The second hour of the afterlife journey heralds the moment when the sun god and the journeying soul truly enter into the afterlife. The overall view from this portion of the journey highlights the inertia one can experience within the first true hour of the journey: beings in sarcophagi or mummified litter the various books of the netherworld, highlighting that passiveness within will do nothing to allow beings to move forward.
The third hour comes across as an hour filled with elemental power, as we shall see.
The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]
The flood waters of the Nun are highlighted again within this hour, now called the Water of Osiris. He is shown again and again within this hour, being seen four times in the White Crown and four more times in the Red Crown. In addition to Osiris within the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, two depictions of the Orion constellation, which was associated with him, are shown as well.
The flood waters of the Nun are a primary focus here, not merely because these waters grant the necessary moisture for crops and food to grow in the underworld. The floods from the Nun are chaotic but necessary, just as the inundation of the Nile was. It is through this hour that the old is dissolved in order to allow a renewal of the necessary fertility to feed the myriad denizens of the Netherworld.
The solar barque dominates the middle register of this hour, showing a total of four boats. Each boat shows Ra within, which “points to a fragmentation of the unity of the Sungod into four” [p49, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality]. Each boat depicts two oarsman to steer through the flood waters and a serpent for protection against the enemies of the solar deity.
While the seeming fragmenting of the solar god may seem counter-intuitive, Abt & Hornung go on to explain:
This dissociation is counterbalanced by four gods who approach the four barques from the right. Their names are Lord of water, Moor of the earth, He who sets the limits, and He who sees the limits. This points to their order-bringing function.
The overall point being that while this hour is full of chaos, it is a necessary chaos in order to fulfill the needed inundation for the underworld. To counteract this necessary chaos, to ensure that it doesn’t tip over into the realm of true isfet, four deities are brought forth to ensure that ma’at will prevail.
The Book of Gates
Mummiform beings are shown at the top of the register for this hour, however they are shown being awakened from their deaths. They grow animated within their shrine spaces. Within this register, the Lake of Fire is depicted. The Blessed Dead are able to use this Lake to equip themselves for the journey forward, however this very same Lake turn to fire for those who are damned.
The solar god is towed forward through this hour within the “barque of the earth.” He is also outfitted with clean, white clothes to symbolize his renewal. We also catch our first glimpse of A/pep, which is shown in its form of a giant serpent. This s/nake is in front of Atum, who is assisted in his need to overcome the s/nake to move forward.
The Book of Caverns
Ra passes through on his journey and is shown to enter an area where the ithyphallic body of Osiris resides beneath the god, Aker. Aker is depicted in his twinned sphinx form, being able to see both yesterday and tomorrow, while Osiris lays passively beneath him. Aker is surrounded by a myriad of gods of the Ennead. Above this depiction, the pharaoh is associated with Osiris on his journey to become one of the Blessed Dead.
Within the same area as the depiction of Aker, we come into contact with four forms of Osiris, all of whom are indicated to be “lords of the Duat.” Ra, in his form as an old man, addresses each one of them. Behind Aker, another form of Osiris is shown, this time within his sarcophagus. This form of Osiris is also shown with the eye of Ra and a ram’s head, surrounded by an ouroboros “and evidently stressing the unity of Re and Osiris; Osiris is depicted again, atop a serpent, as ‘the one who has become two’.” [p87, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife].
Beneath these forms, the enemies of the gods are shown in their punishments within the Place of Annihilation and within the primeval darkness. They are further punished when their bau are shown hanging upside down. Within the middle of these enemies, the ithyphallic form of Osiris’s corpse is again shown. He is also within the darkness as their enemies.
The Book of Night
The entrance to the Third Hour brings us to the uvula of Nut, or to the back of the mouth. The barque is guided forward by the “Bull of the Two Lands” through the gateway, which is called: “She who lights the fire, the quencher of embers, with sharp flames, quick in killing without hesitation. She from whom there is no protection. She by whom one cannot pass without harm. The one who rears up towards her lord.” It is in this hour that the deceased announces that he has become one of the Akh, having renewed himself within the previous hour.
Beings are depicted beneath the barque, in various phases of their transformations: the Awakened Ones, the Sleeping Ones, the Silent Ones, the Revived Ones, the Floating Ones, the Transfigured Ones, and the Shadows. In addition, there are beings of three who are named: Those of the Field and Those of the Channels. “Attracted towards waking and sleeping in the maternal arms, all are caught in various phases of the rebirth journey, deep in the inner recesses of the even-tide, just like Ihy” [p117, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother].
- The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife by Erik Hornung
- Knowledge for the Afterlife by Theodor Abt and Erik Hornung
- My Heart, My Mother by Alison Roberts