Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Most Powerful Gods And Goddesses In Ancient Egypt!


Egypt had one of the largest and most complex pantheons of gods of any civilization in the ancient world. Over the course of Egyptian history hundreds of gods and goddesses were worshipped. The characteristics of individual gods could be hard to pin down. Most had a principle association (for example, with the sun or the underworld) and form. But these could change over time as gods rose and fell in importance and evolved in ways that corresponded to developments in Egyptian society. Here are a few of the most important deities to know.

 1) Amun, Ra, and Amun-Ra – The Deities of Sun and Wind

Source: Paizo. Credits: Ekaterina Burmak, Johan Grenier, and Rob McCreary

Often considered among one of the most important ancient Egyptian gods, Amun was the divine entity who represented the air and the sun. Sometimes portrayed as the king of gods, Amun was also the patron deity of Thebes, the royal capital during the impressive New Kingdom era of Egypt, circa 16th century BC to 11th century BC. In fact, in the earlier centuries, Amun was a minor god, and as such played second fiddle to ‘war gods’ like Montu. However, the New Kingdom period brought forth the ascendancy of the diety, who was venerated as the ‘Self-Created One’.

Ra, on the other hand, was considered as one of the powerful Egyptian gods who was associated with the Pharoah – so much so, that by Fifth Dynasty, almost every ruler was symbolically hailed as the son of Ra. He was also associated with the earlier sun god Atum of Heliopolis. And over time, especially during the New Kingdom, the thriving Amun cult merged the two entities Amun and Ra into a composite god known as Amun-Ra, who was hailed as the “Lord of truth, father of the gods, maker of men, creator of all animals, Lord of things that are, creator of the staff of life.” According to many scholars, Amun-Ra sort of symbolized the combination of the invisible force (of wind) with the visible majesty (of the life-giving sun), thus establishing an all-encompassing deity who covered most aspects of creation.

 2) Maat – The Goddess of Order


Maat, also spelled Mayet, in ancient Egyptian religion, the personification of truth, justice, and the cosmic order. The daughter of the sun god Re, she was associated with Thoth, god of wisdom.
The ceremony of judgment of the dead (called the “Judgment of Osiris,” named for Osiris, the god of the dead) was believed to focus upon the weighing of the heart of the deceased in a scale balanced by Maat (or her hieroglyph, the ostrich feather), as a test of conformity to proper values.
In its abstract sense, maat was the divine order established at creation and reaffirmed at the accession of each new king of Egypt. In setting maat ‘order’ in place of isfet ‘disorder,’ the king played the role of the sun god, the god with the closest links to Maat. Maat stood at the head of the sun god’s bark as it traveled through the sky and the underworld. Although aspects of kingship and of maatwere at times subjected to criticism and reformulation, the principles underlying these two institutions were fundamental to ancient Egyptian life and thought and endured to the end of ancient Egyptian history.

3) Khepri – God of the Rising Sun – The Egyptian Scarab God



The Egyptian Scarab Beetle was associated with the god of the Rising Sun called Khepri.Khepri represents rejuvenation, divine wisdom and immortality.He was one of the forms of Ra, the sun god. Khepri was the dawn, Ra was midday and Atum was the evening sun.He was often shown as a beetle-headed man, a beetle-headed hawk or just simply the scarab beetle.or “to be transformed”. He is the creative power linked with the miracle of the first sunrise every morning. The Egyptians would refer to him as “The Shining One”.In Egyptian mythology there is a story how the corpse of Khepri is divided and buried every night. Every morning his body is resurrected and he rises in triumph.There is yet another story that says his mother Nut swallows him every evening and that he is reborn every morning.In the Book of the Dead, Khepri is summoned to overcome the penetrating fear of disintegration. The deceased proclaims that this corpse will not decay because “I am Khepri. My body parts will continue to exist.”Khepri gave the promise of a renewable life after death.

4) Hathor – The Cow Goddess

Hathor, in ancient Egyptian religion, goddess of the sky, of women, and of fertility and love. Hathor’s worship originated in early dynastic times (3rd millennium BCE). The name Hathor means “estate of Horus” and may not be her original name. Her principal animal form was that of a cow, and she was strongly associated with motherhood. Hathor was closely connected with the sun god Re of Heliopolis, whose “eye” or daughter she was said to be. In her cult centre at Dandarah in Upper Egypt, she was worshipped with Horus.There were cults of Hathor in many towns in Egypt and also abroad, for she was the patroness of foreign parts and of many minerals won from the desert. In the Sinai turquoise mines, for example, she was called “Lady of Turquoise.” At Dayr al-Baḥrī, in the necropolis of Thebes, she became “Lady of the West” and patroness of the region of the dead. In the Late Period (1st millennium BCE), women aspired to be assimilated with Hathor in the next world, as men aspired to become Osiris. The Greeks identified Hathor with their Aphrodite.

5) Anubis – The Jackal God



Possibly of the most visually recognizable of the ancient Egyptian gods, Anubis (or rather Anpu or Inpuin Egyptian language) was represented as a jackal-headed entity associated with the rites of embalming the deceased and the related afterlife. And like many contemporary Egyptian gods, Anubisdid have other aspects, but his core attributes were seemingly always related to the matters of death. For example, even during the 1st Dynasty period (circa 3100 BC), Anubis was perceived as a protector of graves – possibly to endow a positive aspect to the propensity of jackals who tended to dig up shallow graves.

To that end, Anubis pertained to one of the rare Egyptian gods, who in spite of his ancient legacy, was not venerated in dedicated precincts and temples (at least according to archaeological evidence or lack thereof). On the contrary, the tombs and mastabas of the dead were seen as his ‘places of worship’, including a particular shrine at Anubeion which contained the mummified remains of dogs and jackals. Suffice it to say, Anubis was often intrinsically related to the rites associated with death, and thus he played the role of the deity who ushered souls into the afterlife. Over time, he might have even overtaken Osiris as the main ‘judge’ in the Weighing of the Heart ceremony – as depicted in the scenes from the Book of the Dead.
Now in spite of his visually striking features and frequent ancient artistic depictions – that as we mentioned before, consisted of a black jackal’s head, Anubis played almost no part in the actual Egyptian mythology. And while the color black itself symbolized both desolation and rebirth, Anubiswas possibly also associated with the god Upuaut (or Wepwawet), another deity with canine (or dog) features but with grey fur.

6) Isis – The Magic Goddess


Probably the most famous of all Egyptian goddesses, Isis was initially associated with Hathor, thus being heralded as the personification of many of the ‘motherly’ qualities. However, she further rose in significance during the Old Kingdom period, as one of the prominent characters of the Osiris myth, in which she not only resurrects her murdered husband, the divine king Osiris but also successfully gives birth and protects his heir, Horus.This narrative was symbolically mirrored in the affairs of the ancient Egyptian state, with the very name Isis being derived from Egyptian Eset, (‘the seat’), which refers to the throne. In essence, the goddess was perceived as the divine mother of the kings, while Horus (discussed later in the article) was associated with the Pharaohs themselves. This analogy of the throne was also prevalent in the very depiction of Isis, with her original headdress carrying an empty throne that signified the seat of her slain husband.Over time, Isis was given various epithets like Weret-Kekau (‘the Great Magic’) and even Mut-Netjer(‘the Mother of the Gods’). Judging by these titles, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Isis overtook all the previous Egyptian goddesses in popularity, so much so that later on some of them were relegated to mere aspects of Isis. Moreover, the adoration of the goddess also reached beyond the traditional boundaries of ancient Egypt, to account for a persistent cult that was spread across the later Greco-Roman world.
7) Thoth – The Ibis God
Thoth, the god of writing and wisdom, could be depicted in the form of a baboon or a sacred ibis or as a man with the head of an ibis. He was believed to have invented language and the hieroglyphic script and to serve as a scribe and adviser for the gods. As the god of wisdom, Thoth was said to possess knowledge of magic and secrets unavailable to the other gods.
In underworld scenes showing the judgment undergone by the deceased after their deaths, Thoth is depicted as weighing the hearts of the deceased and reporting the verdict to Osiris, the god of the dead.

8) Horus – The Falcon God


The most well-known of all ‘avian’ Egyptian gods, Horus was also possibly one of the first known national Egyptian gods, who was worshipped in various forms and aspects from the Predynastic period to the Roman Egypt epoch. However, there are at least six known Horus entities that are mentioned in Egyptian mythology – and we will only talk about the deity otherwise hailed as Horus the Younger, the son of Osiris and Isis, and the rival of Set, his father’s murderer.

Completing the Abydos Triad, Horus was regarded as a powerful sky god who was designated as the divine protector of the pharaohs. His legacy is also fueled by his epic mythical battle against the adversary Set, from which Horus emerged victorious, thereby uniting the two lands of Egypt, albeit after losing one of his eyes. In essence, the avenging Egyptian deity was also perceived as a god of war whose name was frequently invoked before actual battles by the rulers and commanders.
As for his physical attributes, Horus, especially when combined with the sun god Ra to form Ra-Harahkhte, was usually depicted as a falcon-headed man wearing the pschent, the symbol of kingship over unified Egypt. On the other hand, his restored eye, personified as the Eye of Horus, was the ancient Egyptian symbol for protection and sacrifice. Quite intriguingly, the Ptolemaic dynasty favored another form of Horus known as Harpocrates (or ‘Horus the Child’), who was depicted as a winged-child with a finger on his lips – suggesting the virtue of silence and keeping secrets.

9) Osiris – The Dead God


Osiris, one of Egypt’s most important deities, was god of the underworld. He also symbolized death, resurrection, and the cycle of Nile floods that Egypt relied on for agricultural fertility.

According to the myth, Osiris was a king of Egypt who was murdered and dismembered by his brother Seth. His wife, Isis, reassembled his body and resurrected him, allowing them to conceive a son, the god Horus. He was represented as a mummified king, wearing wrappings that left only the green skin of his hands and face exposed.
10)Mut-The Mother of Goddess
Mut, in Egyptian religion, a sky goddess and great divine mother. Mut is thought to have originated in the Nile River delta or in Middle Egypt. She came to prominence during the 18th dynasty (1539–1292 BCE) as the companion of the god Amon at Thebes, forming the Theban triad with him and with the youthful god Khons, who was said to be Mut’s son. The name Mut means “mother,” and her role was that of an older woman among the gods. She was associated with the uraeus (rearing cobra), lionesses, and royal crowns.
At Thebes the principal festival of Mut was her “navigation” on the distinctive horseshoe-shaped lake, or Isheru, that surrounded her temple complex at Karnak. Mut was usually represented as a woman wearing the double crown (of Upper and Lower Egypt) typically worn by the king and by the god Atum. She was also occasionally depicted with the head of a lioness, particularly when identified with other goddesses, principally Bastet and Sekhmet.


Bibliography ________________________

[ 1 ] Encyclopedia britannica- written by(The Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica )
[ 2 ] REALM OF HISTORY


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