The Book of the Dead


 Since I’ve always been fascinated by the Ancient Egypt, and especially Amun Ra’s book, here are some facts about it…thanks to Wikipedia (I know it’s a lot to read, but if you’re interested, it’s worth it). Enjoy!

‘The Book of the Dead’ is the common name for the ancient Egyptian funerary text known as ‘The Book of Coming ‘[or 'Going']‘ Forth By Day’. The book of the dead was a description of the ancient Egyptian conception of the afterlife and a collection of hymns, spells, and instructions to allow the deceased to pass through obstacles in the afterlife. The book of the dead was most commonly written on a papyrus scroll and placed in the coffin or burial chamber of the deceased.
The name “Book of the Dead” was the invention of the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius, who published a selection of the texts in 1842. When it was first discovered, the book of the dead was thought to be an ancient Egyptian Bible. But unlike the Bible, The Book of the Dead does not set forth religious tenets and was not considered by the ancient Egyptians to be the product of divine revelation, which allowed the content of the book of the dead to change over time. The Book of the Dead was thus the product of a long process of evolution from the Pyramid texts of the Old Kingdom to the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom. About one-third of the chapters in The Book of the Dead are derived from the Coffin Texts. The Book of the Dead itself was adapted to The Book of Breathings in the Late Period, but remained popular in its own right until the Roman period.

Weighing of the heart
The two hundredth part of The Book of the Dead is typically a pair of songs to Ma’at and Osiris. This is followed by the most critical moment in the book, the “weighing of the heart”, in which the heart of the deceased was weighed against the feather of truth (Ma’at, goddess of truth) as a symbolic judgment of the person’s character. If the deceased’s heart is lighter than the feather, he is judged worthy and may proceed into the company of the gods. If the deceased is found unworthy, he is devoured by the monster Ammit, and goes out of existence. At this moment, the deceased could utter a spell to prevent their hearts from speaking out against them:

O my heart which I had from my mother! O my heart of different ages! Do not stand up as a witness against me, do not be opposed to me in the tribunal, do not be hostile to me in the presence of the keeper of the balance, for you are my ka which was in my body, the protector who made my members hale. Go forth to the happy place whereto we speed, do not tell truths about me in the presence of the god; it is indeed well that you should hear!

If the deceased is judged worthy, the great Ennead will say:

This utterance of yours is true. The vindicated Osiris-[name] is straightforward, he has no sin, there is no accusation against him before us, Ammat shall not be permitted to have power over him. Let there be given to him the offerings which are issued in the presence of Osiris, and may a grant of land be established in the Field of Offerings as for the followers of Horus.

Continuing the journey
The rest of the text describes the mythic origin of the gods and places, spells for protection of the deceased and his journey through the underworld to join the company of the gods. On the way, the deceased must address the various guardians with a secret name and supply cryptic passwords to enter, for example:

The third gate: the name of its gatekeeper is ‘One who eats the Putrefaction of his Posterior’; the name of its guardian is ‘Alert of Face’; the name of the announcer in it is ‘Gateway’.
Words spoken by the Osiris-[name], the justified, when arriving at the gate: ‘I am the secret one of the cloudburst, the one who separated the Two Companions. It is in order that I might drive away evil from Osiris that I have come. I am the one who clothed his own standard, who emerges in the Wereret-Crown. I have established offerings in Abydos. Open the way for me in Rosetjau because I have relieved the sickness in Osiris. I have painted his perch. Make way for me so that he might shine in Rosetjau.’

The sometimes cryptic material in the book of the dead was used to enhance the mystery and secrecy of the afterlife, into which the deceased hoped to be admitted.

The negative confessions
Although the deceased has been vindicated, he must now assert his innocence in two series of 42 statements known as the negative confessions. In the second series, the deceased addresses each of 42 cryptically named gods, in turn, declaring his innocence:

O Wide-of-stride who comes from On: I have not coveted.
O Shadow-eater who comes from the cave: I have not stolen.
O Savage-faced who comes from Rosetjau: I have not killed people…

-to be continued…

Comments (4)

Interesting passion. I’m more into modern things :) ) But I bet I could read it as a story, right?

What’s this? Some sort of book of charms and spells to accompany the dead in their journey towards Heaven?

[...] Dariana wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt The name “Book of the Dead” was the invention of the German Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius, who published a selection of the texts in 1842. When it was first discovered, the book of the dead was thought to be an ancient Egyptian … [...]

good page.
thank you.

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