Bookbinding, Isis, and Hekate

So, I’ve started making books, because Sobek said a scribe ought to know how to make books. Right now, I’m just concentrating on hardcover coptic stitch journals, but I’ll likely tackle case binding eventually when I am not so intimidated by it.

This is the first one I made; it’s since become my new ritual book, for my monthly festivals at least. I’ve made another A4 sized one with watercolour paper that I plan to use as a devotional art journal, and another A5 one for notes and other things. I’m planning to make a bunch of 4inx4in ones as presents for our midwinter feast next month. Everything’s been cut out, it all just needs to be assembled. I’m also going to get dad to help me put together a book press, and Sobek wants hieroglyphs on it, so. Part of my scribal kit, it seems.

I’m planning to get myself organised enough to sell them, because with coptic stitch, the books lie flat, which makes them good for ritual books if you want them to sit flat on a table or shrine. Plus, I think it suits Kemetic ritual books well since I believe it originated in Egypt with the Copts? I get a big sense of recognition and pleasure from Sobek when I make these books, as if it’s something He recognises and takes pleasure in seeing brought to life again. It may not have been an ancient practice used in the old temples, but He seems to really like it nonetheless. It’s always good when your gods like your work, I think.

Relating to this, Sobek’s also been throwing ‘lector priest’ things at me, seeing it as the other side of a scribe’s duty when serving in the House of Life of a temple. I think He’s emphasising it more in a sense of a context in which I’m doing rituals to Them, rather than as a role He wants me to take. It may be that this is ultimately why I’m not tending open statues, because I don’t have a high priest to tend to it. It’s not part of my duties. I just read (and write) the rituals. (If the gods see fit to change this, that’s Their decision.) It reminds me that I ought to get my hands on that book about priests in ancient Egypt when I have some spare money.

(Also, knowing how to do bookbinding will enable me to refill my current BoS/journal because it has a reusable leather cover omg, which was half the reason I bought it. The damn text block in there currently is even coptic bound. I mean, really. I will never need to buy another journal ever again.)

I can’t remember if I’ve talked about it here, but I think I’ve mostly settled into a monthly set of devotions that’s working well, so far, together with my seasonal Wheel. It’s based around Hekate’s lunar rites, because that’s just how it turned out, but otherwise, it’s a good system, and I’m enjoying the flow of it.

The month begins with noumenia, where I’m doing rites to Hekate. Six days after that, I hold the 6th day akhu/ancestor festival. Thunor gets a húsel on the first Thursday after noumenia, and Kernunnos gets one on the Wednesday before the full moon, which is Artemis’ time. After that, there’s a húsel for Woden on the Wednesday before deipnon to round off the month. I’m trying to get into the habit of doing routine shrine maintenance on deipnon, like cleaning shrine things, statues, libation bowls, etc, which I’ve not always been good at doing.

The only thing that’s really bothering me about it is that I’m not doing anything for Isis, and I feel bad setting up a shrine for Her and then not using it. I’m pondering something for Her on the first and last quarter moons, because She’s gone back to being more Graeco-Egyptian now, rather than purely Egyptian, at least to me.

It’s a weird thing. I notice it only in how I refer to Her. She’s Isis or Aset, but not usually both interchangeably at the same time. Hekate explained it to me last night in our meditations this way:

“When you first began, you called on her as Isis, and she answered you. And then, as you moved on, she came to you as Aset, because that was who you needed. And now, she is Isis again, because that is who you need right now. She is greater than the name you choose to call her.”

Which makes sense to me, and of course, that last sentence is very true, and something I sometimes need to be reminded of. We can argue all we like about Aset vs Isis, and whether they’re the same goddess or different goddesses, but She’s greater than that, than our petty human disagreements about beings we may never fully understand. These days, I tend towards both/neither/something else/whatever She wants to be. /polyvalent logic ftw.

Besides which, it’s weird calling Her Aset when She’s sharing a shrine space with Artemis and Hekate. Isis fits there better than Aset does. Which is also why I’m pondering lunar-timed rites for Her, because it isn’t as jarring in a Graeco-Egyptian context. Though I may just do simple libation rites for Her for now while I figure out if we want anything more than that. I feel I haven’t worked with Isis for years, and I’d like to re-establish that relationship now that things are settling down again.

I feel like the past four years have been a chaotic period of spiritual development and growth. I’ve retired the BoS I started back in early 2012 because it no longer reflects my path, so I started a new one.

Hekate had a lot of other things to say last night, but one of the things She did do was finally tell me that I belonged to Her. I’d never been entirely sure, because of the way we met, so I kind of assumed it was a fostering-type relationship and it wouldn’t be more than that. But She’s mother like Aset/Isis is mother, like Artemis is mother-father, like Sobek too is mother-father, and Heru is father. I have all the queer gods, apparently, though I’m still wrapping my head around Heru as a queer god. That one doesn’t quite make sense yet. Hekate described them all as gods of change and transformation. There are other things we talked about relating to this that I’m unwilling to share at this point in time. Hekate likes throwing me curve balls.

15 thoughts on “Bookbinding, Isis, and Hekate

  1. What a beautiful devotional practice you’re building! Can’t wait to see more books from you, I think you did really well on the binding.

    1. Thanks, it’s coming along really well. I’m enjoying the binding, too. It’s quite relaxing, now that I’ve got the hang of it. I can do it in front of the TV now.

    1. I hesitate to say, ‘it’s complicated’, but it’s complicated. 😀 I’m still trying to get my head around Heru as a queer god, though, so I’d be interested to hear how you see Him that way.

      For me, part of it relates to the myth I’m retelling, and this nagging little thing in my head where it’s going to end with Heru taking Sobek as His consort when He takes the throne after defeating Set. Because reasons to do with Sobek and Heru’s relationship, and the Faiyum, and … stuff. Yeah. I have no idea where that idea came from, but it’s still nagging at me, and it just seems … right, y’know? Like, who else would He take? In the context of my retelling, it makes sense, anyway. I can’t argue for anyone else appreciating it.

      I also think part of it is that I have so many queerly gendered gods and Heru stands out because that doesn’t seem to be His thing? Like, I’m alright with Him being queer, but I don’t know in what way He’s queer? But He and Sobek have always been close, near inseparable, to me, so parsing out that relationship has been a lot of work, and I still barely feel like I’ve scratched the surface of it. I don’t know if any of that resonates with you, though.

      1. That is really cool and interesting stuff. I usually think of his potential queer ness having to do with Set and the Contendings, but I’m loving the stuff you’re perceiving. Hopefully you’ll be free to write about it in the future.

        1. Yeah, I mean, I think of Set and the Contendings too, and I think that’s why I want to take some time writing the next part of the myth, because I’m up to the Contendings and I want to get it right. I’ve wanted a queer retelling of the Osirian myths for a while now, particularly one involving Wesir as a trans* god. That might be next on the list. This current one will include Heru’s queerness, but it’s not quite ready to be written yet. Sometimes, the muses make you wait.

          Sobek and Heru were really closely linked in the Faiyum, and for a long time, I thought I perceived Their closeness as merely a UPG thing, but it turns out there historical precedence for this, and for Sobek being included in the Osirian myths. Sobek as Heru was a Thing. It is very strange reading about Sobek gathering up His father’s limbs, and putting Him back together, to bring Him to life again. But there you go. It was definitely a Thing in the Faiyum.

          Sobek’s role in the myth I’m retelling isn’t as Heru, but as He who watches over Aset and Heru when Heru is a child. Sobek gets them to safety when Set is chasing them, and hides them away until Heru is strong enough to defeat Set. Sobek navigates the waters like no other, so He knows how to get out of the Two Lands safely, even if they are exiled in the oasis. The Faiyum was seen as the burial place of Wesir, too, which is another anchor to the mythic history. So once Wesir is buried, and they’re stuck hiding, I see Sobek as a rock for Heru to rely on, and for Aset to rely on, and that’s kind of why Heru takes Sobek as consort, because who else? Sobek was known as the strength of the King, after all.

          1. This is amazing. I really love what you have to say here. As a Trans and queer person myself I often end up feeling like their aren’t enough myths through our eyes. I also considered at one point if Nephthys and Aset (Isis?) were lovers, but no real answer to that yet.

        2. Yeah, well, this is why I write myths, because the world needs more queer myths, so I’m doing my bit to fill that gap. I’m queer myself, so I think it’s important for us to have myths told through our eyes, too. I wanted to write about Wesir as a trans* god because there is that theme of death and rebirth, and it speaks as much to the experience of transitioning as it does to a dying god. Plus, I always felt the version of the myth where Aset makes Wesir a new penis to be, well. It does lend itself to these things.

          I don’t know about Aset and Nebethet as lovers, though. I’ve never thought of Them that way, but that doesn’t mean it’s not possible if it makes sense to you. I do conceive of Aset as a shapeshifter, though, so. IDK. It’s part of how I see Aset as queer, that She can change. She can be whatever She wants to be. She has that power to change Her appearance, to transform Herself. And that’s a powerful thing.

          1. I really resonate with Aset as shapechanger. I can’t comment on Her overmuch though because She doesn’t show up to me very much at all. That and the couple of times it has happened I never get Isis.

            I have been thinking about making some posts on queer history. Maybe I should put some effort in to actually doing it.

            I can also completely get Wesir that way and I love it! I will read the crap out of whatever you write on the topic.

        3. Yeah, it’s one of those parts of Her mythology that I really feel a fascination with. It’s something I feel is not always emphasised. She has that great power to transform, and She is great to work with.

          I’d read your posts on queer history if you wrote them, so there’s that. There are times when I don’t feel like I know my history well at all, and I should, y’know?

          I’ll have to get around to writing something then. I had a spark of an idea last night, not quite a faithful retelling, but has elements of His conflict with Set, and His death and transformation, and how He deals with being a trans* god. I’ll have to give that some thought, now that I have a place to start.

  2. This sounds like a great devotional practice! I always have trouble with keeping track of lunar events. This is something I should work on! Thank you for the inspiration!

    It may help that Aset/Isis did have a few days during the lunar cycle that were sacred to Her even as an Egyptian Goddess. There is a New Moon Festival to Aset listed on the Temple of Abydos if that helps any. (I think the Full Moon one is more Greek/Roman).

    Some people use the lunar calendar cycle as the birth and life-cycle of the moon god (in this case Heru-sa-Aset/Horus, son of Isis).

    1st Day of Each Lunar Month (New Moon)-Sacred to Aset
    15th Day of Each Lunar Month-Goddess Fifteen (Full Moon)
    22nd Day of Each Lunar Month-Festival of Sopdet

    1. Not a problem. I figured it was easier to structure it all around deipnon/noumenia, and just repeat it every month, rather than try to manage a year of months that might not always be the same. It works for me, anyway. I have less to remember. 😀

      I had been pondering the light/dark of the quarter moons in that kind of way, that first quarter could be more related to Heru’s birth, and the last quarter more about Wesir’s death. It keeps the myths still present, but still allows me to focus on Her too. I might think on that and see what I come up with. Thanks!

  3. Aset as shapechanger works very well. She is “Great of Magic” after all. When she appears to me, she looks absolutely nothing like her conventional representations.

    1. Yeah, I want to dive a bit deeper into Aset as shapeshifter, because I think it’s a very interesting aspect of Her personality and powers.

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