Coming Forth by Day

From the Papyrus of Ani

Here begin the chapters of coming forth by day and of the songs of praise and of glorifying and of coming forth from and of going into the glorious Neterkhert in the beautiful Amenta;
to be said on the day of the burial; going in after coming forth.

The forepaw of a lion, the forearm of a man, the primal ray of sun. I wake in the dark to the stirring of birds, a murmur in the trees, a flutter of wings. It is the morning of my birth, the first of many. The past lies knotted in its sheets asleep. Winds blow, flags above the temple ripple. Out of darkness the earth spins toward light. I feel a change coming. My thoughts flicker, glow a moment and catch fire. I come forth by day singing.

Blessed are the cattle asleep in the fields. They shake their horns, tearing the dream. Blessed are the bulls waking, their first thoughts of creation. This day I make myself anew. I create life; my flesh coils about me foot to head. My breath rushes through and my blood. The mind sparkles, dances, the world whirls beneath the sun. I am given to know things I knew not yesterday. I burn like a god aflame, sail my boat upsteam at dawn, pushing on quietly among the reeds, softly.

For you I light a fire in the sky. My love dispels darkness. I place the pot over the fire, add water, flour and meat. We shall nourish each other with words and bread. Born of stars, of pale moonlight skimming mountaintops, we are men and women exchanging glances at the crossroads. I am born of sky, filled with light. I darken. I am various as weather. I am predictable as sunrise, moonset, the winds that blow, breathtaking as Sirius risng. I am for you. I am the utterer of your name. Speak of me often and we shall live.

I am a thought that came to pass. Long believed, I live forever. I am words repeated often. I am a happy man. I am a blessed man. I am a perfecting man. I am love and shall endure forever. I am a thankful man, a man of peace, poetry, dream. I am a well-fed man. I am a dancing man beloved of gods. I am an old man who has lived long. I am heading home.

I am an old tree by the Nile banks. A thousand birds nested in my branches and beneath, women cooled themselves from the sun. Years passed. I grew slowly and with grace. This earth I love, the water, the sky. Tomorrow I fall and, at last, the women with baskets on their heads shall make a passage across the river. They will speak for the first time in years to the women on the opposite bank. They will clasp hands and hold their voices to whispers. They shall marvel at each other's faces. And that will be as good a death as any for me, with women weeping, lotus blooming, and cool breezes blowing. That will be a victory. And so on, through the ages, have I been useful and loved.

I come forth by day. I go out burning. To the end, I burn white with heat. On the day of unwrapping the mummy cloths, on the day of opening the storehouse, on the day of washing my body, on the day of speaking secrets, I am with you, my love, as gods are. I stand beside you at the lotus pool watching the pink bud ready to flower. It is I, Osiris. I am joyful as a stone. It is not the joy of men I feel; it is the joy of matter. I am a presence. I am of the world. I am magic. I went the circuitous path of the unseen, from nothing but thought into becoming. I am annointed in oil. The power shivers from my heart down into my arms. Self-sacrifice is only learning to make one's self holy, to be the sum of a man, more than his parts. These breaths I release to the wind, make me one with the wind. This blood flows back to the river like water. This flesh dries, it cracks and scatters, dust again. When the light in my eyes flickers out, the spark flies back to the flaming heart of gods. It is only flesh and breath, blood, bones and hair. I come and go out of the fire unchanged.

I am air and flame, water and dust. I am a wick burning in a blue bowl of oil, a fiery sun rising in a tranquil sky. I am the phoenix, I am light. I come forth by day. I am heat buring up mist. I am power, an ancient river overflowing. I am love and memory and sorrow that drift away.

My time is a reflection on the surface of water. A leaf falls and the dream shatters, breaks to pieces; the leaf drifts off. Slowly the waters calm and draw themselves together. And the leaf's life, like a thought, passes from me on the ripple of its own vibration. It enters the world. I am a holy man, not because I am so wise, but because I am a temple of god. I am a priest of the heart. I know what is mine to feel. I let the rain from heaven fill me. I give love away as easily as water.

Poolside at the Luxor

I am changeable, yes. It is like this. A hummingbird's wings beat so fast he seems to fly standing still. Atoms in the rock whirl about, yet the rock holds together. Lions roar in the temple and the earth trembles. It is only yesterday and tomorrow keeping watch over today. The solid earth like a baby is lifted up to be kissed, to be blessed and set down again. I see things other men don't see. Secret words repeated in mirrors, bits of legend fallen from the lips of slave girls. I gather the greater seed as they thresh their wheat. I am an old priest dancing the mad dance, whirling, whirling, whirling.

I have studied the manifestations of gods and men, and I've seen the dead conversing in thin, reedy voices amid the air. I have read books of magic and made offerings of moly. I've longed to be free, to rise up as smoke from earth into air. I am a priest of change.

I am a priest of love, a courtier enchanted by the slender ankles of women, by bells and incense, dances and gauze. Beneath the moon my boat rocks gently. I scoop up fish by the fistfull and feed the ibis outside the temple. I remember to weave my garlands of onions and flowers on feast days. I plant my seeds and carry god in my hands through fields to bless them. I drag the large stones to hither ground and write prayers to last forever, songs to gods and creations, women and kings. I have turned the spade and smelled the black moist secret smell of earth and I knead the clods gently in my hand. They are supple and innocent as woman. In the right season, I plant my seeds.

Oh spirits that guide a man through the dark halls at death, guide me safely in life past sorrow and depression, steer me from fear and anger and hopelessness. Let me always know the reason for my becoming. Let me hear what gods hear, see what gods see. When the sun blotted from the sky, let even a small light shine to steer a man's feet. Let me stand in light, bathe in light, clothe myself in light. Let me sit in the lap of gods and hear words of comfort. Oh offerers of cake and bearers of beer, let me not also starve for love, thirst for wisdom. Let my spirit be stronger today than it was yesterday, my heart more peaceful, my mind more fertile, my hands more gentle. Let gods touch my face. Let me go forth shining. Let my feet know the way. Let me walk and pass through fire. Let wild beasts and thieves by the roadside go on sleeping pleasant dreams. Let me pass undeterred into heaven.

For I have made a reckoning of myself, of the things I have done and said and of my intentions; and I long for nothing but to live as a light within; to enter god's heart singing a song so stirring that even slaves at the mill and asses in the field might raise their heads and answer.

The Great Sphinx at the Luxor in the middle of the Majave Desert

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Awakening Osiris: The Egyptian Book of the Dead.
Normandi Ellis (Translator). Phanes Press: Grand Rapids, MI. 1988.
For non-profit educational use only. ISBN 0-933999-74-7

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