THE BOOKS OF FOUNDATION - The Books of Ancient Egypt

© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014

There are many apparently 'channelled' texts dating from ancient times that have been found in Egypt.
Later texts are decidedly Gnostic in flavour, with many Christian interpolations.

Edfu Temple

On the walls of the Edfu Temple*, the story of 'Zep Tepi' - the 'first time' - displays the rule the Archons, who came to Egypt and proceeded to give the people of the Nile the benefits of civilization and agriculture. 
The bringers of this high civilisation incarnated in human form and often took on part of the shape of animals. 
The Egyptians called them 'Neteru' - usually incorrectly translated as 'the gods'.
The Aeon (Neter) who had the greatest influence over ancient Egyptian was the Aeon whom the Egyptians called Horus, - in hieroglyphic form ḥr.w; meaning "falcon".
Additional meanings include "the distant one" (a most suitable name for all the Aeons) or "one who is above".
The Greeks called the Aeon Horus Ὧρος Hōros.
This Aeon, wishing to extend the influence of the servants of the ONE over the Egyptian people, taught that new incarnations of Horus succeeded the deceased Pharaoh on earth in the form of new Pharaohs.
In reality the Aeon, during the period - that was termed by later historians the 'Old Kingdom' - guided the Pharaohs, who were permitted to 'channel' some of the wisdom of the great Aeon - and this accounts for the 'Pyramid Texts' , and the superior culture and civilization of the Old Kingdom, when compared to later periods of Egyptian history.
The three most significant channeled texts are 'The Pyramid Texts', 'The Book of Pylons' (also known as the 'Book of Gates', and the 'Book of the Dead' (more correctly known as "Book of Coming Forth by Day")

The Pyramid Texts are religious texts from the time of the Old Kingdom.
They are possibly the oldest known religious texts in the world.
The Pyramid Texts were channeled from two Aeons whom the Egyptians called Horus and Thoth.
Written in Old Egyptian, the Pyramid Texts were carved on the walls and sarcophagi of the pyramids at Saqqara during the 5th and 6th Dynasties of the Old Kingdom.
The oldest version of the Pyramid Texts consists of 228 spells, and comes from the Pyramid of Pharaoh Unas, who was the last king of the 5th Dynasty.
Other texts were carved in the pyramids of the 6th Dynasty kings Pepi I, Pepi II and three of his queens, and Teti.
Unlike the later 'Coffin Texts', 'Book of Gates' (or Pylons) and 'Book of the Dead', the pyramid texts were reserved only for the Pharaoh, and were not illustrated.
Reconstruction of the Temple and Pyramid of Unas
Following the earlier Palermo Stone, the pyramid texts mark the next-oldest known mention of the Aeon Osiris, who would become the most important 'deity' associated with afterlife in the Ancient Egyptian religion.
As channeled texts, the contents and details of the texts should not be taken as an accurate representation of the metaphysical realities which they describe.
Many channeled texts, particularly when the recipients are not culturally and spiritually advanced, are misunderstood, and often subsequently related in terms that are accessible to the channeler.
It is for this reason that the original channeled texts - 'Pyramid Texts' are often confusing, and many of the details seem strange, contrived or essentially 'odd'.
When these texts were later adapted, and combine with additional channeled communications, to form the 'Coffin Texts', 'Book of Gates' (or Pylons) and 'Book of the Dead', they became further distorted.
However, the contents are still valuable, as the contain the germ, or seed of the reality in which the Aeons have their being.
The invocations, or more correctly "utterances", of the pyramid texts are primarily concerned with protecting the Pharaoh's remains, reanimating his body after death, and helping him ascend to the heavens, which are the emphasis of the afterlife during the Old Kingdom.
The invocations delineate all of the ways the Pharaoh could travel, including the use of ramps, stairs, ladders, and most importantly flying.
The "utterances" could also be used to call the 'gods' (Æons)to help - and thus they were the first 'invocations'.


The Coffin Texts are a collection of ancient Egyptian funerary spells written on coffins beginning in the First Intermediate Period.
Ancient Egyptian Coffin
The texts are derived in part from the earlier Pyramid Texts, which were originally reserved for royal use only, but they contain substantial new material related to everyday desires that reflects the fact that the texts were now used by the common people. 
Ordinary Egyptians who could afford to have a coffin had access to these funerary spells and the Pharaoh no longer had exclusive rights to the afterlife.
As the name of this collection of some 1,185 'spells' implies, the texts are mostly found on Middle Kingdom coffins, however they are sometimes inscribed on tomb walls, stelae, canopic chests, papyri and even mummy masks.
Due to the limited writing surfaces of some of these objects, the collection was often abbreviated, and this gave rise to long and short versions of some of the 'spells', a number of which were later copied in the 'Book of the Dead'.
Coffin Texts
In contrast to the Pyramid Texts, which focus on the celestial and astral realms, the 'Coffin Texts' emphasize the subterranean elements of the afterlife ruled by Osiris.
An Osirian afterlife is offered to everyone, and the deceased is even referred to as "the Osiris"(see below).
This subterranean realm is described as being filled with threatening beings, traps, and snares with which the deceased must contend.
The spells in the 'Coffin Texts' allow the deceased to protect themselves against these dangers and "dying a second death".
A new theme recorded in the coffin texts is the notion that all people will be judged by Osiris, and his council, according to their deeds in life.
The texts allude to the use of a balance, which became the pivotal moment of judgment in the later 'Book of the Dead'.
The Texts combine ritual actions intended as protection, expressions of aspiration for a blessed existence after death, and of the transformations and transmigrations of the ba and akh.
In addition there are descriptions of the land of the dead, its landscape and inhabitants. These include the Sekhet Hotep (Field of offerings or peace), the paths of Rostau and the abode of Osiris.


A few coffins from the Middle Egyptian necropolis of el-Bersheh (Deir el-Bersha) contain unique graphical representations of the realm of the afterlife, along with spells related to the journey of the deceased through the Duat.

In Egyptian mythology, Duat (also Tuat, Amenti, or Neter-khertet) is the realm of the dead. The Duat is the realm of the god Osiris and the residence of other gods and supernatural beings. It is the region through which the sun god Ra travels from west to east during the night, and where he battled Apep. It also was the place where people's souls went after death for judgement, though that was not the full extent of the afterlife. Burial chambers formed touching-points between the mundane world and the Duat, and spirits could use tombs to travel back and forth from the Duat.
This collection, called the 'Book of Two Ways', was the first example of an Ancient Egyptian map of the underworld.
The 'Book of Two Ways' is a precursor to the New Kingdom books of the underworld as well as the 'Book of the Dead', in which descriptions of the routes through the afterlife are a persistent theme.
The two ways depicted are the land and water routes, separated by a lake of fire, that lead to Rostau and the abode of Osiris.


The 'Book of Gates' (Book of Pylons) is an Ancient Egyptian funerary text dating from the New Kingdom.
It narrates the passage of a newly deceased soul into the next world, corresponding to the journey of the sun though the underworld during the hours of the night.
The soul is required to pass though a series of 'gates' at different stages in the journey.

The Book of Pylons

Each gate is associated with a different goddess, and requires that the deceased recognize the particular character of that deity.
The text implies that some people will pass through unharmed, but that others will suffer torment in a lake of fire.
The text and images associated with the Book of Gates appear in many tombs of the New Kingdom, including all the Pharaonic tombs between Horemheb and Ramesses VII.
They also appear in the tomb of Sennedjem, a worker in the village of Deir el-Medina, the ancient village of artists and craftsmen who built Pharaonic tombs in the New Kingdom.


The Book of the Dead is the modern name of an ancient Egyptian funerary text, used from the beginning of the New Kingdom (around 1550 BC) to around 50 BC.
The original Egyptian name for the text, transliterated 'rw nw prt m hrw' is translated as "Book of Coming Forth by Day".
Another translation would be "Book of emerging forth into the Light".
The text consists of a number of magic spells intended to assist a dead person's journey through the Duat, or underworld, and into the afterlife.
The Book of the Dead was part of a tradition of funerary texts which includes the earlier Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts, which were painted onto objects, not papyrus.
Some of the spells included were drawn from these older works and date to the 3rd millennium BC.
Other spells were composed later in Egyptian history, dating to the Third Intermediate Period (11th to 7th centuries BC).
A number of the spells which made up the Book continued to be inscribed on tomb walls and sarcophagi, as had always been the spells from which they originated.
The Book of the Dead was placed in the coffin or burial chamber of the deceased.


Literally "That Which Is In the Afterworld", also translated as "Text of the Hidden Chamber Which is in the Underworld" and "Book of What is in the Underworld" - is an important Ancient Egyptian funerary text of the New Kingdom.
Like many funerary texts, it was found written on the inside of the pharaoh's tomb for reference.
Unlike other funerary texts, however, it was reserved only for Pharaohs (until the 21st Dynasty almost exclusively), or very favoured nobility.
It tells the story of Ra, the Egyptian sun god who travels through the underworld, from the time when the sun sets in the west and rises again in the east.
It is said that the dead Pharaoh is taking this same journey, ultimately to become one with Ra and live forever.
The underworld is divided into twelve hours of the night, each representing different allies and enemies for the Pharaoh/sun god to encounter.
In hour 1 the sun god enters the western horizon (akhet), which is a transition between day and night.
In hours 2 and 3 he passes through an abundant watery world called 'Wernes' and the 'Waters of Osiris'.
In hour 4 he reaches the difficult sandy realm of Sokar, the underworld hawk deity, where he encounters dark zig zag pathways which he has to negotiate, being dragged on a snake-boat.
In hour 5 he discovers the tomb of Osiris which is an enclosure beneath which is hidden a lake of fire, the tomb is covered by a pyramid like mound (identified with the goddess Isis) and on top of which Isis and Nephthys have alighted in the form of two kites (birds of prey).
In the sixth hour the most significant event in the underworld occurs.
The ba (or soul) of Ra unites with his own body, or alternatively with the ba of Osiris within the circle formed by the mehen serpent.
This event is the point at which the sun begins its regeneration; it is a moment of great significance, but also danger, as beyond it in hour 7 the adversary Apep (Apophis) lies in wait and has to be subdued by the magic of Isis, and the strength of Set assisted by Serqet.
Once this has been done, the sun god opens the doors of the tomb in hour 8, and then leaves the sandy island of Sokar by rowing vigorously back into the waters in hour 9.
In hour 10 the regeneration process continues through immersion in the waters until in hour 11 the god's eyes (a symbol for his health and well being) are fully regenerated.
In hour 12 he enters the eastern horizon ready to rise again as the new day's sun.
The 'Amduat' names all of these gods and monsters.
The main purpose of the 'Amduat' is to give the names of these gods and monsters to the spirit of the dead Pharaoh, so he can call upon them for help or use their name to defeat them.
As well as enumerating and naming the inhabitants of the Duat, both good and bad, the illustrations of the 'book' show clearly the topography of the underworld.
The earliest complete version of the 'Amduat' is found in KV (Kings' Valley)34, the tomb of Thutmose III in the Valley of the Kings, on the Luxor West Bank.

The Afterlife

The nature of the afterlife which the dead person enjoyed is difficult to define, because of the differing traditions within Ancient Egyptian religion.
In the Book of the Dead, the dead were taken into the presence of the god Osiris in the Duat.
There are also spells to enable the ba or akh of the dead to join Ra (the Æon of the Sun) as he traveled the sky in his sun-barque, and help him fight off Apep.
Apep or Apophis - was an evil god in ancient Egyptian religion depicted as a snake/serpent and a dragon, the deification of darkness and chaos (ı͗zft in Egyptian), and thus opponent of light and Ma'at (order/truth), whose existence was believed from the 8th Dynasty (mentioned at Moalla) onwards. As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep. The 'Book of the Dead' does not frequently describe occasions when Ra defeated the chaos snake explicitly called Apep. Only BD Spells 7 and 39 can be explained as such.
As well as joining the Gods, the 'Book of the Dead' also depicts the dead living on in the 'Field of Reeds', a paradisical likeness of the real world.
The 'Field of Reeds' is depicted as a lush, plentiful version of the Egypt of the living.
The deceased person is shown encountering the Great Ennead, a group of gods, as well as his or her own parents.
It is also clear that the dead not only went to a place where the gods lived, but that they acquired divine characteristics themselves.
In many occasions, the deceased is named as "The Osiris" in the Book of the Dead.
The path to the afterlife as laid out in the 'Book of the Dead' was a difficult one.
The deceased was required to pass a series of 'gates' and 'caverns' (hence the 'Book of the Gates' and the 'Book of the Caverns') guarded by supernatural creatures.
These terrifying entities (Archons or rulers) were armed with enormous knives, and are illustrated in grotesque forms, typically as human figures with the heads of animals or combinations of different ferocious beasts.
Their names - for instance, "He who lives on snakes" or "He who dances in blood" - are equally grotesque.
These creatures had to be pacified by reciting the appropriate spells included in the 'Book of the Dead'; once pacified they posed no further threat, and could even extend their protection to the dead person.
Another breed of supernatural creatures was 'slaughterers' who killed the unrighteous on behalf of Osiris; the 'Book of the Dead' equipped its owner to escape their attentions.
As well as these supernatural entities, there were also threats from natural or supernatural animals, including crocodiles, and snakes.


If all the obstacles of the Duat could be negotiated, the deceased would be judged in the "Weighing of the Heart" ritual, depicted in Spell 125.
The deceased was led by the god Anubis into the presence of Osiris.
There, the dead person swore that he had not committed any sin from a list of 42 sins, reciting a text known as the "Negative Confession".
Then the dead person's heart was weighed on a pair of scales, against the goddess Maat, who embodied truth and justice.
Maat was often represented by an ostrich feather, the hieroglyphic sign for her name.
At this point, there was a risk that the deceased's heart would bear witness, owning up to sins committed in life; Spell 30B guarded against this eventuality.
If the scales balanced, this meant the deceased had led a good life.
Anubis would take them to Osiris and they would find their place in the afterlife, becoming maa-kheru, meaning "vindicated" or "true of voice".
If the heart was out of balance with Maat, then another fearsome beast called Ammit, the Devourer, stood ready to eat it and put the dead person's afterlife to an early and unpleasant end.

'He rejoices at your coming, gives you his hands,
Kisses you, caresses you,
Sets you before the spirits, the imperishable stars...
The hidden ones worship you,
The great ones surround you,
The watchers wait on you.'
© Copyright Peter Crawford 2014