The Book of the Dead is an Egyptian funerary text, consisting in a numerous series of chapters intended to reveal the initiatory process through which a deceased person could come back to life.
The Weighing of the Heart:
In this context, I will try to interpret some brief quotes that have caught my attention.
“I am the Today.
I am the Yesterday.
I am the Tomorrow.
Through my numerous Births
I subsist young and vigorous”.
Through his numerous rebirths the honourable dead has lived in the past, is living in the present and will live in the future, returning periodically to be young and strong.
“He aspires to eternal life
As is the Sky, without end and without limits.
Because, in truth, to the Sky belongs your Soul,
But the Earth owns its corporal form”.
The honourable dead aspires to live for all eternity, through endless rebirths. The soul (i.e. the spirit) is associated with the Sky, since they are both eternal and immutable entities, while the body is associated with the Earth, since they are both temporary and mutable entities.
“May my Soul dwell in my Body,
My Body unite with my Soul!”.
The deceased aspires to rebirth (i.e. to reincarnation), that takes place necessarily through the reconciliation of the soul (i.e. the spirit) with the body.
“Know this, your head will be saved!
It will not be kidnapped from you, for all eternity!”.
For our ancestors the head was the emblem of the mind and memory, and therefore of the identity of a person. The skull of the deceased had an essential role during the initiatory ritual of rebirth (i.e. of reincarnation) and the text assures to the deceased that his head will be preserved and that his identity will belong to him by means of future incarnations.
“In truth, you are the same Horus
shining in the middle of your Cosmic Egg”.
Horus is the child that attempts to fulfill the rebirth/reincarnation ritual, the descendant of the noble ancestor inside the grave: they are the same person. The deceased inside the burial mound is like a fetus inside the womb: both are waiting to be born from their cosmic egg.
The cosmic egg wrapped by a snake symbolizes the womb during pregnancy and the umbilical cord:
The ankh was the symbol of life and represented the female reproductive system, intended as universal matrix:
“Horus himself puts you erect
Like many times has already done, with the sanctified”.
The child puts in the upright position (a prerogative of those who are alive) the skeleton/mummy of the deceased, like many times his previous incarnations have done in the past. The vertical position is synonymous with life and return to life.
“Behold, I rise up from the Bowels of the Universe,
And for the second time I come to the world…
I return little child, without father, a new-born…
Nobody will be able to prevent me, when the time will come,
From answering to the questions that I will be asked…”.
The deceased in the grave is reborn in the body of his young descendant who has completed the initiatory ritual of reincarnation. The noble ancestor is back in the world of the living and he will be able to answer to all the questions concerning his previous existence.
“Your navel is the Realm of the Dead.
Where Light and Darkness are balanced”.
The concept of “navel” (as well as those of “navel of the earth/world”, “center of the earth/world”, “center of the cosmos” and “cosmic mountain”) symbolized the realm of the dead, namely the burial mound. Life and death are in equilibrium inside the grave, the deceased is not alive but not even definitively dead: he is in an intermediate state between these two, awaiting for his rebirth.
“In truth, at the moment when I was born in the world of the Beyond,
A new deity was born: and it was me!
Now, with my own eyes, I can see…
I look around me; I exist.
My vision is clear and piercing.
Erect, I resume the interrupted thread of my existence…”.
The deceased is reborn as a deity, inside the burial mound. He returns to see with his own eyes and becomes aware of his renewed existence. Alive again, he resumes the thread of his existence, interrupted only by a temporary death.
“The Yesterday has generated me.
I create the Tomorrow”.
He who becomes aware of his own cycle of rebirths owns the past, the present and the future!