When it comes to the ancient Egyptian underworld, a handful of personalities played an important role in the beliefs of thousands of years ago. This article touches upon the likes of the ultimate god overlooking the dead to the ferryman responsible of transporting souls.
Osiris , God of Death
In ancient Egyptian mythology, Osiris served as the god of life and death. He was also in charge of flooding the Nile. When Osiris was king, he was full of wisdom and gentle to the people of ancient Egypt and he was loved for this. The god was responsible for teaching the mortals law and order, which allowed them to live differently from savage ways, such as human sacrifice and cannibalism. He also taught humans how to properly worship the gods, as well as how to master the ins and outs of agriculture.
After civilizing the people of Egypt, Osiris left the country in the hands of his wife Isis, as he went off to make peace in numerous other locations. However, he returned back to his country after his missions were complete.
Osiris was god of the Underworld and served as one of the Nine Gods. As “Lord of the Dead,” his personal duties included passing judgment on the deceased and then protected people from the dangers of the Underworld. The ancient Egyptians believed his guidance was necessary because the transition from life to death was a complicated journey.
In Egyptian myths, Ma’at first made an appearance as the goddess who weighed the words that passed in the part of the underworld called Duat. The Egyptians viewed the underworld as being divided into different sections that the soul was expected to travel through. Each level posed challenges and obstacles.
When a soul reaches Duat, the weighing of the heart takes place, which involves the soul shown as a heart that is measured on the scales of Anubis against the feather of Ma’at. It is said that Ammit would consume the souls of people whose heart did not weight the exact weight of Ma’at’s feather. Later on, the goddess became known as being in charge of controlling the stars, seasons, and the actions of both humans and gods. She is associated with morality, justice, and the law.
Aken , Ferryman of the Underworld
Carrying the souls of the dead to the Underworld, Aken is known as the ferryman who operates the boat of transport. He appears as a man who wears clothing similar to a sailor and is seen standing in the stern of a boat fashioned out of papyrus. While Aken was in charge of the ferryboat in the Underworld, he had to be awakened from a deep sleep by the ferryman Mahaf so that he could provide the boat that crossed the celestial waters. Aken was not worshipped like the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt, but is mentioned in numerous passage in the Book of the Dead and hymns.