We are not what we do, but what we do does in many ways stem from what we are.
Egyptian religion was both intuitive and rationalistic. Since its focus was so pragmatic the Greeks and Romans actually saw no reason to compromise it, and translated some of their concepts into Greek or Roman terms. Thus the cult of Osiris gave birth to the elusian mysteries, and other imagery became very wide spread. There was no compromise of Egyptian shamanism until the adoption of Christianity as a state religion by the Roman Empire and there is evidence of Egyptian mythology having a strong influence on it. The view of the physical and spiritual existence being intimately linked went so far as to impact their long term views of life. They believed in immortality of the soul, but in fact they saw you as having multiple components of the soul.
- ka, being the body
- ba, being the heart
- akh, being the inner god or divine potential
They saw that if your ka wasn’t preserved correctly (which was the duty of the priests of Anubis, who was the god of transition), then you could not come to transition into the kingdom of Osiris, and your spirit would instead roam the wastes. When Anubis came for you he would place your ba or heart on a scale countered by a feather representing the concept of ma’at. If your heart were not heavy with strife and guilt from having lead a life of turmoil and disruption, you were pure enough to enter Aru the kingdom governed by Osiris and peaceful. If not then it was given to the demon Amit by Osiris, and without your ba you would be condemned to not know the peace of Aru and be subject to the torments of the children of Apep, the original serpent of chaos and the source of dark spiritual influence. A literal hell on earth.
The various domestic religions of Egyptian weren’t isolationist and recognized the validity of the other spirits. Set only later became the substitute for Apep when he was adopted as the embodiment of Baal by the Hyksos rulers. Originally the worshipers of Set were more of a warrior cast, and Set was the victor over Apep or chaos in the name of the spiritual order. The serpent symbolism in the Bible is likely of Egyptian origin as was the concept of demons being in the lake of fire. As the devourer, Amit was said to be the guardian of a lake of fire.
What about the concept of hell? Hell was a word of Norse origin and the modern picture of hell is a fusion of the Egyptian concept and the Nordic. It is what made Osiris fit to rule Aru, the peaceful region of the underworld. In Egyptian religion, like in all shamanistic faiths, the underworld was not considered evil of itself. They saw it both as the place of death and rebirth. You die here to be perhaps reborn in Aru. To the Druids you die here to be perhaps reborn in the Summer Lands. They saw the place of death as the source of life. Thus the ability to cultivate the fields was a spiritual act, because from the underworld sprouted their crops and their livestock survived or withered based on the prosperity of the earth.
Your thoughts are welcome. Be well friends.