The Sixth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

We have finally come to the hour when Ra and Osiris can unite as we approach the hour of midnight. The sixth hour is known as the “waterhole of those of the netherworld” as the hour is filled with the primeval waters of the Nun. This is the hour where the ba-soul of the Sungod, of Ra, is joined together with the corpse of Osiris and the light of the sun is rekindled. It is here, too, that Ra is reunited with both of his eyes.

The upper register depicts Osiris in an aspect of a couchant lion, called “Bull with Roaring Voice.” Above the lion, we see a set of eyes that are named the divine eye of Re. The text reads: “The Bull with roaring voice rejoices when Re rests upon his divine eye.” Behind the lion and the pair of divine eyes, we see Isis in her form of Isis-Tayt sitting upon a throne.

When the Ba of Re rests upon his divine eyes above the divine lion-bull, which is Osiris, it is like a union of the two divinities. In this very moment of the union of Re and Osiris, the divine eye of the sungod appears for the first time as a part of eyes. This pair is still very small but already seeing; it will appear again larger in the 11th hour. The Amduat describes at different places the theme of the appearance, protection, and restoration of the eyesight, or in other words the creation of consciousness.

Within the middle register, we see Djehuty in his baboon-headed form, offering himself off in his ibis form to a goddess. Within the goddess’s hands, she holds the two eyes of Re.

The myriad kings of Upper and Lower Egypt are addressed within this hour, within this register. This is the only time that they are mentioned within the Duat. The kings are shown in mummiform and must face their predecessors. “Just before the creation of the new light at the end of the middle register of this 6th hour, the Sungod addresses his ancestors. They are nourished and strengthened by it: ‘you are those who are content with the offerings which divine utterance has given to you.’ And they in turn are those who render homage o the Sungod on earth, and have punished A/pep.” [p 83, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat.]

Towards the end of the middle register, the corpse of the sun with a beetle above its head is depicted. It is protected by a multi-headed serpent. This is “the mysterious image of the netherworld, unknown and unseen”. The image is described as the body and flesh of Osiris with the beetle depicting the ba-soul of the Sungod, Ra. It is this image that depicts the reunion of the soul and body within this hour so that new life can grow and rise again.

In the very bottom register, multiple beings are depicted. Most interestingly are the many serpents towards the edge of the scene wielding knives as though to protect the Sungod from some future enemy that will come upon him on his journey forward.

The Book of Gates

Preceding the Sixth Hour, there is a depiction of the judgment hall shown. This is “the only depiction of the Judgment of the Dead in the Books of the Netherworld, and it is also distinguished by the use of cryptographic writing. As judge, Osiris sits enthroned on a stepped dais while the personified scale in front of him, unlike that in the Book of the Dead, displays empty pans. An Ennead of blessed, justified dead stand on the steps, and the enemies lying invisibly under their feet are consigned to the Place of Annihilation.” [p 62, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

The sixth hour depiction within this book is not unlike that seen within the Amduat. It is here, within this hour, that the reunification of the body of the Sungod and the ba-soul commences. “So that this critical event is not interfered with, the archfiend A/pep must be kept at a distance, a feat being accomplished by the gods holding forked poles in the upper register; from the serpent’s body rise the heads of people A/pep has swallowed and is now obliged to set free again.” [p 62, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

The Book of Caverns

Prior to the opening of this section, there is a long text that contains thirteen litanies. “One more, the goal of the sun god is to gaze on his corpse and effect the resurrection of Osiris-Imenrenef, “he whose name is hidden.’.” [p 89, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

The first scene in this section shows Anubis taking care of various corpses, which lie within their sarcophagi. Anubis is shown within the next scene as well, as he tends to the sun god within the god’s sarcophagus. Behind the sun god’s sarcophagus rests two more. In the third scene, there are two goddesses watching over the various forms of the sun god. The final scene shows Osiris-Orion stopping over a mound that holds the body of a bound and decapitated enemy.

The middle register starts with the image of a scarab beetle, which is pushing the sun disk out from between the two mysterious caverns of the West. These caverns contain Osiris and Ra. The text accompanying this section references the rebirth of the sun god. The final scene of this register depicts a threat to this rebirth: “represented as the great serpent encircling the solar beetle; the ‘two old and great gods in the Duat,’ shown in the two ovals see to it that the serpent is placed under a spell and cut into pieces. By way of contrast, the serpent inside the mound in the third scene seems to be a regenerating one, for Re emerges from the mound in the form of a ram’s head and tarries on the mound of Tatenen, which contains the tomb of this god of the depths of the earth.” [p 90, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

On the continuing journey forward, Ra meets first with two sarcophagi that contain falcon-headed deities, while the next scene shows headless gods awaiting restoration of their heads by the ability to speak thus into being by Ra. The lower scene shows, yet again, those being punished in the Place of Annihilation:

In the first scene, goddesses arms with knives “take care of” four supine beheaded figures whose heads are set in front of their feet along with the hearts that have been torn from their bodies; according to the caption, their bas and shadows are also punished. The second scene contains four bound female enemies guarded by two goddesses with jackals’ heads; Re has condemned these enemies “to the Place of Annihilation, from which there is no escape.” In the third scene, a god and a goddess guard four kneeling bound enemies whose heads have been cut off. In the last scene, enemies plunge headfirst into the depths, while Osiris, surrounded by the great serpent, arises from these depths, which are again the Place of Annihilation.

The Book of Night

The gateway into the sixth hour is simply named, The Lady of Life, thus highlighting the life-giving function of the upcoming hour. The night barque is guided forward by Horus on the Tree, “the capacity to manifest power, not least sexual power and movement, has returned to the bodies of the ‘image’ realm.” [p 128, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.] This hour appears to be associated with the lungs.

The lowest register shows a woman between two men. Each being hovers over a mummy, which is lying on top of a lion bed. The imagery evokes the idea of the ba hovering over its own body. The accompanying texts reads: “The living Bas are sailing, the corpses are sailing in their places.” This imagery gives the Cliff’s Notes version of what this hour is about: the ba is back.

For it is the ba which enables a person to manifest feeling and desire outwardly towards others. Likewise, it is the ba which facilitates movement between heaven and earth.

Moreover, reference to the ‘sailing bas‘ suggests that wind, the breath of life so necessary for human existence, has reached these regions. Now the ba is able to move between heaven and earth. No longer partially bound as in the fifth hour, the night travelers can travel freely with the sun.

With the return of the ba, the heart is fully functional.

Beside the images of the sailing Bas, we see a group of three known as the “Wandering Ones.” They are shown bent over with their hair covering their faces, hands reached up towards their faces in the symbolic imagery of one in the midst of mourning. In front of these three wandering ones, we are shown three furnaces that have flames shooting forth. Within some of the scenes of this hours, bound enemies can be seen being burned.

Across from this scene, three more people in the same position as The Wandering Ones are shown. These three people may be known as the “Seizers”. Next to these three, we see three more people lying on their back with their hands upraised. These ones are known as “Those at the Limits”. As Roberts states regarding these seemingly oddly places scenes: “For these night travelers are passing through the flames of new birth, encountering the fiery destruction and heat from which new life arises.” [p 135-6, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.]
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

One thought on “The Sixth Hour.

  1. Pingback: The Sixth Month & The Sixth Hour. | Mystical Bewilderment

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