The Twelfth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The final hour completes the rebirth and regeneration of the sun and life. “In the freshness of the morning, “the sky is gold, the water lapis lazuli, the earth is strewn with turquoise”. [p 140, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife.]

The World-Encircler from the previous hour is shown on the ground. It is ready to receive the solar barque with all of the gods and the dead. They travel through the serpent’s spine to be rejuvenated. The Sungod is transformed into the scarab-headed god, Khepri, and is lifted in the horizon by the arms of Shu.

The lower register show the primeval gods of the Ogdoad as they work to assist in the act of creation. They are drawn beside the eight gods of the oars. The final depiction of the final hour ends with a jubilation at the regeneration of both Re and Osiris. Osiris is depicted in mummiform and is attested that while he may have to remain within the netherworld, he is awaiting the next return of the sun.

The Book of Gates

And so finally, we have come to the final hour and the conclusion.

The sun god has finally arrived for his impending rebirth, ready to enter the gateway to the day beyond:

The mystery of sunrise, into which the dead are here inducted, unfolds in several individual scenes, beginning in the upper register with gods who “carry the blazing light,” which is represented concretely by the sun disks in their hands. Stars again prefigure the appearance the sun, while goddesses seated atop serpents surround the solar child.

Before the sun god’s solar barque, A/pep is rendered immobile and tied up. It is depicted to show that it is unable to prevent the upcoming rebirth of the sun from continuing. Behind this, four baboons announce the sun god at the horizon. The lowest register shows symbols of power, crowns specifically, which are to be worn while leaving the netherworld. Isis and Nephthys, symbolized by uraei, guard the final gate.

The conclusion of this book is not divided into registers. The whole course of the sun is condensed into a single image. “Half hidden in the depths, the god Nun raises the solar barque out of the primeval waters, which are indicated by wavy lines. In the barque, the sun, in the form of a soaring scarab beetle, is embraced by Isis and Nephthys, while he betel pushes the sun disk toward the sky goddess Nut, who receives the god Re.” [p64, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

All three of the interior spaces of the cosmos are thus contained in this complex representation: the primeval waters, the height of the heavens, and the depths of the earth (the netherworld). From above and below, arms are stretched toward the sun, arms that hold it and move it through these cosmic spaces, day after day.

The Book of Night

The name of the gateway for this final hour is “She Who Repels the Destructive Ones”. This hour is associated with Nut’s thighs as the sun rolls down towards her feet. The hour itself is named “She Who Sees the Beauty of Re” and the solar barque continues to be towed forward. The guide is another crocodile-headed deity known as, “The Primordial One of the Lower Sky”.

Ma’at stands before Re and offers him up the sign of life, the ankh, to symbolize his rebirth. The solar barque sales upon the primeval waters of the Nun, and it is through these waters that the inundation occurs again, only this time bringing forth the sun into the new day.

Though it may seem as if everyone may attain the moment of rebirth, it is possible that not all will make it even in this hour. Standing in the upper register of this hour is “He Who Causes Enemies to be Forgotten”, ready to ensnare the travelers so that their living memory is forgotten and annihilating all traces of their life.

In the lower register stand “He Who Judged According to His Knowledge”, “He Who Severs Heads”, “Frightening of Face”, and the “Trapper in the Sky”. The nets of the trapper are waiting to trap those who are opposed to the way of the sun-boat, those who may try to stop the solar barque from moving forward into the turbulent final hour of rebirth.

An image of a potter’s wheel is shown near Nut’s vulva. The potter’s wheel stands on a sledge and upon the wheel is a scarab beetle with a stream of liquid coming forth from its head. The liquid flows down toward the hieroglyph for the sky, which is supported by another scarab beetle. Beneath the beetle is a seated child. Kneeling before the potter’s wheel are two gods of the Ogdoad, Huh and Hauhet, the two known as Endlessness.

Beneath Nut’s feet stand Nephthys and Isis, hands held aloft beneath the sun. They are the midwives of this hour, helping to bring forth the sun, supporting the newborn sun when he comes forth from Nut’s body.

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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