The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]
We have entered an hour filled with danger. The light is young and unable to defend itself from evil; it must be kept safe at all costs. Within this hour, we see all manner of evil that try to stop the sun from continuing on its journey and to prevent the rejuvenation of Osiris.
The central imagery depicts the encounter with A/pep. Its body lies upon a sandbank and appears when the water the solar barque traveled on is swallowed up. It has dried up the waterway that the barque was using to travel on. It is only by the magic of Isis and the sun god that the solar barque and by extension, the sun god, is able to continue on the journey.
Isis and the “Eldest Sourcerer” (Seth), standing at the prow of the barque, cast a spell on him while the scorpion-goddess, Selkis, throws fetters around his body, which other helpers hack to pieces. To avert any further threat, the Sungod is henceforth protected by the Mehen-serpent (“The Enveloper”) around his shrine.
The upper register depicts the punishment that is inflicted on the enemies of Osiris, who have been bound and decapitated. Osiris sits enthroned before his injured enemies, protected by the Mehen-serpent. He sits aloft in judgment of the dead.
The lowest register shows the stars sent on their way to indicate the order has been re-established and A/pep can no longer disturb them. They move forward to share in the sun god’s renewal.
The Book of Gates
The primary focus for this hour is the destruction of any and all enemies that would possibly prevent the rebirth of the sun’s from being completed. Within the middle register, enemies of Re have been bound to the jackal-head “stakes of Geb” to be punished with Re providing his consent for this to continue.
Above this central image, groups of the blessed dead are shown. They are depicted with baskets filled with bread or with ma’at, to show that they have passed through the Hall of Judgement and are provided for in the afterlife. This imagery is a stark contrast with that shown in the middle register, as though to highlight the the difference between those who follow ma’at and those who fight against it.
In the bottom scene, deities and/or the deceased busy themselves with the work of providing for themselves. They are harvest the grain given fresh life in the rays of the renewed sun.
The Book of Caverns
This book ends at this juncture. The final section is a conclusion, of sorts. The imagery of this conclusion shows the two mounds from which the Sun God, Re, emerges. Gods rejoice on either side of these mounds and the solar barque is towed from sight by twelve underworld deities. “At the end of his journey, Re enters the eastern mountain, once again providing light for the world of the living.” [p 90, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]
The Book of Night
The gateway entrance to the Seventh Hour is known as “Lady of the Holy and Mysterious.” The hour itself is described as “Smiter of the Confederates of Seth.” This hour more than likely takes place in the liver of Nut, though this is far from concrete.
The register of this hour shows a multitude of companions standing above the sunboat in the middle register. They represent both existing and non-existence. Some of the beings’ names are “She who gives birth to her son”, “He who comes into being in the dark”, and “Iba-dancer”.
The lowest register depicts a variety of transfigured akh and the dead, who have been damned. Opposite this imagery stands Horus who leans upon a staff. He is watching over a group of bound captives that represent the traditional enemies of Egypt, as well as Egyptians who have fought against ma’at. He says to them, “You are the rebels who have bound my father Osiris. My father Osiris has caused that I should strike your enemies as Khenty-Irty. Hence it is he who strikes you.” [p 144, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.]
Beside the captives within this register, there are two groups known as “the People of the Desert” (Red Land) and “the People of the Black Land”. They stand together, united, before Horus to represent the unification of ancient Egypt as well as the reconciliation between Set and Horus after the Contendings.
- 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