Chapter VI

I Think, Therefore I Am Thoth

Or, The Hall of Two Truths


"O heart that was mine, permit me not to be wronged in the presence of Ma'at." The soul cried out. Its heart was placed on the scales, the united voices of forty two gods rang out as one: "Speak your confessions, mortal, that ye may receive your just rewards."

The soul of the Egyptian could not see the gods, its ghostly eyes were focused on the perfectly balanced scales that stood before it; on one end sat the warm beating heart of the Egyptian's now dead body — and on the other end lay a pure white feather.

"I have not stolen." The soul began slowly, the end of the scale holding the Egyptian's heart rose a little; encouraged, the soul continued. "I have not uttered curses." Again, the heart rose a little higher. "I have committed no sin." The heart gave a sudden throb, the end of the scale dropped to the floor with a loud metallic clang, there was an uproar in the crowd. Forty two voices singularly raised above the crowd, in unison calling out: "His heart is heavy with guilt, let him plead his cause to our great lady!"

The soul looked up at the goddess before it, it fell to its knees, holding its hands up to beg for mercy. The tall slim goddess was clothed in white, her skin was the softest brown, and from her back draped wings of most brilliant unearthly shades; emerald and ruby, gold and sapphire were the feathers of that goddess' wings, they lay spread across the floor behind her like a cloak of priceless gems. The soft-brown goddess looked deep into the Egyptian's soul.

"Your heart is weighed down by an unforgivable sin." She said, her words sung through the void between them, resonating through the soul of the Egyptian.

"You have taken the life of another. In anger you struck down an innocent." The lovely goddess said. The soul bowed its head, "Mercy, my lady!" It cried.

The forty two gods that stood before the soul chanted in unison: "You have been found unworthy, and are denied passage to the afterlife."

In one fluid motion the goddess' massive wings swept off the floor, their brilliant colors stretched out behind the soft-brown goddess, rising up to frame her delicate form in a most forbidding aspect. "Your fate has been sealed. Bring forth the Devourer!"

From behind the chestnut goddess sprung a creature of magnificent design. Its crocodile-like mouth tore the heart of the mortal from the scales; it shook its great mane as it swallowed the heart, human blood splattering across its golden fur. The beast was massive, its cat-like body approximating the size of a Nile hippopotamus, and each of its paws had vicious claws capable of tearing through stone. The soul of the mortal let out a terror-stricken scream as it watched its heart being devoured by the magnificent creature; by the time the heart had been completely eaten, the soul had already faded away into oblivion.

The line of souls shifted. The soul of an Egyptian woman now stood before the scales.

"O heart that was mine, permit me not to be wronged in the presence of Ma'at." The soul cried out. Its heart was placed on the scales, the united voices of forty two gods rang out as one: "Speak your confessions, mortal, that ye may receive your just rewards."

"I have not stolen." The soul began…

The chestnut goddess had lowered her fabulous wings, they once more lay draped across the black-marble floors. She turned and stepped away from the circle, her sandaled feet pattering softly; her wings flowed behind her, fire-light glittered across the feathers of precious stone as she walked away from the crowd of gods and goddesses.

"I have not blasphemed." Came the voice of the mortal soul, slightly distorted by the sounds of the crowd and largeness of the hall…

"Scribe!" The winged goddess called out to an Egyptian-looking woman clothed in leopard skins; she was holding a rather long sheet of papyrus in one hand, and, looking up, began the long task of rolling the whole thing up and tying it with a strip of twine. "My lady Ma'at." She said respectfully to the fast approaching goddess. Ma'at stopped before the scribe, "Find my husband and tell him I must speak with him urgently." She said. The scribe had closed her eyes, her head was bowed in reverence to the goddess that spoke to her. "As my lady commands." She said, and sliding the scroll under her arm, turned to leave.

"I have not committed adultery." The mortal soul cried out… The forty two gods chanted in unison: "You have been found worthy, and are granted passage to the afterlife."

The chestnut goddess fidgeted with her wings while she waited, her dark features tightened with apprehension.

"O heart that was mine, permit me not to be wronged in the presence of Ma'at." The soul cried out. The united voices of forty two gods rang out as one: "Speak your confessions, mortal, that ye may receive your just rewards."

Ma'at turned her head towards the massive onyx pillar she stood beside, her soft brown eyes scanned her reflection in its surface.

"I have not stolen."

In the reflection on the pillar the chestnut goddess saw a strikingly handsome god standing behind her. Ma'at turned around swiftly, her glorious wings slid across the floor, silently smacking against the pillar.

"Mayet." The handsome god said, his pleasingly soft-brown eyes jumped from the goddess' bright wings to her equally pleasing soft-brown eyes. "Thoth." She said, a hint of affection in her voice.

"I have not blasphemed."

"What is this matter of which you so urgently needed to speak with me?" Thoth asked.

"I saw the young goddess, Hathor, in the memory of one of the mortal souls." Ma'at said. "She was seen passing through the city ruins of Khepri ten days ago, and still traveling with the creature Anubis."

"I have not attacked any man."

Thoth was nodding his head, "This is unexpected." He said, "Either this young goddess is a great deal more powerful than we anticipated, or she would appear to be working with the creature." He said. "But to what end?" Ma'at asked.

"If their course does not change, and if they maintain the same pace that we have observed, they would reach the first gate in a little under six months time." Thoth said, his graceful features looked a little more thoughtful than normal, "It is in fact possible… Anubis could be escorting Hathor to the gates — her soul has not been judged, it's quite possible that she might pass through unharmed."

Forty two voices chanted in unison: "You have been found worthy, and are granted passage to the afterlife."

Ma'at's eyes searched the face of her Egyptian looking husband; his expression was always softer when he spoke with her, but at this moment even she could not miss the look of frustration written so clearly across his face. "You wish to speak with Ptah of this, don't you?" Ma'at asked him. His ever calculating eyes had been scanning the goddess' lovely face, "It does not matter what I wish, my duty lies here with you." Thoth said, "You cannot preside over all the judgements alone, it is too great a task."

"O heart that was mine, permit me not to be wronged in the presence of Ma'at." The soul of a young boy cried… "Speak your confessions, mortal, that ye may receive your just rewards."

Ma'at's expression hardened at Thoth's words, "There is a goddess in peril and we stand by incapable of assisting her." She said. Thoth often had difficulty understanding her heart-driven logic. "The gates were built for a reason, Mayet." He said. She could see in his eyes that his great mind was trying to work around this problem.

"We can no longer ignore what goes on beyond the gates, Thoth." She said, "I sense a severe injustice; I cannot tell whether it is this young goddess Hathor, or the creature Anubis — but this wrong must be righted, the guilty must pay."

"I have not attacked any man." … There was a loud clang that sounded like a slab of bronze hitting the floor followed by an uproar in the crowd. Forty two voices singularly raised above the crowd, in unison calling out: "His heart is heavy with guilt, let him plead his cause to our great lady!"

Ma'at stepped forward, her glorious wings spread behind her in a flash of brilliant color, but her steps were halted by Thoth's hand on her arm. He pulled her towards him a little, his gentle brown eyes were filled with concern. "I will return shortly, Mayet." He said. Ma'at's wings swung forward, wrapping around both herself and the olive-skinned god before her, their glittering jewel encrusted form hiding the two immortals from view. She stepped closer to him, placing one of her perfectly sculpted hands on his face, the deep brown shade of her skin matched almost perfectly with that of his eyes. It broke her heart to see no emotion in his eyes, no response to her touch. "I will be waiting for you." She said softly, almost a whisper. Then, stepping back, with a fluid motion of her wings she rose into the air.

Thoth gazed up at the chestnut goddess, her glittering wings carried her over the crowd at the end of the hall; she dropped down before the scales, her wings folded, and she was out of view. Thoth turned and walked away from the crowd.

The handsome god walked down the hallway. Like a great and strange enclosed city it stood, with no streets, rather one smooth glittering marble floor stretched out, reflecting the footsteps of the immortals, the voices of countless gods echoing off its smooth surface.

Beneath the mighty pillars they stood, down the marble streets they walked, through side passages, and in groups standing around the massive iron braziers. The gods of the Underworld — some human, some half way between human and the magnificent animals they so often chose to take the form of, and each and every one of them turned to bow their heads in respect of the god of wisdom as he passed them by.

"Your heart is weighed down by an unforgivable sin." Said the lovely voice of Ma'at.

"Mercy, my lady!" Came the plea of the young Egyptian soul. "You have been found unworthy, and are denied passage to the afterlife."

Thoth paused in his walk when a goddess clad in leopard skins approached him. "My lord Thoth is leaving?" She queried. "Seshat." Thoth said, "I will be gone for an indeterminate amount of time, you shall look after my affairs here for me while I am away." The olive-skinned goddess bowed her head in respect, "As my lord commands."

"You took a life, though it be to protect another." Ma'at's voice sang out, "Your fate has been sealed. Your soul shall forever dwell in the Duat."

The forty two gods raised their voices in unison, calling out: "We honor the pact of Amunet. Your soul belongs to Apophis, lord of the Underworld. We grant you safe passage through the portal to the Duat."

Thoth turned away from the Egyptian looking goddess, quickly making his way down the great steps leading to the docks.

"Hurry to me." Thoth said softly, his voice carried out across the river. The black waters ceaselessly sloshing up onto the smooth black stones the god stood on.

In an instant the large Hennu bark appeared before Thoth, the pale white Sokar standing upon it, his never blinking eyes stared blankly at the god. "My lord Thoth has called my name. How is it that I may serve the God of Wisdom?" The white god asked, his voice as smooth and deep as the black waters he sailed on.

"I require passage to the Overworld." Thoth said. The white god bowed his head, "As my lord commands." He said. Thoth stepped aboard the dark craft, the ship shot down the great river like an arrow, vanishing into the darkness.