Reconstructed Sun Temple Ritual

Akhetnu

The 5th Dynasty of Egyptian monarchs erected huge sun temples as part of their building projects. Unlike other temples of the period, which were enclosed, the sun temples consisted of open courtyards with a huge single obelisk and offering altar. Facing the obelisk from across the altar, the sun would rise to shine its light on the obelisk, or else silhouette the obelisk as it set.
I find the sun temple rituals very intriguing, because while other temples used a sheltered statue to perform their rituals around, the sun temple’s icon was the very sun disk of Ra itself! For a wandering priest, or one finding themselves away from a temple or shrine, the prospect of enacting a full offering ritual to Ra through the sun is particularly attractive. Note that the sun itself is not worshipped, but rather the power behind what it represents.

We don’t know the ritual format of the sun temple, since the only depictions on the walls of its chapels were of the Sed festivals to honor the Pharaoh’s reign. However, we do know that 2 ox and 2 geese were offered daily to Ra at the temples, and that the offering rituals to the gods are analogous to the offerings to the dead.

Hence, I have reconstructed a conjectural rite using the old kingdom pyramid texts, specifically the offering formula and purifications. I have added period hymns to Ra and arranged the format to be in keeping with the state rites, and I have shortened the rather lengthy offering list to something more in keeping with the means of a modern practitioner. For example, there is an offering of meat instead of the multiple offerings of the various parts of the ox. Adherents are encouraged to offer only what they can, or more if it is within their means to do so. The ritual itself was originally done facing the obelisk, with the altar in front of the priest. Offerings would come in their various censers, bowls, and vases but beyond that, since there is no statue, the other elements of the state rite (adorning the statue with linen, for example), are omitted.

-light incense-
The fire is laid, the fire shines; the incense is laid on the fire, the incense shines. Your fragrance comes to me, O Incense; my fragrance comes to you, O Incense. Your fragrance comes to me, O you Netjeru; my fragrance comes to you, O you Netjeru. May I be with you, O you Netjeru; may you be with me, O you Netjeru. May I live with you, O you Netjeru; may you live with me, O you Netjeru. May I love you, O you Netjeru; love me, O you Netjeru. The pellet of incense comes, the pellet of incense comes, they come forth from the thigh of Heru.

-hymn to the rising sun-
Awake in peace, in peace. Awake in peace, Eastern Heru, in peace. Awake in peace, Eastern Soul, in peace. Awake in peace, Heru-akhety, in peace. You sleep in the evening boat; you wake in the morning boat, for you art as he who oversees the gods; no god oversees you. The double doors of heaven shall be open; the double doors shall be open. Greetings to you, Atum. Greetings to you, Khepri, who created himself. You come into being, in your name of “Khepri.” Greetings to you, eye of Heru, which he adorned with his two hands completely.

-offering burning incense-
O Re, the arm of your Ka is before You ! O Re, the arm of your Ka is behind You ! O Re, the foot of your Ka is before You ! O Re, the foot of your Ka is behind You ! O Re, I have given You the Eye of Heru ! May your face be adorned with it ! May the perfume of the Eye of Heru diffuse over You !

This is your libation, Re. This is your libation, O Re, you have gone forth
-libation & two pellets of natron (a salt from the nile)-
you have gone forth. I have come and I bring You the Eye of Heru, that your heart may be refreshed with it. I bring it to You under your feet. Take the outflow that comes out from You. Your heart will not be weary with it. Come, (for) You have been invoked ! (x4)

Your purification is the purification of Heru. Your purification is the purification of Seth.
-natron, 5 pellets-
Your purification is the purification of Thoth. Your purification is the purification of the Netjeru.
Your purification is also among them. Your mouth is the mouth of a sucking calf on the day he is born. O Re, I give You the Eye of Heru ! Provide your face with it, spread through.

O Re, take the white teeth of Heru, which shall equip your mouth.
– offer a bowl of 5 onions-

O Re ! Your dawning, You in the sky, your dawning, for Re, Lord of All Things ! As all things belong to yourself, let all things belong to the Ka of Re, let all things belong to himself !
-the lifting up before him of a sanctified offering-

Thoth came with it to him. He has come forth to him with the Eye of Heru.
– indicate an offering table-

Give him the Eye of Heru, that he may become satisfied with it. O Re, take the Eye of Heru with which he became satisfied. O Re, take the Eye of Heru and be satisfied with it. Cause it to turn back to You !

O Re, take the Eye of Heru, lift it to your face.
-the lifting up of 1 loaf of bread and 1 bowl of beer-

Lift up your face, O Re. Lift up your face, O Re, whose Ba goes ! Lift up your face, O Re, be strong and effective. Re, take to yourself this bread of yours, which is the Eye of Heru. O Re, take the Eye of Heru, which he has pulled out. O Re, receive what should be on You. Re, take the Eye of Heru with which You have refreshed yourself.
-a bread loaf-

Provide yourself with the fermentation which comes from You.
-a jug of beer-

O Re, take the one of the shank, the Eye of Heru.
-1 bowl with meat-

O Re, gather to yourself the water that is in it.
-2 bowls of water-

O Re, take the Eye of Heru, which cleansed his mouth.
-2 bowls of cleansing natron-

O Re, take your Eye, take possession of it. (x4)
O Re, take all of this heart. (x4)
-1 bowl of goose-

O Re, take the Eye of Heru ! It will not separate itself from You.
-bowl of wine-

O Re, take to yourself this Eye of Heru, return it to yourself.
-any additional offering-

O Re, may what You have endure for You with You ! O Re, turn yourself to this your bread, accept it from me. May the Eye of Heru endure with You. (repeat x4)
-the reversion of divine offering-

O Re, the arm of your Ka is before You ! O Re, the arm of your Ka is behind You ! O Re, the foot of your Ka is before You ! O Re, the foot of your Ka is behind You ! O Re, I have given You the Eye of Heru ! May your face be adorned with it ! May the perfume of the Eye of Heru diffuse over You !

Salutations to You, incense ! Salutations to You, brother of the Netjer ! Salutations to You, Great in the limbs of Heru ! You of great purity, spread yourself in your name of the cake of incense : let your scent be on Re and purify Re. O Eye of Heru, be high and great toward Re !
-incense-

This is the Eye of Heru ! It has been set for You that You may become strong and he may become afraid of You!
-remove the foot-

For Libations: Stand with vessel in left hand, right hand raised as if propping it up at the top as it is tilted. Receiver should assume offering stance.

For Censing: As per libation only censer is held upright and not tilted.

For Offerings: Kneeling, haunches on heels, arms extended perpendicular to body holding offering with both hands.

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s