This little-known festival was celebrated at the Temple of Edfu. It doesn’t sound like a Goddess festival, but it is, for the Hand of the God was called Iusaas or Iusaaset. This Goddess, honored in the city of Heliopolis wore a scarab beetle on her head, the symbol of transformation. She was the counterpart of the god Atum, literally his hand.
In the Pyramid Texts an early genesis story recounts how the divine All, the androgynous Atum, created the world from the substance of himself it reads:
“Atum was creative in that he proceeded to masturbate with himself in Heliopolis; he put his penis in his hand that he might obtain the pleasure of emission thereby, and there were born brother and sister ~ that is, Shu and Tefnut.”
Like Isis with whom she is sometimes identified, Iusaaset (whose name means “She Comes While She Grows Large,” a name underscoring the masturbation motif), had a sister called Nebet-hotepet, who is linked with Nephthys. Nephthys name probably means The House of Offering” perhaps referring to the womb of the All which is offered for use during the conception, gestation, and birth of the world.
It is no accident that the Feast of the Hand of the God occurs between two other birth festivals (The Birth of Horus the Younger and the Pregnancy of Nut). It is, after all, a season near the vernal equinox when light has returned to the sky and the days grow in length. It is a time when the world is made new again, when the Hand of the God brings forth life from the waters of chaos. It represents the union of masculine and feminine energies to create and sustain life.
Festival Celebration Ideas
It is unclear how the festival was celebrated in ancient Egypt. Some historians suggest that there might have been sexual rites or ritual marriages. This might be a good time for sex magick, if that is something that you enjoy.
In the Temple of Dendera, which has been called the Castle of the Menat, The Feast of the Hand of the God might have been a day in which all pregnant, including the wives and concubines of the pharaoh, might come to the temple to be blessed. Perhaps the day began with a sunrise devotion to the goddess as Mother of the All.
Perhaps amid the strains of beautiful music, the priestesses touched each pregnant woman’s belly and breasts, or anointed their faces with perfume, or even milk, whispering words of welcome to the unborn children, saying the same words priestesses used to great the nomarch Senbi, “for your spirit, behold the menat of your mother, Hathor. May she make you flourish as long as you desire.”
Hymn to Isis
Enchantress and wife, she stamps and spins.
She raises her arms
to dance. From her armpits arises a hot perfume
that fills the sails of boats along the Nile.
She stirs breezes that make the sailors swoon
and opens the eyes of statues. Under her spell,
I come to myself; under her body I come to life.
Dawn breaks through the diaphanous weave of
her dress. She dances and draws down heaven.
Sparks scatter from her heels and on earth tumbles
forth an expanse of stars…”
Activities For Today
Here are some ideas you might want to explore today. They can, of course, be done at any time.
- Get Creative
The act of creation can be playful, fun, colorful, and messy. Do a Google search and you will find a lot of simple ideas for how to make art with hand prints. This is a fun activity for kids, and the child within.
In your journal, explore what it means to you to be a cocreator of the universe with the Divine.
- Make a Collage
Gather some magazines that you feel free to cut up. Leaf through them, searching for images that appeal to you. Perhaps the images hint at where you focus your energies or where you will focus your energies in the future. Cut out the images and lay them aside. Outline your hands on a sheet of paper.
Slowly, meditatively, begin to trim, sort, and paste the images onto the image of your own hands. You might use the right hand for things that you already create and the left hand for things you will create in the future. Around the edges of these hands, write a myth of yourself as the creator of this world.
- Make a Physical Connection
Our bodies are instruments of our connection to the physical universe. Reestablish a connection to your body’s natural wisdom. With crayon, outline your body on a long sheet of butcher paper.
Begin at the top of your head and record what each part of your body remembers: your hair, your cheeks, your nose, etc. Try to list both joys and sorrows. When you find a part of your body that holds many strong memories, make not of it.
Later, return to that spot and write a dialog with that part of your body.
Source: Feasts of Light
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