As we all know, the soul houses were an important part of the necessary equipment of our tombs. Our souls could live in them, and there could be many servants, cattle, food and comforts to make our life pleasant in the afterlife.
Last week I was with my scribe on her trip to a memorial service of her old relative. We were driving with the horseless chariot (more of which in another blog post) and stopped to a cafeteria (an inn of sorts). There, in the corner, was this remarkable soul house. I was quite certain my scribe Leena was going to buy it for the tomb of the relative to provide for her afterlife.
She did not, and after having a better look at the soul house I tend to agree with her. This soul house might have caused serious trouble for the ka, ba and akh of the deceased.
I'll explain. Below is a picture of the soul house.
This is the first thing that caught my attention. Here the master of the house has clearly fallen down. Maybe by accident, maybe because of having too much beer. Or even wine, as this seems to be a rich soul house.
But what do you see? The lady of the house has turned her back on him and doesn't lift a finger to help! Now of course this has happened in real life for the best of us, when the wife has been of the opinion we have drunk too much, but one would expect a wife to behave in proper manner in a soul house. For who in their right minds would want to have a wife who does not help when one's legs are too tired for standing?
I had to ask my scribe what was happening here and she replied the lady on the left is a teacher. So this must be the kap (school).
There are odd markings on the wall which are called the alphabet. No hieroglyphs, but simple scribbles that are supposed to form words. No respect for the proper way of writing!
The strange children with the odd hats are probably shabtis. But they are taught a language we of the Duat cannot speak. How, then, when they are called to work on our behalf, do they even understand what they are to do? Exactly, they don't!
And that means that the owner of this soul house has to work themselves! Seriously... After a hard life, when you deserve a life of leisure, with servants doing all the work, you have to get your hands dirty because your servants don't speak the same language as you!
Here is a detail of the strange writing and the shabtis.
At first this looks like a comfortable little scene. Going to bed at the end of the day, to have a well deserved rest. But then you notice the things on the right...
Can you see the demons?
On top two demons half skinned, half skeletons!
And below them a very badly mummified person.
And what do we see below the skeleton? An impaled... shabti? Or a demon?
Who would want to have these with them for all eternity? Skinned persons? Skeletons? I have written in my book "How I Became a Mummy" that inviting skeletons for dinner is not the best idea. Everything falls through them when they eat, and so they leave a horrible mess. Yet they are always hungry, poor sods.
And that impaled shabti must have done something horrible. I would not want to have such a servant in my soul house!
In room four there are several owls on the floor. We all know owls are birds of death. But also they have keen eyes to see in darkness. Birds represent chaos. So I am not altogether convinced that having these birds inside the soul house is a good thing. Also the lady in the picture seems somewhat scared. There is something spooky about all this.
Just look at this - a bearded man inside a soul house. Everyone knows that the enemies of Kemet had beards. We shaved. The pharaohs had ritual beards but those were quite another matter. This bushy beard reveals that this is one of the Nine Bows - an enemy of Kemet.
This soul house is beginning to look more and more like a house of horrors! Who has it made and for what purpose I'm sure I cannot understand.
At first this room appeared quite pleasant. We have a king, and two beautiful wives. Very good.
And then you see those strange... owls. So far I have counted five owls in this soul house. Not good.
In this room you see the occupant of the house has to study the odd language taught to the shabtis. I refer to that book in front of him. This is not right - one should not be forced to learn new things in the afterlife. Everything should be according to Ma'at - as it has always been. It is not our business to learn new languages so that we could make our servants do our work. Most inappropriate...
Now here is the only proper room in the house. Larder filled with all the good things to eat. No vermin, no scary shabtis, no birds or demons. One could retreat here to escape all the strange things in the other rooms, but the room is too small to spend eternity in.
I had to ask my scribe what was happening here. She explained to me this is the sauna. It is a room that is heated to an intolerable temperatures. Why, I ask, why? All through our lives we did everything to keep our houses cool. Windows were small and high up on the walls. Wind catchers on our roofs directed towards the northern winds. No one wanted to sweat all through the day. And someone makes a room where the temperature is high enough to make water boil?
This has to be a conspiracy of the enemies of Kemet. Just look at that beard of the person heating the room. I rest my case.
Here they are again - the long-bearded enemies of Egypt. Clearly they have been looting the larder and are now eating away the food that belongs to the owner of the soul house. Shocking...
Looking up we see there is someone living in the attic. There is laundry drying, a pillow and a blanket. It is clear to me this is the place where the owner of the soul house has to hide all the enemies and demons inhabiting the house. And obviously they have to do their own laundry and cleaning. Not at all how it should be in the afterlife.
I am convinced this soul house was made by the enemies of Kemet - to gain access to our afterlife and steal our servants and comforts for their own use. Fortunately the owner of the soul house has decided not to use it, and so it stands there in the corner of the cafeteria, and the enemies are stuck in this modern world.