Beyond the Pyramids: Secrets of The Ancient Egyptians

By Sophia Maddox | December 8, 2023

Cats Are Magical

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(national geographic kids)

Cats held a special place as they were believed to possess magical qualities. Egyptians attributed mystical powers to cats, considering them as bringers of good luck and protectors against evil forces. Cats were highly valued and revered for their perceived connection to the spiritual world. Wealthy families often pampered their feline companions by adorning them with jewelry and treating them to luxurious delicacies. The high regard for cats in ancient Egypt showcases their esteemed status and the belief in their inherent magical nature.

The Tribulations Of The Dead Determine Where Someone Ends Up In The Afterlife

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(public domain)

In the ancient Egyptian beliefs, the afterlife was a complex journey with various challenges and judgments. During the New Kingdom, the soul had to navigate the Duat, a realm filled with supernatural dangers, before reaching the final judgment known as the "Weighing of the Heart." In this judgment, Osiris and the Assessors of Ma'at compared the actions of the deceased (represented by the heart) to the feather of Ma'at, to determine if they had lived in accordance with Ma'at, the concept of truth and balance. If found worthy, the deceased's ka (life force) and ba (spiritual essence) were united into an akh, a transformed and blessed state. Different beliefs existed regarding the destination of the akh, with the realm of Osiris, described as a lush and pleasant land in the underworld, often mentioned as the dwelling place for the deceased.

According to the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, the journey to the afterlife was challenging and filled with obstacles. The deceased had to pass through a series of gates, caverns, and mounds guarded by formidable supernatural creatures. These creatures were depicted in grotesque forms, often with human bodies and animal heads or combinations of ferocious beasts. They carried enormous knives and had names like "He who lives on snakes" or "He who dances in blood." To overcome them, the deceased needed to recite specific spells from the Book of the Dead, pacifying the creatures and gaining their protection. Another type of supernatural beings were the "slaughterers," responsible for punishing the unrighteous on behalf of Osiris. The Book of the Dead provided the necessary knowledge to avoid their attention. Additionally, there were threats from both natural and supernatural animals like crocodiles, snakes, and beetles, further complicating the journey to the afterlife.