The Tenth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The upper register shows the cure and protection of the solar eyes. These eyes are marked in red and are cared for by two goddesses. Beside this imagery, we find eight Sekhmet deities (four with human heads) and eight images of Djehuty in monkey-form, holding the restored eye within his hand.

The middle register shows twelve guardians of the solar god who protect him from his enemies. The first four guardians carry an arrow, the next four carry a spear, and the final group of four are shown carrying a bow. The texts indicate that they accompany the Sungod throughout the entire twelve hour journey of the night and during the twelve hours of the day.

The lowest register shows the regenerating water of the Nun. This region is known as “with deep water and high banks”. There are bodies within this watery rectangle floating in various positions until Horus assists them with coming ashore. He prevents them from decomposing although these deceased beings were not provided a standard burial. They share the same fate as Osiris.

Here we have the consoling part of the Amduat, that even those who – by a natural accident – do not have the benefit of ritual preparation for the afterlife are preserved by the divine intervention of Horus.

The Book of Gates

The central imagery of the Tenth Hour shows the battle between A/pep and the gods who fight against it. Fourteen deities hold nets within their grasp, lifted above their heads. Within the nets are magical power and lifting these nets seems to render A/pep immobile and defenseless. A single god, known as the Old One and possibly signifying Geb, ties A/pep up.

The register above and below this central scene show special forms of the sun god’s various manifestations. He appears as a griffin in the upper register, surrounded by two serpent deities who also focus on the attach of A/pep. A single rope connects the figures. The sun god’s form is that of a falcon, though it is referenced as Khepri. “The accompanying text mentions ’emergence’ and stresses that the journey is proceeding towards the sky.” [p. 64, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

The Book of Night

The tenth hour gateway is called “Lady of Fear”. The solar barque is guided through the gateway by a crocodile-headed deity, who is named “Good Fortune of His Mother”. The body parts of Nut that are related to this hour are the vulva, for this is when the rebirth of the new day truly begins.

In the upper register, there are a number of divine beings. One is “The One who Causes Breath”, who knows the secrets of divine utterance. There is also a divine being called “The One who nurtures his Father”. This relates to the Bull of His Mother epithet, meaning that the son has become the father. They have become unified.

When the two are experienced as one, complete and perfect in unity, so the divine nature is realizes whilst traveling onward to the place of dawn and pure light. Such a unity is also recognized in the text of the justified:

Those who adore Re on earth, and those who cense the gods in the Duat, will be in the following of this god.

The lower register shows two identical transfigured or justified ones, wearing the divine beard. These beings have become divine and their mummified bandages have been removed: “Your head-covering has been taken away, your bandages have been undone, and there will be no removal of your bread.” [p 156, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.] This passage seems to indicate that the mummification process is only needed for the first few hours; once we enter the tenth hour, the soul no longer is necessary for the deceased’s continued existence.

This hour is a place of memory, invoking images of one’s past and name:

During the tenth hour the essence of a person’s existence in experienced in the glorious state of unity reached through the heart. Empowered by memory at this sacred place of birth, the initiate comes to understand the mystery of totality in which all contrasts are subsumed, all opposites dissolved.

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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