The Fourth Hour.

The third hour was an hour of elemental powers: either the powers of the gods and the chaos from the power that emanates from them or an internal struggle of one’s self as the soul moves forward in its attempt to be reborn. Above all else, the point in the previous hour was almost as if we need to battle ourselves or the gods themselves. No matter the outside influences or internal influences of the battle itself, the overall point was to come out the other side of it as a pure form of yourself.

The fourth hour is a mix of elemental power again, but that power is turned inwards.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The fourth hour heralds the entry into Rosetjau, or the Land of Sokar, who is upon his sand. The world has shifted from the abundant greenery and fertility of the preceding hour to a barren desert. A primordial darkness pervades the land of Rosetjau, a place filled with monsters. These beings are serpent-like with legs, wings, and several heads.

The waters of the Nun have receded and the netherworld can no longer be navigated upon the Nun. An absolute darkness precedes the solar barque within the sandy domain of this hour and the barque must be towed forward. The barque has turned itself into a double-headed serpent that pulses out a fiery breath that pierces the darkness:

This great god sails by them like this:
It is the flames from the mouth of his barque
That guide him on these mysterious ways,
without his seeing their images.

The registers of this hour are separated by a zigzag path, “full of fire from the mouth of Isis and repeatedly blocked by doors… The doors are called knife since they cut the way in several places.” [p58, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat.]

Ra, himself, no longer blazes forth with his shining light in this hour. He moves forever with diminished light, incapable of using his own light to wake those in their eternal slumber. He uses his voice, instead, to call out to those in the darkness: “Ra takes care of those who are in (this hour) with his voice without his seeing them.” [p58, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat.] The silence is absolute throughout this hour until Ra passes through, calling out orders to the beings of the Netherworld. Those who hear his voice cry out in joy when he arrives and weep at his leaving.

Within the center of this scene, the darkened eye has been injured because of the darkness of this hour and requires both Sokar and Djehuty to protect and renew it from the evil beings that inhabit the darkness of this hour. In addition to the work of these two gods, four deities holding the ankh of life out towards the Solar Eye. One of the deities depicted is that of Onuris, the god who brought the Distant Goddess back to the fold. While Ra is given life from these gods, so too are the deceased.

The Book of Gates

Two bodies of water guarded by jackals dominate the imagery of the fourth hour: the Lake of Life and the Lake of Uraei. Hornung posits that these two lakes may be variations of the Lake of Fire espied in the previous hour. As the solar barque moves forward, mummiform bodies lie before him in their journey forward to their own rebirth. As he passes, he brings about their resurrection and provisioning. Beneath the resuscitation of the mummies, Osiris lays enshrined in protective splendor, surrounded by the gods of his entourage. His son, Horus, takes care of him while the enemies of Osiris are punished in the fiery pits at the end of the hour.

The Book of Caverns

The beginning of this next section is shown again in replication of the first portion of the Duat: a solar disk and ram-headed sun god are depicted but this time, between them is an erect serpent. The name of this serpent is Great One on His Belly. As everyone rejoices at the entrance of the sun god, Ra assures promises to Osiris and his followers.

Nephthys and Isis are shown lifting the body of Osiris to initiate his resurrection. In the next scene, he is cared by his two “sons” [sic], Horus and Anubis. And in the last scene in the top register, he is depicted as the Bull of the West beside the god Horus-Mekhentienirty, the mongoose, who has taken the place of his son.

Beneath this section, the sun god is leaning on a staff and is presented with three separate forms of Osiris. In the next scene, Horus and Anubis stand protectively in front of the double corpse of Osiris and again in front of the ba of Osiris.

In the bottom most register, the enemies of Osiris are bound and standing on their heads. “Between them appear the ‘annihilators in the Place of Annihilation,’ with whom the ‘cat-formed one, from whose clutches there is no escape’ is associated as a punishing demon in the first scene.” [p87, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.] The enemies, as further punishment for their sins, cannot see or hear the sun god and that their ba-souls have been robbed from them.

The Book of Night

The Fourth Hour gateway leads us to the throat of Nut. The barque is pulled forward now by He Who Divides the Offerings and the gateway itself is called: “Sharp of knives, Mistress of the Two Lands, who destroys the enemies of the Tired Heart (an epithet of Osiris), who arouses trembling before the Sinless One, who removes wrong-doing.” The names of both the guide and the gateway seem to herald a focus more on the protection of Osiris during this hour.

The hour itself is filled with a fertile and hilly region. Trees grow abundant within this hour and the terrain is filled with vegetation that grows and flourishes. The greening of this hour seems to indicate that the solar barque has finally entered into the life-giving, or ka-realm; a place where nourishment is easily obtained. Beings live on the banks and rivers surrounding this green-filled place, nameless and weeping:

To the left of the hill-sign are groups of people called “Those of the Banks”, “Those of the Shores” and “Those of the Riverside”, who all crouch forward with disheveled hair, and hands held to their faces in the gesture of mourning. Like the people of the fields and channel at the close of the previous hour, their names suggest they inhabit a canal-landscape belonging to the inundated land. And obviously, too, this transition to a fertile realm in the fourth hour is a time of some disorder and confusion.

Beyond these beings, fish-headed beings that are nameless appear. They have their arms tied behind their back. The explanation for these beings is not clear, but the prevailing theory is that these are the enemies of Osiris, those who sided with Set during the battle between the two brothers, who are being punished for their crimes. They, too, are shown as weeping.

The bound fish-headed creatures seem to indicate that while this hour is where life can be renewed, it is a constant battle to be able to move forward on the path to rebirth. On all sides, hostile forces roam free and must be fought against. It is, perhaps, because of the enemies of Osiris that the people also are shown weeping upon the banks of the river and canal:

They weep and mourn because of the terror and confusion in their aquatic habitation caused by the struggle with Sethian creatures. And it is along these disorderly ways that each and every human, each and every divine being, must travel in order to reach the fertile nurturing regions.

In the upper register of this hour, four deities are shown.

The first is a mummiform god known as the ‘Veiled One.’ “The ‘Veiled One’ perhaps refers to the concealment of death or wounds of Osiris – only initiates were allowed to see the weariness of Osiris, who must be protected from his enemies.” [p120, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.]

The second deity is a figure entitled Djed, ‘The One Who is Stable’. “Djed, (the Stable One) is an obvious allusion to the djed pillar and the raising of Osiris from the inertia and inactivity he has fallen into because of Seth’s wicked deeds against him.” [p120, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.]

The final two deities are “The One-who-is-in-his-Shrine” and an enthroned goddess, “She who is Seated,” which is an obvious allusion to Aset.

Further Reading

  • 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

 

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