The Book of Coming Forth by Day

The Book of the Dead is an Egyptian funerary text, consisting in a numerous series of chapters intended to reveal the initatory process through which a deceased person could come back to life.

The Weighing of the Heart:
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In this context, I will try to interpret some brief quotes that have caught my attention.

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“I am the Today.
I am the Yesterday.
I am the Tomorrow.
Through my numerous Births
I subsist young and vigorous”.

-Chapter LXIV

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 it is the Sky, without end and without limits.
Because, in truth, to the Sky belongs your Soul,
But the Earth possesses its bodily form”.

-Chapter CLXIII

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!”.

-Chapter CLXIII

The deceased aspires to rebirth (i.e. 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!”.

-Chapter CLXVI

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. 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 center of your Cosmic Egg”.

-Chapter CLXX

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:
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“Horus himself puts you erect
Like many times has already done, with the sanctified”.

-Chapter CLXX

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 arise 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 can stop me, when the time will come,
From answering to the questions that I will be asked…”.

-Chapter CLXX

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”.

-Chapter CLXXII

The concept of “navel” (as well as the “navel of the earth/world”, the “center of the earth/world”, the “center of the cosmos” or the “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 quite 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 Afterlife,
Was born a new deity: 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 broken thread of my existence…”.

-Chapter CLXXIV

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 takes up the thread of his existence, interrupted only by a temporary death.

“The Yesterday has generated me.
Behold, Today
I create the Tomorrow”.

-Chapter CLXXIX

He who becomes aware of his own cycle of rebirths owns the past, the present and the future!

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12 thoughts on “The Book of Coming Forth by Day

    • Every translation is different, and no one is really correct from what I’ve understood. Maybe you can try the translation of E.A. Wallis Budge? If I remember well Marie Cachet used that. I have read the version of G. Kolpaktchy in Italian, it seems however that it has not been translated in English.

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  1. Excellent analysis, Fabio. You gathered some very relevant parts that i didn’t remember at all. I must re-read it. Personally i went through the Italian version by Boris De Rachewiltz. It was good, i can recommend it – but at the time it was quite puzzling, i think i was misguided by some “academic explanations” of the text. Yup: no breaking news here. Anyways, thanks.

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    • Every version is different, no one is really definitive and close to the original text. I have used the version of G. Kolpaktchy. Possibly the best thing would be to compare different versions. Thanks for the appreciations, I hope you will enjoy the blog even if I will not write as many posts as in the last year (because I have said much about what I intended to say when I started the blog).

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    • I can add that if you appreciated “The Roman Genius” when I writed it, now you should like it even more. I have updated and corrected it (like many other posts)…

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  2. Fascinating insight.
    As other posters have said it can be difficult to find undistorted translations of these sacred writings, hopefully some of their light can still shine through to us.

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  3. Pingback: The Mystery of the Labyrinth | Ancestor's Voice

  4. “The Book of the Dead” is on my reading list for the summer, the excerpts I’ve read so far are way too intriguing to leave it sitting in my waiting list for too long.

    By the way, I’ve always been fascinated by the symbolism of the Cosmic Egg represented as an egg surrounded by a snake.
    What does an embryo stem from…? An egg cell and a sperm cell (which kind of resembles a snake)…
    I wonder how our forefathers knew so much about what modern men consider visible only through the means of microscopy.

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    • Yes, an egg cell and a sperm cell is the most correct interpretation of the cosmic egg. I’m also shocked by the knowledge that our forebears had in prehistoric times, but I wonder, with even more interest, how many things they knew that today we have completely forgotten…

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  5. Pingback: Il Mistero del Labirinto | La Voce dell'Antenato

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