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Worksheet 2: Egyptian Religion - Information on Egyptian religion, including some of the most common gods

Egyptian Religion

For the Egyptians, there were many gods and they were all very important.

These were things they could not control and thererfore did not fully understand. They felt sure that if they prayed to the gods whom they believed controlled these things then they would be looked after. these settlers also worshipped gods of the things they admired like strength, or feared like the ferocity of wild animals ( such as the lion).

As civilisation grew, every town and village had its own god which only the local people worshipped. However, as time went on some of the local gods became very important to everyone.

Eye of Ra  jewellery

Eye of Ra jewellery using carnellion and lapis lazuli

AMON-RA

A combination of two gods - Amon the god of the city of Thebes and Ra the sun god. Amon Ra was believed to have been the creator (maker) of man

Osiris- God of earth and the underworld

Osiris wearing the death mask - white representing death

OSIRIS


The god of the earth, growth and the underworld. The Egyptians believed that Osiris was once the ruler of Egypt but was killed by his brother Seth in a fit of jealous anger. Seth then took over as ruler. It was said that Osiris was born again every year and the flooding of the Nile. On his death it was thought that Osiris became god of the underworld and that he had the power to give Egyptians life after death.

ISIS

Isis is represented in heirogylphs by the throne. The protector of children and wife of Osiris. Isis and Osiris were believed to have had a child named Horus.

Horus - god of Upper Egypt

Jewellery: Horus the God of Upper Egypt

HORUS

The falcon god
The child of Isis and Osiris, was the god of life.

Anubis - the jackal god

Anubis protecting the Pharoah's sarcophagus

ANUBIS

The jackal-headed god of death and ruler of embalmers, cemeteries and tombs.
Usually represented in canine form - dog or jackal - Anubis was the principal god of the dead before Osiris. He was closely associated with the necropolis and known as "God of the Hallowed Land". Representations of Anubis were placed in teh tomb to guard the mummification chamber and frighten away evil.

HATHOR


Represented by the Bull, She is the protectress of women, and goddess of joy and love

THOTH

Representations of this god as ibis headed, baboon or god of the moon. Of great importance to the Eygptians was his role as god of writing and patron of scribes,since language was considered to be a gift direct from the gods. The god-baboon is often represented watching over a crouching subservient scribe.
The ibis-headed god of learning and scribe of the gods.

The whole observable world was , for the Ancient Egyptians, a symbolic representation. From the sun and the river Nile, which gave them food and sustenance, to the animal kingdom and even architecture, different phenomena were seen to have hidden meanings. symbolism, at its deepest level, was the means by which the Egyptians interpreted the nature of life itself - the creation, the after-life and struggle between good and evil.

SETH

A desert animal with an arrow-like tail or crocodile
Brother of Osiris who killed him in a fit of jealousy and anger. At the end of the ritual where a person's heart is weighed against a feather. If the person has been good they go to heaven via a boat across the Celestial Nile and become a star. If the person is bad they are fed to Seth. The crocodile was seen as an agent of disorder ans ws associated wit the evil god Seth.

Nut- Mothergod of all heavenly bodies

Nut the sky god and protector of the Heavens

NUT

Mother of the Sungod - swallowed the Sun in the evening and regurgitated in the morning - resurrection concept
Mother of all the heavenly bodies which entered her mouth and emerged again from the womb, the sky goodess. Nut is usually represented arching over Shu, her father, god of air, and Geb, her husband and brother, god of the earth, who helps to support her. As the goddess of the cyclical working of the cosmos. Nut was also intimately connected to the idea of resurrection. The sarcophagus and tomb chamber were often decorated with stars and the goddess's image.

TEFNUT

Goddess of life-giving dew, goddess of moisture - child of the sun god - RA

Maat the god of truth, justice and the Egyptian way

MAAT

Goddess of creation and constant renewal. She symbolized the laws of existence, - law, truth, and world order. Judges were thought of as the priests of Maat. She was food and drink to Re. She was represented wearing an ostrich feather, which came to be a symbol of truth. The feather was weighed against the heart of the dead person in the judgement ritual before Anubis.

Ka - Guardian spirit

Ka holds up the arms of spiritual power

KA

Intellectual and spiritual power. Each person was born with his or her ka, which was a constant companion through life and lived on after death, returning to its divine origin.

BA

Pyschic force. The ba bird was the spiritual aspect fo the human which survived death.

ANHK

Symbol of life and irresistable strength, representative of life-giving attributes of air and water

Khepri - Life god - Reincarnation

Khepri the Scarab beetle, symbol of reincarnation

KHREPRI

The scarab - symbol of self-creation, the scarab was believed to come directly into being from the alls of animal dung which it used to protect is eggs and larva. Associated with the sun nd therfore with life-giving warmth and light, pettery models fo the scarab were often placed in tombs as a symbol of the renewal of life. Agin, in its solar role, the scarb represented the morning sun in its godform of Khepri. In his beetle form the god rose as the morning sun from the eastern horizon. A strong life god, Khepri also symbolized resurrection

LOTUS

The symbol of the remerging sun after the night and assciated with the sun god Re, who is sometimes seen as a golden youth rising from the lotus. Thus the flow, especially the blue lotus, also came to symbolize rebirth.

 

References

Chaddertion R L & Chadderton E : The Time Detectives, Nelson Press, Melbourne, 1985
Sacred Symbols,Thames and Hudson, London, 1997

 

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