There is some debate about the existence of an “ancient Egyptian shamanism”. A number of scholars used such a label to describe religious phenomena relating to the pre and proto-dynastic religion, the Opening of the Mouth Ritual (especially scenes 9 and 10), and the Tekenu ceremony. Moreover, it is possible to identify a certain “evolutionistic” tendency in explaining the two aforementioned rituals as “living fossils” of the Archaic Period. Given That the use of terms “shaman” or “shamanism” could be problematic if applied to Ancient Egypt, the main aim of the talk is to analyze the data concerning the Opening of the Mouth Ritual scenes 9 and 10 and the Tekenu ceremony in order to understand their function in their historical and sociological context through a comparison with other documents, such as the letters to the dead, the Coffin Texts spells 30–41 and the customary laws concerning inheritance. Finally, it is suggested that both the Opening of the Mouth Ritual and the Tekenu ceremony acted as “double rites of passage”, during which not only the deceased became an ancestor, but also the main officiant of the two ceremonies, who was the elder son of the dead, could achieve a new social status as the new chief of the extended family.

Keywords: Egyptology, opening of the mouth ritual, Tekenu ceremony, ancestor worship, shamanism

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2018.1.5-15

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About the author


Renata Schiavo – PhD (Egyptology), Leiden University, The Leiden University Institute for Area

Studies (LIAS); 3 Matthias de Vrieshof, 2311 BZ Leiden, The Netherlands; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.