Fact, Not Fiction

Damien Lamar
4 min readApr 19, 2024

What You Should Know About “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night”

In the ancient land of Egypt, where the Nile’s life-giving waters nourished a civilization that endured for millennia, a text emerged that shaped the Egyptians’ understanding of life, death, and the world beyond. In those days, our lives were guided by the wisdom of the gods and the power of the pharaohs. We believed that life was an eternal journey, and death was merely a doorway to the afterlife. It was during this time that a sacred text emerged, one that would shape our understanding of the world beyond the grave. This text was known as “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night, “ also known as “The Book of the Dead,” was not a single, uniform book but rather a collection of spells, prayers, and incantations that evolved over centuries, reflecting the complex and ever-changing beliefs of the ancient Egyptians.

“Weighing of the Heart” ceremony from The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night (Imagined in DALL·E 3 by @iamdamienlamar)

One of the earliest known versions of “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night” was found in the tomb of Pharaoh Unas, who ruled during the Fifth Dynasty, around 2400 BCE. The walls of his pyramid were inscribed with a series of spells known as the Pyramid Texts, which are considered a precursor to “The Book of the Dead” (Allen, 2005). These texts were meant to ensure the pharaoh’s successful transition into the afterlife and his eternal existence among the gods.

As time passed, the spells and incantations that made up “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night” were adapted and expanded, eventually being written on papyrus scrolls and placed in the tombs of the wealthy and powerful. The book’s purpose was to guide the deceased through the perilous journey to the underworld, where they would face challenges and judgment from the gods. The spells within the book were believed to provide protection and assistance, enabling the deceased to overcome obstacles and achieve eternal life (Faulkner, 1972).

However, it is crucial to approach “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night” with a critical eye. The beliefs and practices described within its pages were not monolithic; they varied across time, region, and social strata. The book’s contents were not standardized, and different versions existed, each reflecting the beliefs and needs of the individual for whom it was created (Taylor, 2010). Moreover, our understanding of ancient Egyptian religion and funerary practices is based on limited evidence and is subject to interpretation by modern scholars, who may bring their own biases and perspectives to the study of these ancient texts.

One of the most famous and widely studied versions of “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night” is the Papyrus of Ani, which dates back to the 19th Dynasty, around 1250 BCE. This beautifully illustrated scroll, measuring over 17 meters in length, provides a glimpse into the religious beliefs and funerary practices of the New Kingdom period (British Museum, n.d.). The Papyrus of Ani contains a variety of spells and illustrations that depict Ani’s journey through the underworld, his judgment before the god Osiris, and his ultimate acceptance into the afterlife.

While “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night” offers a fascinating window into ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, it is essential to remember that these beliefs were not universally accepted or practiced by all Egyptians. The text’s emphasis on the importance of a proper burial and the necessity of magical spells to navigate the afterlife may have been more relevant to the elite members of Egyptian society, who had the resources and means to commission such elaborate funerary texts and rituals (Hornung, 1999).

Furthermore, the interpretation of “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night” and its significance within ancient Egyptian culture has been the subject of much debate among scholars. Some researchers argue that the book’s spells and incantations were meant to be taken literally, while others suggest that they served a more symbolic or metaphorical purpose (Naydler, 1996). There are also differing opinions on the extent to which the average ancient Egyptian would have been familiar with or had access to the book’s contents.

In conclusion, “The Book of Coming Forth by Day and Night” remains a testament to the enduring fascination and mystery surrounding ancient Egyptian beliefs about life, death, and the afterlife. While it is a valuable source of information about these beliefs, it is crucial to approach the text with a critical and nuanced perspective, acknowledging the complexity and diversity of ancient Egyptian culture and the limitations of our own understanding. By studying “The Book of the Dead” within its historical and cultural context, we can gain a deeper appreciation for the rich and multifaceted nature of ancient Egyptian religion and the enduring legacy it has left on the world.

Allen, J. P. (2005). The Ancient Egyptian Pyramid Texts. Society of Biblical Literature.
British Museum. (n.d.). The Papyrus of Ani. https://www.britishmuseum.org/collection/object/Y_EA10470-3
Faulkner, R. O. (1972). The Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead. University of Texas Press.
Hornung, E. (1999). The Ancient Egyptian Books of the Afterlife. Cornell University Press.
Naydler, J. (1996). Temple of the Cosmos: The Ancient Egyptian Experience of the Sacred. Inner Traditions.
Taylor, J. H. (2010). Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead: Journey Through the Afterlife. British Museum Press.



Damien Lamar

Multipotentialite. 2/5 Pure Generator with Sacral Authority. Creative Director. ASCAP Writer/Publisher. Web & Music Producer. http://www.damienlamar.com