The Liturgy of Funerary Offerings

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The Liturgy of Funerary Offerings

By E. A. Wallis Budge

The Liturgy Described

WITH the pouring out of the last series of libations the first series of ceremonies at or in the tomb came to an end. In the text of Unas there is no break in the text to indicate this fact, but in the text of Peta-Amen-apt at this place come the following words:--

"Here shall be set forth the food, and the drink, and the things which are to be placed on the altar, and one shall enter with the 'suten hetep' (i.e., 'royal "offering')."

This rubrical direction indicates that the ceremonies which have already been performed on the mummy, or statue, have opened the mouth of the deceased, and given him power to speak, and eat and drink, and that they have provided the KA with a pure statue wherein to dwell. The offerings up to this point were intended for the deceased only, and one of the chief objects in presenting them was to prepare the KA for partaking of the funeral feast which was to follow. The relatives of the deceased wished his KA to eat and drink with them, because it enabled them to establish and maintain communion with a being who had taken upon himself the nature of the gods. By eating the same food and drinking the same drink the souls of the living and the dead were joined in a bond which brought solace, consolation, and comfort to the living, and destroyed the feeling of separation from their beloved ones which death brought in its train. The funeral feast, that is, the eating of food together by the living and the KA, produced identity of substance, and as the KA was divine by virtue of the ceremonies which had been performed over him and the formulae recited during the presentation of offerings, his living kinsfolk became divine, and they became, for the time being at least, as gods. Since these ideas existed in connection with the funeral feast, there is small reason for wonder at the insistence in funerary texts on the necessity for a regular and constant supply of offerings in the tombs. It must also be remembered that the nature of the material offerings presented to the dead was changed during the act of offering by the sacred formulae which the Kher heb recited over them. The bread and meat, and wine and beer, were transmuted into the essence and substance of Horus, the great god of heaven. When these were eaten and drunk in a place ceremonially pure, which for the time being represented heaven, both the spirits of the dead and of the living ate and drank their god in the form of the spiritual natures of the material offerings, which the living absorbed into their material bodies, provided that such bodies were also ceremonially pure.



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