Egyptian Afterlife

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Egyptian Afterlife

Ka: non-solid duplicate of body; lifeforce; eat/drink in afterlife; if not united with body via proper rites or judgment, restless spirit forever

Ba: spirit self attached to body; can wander mortal world [ghost?]

Akh: conjoined Ba & Ka, post-judgment; immortal blessed spirit

Egyptians believed the afterlife was dangerous to the soul; mummification process was ritualized protection & provision for the soul [preserve body to unify soul]

Many ancient peoples practiced mummification [dried, wrapped dead bodies] as a religious/ burial ritual, including the Inca, Chinese, & Egyptians. Mummies can happen by accident in low humidity[early Egypt], cold [preserved Ice Age people/animals], or in lack of air[space].

Egyptian mummification ritual took 70 + days.

  1. dehydrate body with natron [ancient combination of salt & baking soda]; removed organs to be placed in canopic jars, except heart since they believed that was where the soul lived; drain liquids from body; wash body with wine, stuff body cavity with natron [40 days]

  2. final preparations: remove natron, wash body with wine, apply oils & gold resin [both prevented insects, also Egyptians believed that the gods were gold-colored]; wrapped with bandages & amulets with prayers -30 days

  3. ritual reanimation of mummified corpse: priests spoke spells & prayers; ritually touched each part of the body to "reanimate" it

  4. burial: 3 wooden coffins- innermost was fanciest [gold, gems, etc.] with a djed pillar carved on it, second was plain, with a goddess and scarab beetle carved; third was often a stone sarcophagus for the wealthy, and had prayers carved and a jackal resting on top; canopic jars [contained deceased's organs, topped with figures representing the "Four sons of Horus"], shabtis, other possessions and food were buried for use in the afterlife

shabti: little statues/ figurines intended to do the dead person's work in the afterlife

early Egypt, only Pharaoh could have akh, & Paradise

later, only Pharaoh automatically got into Paradise; noble depended on royal favor to get in; commoners led a bleak, shadowy non-existence

latest -see below

Duat/ Underworld ruled by Osiris [Anubis in some versions]-after death the soul went through trials in Duat before it could be unified into akh

  1. pass through a series of gates guarded by gods or dangerous spirits with knives. The Egyptian Book of the Dead was a written set of ritual & spells used to defeat those spirits and pass through each gate -different for everyone

  2. declaration of innocence in Hall of Ma'at -in front of Osiris and 40+ companion gods, Anubis, Thoth [record-keeper], Ma'at [as feather], and Ammit the soul had to specify that it DID NOT COMMIT a list of several sins

  3. weighing of the soul -deceased's heart/ soul were placed on scales against Ma'at's feather of truth; if scales were even, ba & ka unified into akh; if uneven, soul consumed by Ammit [or thrown into lake of fire next to her in some versions] and undergoes second death

Aaru -Egyptian Paradise; Ka of Nile; depicted in east [Eden? Fertile Crescent?]; ideal hunting/ fishing ground

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