The Eighth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The upper and lower registers are divided into five “caverns” or “vaults”. Gods and other beings are depicted within these spaces, each sitting enthroned on the hieroglyph for cloth or fabric. This is because the act of providing clothes for the deceased was an additional act of rebirth for the deceased. Each vault or cavern is enclosed by red-painted wooden doors. These doors are opened at the invocation of the solar god as it passes through the middle register of this hour.

In the middle register, the sun god is towed forward by eight gods. They call out to the god: “Come indeed to your images, our god, to your ‘Those who belong to the tomb’, who are in the West that you rest in your forms in the Great City. It is Re indeed, whom the cavern-dwellers reverse, when you illuminate the darkness of those upon their sand. Come indeed!, to yourself, that you may rest. Re, who is towed, Lord of Towing!” [p. 102, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge for the Afterlife.]

Before the towing gods there are nine Shemes-signs, which are symbols personifying the jurisdiction of the Sungod. In addition, they are joined by the four rams of Tatenen, which bear the head-dresses of the Sungod. These images of Tatenen are representative forms of Ra as Ra is not only a ba-soul of Osiris, but also the ba-soul of Tatenen.

The Book of Gates

The hour begins with a depiction of time, spooled out hour by hour. This same rope is being used to guide the solar barque forward. In the center register, Re commands the “lords of provisions in the west” to allocate all provisions for the deceased as well as to inflict even on his enemies. The mummies at the bottom of the hour have turned themselves over, showing that they are in the process of resurrection. A group of judges stands nearby, providing them with protection.

The Book of Night

The eighth hour is associated with Nut’s gall bladder. The gateway of this hour is known as “the Leader Who Fights for her Lord.” The guide for the sun boat during this hour is Horus of the Netherworld. This hour shows a distinctive change in the narrative for the remaining hours, with a seeming focus on the blessed dead.

The top register shows two jackal-headed gods standing with arms at their side. Beneath these two are three additional gods standing as well. The middle register depicts the solar barque as it passes through this hour.

The lowest register shows an image of Horus providing an ankh to Osiris, who sits enthroned while wearing the White Crown of Upper Egypt. Directly above this image stands a multitude of people with their arms raised up in adoration to Osiris. These beings are the sleepers, awoken beings, and transfigured ones referenced in the second and third hours.

Beneath the throne of Osiris shows a bound enemy. This being is unnamed and is bound to keep hostile forces at bay in the presence of Osiris. This seems to indicate that if an enemy is to be brought before Osiris, it should always be bound to prevent a second death on him.

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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