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Ma’at Transcends Life & Time

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It almost seems impractical to comment on information that is thousands of years old; information that has been subject to centuries of translation and interpretation. However, the “Laws of Ma’at” were inscribed in stone, as though the universe intended to preserve them for all future generations.

While there are volumes that have been and will be written on Kemetic philosophy, my intention is to participate in the dialogue and perpetuation of Kemite ideological revelation. Thus, this essay’s primary intention is to record for the reader, “The 42 Negative Confessions.”

When Ra emerged in his Boat for the first time and creation came into being, he was standing on the pedestal of Ma’at. Thus, the Creator, Ra, lives by Ma’at and established creation on Ma’at; it is said that Ra created the universe by putting Ma’at in the place of chaos. “So creation itself is Ma’at.”

Ma’at was a fundamental part of the foundation of the first civilization developed by human beings on this planet. Ma’at was a philosophy, i.e., a belief system that taught the Kemites to identify the heart as the seat of human actions and choices. And, that those actions and choices should be cultivated in a way that ushers human beings into the presence of the Divine.  i

Dr. Muata Ashby; African Religion, Anunian Theology says:

"Maat is a philosophy, a spiritual symbol as well as a cosmic energy of force which pervades the entire universe. She is the symbolic embodiment of the world order, justice, righteousness, correctness, harmony, and peace. Ma'at is recognized by her headdress composed of a feather which symbolizes the qualities just mentioned."

Ma’at took center stage as the Kemites evolved in their understanding of creation, humanity, and spiritual enlightenment. In this document, my intention is to share the “42 Negative Confessions,” as they are as relevant today as they were thousands of years ago.

The “42 Negative Confessions” embody a message for the living and those who make the transition from life to death. Once someone transitions from life to death, the life that was incarnated in the body, enters another realm of existence.

According to Kemetic spirituality, the journey begins with the deceased entering the Duat, wherein somewhere between the fifth and sixth level they enter the Double Hall of Truth, also known as the Hall of Ma’at. 

*

Judgment took place in the Hall of Ma’at, wherein the deceased was judged by 42 Assessors, in accord with the 42 Laws of Affirmation. The 42 Assessors were jurors of Ma’at.

The interrogation process was referred to as the “negative confessions” because it was the belief that a person who lived with strong morals and integrity would answer negatively to each question. Below are the 42 precepts (negative confessions), recorded by Muata Ashby; Introduction to Maat Philosophy:

  1. I have not done wrong (variant: acting with falsehood).
  2. I have not robbed with violence.
  3. I have not done violence to anyone or anything (variant: rapacious – taking by force; plundering).
  4. I have not committed theft (variant: coveted).
  5. I have not murdered man or women (variant: or ordered someone else to commit murder).
  6. I have not defrauded offerings (variant: or destroyed food supplies or increased or decreased the measures to profit). 
  7. I have not acted deceitfully (variant: with crookedness).
  8. I have not robbed things that belong to God.
  9. I have told no lies.
  10. I have not snatched away food. 
  11. I have not uttered evil words (variant: or allowed myself to become sullen, to sulk, or become depressed.
  12. I have attacked no one.
  13. I have not slaughtered the cattle that are set apart for Gods.
  14. I have not eaten my heart (overcome with anguish and distraught). Variant: Committed perjury.
  15. I have not laid waste the ploughed lands.
  16. I have not been an eavesdropper or pried into matters to make mischief (variant: spy).
  17. I have not spoken against anyone (variant: babbled, gossiped).
  18. I have not allowed myself to become angry without cause.
  19. I have not committed adultery (variant: and homosexuality).
  20. I have not committed any sin against my own property.
  21. I have not violated sacred times and seasons.
  22. I have not done that which is abominable.
  23. I have not uttered fiery words. I have not been a man or woman of anger.
  24. I have not stopped my ears against the words of right and wrong (Maat).
  25. I have not stirred up strife (disturbance). I have not caused terror. I have not struck fear into any man. 
  26. I have not caused anyone to weep (variant: hoodwinked).
  27. I have not lusted or committed fornication nor have I lain with others of the same sex (variant: or sex with a boy).
  28. I have not avenged myself (variant: resentment).
  29. I have not worked grief, I have not abused anyone (variant: quarrelsome nature).
  30. I have not acted insolently or with violence.
  31. I have not judged hastily (variant: or been impatient).
  32. I have not transgressed or angered God.
  33. I have not multiplied my speech overmuch (talk too much).
  34. I have not done harm or evil (variant: thought evil).
  35. I have not worked evil or curses on the king.
  36. I have never befouled the water (variant: held back the water from flowing in its season).
  37. I have not spoken scornfully (variant: or yelled unnecessarily or raised my voice).
  38. I have not cursed God.
  39. I have not behaved with arrogance (variant: boastful).
  40. I have not been overwhelmingly proud or sought distinctions for myself (selfishness).
  41. I have never magnified my condition beyond what was fitting or increased my wealth, except with such things as are (justly) mine own possessions by means of Maat (variant: I have not disputed over possessions except when they concern my own rightful desired more than what is rightfully mine. possessions). Variant: I have not.
  42. I have never thought evil (blasphemed) or slighted the God in my native town.

The interrogation by the 42 Assessors represented the first part of the hearing. But, before we reflect on the second part of the hearing, let me infer that in the first part of the hearing, the deceased, is really judging himself, and the Assessors, are the projections, of his own heart. 

Professor Kaba Hiawatha Kamene tells us:

“It is the truthfulness of the individual to himself that tips the scales of Ma’at (to thine own self, be true).”

The first part of the hearing was conducted by Ma’at, but the second, consisting of weighing of the heart was conducted by Djeuti. 

Once the deceased answered the 42 questions in the negative, affirming purity of heart; their confessions were confirmed by weighing the “Heart” on the Scales of Justice,” against the “Feather of Truth.”

Once the Heart-Soul is declared pure, it was allowed to enter the Hidden Land (Heaven).

Deeper Perspective: Judgement in the Hall of Ma’at is layered with spiritual implications. For instance, judgment is much more than an event that occurs upon death; it is taking place continuously. Judgment has to do with living in harmony with immorality.

Therefore, the 42 affirmations were also for the living. To understand them,  substitute the word “will,” for “have,” and construct the sentence in the 1st person. 

For example:

  1. I will not betray my Ancestors.
  2. I will not waste water.
  3. I will not do evil.

Bibliography:

  • Professor Kaba Hiawatha Kamene; Spirituality Before Religions, Spirituality is Unseen Science…Science is Seen Spirituality
  • Mellissa Littlefield Applegate; The Egyptian Book of Life, Symbolism of Ancient Egyptian Temple and Tomb Art
  • Anthony T. Browder; Nile Valley Contributions To Civilization
  • Dr. Muata Ashby; African Religion Vol I, Anunian Theology
  • Dr. Muata Ashby; Introduction to Maat Philosophy

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