Book of the Dead

The Book of the Dead was the nickname of magic spells that were written by the Ancient Egyptians.  These books contained oftentimes, more than 200 spells.  The spells were written on papyrus and on tomb walls.

The wealthy people would hire scribes to write their spells and to create different spells for them.  They would use these spells as part of their grave goods.

The spells not only helped with what was needed in the afterlife, but the spells were also a great place for the Egyptians to write their names, making sure that their names were in the grave somewhere.

These spells would help the dead to be able to know what to do in the afterlife.  The spells would show them where to go, what things to say, and how to travel in the afterlife, it was basically a manual for traveling through the afterlife.

The Book of the Dead would teach the dead how to know what to do if they faced danger in the afterlife and it would help them to be able to turn into different creatures if needed.

The book would also give the dead different passwords that would allow them to enter into different worlds such as the Underworld.

The Book of the Dead was important for every Egyptian to have and this book was basically like having all of the answers in life.

Most of the time, the book was divided into chapters so that the dead could find the answers quickly and to be able to find the spell or password that was needed fast.

If someone was dying or if they were very sick, they would sometimes go to the scribe.  The scribe would find out what kind of life the person had lived so that he could know what the person would expect in the afterlife.

The scribe would then write up different spells that would help that individual person, and each spell was unique and different for each person.

The spells and going to the scribe were oftentimes expensive and so sometimes a person would have a very small book, and some would have no book at all.

Sometimes only pages would be put into the tomb of the spells that the person wrote themselves, depending on how much money that they had while they were on the earth.

The Book of the Dead even included spells that would help the dead person to have a lighter heart in the weighing of the heart.  The Book of the Dead would give clear instructions on what the person was supposed to say when they met Osiris and were being judged.

The book tells the person what they will be wearing when they are in judgment and what they will say and how to recite the spell.

The scribes believed that they would receive better judgment when they died and that they and their children will have a better life in the future because they were able to write such great spells.

Since the scribes wrote the spells, they were considered to be part of the inner kingdom and they were thought to have a better way to the afterlife than other Egyptians.

Ancient Egyptian Religion

The Egyptians believed that when you died, you went on a journey to the underworld. It was a scary place, and there were monsters trying to stop you from getting there.

If you did get there, it was still scary, because the god of the underworld (Apep, a Serpent) was going to cut off your head and eat your heart.

The Pharoah

They reserved the text for the Pharaoh during the old Kingdom era. The spells within the text were there to protect the Pharaoh’s physical remains and also in the afterlife.

Later the rich and wealthy could also afford this text.

Pyramid Texts

The pyramid texts were written during the Egyptian Old Kingdom. Similar to the book of the dead, the pyramid texts are also a collection of spells. They were also carved into the walls of the tomb, but unlike the coffin texts and the book of the dead, they did not generally contain any illustrations.

Coffin Texts

The Coffin Texts first started to appear during the Middle Kingdom era and were written from the 18 to 21st dynasties. The texts, which were basically a new language, were sometimes written on papyrus rolls, which could be up to 100 feet long.

There were also written on the inner surface of coffins by priests and on other furniture within the tomb.

Each spell of the coffin text has its own title and was specially arranged by the priest. The texts were also sometimes written on the tomb wall.

It was mainly the wealthy who could afford coffin text to help them in the afterlife.

The priest would also place amulets in the tomb, which had portions of coffin text written on them to ensure the soul’s well-being in the afterlife.

Facts about the Book of the Dead

  • Spells were sometimes needed to survive and reach paradise.
  • Spells included titles so that people could find what they needed quickly.
  • Some of the spells included titles such as, “For Repelling A Crocodile Which Comes to Take Away,” and “For Not Being Eaten by A Snake in the Realm of the Dead.”
  • The Book of the Dead is to be read by someone dying or someone already dead.
  • The spells promised that the person would be okay in the afterlife.
  • The spells were used to teach those that die to stay away from the evil and how to get out of trouble in the afterlife.
  • The Book of the Dead tells the 42 sins that the person must say that they have never committed in order to move to the weighing of the heart.
  • People could add and subtract what they wanted from the Book of the Dead.

Q and A

  • Q: How many spells were usually in the Book of the Dead?
    A: There were over 200 spells in some of the books.
  • Q: How did the Book of the Dead help the dead?
    A: The dead could read the book so that they could know what to do and what to avoid in the afterlife.
  • Q: What were some things the Book of the Dead included?
    A: The Book of the Dead had pictures, passwords and spells that could be used in the afterlife.
  • Q: Who usually would go to the scribe for spells?
    A: Someone that was sick or dying would oftentimes go to the scribe for spells.
  • Q: Was it cheap to buy a spell?
    A: Spells were oftentimes expensive, and some people could not afford spells, let alone, a Book of the Dead.
  • Q: What was the Book of the Dead considered?
    A: The Book of the Dead was considered a life/death manual with all of life and death answers.