Aside from Samhain, Wep Ronpet – the ancient Egyptian New Year festival – is the most important holy time in the LV-426 Tradition. Since it’s calculated according to the heliacal rising of Sirius, Wep Ronpet technically falls on a different date each year; it also falls on a different date for people who live on different parts of the globe. A heliacal rising occurs when a star that hasn’t been seen in the nighttime sky for a while becomes visible again in the east just before dawn. Sirius disappears for about 70 days in late May, and it reappears toward the end of July and the middle of August. The Nile always floods soon thereafter, and since there isn’t much rainfall in Egypt, this annual inundation provided the only means for irrigation in ancient times. So when the Egyptians saw Sirius rising in the east, they took it as a sign from the Goddess Isis (who is the ruler of Sirius) that it was time to start planting their crops for the year. To this very day, contemporary Egyptians still celebrate the yearly flooding of the Nile as a two-week civil holiday called Wafaa El-Nil, which begins each year on August 15.
Wep Ronpet continues to be celebrated by many companions of the Netjeru today, but as indicated above, we all do this at slightly different times. If you live closer to Egypt, the heliacal rise of Sirius happens in mid-July; if you live in the state of Oregon, it happens closer to mid-August. So when you think about it, Wep Ronpet isn’t really a holy day so much as it’s an entire holy month. It’s also preceded by four or five days (depending on the source) that are called the “Epagomenal Days.” According to legend, the calendar year originally consisted of only 360 days, and when the Goddess Nut became pregnant with Her children, the Creator, Atum-Ra, prohibited Her from giving birth to any of Them at any point during the year. But Thoth, the wise and crafty Scribe of the Gods, played a game with the moon God Aah, and there was some gambling involved. Aah gambled with some of His moonlight and lost; then Thoth used the moonlight He won to create four or five extra days of the year, so that Nut could give birth to Her children without violating Ra’s decree. That’s how Osiris, Isis, Seth-Typhon and Nephthys (and, according to some accounts, Horus) were all born. So these last four or five days of the year are magical times that exist apart from the normal calendar, and they are also birthday celebrations for the Gods.
The connection of this time of year to Sirius is also where we get the term “Dog Days of Summer.” Sirius is called “the Dog Star” because it’s part of Canis Major (the Dog), which is just southwest of Orion (the constellation of Osiris). In our modern vernacular, the Dog Days of Summer are the warmest and most sultry days of summer. The Greeks believed that the intense heat that’s usually experienced at this time of year actually comes from Sirius itself. On a somewhat spookier note, the Romans believed that the Dog Days are an “evil time” when animals, people, and even the elements generally become languid and dangerous.
Wep Ronpet is also important to the LV-426 Tradition for astronomical reasons aside from the heliacal rise of Sirius. The Sun reaches its apex in June (at the Summer Solstice), but its life-giving energy becomes a destructive hindrance in July and August. At this point, the Sun must be “slain” and sent south to the Celestial Equator, which it crosses at the Fall Equinox (September 20-23, depending on the year). Perhaps it’s no accident, then, that the Sun travels directly beneath the Big Dipper, the deadly Weapon of Seth, at this time. It also travels across the constellation Leo, the head of which is called “the Sickle.” (Please note that I’m referring to Leo itself, and not the sign. While the Sun is said to be in the sign of Leo from July 22 to August 23, it crosses the actual constellation from August 9 to September 15.) Poetically speaking, the Sun is “injured” by both the Dipper and the Sickle at this time, which is how the harvest season begins. And while She was not identified with Leo in ancient times (to the best of my knowledge, at least), it’s tempting to associate the constellation with Ishtar, who catalyzes the death and resurrection of Tammuz just as Seth-Typhon does with Osiris. Lions are sacred to Ishtar, after all, and considering that She eventually married Seth, Leo’s proximity to the Big Dipper just seems too perfect. It seems to me that Wep Ronpet is about Seth and Ishtar sending the Sun God to the Underworld as much as it’s about Isis and Hapi announcing the New Year.
The Sun in Leo and under the Big Dipper (Image taken with Distant Suns)
The Typhonian aspect of Wep Ronpet also manifests in the fact that hurricane season is in full effect. This is when the biggest and baddest hurricanes come along, roaming the coasts like real life Godzilla monsters. They even effect the inland areas, birthing baby storms that are smaller but still pretty fierce. These storms can be incredibly frightening and deadly, but they’re also righteously awesome, and they’ve given me some of my favorite Wep Ronpet memories. We had a precautionary coastal evacuation back in Texas during Hurricane Gustav in 2008, and I ended up living with about 30 people crammed together in one house for a week. Yes, it was stressful, but there was also something really neat about bonding with these total strangers in such a communal way. There was also a Sabbath in late July 2010 when Brother Patrick’s house flooded during our service and we had to haul all of his stuff outside in the rain. It totally sucked, but we were also laughing about it the whole time; I think that was the night we truly became brothers. Then there was Wep Ronpet 2015, when my wife and I were chased across the state by the exact same storm for three days in a row! You bet your ass it was freaky, and yet it was more fun than anything I could have planned. As far as I’m concerned, these storms are living things just like we are, complete with souls and spirits; and Wep Ronpet is a time for celebrating (as well as fearing) them as such.
There is yet another dimension to the LV-426 concept of Wep Ronpet, however. It just so happens that my first gnostic experience with Seth-Typhon occurred during the late afternoon and early evening of Friday, August 15, 1997 (the same date that Wafaa El-Nil begins in modern Egypt). I was sitting at home, enjoying the last couple weeks of my summer vacation before it was time to start high school, when BAM! It happened. I’ve tried my best to explain my original conversion experience elsewhere, but words just can’t do it justice. The long and short of it is that I just suddenly, inexplicably knew that I was always meant to be a priest of Seth, and that He wanted me to start a new religious tradition in His name. While it wouldn’t receive the name it has today until much later on, the LV-426 Tradition began development at that very moment. So we view Wep Ronpet as our own special anniversary, and we choose to observe it on August 15 each year for that reason (whenever possible, at least).
To celebrate Wep Ronpet, I love to go camping. I love being out in the woods, where I can see the Imperishable Ones at night without any light pollution. I love swimming in the Great Lakes beneath the blazing Eye of Ra. I love going on what I call a “computer fast,” which means I don’t even look at a computer screen for at least a full week (except when I’m at work). This year I’m thinking about going on this fast for the entire month of August, but I haven’t decided just yet. I also love watching and listening to things I was really crazy about back in 1997, which means watching lots of old 1990s Nickelodeon stuff. (For some reason, I always want to watch The Adventures of Pete and Pete.) Finally, I enjoy planning out ideas for activities during the upcoming Samhain season. But whatever else I do, you can bet I’ll be inviting Big Red down into one of His sacred images and offering Him a beer, thanking Him for choosing me for one of His kids all those years ago. (This year’s Wep Ronpet marks our 19th year together! Praise Sutekh Almighty!)
Merry Wep Ronpet to all my fellow companions of the Netjeru out there! May you all be blessed and made rich with Ma’at and good heka during this New Year season! Peace and plenty upon you all!