In the infamous Ancient ciKemetic/Egyptian Book of the Dead, which should be known as the Pert em rhu or Coming Forth by Day or the Book of Awakening there are various chapters written as rituals for the living and the dead. The ancient Egyptian traditions are very similar to what is still practiced by AmaZulu and many other Bantu peoples.
Let us begin by quoting from one titled The Chapter of Making A Man To Return To Look Upon His House on Earth, where it states: “The Osiris Ani saith : – I am the Lion-god who cometh forth with long strides.I have shot arrows, and I have wounded my prey. I am the eye of Horus, I traverse the Eye of Horus in this season. I have arrived at the domains.Grant that the Osiris Ani may come in peace.I have advanced and behold, I have not been found light in weight, and the Balance is emptied of my case.”
This book also called the Papyrus of Ani is a great example of how ancient Afrikans viewed and in some instances still view Death. From the modern Zulu to the Oromo in Ethiopia to West and Central Afrika the passage from the living to the dead is seen as just one among many stages of the Spirits existence. Of course Afrikans are not the only ones who held this view, but it appears that many of the peoples of the world have developed an entirely negative attitude towards death and even life after retiring from the physical body.
By mentioning this I also imply that there are various manifestations to the notion of the body. The question is, how and why do embodied spirits attain a Spiritual life and how and when do ethereal bodies attain physical being?
Our ancestors seem to have devoted themselves to elaborate rituals and cults dedicated to just these questions. Similar to Abantu, the Egyptians also believed that ancestors had an interest and an abiding life among the stars and they either rested, worked or returned from there periodically. Note:
“The Neteru who are in the sky are brought to you, the neteru who are on the earth assemble for you, they place their hands under you, they make a ladder for you that you may ascend on it into the sky, the doors of the sky are thrown open to you, the doors of the starry firmament are thrown open for you.”
As the dead were identified with the Neter Ausar/Osiris, the Neter was also linked to the constellation of Orion, this linked the dead to the sky ‘gods’ in a perpetual cycle of coming and going from death to life and the eternal circle goes on. The fact that the name AmaZulu means the the people of the Heavens is not coincidental, to the Zulu the ancestors assume the status of gods or divine beings, it is to them we pray and it is through them that we ascend or even descend to the Creative Source of all life. The accepted norm is that no one approaches the Divine Source of life directly, it is through the ‘dead’ who are alive in the Heavens and in the Netherworld that we can reach the divine realms.
In many Afrikan cultures the very young as well as the very old are revered as potentially divine, its not rare to here a Zulu man refer to his youngest son as Mkhulu (Great One or elder) and to his daughter as Gogo (Grandmother or Khokho which means Ancestor). These are small signs that depict how perpetual the cycle of life is, we should call it the cycle of becoming.