Near-Death Experiences in Ancient Egypt? New YouTube Talk
Updated: Oct 14, 2021
UPDATE: Here's the YouTube link: https://youtu.be/yhqHGRgW_pU
I've read in a few books about NDEs that accounts are found all over the world, and ancient Egypt is often mentioned as an example. This gives NDEs that air of ancient wisdom that is perennially associated with Egypt. Some of these books even cite my first book as evidence.
But the fact is, even though I looked at Egyptian afterlife beliefs in light of NDEs, and suggested that there was quite possibly a link between them, that's very different from saying that there were actual accounts of NDEs in Egypt. Of course, there almost certainly were NDEs in Egypt - they're known from almost all other societies across time and throughout the world. Egypt wouldn't likely be an exception, especially considering their intense millennia-long interest in the afterlife. Considering the limited uses to which writing was put, it's not really surprising that there are no personal or historical accounts of the phenomenon.
Or are there? Is there any actual evidence for NDEs in ancient Egypt? Any accounts of people dying, leaving their bodies, traveling to another world, meeting deceased relatives and a being light, then returning to the body transformed in a new, more positive state?
That's what we explored in this talk from June - I revisited my Egyptology roots after many years of cross-cultural research for this special event hosted by the Explorer's Egyptology Club. Going beyond the early afterlife texts I examined in my first book, we'll explore three ancient narratives of journeys to the underworld - which were quite possibly based on actual near-death experiences.
Incidentally, I started my academic life in Egyptology, and earned a BA in the subject at University College London's Institute of Archaeology. I won the Gordon Childe Prize for graduating top of my class, made the Dean's List, and published my first article in a psychiatry journal of all things. Imagine the shock of disappointment on the faces of my supervisors when I told them I would not be staying at UCL for my Ph.D, or even moving on to Oxford or Cambridge to continue my promising career as an Egyptologist.
Instead, I was going to a tiny, remote village in rural Wales to study cross-cultural afterlife beliefs and near-death experiences at University of Wales, Lampeter!