The Egyptian Book of the Dead
The Book was originally intended as a set of spells and incantations meant to insure safe passage for the soul of a deceased person into the Underworld. Some of the ending chapters include instructions on not dying a second time, meaning how not to die in the underworld and thus having no chance of being reborn or living a full afterlife. The original text--at least, the bits and pieces that modern scholars possess--consists of a set of hymns, beginning with the Hymn to Osiris. This hymn is meant to call up the king of the underworld and make him aware of the presence of the soul. After summoning Osiris, the presiding priest would begin a series of ceremonies designed to give the spirit all the faculties it possessed in life, such as speech, movement of the limbs, internal organ functions, and sight. After these rites were completed, the corpse was removed to the tomb where prophetic portions of the Book were read.
According to the Papyrus (Scroll) of Ani, translated by E.A. Wallis Budge, a long ceremony took place apparently at the graveside in which the gods were introduced and recognized. Often, priests and temple staff would perform the roles of different gods and spirits. First, a prayer was said to the goddess of birth and death, Ani; then Thoth, the god of scribes makes a speech. After a plea to the god Anubis (embalming), the god Horus introduces the goddess Ani to Osiris. Ani makes a speech, and then the deceased's heart--which was viewed as the seat of intelligence--was weighed against the Feather of Knowledge. The fearsome demon Am-mit waited beneath the scales to devour the soul if the heart proved to be too heavy to enter the afterlife.
The majority of the time, different priests and priestesses acted out the parts of the gods, demonstrating to the mourners assembled what...