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In the Egyptian Book Of The Dead we encounter a Ceremony called
the "Weighing Of The Heart" in which the deceased Pharaoh is led
into the underworld by Anubis, the Egyptian Neter who is the
"Guardian of the Way". There the Pharaoh's heart is placed upon
the Scales of Justice and weighed against the Feather of Maat.
If the weight of the Pharaoh's heart was less than, or equal to, the
weight of the Feather, he was then led onward to meet Osiris who
welcomed the recently deceased Pharaoh into the afterlife. However,
if the Pharaoh's heart weighed more than the Feather of Maat, the
Pharaoh was immediately devoured by Ammit, a beast with the
head of a crocodile, the front legs and body of a lion, and the back
legs of a hippopotamus.
This "Day of Judgement", as it is referred to in other religious texts,
may strike us as a hideous trial which is imposed upon the recently
deceased Pharaoh. However, powerful Lessons are often contained
within "stories" which rattle our emotions and strike fear into our
imagination. But, as we shall see, the "Weighing of the Heart"
Ceremony is actually a powerful metaphor, a teaching tool, which
reveals to the Seeker and Initiate an ancient and eternal Truth.
Although the "Weighing Of The Heart" Ceremony contains a great
deal of Symbolism, we need only to focus on the following five
Symbols to understand the Lesson contained within this particular
Ritual: The Pharaoh, the Feather of Maat, the Heart, the beast
Ammit, and the Underworld.
Pharaoh: This is a Symbol, and a Metaphor, which teaches us that
just as the Pharaoh is the ruler of a material kingdom, so too are we
Pharaohs of our own personal kingdom: the kingdom of our mind,
body and Spirit. A kingdom for which we alone bear the sole
responsibility for either its expansion or demise.
Heart: The Heart is the Spiritual Center of our physical body. It is a
Symbol for our Inner Temple in which our Atman (our God-Within)
and our Divine Nature reside.
Feather of Maat: The Feather represents the most minuscule
weight. In the "Weighing Of The Heart" Ceremony, the Feather is
a Symbol for perfect balance, weightlessness, Harmony, and
Ammit: The beast Ammit Symbolizes our Inner Demons which we
must continually grapple with as we Journey through our Current
Incarnation. Either we boldly conquer our Inner Demons, or they
end up devouring us.
Underworld: The Underworld is that dark, silent place within
each one of us. The Underworld Symbolizes a place where a
"rite of passage" occurs. It is a place of Initiation, deep within
ourselves, where we must go to in order to resolve our dilemmas
and to grapple with, and conquer, our Inner Demons. It is a place
of Decision, Contemplation, and Growth. We do not return from
the Underworld as the same person who originally entered into it.
There is a natural order which prevails throughout the Universe.
The Ancient Egyptians called this natural order Maat.
When we are in perfect Balance with Maat, we experience Peace,
Harmony, and light-heartedness in our life. It is during these times
that we find ourselves in control of both sides of Duality and our
Heart weighs less than the Feather of Maat.
When we are out-of-balance with Maat, we experience stress.
Stress is nothing more than an "unbalanced energy" which the
Qabalists call Qliphoth. These are the times when our Hearts are
"heavier than the Feather of Maat" and we find ourselves grappling
with our Inner Demons, our Ammits, until Balance and Harmony is
restored within us.
Our life is one long Journey of Decisions and Choices. And, as
all major decisions must be "weighed" cautiously and deliberately,
these are the times when we find ourselves retreating into our own
Underworld within ourselves (Our Subconscious) to grapple with
the various dilemmas and demons which confront us during our
times of indecision and strife. We begin our Underworld Journey
with confusion, uncertainty, and a degree of fear. Or, to state it
metaphorically, we begin our Journey into our Underworld with
a "heavy heart".
However, slowly we begin to unravel our dilemmas and conquer
our Inner Demons. When we are done with this particular "rite of
passage", our dilemmas become clear and our Inner Demons vanish.
Once our Inner Demons are conquered, and our confusions are
clearly resolved, we can leave our Underworld with the "lightest of
hearts", proceed upon the Path of our Current Incarnation, pursue
our Personal Destiny, fulfill our Dreams, and bask in the Peace,
Contentment, and Simplicity of our personal kingdom.
Throughout the course of Our Current Incarnation it is very easy for
us to acquire a "heavy heart" by way of burdens which are heaped
upon us, not only by ourselves, but by all of the various aspects of
society. These difficult to recognize burdens are covered in depth in
the articles on "Sin", "Karma" and "Guilt, Threats and Obligations".
"Sin and Judgment Day"
"The Feather As A Symbol"
"Maat - Egyptian Goddess"
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© copyright Joseph Panek 2010