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Weighing the Heart in the Balance

“From the extract from the Chapter of Sekhet-Aaru and Sekhet-hetepet given above, it is quite clear that the followers of Osiris hoped and expected to do in the next world exactly what they had done in this, and that they believed they would obtain and continue to live their life in the world to come by means of a word of power; and that they prayed to the god Hetep for dominion over it, so that they might keep it firmly in their memories, and not forget it.

This is another proof that in the earliest times men relied in their hope of a future life more on the learning and remembering of a potent name or formula than on the merits of their moral and religious excellences. From first to last throughout the chapter there is no mention of the god Osiris, unless he be the “Great God” whose birthplace is said to be in the region Unen-em-hetep, and nowhere in it is there any suggestion that the permission or favour of Osiris is necessary for those who would enter either Sekhet-Aaru or Sekhet-hetep.

This seems to indicate that the conceptions about the Other World, at least so far as the “realms of the blest” were concerned, were evolved in the minds of Egyptian theologians before Osiris attained to the high position which he occupied in the Dynastic Period. On the other hand, the evidence on this point which is to be deduced from the Papyrus of Ani must be taken into account.

At the beginning of this Papyrus we have first of all Hymns to Ra and Osiris, and the famous Judgment Scene which is familiar to all. We see the heart of Ani being weighed in the Balance against the symbol of righteousness in the presence of the Great Company of the Gods, and the weighing takes place at one end of the house of Osiris, whilst Osiris sits in his shrine at the other.

The “guardian of the Balance” is Anubis, and the registrar is Thoth, the scribe of the gods, who is seen noting the result of the weighing. In the picture the beam of the Balance is quite level, which shows that the heart of Ani exactly counterbalances the symbol of righteousness.

This result Thoth announces to the gods in the following words, “In very truth the heart of Osiris hath been weighed, and his soul hath stood as a witness for him; its case is right (i.e., it hath been found true by trial) in the Great Balance. No wickedness hath been found in him, he hath not purloined the offerings in the temples, (Ani was the receiver of the ecclesiastical revenues of the gods of Thebes and Abydos, and the meaning here is that he did not divert, to his own use any portion of the goods he received) and he hath done no evil by deed or word whilst he was upon earth.”

The gods in their reply accept Thoth’s report, and declare that, so far as they are concerned, Ani has committed neither sin nor evil. Further, they go on to say that he shall not be delivered over to the monster Amemet, and they order that he shall have offerings, that he shall have the power to go into the presence of Osiris, and that he shall have a homestead, or allotment, in Sekhet-hetepet for ever.

We next see Ani being led into the presence of Osiris by Horus, the son of Isis, who reports that the heart of Ani hath sinned against no god or goddess; as it hath also been found just and righteous according to the written laws of the gods, he asks that Ani may have cakes and ale given to him, and the power to appear before Osiris, and that he may take his place among the “Followers of Horus,” and be like them for ever.

Now from this evidence it is clear that Ani was considered to have merited his reward in Sekhet-hetepet by the righteousness and integrity of his life upon earth as regards his fellow-man, and by the reverence and worship which he paid to every god and every goddess; in other words, it is made to appear that he had earned his reward, or had justified himself by his works. Because his heart had emerged triumphantly from its trial the gods decreed for him the right to appear in the presence of the god Osiris, and ordered him to be provided with a homestead in Sekhet-hetep.

There is no mention of any repentance on Ani’s part for wrong done; indeed, he says definitely, “There is no sin in my body. I have not uttered wittingly that which is untrue, and I have committed no act having a double motive [in my mind].” As he was troubled by no remembrance of sin, his conscience was clear, and he expected to receive his reward, not as an act of mercy on the part of the gods, but as an act of justice.

Thus it would seem that repentance played no part in the religion of the primitive inhabitants of Egypt, and that a man atoned for his misdeeds by the giving of offerings, by sacrifice, and by worship. On the other hand, Nebseni is made to say to the god of Sekhet-hetep, “Let me be rewarded with thy fields, O Hetep; but do thou according to thy will, O lord of the winds.”

This petition reveals a frame of mind which recognizes submissively the omnipotence of the god’s will, and the words “do thou according to thy will” are no doubt the equivalent of those which men of all nations and in every age have prayed–“Thy will be done.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, The Egyptian Heaven and Hell, 1905, pp. 49-52.

Getting Laid in the Afterlife

“The texts inscribed on them contain extracts from the Heliopolitan Recension of the Book of the Dead, of which we know so much from the selections given in the Pyramids of Unas, Teta, and other kings, but side by side with these are copies of chapters belonging to Books of the Dead, which seem to have been originally composed at some anterior period, and which were intended to reflect the more popular and more materialistic religious views and beliefs.

Among such books must be mentioned the “Book of Two Ways,” or the “Two Ways of the Blessed Dead,” of which a version inscribed on a coffin in the Berlin Museum has been recently published. (Schack-Schackenburg, Das Buch von den Zwei Wegen des Seligen Toten, Leipzig, 1903).

The rubrical directions of this work show that it was compiled when implicit belief existed in the minds of the Egyptians as to the efficacy of certain “words of power” (hekau ) and of pictures of the gods, and it is clear that many portions of it are purely magical, and were intended to produce very material results. Thus concerning one passage a rubric says, “Whosoever knoweth this Chapter may have union with women by night or by day, and the heart (or, desire) of the woman shall come to him whensoever he would enjoy her.”

This rubric follows a text in which the deceased is made to pray for power of generation similar to that possessed by the god Beba, and for the will and opportunity of overcoming women, and it was to be written on a bandlet which was to be attached to the right arm. Moreover, the soul which had knowledge of certain sections of the work would “live among the living ones,” and would “see Osiris every day,” and would have “air in his nostrils, and death would never draw nigh unto him.”

The illustrations which accompany the texts on the coffins from Al-Barsha make it evident that under the XIth Dynasty the Egyptian theologian had not only divided the Under-world in his mind into sections, with doors, &c., but that he was prepared to describe that portion of it which belonged to the blessed dead, and to supply a plan of it!”

E.A. Wallis Budge, The Egyptian Heaven and Hell, 1905, pp. 12-4.

The Hidden Gate of Isis and Nephthys

Chapter XIV.

The Gate of Sebi and Reri.

The Twelfth Division of the Tuat.

HAVING passed through the Eleventh Division of the Tuat, the boat of the sun arrives at the gateway TESERT-BAIU, which is the last that he will have to pass through before emerging in heaven in the light of a new day.

“This great god cometh forth to this gate, this great god entereth through it, and the gods who are therein acclaim the great god.”

The gateway is like that through which the god passed into the previous Division; at the entrance to the gate proper stands a bearded mummied form called PAI, and at its exit stands a similar form called AKHEKHI.

The corridor is swept by flames of fire, which proceed from the mouths of uraei, as before. In the space which is usually guarded by a number of gods stand two staves, each of which is surmounted by a bearded head; on one head is the disk of TEM, and on the other a beetle, the symbol of Khepera.

The text which refers to these reads:

“They stand up on their heads, and they come into being on their staves by the gate; the heads stand up by the gate.”

The monster serpent which stands on its tail and guards the one door is called SEBI, and the two lines of text which refer to his admission of Ra read, “He who is over this door openeth to Ra. SA saith unto Sebi, ‘Open thy gate to Ra, unfold thy portal to Khuti, so that he may come forth from the hidden place, and may take up his position in the body of NUT.’

Behold, there is wailing among the souls who dwell in Ament after this door hath closed,” &c.

The monster serpent which stands on its tail and guards the other door is called RERI, and the two lines of text which refer to his admission of Ra read,

“He who is over this door openeth to Ra. SA saith unto RERI, ‘Open thy gate to Ra, unfold thy portal to KHUTI, so that he may come forth from the hidden place, and may take up his position in the body of Nut.’

Behold, there is wailing among the souls who dwell in Ament after this door hath closed.”

The text, being similar to that which refers to SEBI, is not repeated here.

On each side of the door is a uraeus, the one representing Isis and the other NEPHTHYS, and of them it is said, “They it is who guard this hidden gate of Ament, and they pass onwards in the following of this god.”

Here we see that the end of the Tuat is reached, and the boat of the sun has reached that portion of it through which he is about to emerge in the waters of Nu, and thence in the form of a disk in the sky of this world.

Having passed on to the water the boat is supported by the two arms of Nu himself, or, as the text says, “These two arms come forth from the waters, and they bear up this god.”

The god appears in the boat in the form of a beetle, which is rolling along a disk; on the left of the beetle is Isis, and on the right Nephthys. The three beings in the front of the boat are probably the personifications of doors, and the gods to the left are SEB, SHU, HEK, HU, and SA, In the hieroglyphics at the top of the open space above the boat is written, “This god taketh up his place in the MATETET Boat [with] the gods who are in it.”

Away in the waters above, or beyond the boat, is a kind of island, formed by the body of a god, which is bent round in such a way that the tips of his toes touch the back of his head. On his head stands the goddess Nut, with her arms and hands raised and stretched out to receive the disk of the sun, which the Beetle is rolling towards her; the text says, “Nut receiveth Ra.”

The island formed by the body of the god is said to be Osiris, whose circuit is the Tuat.”


—E.A. Wallis Budge, The Short Form of the Book of Am-Tuat, The Summary of the Book of What Is In the Underworld, from The Book of Gates, 1905, pp. 302-306.

Horus Avenges Osiris

“[This scene representeth] what Horus doeth for his father Osiris. The enemies c (sic) who are in this scene have their calamities ordered for them by Horus, who saith unto them:—

“Let there be fetters on your arms, O enemies of my father, let your arms be tied up towards your heads, O ye who have no [power], ye shall be fettered [with your arms] behind you, O ye who are hostile to Ra. Ye shall be backed in pieces, ye shall nevermore have your being, your souls shall be destroyed, and none [of you] shall live because of what ye have done to my father Osiris; ye have put [his] mysteries behind your backs, and ye have dragged out the statue [of the god] from the secret place.

“The word of my father Osiris is maat against you, and my word is maat against you, O ye who have desecrated (literally, laid bare) the hidden things which concern the rest (or, resting-place) of the Great One who begot me in the Tuat. O ye shall cease to exist, ye shall come to an end.”‘

“Horus saith:–‘[O] my serpent KHET, thou Mighty Fire, from whose mouth cometh forth this flame which is in my Eye, whose undulations are guarded by [my] children, open thy mouth, distend thy jaws, and belch forth thy fires against the enemies of my father, burn thou up their bodies, consume their souls by the fire which issueth from thy mouth, and by the flames which are in thy body.

“My divine children are against them, they destroy [their] spirits, and those who have come forth from me are against them, and they shall never more exist. The fire which is in this serpent shall come forth, and shall blaze against these enemies whensoever Horus decreeth that it shall do so.’

Whosoever knoweth how to use words of power [against] this serpent shall be as one who doth not enter upon his fiery path.”

The end of this text on the sarcophagus of Seti I. is defective, but from the tomb of Rameses VI. we see that it should end thus:—

“Offerings shall be made to these gods who are upon this great serpent. Their food is of bread, their drink is of tesher beer, and the waters of their libations are cool.”

—E.A. Wallis Budge, The Short Form of the Book of Am-Tuat, The Summary of the Book of What Is In the Underworld, from The Book of Gates, 1905, pp. 219-236.

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