Festivals of Ancient Egypt
The Establishment of the Celestial Cow
The Return of the Wandering Goddess
The Feast of Thanksgivings and Establishment of the Celestial Cow take place in late December. It has its origins in the Pacification of Sekhmet, the following account which is taken from this site:
Sekhmet was created out of Hethert (Gr. Hathor) by Ra and sent out as His avenging Eye to punish a rebellious faction of humanity that was mocking Him. She was to only diminish the number of these insurgents, but became overzealous in Her task upon discovering that She greatly enjoyed the taste of human blood! Fearing that all humanity would be wiped out, Ra devised a plan with Djehuty (Gr. Thoth) to calm Her down. He ordered a large vat of beer stained red with a mineral pigment called ochre (ground hematite by some accounts) to be poured out on the ground near where Sekhmet was carrying on Her devastation. Seeing the red beer and mistaking it for blood, Sekhmet eagerly consumed it. She became quite drunk, of course, and Her rampage against humanity came to an end.
Now, when Sekhmet came back to Her senses as Hethert, She was angry and mortified at being tricked in such a way. She resumed Her lioness form as Tefnut, and went off into the desert in a self-imposed exile to protest the conspiracy of the Netjeru (gods and goddesses) against Her. And since Hethert is a Goddess of Love and Abundance the rest of the world became a rather bleak place, devoid of beauty, fertility and prosperity in Her absence. Seeing this effect, the Netjeru wanted Hethert back among Them again in a pleased state. Once more Djehuty was consulted and He decided to go after Hethert Himself, along with Shu (God of Wind) in His aspect of An-hur, the Victorious Hunter. With sweet words, music and promises They persuaded the Wandering Goddess to come back to the realm of the Netjeru, which also restored the human world.
Hethert is one of the solar deities bearing the title Eye of Ra as His daughter (including Aset and Sekhmet), and so the beginning of Her return marks the longer and warmer days following the Winter Solstice as the sun changes its course. It is also the beginning of the separation of the seen and unseen worlds that were brought together at the Mysteries of Wesir in November.
On the feast of the Establishment of the Celestial Cow, when Hethert was once again established among the Netjeru (gods), it was customary in ancient times to offer and consume honey, so nowadays we may also eat honey or make warm drinks with it to offer to the Lady of Heaven. And since many office Christmas parties are around this time, these are a good way to celebrate as well! Many of our Shemsu affectionately call this holiday "Moomas," a semantic combination of the Celestial Cow aspect with Christmas.
For the Return of the Wandering Goddess it is appropriate to make a shrine to Hethert in Her form of Tefnut, the Lioness. Offer Her the things that She likes: play music for Her, dance, offer wine and food, and leave lights burning (safely) to light the way for Her return. Gaze at the stars and imagine the Milky Way as the body of Nut through which Ra is born every morning.
I like to set up an Osiris Tree in my home at the end of the Mysteries of Wesir in late November, and leave it up throughout December for the holidays.
A restaurant table-top festival altar to Sekhmet-Tefnut and Hethert
Many thanks to Rev. Neferuhethert of the House of Netjer, whose extensive research into the festivals of ancient Egypt is used as reference here. Visit her beautiful Domain of Hethert (Hathor) to learn more about these ancient festivals, and other aspects of Kemetic life and worship.