Sunday, 12 June 2011

Calendar Entry #14: Festival of Mut & Pentecost

We continue our journey through the Cauldrons Calendar feast/festival/holidays.

 Festival of Mut

Mut Precinct, showing the Isheru, Karnak
Captured and edited by Luana on Wikimapia
The specifics of this festival, referred to by some scholars as the 'Great Offering' are unknown but it was also referred to as the 'Sailing of Mut', the Lady of Isheru. During the New Kingdom a statue of the Goddess was placed on a barque (boat) and sailed around the Isheru. The Isheru was a horseshoe shaped lake that was associated with different goddesses who took the role of Daughter of Re.  In the temple of Karnak, Mut was associated with Re as his daughter, coming to be known as the Eye of Re and this festival is to honour Mut in that aspect.

Held in Thebes each year, as with other feasts of the Solar Eye, this festival was likely to have been accompanied by music and lot of singing, dancing and drinking.  Sternberg-el Hotabi stated, in her 1992 work Ein Hymnus an Hathor, that this type of celebrating was to pacify the furious Eye of Re on her return to Thebes from Nubia.

There are several references to the Sailing of Mut in documents originating from Deir el-Medina, an ancient Egyptian village where many of the artisans who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings lived.  There have been inferences taken from some of these documents that some form of the festival may have taken place in Deir el-Medina, as the royal artisans were given time off work during the 'Sailing of Mut'.  It is likely that the feast rituals in Deir el-Medina would have included offerings of flowers and ointment to pacify the furious returning Goddess.

Mut is the mother of Khonsu and the wife of Amun at Thebes.  She was depicted as a woman with a vulture skin on her head as well as the crown of upper Egypt.  She can be traced back to the middle kingdom, but it is likely  that she was worshipped earlier.


Pentecost by Jean II Restout
Pentecost is also known as Whit Sunday, Whitsun, or Whit.  It is celebrated seven weeks after Easter Sunday.  Sometimes considered similar to Shavuot (where God gave the 10 commandments at Mount Sinai) Pentecost commemorates the birth of the Christian church by the giving of power of the Holy Spirit.

This is one of the most ancient feasts of the church even been included in the Acts of the Apostles (20: 16) and St. Paul's first letter to the Corinthians (16: 8).
The acts of apostles recounts the story of the original Pentecost.
Now when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a mighty wind coming, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them parted tongues as it were of fire, and it sat upon every one of them: And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they began to speak with divers tongues, according as the Holy Ghost gave them to speak. [Acts 2:1-4]
Pentecost is called Whit Sunday due to an old practice where some churches would baptise some of their converts on Pentecost.  The newly baptised would wear white robes. 

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