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Glossary of Wiccan, Neo-Pagan and Occult Terminology

BOOK OF THE DEAD
a.k.a. 'Egyptian Book of the Dead' (known to the ancient Egyptians as The Book of Coming Forth by Day)

A collection of ancient Egyptian religious and magical texts, hymns and formulas concerned with the ensuring the safe passage of the soul or life force (Ka) through Anenti (the Egyptian Hell).

The Egyptians believed that knowledge of these formulas, hymns, and prayers enabled the soul to ward off Demons attempting to impede its progress, and to pass the tests set by the 42 judges in the hall of Osiris, god of the Underworld.   The soul passing these tests was allowed to mingle with the gods.   If it failed the tests, it was devoured by a monster that was part hippopotamus, part crocodile, and part lion.

The texts of the Book of the Dead also indicated that happiness in the afterlife was dependent on the deceased's having led a virtuous life on earth.

Part of the Book of the Dead is believed to have originated in the pre-dynastic period of Egyptian history.   In the 5th and 6th dynasties the Book of the Dead was inscribed on the sarcophagi in the pyramids of the kings and therefore became known as the Pyramid Texts.

By the 18th Dynasty it was inscribed on papyri, which were frequently from 15 to 30 m (50 to 100 ft) long and illustrated in colour.   These papyri were placed in or near the coffins of the dead and were sometimes called Coffin Texts.


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PLEASE NOTE:
One of the major problems with 'defining' Paganism and/or its beliefs and practices is that it is an 'organic' movement, in that it is undergoing constant change and re-evaluation from within, and as such any 'one-size-fits-all' approach to understanding Paganism will be found wanting.

Due to the very 'organic' nature of Paganism, and the many differing Paths and Traditions within it, in many cases no one definition may be universally accepted by all Pagans.   Therefore, where such cases of possible conflicting and/or contradictory meanings of certain terms occur I have endevoured to give not only the generally accepted meaning, but also any major 'variations' in belief and/or practice.

Christians who believe this difference in meaning of certain key terms, beliefs and practices to be unique to Paganism need to remember that such conflicts also arise within the Body of Christ - the Church.   Take for instance the differing practices amongst Christians concerning Baptism and the different attitudes towards women in the clergy.

- Jean-Luc



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