|The Ancient Egyptian Gods|
During the pre-dynastic period (from around 4000 BC to 3300 BC), animals were used as mascots to symbolize each district in the South and North. Their effigies were engraved on the top of columns and their standards were carried in front of the great ritual and royal processions.
Children usually find real (and toy) animals to be submissive and ready friends, and one could consider the ancient Egyptian period to be the childhood of our civilization. The Egyptians were very respectful towards animals and nature. In them they saw the cycle of life, protection, obedience to the mysterious laws of nature, an example of community living. This being a way to stand up for the protection of the younger members and sometimes of the entire group.
According Grik Hornung (The Gods of Egypt, the One and the Many).
" In the animal cults we find a tendency for the gods to help people broaden their minds in so many ways. One could be an Ibis or a crocodile and all sorts of different animals according to ones whim.
The many different images of God seemed to make him more accessible to the people so their problems were more easily felt by Him. The individual animals were not the gods but could metamorphose into them, so that the image and spirit of each god could move towards them and into them. "
Like the ancient hunters, the Egyptians (unlike the Hindus) ate a lot of meat, which they cooked in large pots. The Hebrews missed this during their long exodus journeying toward the future land of Israel.
In the 3rd dynasty they developed (due to the openness of spirit of King Djeser), the idea of rebirth and of " life after death ". The hope spread among the people of being reborn beside their king in another world beyond the stars.
RE, ATOUM, PTAH, ISIS and OSIRIS would replace the numerous small local deities whom the people had honored since ancient times without really understanding what they represented.
When these divine incarnations of animals were replaced by the second plan and new images of god appeared, animals only had a symbolic value as sacrifices to please the gods.
The faithful would buy an animal from the priests, who would immolate the animal, mummify it and bury it in a special cemetery where several million Ibis and several thousand bulls have been found buried. They are perfectly preserved due to their complete mummification.
Just as the Hebrews sent a scapegoat each year into the desert bearing their sins, the Egyptians tried to escape the wrath of their gods by sacrificing animals and thus obtaining redemption from their sins.
Since Vatican II, many churches have been renovated to emphasize the essential points. The presence of God in his house. According to hearsay, there are 133 saints called Peter, 79 called Felix, 77 Mary, 63 Thomas, 55 Paul, 50 William, 42 Joseph etc. We have a lot of choice!
But who can blame a devotee for praying to a saint or statue when the prayer is essentially a transference of thought and hope to contact with another spirit and another world?
CLASSIFICATION OF THE ANCIENT
WHO HAD ANIMAL FORM
1. Gods in the form of bulls
The sacred bull of Memphis considered to be a manifestation of the god PTAH and also of the sun. He was usually represented with the sun between his horns and his cult had a resurgence before the first dynasty. He symbolized fertility and was directly connected with the phenomenon of the annual floods.
This name was given by the Greeks to the ancient sacred bull of HERMONTHIS (Ermant) in Upper Egypt. At first he represented the " luminous Ba of abundance " a link between gods and human beings.
Also the Egyptians of the third intermediate period had a sacred bull god named Montou. In the Delta, .Montou was represented as Horus with the head of a falcon. In Ermant the head became that of a bull on the body of a man. These sacred bulls were to the people truly living statues, dedicated to abundance, and were embalmed and buried at their deaths at Boupheton .
He was the bull god of ATHRIBUS, the capital of the 10th district of the Delta, where he was often associated with the dead king Osiris.
The sacred bull of Thebes (Ouaset).
The sacred bull of Heliopolis, symbolized the sun god Res force and life. This beast had spurs on his body and tail, and was selected according to certain rigid criteria, to be considered an avatar or earthly incarnation of the sun god.
He lived in the courtyard of the temple surrounded by several heifers, a privilege he also had much later at Thebes. On his death, he was buried in a necropolis especially reserved for the sacred bulls, who were embalmed as high dignitaries of the realm.
A bull who symbolized the divine aspect of the pharaoh.
2. The Primeval Cow-goddesses of Ancient Times
The ancient goddess of the Delta of the Nile, who became assimilated with the Mother goddess of the East. With her feminine face, (with the ears and horns of a cow) she was shown engraved on the Stone of King Narmer of the first dynasty at Hieraconpolis. Later she was assimilated with the goddess Hathor
a primeval goddess of creation (associated with Methyet) since they both were believed to have floated in the primeval waters at the Creation of the World, and giving birth to the sun, which she protected by placing between her horns.
The female divinity whose name means "the home of Horus" because she lived in the warmth of the sun. She was given 4 attributes, some favorable, some dangerous. She was the goddess of love, music and happiness.
In the form of a cow she welcomed the dead into the next world to take them to the spirit world. Like the bull god APIS she carried the sun between her horns.
She was a goddess in the form of a white cow venerated at AFITH or Aphroditopolis. She was the mother of the god ANUBIS (a man with the head of a dog, who takes away the earthly body when it reaches the next world.) She was also the mother of MNEVIS. Her milk was believed to have the power to cure wounds, even those of the god Horus who was wounded defending his mother. Horus was healed by one drop of her milk.
The primeval cow who according to certain Egyptian cosmogonies floated on the waters of the Noun at the creation of the world. She embodied the invigorating forces in the liquid which gave birth to terrestrial life. One cannot help wondering about the source of these legends, as we now believe that life did in fact start in water and later moved on to dry land.
The great goddess of Sais. She created the sun and was believed to be one of "the aspects" of the goddess HESAT (along with METHYER.) She was often portrayed as a woman carrying a bow and arrow and wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. At Sais, she was believed to be a creator of the world.
Another primeval goddess embodying the sky. She was the daughter of SHOU and Tefnout and was often represented as a cow (according to the Book of the Sky Cow).
The nurturing cow of the third district of Lower Egypt, was associated with Isis and Hathor during the time of the pharaohs and became the companion of Horus and Apis.
She was the recumbent cow goddess who held the sun between the horns. Her name means "the widow" and this brings her closer to the story of Isis. Isis figuratively joined together the pieces of her husband to revive him, whereas SHENTAIT gave birth to the body to give him back his life. These two myths are very similar but they originate from opposite ends of the Dark Age. Thus we can surmise that the Egyptians remembered portions of the myths from the period when the 10 Atlantean kings governed and educated the whole Mediterranean basin.
3. The Ram Gods of Egypt
The God of the town of Busiris in the eastern Delta. He was represented as a criocephalic , that is with the body of a man and the head of an animal. Even though they kept his image, his cult was gradually replaced by that of Osiris.
He is the hieroglyphic for "ram" which means "the soul". In certain drawings, rams symbolized the souls of Osiris and Re, united as one god in the form of a rams head.
His name means "the soul of Mendes". This ram god was strangely enough associated in that city with the goddess Hatmehyt who was represented as a fish or more particularly as a dolphin, who helped to find the remains of Osiris when they were scattered in the water.
This ancient ram god of Heracleopolis was considered in ancient times to be a creation god. He appeared as a man wearing an Egyptian tunic wearing on his rams head the crown Atef. This was adorned with ostrich feathers and with 2 suns resting on the 2 rams horns. This probably represented a former king of Upper Egypt, who was honored in the 9th and 10th dynasties, during the first intermediate period. One should note that Osiris had the same kind of crown.
The reclining ram god of Letopolis. (He was also represented as a bull, a lion or a mummy, symbolizing the nocturnal sun and the voyage of souls). Later he was assimilated as the falcon god Horus the Great (says Hahoeris).
The ram god and Lord of Elephantine in Upper Egypt. He was also an ancient local creator god who made 2 small dolls out of clay on his potters wheel and brought them to life. He was represented with the body of a man with a rams head and horizontal horns.
His cult spread throughout Egypt but particularly at Esna and at Antinopolis, where he was associated with the frog goddess Hequet, (who produced and protected the newborn creatures emerging from the primeval water.) Starting at the fifth dynasty, the priests of Heliopolis believed him to be the sun god under the name of KNOUHM-Re but Amon replaced him at the beginning of the New Kingdom.
4. The LION GODS
A war God of the period of the Decline, deified for his courage, and represented by a man with the head of a lion, (originally from Nubia).
A lion with the head of a man (androcephalic) who personified the depths of the earth where the sun travelled between sunset and its reappearance at dawn, while Geb represents the soil in contact with air.
In the original sense, this name meant natural, wild physical strength, which the predynastic Pharaohs professed to have, in order to dominate, kill or capture their enemies. Later, this name merely meant all the lion gods.
This lion god was venerated at Philae and in Lower Nubia. He was represented under the double aspect of an adult lion and a young man, symbolizing the fullness and perpetual renewal of life. His wives were the cobra goddess Ouadjyt or a form of the goddess Satis.
5. The Egyptian LIONESS goddesses
The war goddess of 12th District of Upper Egypt, represented as a dangerous lioness. She was gradually replaced by the falcon god Nemty, who was in turn assimilated as the god Horus.
The lioness goddess of THIS and companion of Onouris. Her name means " the one who is complete (in beauty and in fervour) ". Guardian of the borders, she watched over the capital of the first dynasty. She also had the name of MENTIT.
The lioness goddess of ESNA, in the 3rd District of Upper Egypt. She was the companion of Khnoum and the mother of the god Heka (the luminous being who personified the magical). Always looking cheerful, she was assimilated with the local goddess Nebetou, the lady of the Oases.
This lioness goddess was thought to be one of the daughters of Re and was one of the circle of dangerous goddesses. She was honored in an underground cave above Tell el-Amarna at Speos Atrimedos.
At first, the name of the goddess lioness was only an epithet of some sacred pictures, however the goddess had for a long time been known as her dangerous aspects: as a lioness at Akhmim (9th district), and as a dangerous cobra (uraeus) on the island of Philae. Associated in the IIth S. with the god MIN of fertility, she became the mother of the young god Kolanthes. Repit took the form of the mother Aperetiset, shown with the hairstyle of Hathor.
The great goddess of Memphis, companion of the god PTAH, the man covered in a tight sheath. Their son was the young lion Nefertoum. Sekhmet, which means "the powerful", embodied the dangerous rays of the sun at its zenith.
She could at the same time bring death and illness, or in her good aspects heal the sick, who appealed to her by: "reciting the litanies" at the New Year to keep away danger and the illnesses caused by the flooding.
This goddess, daughter of Re, the wife and sister of the lion SHOU, she embodied light and the rays of the sun. In the form of a fierce lioness, she left her father Re, embodying the myth of the Runaway, leaving to live in the desert of Nubia. Her return is part of the ancestral myth of the flooding, coinciding with the New Year (mid July).
The Egyptian gods could take all kinds of forms, and even intermarry to produce forms which were completely different.
6 - a) The pre-dynastic FALCON gods
Many nations have adopted the emblem of the royal eagle, but the Egyptians adopted the emblem of the falcon in very ancient times. We will study the two FALCONS " Horus ", the second of whom became the son of Osiris and Isis: the symbol of royal strength.
This god war falcon is shown in a boat, and he reigned in the province of 12th district of Upper Egypt. Nicknamed " the claw ", the adepts of his ancient cult gave him a twin brother : the falcon god Nemty (the name means: one who journeys), who by contrast with his twin is usually represented perched on a shield.
This god is probably one of the most ancient of the falcon gods, coming from the oases near the Libyan deserts. Presented as a man with the head of a falcon, he was later associated with SETH of Ombos (the one that killed his brother Osiris).
This falcon god had taken the place of the ram god Kerty (the symbol of the setting sun), at Letopolis, and the clergy of Heliopolis assimilated him with the god HAROERIS, or Horus (the ancient).
This god was presented as a man with a falcon's head, adorned with two feathers and a solar disk decorated with two uraeus (cobras). In the year 2050BC four sanctuaries were erected at ERMANT so that he could ensure the protection of the people.
This goddess was the sister of Isis, of Osiris and Seth (and also the wife of Seth! ) She was venerated at Komir in Upper Egypt in the form of a milan, (a royal falcon with a forked tail).
The falcon god of Mo'Allah, HEMEN was a very ancient divinity mentioned in the first texts of the pyramids. He was a mythological war god who fought against the forces of primordial chaos.
(which became Bouto) in Lower Egypt. This is a very old city where they worshipped the falcon Horus : Horus-Amset and Horus-Hapy, associated with the cobra goddess OUADJYT. Most of these gods were seen in religious processions with the head of a dog in order to show their royal divinity.
Venerated from Damanhour to Heliopolis, then in all the Valley of Nile where he was considered to be an aspect of the sun and the 5th child of the creation gods : Geb and Nout. Avery ancient god who in some ways inspired the image of Horus the younger, the son of Isis and Osiris. This great bird of Egypt, long believed to be the Lord of sky, was in the first dynasties considered to be the image of the resplendent SUN at its zenith.
Guardian of the 20th province of the Delta, he appears in the shape of a warrier falcon with two feathers on his head. Partner to Khensit, the daughter of Re and at SHESEMTET, the companion of Re, who both appear in the shape of Uraeus.
The ancient divinity whose cult spread to the region of Memphis, he was shown in the shape of a mummified falcon. With his boat named Henou, he led the souls into the hereafter. He was replaced by the god PTAH.
6 - b) The falcon aspects of HORUS as the son of Isis
Seated on the knees of his mother, his head on his mother's breast (picture taken from texts in the pyramids). On becoming adolescent, he was stung by a scorpion, but Isis healed it.
Divinity of Heliopolis representing the sun at its zenith. He was a man with a head of falcon, surmounted by solar disk and two uraeus. This was Horus at the height of his power, and he was worshipped with Atoum-Re of the 5th dynasty.
Part of the Osirian mythology, his mother queen Isis had revived her husband. It was this child who was the forerunner of Harpocrate whose cult developed during the New Empire.
This is the Horus who takes care of his father (Osiris). Associated with the resurrection of his father, he inherits the great and vital principles of his father.
A man with the head of a falcon, partner to the goddess Selqit who watches over the entrails of the dead, he is with Amset, Douamoutef and Hapy, one of the four faces of HORUS in charge of watching over the liver, the stomach, the lungs and the entrails of the bodies having undergone the process of mummification.
7. The Vulture Gods
The city of Elkab (or Nekheb) honored the goddess NEKHBET, who was represented by a white vulture perched on three lilies or three stylized lotus flowers. She holds in her claws the insignia of royalty, recalling the ancient period when the South was an independent kingdom fighting with the kingdom of North.
In Egyptian Antiquity, Nekhbet was invoked under the name of the goddess "SHETAT". Locally she was considered to be a creation goddess, who created the world pronouncing seven words and launching seven arrows.
Remember that Isis will take also the aspect of a vulture to fly over the dead body of Osiris and spiritually impregnate him.
8. Canine divinities in Egyptian mythology
The Texts of the Pyramids call him the fourth son of Re, and the father of the goddess of "freshness KEBEHOUT". Sent by Re, he helped Isis to gather the dispersed pieces of the body of Osiris, which he embalmed. When embalming, the Chief of the priests wore the mask of Anubis during the rituals and of funerals of the dead.
Anubis is a Hellenist form : Inpou (the young dog) or Anpou. His title is "the one that is on the mountain and watches over the home of the dead". He was to be honored for a long time in his temple of Cynopolis in Middle Egypt.
A red dog (sometimes a monkey), assimilated with Seth (the wicked brother of Osiris) for his aggressiveness and sexual appetite.
A black dog adored from ancient times at ABYDOS, his name means "the one who is the chief of the Occident," (the Occident being comparable to the West, where the sun disappears). This was the place where they buried the dead and the animals. This master of Abydos was progressively replaced in this city by OSIRIS, and the city became the most important place of Egyptian pilgrimage, where all believers went at least once in his life!
A divinity of ASSIOUT, represented also as a black dog with one or two uraeus between his paws. His name means "the one who opens the ways" (for the corteges of processions). Like the two other canines his personality was diminished by that of Osiris from the Old Kingdom and he had only a representative local role.
9. The SNAKE gods
Snakes were considered by the Egyptians to be either benevolent or harmful, however in the group of harmful snakes some gods (usually feminine), had two faces which could express good or bad.
In the category of the benevolent snakes, the Egyptian had adopted some kinds of snakes (grass-snakes, blindworms and other innocuous reptiles) as pets for their houses, (as well as other more familiar animals), since they got rid of the mice and rats who caused real devastation in the granaries and transmitted infectious illnesses.
But the Egyptians had such knowledge of dangerous snakes like the asps and cobras, that they raised them (with care) to set them free at night into enemy camps, or introduced them into the heart of the pyramids in order to protect the treasures of the dead kings from that which they considered the biggest crime: the profanation and pillage of the royal tombs.
The Egyptians honored the Uraeus, the symbol of royal authority, represented by a cobra raised up on his tail, ready to bite. This menacing image inspired fear and respect reminding all that Pharaoh had: "the right over life and death" for each one of his subjects.
a. Mythology of the dangerous snakes :
As in the Genesis, one finds the myth of a very artful, diabolical original snake who threatens constantly the balance of creation, and tries to corrupt royalty. He compromises the salvation of human souls by inspiring them to do acts of wickedness.
The existence of this mythical, malevolent snake goes back far into the pre-dynastic period, his emblem was also recovered on the tomb of king of Ankhitifi of the 11th dynasty who was buried in the necropolis of Mo'Allah (3rd district). It is around this period that Abraham came to Egypt.
Like a mythological monster, the snake goes out in the night to upset the boat of the sun, which must be born again in the morning in the east. And not succeeding, he sets traps in the path of departed souls.
The snake of chaos (probably derived from Apophis) and BUTO an ancient winged cobra goddess venerated at Pe and Dep in the delta of Nile, which became Bouto: the capital of the ouadjyt.
She was the companion of the falcon god SOPDOU of the 20th district. She was an ancient dangerous goddess who manifested herself as the Uraeus. Considered to be a daughter of Re, her name is seen in the some of the first texts in the Pyramids.
Strange assembly of eight divinities composed of two couples of frogs and two couples of female snakes who left the waters of the Noun at Hermopolis from a primeval egg! The first couple NOUN and NOUNET represented the liquid infinity, the second KEK and KEKOUT : the primordial obscurity, the third HEH and HEHET: spatial infinity, the fourth couple, TEMENOU and TEMENET, who personified the void, were replaced by : AMON and AMONET.
The clergy of Thebes not could accept this explanation of the universe, so they modified it in the first dynasties. They attributed creation to the two primitive forms of the invisible god AMON : the god KEMATEF (the one who accomplished the time) created the earth with the aid of his son: the IRTO snake (the one that created the Earth). They took from the Ogdoade the function of creation gods. Once they had accomplished their work, they fell asleep at Djame, and AMON (the Supreme hidden divinity) succeeded them at Memphis then at Thebes.
Name of the cobra goddess who patronized of the city of BOUTO in the Delta of Nile, where she was the associate of Horus of Pe. The goddess is represented as a cobra with her head upright. She held the OUAS against her, (the scepter of the hand of the gods) and a solar disk. She probably was a very ancient god of fertility, whose image has been assimilated to the uraeus.
There is a strange resemblance in the letters and consonnance between OUAS, OUADJYT and the OUDJA, the latter meaning "the eye of Horus", which was pulled out by Seth during his fight with Horus, who won, recovered his eye, and gave of his benevolence to the two kingdoms of the reunified Egypt.
b. Myths of the benevolent snakes :
Like the mongoose, he was a natural adversary of snakes. Also he was a protector of solar divinities, and by extension, he was supposed to fight all the enemies of the cosmos.
Contrary entity of Apophis. He represented the benevolent snake, a guardian angel of the boat of the sun mainly against his rival the diabolic Apophis. To better protect the gods Osiris and Re (who hid until the dawn), Mehen surrounded the tabernacle which contained the two divinities with his coils, and helped them to travel towards the west, where the sun gods would be born again in the morning.
The lord of the necropolis of Thebes who appeared either in the shape of an Uraeus, or in a hybrid shape composed of a snake's body in three coils, surmounted by a woman's head with her hair covered with a veil.
Nicknamed "the one that brings the kas", (the spiritual invisible forces of the divinities and also of every individual) .He was thus a benevolent snake who is to counted among the primeval gods. Creator of the sun, his parents were GEB and the snake goddess Renenoutet, (who personified destiny). Her role was to bring to souls after death the "Kas" necessary for obtaining a favorable final judgement.
A cobra goddess, who with her son Nepri (god of the crops) watched over the granaries. A temple was consecrated to her at Medinet el-Fayoum. She personified destiny and success.
" The one that united" - This slogan had often been associated with the name of Horus, in particular at HERACLEOPOLIS and at DENDARA where the son of Isis embodied the reunification of the two kingdoms. He was usually represented by a cobra standing erect on his tail.
10. The ancient SCORPION gods
An ancient scorpion goddess venerated in the 2nd district of Upper Egypt, she protected the people against animal bites. Associated with the scorpion goddess Selqit, she gradually lost her influence to the great goddess Isis.
This scorpion goddess protected the sarcophaguses and funeral vases containing the parts of the body for mummification. A benevolent goddess, she nursed the dead and used her magic powers to heal those that were stung by scorpions. From the 5th dynasty on, she was assimilated as the goddess protector Isis.
An ancient scorpion goddess, she was assimilated as the mother of Horus the ancient.
11. Ancient divinities: CROCODILES and HIPPOS
The man with the head of crocodile, considered by the inhabitants of el-Fayoum as a primeval divinity, was associated with the sun under the name of SOBEK-Re, with his mother, the goddess Neith.
Even though initially the hippos were considered to be good animals that one hunted at one's own his risk, after the New Kingdom, they had become bothersome because of their rapid increase in numbers, and also their loud piercing cries prevented the people from sleeping at night. In the period of the Decline, the wicked Seth was assimilated to be a hippo.
His name means "the Huge"; this composite god had the paws of a lion, a crocodile's back, a hippo's form, and was a curious mixture in the people's minds of gods of ancient times......almost indefinable!
Like our demons, his aspect inspired fear, especially at the time of the trial of souls, where this monster waited on the banks of Maat and Anubis to seize souls who had been judged unworthy. He then threw them into the pastures as fodder. That's why he was nicknamed "the devouror".
Despite their uninspiring aspects, the supersticious people thought of Taouret and Ipet as aggressive, kind and strong mothers, who watched over childbirth and protected small children.
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