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(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

The ancient Egyptian religion was deeply imbued with the cult of the dead and a strong belief in a life after death. The Ka, or etheric double, was a copy of the physical body though was not to be confused with the Ba, or Bai, which was the soul, and the khu, or spirit. The conception of the ka wandering about after death promoted the ancient Egyptian belief in ghosts. The ka generally lived in the tomb with the deceased body, and could be visited there by the khu. If the ka was not provided with sufficient food and drink, it would wander about beyond the tomb, searching for nourishment.

There were various orders of priests, ranked according to their particular office. The priest who offered sacrifice and libation in the temple was the highest of the priests and was generally called “the Prophet.” He dressed in a leopard skin fitted over his linen robes. He was a very eminent personage and sometimes carried a special name. For example, the high Theban pontiff was “First Prophet of Amon in Thebes,” while the one in Heliopolis was “He who is able to see the Great God” (later changed to “The great one with visions of the god Re”). The duty of the prophet was to be well versed in all religious matters, the laws, the worship of the gods, and the discipline of the whole order of the priesthood. He presided over the temple and the sacred rites.

There were also priests known as horologues (priest-timekeepers), and the astrologers. The astrologers had to know the mythological calendar and to be able to explain all the important dates. Each day of the year was labeled as either good, neutral, or bad, according to events of the past that had occurred on those days. Magical papyri contain instructions not to perform certain ceremonies on particular days, because hostile powers would be present to prevent the desired outcome. In the last epochs of the Egyptian civilization, the astrologer-priests tied in the destiny of every person to the cosmic circumstances of his or her birth, drawing a horoscope to show the astral influences.

There were also priests known as pastophores who were bearers of sacred objects and slayers of sacrificial beasts. Then there were those the Greeks called the oneirocrites. They interpreted dreams. For a period there was a custom of spending a night in the temple in order to receive guidance from the gods. This guidance came in dreams which had to be interpreted by the oneirocrites. The Egyptians believed that, even without sleeping in a temple, the gods could make their will known to the people through dreams, and great importance was attached to dreams which included figures of the gods. The skill to interpret dreams was cherished. There are many examples in the Egyptian texts of important dreams that were interpreted by priests.


Budge, Sir E.A. Wallis: Egyptian Magic. New York: Bell Publishing, 1991
Rawlinson, George: History of Ancient Egypt. New York: Dodd, Mead, 1881
Sauneron, Serge: The Priests of Ancient Egypt. New York: Grove Press, 1960
Wilkinson, Sir J. Gardner: The Ancient Egyptians: Their Life and Customs. New York: Crescent Books, 1988
References in classic literature ?
As for the Count, he merely asked me, in the way of reply, if we moderns possessed any such microscopes as would enable us to cut cameos in the style of the Egyptians.
He leaves Kleber in command, a great watchdog who passed in his checks at Cairo, murdered by an Egyptian whom they put to death by spiking him with a bayonet, which is their way of guillotining people out there; but he suffered so much, that a soldier took pity on the scoundrel and handed his flask to him; and the Egyptian turned up his eyes then and there with all the pleasure in life.
His Egyptian majesty then addressed himself to the husband as follows: "Me be sorry to see any gypsy dat have no more honour dan to sell de honour of his wife for money.
He is an Egyptian, and people say he is my father; he is Neptune's head man and knows every inch of ground all over the bottom of the sea.
Their forefathers were of that chosen race whom God delivered from Egyptian bondage.
A frugal mind cannot defend itself from considerable bitterness when reflecting that at the Battle of Actium (which was fought for no less a stake than the dominion of the world) the fleet of Octavianus Caesar and the fleet of Antonius, including the Egyptian division and Cleopatra's galley with purple sails, probably cost less than two modern battleships, or, as the modern naval book-jargon has it, two capital units.
And it is much more likely, that the destruction that hath heretofore been there, was not by earthquakes (as the Egyptian priest told Solon concerning the island of Atlantis, that it was swallowed by an earthquake), but rather that it was desolated by a particular deluge.
He had reserved what he considered to be his greatest wonder till the last--a royal Egyptian mummy, the best preserved in the world, perhaps.
Penney--the head of the Egyptian medical service, who, in a small steamer, penetrated one degree beyond Gondokoro, and then came back to die of exhaustion at Karthoum--nor Miani, the Venetian, who, turning the cataracts below Gondokoro, reached the second parallel-- nor the Maltese trader, Andrea Debono, who pushed his journey up the Nile still farther--could work their way beyond the apparently impassable limit.
Whereupon the whole court began, on all sides, to devour the dishes spread before them with such enthusiasm that it looked as though a cloud of Egyptian locusts was settling down on green and growing crops.
He took the glove in silence from the aide-de-camp, and sat down in the lady's chair, placing his huge hands symmetrically on his knees in the naive attitude of an Egyptian statue, and decided in his own mind that all was as it should be, and that in order not to lose his head and do foolish things he must not act on his own ideas tonight, but must yield himself up entirely to the will of those who were guiding him.
I remember reading in Egyptian history something to the effect that understanding could not be had of Egyptian art without first studying the land question.