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Tony Grist

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The Duat [Dec. 16th, 2004|08:56 am]
Tony Grist
The ancient Egyptians put a lot of effort into preparing for the next life. They thought it would be just like life on earth. One would have parties with musicians and dancing girls, one would go wild-fowling among the reed-beds, one would ride in one's chariot or go boating in one's felucca. By imagining this future life one made it real.

And one backed up one's imagination with images. The dead person was launched into the afterlife in a little capsule full of painting and sculpture. Everything she would need was there in picture form. She would open her eyes in the dark and look around and see mirror and comb and fish-spear and fowling-net and heaps of fruit and bottles of palm wine.

It was a very powerful magic. The Egyptian otherworld- the Duat- still exists. With the right passwords, the right nod to the gate-keepers, one can go into it and look around.

I had a friend who did just that. She had friends in the Duat. They told her that after three- four- thousand years the magic is beginning to weaken and many of the old ghosts are giving up on it and dropping back into incarnation.

Three thousand years of partying and wild-fowling and boating and chariot-driving- I can see how it might pall- how one might feel as if one were stuck on a dead end street. Perhaps through the thinning walls of magic one might get glimpses of other worlds and be curious about them.

The afterlife is a static place. We create it from what we know in this life. Once we are dead the stream of experience dries up- and we can add nothing to our store of image and emotion. Our magnificent imaginings may keep us happy in our heavens for a long, long time, but in the end, if we've got anything about us, we'll be craving something new.

And so we come back to earth. It's the workshop of the universe. All other worlds are created here.
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-16 01:42 pm (UTC)
Having read more of the Mary Magdalene texts, I think they sound wrong, somehow--they have the same "ring" to them as some of these fake spiritual books, in which some author holds fantasy philosophy sessions with ideal participants--

There are so many of these. Remember (did you read) Carlos Castaneda and his wonderful magician mentor?
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-16 01:52 pm (UTC)
I sidestepped Castenada- but I've read a lot of similar things.

I've been looking at the site- which seems to be huge. There's a story about a woman who proves the existence of God through The Torah Codes (which I've seen convincingly debunked on TV) and then this guy who debated with her goes to India and gets drunk and meets a man on a donkey... and yes, it's getting to sound very much like a work of fiction.

But the Gospel of Mary Magdalene is a bona fide gnostic text (of the kind the orthodox church tried hard to suppress.) I don't suppose Mary Magdalene had anything to do with it, but that doesn't mean that it isn't interesting and valuable.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-16 02:02 pm (UTC)
I had heard of the Gospel of Thomas, parts of which are very beautiful.

I wonder about the translations, which sound thoroughly Elizabethan, rather than modern. All those "whithers" and "thous."

In contrast, the translation of Mary Magdalene as shown on those pages seems refreshingly modern.

I'm wondering when these fragments were found.
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2004-12-16 02:12 pm (UTC)
How odd that I found myself earmarking some of the "lost" books of the Bible at Amazon for my next purchase (which is probably several months away).
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-16 02:28 pm (UTC)
If you want to save yourself some money it looks as though everything you could possibly want is here- http://www.gnosis.org/library.html
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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2004-12-16 02:43 pm (UTC)
Oooo, many thanks! I'm sure I will eventually buy a few books, simply because I love books. I love the feel of a book in my hands, I love the crispness of the pages and that I can pick it up and take it with me wherever I go.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-16 02:47 pm (UTC)
I know exactly what you mean.

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[User Picture]From: arielstarshadow
2004-12-16 04:00 pm (UTC)
Yes, I'm terribly old-fashioned and hidebound about a number of things, and I like myself this way! -smile-
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-16 03:09 pm (UTC)
Some of the passages are beautiful and compelling, particularly in Thomas.

How I wish we could more easily sort out what is truth and what is not. One way, I guess, is to look into what the current thinking was throughout the world during Jesus's lifetime and before.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2004-12-16 02:26 pm (UTC)
Here's a site which reprints the whole of the Gospel of Mary and (I think) a whole lot of other Gnostic texts. http://www.gnosis.org/library/marygosp.htm

The codex containing The GoM was purchased by a German scholar in Cairo in 1896, but not published until 1955.
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[User Picture]From: jackiejj
2004-12-16 03:11 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the URL, which I have bookmarked.

(Isn't Google wonderful?)

Mother is coming by to do her shopping, and then I plan to look over these sites.

By the way, thanks for this post. I love thinking about these things so much!
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