The Journey to Eternal Life After Death
In order to enter its second life, the body had to be reunited with the spritual elements which had previously animated it. In other words, it had to be preserved. The destruction of the body was a serious matter - there was an impossibility of ressurection. To guard against such an evil, from the Old Kingdom onwards, replicas of the dead, either statues or 'reserved heads', were placed in tombs of kings and noblemen. These served as magical replacements of a destroyed or damaged body.
Death was viewed as a simple transition from one life to the next. However, as simple as it sounds, a person had to go through a series of tests and confessions before he becomes an immortal.
|A funerary statue (left) and reserved head (right). The name of the deceased was inscribed on the statue, since name was thought to be imbued with life once it was written down.|
The Opening of The Mouth Ritual
|Immediately before it was placed in the tomb, the mummified body, already resting in its coffin, was raised up in front of the door to the tomb where it was given the "breath of life" by means of a ritual known as the 'Opening of the Mouth" ceremony. Magically brought to life, the mummy was then presented with various offerings of food and deposited in the tomb, which will be its "dwelling place for millions of years".|
|The adze (above) had a spiritual purpose of breathing life into the corpse's mouth during the Opening of the Mouth ritual.|
In the second life, which began immediately after burial, the jackal-headed god, Anubis, guardian of the kingdom of the dead, led the dead person to receive judgement in the presence of Osiris, the ruler of the underworld. During the judgement, the dead person was obliged to declare himself innocent of a whole series of crimes against the gods and against humanity, proclaiming (among other things):
'I have not added to the weight of the scales. I have not taken away milk from the mouths of children. I have not driven away cattle which were upon their pastures.'
The Weighing of the Heart
Next came the "Weighing of the Heart" or psychostasia. The heart, on one side of the balance, shoul be as light as a feather (the symbol of Maat, the embodiment of truth and justice), but if it proved too heavy, which means the persons crimes outweighed his good deeds, Ammit the Gobbler would consume and consign the dead person to a second, but eternal, death. Thoth, the god of wisdom and knowledge, recorded the result of the weighing process in the presence of Osiris and other attendants.
|An illustration from the Book of the Dead, showing the dead person (left) being led to judgement by Anubis and (right) standing before Osiris. (In the centre) The weighing of the heart ceremony - the heart on the left scale and the feather on the right.|
The Journey Through the Underworld
As a guide on the journey through the underworld, the person had a copy of the Book of the Dead on a roll of papyrus which was placed inside the coffin, on the mummy itself or in a box serving as the pedestal to a statue of Osiris. This papyrus was illustrated with scenes constituting of a map of the afterlife. It also contained magical formulas intsructing the dead person on how to overcome the obstacles that lay ahead and how to find the kingdom of the blessed.