In the beginning, Atum made the universe. Stars, the planets, his children Shu and Tefnut: all were once streaks upon the sky. Melting or congealing, stray strands glistening in that first dawn’s light, we rose from the emission of a god.
Here on Earth, holy remembrance is celebrated when the herrings spawn. Neither ichthyologists nor theologians have explained how these fish know precisely when to gather, but they come in myriads of myriads, attempting fertilization in such fecund abundance that the water churns white, waves lap thickly at the shore. Adherents wade forth and immerse themselves — a swan dive, a baptismal plunge — to emerge physically spackled and spiritually cleansed.
At other times of year, the church stages reenactments: one congregant kneels disrobed within a circle of their fellows. A press of bodies, an upturned visage — all roles in this ceremony are available to each, contributing as best their physiology allows. Mimicking Atum’s miracle of creation amid grunts and moans. (Though with flushing crowd and happy canvas, this liturgical variant is far less lonely than the true origin of Tefnut.)
Sacred towels are kept close at hand: damp, soft, warm cloth lightly scented with lavender and citrus oils.