Yesterday, according to my calendar, was Wep Ronpet – the Kemetic New Year, one of the biggest (or at least most widely-celebrated) holidays on the Kemetic calendar – and for the first time since I resumed my practice, I wasn’t enthusiastic about celebrating it.
I still tried to do the usual Wep Ronpet things, of course. I cleaned my altar, did a ritual, gave offerings, all that jazz. But none of it felt like a celebration; it felt like I was just going through the motions.
The whole day I felt listless, isolated, and out-of-touch with my practice, even when I did ritual. In a way, I felt like the protagonist at the beginning of some holiday special: burned out and uncertain of the true meaning of the holiday.
What is Wep Ronpet really all about?
However, unlike the protagonist in a holiday special, I couldn’t rely on supernatural intervention or a friend’s monologue to teach me the true meaning of Wep Ronpet. I didn’t even have my usual Kemetic contacts to turn to for general advice; I recently left my longtime Kemetic group for various reasons (to be honest I hadn’t participated much while I was in it), and I didn’t want to ask my other Kemetic friends directly as they were members of the group and I felt it would be awkward to draw attention to the fact that I’d left. Turns out that being independent can have its drawbacks.
So I did what I usually do: checked what the Kemetic bloggers had to say. I poked around the blogs I usually read, but while I saw a lot of hows and whens, I didn’t find many whys – except for the occasional brief reference to renewal and Zep Tepi. “Maybe this is something I should just know,” I thought. “Maybe this is proof that I really am the Worst Kemetic Ever™.”
But as I thought about it more, I kept coming back to the fact that this is a reconstructed religion, something every Kemetic is basically trying to reassemble from whatever bits and pieces happened to survive the past couple millennia. Combining that with the fact that I’d basically chosen a path without any religious leaders means that when you get right down to it, nobody else could tell me the true meaning of Wep Ronpet; it was something I’d have to figure out for myself. Well, damn.
The concept I see referenced most often when it comes to Wep Ronpet is Zep Tepi, the “first time.” It refers to the first sunrise on the first day, the literal dawn of creation, the beginning of everything. It’s also thought to be a moment of renewal that reoccurs at the start of every repeating cycle, whether it’s a new day or a new year. It shows that it’s possible to begin again and restore order, no matter how much things seem to have fallen apart.
I guess that could mean Zep Tepi (and by extension, Wep Ronpet) is about hope – the hope that you can break out of a bad situation or a destructive pattern, no matter how deep you seem to be in it, and try again. And it’s also the hope that if everything comes undone and order is completely overtaken by chaos, eventually order will be restored and things will start over. One could even argue that the efforts to try and reconstruct this religion – even if it’s in a different form, with its followers scattered all over the world – is an example of this type of renewal.
Sun rising over the benben mound at the beginning of time
So what does all that mean for me and my practice? Well, maybe it means that I can let go of my guilt and fears about being the Worst Kemetic Ever™ – about forgetting holidays and skipping daily rituals and feeling isolated and not knowing what I’m doing. I can try to start over, the way I started my whole practice over a few years ago after a crisis of faith and years of inactivity. I can recognize that doing ritual today has nothing to do with whether or not I skipped ritual yesterday. I can learn more, and try harder, and know that every day gives me a new chance to do things right.
With that all in mind, I’m going to try to do-over my celebration of Wep Ronpet in a few days – but this time, with the meaning behind it in mind. After all, if it’s about second chances, then I should get a second chance to celebrate it.