Beautiful Feast of the Valley - and updates
This ancient Egyptian festival marked a celebration of the ancestors, sort of like Mexico's Dia de los Muertos, but with less sugar skulls and more beer. For 12 days, everyone went over to the west bank of the Nile at Uaset (Greek Thebes, modern Luxor) and stayed in the necropolis, feasting with the blessed dead in the cemeteries, and watching the processions of the local gods, Amun-Ra, Mut, and Khonsu, as they made their way to the Valley of the Kings.
It's a good time to get out and honor your ancestors, clean the cemetery, and otherwise celebrate life and the lives of those we love. In the modern Kemetic Orthodox festival calendar, it'll be celebrated through next week (May 21 is the final day). Coincidentally enough, the USA will also be celebrating a day to visit cemeteries and honor dead soldiers, Memorial Day (once known as "Decoration Day" in honor of decorating graves), in a few days' time.
Modern Egyptians still practice cultural things that are related to the Beautiful Feast of the Valley. Witness the Sham-el-Nessim or "Smelling the Breeze" festival, or this recent article about modern Egyptian funeral customs.
Last month, after I recovered from the 30 days of no sleep, er, the Kickstarter campaign we did in February and March, I started work on the next phase of getting the Ancient Egyptian Daybook into your hands. Once Kickstarter cleared the payments and took their cut, I received the remainder, and promptly opened a new savings account to put it in until we get to printing time. I've also set aside a portion for taxes next year (yes, Kickstarter campaigns are taxable income, for anyone who is curious).
I then made a trip back to Chicago where my former residence is, to do some lecturing about the goddess Mut. While I was in town, I was able to pick up more of my books that I hadn't moved with me in the first phase of my move to California. Several of them include more calendar data that hasn't been collated into the database yet, and so they will add even more festivals to the Daybook! See the pile of book-and-notebook goodness in the picture below. I've also got a dozen or so new sources in PDF format on the computer to peruse, including this recent dissertation out of Finland that looks like it will be useful:
"Do Not Celebrate Your Feast Without Your Neighbours": A Study of References to Feasts and Festivals in Non-Literary Documents from Ramesside Period Deir el-Medina by Heidi Jauhiainen
I've narrowed the artist search down to six potential artists. Currently I am deciding if I want simple traditional line art (read: ancient-looking art), or more modern interpretations, or maybe a little of both. That decision will help me choose who will be working with me on the illustrations and art in the Daybook. If you'd like to be considered, I'm still open to suggestions: email some examples of your artwork, preferably about ancient Egypt, to firstname.lastname@example.org and we can talk.
There are still some backers whose pledges did not go through. Kickstarter is now done with collecting funds, so if you did not receive a "your credit card was charged" notice from Kickstarter and/or Amazon Payments on March 14, you are no longer officially a backer as I have no record of your pledge. But don't worry. If you'd still like to get in on the Daybook project, I'm in the process of getting a website for it. Preorders will be available, so those who were original Kickstarter backers but whose pledges weren't honored for whatever reason can get in on it there. Also, anybody who is interested in the project but didn't get a chance to pledge while the campaign was live will be able to participate that way if they choose.
I think that's all the news there is right now. Surveys to ask you for your address and confirm your pledge reward will be coming closer to release time. I'm still on track for printing some time during December, and trying very hard to make that closer to the beginning of December for those who are interested in holiday gifts.
You can follow my progress on this and everything else via my Facebook page, or on Twitter, or you can email me anytime at email@example.com . Thank you all, again, for the incredible response to this project. There is something wonderful about being able to wade through all this data, have fun doing it, and realize that other people think it's worth having fun doing, too.