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|Ancient Egyptian religion|
The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul (kꜣ and bꜣ; Egypt. pron. ka/ba) was made up of many parts. In addition to these components of the soul, there was the human body (called the ḥꜥ, occasionally a plural ḥꜥw , meaning approximately "sum of bodily parts").
According to ancient Egyptian creation myths, the god Atum created the world out of chaos, utilizing his own magic (ḥkꜣ).Because the earth was created with magic, Egyptians believed that the world was imbued with magic and so was every living thing upon it. When humans were created, that magic took the form of the soul, an eternal force which resided in and with every human. The concept of the soul and the parts which encompass it has varied from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom, at times changing from one dynasty to another, from five parts to more. Most ancient Egyptian funerary texts reference numerous parts of the soul:
Collectively, these spirits of a dead person were called the Akh after that person had successfully completed its transition to the afterlife.Egyptologist R. David, at the University of Manchester, explains the many facets of the soul as follows:
The ẖt (Egyptological spelling: khet), or physical form, had to exist for the soul (kꜣ/bꜣ) to have intelligence or the chance to be judged by the guardians of the underworld. Therefore, it was necessary for the body to be preserved as efficiently and completely as possible and for the burial chamber to be as personalized as it could be, with paintings and statuary showing scenes and triumphs from the deceased's life. In the Old Kingdom, only the pharaoh was granted mummification and, thus, a chance at an eternal and fulfilling afterlife. By the Middle Kingdom, all dead were afforded the opportunity.Herodotus, an ancient Greek scholar, observed that grieving families were given a choice as to the type and or quality of the mummification they preferred: "The best and most expensive kind is said to represent [Osiris], the next best is somewhat inferior and cheaper, while the third is cheapest of all."
Because the state of the body was tied so closely with the quality of the afterlife, by the time of the Middle Kingdom, not only were the burial chambers painted with depictions of favourite pastimes and great accomplishments of the dead, but there were also small figurines ( ushabti s) of servants, slaves, and guards (and, in some cases beloved pets) included in the tombs, to serve the deceased in the afterlife.
Before a person could be judged by the gods, they had to be "awakened" through a series of funerary rites designed to reanimate their mummified remains in the afterlife. The main ceremony, the opening of the mouth ceremony, is best depicted within Pharaoh Seti I's tomb. All along the walls and statuary inside the tomb are reliefs and paintings of priests performing the sacred rituals and, below the painted images, the text of the liturgy for opening of the mouth can be found.This ritual which, presumably, would have been performed during interment, was meant to reanimate each section of the body: brain, head, limbs, etc. so that the spiritual body would be able to move in the afterlife.
If all the rites, ceremonies, and preservation rituals for the ẖt were observed correctly, and the deceased was found worthy (by Osiris and the gods of the underworld) of passing through into the afterlife, the sꜥḥ (sah; spiritual representation of the physical body) forms. This spiritual body was then able to interact with the many entities extant in the afterlife. As a part of the larger construct, the ꜣḫ, the sꜥḥ was sometimes seen as an avenging spirit which would return from the underworld to seek revenge on those who had wronged the spirit in life. A well-known example was found in a tomb from the Middle Kingdom in which a man leaves a letter to his late wife who, it can be supposed, is haunting him:
|jb (F34) "heart"|
An important part of the Egyptian soul was thought to be the jb (ib), or heart.
In the Egyptian religion, the heart was the key to the afterlife. It was essential to surviving death in the nether world, where it gave evidence for, or against, its possessor. Like the physical body (ẖt), the heart was a necessary part of judgement in the afterlife and it was to be carefully preserved and stored within the mummified body with a heart scarab carefully secured to the body above it to prevent it from telling tales. According to the text of the Books of Breathing :
It was thought that the heart was examined by Anubis and the deities during the Weighing of the Heart ceremony. If the heart weighed more than the feather of Maat, it was immediately eaten by the monster Ammit, and the soul became eternally restless.
The kꜣ (ka) 𓂓 was the Egyptian concept of vital essence, which distinguishes the difference between a living and a dead person, with death occurring when the kꜣ left the body. The Egyptians believed that Khnum created the bodies of children on a potter's wheel and inserted them into their mothers' bodies. Depending on the region, Egyptians believed that Heqet or Meskhenet was the creator of each person's kꜣ, breathing it into them at the instant of their birth as the part of their soul that made them be alive. This resembles the concept of spirit in other religions.
The Egyptians also believed that the kꜣ was sustained through food and drink. For this reason food and drink offerings were presented to the dead, although it was the kꜣ within the offerings that was consumed, not the physical aspect. In the Middle kingdom a form of offering tray known as a soul house was developed to facilitate this.The kꜣ was often represented in Egyptian iconography as a second image of the king, leading earlier works to attempt to translate kꜣ as double.
In the Old Kingdom private tombs, artwork depicted a "doubleworld" with essential people and objects for the owner of the ka. As Ancient Orient Curator Andrey Bolshakov explains: "The notion of the ka was a dominating concept of the next life in the Old Kingdom. In a less pure form, it lived into the Middle Kingdom, and lost much of its importance in the New Kingdom, although the ka always remained the recipient of offerings." (p 181)
The bꜣ (Egyptological pronunciation: ba) 𓅽 was everything that makes an individual unique, similar to the notion of 'personality'. In this sense, inanimate objects could also have a bꜣ, a unique character, and indeed Old Kingdom pyramids often were called the bꜣ of their owner. The bꜣ is an aspect of a person that the Egyptians believed would live after the body died, and it is sometimes depicted as a human-headed bird flying out of the tomb to join with the kꜣ in the afterlife.
In the Coffin Texts, one form of the bꜣ that comes into existence after death is corporeal—eating, drinking and copulating. Egyptologist Louis Vico Žabkar argues that the bꜣ is not merely a part of the person but is the person himself, unlike the soul in Greek, or late Judaic, Christian or Muslim thought. The idea of a purely immaterial existence was so foreign to Egyptian thought that when Christianity spread in Egypt, they borrowed the Greek word ψυχήpsychē to describe the concept of soul instead of the term bꜣ. Žabkar concludes that so particular was the concept of the bꜣ to ancient Egyptian thought that it ought not to be translated but instead the concept be footnoted or parenthetically explained as one of the modes of existence for a person.
In another mode of existence the bꜣ of the deceased is depicted in the Book of the Dead returning to the mummy and participating in life outside the tomb in non-corporeal form, echoing the solar theology of Ra uniting with Osiris each night.
The word bꜣw (baw), plural of the word bꜣ, meant something similar to "impressiveness", "power", and "reputation", particularly of a deity. When a deity intervened in human affairs, it was said that the bꜣw of the deity were at work.
A person's shadow or silhouette, šwt (shut), is always present. Because of this, Egyptians surmised that a shadow contains something of the person it represents. Through this association, statues of people and deities were sometimes referred to as shadows.
In a commentary to The Egyptian Book of the Dead (BD), Egyptologist Ogden Goelet, Jr. discusses the forms of the shadow: "In many BD papyri and tombs the deceased is depicted emerging from the tomb by day in shadow form, a thin, black, featureless silhouette of a person. The person in this form is, as we would put it, a mere shadow of his former existence, yet nonetheless still existing. Another form the shadow assumes in the BD, especially in connection with gods, is an ostrich-feather sun-shade, an object which would create a shadow."
Little is known about the Egyptian interpretation of this portion of the soul. Many scholars define sḫm (sekhem) as the living force or life-force of the soul which exists in the afterlife after all judgement has been passed. It is defined in a Book of the Dead as the "power" and as a place within which Horus and Osiris dwell in the underworld.
As a part of the soul, a person's rn ( 𓂋 𓈖 'name') was given to them at birth and the Egyptians believed that it would live for as long as that name was spoken, which explains why efforts were made to protect it and the practice of placing it in numerous writings. It is a person's identity, their experiences, and their entire life's worth of memories. For example, part of the Books of Breathing , a derivative of the Book of the Dead , was a means to ensure the survival of the name. A cartouche often was used to surround the name and protect it. Conversely, the names of deceased enemies of the state, such as Akhenaten, were hacked out of monuments in a form of damnatio memoriae . Sometimes they were removed in order to make room for the economical insertion of the name of a successor, without having to build another monument. The greater the number of places a name was used, the greater the possibility it would survive to be read and spoken.
The ꜣḫ "(magically) effective one" (p 7)was a concept of the dead that varied over the long history of ancient Egyptian belief. Relative to the afterlife, akh represented the deceased, who was transfigured and often identified with light.
It was associated with thought, but not as an action of the mind; rather, it was intellect as a living entity. The ꜣḫ also played a role in the afterlife. Following the death of the ẖt (physical body), the bꜣ and kꜣ were reunited to reanimate the ꜣḫ.The reanimation of the ꜣḫ was only possible if the proper funeral rites were executed and followed by constant offerings. The ritual was termed s-ꜣḫ "make (a dead person) into an (living) ꜣḫ". In this sense, it developed into a sort of roaming ghost (when the tomb was not in order any more) during the Twentieth Dynasty. An ꜣḫ could do either harm or good to persons still living, depending on the circumstances, causing e.g., nightmares, feelings of guilt, sickness, etc. It could be invoked by prayers or written letters left in the tomb's offering chapel also in order to help living family members, e.g., by intervening in disputes, by making an appeal to other dead persons or deities with any authority to influence things on earth for the better, but also to inflict punishments.
The separation of ꜣḫ and the unification of kꜣ and bꜣ were brought about after death by having the proper offerings made and knowing the proper, efficacious spell, but there was an attendant risk of dying again. Egyptian funerary literature (such as the Coffin Texts and the Book of the Dead ) were intended to aid the deceased in "not dying a second time" and to aid in becoming an ꜣḫ.
Ancient Egyptians believed that death occurs when a person's kꜣ leaves the body. Ceremonies conducted by priests after death, including the "opening of the mouth (wp r)", aimed not only to restore a person's physical abilities in death, but also to release a Ba's attachment to the body. This allowed the bꜣ to be united with the kꜣ in the afterlife, creating an entity known as an ꜣḫ.
Egyptians conceived of an afterlife as quite similar to normal physical existence – but with a difference. The model for this new existence was the journey of the Sun. At night the Sun descended into the Duat or "underworld". Eventually the Sun meets the body of the mummified Osiris. Osiris and the Sun, re-energized by each other, rise to new life for another day. For the deceased, their body and their tomb were their personal Osiris and a personal Duat. For this reason they are often addressed as "Osiris". For this process to work, some sort of bodily preservation was required, to allow the bꜣ to return during the night, and to rise to new life in the morning. The complete ꜣḫs were also thought to appear as stars.Until the Late Period, non-royal Egyptians did not expect to unite with the Sun deity, which was reserved for royals.
The Book of the Dead , the collection of spells which aided a person in the afterlife, had the Egyptian name of the Book of going forth by day. They helped people avoid the perils of the afterlife and also aided their existence, containing spells to ensure "not dying a second time in the underworld", and to "grant memory always" to a person. In the Egyptian religion it was possible to die in the afterlife and this death was permanent.
The tomb of Paheri, an Eighteenth Dynasty nomarch of Nekhen, has an eloquent description of this existence, and is translated by James Peter Allen as:
Your life happening again, without your ba being kept away from your divine corpse, with your ba being together with the akh ... You shall emerge each day and return each evening. A lamp will be lit for you in the night until the sunlight shines forth on your breast. You shall be told: "Welcome, welcome, into this your house of the living!"
Anubis, also known as Inpu, Inpw, Jnpw, or Anpu in Ancient Egyptian is the god of death, mummification, embalming, the afterlife, cemeteries, tombs, and the Underworld, in ancient Egyptian religion, usually depicted as a canine or a man with a canine head.
Ancient Egyptian religion was a complex system of polytheistic beliefs and rituals that formed an integral part of ancient Egyptian culture. It centered on the Egyptians' interactions with many deities believed to be present in, and in control of the world. Rituals such as prayer and offerings were provided to the gods to gain their favor. Formal religious practice centered on the pharaohs, the rulers of Egypt, believed to possess divine powers by virtue of their positions. They acted as intermediaries between their people and the gods, and were obligated to sustain the gods through rituals and offerings so that they could maintain Ma'at, the order of the cosmos, and repel Isfet, which was chaos. The state dedicated enormous resources to religious rituals and to the construction of temples.
Osiris is the god of fertility, agriculture, the afterlife, the dead, resurrection, life, and vegetation in ancient Egyptian religion. He was classically depicted as a green-skinned deity with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive atef crown, and holding a symbolic crook and flail. He was one of the first to be associated with the mummy wrap. When his brother, Set, cut him up into pieces after killing him, Isis, his wife, found all the pieces and wrapped his body up, enabling him to return to life. Osiris was widely worshipped until the decline of ancient Egyptian religion during the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire.
The veneration of the dead, including one's ancestors, is based on love and respect for the deceased. In some cultures, it is related to beliefs that the dead have a continued existence, and may possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Some groups venerate their direct, familial ancestors. Certain sects and religions, in particular the Eastern Orthodox Church and Roman Catholic Church, venerate saints as intercessors with God; the latter also believes in prayer for departed souls in Purgatory. Other religious groups, however, consider veneration of the dead to be idolatry and a sin.
The Duat is the realm of the dead in ancient Egyptian mythology. It has been represented in hieroglyphs as a star-in-circle: 𓇽. The god Osiris was believed to be the lord of the underworld. He was the first mummy as depicted in the Osiris myth and he personified rebirth and life after death. The underworld was also the residence of various other gods along with Osiris.
In ancient Egyptian religion, Apis or Hapis, alternatively spelled Hapi-ankh, was a sacred bull worshiped in the Memphis region, identified as the son of Hathor, a primary deity in the pantheon of ancient Egypt. Initially, he was assigned a significant role in her worship, being sacrificed and reborn. Later, Apis also served as an intermediary between humans and other powerful deities.
Babi, also Baba, in ancient Egyptian religion, was the deification of the hamadryas baboon, one of the animals present in ancient Egypt. His name is usually translated as "bull of the baboons", roughly meaning "chief of the baboons".
The Book of the Dead is an ancient Egyptian funerary text generally written on papyrus and used from the beginning of the New Kingdom to around 50 BCE. The original Egyptian name for the text, transliterated rw nw prt m hrw, is translated as Book of Coming Forth by Day or Book of Emerging Forth into the Light. "Book" is the closest term to describe the loose collection of texts consisting of a number of magic spells intended to assist a dead person's journey through the Duat, or underworld, and into the afterlife and written by many priests over a period of about 1,000 years. Karl Richard Lepsius introduced for these texts the German name Todtenbuch, translated to English as Book of the Dead.
The Amduat is an important ancient Egyptian funerary text of the New Kingdom of Egypt. Like many funerary texts, it was found written on the inside of the pharaoh's tomb for reference. Unlike other funerary texts, however, it was reserved only for pharaohs or very favored nobility.
Canopic jars were used by the ancient Egyptians during the mummification process, to store and preserve the viscera of their owner for the afterlife. They were commonly either carved from limestone, or were made of pottery. These jars were used by the ancient Egyptians from the time of the Old Kingdom, until the time of the Late Period or the Ptolemaic Period, by which time the viscera were simply wrapped and placed with the body. The viscera were not kept in a single canopic jar: each jar was reserved for specific organs. The term canopic reflects the mistaken association by early Egyptologists with the Greek legend of Canopus – the boat captain of Menelaus on the voyage to Troy – "who was buried at Canopus in the Delta where he was worshipped in the form of a jar". In alternative versions, the name derives from the location Canopus in the western Nile Delta near Alexandria, where human-headed jars were worshipped as personifications of the god Osiris.
Mummy: The Resurrection is a role-playing game released by White Wolf Game Studios on March 19, 2001, where the players assume the role of resurrected mummies living in the modern world. Mummy: The Resurrection introduces the Amenti, a new style of mummy instead of those presented in earlier World of Darkness products.
The ancient Egyptians had an elaborate set of funerary practices that they believed were necessary to ensure their immortality after death. These rituals included mummifying the body, casting magic spells, and burials with specific grave goods thought to be needed in the afterlife.
The Coffin Texts are a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary spells written on coffins beginning in the First Intermediate Period. They are partially derived from the earlier Pyramid Texts, reserved for royal use only, but contain substantial new material related to everyday desires, indicating a new target audience of common people. Coffin texts are dated back to 2100 BCE. Ordinary Egyptians who could afford a coffin had access to these funerary spells and the pharaoh no longer had exclusive rights to an afterlife.
The offering formula, also known under transliterated forms of its incipit as the ḥtp-ḏỉ-nsw or ḥtp-ḏj-nswt formula was a conventional dedicatory formula found on ancient Egyptian funerary objects, believed to allow the deceased to partake in offerings presented to the major deities in the name of the king, or in offerings presented directly to the deceased by family members. It is among the most common of all Middle Egyptian texts.
Fascination with death has occurred throughout human history, characterized by obsessions with death and all things related to death and the afterlife.
Animal mummification was common in ancient Egypt. They mummified various animals. Animals were an enormous part of Egyptian culture, not only in their role as food and pets, but also for religious reasons. They were typically mummified for four main purposes: to allow beloved pets to go on to the afterlife, to provide food in the afterlife, to act as offerings to a particular god, and because some were seen as physical manifestations of specific deities that the Egyptians worshipped. Bastet, the cat goddess, is an example of one such deity. In 1888, an Egyptian farmer digging in the sand near Istabl Antar discovered a mass grave of felines, ancient cats that were mummified and buried in pits at great numbers.
A funerary cult is a body of religious teaching and practice centered on the veneration of the dead, in which the living are thought to be able to confer benefits on the dead in the afterlife or to appease their otherwise wrathful ghosts. Rituals were carried on for the benefit of the dead, either by their relatives or by a class of priests appointed and paid to perform the rites. These rituals took place at the tombs of the dead themselves or at mortuary temples appointed to this purpose. Funerary cults are found in a wide variety of cultures.
Ancient Egyptian afterlife beliefs were centered around a variety of complex rituals that were influenced by many aspects of Egyptian culture. Religion was a major contributor, since it was an important social practice that bound all Egyptians together. For instance, many of the Egyptian gods played roles in guiding the souls of the dead through the afterlife. With the evolution of writing, religious ideals were recorded and quickly spread throughout the Egyptian community. The solidification and commencement of these doctrines were formed in the creation of afterlife texts which illustrated and explained what the dead would need to know in order to complete the journey safely.