make the Chi-no-Wa as the ward against disease and misfortune.

In the Mid-Year ceremony, all of the participants walk through the Chi-no-Wa. In the book mentioned above, everyone makes a figure-8. For Tsubaki, you will walk through it 3 times (I have never been to this festival, so it’s possible they walk in a figure-8 as well). Walking through the chi-no-wa will bring you health and harmony for the rest of the year.

I have yet to actually make it to a Mid-Year purification, but Tsubaki Jinja has made it possible for us long distance members to participate in the rite. We are all sent out own katashiro in advance, and we take them and rub them over our persons to soak up negative energies. I was a little rough with mine- and nearly bent the arms completely off of the little paper person. We then sent out katashiro back to the Shrine, and they will be cast into the river today.

For our own personal purification, today will be busied with cleaning the house and clearing our minds for the future ahead. Usually, there would be special offerings for the Kami, but I currently don’t know what to offer them. With my current limitations in diet, I can’t offer any juices or alcohols… so instead, I decided to give the birds outside extra seed (I feed the birds at the behest of the Kami). Beyond that, it will be a day of rest and mindfulness about the rest of the year to come.

What do you wish to see in the next 6 months?

Posts about Mid-Year Purification:

Some videos on it:

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2012 in Shintoism

 

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Spring Flows In

This past weekend marked the beginning of Spring in the Shinto calendar. Spring, called Risshun, began on Satruday and Setsubun marked the day before spring on Friday (the day before the start of a new season is always called Setsubun). In the old calendar, this was the time of the new year. A time of renewal, much like with any other major holiday. So I set out to see what I could do to celebrate this at home.

Typically, in a shrine the activities include shooting three arrows to help purify your mission, your life and your fate (one arrow for each) for the next year. Afterwards, at least at our shrine, you’ll take your soybeans and throw them at oni (closest word I know is ‘demon’). These oni will become purified by the soy and help to make your next year successful (as I understand it). While doing this, you will shout “oni wa soto, fuku wa uchi” or “misfortune out, Come in happiness”. Afterwards, you’re supposed to eat as many soybeans as you are old, plus one extra to represent the next year of good health. Unsure what to do to bring these activities home (honey, I need to go buy a bow…) I asked Barrish sensei what would be the best activities to do at home. He told me to clean my house thoroughly, to open the windows to allow fresh air in, to pray to the kami, and to toast, throw and eat roasted soybeans.

Slowly I am learning that every Shinto holiday consists of at least three things:

  • Cleaning your house
  • Praying to kami
  • Eating/offering a food that is specific to the holiday

So on Friday and Saturday, we cleaned the house up. We dusted, picked things up off the ground… made sure everything was in fairly good order. We left the windows open most of the weekend to allow the nice cool breeze to come in. And on Sunday, we got down to business with making roasted soybeans.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I’d like these beans. It really was a tough call, but I thought I’d give them a shot for tradition’s sake. First you need to get your beans, we bought the prepackaged kind. You’ll need to de-hull them. For us, that meant taking off a layer of clear-ish skin. Then, you’ll place them onto an ungreased baking sheet. Afterwards, put them in the oven at 350F. You’ll need to keep a close eye on them. We had to roll them around every few minutes to ensure that they wouldn’t stick or burn.

Once they look as brown as you want them, you’ll pull them out of the oven. Spray some oil on them, and follow that up with salt.

After that, we placed them onto our ‘honorary ozen’ and took them over to the kamidana. We also added some Vitamin Water to our offering cups. Not necessarily the healthiest, but at least the Other could partake of it, unlike sake. After we said our prayers, we took a few handfuls of beans and threw them around the house, chasing out hidden demons. We then sat and ate our 26 beans. They were actually quite tasty.

I personally love that Shinto has spring so early. Down here in the desert, it’s already warming up. You can go outside in your shorts and sandals. It’s almost like winter doesn’t even happen down here. So for me, it’s great timing. I also like the reinforcement of renewal. I feel like many things are on the cusp of change, like spring is going to bring a lot of awesome stuff. I can’t wait to see what happens.

Oni wa soto! Fuku wa uchi!

 
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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Shintoism

 

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All Souls

Prayer Form

Blank Prayer Form

Last weekend I got to participate in a local event called the “All Souls Procession”. It’s a play off of Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is a big deal down here in the southwest. The idea came from an artist who was coping with loss of a loved one- and it exploded into this huge thing (as I understand it). People come from all over to join in this procession- walking with hundreds (thousands) of others to remember those who have gone before us.

I joined in with a local taiko group who treats the event very similarly to Obon- a Japanese festival which also happens to honor your dead. Very similarly to Dia de Los Muertos (and Feast of the Beautiful Valley), Obon is characterized by visiting graves of those who have passed and sharing a meal with said people. It is also characterized by dancing- which is what this group does in the procession.

Besides the procession itself, I think the most important part of this festival is the burning of the Urn. Every participant is asked to print out and fill out a Prayer Form. This form will then be put into a huge urn which is burned at the end of the evening. Everything that you were doing led up to this point- the burning of the urn. The letting go of whatever you had put onto the form. Letting go of the past.

To prepare for this, I printed out my form a week in advance. I placed it on my altar (heh) and let Set and Asar stand on it. Giving it their awesome ju-ju. I placed my Obon towel on the form- hoping that maybe something would click for me (I seriously didn’t know what to write). The night before the procession, I offered the gods fake wine, hot tea and cupcakes (which Set is reputed to like). I sat there and looked at my paper- trying to figure out what to write. I’ve had a lot happen lately, and there are a lot of things I want to let go of. With that, there are a lot of things that I want to celebrate and am looking forward to. I’m a very mixed person right now. Eventually, after a lot of thinking, I figured out what to write on the form. I folded it up high school note style and left it at the feet of my gods.

The day of the procession was hectic. I was hoping things would have gone smoother, that I would feel this aweHakama Tying inspiring magic of it all. But really? It didn’t happen. I was rushed, tired, and running on next to nothing. After walking the procession, I was even more tired and low on food options. It was freezing and all I wanted to do was curl up in a nice warm bed. However, this made me think about the recently popular topic of trial work and pain in ritual. Shouldn’t letting go involve some work? Perhaps be a bit uncomfortable? Is there anything really wrong with that? I mean, I am asking the gods to help me unload a bunch of crap off of my chest- the least I can do is keep my chin up while going through the process.

Walking the procession was interesting. There were people who were jerks, there were people who were really awesome. There we a couple of people who started to learn the dance and would dance with us- which is the way Obon should be. In that regard, it was awesome. During the procession, there are two parts where you walk through underpasses. In these sections, people scream and holler. It’s absolutely deafening- but for me, it was the best part. The energy, you couldn’t escape it.

At the end of the night, I was tired and grumpy. I seriously questioned why I would want to do this- freeze my butt off and walk all this way just to watch a big ball of flames. But I told myself to give it time and that perhaps in time things would be better and I would understand more about why I did this. I think that has happened. Since burning my paper (which was so full of energy I could barely touch it) I have finally decided that I need to get my health in order. I’ve worked on a list of priorities for things I need to get done. I feel like things are moving, however slowly, and that somehow burning my paper really did help me.

All in all, I do think that this was a good experience. I learned that I will be doing things a little differently next year, but the fact that I say “next year” says something, I think. I want to continue this, I want to make this a part of my yearly ritual calendar, and I want to be a part of something larger than me. I can’t wait to walk next year.

 
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Posted by on November 10, 2011 in Kemeticism, Shintoism

 

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