Oh my heart which I had from my mother!
Oh my heart which I had from my mother!
Oh my heart of my different ages!
Do not stand up as a witness against me, do not be opposed to me in the tribunal,
do not be hostile to me in the presence of the Keeper of the Balance,
For you are my ka which was in my body, the protector who made my members hale.
Go forth to the happy place whereto we speed;
do not make my name stink to the Entourage who make men.
do not tell lies about me in the presence of the god;
It is indeed well that you should hear!
-Book of the Dead
I am now sitting in a tent that has been raised for me right next to wabt net wet, the place of embalming, where mother, true of voice, shall have her body prepared to be the home for her ka and ba so that her light soul, akh, can become a child of Nut and spend eternity with the northern stars.
There is no question in my mind that mother was murdered, and I know exactly who did this – I recognised the signs in her body. I curse my sister. People speak in whispers of a new monster, Ammit, that will eat the hearts that are not pure, when people reach the last judgment. I know my sister’s heart is heavy with the thoughts of evil deeds, and I know my curse will reach her. May Ammit devour her heart, and may her soul be restless forever more, never finding peace again. May it die a second death and be forgotten for all eternity.
I am writing this to you, my father, because I promised mother I would let you know of her death. I also write this to tell you how you can find the Place of the Neteru – the place where mother shall be buried in secrecy. It is a place of deep secrets, and there she can be found with the secrets she guarded with her life, if you, my father, wish to search for her.
Mother warned me that whenever words are written down, secrets can be revealed, and no written secret lasts forever. And so I shall hide the clues along the Path of the Dead, for you to find if you understand. And you are the only one who could ever understand the path, mother told me.
I have taken good care that mother will be embalmed in the best way possible. I am not poor, and Mother of the King, Tiye – life, prosperity, health – has made offerings too, items that are of great wealth and value to her, to show her affection. She and mother were close, closer than many know. But Tiye – may she live – is not here to see the burial. She is now in Akhetaten, preparing for the great jubilation of all nations. There also is my sister now – stuck with her duties, dancing under the Aten’s blessed rays, to celebrate his glory for all eternity. She cannot leave because she is in the retinue of Neferneferuaten, and does not wish her to know what she knows, as all would be taken from her. Also her accomplices cannot reach her now because of her duties under the sun. And it is good. Because of this we can leave in secrecy.
I know who are the spies she has sent to observe all I do, being prevented from coming here herself. They are to find where the Abode of the First Gods is, the place where mother will be buried. But rest assured, my father, she will not know this from me because not even I know. There is another who will lead us there. I have been there before but I do not know where it is.
I was with mother when her soul left her body, and I will take care it can unite with her body again and live forever more in the Field of Reeds, in the kingdom of Osiris, until it is time for you to meet again.
I had her taken to the place of washing, the she-netjer, which serves the blessed dead of the keneret of Mi-Wer. Her body was washed and she was then taken here, the place of embalming with great respect shown to it all the way. The women of the keneret wailed and threw dust on their hair, ululating their grief for all to hear.
I have witnessed the process of embalming myself, though no other outsider has been allowed to see this before. But they feared me, and they feared the Mother of the King, and so on her orders I was given permission, after careful purification. And so all hairs of my body were shaved, my mouth was purified with salt, and I sat, in a corner, out of the way, and observed the violent ways used to prepare us for eternity, so that we can keep on living.
This is why I know that today the Slitter has done his job, and has made the incision on my mother’s lower belly, next to the left thigh. I know this because while sitting in my dark tent I heard the other embalmers chasing him, and I heard the shouts of the people who loved my mother and who are guarding us even now. They attacked the Slitter as is proper, hitting him, and throwing stones at him for violating her beautiful body. I have taken care he will be rewarded later with a golden arm ring to thank him for his service, and he will give me the blade used on my mother so no one else can use it – it shall be buried with her. I know the Slitter well, for he has often talked with me in the darkness and I know his attitude towards the dead is respectful. He is not the kind to steal the amulets, to insult beautiful bodies or do his job poorly or demand things from the dead.
So my mother’s viscera have now been removed for embalming, and they will now continue, with her body on the embalming bed, the men squatting around it to perform their sacred duties. Mother of the King, Tiye – life, prosperity, health – has given part of the necessary ingredients so that mother can raise from the dead in seventy days as Osiris was resurrected by Isis. Her ka and ba will be united and she will become an akh, a living soul . She shall never roam the earth searching for peace. The right words will be spoken for her, the Opening of the Mouth performed by me as the law dictates of the heir of the dead and offerings shall be made for her for all eternity.
There is palm wine to wash my mother from the inside and the outside. There is fine linen thread to sew the incision together and a golden plate to cover the wound. There is divine salt, netjry, for the preservation of her body. There are onions to fill mother’s eyes and legs. There is lichen to fill her body cavities and sacred bees wax for her mouth and nostrils. There are sweet spices and Mother of the King, Tiye – life, prosperity, health – has even sent sacred incense of Punt and juniper oil of Byblos to make mother’s body smell sweet eternally. There is resin to make sure she will be preserved forever.
Bandages of fine linen are waiting – mother made them herself while still alive, and gave orders how they are to be used – exactly as she says. They are covered with sacred writings in her own language, in a language no one understand, except me, and you, my father, nearest her body. I shall be observing the wrapping to see it is properly done. All the secrets of the times to come are written in the outer bandages, in a language the guardians of her body understand. And what I know of the times to come fills me with great sadness and fear. I see kingdoms fall into pieces, I see great wars, illnesses and famine – but I also see great hope for mankind.
And so I have seventy days to finish the scroll of the Going Forth by Day for her – exactly the way she told me to do it. I will not let anyone else do it for I, a woman, have learned to write like the scribes – they paid for my knowledge with their own secrets. It is my duty as her daughter to prepare for my mother the path through the shadows and dangers of death. I have the papyrus, I have the reed pen and red and black ink. I have plenty of oil for my oil lamps. The pictures have already been painted according to my mother’s advice, by a scribe in the House of Life of Amun before Aten’s people attacked to destroy every memory of the great god, when people still had an afterlife, and were not made to suffer all eternity in their dark tombs at Aketaten at night and flock to the offering altars of the great temple of the Aten by day.
My mother will not be advised to flock with them. She will go forth to the day of the Field of Reeds the way people of Kemet have always done. She will have her heart weighed at the final judgement against Maat’s feather of truth, and her heart shall be found light and pure. Her voice shall sound true in front of the gods when she denies having done the forty two evils and they will believe her, my beautiful mother, true of voice. I will see to that by writing the texts myself, above these beautiful pictures, and I shall place her scroll into her hands, inside her coffin at the end of these days.
And I shall make a copy of her scroll to you, my father, and send it to you by messengers my mother chose, even if it means I will not have time to rest for seventy days. She wanted it, my mother, true of voice. She wanted you to follow her path to eternity, so that you too would know your steps in the land of eternal life, and meet her there when the time is right. You will see the pictures in her scroll give the advice you need to walk the Path of the Dead to her. She said you will understand what you see in the pictures.
I am to leave this letter for you in the trustworthy hands of the ones mother chose for the task. Mother told me how to send you a message so you will find its hiding place. I shall do as she told me. I shall walk into the mist, following the path she advised me to take, even though I have never had the courage to step there before. I shall speak the words she told me to say, to the ones who shall write it down. My message will be safe, because when I say it, the old ways will have been forgotten, and no one will understand it until the time is right again. But you, my father, will understand the words when you hear them, and find this letter, and the first clue to the secret path to the place where mother has been prepared for eternal life, and where the secrets of creation are hidden.
Others, chosen by mother, will try to reach you through different paths, to ensure somehow her message will reach you, following the advice she gave to them. And we pray the gods some message will reach you, and you will find this letter, even though the journey is long and dangerous. We know we shall be hunted for the secrets we carry, mother warned us of this.
So please, my good father, walk the path to find my mother’s scroll and go forth by day with her
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