Egyptian Book of the Dead: Weighing of the Heart

By: Ranilo Abando (Manila, October 19, 2020) ***

These are judgment scenes from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.  In some scenes from the book (version from ~1275 BCE,) the dead man (Hunefer) is taken into the judgment hall by the jackal-headed Anubis.  The next scene is the weighing of his heart, with Ammut awaiting the result and Thoth recording.  Next, the triumphant Hunefer, having passed the test, is presented by the falcon-headed Horus to Osiris, seated in his shrine with Isis and Nephthys.  Hunefer was a scribe during the 19th Dynasty.  He was the owner of the Papyrus of Hunefer, a copy of the funerary Egyptian Book of the Dead, which represents one of the classic examples of these texts, along with others such as the Papyrus of Ani.  Hunefer was “Scribe of Divine Offerings”, “Overseer of Royal Cattle”, and steward of Pharaoh Seti I.   (The foregoing is an extract from Wikipedia)

My interpretation of the metaphorical judgement scene above is the following:

The “weighing of the heart” is not a one-off process but rather occurs throughout the entire journey of the seat of consciousness up and down its mind column after its virtual physical body dies.  Since the dying is only virtual, both the mind column and the seat of consciousness stay intact, as both simply cannot die.  Once the virtual physical body of a person dies, something like a “game over” signal is sent to the “builder” aspect of the lower mind, which then has to shut down as a rule.  Physical reality has to follow rules, or else it would become useless for our intellectual development.  When the “builder” is shut down, it does not die – it simply refuses to process anymore any incoming information, and therefore ceases to build this virtual physical reality for the dead person.  As a result, the “thinker” aspect of the mind also shuts down because it relies on the “builder” for the input of information that it processes.  Therefore, there is general blackout in information that the human seat of consciousness receives, and the latter will only perceive darkness.

Without any more input of significant information at that zone of the lower mind, the seat of consciousness rises up the column of the mind, as it was programmed to do in such situation. 

In the depiction of the judgement scene above, the jackal-headed god Anubis who leads the dead person by holding its hand, represents the higher mind of that dead person.  Through the thin “lifeline” connecting everyone of us to our higher nature above the mind column – the so-called river from Eden or the river Ganga, the higher mind guides the seat of consciousness (or “spirit”) of the dead person during its afterlife journey, especially during the perilous crossing of the intermediate zone between the bottom zone of the lower mind and the lower boundary of the higher mind.  The ancients metaphorically call this intermediate zone – the netherworld or underworld or the poisonous waters, for very good reasons.  In the movie Insidious, they called it the Further.  Christians often refer to it as purgatory.  The term “hell” is more a scare tactic than a worthy term to use in this discussion. 

That is why it is important to always stimulate one’s higher mind while still alive in this physical world.  If one stimulates it more often, it awakens more often, it becomes more active and it operates more efficiently.  So in time, it becomes more powerful and more capable of guiding us in the afterlife.   When it reaches a stage when it is capable and active enough, probably a person would never have to go to these depths of the mind column again.

In the scene of weighing the dead person’s heart above, Anubis operates the weighing scale.  The goddess Maat, representing the law of balance or justice that governs our existence, sits at the top of the weighing scale. 

Anubis uses a feather as a counterweight during the weighing of the dead person’s heart.  Somebody may say:  That’s unfair!  Nothing can be lighter than a feather!  Don’t worry Folks, the ancients were only making a point — remember that it is merely a metaphor.  What they were trying to point out is that you must not have a heavy heart before you die – meaning, if you have done your duties here on earth without doing grave injustice to other people, you have not infringed on the right of other people to grow and develop as persons, you spread light instead of darkness in this world, then you will have a heart lighter than a feather when you die.  Got the point?

Through our higher mind (Anubis) we would be able to better review what we have done and thought while on earth.  It shines a clear light so we would be able to grasp the consequences of our actions or thoughts and our responsibility for such.  Thoth, the ibis-headed god which looks on during the weighing of the heart, represents the record of the dead person’s general way of thinking while still alive.  If the “thinker” aspect of a person’s mind was always thinking about doing honestly the person’s duties and responsibilities during his lifetime, then that would lighten the heart considerably.    If the person’s “thinker” aspect was used by its “beast” aspect of the mind as a way of life, then that would weigh on the heart heavily.  In the latter case, the dead person may fail the test, and his own character infirmities will deliver him to the metaphorical jaws of Ammut, the crocodile-headed monster looking on during the weighing of the heart, which represents the “beast” aspect of a person’s lower mind.  So, essentially we will judge our own selves in the beyond.  That is because we know our selves better and our higher mind will shine a light of wisdom so we could honestly judge ourselves better.

In the case where the person miserably failed the weighing of the “heart”, the “beast” aspect of his lower mind will awaken, hijack the dreamweaver aspect of the mind, and spin nightmares (dreams) which the person cannot wake from.  This may happen in the intermediate zone of the mind, before the dead person’s seat of consciousness reaches the lower boundary of the higher mind.  In such a case, he gets stuck there indefinitely.  He is essentially “frozen”with fear – as if turned into a stone after looking at the eyes of Medusa, which is a metaphor for that situation. The metaphor of Lot’s wife in the Bible also applies for such case.  Lot’s wife looked back (reviewed her infirmities), and she was turned into a “pillar of salt”, a metaphor for being turned into “stone” in the intermediate zone of the tree of life (mind column).  The seat of consciousness of Lot’s wife was frozen with fear.

On the positive side of that situation, temporarily getting stuck in the intermediate zone would be ultimately beneficial to such a dead person’s frail character.  The pain and suffering experienced there would effectively purge the “heads of his own hydra”, burning them so they would be more manageable in the next cycle. 

Once the “beast” aspect has been sufficiently tamed to a certain extent during the stay in the intermediate zone, beneficial “refined information” will begin to flow again down the lifeline (river Ganga) of the person’s seat of consciousness, saving the dead person from his frozen state by providing him with some guiding light and buoyancy, and lifting his spirit past the lower boundary of the higher mind.  There, he then begins a period of rest and temporary bliss in a different kind of reality, most likely a prolonged dream of paradise of his own making, and using his own memories.


(Thanks to for the above photo of a reproduction of the judgement scene from the Papyrus of Hunefer)

Published by rabando

I am a Filipino and a geologist by profession but I have also been an ardent searcher for answers to the fundamental questions of human existence ever since 42 years ago. It has been a long, lonely and difficult journey. Why are we here? Where did we come from? What on earth is this world where I found my self in? Surprisingly, I found out that the answers are right there under our noses. There just need to be some adjustments in the way people think.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: