Today at sundown, I said Resh. I’ve not said it in a while, and I just happened to be in the right place at the right time. It seemed appropriate:
Hail unto thee who art Tum in thy setting,
Even unto thee who art Tum in thy joy,
who travelest across the heavens in thy barque
at the down-going hour of the Sun!
Tahuti standeth in his splendor at the prow,
and Ra-Hoor abideth at the helm;
Hail unto thee from the abodes of Day!
Resh is… heck, I don’t know if it’s a bit of made-up neo-Egyptian pablum from the 19th century occult world, or if it’s a 19th century old-time rephrasing of an 18th century translation of an ancient Egyptian text, or if it’s just a straight-up invention of one of Occultism’s more celebrated and eccentric figures. But at its core, Resh is four prayers said at the four gateways of the Day: dawn, noon, sundown and midnight. They’re said to drive away psychic attacks, and relieve you of the idea that you’re under psychic attack, and alleviate paranoia, and generally bring good things to life. Sort of like GE, but without needing a new washer and dryer every three to five years.
Anyway, in the midst of thinking about Resh after saying it (after a long time away from it), I think to myself, “self… isn’t it odd that the ancient Hebrews regarded the day as beginning at sundown, the ancient Romans thought the day began at sunrise, that seafarers are supposed to recalibrate the day based on noon… and we today regard the day as beginning at midnight?”
In the Dawn Resh prayer, the god saluted is the Egyptian sun-god Ra: the human being with the solar crown, arrayed in golden glory. In the noonday prayer, the goddess saluted is Hathor, the divine cow-queen, celebrated as bringing joy to mortals. In the evening prayer, the saluted god is Atum, a self-created deity whose tears formed the first human beings, who rests from labor. The midnight prayer recognizes Kephra, who pushes the dung-ball of the Sun through the darkness and confusion of night.
It occurred to me, driving through the early twilight, that we’ve chosen something very odd and oddly un-human by having the day begin in the middle of the night. We’ve chosen a time of darkness and confusion, when our conception of the world is most fluid, and when we assume things are least safe, as the moment when the new day begins. Rather than choosing to recognize the splendor of the new day at dawn, we hang curtains to blot out the light and slumber on in artificial midnight. Nor do we celebrate a new day at the equally-clear hour of sundown, when the labors of the current day are done, and we can take joy in the hours of restfulness head. Nor do we choose, as mariners did for centuries, to rest from the midday heat and take comfort in the noon, and say, “wow what a beautiful day!”
I’ve written before about the flexibility of the planetary hours of the old Chaldean system, where the number of hours from dawn to dusk remained a constant twelve, but the length of those hours changed from month to month based on the position of the sun relative to solstice or equinox. This is a different kind of flexibility, though, or rather, rigidity — how your day begins or ends… indeed, WHEN it begins or ends, says a good deal about the kind of life you lead. Subconsciously, I think my day begins at dawn whether I want it to or not; but I live in a society that changes over days at midnight, and that quarter-day out of step with everyone else is part of what causes me to see the world differently.
When does the day really begin for you?