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.