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

The Ninth Hour.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The central imagery of this hour shows the crew of the solar barque, which are depicted in the middle register of this hour. There are twelve oarsmen shown. In front of them, there are three idols which are in charge of the provisioning of the dead with bread and beer.

The lower register also depicts gods that are associated with the provisioning of the deceased. These gods are the Field Gods and they hold large stalks of grain in their hands. They “cause all the trees and all the plants to be created.” [p 112, Abt & Hornung, Knowedge for the Afterlife.]

Behind the Field Gods, there are fire-spitting Uraeus serpents depicted sitting above the hieroglyph for cloth or fabric. These serpents are “those who spit fire for Osiris with the flame in their mouth… They are those who illuminate the darkness…” [p 112, Abt & Hornung, Knowedge for the Afterlife.]

The Book of Gates

The central imagery of the Ninth Hour shows the barque within a rectangle of water with images of drowned people within. The water represents the Nun and those adrift within the primeval water being refreshed by the regenerative properties of the water. Ra is depicted within, also taking in the renewal properties of the Nun.

The upper register shows a group of ba-souls who are being given bread and vegetables by people within the scene. The lower register depicts punishments for the enemies against Re. The Fiery One, a giant serpent with the Children of Horus standing upon its coils, spew fire at the enemies. Horus condemns these pictured enemies for what they have committed against his father.

The Book of Night

The gateway of the ninth hour is named “She Whose Flame is Painful.” The solar barque is guided forward by “This Ba“. The hour is related to Nut’s intestines, “the place in the body where food is digested and non-assimilable elements rejected.” [p153, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother]

The ninth hour celebrates the shining countenance of Osiris and those who have been transfigured: “O shining rampart, hear the words of the underworld dwellers. Tend to the needs of those who are in the Duat.” [p150, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother].

Sia commands all beings within this hour, directing them forward. Those who have been transfigured have been ordered to come forth from the inundation waters to receive their offerings. Those who have been transfigured heartily reply to Sia that they have done no harm while within the confines of the Duat. Sia also indicates that all wrong-doers will not be able to see the light of Osiris.


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

The Calendar Conundrum.

Seven years ago, I created my own religious calendar. At the time, I was not confident in my abilities to figure out when Wep Ronpet was and knew that I was getting into something that I felt uncomfortable with. I was terrified I was going to Fuck It Up.

Guess what?

I absolutely did.

I spent an hour comparing dates back and forth. I thought the heliacal rising of Sirius was at the end of July; it was actually in August. I had done all of that hard work to then only have the wrong day listed for my new year celebration. I figured out that I had screwed it up a few months after I had already entered my holidays into my Google calendar. I decided to just suck it up and celebrated my WR on the 30th of July.

My celebrations were earlier than most other Kemetics, but I was remarkably okay with all of it. Even though I had gotten the timeframe wrong, it didn’t negate the joy I felt when I thought I had figured it all out. It didn’t make the Intercalary Days any less chaotic (placebo effect maybe) and it didn’t negate my celebrations at all. It just meant that 7/30 was the date of Sat’s calendar renewal.

It was earlier this year that Ptah said to me, “you know… we could make some adjustments now. You’ve made the backbone of festivities that I wanted; why don’t we revisit your calendar?” Since I knew I would be moving and my religious path has long since changed from what it looked like seven years ago, I figured it couldn’t hurt.

I decided to revisit this under the assumption that I wanted the heliacal rising of Sirius out of Memphis. It made sense to me at the time. My primary gods are Ptah and Sekhmet; why not start there?

Ptah seemed pleased with the notion; or at least he made no overt request for me to cease and desist. I went out and purchased a cheap $1 calendar since I found it easier to write things out than to start updating my Google calendar and went to town.

After finding the new date of my Wep Ronpet, I filled the whole calendar with every possible festival I could dream of wanting in my religious calendar. I combed through every inch of the Daybook, notating festivals for my current gods, for gods I might one day care about, and everything in between. I figured that when I sat down to update my Google calendar, I could add notes and comments, questions about what I thought the holiday meant.

I was on fire and feeling particularly pleased with myself. For once in my life, I had finished doing something well and truly in advance. I was on such a high horse of positive sentiment about my success that I carefully tucked my $1 calendar away to update my Google calendar later. I had months to go before Wep Ronpet and I, for once, was ahead of the curve.

Until I forgot where I carefully tucked away that $1 calendar. The one, single place I had made my notes. The one I had accidentally spilled coffee on one fine morning and moved it to a much safer place than the end table. That calendar that had me feeling so very, very pleased with myself.

I honestly have no clue where it went.

The day I was packing up the last of my books before we moved, I realized it was missing. I tore apart the whole living room under the seeming idea that I was packing things away, but in fact I was searching for that damn $1 calendar. It was absolutely nowhere to be found. And I even lifted couches and ripped apart cushions in the hopes that it would appear, but I was disappointed all over again.

After the move, I griped to Ptah about it. I said clearly, “if that calendar was to be mine, help me find it now.”

And. It. Never. Appeared.

I decided that having to find a new Wep Ronpet date wouldn’t be so bad. I could spend time making sure that I got the Memphis date correct, but when I went to enter the coordinates for Memphis, the website wouldn’t load. I gave it a day and tried again, but met with the same type of error.

When I thought about it, I realized that using Memphis probably wasn’t the best idea. Ptah was mostly silent on the matter; I had to fly solo on it. While I did experience trouble putting in my new address, it was easy to bypass those issues to get what I needed. I problem solved until I has yet another new date for my new year celebration.

I asked Ptah about it later, worried anew that I had messed it up again. He told me to stop being a whiny brat and move on. I figured he was tired of me complaining about it, or maybe it was because I had already messed this up once without any major problems. What would it matter if I did it again?

This time, I chose two methods to catalogue my holidays. I used the same method as before, a simple $1 calendar for quickly scribbled notes, but I also wrote them down in a day planner. I wasn’t going to run into the same problems a second time and now, so close to the new year.

Ptah seems remarkably happy with what I’ve done so far, though I am sorely missing my Google calendar notifications. I have to actually look now to know what holiday (of many) is occurring on any given day. And I didn’t have room for all of the notes I was hoping to add eventually, which means I will probably jettison the planner idea after 2020 is over to go back to something that bugs me with alerts and has more space for notes on a day with 9 different holiday possibilities.

When I asked Ptah why I couldn’t use the Memphis calendar I had compiled, he was finally able to give me an answer. He said, “the old is gone; the old was forgotten. We’re forging ahead towards the future, or did you forget that part?”

I hadn’t, not really.

Still. It would have been nice to know that before I lost the calendar I had worked so hard on.

Further Reading

  1. The Calendar Project

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

The Seventh Hour.

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.

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

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

The Fifth Hour.

The fourth hour was associated with elemental powers, however that power was turned inward. As the beings passing through the night hours onto their way to the next phase of their existence, they had to jump-start their own abilities or the ability of the gods to ensure a successful rebirth.

The fifth hour is an hour of dichotomies: green, or ma’at-affirming, behavior in conjunction with a reminder as to what punishments lie ahead for those who deserve them.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

This hour is separated into three registers. Although they are three distinct scenes, they are connected with the middle scene formed by Osiris’ burial mound. To either side of the mound, Isis and Nephthys are depicted in the forms of birds. Within this hour, we finally come to the Nun, the primordial water of life. This is an area of opposites, an area of fire and water, desert and watered land.

The top register towards the middle, Khepri is shown coming out of Osiris’s burial mound. “He is obviously needed to help the ram-headed form of the old Sungod to adjust the rope of the otwing over the head of this cavern. It is just a fine adjustment, as there is no tension in the rope. There is a very subtle cooperation of the half renewed Sungod (the scarab) with the ram-headed old Sungod that is pulled by the deities, heading towards his renewal.” [p 69, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat.]

The middle register depicts a passage that is shown as narrow because of the head of Isis at its center. The Sungod must negotiate this narrow portion of the land of Sokar carefully. The barque is pulled forward by seven goddesses. it is here, within the body of Isis, that we are shown that she holds the elements at bay. It is through her that both water and fire, desert and primordial water are both kept apart and merged together in their aspects within the journey of rebirth.

In the lowest register, a cave is shown surrounded by both water and desert, fire and water. Within the circular indication of the cave, Osiris in his form of Sokar is shown having been merged with the Sungod in a form of a winged, multi-headed serpent. Around the cave, the double headed motif of Aker is shown.

Beneath the lowest register, the Lake of Fire is shown as waves. This is the place where sinners are punished, but the blessed dead are able to drink cool waters from this same lake. Though paradoxical in nature, this too highlights the coming together of opposites within this hour as the Sungod continues his journey forward.

The Book of Gates

Within this hour, the deceased are given space and time within this hour. Space is designated in the form of fields, with the gods showing being depicted with surveying cords, and time is depicted in the form of hieroglyphs meaning “lifetime”. In front of the solar barque, A/pep is shown imprisoned to prevent it from stopping the barque. Behind this image, the ba-souls of the deceased are shown, having been placed in the care of Sekhmet and Horus.

The Book of Caverns

This section begins with litanies that discuss the rejuvenation of the sun by Tatenen. Nut is depicted who is lifting the ram-headed sun and the solar disk in her upraised hands. She faces the three registers of this section.

The upper register shows the image of Osiris, whose hands reach out towards Ra, and four-human headed serpents. The next scene, Tatenen is lifted up by the corpses of Atum and Khepri. There are two sarcophagus following: both depict the form of Ra as a child.

The middle register shows four falcon-headed mummies, which are forms of Horus. Behind is Anubis in the form of a guardian and a coffin, which shows the scepter of Atum. This coffin with the scepter of Atum embodies the potential of creation, the potential of the sun god to create. Four more goddesses are shown towards the end of the register, anonymous and unknown.

The final register depicts the punishments meted out by “the female slaughterer carrying two stakes in her hands; two bound prisoners kneel next to her.” [p 88, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.] The next two scenes show enemies that are being punished in a large cauldron. The first cauldron holds the heads and hearts of these enemies while the second shows the bound and upside-down bodies of these enemies. “The ‘arms of the Place of Annihilation’ lift the cauldrons up out of the depths while uraei fan the flames beneath them.” [p 88, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.]

Opposite this scene, a large-scale image of Osiris is shown. He is depicted in ithyphallic form, along with his ba. A protective serpent rears up in front of him. “In the continuation of the three registers behind him, the oval containing the four ‘flesh’ hieroglyphs again refer to the corpse of Osiris, which is cared for by the light and the voice of Re, and which is at the same time addressed as his own body and his ‘decay’.” [p 88, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.] Beneath him, the goddess Tayt calls a greeting to Ra and Osiris.

The Book of Night

The fifth hour begins in the throat and breast region of Nut’s body. This area indicates that we have truly entered the “life-giving” realm on the journey through the hours of the night. This place within the body of the goddess is a transitional realm, filled with both life-affirming and chaotic elements.

At the bottom of the images of this house, we are shown bound enemies. Some of these figures are shown decapitated. They are named as “the followers of Seth,” which seems to indicate that these beings are the representations of those who have opposed the nightly process of renewal.

The living beings within this realm are shown in much better condition than those depicted in previous hours. The people are clearly depicted as living, breathing beings. They lie on their stomachs with raised heads. It is clear that within this hour, they are capable of movement and of basic life functions though they still have some ways to go before they are fully restored to themselves.

The imagery surrounding the beings within this hour also seems to suggest an association with plants. “The travelers’ newly-acquired ‘plant’ or ‘ka‘-nature is also visually suggested by the three groups of three people who are shown seated on plants to the right of them, sprouting and blooming again in this burgeoning, vivifying life realm, feeling the power of green shoots surging through their body.” [p 124, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.]

It is within this hour that power returns to the hearts of the beings passing through the body of Nut.

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


The Fourth Hour.

The third hour was an hour of elemental powers: either the powers of the gods and the chaos from the power that emanates from them or an internal struggle of one’s self as the soul moves forward in its attempt to be reborn. Above all else, the point in the previous hour was almost as if we need to battle ourselves or the gods themselves. No matter the outside influences or internal influences of the battle itself, the overall point was to come out the other side of it as a pure form of yourself.

The fourth hour is a mix of elemental power again, but that power is turned inwards.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The fourth hour heralds the entry into Rosetjau, or the Land of Sokar, who is upon his sand. The world has shifted from the abundant greenery and fertility of the preceding hour to a barren desert. A primordial darkness pervades the land of Rosetjau, a place filled with monsters. These beings are serpent-like with legs, wings, and several heads.

The waters of the Nun have receded and the netherworld can no longer be navigated upon the Nun. An absolute darkness precedes the solar barque within the sandy domain of this hour and the barque must be towed forward. The barque has turned itself into a double-headed serpent that pulses out a fiery breath that pierces the darkness:

This great god sails by them like this:
It is the flames from the mouth of his barque
That guide him on these mysterious ways,
without his seeing their images.

The registers of this hour are separated by a zigzag path, “full of fire from the mouth of Isis and repeatedly blocked by doors… The doors are called knife since they cut the way in several places.” [p58, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat.]

Ra, himself, no longer blazes forth with his shining light in this hour. He moves forever with diminished light, incapable of using his own light to wake those in their eternal slumber. He uses his voice, instead, to call out to those in the darkness: “Ra takes care of those who are in (this hour) with his voice without his seeing them.” [p58, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge of the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat.] The silence is absolute throughout this hour until Ra passes through, calling out orders to the beings of the Netherworld. Those who hear his voice cry out in joy when he arrives and weep at his leaving.

Within the center of this scene, the darkened eye has been injured because of the darkness of this hour and requires both Sokar and Djehuty to protect and renew it from the evil beings that inhabit the darkness of this hour. In addition to the work of these two gods, four deities holding the ankh of life out towards the Solar Eye. One of the deities depicted is that of Onuris, the god who brought the Distant Goddess back to the fold. While Ra is given life from these gods, so too are the deceased.

The Book of Gates

Two bodies of water guarded by jackals dominate the imagery of the fourth hour: the Lake of Life and the Lake of Uraei. Hornung posits that these two lakes may be variations of the Lake of Fire espied in the previous hour. As the solar barque moves forward, mummiform bodies lie before him in their journey forward to their own rebirth. As he passes, he brings about their resurrection and provisioning. Beneath the resuscitation of the mummies, Osiris lays enshrined in protective splendor, surrounded by the gods of his entourage. His son, Horus, takes care of him while the enemies of Osiris are punished in the fiery pits at the end of the hour.

The Book of Caverns

The beginning of this next section is shown again in replication of the first portion of the Duat: a solar disk and ram-headed sun god are depicted but this time, between them is an erect serpent. The name of this serpent is Great One on His Belly. As everyone rejoices at the entrance of the sun god, Ra assures promises to Osiris and his followers.

Nephthys and Isis are shown lifting the body of Osiris to initiate his resurrection. In the next scene, he is cared by his two “sons” [sic], Horus and Anubis. And in the last scene in the top register, he is depicted as the Bull of the West beside the god Horus-Mekhentienirty, the mongoose, who has taken the place of his son.

Beneath this section, the sun god is leaning on a staff and is presented with three separate forms of Osiris. In the next scene, Horus and Anubis stand protectively in front of the double corpse of Osiris and again in front of the ba of Osiris.

In the bottom most register, the enemies of Osiris are bound and standing on their heads. “Between them appear the ‘annihilators in the Place of Annihilation,’ with whom the ‘cat-formed one, from whose clutches there is no escape’ is associated as a punishing demon in the first scene.” [p87, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife.] The enemies, as further punishment for their sins, cannot see or hear the sun god and that their ba-souls have been robbed from them.

The Book of Night

The Fourth Hour gateway leads us to the throat of Nut. The barque is pulled forward now by He Who Divides the Offerings and the gateway itself is called: “Sharp of knives, Mistress of the Two Lands, who destroys the enemies of the Tired Heart (an epithet of Osiris), who arouses trembling before the Sinless One, who removes wrong-doing.” The names of both the guide and the gateway seem to herald a focus more on the protection of Osiris during this hour.

The hour itself is filled with a fertile and hilly region. Trees grow abundant within this hour and the terrain is filled with vegetation that grows and flourishes. The greening of this hour seems to indicate that the solar barque has finally entered into the life-giving, or ka-realm; a place where nourishment is easily obtained. Beings live on the banks and rivers surrounding this green-filled place, nameless and weeping:

To the left of the hill-sign are groups of people called “Those of the Banks”, “Those of the Shores” and “Those of the Riverside”, who all crouch forward with disheveled hair, and hands held to their faces in the gesture of mourning. Like the people of the fields and channel at the close of the previous hour, their names suggest they inhabit a canal-landscape belonging to the inundated land. And obviously, too, this transition to a fertile realm in the fourth hour is a time of some disorder and confusion.

Beyond these beings, fish-headed beings that are nameless appear. They have their arms tied behind their back. The explanation for these beings is not clear, but the prevailing theory is that these are the enemies of Osiris, those who sided with Set during the battle between the two brothers, who are being punished for their crimes. They, too, are shown as weeping.

The bound fish-headed creatures seem to indicate that while this hour is where life can be renewed, it is a constant battle to be able to move forward on the path to rebirth. On all sides, hostile forces roam free and must be fought against. It is, perhaps, because of the enemies of Osiris that the people also are shown weeping upon the banks of the river and canal:

They weep and mourn because of the terror and confusion in their aquatic habitation caused by the struggle with Sethian creatures. And it is along these disorderly ways that each and every human, each and every divine being, must travel in order to reach the fertile nurturing regions.

In the upper register of this hour, four deities are shown.

The first is a mummiform god known as the ‘Veiled One.’ “The ‘Veiled One’ perhaps refers to the concealment of death or wounds of Osiris – only initiates were allowed to see the weariness of Osiris, who must be protected from his enemies.” [p120, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.]

The second deity is a figure entitled Djed, ‘The One Who is Stable’. “Djed, (the Stable One) is an obvious allusion to the djed pillar and the raising of Osiris from the inertia and inactivity he has fallen into because of Seth’s wicked deeds against him.” [p120, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother.]

The final two deities are “The One-who-is-in-his-Shrine” and an enthroned goddess, “She who is Seated,” which is an obvious allusion to Aset.

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


The Third Hour.

The second hour of the afterlife journey heralds the moment when the sun god and the journeying soul truly enter into the afterlife. The overall view from this portion of the journey highlights the inertia one can experience within the first true hour of the journey: beings in sarcophagi or mummified litter the various books of the netherworld, highlighting that passiveness within will do nothing to allow beings to move forward.

The third hour comes across as an hour filled with elemental power, as we shall see.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

The flood waters of the Nun are highlighted again within this hour, now called the Water of Osiris. He is shown again and again within this hour, being seen four times in the White Crown and four more times in the Red Crown. In addition to Osiris within the crowns of Upper and Lower Egypt, two depictions of the Orion constellation, which was associated with him, are shown as well.

The flood waters of the Nun are a primary focus here, not merely because these waters grant the necessary moisture for crops and food to grow in the underworld. The floods from the Nun are chaotic but necessary, just as the inundation of the Nile was. It is through this hour that the old is dissolved in order to allow a renewal of the necessary fertility to feed the myriad denizens of the Netherworld.

The solar barque dominates the middle register of this hour, showing a total of four boats. Each boat shows Ra within, which “points to a fragmentation of the unity of the Sungod into four” [p49, Abt & Hornung, Knowledge for the Afterlife: The Egyptian Amduat – A Quest for Immortality]. Each boat depicts two oarsman to steer through the flood waters and a serpent for protection against the enemies of the solar deity.

While the seeming fragmenting of the solar god may seem counter-intuitive, Abt & Hornung go on to explain:

This dissociation is counterbalanced by four gods who approach the four barques from the right. Their names are Lord of water, Moor of the earth, He who sets the limits, and He who sees the limits. This points to their order-bringing function.

The overall point being that while this hour is full of chaos, it is a necessary chaos in order to fulfill the needed inundation for the underworld. To counteract this necessary chaos, to ensure that it doesn’t tip over into the realm of true isfet, four deities are brought forth to ensure that ma’at will prevail.

The Book of Gates

Mummiform beings are shown at the top of the register for this hour, however they are shown being awakened from their deaths. They grow animated within their shrine spaces. Within this register, the Lake of Fire is depicted. The Blessed Dead are able to use this Lake to equip themselves for the journey forward, however this very same Lake turn to fire for those who are damned.

The solar god is towed forward through this hour within the “barque of the earth.” He is also outfitted with clean, white clothes to symbolize his renewal. We also catch our first glimpse of A/pep, which is shown in its form of a giant serpent. This s/nake is in front of Atum, who is assisted in his need to overcome the s/nake to move forward.

The Book of Caverns

Ra passes through on his journey and is shown to enter an area where the ithyphallic body of Osiris resides beneath the god, Aker. Aker is depicted in his twinned sphinx form, being able to see both yesterday and tomorrow, while Osiris lays passively beneath him. Aker is surrounded by a myriad of gods of the Ennead. Above this depiction, the pharaoh is associated with Osiris on his journey to become one of the Blessed Dead.

Within the same area as the depiction of Aker, we come into contact with four forms of Osiris, all of whom are indicated to be “lords of the Duat.” Ra, in his form as an old man, addresses each one of them. Behind Aker, another form of Osiris is shown, this time within his sarcophagus. This form of Osiris is also shown with the eye of Ra and a ram’s head, surrounded by an ouroboros “and evidently stressing the unity of Re and Osiris; Osiris is depicted again, atop a serpent, as ‘the one who has become two’.” [p87, Hornung, The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife].

Beneath these forms, the enemies of the gods are shown in their punishments within the Place of Annihilation and within the primeval darkness. They are further punished when their bau are shown hanging upside down. Within the middle of these enemies, the ithyphallic form of Osiris’s corpse is again shown. He is also within the darkness as their enemies.

The Book of Night

The entrance to the Third Hour brings us to the uvula of Nut, or to the back of the mouth. The barque is guided forward by the “Bull of the Two Lands” through the gateway, which is called: “She who lights the fire, the quencher of embers, with sharp flames, quick in killing without hesitation. She from whom there is no protection. She by whom one cannot pass without harm. The one who rears up towards her lord.” It is in this hour that the deceased announces that he has become one of the Akh, having renewed himself within the previous hour.

Beings are depicted beneath the barque, in various phases of their transformations: the Awakened Ones, the Sleeping Ones, the Silent Ones, the Revived Ones, the Floating Ones, the Transfigured Ones, and the Shadows. In addition, there are beings of three who are named: Those of the Field and Those of the Channels. “Attracted towards waking and sleeping in the maternal arms, all are caught in various phases of the rebirth journey, deep in the inner recesses of the even-tide, just like Ihy” [p117, 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


The Second Hour.

The first hour of the afterlife journey heralds the moment when liminality has overtaken the sun god and the journeying soul as they move from one form of life to the next. I have personally come to view that first hour as a form of preparation, a sort of time period as brief as it may be, where one must bolster itself for the trip ahead.

The second hour begins as a journey through a named gateway and the journey in truth begins.

The Book of the Hidden Chamber [Amduat]

This hour grants us access to the underworld in truth. The area is a fertile region, watered by the primeval ocean of Nun. The area is known as Wernes in the Amduat. The solar barque is featured with four companion boats, which are filled with provisions for the journey ahead. The primary barque shows Nephthys and Isis as serpents, guarding the barque on its journey forward.

In the fourth boat, Ma’at appears as a feather supported by a god without a name. Beside the oversized feather, a moon is represented as both a lunar disc and lunar crescent. This representation of the moon is atypical of the afterlife. The moon is not usually shown as the sun is replacing the moon on its journey through the hours. The visual of the moon seems to by representative of the rejuvenation of time and of the dead.

Time is further represented with gods holding up the signs for time and season. These grouped gods are separated by a third group baring aloft knives. The gods holding the signs for time and season are ensuring that the timing of the season of the year follows the sequence it should. They are also ensuring that agricultural year of the netherworld provides for the deceased. The knife-wielding deities between protect both groups from anything that would prevent the above from happening.

This shows the cyclical nature of this hour. Ra provides for the gods and deceased of the underworld through his shining sunlight, ensuring the growth of the necessary agriculture to feed the underworld’s inhabitants. He also assigns them the plots of land they require to facilitate the growth of the produce the inhabitants need. In the same vein, the inhabitants are also providing for Ra as he roams through the hour, giving him sustenance in the fruits and vegetables they have grown in their plots of land.

The Book of Gates

The second hour for this book shows a myriad of inhabitants. Those who have spoken Ma’at and live in Ma’at have been transfigured into their forms as the Blessed Dead. Those who have not been transfigured are scolded by Atum. The four cardinal points of the earth are also represented as the “Weary Ones,” seeming to indicate that they too need regeneration.

The Book of Caverns

The guardian serpents of this area restrict access after which one is ushered towards multiple deities within sarcophagi. Further on, multiple forms of Wesir are shown, including his own sarcophagus. Beneath the many bodies of Wesir, we see bound and decapitated enemies, some of whom have had their hearts torn out and their bodies hung upside down. Ra condemns these enemies to non-existence, sending them to the Place of Annihilation.

The Book of Night

The entrance to the Second Hour brings us to Nut’s mouth and is heralded by a named Gateway. This Gateway is titled: “Lady of trembling, high of walls, pre-eminent one, Lady of destruction, who foresees aggression and repels the raging, who saves the robbed from the one who comes from afar. Lady of terror.” The guide through this gateway is known as Bull of Light.

There are nine mummiform figures within this hour, known as The Transfigured Ones, The Mummies, and The Dead. They rest upon lion beds and Sia watches over them, commanding: “Count your hearts, receive your offerings.”

Next to the mummiform figures, there are three more groups of people shown: two men with a woman in between. These beings are known as Inert Ones, Punished Ones, and Those of the Opposite Sky. They are either swimming or lying prone, stuck in various phases of the renewal process. They lie passively within this hour, allowing their lives to be surrendered to whatever fate has in store for them. Sia watches over these beings, commanding, “Measure your banks, lift up your legs.”

This hour is about nudging those who had not continued the rejuvenation process for one reason or another, and forcing them to reawaken themselves from their inert forms. They are being told that they must take command of their bodily functions rather than allow the inertia of this hour to overtake them.

The integration of the body is integral for this hour and the push is that in order to move forward, one must gradually reunite with one’s body parts to become fully rejuvenated. “Initially then, all the faculties of the body have to be renewed and the body gradually reunited with its different members. And this ‘gathering together’ serves as the secure foundation on which the whole journey ultimately rests. For it is only after their bodies have been renewed that the night travellers can proceed further in their journey”  [p116, Roberts, My Heart, My Mother].

The final note for this hour is that the recommendation is that one should embody Ihy as Ihy has experience with inertia and the Inert Ones. Ihy, the son of Hathor, endures as inert in the primal waters before being reborn as the radiant child of Hathor and Heru-Wer.


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