In ancient Egypt, the heart meant the seat of power and the life. It was also the source of both good and the bad, and in many cases, it mentioned the conscience part of the mind. The heart was a too precious thing to loose and people guarded it with a strong sense of purpose even after the death. During the mummification process, people made it a point to preserve the heart, along with the lungs in a jar or a pitcher, under the protection of Tuamutef. When the heart was removed during mummification The Amulet of Hearts was then placed on the body.
The Book of the Dead mentions this process in an elaborate manner. In fact, this book provides us a few lines of text on how one could conduct the procedures to preserve the heart and lungs.
When the deceased uttered these words of text, it would ensure that:
- He or she would obtain the powers needed to survive in the after world,
- He would also gain mastery over his heart and mind,
- Ultimately, the soul would also acquire the ultimate power to travel, wherever they wanted to and do whatever they wished!
The Book of Dead states the following:
May my heart be with me in the House of Hearts! May my breast be with me in the House of Hearts! May my heart be with me, and may it rest there, or I shall not eat of the cakes of Osiris on the eastern side of the Lake of Flowers, neither shall I have a boat wherein to go down the Nile, nor another wherein to go up, nor shall I be able to sail down the Nile with thee. May my mouth [be given] to me that I may speak therewith, and my two legs to walk therewith, and my two hands and arms to overthrow my foe. May the doors of heaven be opened unto me; may Seb, the prince of the gods, open wide his two jaws unto me; may he open my two eyes which are blindfolded; may he cause me to stretch apart my two legs which are bound together; and may Anpu (Anubis) make my thighs to be firm so that I may stand upon them. May the goddess Sekhet make me to rise so that I may ascend into heaven, and may that which I command in the House of the Ka of Ptah be done. I shall understand with my heart, I shall gain the mastery over my heart, I shall gain the mastery over my two hands, I shall gain the mastery over my legs, I shall have the power to do whatsoever my ka (i.e., double) pleaseth. My soul shall not be fettered to my body at the gates of the underworld, but I shall enter in and come forth in peace.
This text also mentions the presence of two other gods, Ptah and Sekhet. Most probably, there are indications that the noble priests of Memphis created this text. The Papyrus of Nekhtu-Amen also mentions amulets created out of precious stones like Lapis Lazuli that contained many good qualities of amulets. Historical evidence also mentions these priests writing the LXIVth Chapter of the Book of the Dead, by using the fine crystals of Lapis Lazuli (most probably during the reins of Hesep-ti, king of Egypt about B.C. 4300).
Early Egyptians believed that monsters could snatch and steal their heart and lungs, which made them extremely cautious about the sanctity of their hearts. To ensure the safety of the heart, priests also composed almost seven chapters (Nos. XXVII., XXVIII, XXIX, XXIXA, XXX, XXXA, and XXXB) to enable people save and protect their hearts. The XXVIIth Chapter deals with a heart amulet made of a white, semi-transparent stone, and it reads detailed inscriptions magical chanting to protect one’s heart.
One more chapter, XXIXB, deals with the heart amulet created out of a material called Carneilan and this amulet also provides magical verses that provided protection to the heart elements. In all incidences, god Osiris and Re were the chief protectors of the heart and lungs. Another Chapter XXXB connected with Herutâtâf, the son of Khufu (Cheops), a man well known for his great intellect and wisdom, is also a great source for magic. Here, the magical words recited over a hard faced, green stoned scarab or amulet ensured safety for the heart and other important constituents of the body.
The god Osiris had a profound influence over these procedures and during the ceremony he made it sure that he would be in the Judgment Hall. During the procedure, he also oversaw the weighing of the heart in a balance against the purported symbolism of truth and right. The Amulet of the Heart had a significant and decisive role in the funeral procedures for the dead and deceased Egyptians.
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