Death and the Afterlife

The Underworld

- Journey of the Akh

Before the Journey to the Underworld could be begin, the dead would need to live again - the Akh released from the body.

After the 70 days needed for the preparation of the mummy, the body was finally moved to the tomb - its resting place for eternity. The body must be re-awakened for the journey to the Afterlife (a journey that was fraught with danger - there was no guarantee that the deceased would survive it, and so magical protections would accompany them on their journey : magical spells, amulets and so on).

The Opening of the Mouth Ceremony

On reaching the tomb a Sem-priest would perform the 'Opening of the Mouth' Ceremony (just outside the tomb) - this was to release the KA of the deceased and to restore the senses. Offering rituals were made inside the tomb, the KA would have nourishment and could live in the tomb for eternity. Once the KA had been released it could then re-unite with the BA, this was an important step - once this had happened the deceased could become an AKH - and in this form travel to the Beyond.

The Opening of the Mouth Ceremony - the mummy was raised to an upright position, low-ranking priests would then purifiy it with water and incense, while the Sem-priest spoke the words of ritual. The priest would then raise an adze - instrument to the face of the mummy and to the KA statue, the priest also touched the mummy with a forked knife (a Peshesh-kef), now the senses of the body (sight, hearing, speech, taste and touch) were now restored. Once this had been completed members of the funeral party held a feast by the tomb (remains of a feast were found that was held for the burial of Tutankhamun).

The Journey Begins

To journey to the Beyond, the AKH firstly must follow the setting sun over the Western horizon (from where the sun itself enters the Underworld each night) - this is the first of many dangers, for demons are ready for the unwary. Spells are needed to protect the AKH: "O Rerek snake, take yourself off, for Geb protects me; get up for you have eaten a mouse which Re detests" (Spell 33). - or the AKH would need to change form to defeat these enemies - not necessarily obvious - spell 81 is a spell for the AKH to be changed into a Lotus flower. Once the demons had been defeated a new challenge - a river that would need to be crossed. But once more the AKH has help, by the river is a ferryman Makhaf - he wakes the sleeping owner of a boat - Aken. However, the boat owner is not happy about being woken, it takes much persuasion for him to carry the AKH across the river, something he will only do once the AKH has correctly named all the parts of his boat. If the AKH passes this test then it is carried safely to the Hall of Osiris, once here it would then have to undertake the weighing of the heart.