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The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt

Updated on June 25, 2016

In Ancient Egypt the gods and goddesses were very important. The ancient Egyptians had a god or goddess for everything.

Their gods and goddesses usually had a body that was half human and half animal. They would sometimes act like humans.

Every city had their favorite god or goddess and every Pharaoh had his favorite.

Sun God Ra By Kayttaji kompak GNU 1.0
Sun God Ra By Kayttaji kompak GNU 1.0 | Source

The sun God of Egypt was Ra, who was considered the father of the Gods. Ra usually had the body of a human and the head of a falcon.

Ratet was Ra's wife, and Hathor was his daughter.

In the beginning, the sun was worshiped as Horus and then Ra. Ra is the middle of the day sun. The sun was very important in ancient Egypt. It represented light, warmth and growth. This is why the sun deities were so important in ancient Egypt.

Ra is considered the grandfather and father of the Gods. At the beginning of creation, he spit out the first couple. They were Shu, who symbolizes air and Tefnut who is moisture. They had two children. One was Geb, who was the earth, and the other was Nut, who was the sky.

Ra stood for the Egyptian beliefs of order and truth. Ra signified the cycle of birth, life and death, and this is why he is called the father of creation.

It is said that Ra will get up in the morning, and he will proceed to ride across the sky by day and at sunset he will be swallowed by the goddess Nut and she will give birth to him in the morning.

In Egyptian art you will usually see Ra with a pharaoh's Crown on his head and a sun disk above it. You will also see Ra with a falcon head. Ra's main symbol is the winged sun disk which represents the “Sun of Righteousness” with healing arms.

It is said that one day Ra became angry with human kind and in his furry he tore out one of his eyes and threw it. It is said his divine eye became the Goddess Sekhmet.

Sekhmet took the form of a lioness and she roamed around killing humans and drinking their blood.

Ra realized she was going to kill everyone so he tried to stop here but could not. Ra decided to fill a lake with pomegranate juice and beer. Soon Sekhmet came along and thinking the lake lake was filled with blood she drank it dry. She fell asleep and when she woke up she was much calmer.

Egyptian legend says Ra would be born each day and he would travel across the sky in the Manjet-boat. His travels took him through the twelve provinces. The twelve provinces represented the twelve hours of daylight. In Ra's day travels he would have to fight his worst enemy, a serpent called Apep. Ra would usually win. The Egyptians believed that on bad weather days Apep had won.

It is said he died at the end of each day and started his night job as Auf. The meaning of Auf is “Corpse.” At night he would sail in the Meseklet-boat and go through the twelve hours of darkness.

Auf would go to the underworld and bring light to the souls of the dead. When he let they were left in the dark again until he came back.

Goddess Sekhmet By Jeff Dahl GFDL
Goddess Sekhmet By Jeff Dahl GFDL | Source

Ancient Egypt's goddess of war and destruction is Sekhmet. She is also the goddess of healing and plagues. Sekhmet means “The Powerful One.”

Sekhmet is shown as a woman with a lioness head. She will often have a sun disk and uracus on her headdress.

Sekhmet from the ttemple of Mutt at Rifpr by McLeod Public Domain
Sekhmet from the ttemple of Mutt at Rifpr by McLeod Public Domain | Source

Sekhmet symbolizes the heat of the sun. She is worshiped in Memphis along with her husband Ptah and their son Nefertum. Sekhmet is connected to Bast, the cat-headed Goddess of pleasure and luxury.

The story is that Ra, the old king of the Gods, became angry with mankind and in his anger he ripped out his eye and he threw it to mankind. It is said that goddess Sekhmet is the Devin's eye. She became a lioness, and she started killing humans. She butchered them and drank the blood. Ra decided that at the rate Sekhmet was going there soon would not be anyone left on earth. Ra tried to calm her, but she refused to listen because she was enjoying killing so much.

Ra decided to fill a lake with beer and pomegranate juice. He tricked Sekhmet into thinking it was blood, and she drank it all and fell asleep. When she woke up, she was calmer with a terrible headache but she stopped her rampage of killing.

The warropr gpddess Sekhet By User Nafarmaat CC By-SA 2.5
The warropr gpddess Sekhet By User Nafarmaat CC By-SA 2.5 | Source

At times, Sekhmet was a violent Goddess. She was also a healer and would set peoples broken bones. She would start epidemics if she were not honored properly, but she would also stop them.

Bast and Nit By Unknown
Bast and Nit By Unknown | Source

Over time, the Egyptian Cat Goddess Bast developed many areas of influence. She was the lion headed Goddess of the Lower Nile in the early days. She was responsible for protecting the Pharaoh and Ra the sun God. She is considered the Goddess of protection. While Bast was in this role, she became Goddess of the rising sun. She holds the Utchat which is the seeing eye of Horus. People placed statues of Bast in their homes to keep the thieves out.

Bast is mentioned in the book of the Dead as having destroyed the bodies of the dead with the royal flame if they failed the judgment hail of Maat.

She was later shown with the dead of a domestic cat that represented her nurturing ways. Women of this time would buy amulets of Bast with different number of kittens on them. The kittens represented the number of children they wanted.

As the cat Goddess Bast protected homes from rats and snakes, and she protected the health of the residents.

She carried a special rattle called the Sistrum that tied her to music and dance..

Bast was also connected with perfumes. She is the goddess of fir fighters because of the Egyptian belief that if a cat ran through a burning house she would draw the flames out behind her.

Bast's cult was in Bubastis. When her temple was discovered there were over 300,000 mummified cats found. She was worshiped all over the lower Nile.

God Amon By Jebulon Public Domain
God Amon By Jebulon Public Domain | Source

Amon was a very important God of Ancient Egypt. Amon translates to mean “hidden.” He is usually depicted in blue. Blue is considered a symbol of being invisible. Mut was his wife, and they ha a son named Khonsu who was the god of the moon.

Amon was very popular with the common people. He would protect the weak and make sure justice was carried out for everyone.

If anyone wanted favors from Amon they would have to prove themselves. They would have to confess their sins first.

At first Amon was a god of Thebes. They say before that he was god of Hermopolis. Amon represented fertility, and he was illustrated as a ram. When Amon was in Thebes he formed a triad with his wife, and son.

When Amon became a patron of the Pharaohs he became a national god of Egypt.

In Heliopolis Amon was identified with the god Ra. The names were put together and became Amon-Ra. The father of all gods was Amon-Ra. Amon-Ra crated all human and creatures.

The Amon-Ra cult became very powerful. Amon-Ra's high priest was very important and he rivaled the Pharaohs power. The largest temple for Amon-Ra was Karnak.

Akhenaten disputed Amon and he said Aten was the only god. This led to the fall of Amon's cult. Other Pharaohs restored Amon as god and ruler.

Amon went into a new triad with Ptah and Re in 1500BCE. Many people still considered him the sole power and that the other gods were just manifestations of him.

His cult spread beyond Egypt during the last millennium.

Thebes was attacked in 85BCE and Amon's cult was weakened. An earthquake further damaged Thebes in 27BCE. Amon's cult finally became extinct.


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    • norlawrence profile image

      Norma Lawrence 21 months ago from California

      Thanks for your great comment. Glad you liked the article.

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 21 months ago from Sunny Florida

      I wish I had this article when I was teaching ancient history. It is fascinating and my students would have loved it. I am sharing with a fellow teacher. Great job.