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Spell 87: being transformed a son of the earth

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Vignette from Spell 87 of the  Book of the Dead of Ramose
Vignette from Spell 87 of the Book of the Dead of Ramose

Spell 87 is for ‘being transformed into a son of the earth’. This was a snake described as being ‘long of years, who sleeps and is reborn every day’. The Egyptians believed snakes were dangerous creatures to be both feared and revered. They had a protective role - for example the king was usually depicted with a cobra on his forehead, but they also had a destructive nature - the principal enemy of the sun-god was a huge snake called Apep or Apophis.

As in this papyrus, spell 87 is often found with spells 86 (for being transformed into a swallow) and 88 (for being transformed into a crocodile).

Spell 87.1

Translation

For being transformed into a son of the earth. Words said by</span> the Osiris, supervisor of archivists, Ramose, justified. I am a son of the earth, long of years, who sleeps and is reborn every day …

Spell 87.2

Translation

… I am a son of the earth who is at the limits of the earth. I sleep and am reborn, being renewed and rejuvenated …

Spell 87.3

Translation

… <every> day. I am the Osiris, supervisor of archivists, Ramose, justified against the enemies every day.

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