My Travels in the Egyptian Underworld

anubis-oracle-07148

Anubis from “The Anubis Oracle”

Two months before my traumatic brain injury (TBI), I met Anubis, the God of the Underworld, during a session with a Norse Seidrworker (Note 1). Anubis introduced Himself to me and one other person. Then during my TBI coma, Anubis came to me and we traveled together through the Underworld. (Of course, I did return to the land of the living.) Since that time, Anubis would show up in my meditations if He needed me to speak to the Newly Dead.

When I go to the Egyptian Underworld, I become a barn swallow (Note 2), a traditional form for the ba (Note 3). Traveling west into the stars of the night, I enter the Body of Nut, the Goddess of the Sky. As I fly, I see the Body of Geb, the God of the Earth, below.

Flying towards the sun, I land on the Solar Barque of Ra, the God of the Sun. As I land, I feel encased in golden yellow. Perching on the bow, I sail with Ra and the Dead through the stars.

Suddenly the Barque plunges into blackness, we have entered a dark cavern. An eerie greenish glow comes from the flaming lakes and rivers. With Ra’s light now a pale yellow, we move slowly through the inky black. The wind has died down, only to be replaced by stifling heat. The only sound is the splashing of the oars of the rowing Dead.

Suddenly Apep (Apophis) lunges at the Barque. Startled, I fly away. Meanwhile, the Dead are beating Apep with their heavy oars. The monster starts to sink slowly back into the watery abyss.

In the strange greenish-yellow light, Anubis appears by my side. Guiding me, the God flies over a dark landscape of silently tramping forms. The march of the Dead goes on for miles, snaking along a dark ribbon of a river. Occasionally, a figure falls down, only to be trodden upon by the rest. A scream penetrates the darkness, and I shiver in fear.

Fires from the river glow blue-green in spots. On one side of the river are dark figures waiting for the ferry to return. Some fall into the water near the yellow eyes of waiting crocodiles. Before any of them can get to the splashing form, Anubis rescues the Dead and carries them away.

Carrying the Newly Dead between us, we head to the Hall of Two Truths. Waiting at the Gate to the Lake of Fire is Hathor, the Great Mother. She takes the frightened Dead and sings to them. I stay with Her, while Anubis returns to the Hall. After comforting the Newly Dead, I return home through Nut’s Body.

One difference between my experience and the known record of the Egyptian Underworld is that Anubis actively saves some of the Dead. Why they are under his protection is a mystery to me. From what I can see, Anubis intently checks on the progress of the Newly Dead.

I expected the Underworld to be pitch black with an occasional glow from the fires. The wide-spread blue-green or yellow-green light seemed odd to me. This light seems to be reflected off of the cavern ceiling. This gave an unreal quality to the shadows and the flickering fires of the rivers.

Since I am among the living, I did not pass the Gate guarded by Hathor. I did not hear or see any of Her Cows. I could hear the screaming baboons, but I did not see them or the snakes, who protect the other Gates.

Finally, the fight between the Dead and Apep on the Solar Barque resembled a kabuki play. Knowing their roles, everyone moved with stylistic ritual movements. Each movement of their bodies seemed infused in meaning. Meanwhile, Ra was curiously inert during the fight rather than fighting for his life. In my perspective, the whole battle was a set piece.

The vision that I experienced had a more orderly feel to the Underworld. There was little or no chaos of the Dead moving hither and yon. Everything seemed to be more static than I expected.

NOTES:
Note 1: In Seidr, the seer travels to Hel to relay messages from the Dead and occasionally a God.

Note 2. In Egyptian paintings, the ba is depicted as a human-headed bird. The bird body is either a stork, vulture or hawk. The Book of the Dead also has the ba transform into a falcon, heron, swallow or mythic benu bird.

Note 3. The Egyptians believed that everyone had nine souls. They are: kha: the body, ka: the living life force, ba: the personality, sekhem: the transfigured life force, khaibit: the shadow, akh: the transfigured soul, sahu: the spiritual body, ib: the heart and ren: the true name of the person.

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2 thoughts on “My Travels in the Egyptian Underworld

  1. Thanks for sharing. This is really interesting. Particularly Anubis’s concern for the newly dead. Also the sense of stasis, stylistic ritual, and Ra’s inertia. Coincidentally I’m currently working my through E. A Wallis Budge’s classic 900 page long ‘Egyptian Book of the Dead’ so I recognise some of these images. My own experiences of the Brythonic Otherworld suggest that whilst places and deities are essentially the same they have also changed as we and Thisworld change. Perhaps Anubis has ended up in a new role and Ra’s battle is less fierce. I guess a lot has happened since the ancient Egyptian period.

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    • That is an interesting observation. You have reminded that the Deities have a time dimension to Them. As in Anubis of Rames’ time may not be the same Anubis of Cleopatra’s time. They are immortal, but humans see different aspects of the Gods at different times.

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