The words “death” and “the dead” are used in the old scriptures to refer to living humanity in earthly embodiment. We scurrying mortals are the “dead” of the bible and other sacred books, but it is past our prerogative to read a meaning into their books other than the one they intended; or to read out of them a meaning consistently deposited therein. It is perhaps the cardinal item of the whole theological corpus, the real “lost key” to a correct reading of the subterranean meaning in esoteric literature. In ancient theology “death” means our life on earth.
Be the figure apt or be it considered unthinkable- as it will be at first by many- the texts of scripture will yield their cryptic meaning on no other terms. And the Bible is a sealed book mostly because of those words, “death” and “the dead” have not been read as covers of a far profounder sense than the superficial one.
To be sure, it is death in a sense to be understood as dramatic and relatively only. And it pertains to the soul in man, not the body. Life and death are ever as the two end seats on a “see-saw”. As the one end goes to death the other rises to life. The death of the body releases the soul to a higher life; conversely, the “death” of the soul as it sinks in body opens the day of life to that body. The theological death of the soul in incarnation is a death that does not kill it in any final sense. It is a death from which it rises again at the cycle’s end into a grander rebirth. It is a death that ends in resurrection.
For animal man the advent of the gods was propitious; indeed it was the very antithesis of death. The plunge into carnality that brought “death and all of our woe” to the soul, brought life to the lower man. That was part of its purpose. The gods came to “die” that we mortals might “live.” They came that both they and we might have more life abundantly, BUT AT WHAT COST TO THEMSELVES – a long “walk through the valley of the shadow of death.” Theirs was the death on the cross of flesh and matter.
The use of the term “death” must be in any case a comparative one, for the strictly is no death, in the form of total extinction of being, for any part of real being. All death, so called, is but a transition from state to state, a change of form, of that which is and can not cease to be. Life and death are eternally locked in each others arms. Air lives the death of water; fire lives the death of air, and so on. So body lives the death of the soul, and soul lives the death of the body. It thrives by virtue of that death. The germ and young shoot of any seed live the death of the body of the seed. The law of incubation brings high deities into amenta. For the gods of the cycle of incarnations was a descent into hell, their crucifixion, death, and burial.
The incarnation for the soul, was its death and burial. But it was a living death and a burial alive. It was an entombment that carried life on, but under conditions that could be poetically dramatized as “death.” The inability to comprehend any but a physical sense of the word “burial” has left us victims to poetic fancy, and led to the foisting upon ourselves perhaps the most degraded interpretation of the crucifixion, death and resurrection of deity in mortal life ever held by any religious group. Not even woodland nations have wretchedly missed the true sense of the great doctrines. Literalism in this instance has debased the human mind more atrociously than fetishism.
The incarnation of the Gods were forewarned that their venture into flesh would be successful on condition that they achieved it “without merging with the darkness of body.” They were to make a magnetic connection with the animal body by means of a linkage of their currents of higher life with the forces playing through the nervous system of the animal. They were thus to be in a position to pour down streams of vital power into the body, but were not to sink their total quantum of divine [intellect] into the sense life of the “beast”.
They were to hover over the physical life of the body, touch it with divine flame, but not be drawn down into it. To fall into this dereliction would be to sin, to lose a measure of their vivific life and eventually to die. For there are always two deaths spoken of in the books of the past. It was death, in the first place, for them to come under the heavy depression of fleshly existence. This was the first death. But to sink farther down and be lost in the murks of animal sensualism to a degree that made a return to their heavenly state next to impossible, was to suffer the “second death” of which the should ever stood in fear and terror in the old texts. The first death was the incarnation; the second was failure to rise and ‘return to Neter.”
The soul, then approached the “confines of death” and upon it’s approach. and at the moment of it’s divulsion from it’s seat on high, there ensued an intermediate or preparatory stage, a partial loss of consciousness. Each step downward is preceded by a swooning into unconsciousness, and possibly that which constitutes his mentality on the lower levels in mental element or compound of mental elements, separated during the swooning from higher and more spiritual enlightened elements.
This swooning on the downward path to earthly death is likened to a falling asleep. Jesus’ assertion that lazarus was not dead but only sleeping, and needed only to be awakened, is a picturing of the same condition. Incidentally the same thing is said of the earth-bound Ausar in Kemet. “That is Ausar, who is not dead but sleeping in Annu, the place of his repose, awaiting the call that bids him to come forth by day.”
“Ausar in Annu […] was not dead but sleeping. In the text of Her-Hetep (Rit, Ch 99), the speaker who personates Heru, is he who comes to awaken Ausar out of his sleep. Also in one of the earliest funeral texts it is said of the sleeping Ausar, “The Great One waketh, the Great One riseth. The “decease” of Amenta were not looked upon as dead, but sleeping, breathless of body, motionless of heart. Hence Heru comes to awaken the sleepers in their Qeres (coffins).
If incarnate life is the burden of this death, then release from it must presuppose a liberation from the thralling “dead weight.” Reputed savants in the field give no evidence of having the remotest apprehension which would have taken them into the temple of truth, the threshold of which they never quite crossed. They knew that the ancients styled this life “death,” but they were unable, apparently, to apply the connotation to the bible and theology. The obsessions of current thought were too strong for them, and overrode the logic of their own premises.
It is sometimes true that archaic usage of the word “death” makes it cover the period following the occurrence of death in its common meaning, the demise of the body. Incarnation was regarded as a continuing experience, the periodical rhythm of of release from the body no more breaking the sequence of lives than does our nightly sleep break the continuity of the experience of the days. But as our waking days are the important parts of our earthly activity, the nights being but interludes of repose and renewals of strength, so the positive incarnate periods of our larger lives are primarily significant phases of our mundane history.
The ancient seers both knew more about the subjective experiences of the soul when out of the body and were less concerned with them than we are today. They regarded the phenomenon of discarnate manifestation as but the more or less automatic reaction of the soul to the sum of its impressions in its last incarnation, a kind of reflex, threshing over the events of the life just closed. They would have regarded it as preposterous to use the vaporing of the spirits for the tenets of a religion. They were but products of a mental automatism set up by the engrossments of the last life.