‘ Burning and offering incense was a means of communication between the earthly and divine spheres. Thus it would also serve as a link between the deceased king and the deities in whose company he was believed to travel across the sky every night in eternity, when he himself became part of cosmos.
This was an idea established at the very beginning of Egyptian civilisation nearly 5000 years ago. We first encounter it in the so-called Pyramid Texts […]
Again we find incense, offered by priests in the mortuary temple, playing a vital part as an intermediary between the dead king and the gods in the sky:
The fire is laid,
The fire is lit.
The incense is placed on the fire.
The incense glows.
Your scent comes to the dead King Unas, oh incense.
The scent of King Unas comes to you, oh incense.
Your scent comes to King Unas, you gods.
King Unas is with you, oh gods.
You are with King Unas, oh God.
You live with King Unas, oh gods.
You love him, oh gods.
Scent was similarly efficient when brought forward in the form of an unguent. By having his body anointed the deceased king would absorb the very body fragrance of the sun god Re, so far removed from the foul odour of death and decay. The unguent had healing properties, for it would restore his body just as the eye of Horus had been healed and restored and made to see again.
I come to you king so-and-so
To anoint you with the unguent which sprang from the eye of Horus.
Anoint yourself with it.
Take its scent that your scent
May become sweet like the scent of Re
when he rises to the horizon
And the gods of the horizon rejoice with him.‘
– from Sacred Luxuries: Fragrance, Aromatherapy and Cosmetics in Ancient Egypt, Lise Manniche (pg. 35-36)
Quote posted as addendum to Sacred Scents: on the alchemy of scent in Heka and worshipping the Gods.
Relevant post: Words of Power for offering incense