Who Says You Can’t Take it With You When You Die?

We spend much of our adult life working our butts off so that we can buy things we don’t really need. And if you’re like most Americans, that stuff that you supposedly own, is actually still being paid off. That house, that car, your college education, kids’ dental plans… it’s all on credit these days. And for what, so that you can hope to live a long and healthy life, hopefully being able to pay off that debt before you retire? 

One thing life has taught me is that tomorrow is never promised. And the things we supposedly own, won’t travel with us into the afterlife. But what if we could take these items into the afterlife? Would you rack up more debt, buy more jewelry, more electronics, a cooler pet?

The riches of King Tut. Photo borrowed for Mind on Fire Books.

Today I would like to share an ancient worldview that was prevalent in dynastic Egypt of antiquity. When the most famous archeological Pharaoh’s tomb was found, that of King Tutankhamen, the spoils and riches were endless.

In Egypt’s Valley of the Kings, British archaeologists Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon become the first souls to enter King Tutankhamen’s tomb in more than 3,000 years. Tutankhamen’s sealed burial chambers were miraculously intact, and inside was a collection of several thousand priceless objects. They uncovered several thousand objects including jewelry, gold, statues, furniture, clothes, a chariot, and weapons.  The most splendid find was a stone sarcophagus containing three coffins nested within each other. Inside the final coffin, made out of solid gold, was the mummified body of the boy-king Tutankhamen, preserved for 3,200 years.

King Tut’s Riches. Mind on Fire Books blog.

This was the most lavish discovery to date.  But not all tombs were this splendid.  The common Egyptian was not able to afford this, yet, travelling to the afterlife with the basics was still a common practice.

Some of the most common items included pots, combs, stone vessels, green eye cosmetic, small statues, amulets and other lucky charms.  All Egyptians however, were buried with the Book of the Dead, along with four canopic jars.

Canopic jars were the containers used to hold the internal organs that were removed from the dead body before mummification and embalmed separately. They held the liver, intestines, lungs and stomach.

The Four Canopic Jars

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a collection of spells which enable the soul of the decease to navigate the afterlife. To the Ancient Egyptians this collection was known as the Spells for Going Forth by Day.

This all sounds wonderful to us in modern America, known to horde items we will never use.  But not everyone was allowed into the afterlife. The ancient Egyptians’ attitude towards death was influenced by their belief in immortality. … To ensure the continuity of life after death, people paid homage to the gods, both during and after their life on earth. When they died, they were mummified so the soul would return to the body, giving it breath and life.

In Ancient Egypt, it was believed that upon death, one’s fate in the afterlife was determined by the weighing of one’s heart. One’s heart was kept within the body during mummification so that it can travel with the deceased into the afterlife. Upon death, one entered the underworld (Duat), where Anubis, the God of the dead, weighed the person’s heart on a scale against the feather of Ma’at, the goddess of order, truth, and righteousness. If the heart weighed more than the feather, meaning that the person was more wicked than good, then the heart would be devoured by Ammut, a demon with the head of a crocodile, the front half of the body of a leopards, and the back half of a hippopotamus, but with goat arms. If a person’s heart was devoured by Ammut, then he would die a second death and be completely annihilated from existence.

Now tell me. Are you ready to have your heart weighed by the God of Death. Anubis, or do you fear eternal damnation? If you believe you have done more righteousness than evil, what would you take into the afterlife?

Top 10 Egyptian afterlife list. Created by Mind on Fire Books.

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Willy Martinez

Willy Martinez is a creative writer, Integrated Marketing Specialist, and Boxing coach. Since being honorably discharged from the Marines in 2004, he has pursued his passion for telling stories, whether they be through film, graphic design, and writing for digital art.

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