Wednesday 29 June 2011

Festivals and Celebrations this Shanatu Qadishti

I thought I'd start this blog by sharing some good memories I have of this year, and the festivals and celebrations I have been celebrating.  Hopefully, you'll learn a little more about me as well.  It will be a long post, so please bear with me.  I'm sure (I hope) you'll enjoy it.  I'm also providing a lot of background context, so please bear with me if it's not you're sort of thing, as I'm hoping to show how the so-called 'secular' and so-called 'sacred' really mix in my own life, which is a very spiritual one.  Please forgive me if I go into too much detail, or if it becomes too boring.  I hope you enjoy it.

Ashuru Mathbati:
I celebrated this festival for 7 days close to the autumn equinox in the month of Niqalu at the Canaanite New Year (from what I understand there are two New Years, one in spring and one in autumn, I choose to celebrate my main New Year in autumn based on the Gezer Calendar which starts at this time).  First of all, some background.  I'd just left my old school (which we go from ages 11-16) and was about to start my next school (college, which we go from ages 16-18, and is basically a continuation of school for two more years worth of exams).  I finished early so I got an extra long summer break, which I mostly spent getting up late and having the house to myself to play on video games.  I went to another town for two weeks, during which time I spent giving libations to Yam in my room and under a palm tree on the sea-front, as the town I was at overlooks the beautiful and tranquil blue sea (it's a lot more violent in the winter, but amazing in the summer, stretching right out to the distant firmament as far as the eye can see).  I felt very close to Yam and other deities (like Baal who appeared as a thunderstorm one day, which I spent in the cinema and then going through a lot of indoor markets in the town centre).  I also paid a nice visit to the zoo which lay just through the forests on the edge of town one hot day, during which I saw the lions, gazelles, camels, and other animals sacred to the deities (more on this in a later post).  When I returned back to my home village, I spent my days designing temples and reading the sacred texts of the Canaanites, all the while watching Shapash make her journey through the watery firmament of heaven.  I then enrolled at my new school and I spent my final day before starting having a meal in a tavern (I suppose you could call it) just down the road.

Then autumn came, and the rains returned.  I had to make my journey daily from my village to the city by bus.  My school seemed pleasant on the outside.  It very much resembles my old school, where I still visit in meditation, as I feel an extremely strong connection to the deities there.  Both buildings are/were (my old school was destroyed, sadly) huge brick building several stories high and with an underground level.  Both had a front door flanked by pillars/columns, and tall, thin windows.  Both had row after row of classrooms inside, a central courtyard, and were painted mostly white on the inside.  For some reason strikes me as very Canaanite, maybe because of the pillars and being made mostly of brick, and with a central courtyard.  Also, my new school had several swaying palm trees outside.  It was on a sloping bank, and bordered a city park where I spent most of my breaks.  I remember walking into strange classes full of new people I didn't know, and going away at breaks wondering what they'd turn out like.

A few weeks in and the New Year arrived, and with it the festival.  I celebrated the New Year and the start of autumn by collecting leaves from my front garden and storing them inside my house, in my upstairs bedroom.  I celebrated by having a large feast, and drinking large amounts of fruit juice (a wine substitute), and offering some to the deities.  I then prepared to build my Mathbatu shrine.  Normally this is done on the roof of the house, though I'm afraid of heights, so I put mine in an upper shelf at the top right corner of my room.  I then decorated the Mathbatu with the leasves I had collected, and then brought in my deity statues and put them in my Mathbatu.  Among them were: El, Yam, Dagon, Shapash, and Resheph.  I then ascended to the shrine and spoke my heart unto the deities.  I also had a recording of a ram's horn being blown 7 times, which I played during the festival.  Most of the rest of the days of the festival were spent in feasting and celebration.  I read from a creation hymn I'd written, as I feel the New Year is a good time to honour the creation of the world.  I also spent one day fasting and praying to El for purification of sins, or khatz'a.

Ashuru Marzichu:
The rains became heavier and heavier as winter approached.  The wet season had begun, and outside my window I could hear the lashing storms and rains pouring off the roof and palm trees.  I began the Marzichu in an upstairs room at night.  I invoked El and asked him to raise his cup over the Marzichu as a blessing.  I then invoked the shades, the Rapi'uma, one by one, reading from the king lists of Ugarit, Moab, Ammon, Edom, Tyre, Sidon, Qart-Hadasht, and more.  After saying a blessing and giving an offering to the kings I then gave offerings to several non-royal but notable Canaanites, such as Elimelek (the Ugaritic scribe who wrote, I believe, the Epic of King Keret), and Hannibal (the Qart-Hadashtite general and warrior who led his army against the Romans during the Punic Wars).  I then gave a general offering to all Canaanites, including warriors, labourers, merchants, and slaves.  I then gave offerings to my ancestors.  After this I said a blessing for all the Rapi'uma, and asked for their guidance and healing in our lives.

Continued in Part II


  1. At marzichu, remember Ditanu/Didanu too :)
    Yishlam le-ka,

  2. Part II will go into Ashuru Ari, Ashuru Shamni, Ashuru Ganni, and Ashuru Liyati (I'll be celebrating Ashuru Zabri this week).

  3. Ditanu is a rather important figure during my Marzichu rituals. In fact, I found an interesting article online (though I forgot where) that discussed a possible connection between him and the Eblaite god Nidakul.