Ghosts in Ancient Egypt
There was widespread belief in ghosts in ancient Egyptian culture in the sense of the continued existence of the soul and spirit after death, with the ability to assist or harm the living, and the possibility of a second death. Over a period of more than 2,500 years, Egyptian beliefs about the nature of the afterlife evolved constantly. Many of these beliefs were recorded in inscriptions, papyrus scrolls and tomb paintings. The Egyptian Book of the Dead compiles some of the beliefs from different periods of ancient Egyptian history.
The idea of total death was unthinkable to the Egyptians. The ghost would live on in the tomb to which the body was consigned. A belief grew up of a tomb world, a subterranean world where the ghosts still lived and could communicate between each other. The ghosts of rich men would need slaves to attend them, so slave ghosts were created by the simple expedient of having the living slaves entombed with the dead man. Large amounts of food were also stored in the tomb to support the ghost in the afterlife.
When a person of importance died, a collection of hymns, spells, and instructions to allow the deceased to pass through obstacles in the afterlife was placed in the coffin or burial chamber. The texts evolved over time starting with the Pyramid Texts of the Old Kingdom through the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom to The Book of Breathings in the Late Period. A selection of these writings titled the The Book of the Dead was published by Karl Richard Lepsius in 1842.
The Pyramid texts, dating to between 2400–2300 BCE, were reserved for the Pharaoh. They were carved on the walls and sarcophagi of the pyramids at Saqqara during the 5th and 6th Dynasties of the Old Kingdom. The spells are concerned with protecting the pharaoh’s remains, reanimating his body after death, and helping him ascend to the heavens. They spells delineate all of the ways the pharaoh could travel, including the use of ramps, stairs, ladders, and most importantly flying. The spells could also be used to call the gods to help, even threatening them if they did not comply.
The Coffin Texts were written on coffins beginning in the First Intermediate Period. The texts are derived in part from the Pyramid Texts but contain new material related to everyday desires since the texts were now used by the common people. Where the Pyramid Texts focus on the celestial realm, the coffin texts emphasize the subterranean elements of the afterlife ruled by Osiris, in a place called the Duat. The subterranean realm is described as being filled with threatening beings, traps, and snares with which the deceased must contend. The spells in the Coffin Texts allow the deceased to protect themselves against these dangers and “dying a second death.”
The first and second Book of Breathing were developed later, dating to the Greco-Roman period, and were placed in coffins to assist the dead in the afterlife. The first was supposed to have been written by Isis for Osiris, and the second to have been copied by Thoth. The books stress the importance of breath for the deceased, prolonging the existence of their name and preventing the second death of damnation.
The survivors of the dead thought that the spirits (akhs) of their ancestors had acquired divine powers but were still interested in their families and could intercede in response to prayers or “letters to the dead”, which have been preserved on pottery bowls, linen and papyrus.
Associated LOST Characters
Explained: 6×12 – “Everybody Loves Hugo“
When people die around the island but cannot “move on” to the next stage, they remain as whispers, watching or trying to communicate with the living. Characters often hear them when in peril, or when the Others or the Monster are near. The deceased whisperers can appear in their physical form only to a select few. Hurley discovered their nature when the long-dead Michael appeared to him to guide him. (“Everybody Loves Hugo”)
Please visit this LOSTpedia page for transcripts on “The Whispers”
1×09 – Solitary
The whispers are heard the first time in “Solitary”. In answering Sayid’s question, Danielle Rousseau responded that she had never seen any other people on the Island, but has heard them whisper. Upon his release, Sayid was returning to the beach-camp alone at dusk when he heard voices whispering out in the jungle.
1×16 – Outlaws
Chasing a boar, Sawyer was about to give up and return to camp when he heard the whispers. The whispers concluded with the phrase “It’ll come back around.” The phrase was Frank Duckett’s last words after Sawyer shot him.
Later that day while out looking for his tarp, Sawyer heard the whispers again. Again it concluded with Frank Duckett’s voice: “It’ll come back around.”
1×24 – Exodus, Part 2
Danielle tells Sayid and Charlie that she heard the whispers stating they were coming for the boy.
2×01 – Man of Science, Man of Faith
While searching the jungle for Vincent, Shannon and Sayid became separated. On her own momentarily, Shannon heard the whispers moments before Walt appeared nearby in the trees. Walt was dripping wet and speaking backwards: “Don’t press the button, button bad.” On rushing back, Sayid found Shannon on the ground, but Walt had vanished.
2×06 – Abandoned
After making love, Shannon wanted to leave to get a drink of water, but Sayid left instead to get it for her. While he was gone, Walt appeared in the tent, dripping wet and speaking backwards. He said what appeared to be, “They’re coming and they’re close.”
Shannon was running through the jungle attempting to get Vincent to track Walt down when she slipped and fell in the mud. Sayid, close behind, attempted to help and comfort her, when the two of them started hearing the whispers. They looked up to see Walt nearby in the jungle who moved away. Shannon jumped up and attempted to follow him.
Meanwhile the tail section survivors with Michael and Jin were helping transport a wounded Sawyer up a steep slope. On reaching the top and taking a rest, they noticed that Cindy had disappeared and suddenly the whispers begin. Ana Lucia drew her gun and screamed at the others to run. About the same time Shannon burst out of the bushes and Ana Lucia, thinking the group was under attack, shot her.
2×07 – The Other 48 Days
Cindy listening to the forest’s whispers just before she is “taken”, and right before the shooting of Shannon by Ana Lucia. These are partly the same whispers heard in the previous episode by Sayid and Shannon.
2×10 – The 23rd Psalm
Eko heard whispers just before his encounter with The Monster.
2×12 – Fire + Water
In his dream, Charlie tried to save Aaron. Looking up he heard the whispers coming from the jungle and walked towards them. When he looked back, the piano had fallen and been swept out to sea with Aaron inside. Charlie screamed after Aaron, then abruptly woke up.
2×14 – One of Them
Whispers are heard when Sayid starts to interrogate “Henry Gale”, when the timer hits zero and when Jack stops Sayid beating “Gale”.
Jack, Kate, Michael, Hurley and Sawyer were heading to the Others’ camp in an attempt to rescue Walt when they discovered the capsule dump. Seeing a pillar of smoke on the horizon, Jack accuseed Michael of having betrayed them again – when suddenly the entire group began hearing the whispers. Looking around wildly, Jack yelled at them to run. Sawyer was shot in the neck by what appeared to be an electric dart and fell. Michael remained still, shouting at them to wait, while Hurley took cover. Jack and Kate, running away, and firing wildly into the trees were both hit by darts. Throughout this time the whispers could be heard. The scene ends with the Others emerging from the trees to pull bags over the heads of the survivors.
3×01 – A Tale of Two Cities
At Jack’s cell, static is heard coming from the “communication” panel on the wall, then whispers and the voice of Jack’s father, saying “Let it go, Jack.”
3×05 – The Cost of Living
After the Monster throws Eko on the ground, the whispers are heard.
3×20 – The Man Behind the Curtain
In Ben’s flashback, he ran away from the Barracks. On arriving at the sonar fence he started hearing the whispers just before his dead mother emerged from the jungle on the far side of the fence cautioning him to stop. Ben cries out, but she tells him it’s not time yet.
Much later, Ben returns to the fence and deactivated it before proceeding into the jungle. A short time later he began hearing the whispers again. Looking around wildly, he screamed for his mother — and the whispers suddenly ceased as he encountered Richard Alpert.
Believing he was dying at the bottom of the mass grave of DHARMA members killed in the Purge, Locke picked up a gun from one of the bodies and pointed it at his head. He closed his eyes and moments later the whispers are heard. Opening his eyes, Locke saw an older Walt standing above the grave. Walt instructed him to put the gun down and get up out of the ditch because he has work to do.
4×01 – The Beginning of the End
The whispers can be heard as Hurley approaches Jacob’s cabin.
Whispers can also briefly be heard just before the survivors from the radio tower approach the fuselage to rendezvous with the survivors from the beach camp.
4×02 – Confirmed Dead
While Miles kneels over Naomi’s dead body, whispers can be heard.
4×06 – The Other Woman
Juliet runs into the jungle in pursuit of Daniel and Charlotte, when she hears whispers. Harper Stanhope suddenly appears before her, and gives Juliet a message from Ben to kill Daniel and Charlotte. Jack catches up to Juliet, sees Harper, and asks who she is. She introduces herself as an old friend of Juliet’s. More whispers are heard, which distract Jack and Juliet, and Harper disappears.
4×08 – Meet Kevin Johnson
On the freighter, Michael hears whispers and then sees Libby just before he is about to detonate the bomb. Libby tells Michael “don’t do it” and then vanishes. On the ABC Lost website, this scene is shown in the Lost: Revelations 408 clip. In this clip, the whispers are incoherent. However, in the actual aired episode, the whispers begin with the Mama Cass song that played on the car radio when Michael tried to kill himself the first time.
4×10 – Something Nice Back Home
As Sawyer, Claire, and Miles are walking through the jungle, whispers are heard right before Miles discovers the bodies of Karl and Rousseau. It seems that only Miles hears the whispers.
When Hurley arrived home in a flashforward, he heard whispers after finding a coconut on the floor of his foyer, but these whispers were actually revealed to be those of party guests preparing to shout “Surprise!”
The whispers are heard briefly right before Richard and the Others ambush Keamy’s team near the helicopter.
As it becomes apparent that the explosives on the freighter are going to detonate, Michael hears the whispers. He then looks up to see Christian Shephard, who tells him he “can go now.” The freighter then explodes, presumably killing Michael.
In Kate’s flashforward shes awakes to noises in her room, then the phone rings. On the other end, there are whispers, in reverse. They may say “The Island needs you. You have to go back before it’s too late”, awaiting confirmation. Claire mysteriously appears in Aaron’s bedroom, who tells her she cannot bring “him” back to the Island, presumably referring to Aaron, although the identity of “him” is never clarified. It’s revealed after that this may have only been a dream.
5×09 – Namaste
When Sun and Lapidus are searching the Barracks for Jin, they briefly hear the whispers before a light turns on in one of the cabins and Christian Shephard appears in the doorway.
5×12 – Dead Is Dead
While Ben kidnaps Alex, he tells Danielle: “if you want your child to live, every time you hear whispers, you run the other way.”
6×02 – LA X, Part 2
Kate and Jack both hear whispers before their group is captured by the Others in the tunnels beneath the Temple.
6×12 – Everybody Loves Hugo
Hurley hears whispers in the jungle while on his way to speak with “Locke” He follows them, understanding what they actually are. Here, he finds Michael, who explains that the whispers are people who have died and are stuck on The Island, unable to pass over.