Ancient Egyptians: Afterlife

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Ancient Egyptians: Afterlife

The ancient Egyptians believed in an afterlife. The afterlife was a heavenly place, complete with a heavenly Nile River. The ancient Egyptians called this heavenly place the land of the Two Fields. 

In the beginning, only pharaohs could board Ra's magical boat and travel to the land of the Two Fields, to dwell forever in the afterlife. But the god Osiris changed that. One of the reasons that Osiris was such a famous and important god in ancient Egypt is that Osiris opened the door to the afterlife to everyone.  

Just dying would not get to you the land of the Two Fields. You had to earn a place in Ra's boat. To board Ra's boat, your heart had to be light.

To keep your heart light, the ancient Egyptians believed you had to spend a lifetime doing good deeds.

Crime was very low in ancient Egypt because someday, after a good life spent by the Nile, everyone wanted to board Ra's boat and travel to the land of the Two Fields to enjoy their afterlife. 

There were a couple of other requirements you had to satisfy before you could spend eternity in the afterlife.  

  1. First, you had to pass the test of heart in the Hall of Maat. That got you onboard Ra's boat. 

  2. But you also had to have your name written down somewhere. 

  3. And you had to have a preserved body. 

Why? Because the ancient Egyptians believed that everyone had a soul. They called the soul by two names - the Ba and the Ka. As the story goes, the Ba returned during the day to watch over the living family, while the Ka flew off to enjoy life in the land of the Two Fields. At night, both the Ba and the Ka flew home to their tomb, to rest and prepare for the next heavenly day.   

If something happened to your preserved body, or if your name was not written down somewhere, the Ba and Ka would get lost and you would disappear, no longer able to reach your afterlife.

That's why grave robbing was the most horrible crime in ancient Egypt. Grave robbers not only stole someone's wealth, they stole their chance to live happily ever after in the land of the Two Fields. 

The Weighing of the Heart:

People in most ancient civilizations were afraid of their gods. This was not true in ancient Egypt. The Egyptians loved their gods. They had little fear and great wonder. 

There was one exception - the god Ammut. Almost everyone in ancient Egypt was afraid of Ammut! Ammut was the Devourer. The ancient Egyptians believed if you did something bad, your heart would be heavy, and the god Ammut could suddenly appear and gobble you up! 

The god Ammut had a big part in the weighing of the heart ceremony. When you died, the ancient Egyptians believed you traveled to an afterlife, a heavenly place where you spent eternity. You had to earn your way. There were rules. To enter your afterlife, you had to have a light heart. Light hearts were earned from a lifetime of doing good deeds. 

To find out if your heart qualified for the trip to the afterlife, your spirit had to enter the Hall of Maat. The god Anubis weighed your heart. The god Thoth recorded the findings. (In ancient Egypt, everything was recorded and written down.)

If your heart was light, lighter than a feather, you passed the test and entered your afterlife.

BUT, if your heart was heavy because your deeds were dreadful, the god Ammut would suddenly appear ... and eat you up!

No one wanted that, so nearly everyone in ancient Egypt did good deeds to keep their heart light. 

Source: Ancient Egypt for Kids

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