The Egyptian Book of the Dead

Home > Egyptian Book of the Dead

The Kingdom of Osiris.

According to the Book of Gates and the other "Guides" to the Egyptian Under World, the Kingdom of Osiris formed the Sixth Division of the Tuat; in very early times it was situated in the Western Delta, but after the XIIth dynasty theologians placed it near Abydos in Upper Egypt, and before the close of the Dynastic Period the Tuat of Osiris had absorbed the Under World of every nome of Egypt. When the soul in its beautified or spirit body arrived there, the ministers of Osiris took it to the homestead or place of abode which had been allotted to it by the command of Osiris, and there it began its new existence. The large vignette to the CXth Chapter shows us exactly what manner of place the abode of the blessed was. The country was flat and the fields were intersected by canals page 31of running water in which there were "no fish and no worms" (i.e., water snakes). In one part of it were several small islands, and on one of them Osiris was supposed to dwell with his saints. It was called the "Island of Truth," and the ferry-man of Osiris would not convey to it any soul that had not been declared "true of word" by Thoth, Osiris and the Great Gods at the "Great Reckoning." The portion of the Kingdom of Osiris depicted in the large Books of the Dead represents in many respects a typical Egyptian farm, and we see the deceased engaged in ploughing and reaping and driving the oxen that are treading out the corn. He was introduced into the Sekhet Heteput (a section of the Sekhet Aaru, i.e., "Field of Reeds," or the "Elysian Fields") by Thoth, and there he found the souls of his ancestors, who were joined to the Company of the Gods. One corner of this region was specially set apart for the dwelling place of the aakhu, i.e., beautified souls, or spirit-souls, who were said to be seven cubits in height, and to reap wheat or barley which grew to a height of three cubits. Near this spot were moored two boats that were always ready for the use of the denizens of that region; they appear to have been "spirit boats," i.e., boats which moved of themselves and carried the beautified wheresoever they wanted to go without any trouble or fatigue on their part.

The Elysian Fields of the Egyptians.

The Elysian Fields of the Egyptians.

[From the Papyrus of Ani, Brit. Mus., Pap. No. 10470.]

How the beautified passed their time in the Kingdom of Osiris may be seen from the pictures cut on the alabaster sarcophagus of Seti I, now preserved in Sir John Soane's Museum in Lincoln's Inn Fields. Here we see them occupied in producing the celestial food on which they and the god lived. Some are tending the wheat plants as they grow, and others are reaping the ripe grain. In the texts that accompany these scenes the ears of wheat are said to be the "members of Osiris," and the wheat plant is called the maāt plant. Osiris was the Wheat-god and also the personification of Maāt (i.e., Truth), and the beautified lived upon the body of their god and ate him daily, and the substance of him was the "Bread of Everlastingness," which is mentioned in the Pyramid Texts. The beautified are described as "Those who have offered up incense to the gods, and whose kau (i.e., doubles, or persons) have been washed clean. They have been reckoned up and they are maāt (i.e., Truth) in the presence of the Great God who destroyeth sin." page 32Osiris says to them, "Ye are truth of truth; rest in peace." And of them he says, "They were doers of truth whilst they were upon earth, they did battle for their god, and they shall be called to the enjoyment of the Land of the House of Life with page 33Truth. Their truth shall be reckoned to them in the presence of the Great God who destroyeth sin." Then addressing them again Osiris says, "Ye are beings of Truth, O ye Truths. Take ye your rest because of what ye have done, becoming even as those who are in my following, and who direct the House of Him whose Soul is holy. Ye shall live there even as they live, and ye shall have dominion over the cool waters of your land. I command that ye have your being to the limit [of that land] with Truth and without sin." In these passages we have the two conceptions of Osiris well illustrated. As the Wheat-god he would satisfy those who wished for a purely material, agricultural heaven, where hunger would be unknown and where the blessed would be able to satisfy every physical desire and want daily; and as the God of Truth, of whom the spiritually minded hoped to become the counterpart, he would be their hope, and consolation, and the image of the Eternal God.

Home | Contents | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 |

images from the Egyptian Book of the Dead