A Curious Invitation present London Month of the Dead
The Tibetan and Egyptian Books of the Dead with Dr Alice Stevenson and Francesca Fremantle
Saturday 29th October at 1:00 pm

Explaining what happens to us when we die is one of the principal functions of religions. Some of them even go as far as issuing detailed guidance as to what we can expect on our voyage to the next world.

“The Book of Emerging Forth into the Light” was a series of magic spells complied by Egyptian priests over 1000s of years to help the dead soul traverse the underworld and attain the afterlife. A papyrus copy would be placed in the tombs of Pharaohs. Over the years the privilege began to be accorded to lower mortals too. Prussian Egyptologist Karl Richard Lepsius produced the first modern translation of these incantations in 1842 and it was he who coined the name “The Book of the Dead”. In her talk, Egyptologist and curator of the Petrie Museum DR ALICE STEPHENSON will explore the spells, prayers and incantations contained within this collection of funerary texts paying special attention to the orignal manuscript held in the Petrie Museum.

“The Liberation Through Hearing During the Intermediate State” is a guide for the dead soul to facilitate its journey through limbo and on to eventual resurrection. According to legend it was composed in the 8th century by Padmasambhava, a Buddhist master who built the first monastery in Tibet. In 1927 an English translation was published by American anthropologist Walter Evans-Wentz. He named it “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” in recognition of its similarities with the earlier Egyptian text. Aldous Huxley introduced it to Timothy Leary who in turn used it as the basis for his 1964 manual on LSD usage “The Psychedelic Experience”. It was after reading Leary’s book that John Lennon wrote “Tomorrow Never Knows”.

FRANCESCA FREMANTLE will reveal the secrets of this ancient manuscript, exposing how it is as much a work for the living, as it is for those who wish to think beyond a mere conventional lifetime to a vastly greater and grander cycle.

Tickets £12 including a gin cocktail. Please click here to buy.

Dr Alice Stevenson completed her MPhil and PhD at the University of Cambridge, where she studied the formation of identities through Egyptian Predynastic burials. Her specialist areas of research are archaeological theories of burial and identity, prehistoric and early historic Egypt and Nubia, as well as the history of Egyptology and archaeology. She has held research and teaching appointments at the Institute of Archaeology, UCL and is currently a researcher at the University of Oxford, where she also teaches courses in World Archaeology, Museum ethnography, and Egyptology.

Francesca Fremantle is a scholar and translator of Sanskrit and Tibetan works of Hindu and Buddhist tantra, and was a student of Chögyam Trungpa for many years. Fremantle worked closely with Trungpa on the 1975 translation of the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Her 2001 revised combination of a translation of excerpts is embedded within an extended commentary on the Tibetan Book of the Dead, entitled "Luminous Emptiness" (Shambhala).

Fremantle received her doctorate from the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She is a teacher with the Longchen Foundation, established by Chögyam Trungpa and Dilgo Khyentse, and directed by Rigdzin Shikpo.

The Venue - Bromptoon Cemetery