Sunday 14 October 2012

My Shabbat

Yesterday I observed a wonderful Shabbat.

I awoke early in the morning to a new day.  The hours of darkness on the morning are growing longer, and I sat for a few hours entertaining myself with some old cartoons on the computer.  Then I saw the light beginning to show upon the white walls of the house.  Shapash was arising, starting her course through the heavens, as always.  I sat eating, drinking, and listening to music.  A perfect way to start the holy Seventh Day.  I sat at the table eating, thanking the gods for such a wondrous new day.  I was thinking of Shapash, who glowed in the blue sky above, shining down her warmth and radiance upon the earth.  The all-seeing eye of God.  I thought also of Asherah, the Shabbat Queen, standing between two goats holding palm leaves, whom I had invited into the home on the evening prior, before going to bed.

Then my younger brother, Ashtar-yaton, came downstairs with a board game.  We all sat on the floor and had some fun playing the game, while I told him of Asherah, and of Yam, and of Qos.  While playing, there were moments of happiness.  I felt the spirits of happiness bestow sudden moments of laughter upon me.  Good spirits, perhaps sent by Asherah herself.  And they helped me learn, helped me learn that even the most simple moments can bring such joy.  This would be something I would talk to Asherah about later.  We finished playing (he won), and I went and had a cleansing bath. 

I spent some time talking to some old friends, and also updating some information on the various Near Eastern peoples (the Canaanites, the Arabians, the Persians, the Babylonians, the Hebrews, and the Egyptians etc.) 

I thought of the skies, and of the sun, and how day and night come and go, and how we mere mortals (as close as we are to our gods) can do nothing about it.  It is beyond our control, within the sphere of the divine.  We may ride our chariots into battle, we may fight our wars, impress others with our brave and heroic deeds.  But can any of us do as Shapash, or El, or Shachar and Shalim do? 

I went upstairs, overwhelmed at how quickly the day had gone by, and into my bedroom.  I went to the end of the room and approached the household cultic shrine.  This had been the first time I had performed a ritual to the Teraphim since before Ashuru Mathbati (preparing for the festival and also for starting university took up a lot of time).  I approached the household gods, thanking them and offering them incense.  I also said a prayer to Asherah before her idol, as it is custom for me to do on the last day of every week that passes.  My prayers to Asherah felt personal to me, for the good things she has given me, and as the wife of El (whom I have had very personal experiences with lately).  I also feel close to her near a menorah, perhaps because one of its' lights represents the Shabbat.  I felt that the incense was pleasing to the household gods, its scent wafting before their idols.

After the ritual was finished, I went downstairs and listened to a Shabbat hymn, played on a lyre.  It filled me with the grace and power of the gods, capturing their majesty, which I had felt when offering the incense before Asherah in particular.

By now the sky was growing dark, Shapash was setting, returning to the underworld in the west.  The skies grew dark, and dusk came.  I said a brief prayer to Shalim, who brings the end of each day.  All good things must come to an end with the passing of time, but the memory does remain.  And as night fell, I prayed to El to bless this day.

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