Men Attaining the Form of the Radiance of Ra

by Esteban

“Elsewhere it is ordered that the boat of Râ be painted “in a pure place,” and in the bows is to be painted a figure of the deceased; but Râ was supposed to travel in one boat (called “Âtet “) until noon, and another (called “Sektet”) until sunset, and provision had to be made for the deceased in both boats.

How was this to be done? On one side of the picture of the boat a figure of the morning boat of Râ was to be drawn, and on the other a figure of the afternoon boat; thus the one picture was capable of becoming two boats. And, provided the proper offerings were made for the deceased on the birthday of Osiris, his soul would live for ever, and be would not die a second time. (Ibid., p. 212).

According to the rubric to the chapter (i.e., CXXX) in which these directions are given, the text of it is as old, at least, as the time of Hesepti, the fifth king of the Ist dynasty, who reigned about B.C. 4350, and the custom of painting the boat upon papyrus is probably contemporaneous.

The two following rubrics from Chapters CXXXIII. and CXXXIV., respectively, will explain still further the importance of such pictures:–

1. “This chapter shall be recited over a boat four cubits in length, and made of green porcelain [on which have been painted] the divine sovereign chiefs of the cities; and a figure of heaven with its stars shall be made also, and this thou shalt have made ceremonially pure by means of natron and incense.

And behold, thou shalt make an image of Râ in yellow colour upon a new plaque and set it at the bows of the boat. And behold, thou shalt make an image of the spirit which thou dost wish to make perfect [and place it] in this boat, and thou shalt make it to travel about in the boat [which shall be made in the form of the boat] of Râ; and he shall see the form of the god Râ himself therein.

Let not the eye of any man whatsoever look upon it, with the exception of thine own self, or thy father, or thy son, and guard [this] with great care. Then shall the spirit be perfect in the heart of Râ, and it shall give unto him power with the company of the gods; and the gods shall look upon him as a divine being like unto themselves; and mankind and the dead shall fall down upon their faces, and he shall be seen in the underworld in the form of the radiance of Râ.”

E.A. Wallis Budge, Egyptian Magic, London, 1901. Pp. 111-2.