Ever seen Hollywood movies like The Mummy where they browse the “Book of The Dead” working a variety of magic? But what is the Book from the Dead? It of The Dead wasn't a collection text. It isn't canonized into scripture or a statement of religion or anything. Instead, it's a guide. It is a practical guide regarding how to navigate to the next world, with spells that will help one on one's journey.
Egypt is really a fascinating country with a rich past, there's so much more to it than simply the pyramids. It even has a lost sunken city called Heracleion or Thonis near Alexdrania.
What The Book from the Dead Was
The Book from the Dead is really a modern term for a assortment of magical spells that the Egyptians used to enable them to enter into the afterlife. They are perhaps not quite what you might expect. They considered the afterlife like a hazardous journey that one needs to take in to get to paradise.
- Collection: It had been A Collection of Magical Spells
- Hazardous: The Afterlife Was a Hazardous Journey
So to become able to make it right through to paradise, one would need some magical help on the way.
Being an old Egyptian book, it is also not really a bound “book” as you would imagine today. Instead, it is a roll of papyrus with lots and lots of spells written on it in hieroglyphic script. Learn a few of the Egyptian hieroglyphs and one could possibly have feeling of the “book”.
It's also rather colored – the written text comes with beautiful colored illustrations.
Only For that Rich
These papyrus rolls from the Book from the Dead would have been very expensive in ancient Egypt. So only wealthy, high-status people might have had them.
- Expensive: These were Rather Expensive
There were also different choices for those who were built with a higher or lower budget. If one would be a bit tight with money, you could get a ready-made papyrus that will have blank spaces for one's name to be designed in. Alternatively, if a person could spend a little more, you could likely choose which spells one wanted.
The Need For Spells Within the After Life
There were many types of spells, and some would ensure you could have control of one's body after death. They thought that everyone was composed of different elements: body, spirit, name, heart. They were afraid that on death, these components would disperse. In the end may say in English “don't lose your head” metaphorically, the Egyptians were quite literally scared of losing their scalp, heart, spirit, and name.
- Elements Of People: The Body, Spirit, Name, and Heart
There were also other spells to keep alive by breathing air, having water to drink, having food to eat.
The Afterlife Would be a Scary Place
The underworld to paradise was thought to be paved with many hazards. So one needed protection against these damages like insects, crocodiles, and snakes. Then there have been the deities and demons who could attack the departed on the way to paradise.
There were also gods guarding various gateways that certain would need to cope with (one needed to have the right answer at the correct gate). If a person got the answer wrong, then watch out because the gods at the gates were equipped with knives and snakes.
- Dangers: Insects, Gods, Crocodiles, Demons
All in all their idea was that the afterlife was much like the world they knew, only a lot more scary and perilous.
They were afraid of punishments if they didn't have the best spells handy. You could be decapitated or turned inverted. When you are turned upside down isn't just that, one's digestive process would also be in reverse – so one would need to eat feces and drink urine forever. It would seem that today's commercials do not have anything around the scare campaign to purchase stuff because the Egyptian priests in selling their spells!
But the worst wasn't any one of that. The worst was the second death – if a person died again here, there would be no returning and something would have no afterlife at all.
Where To See the Book From the Dead
As there are lots of papyrus from the Book of the Dead as well as other fragments, parts of it may be seen in many museums all over the world. If in Egypt see their spectacular national museum and find out examples there.
- Queensland Museum: There Are Fragments In The Queensland Museum
- Met Museum: You will find Extensive Collections In New York's Met Museum
One can also be prone to find areas of the traditional texts in many other museums around the world – like the British Museum in London.