Book of Gates: Hour One

During the first hour, the sun god approaches the underworld and is greeted by the "Gods of the West". The sun god is in the form of a scarab beetle (khepri) and he is surrounded by a snake eating its own tail. He sails on a mehen barque. He travels with Sia and Hu (the personification of perception and the personification of the spoken word) . On the right, the mountains of the west divide to allow the barque of the sun god to sail into the underwold. Above the sun barque there is a standard with a jackal's head beside which stands "Tat" (a personification of the region) and Set. Below the sun barque there is a standard with a ram's head also supported by Tat and Set. The standards represent the commanding power of the god which can reward or punish those who live in the netherworld.

The first hour of the Book of Gates from the  sarcophagus of Seti I

The text beside the sun god is;

"Ra says to the Mountain: Send forth light, O Mountain! Let radiance arise from that which has devoured me, and which has slain men and is filled with the slaughter of the gods. Breath to you, O you who dwell in the light in your habitations, my splendours shall be to you. I have decreed their slaughter, and they have slaughtered everything which exists. I have hidden you from those who are upon the earth, restoring the crown to those who are on the Mountain. The gods say: "Let this jackal-headed sceptre emit the words of this great god who joins together his members. Come then unto us, O you from whom we have come forth! Cries of joy are to thee, O you who are in your disk, great god whose forms (or transformations) are manifold." Their provisions (consist) of bread-cakes and beer."

Above the barque and the jackal headed post stand the twelve god of the mountain with the text;

"These gods have come into being from Ra, and from his substance, and have emerged from his eye. He has decreed for them (as) a place the Hidden Mountain (Ament Set), which consums men, and gods, and all cattle, and all reptiles which are created by this great god. This great god hath decreed the plans (or, designs) thereof having made [them] to spring up in the earth which he created."

Below the barque and the ram headed post stand the twelve gods of "set-amentet" and the text reads;

The hidden place. (These are) those who have consumed the men, and the gods, and all the cattle, and all the reptiles which this great god hath created. "This great god hath decreed plans for them after he made them to spring up in the land which he created, that is to say, in the Amentet which he made."

The serpent Saset protects the gateway behind the mountains of the west. The text reads;

He who is over (i.e. has mastery over) this door opens to Ra. Sia says to Sa-set, "Open your door to Ra, throw wide open your door to Khuti. The hidden abode is in darkness, so that the transformations of this god may take place." This door is closed after this god has entered in through it, and there is weeping on the part of those who are in their mountain when they hear this door shut."

adapted from the translation by E. A. Wallis Budge

copyright J Hill 2010
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