– from The Book of the Dead. ‘It’s Your Funeral’.

You’ve heard of The Egyptian Book of the Dead. It doesn’t exist. What I mean by that is.. there isn’t a single definitive piece of text called The Book of the Dead. There are several, even many, old papyruses which describe, depict, explain or speculate hopefully on the nature of death, the afterlife, the land of the dead, what happens to you when you die, what happens to your body, your soul. The most famous of these is the Papyrus of Ani. It is not the oldest but it has survived and been much studied to the point that it now considered as a kind of default Egyptian Dead Book.

Ani lived in ancient Egypt in about 1250 BCE. In his time it was custom to be buried along with scrolls of papyrus on which were written ancient spells. These would protect you in your post mortal journey to ensure you would join the gods in the heavenly eternal pantheon, rather than being thrown back into the tortures of animal hell.

Ani’s scribes prepared for him and his death event, not just some written spells, but an enormous roll of papyrus containing 37 images of different and specific post death events…fighting enemies, placating gods, rituals, the recital of song-poems, encounters with heavenly spirits and dangerous deadly animals. Some of the content is based on older myths which had become part of the fabric of ancient Egyptian belief, but equally a lot of it is made up by Ani and his scribes more out of hopes for his fate and wishful thinking.

Of the 37 images only one of them takes place outside the realm of the dead, in our own ‘real’ world as it were. That is the form of the funeral itself. Since this would be based on their own experience of holding funerals at that time, we can say that it is probably the most accurate portrayal in Ani’s entire papyrus. We know that the body was mummified.When preparing a corpse for mummification, first they would insert a hook through the nose and pull out the brain. Then the sides of the torso would be cut open and the organs removed and placed in receptacles called canopic jars, which would stand next to the mummified corpse. The four jars were governed by different deities as follows…

Imset (human) contained the liver.

Hapi (the ape or baboon) contained the lungs

Duamatef (the jackal) contained the stomach

Kebechsenef (the falcon) contained the intestines.

The corpse was then dried out with natrum.

However special attention would be given to the heart which was considered to be the seat of the mind. It would be weighed against a feather in the Land of the Dead by Thoth and Anubis, and it had better not weigh more!

Here is a contemporary view of the ancient Egyptian funeral event.

About makmedthemiller

multidiscipline artist
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