The Weighing of the Heart: the Sins and Virtues of the Descendants of Isis

Daughter of IsisSon of Set

In my series, the Descendants of Isis, one of the ancient beliefs I refer to regularly, especially when it comes to Seth O’Keefe’s sacrifice, is the Weighing of the Heart. In saving Natti, a sin in itself, Seth has given up his god’s protection over his heart, and with it, his chances of an eternal afterlife.

The ancient Egyptians considered the heart to be the most important organ in the body. It was the center of all thought, memory, and emotion, and therefore, essential for the rebirth into Amenti, the equivalent of heaven. As such, it was never embalmed with the other organs. It was instead left untouched during mummification, and a scarab amulet placed over it to ensure that it spoke the truth once the deceased reached the Hall of Judgment.

Once there, the judgment of one’s heart was determined based on the deceased’s behavior in this life. This was known as the Weighing of the Heart. A ceremony believed to take place in front of a tribunal of 42 gods known as the Assessors, who were overseen by Osiris (god of the dead).

Standing before the Assessors, the deceased were to name each of the 42 divine judges and made a ‘negative confession’: a list of 42 sins the deceased had not committed, ranging from stealing food to murder. After which, the deceased’s heart and the feather of Ma ‘at would be placed a set of scales to see if the deceased had spoken the truth.

As exhibited in Chapter 125 of the Book of the Dead, it wasn’t truly about being pure of all sin. It was all about being balanced. In many depictions, the ancient Egyptians even showed Anubis providing aid to the deceased, adjusting the scales just enough so that the deceased’s heart and Ma ‘at would come to a perfect balance; insuring that the deceased whose virtues outweighed their sins were successful in entering Amenti.

Unfortunately, for those such as Seth, whose heart is weighed down by sin, another fate awaited. One that not even Anubis could prevent.

In Seth’s young life, he had repeatedly committed 24 of the 42 sins. Even saving Natti from becoming a sacrifice to Set would’ve been considered stealing a god’s offering and frowned upon by the Assessors. And though Natara “Natti” Stone brought out the best in him, that will never be enough. When he eventually enters the Hall of Judgment, his heart’s sins would tip the scales, and it’ll be feed to Ammit, sentencing him to a fate worse than entering a place of torment like hell. Instead, Seth will cease to exist and be cursed to wander Duat (the Netherworld) for all eternity without thought and emotions. A concept that terrified ancient Egyptians.

Seth's Sins

In addition to Chapter 125 in the Book of the Dead, the ancient Egyptians also listed 42 principals of Ma ‘at including being respectful, quiet, not hasty, modest, gentle, restrained in eating and drinking, trustworthy, and not being boastful or arrogant. The ideal was to lead a life in accordance of the socially acceptable or ethical ways to behave. In fact, the texts of Wisdom Literature revealed certain crimes were consider crimes against Ma ‘at such as disorder, rebellion, envy, deceit, greed, laziness, injustice, and ingratitude.

All things Sons of Set, the order which Seth was raised in, are best known for.

Natti, on the other hand, was blessed at birth by the goddess Isis to carry a sliver of the feather of Ma ‘at. Her whole existence is to live in truth and seek it in others. It’s one of the things that draws her to Seth in the first place as she tries to piece him together.

Natti's Sins

Natti’s behavior, however, consists of 26 of the 42 principals of ma ‘at; and is weighed down only by four sins. A small adjustment for Anubis and his scales. When her time comes to visit the Hall of Judgment, her heart will speak the truth and allow her to enter Amenti. Yet there’s one thing that could prevent her from taking her rightful place in Osiris’s kingdom: her love for Seth. It’s what Seth fears the most for her. Though willing to sacrifice his own eternity, he could never accept her doing the same for him.

Though an unlikely pairing, Seth and Natti actions and behavior complete a necessary circle that will help Natti complete her destiny. Her heart guiding the way with truth and good intentions while Seth’s sins that will continue to protect Natti on their journey and open the way to finding Ra’s secret name. Meanwhile, their sacrifices for each other will grow beyond love, as Isis and Osiris’s love had before them.

Ying-Yang

Sources:

  • Faulkner, R.O. (2010) Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. New York, New York: Fall River Press.
  • Fletcher, J. (2002) The Egyptian Book of the Living and Dying. New York, New York: Chartwell Books, Inc.
  • Gahlin, L. (2011). Gods and Religion of Ancient Egypt. London, England: Hermes House.
  • Oakes, L., and Gahlin, L. (2003). Ancient Egypt: An illustrated reference to the myths, religions, pyramids and temples of the land of the pharaohs. New York, New York: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
  • Strudwick, H. (2006). The Encyclopedia of Ancient Egypt. New York, New York: Metro Books.

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