Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The First Five Confession

In our discussion of the negative confessions I figured I would take a day and address a few at a time. In these discussions I will talk both about who the confession is said to, what the meaning is for addressing that particular individual and then what the actual confession means to a follower. I admit, they are something I am still studying so there will be spaces where I can not answer all those points. I will be using a set of the Negative Confessions that represents the most common set across the varying existing copies. So without further ado let us get into these.

Confession 1: O Wide-strider who came forth from Heliopolis, I have not done wrong.
This is the opening confession that sets the stage for all the others. "I have not done wrong" is like the opening statement. "I have done nothing against truth and order, let me tell you more." it sends to the accessor. Wide-Strider, i.e. one who travels far, could be two different gods when considering that they come from Heliopolis. One possibility is Atum. A god of the sun, and form of Ra at night, he travels the sky and earth. The other possibility is that it is Benu, the phoenix who flies back to Heliopolis to bury its predecessor. Given that the person is shown as a man with a beard, I am inclined to think of it as Atum.

Confession 2:O Fire-embracer who came forth from Kheraha, I have not despoiled.
 Again we have a generality that brings the concepts of robbing and plundering both material value and spiritual value. In addition, to despoiling referring to others, in this instance it also refers to the self. I have not devalued myself through my actions. Given the nature of the next confession it is likely that this one refers solely to spiritual devaluing. Kheraha is a city just south of modern Cairo's current location. Another important point about Kheraha is that this is reputed to be one of the locations where Horus and Set did battle. It is possible that this confession is spoken to Benu.

Confession 3:O Nosey who came forth from Hermopolis, I have not stolen/robbed.
This can be seen as an extension of the 2nd confession. This is the material counterpart of the second confession. Hermopolis is the city sacred to Thoth. Though it is amusing to call the god who knows everything "Nosey" I have yet to discover which deity this confession is truly spoken to.

Confession 4: O Swallower of Shades who came forth from Kernet, I have not slain people.
This is a pretty clear cut confession. I have not killed. However, this only extends to unnecessary killing. There is an understanding in Egyptian culture that soldiers must kill to defend the country or that a victim might have to kill their assailant. Kernet is an Egyptian word that is comparable to the primordial mound of creation. Swallower of Shades refers to a being that consumes the shade, i.e. the Khabait, in the Duat. This leaves little doubt, when added to the idea of them coming from the mound of creation, that this being is either Ammut (Ammit) or a very similar being charged with destroying those who have not acted in Ma'at.

Confession 5: O Terrible of Face who came forth from Rosetjau, I have not destroyed the food offerings.
The idea of not destroying religious offerings is another pretty easy concept to imagine being important. This is specifically true in Egyptian religion given the belief that the gods actual partook in the offerings for sustenance and strength. Rosetjau is likely Abydos. This place is associated with the healing of Osiris and his resurrection through mummification.Who the "Terrible Face" is that came from Rosetjau is hard to say. It could be Anubis or some other deity. I am still not sure the exact identity of this individual.

"Egyptology at the Dawn of the Twenty-first Century, Proceedings from the Eighth International Congress of Egyptologists: Volume II History, Religion" By Zahi A. Hawass, Lyla Pinch Brock
"The Egyptian Book of the Dead: The Book of Coming Forth By Day. The First Authentic Presentation of The Complete Papyrus of Ani" - Translated by Raymond Faulkner 
"Maat, The Moral Ideal in Ancient Egypt: A Study in Classical African Ethics"  By Maulana Karenga 
Egypt, Trunk of the Tree, Volume 2  By Simson Najovits

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