Ancient Egypt is probably the most fascinating civilization, not only because of the impressive relics that have survived to the present for several millennia; but because of that special charm that its mythology gives off. In this sense, the Egyptian gods form an extensive pantheon and constitute one of the most interesting parts of this ancient civilization .
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The origin of the Egyptian gods
Like many other mythologies, the Egyptian also tried to explain the creation of the world thanks to the activity of the gods . In this way, the rains, the sunrise and sunset, and even the animals, were divine manifestations on earth. In fact, the vast majority of Egyptian gods have the head of an animal and a human body, male or female.
Like the society of the time, the Egyptian pantheon was organized by families, which made up a whole genealogy in which disputes and betrayals between some antagonistic divinities were not lacking.
The importance of numerical symbology: couples and triads
Continuing with this last question, for the Egyptian civilization, any aspect of its culture, including mythology and religion, could be explained starting from a relationship of balance between two opposite concepts. In other words: the existence of a “good” god could not be understood without it having its antagonist .
In addition to the symbolic load that these celestial couples had (complementary or not), the triad also had a special value in Ancient Egypt, since the regent gods of each region were organized three by three.
Why are there so many gods of Egypt?
During the time before the pharaohs, before the unification of Egypt, these lands were divided into provinces, where they worshiped their own deities.
As more and more regions of the Nile Valley were annexed to the empire dominated by the pharaohs, so were the local gods to the Egyptian pantheon, which was expanding its membership.
In reality, there are fewer Egyptian gods than it seems
Although it seems impossible to learn the names of all the Egyptian gods, especially if we look at their appearance, personality and tasks that they were in charge of, in reality there were not as many as we might think.
Despite this diverse conglomerate of protective idols in each locality, and even in the case of a fundamentally polytheistic religion, the same god could have different names, aspects and functions., according to the characteristics that were attributed to him in those regions in which he was worshiped. Once all the provinces were incorporated into the great empire, the religion was unified, maintaining the particularities that each locality had attributed to their gods, further enriching the mythology.
To try to understand or justify why the same divine entity could be represented by different animals, the Egyptians attributed it to the fact that their celestial powers allowed their gods to manifest themselves in different ways at will.
10 Egyptian gods and the mythology around them
Even being a polytheistic religion, many of the gods of Egypt were represented with the same animal, which complicates things when it comes to identifying them. In order to distinguish them, the name of the deity was engraved at the base of the statue that represented that god or in the hieroglyph in question where it appeared illustrated.
These are some of the most important Egyptian gods in the mythology of the Nile Valley.
Egyptian god of wisdom, with power over the rest of the divinities. He wrote the sacred scriptures and is the one in charge of all intellectual activities, including science and arts such as reading, music or poetry, among others.
The god Thoth is generally associated with the moon, and is usually represented with the head of an ibis, a bird related to the pelican, with a long and thin beak; although it can also be seen with the head of a baboon.
Nut is the great mother of many other gods, among them Osiris, Isis or Nephthys; and she was the one who created the entire cosmos . When night comes, the one who is Geb’s wife, she swallows Ra, the falcon-headed sun god, to make it dark. This will rise every morning to re-illuminate the land of Egypt.
The goddess Nut is one of the few completely anthropomorphic deities: she is a woman who holds a jug of water on her head.
The Sun god par excellence, radiant and warm, when it is at its highest point of the day. During Ancient Egypt, he was just another god among the rest, but over time, Ra rose above them all as supreme leader of the world of the dead. From that moment, in the New Egypt he would become linked with the god Amon, forming with him the Amon-Ra diptych.
The animal with which this Egyptian god is usually associated is the falcon, and in the effigies in his honor, Ra used to wear a large circumference on his head, which represented the King Star.
Daughter of Ra, Isis is the image of the fertility of nature , of motherhood, magic and fidelity in the couple. Together with Osiris, her husband, and Horus, her son, she forms one of the best-known triads of Egyptian gods.
Generally, we have seen Isis as a woman, crouching or standing, dressed in a long dress and carrying on her head an ornament in the form of a throne. Due to her relationship with Ra, it is not uncommon to find that in some images of her, Isis has outstretched wings instead of arms, in an attitude of blessing.
Descendant of Ra, Hathor is the goddess of love, joy, dance , also protector of fertility and mothers along with her children. She is also the wife of Horus.
She can have the physical form of a woman or a cow’s head, in which case she will also exercise protective functions over the deceased.
Son of Geb and Nut, Osiris is the Egyptian god of vegetation and agriculture. She reigns in the world of the dead and protects them. He is the husband of Isis and will suffer betrayal upon finding death at the hands of his brother Seth.
Because of his link to flora, Osiris always appears with his face painted green.
He is the son of Isis and Osiris, caretaker of all Egypt. He is one of the main ancient Egyptian gods and such is his relevance that it used to be believed that the figure of the pharaoh was the form that the god Horus took to descend to earth.
Like Ra, he too has been depicted with the head of a falcon and the body of a man, although unlike the Sun God, Horus wears a pharaoh’s crown on his head. When his father is killed by Seth, he and his wife Hathor will fight to regain the throne.
The evil Seth is the god of the desert, chaos and storms. He was the one who murdered his brother Osiris to usurp his place on the throne, but his nephew Horus was not going to allow it. Seth represents everything negative and the destruction of what is beautiful.
In contrast to other gods of Egypt, Seth is not associated with any animal: the carvings and paintings in which he appears reveal a being with long ears and an elongated, downward-curving snout; so some suggest that he may be an anteater.
Egyptian goddess with the head of a cat, she is the protector of the home . Her character is calm and sweet, but she is able to transform into a lioness in order to protect her children.
The jackal god, guardian of the necropolis. Anubis acted as a psychopomp, helping souls to ascend to the heavens and taking care that his body was not corrupted. He is also known as the Egyptian god of mummifiers and illegitimate son of Osiris and one of the most iconic and recognizable, because of his dog-like head.
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And 5 historical examples.