Exploring the Egyptian God Ra
Ra or Re is the Falcon-Headed Egyptian Sun God. Sometimes depicted with a hawk head, He was the most important god of the ancient Egyptians, especially during the 5th Dynasty. The name Ra or Re can be translated as Sun and possibly creative or creator.
He was seen as the creator of everything. He created himself from waters of Nun (chaos) and took the form of a benben stone or obelisk. He created the universe and all the Gods and Goddesses. He created the first divine couple by spitting Shu (air) and Tefnut (moisture).
With the exception of perhaps Isis, there was no greater example of the Divine than the power and energy of the sun to the ancient Egyptians.
Though He was most commonly associated with the noon sun, he changed form as the day went on.
At dawn He looks like a child and is connected to the scarab beetle, Khepri, The Emerging One. At high noon, He is an adult and connected to Horakhty, the solar disc. At sunset and as He traveled the underworld at night. He is an old man and connected to Atum, the ram headed man.
The ancient Egyptians believed that Ra was swallowed every night by the sky goddess Nut. He then traveled through the underworld and was reborn every morning as Khepri the scarab beetle, thereby continuing the cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.
He travels through the underworld in His Solar Barge Atet or Mandjet, The Boat of a Million Years. The Goddess Baset accompanies Him and protects Him against Apep or Apophis the serpent who is Ra’s nemesis. The Egyptians believed that Apep would eventually consume the sun and bring about the end of the world.
The Egyptians built solar temples in honor of Ra. Unlike other Egyptian temples, these were open to the sunlight and had no statue of the God inside since the sunlight itself was seen as Ra. These temples often contained an obelisk, another symbol of Ra and an altar at their center. The solar temple in Inunu or Heliopolis (City of the Sun) is thought to be the location where Ra first emerged at the beginning of creation. Because of this, it is considered the most sacred of the solar temples.
Amun means hidden one and Ra means sun. Originally the two were separate deities. Amun a creator god and Ra a sun god. Overtime, as the cults of both Amun and Ra became increasingly popular in Upper and Lower Egypt respectively they merged into one creator sun god, Amun Ra.
It’s not clear when the combination happen, but references to Amun Ra appear in pyramid texts as early as the 5th dynasty. During this time Amun Ra also became known as The King of the Gods.
Amun Ra’s worship centered mainly in Thebes. And there is one theory that Amun Ra was created as a new state deity by the Theban rulers of the New Kingdom (around the 18th dynasty) in the hopes of uniting worshipers of the newer cult of Amun with the older cult of Ra.
Ra and Horus
There are a lot of similarities between the Gods Ra and Horus. And like Amun and Ra, the two Gods even merged together and became known as Ra-Horakhty which can be translated as Ra who is Horus of two horizons.
At first glance images of the two can also be very hard distinguish as they both have the head of a falcon or hawk. One way to tell them apart is by their headdress, though even this isn’t always accurate as there was a lot of change and confusion between the various headdresses of Horus and Ra.
Generally speaking with Ra we see a falcon or hawk head with a sun disk and a coiled serpent around the disc as His headdress. The solar disc of course points to Ra being the Sun God and the snake represents His nemesis Apep.
On Horus we see a falcon or hawk head with the double crown of Upper and Lower Egypt as the headdress. This headdress is often worn by both Horus the Younger and Horus the Elder and shows their connection to the pharaoh.
Another connection between Horus and Ra is with the Eye of Ra and the Eye of Horus. The right eye is the Eye of Ra which symbolizes the sun and good luck. The left eye is the Eye of Horus, which is connected to the moon and a symbol of protection.
Working With Ra
Here are a few ideas on how to incorporate the magick of Ra into your daily life and rituals:
- Greet the sun first thing each morning.
- Take a moment for gratitude at each sunset.
- Soak in the solar rays of the sun by spending times outdoors.
- Make magickally charged sun water.
- Make magickally charged sun tea.
- Get creative, express your creativity and pursue your creative passions.
- Create something new from nothing or from chaos such as art, food, or a clean house.
- Build an altar to Ra.
- Lead or attend a ritual dedicated to the Sun God Ra.
Symbols, Magickal Attributes, and Offerings
Use these items with intention on your altar or in your daily rituals to welcome the energy of Ra:
- Suns, sunlight, sun discs, and sun dials
- Falcons, hawks, beetles, rams, ram heads, cats and crocodiles
- Eye of Ra, ankh, obelisk, and scepter
- Boats or barges
- Frankincense, myrrh, amber, and benzoin,
- Cinnamon, oranges, chamomile, and sunflowers
Ra’s Sun Tea
Making sun tea is a popular summer activity. By adding some magickal symbols an enchantment, and intention you can make some potent, magickally charged sun tea for use in your rituals and spellwork.
You will need:
- A glass jar with a lid. Gallon jars work well, as do mason or canning jars.
- Tea - either loose tea or herbs, or teabags. You will want 2tsp of loose tea/herbs or 1 tea bag for every 8oz of water. Optional: fresh fruit - citruses make a nice addition to a sun god blend.
- Stickers, ribbons, colored pens, crystals, etc. to decorate and magickally enchant your sun tea jar.
- Select the lidded glass jar you wish to use. The size you select should be based on how much tea you wish to make.
- Decorate your jar with magickal, Egyptian, and/or solar symbols.
- Add your favorite solar flavored tea or herbs such as orange spice, cinnamon, lemon balm, ginger, or chamomile.If you plan on adding fruit add it to the jar along with the tea.
- Hang the teabags over the top of the jar so they hang inside the jar with their tags on the outside of the jar. Or if using loose herbs/tea place inside the jar.
- Fill jar with water making sure to fully cover the tea bags or loose herbs/tea.
- Seal the jar using the lid to hold the teabags (if using teabags) in place by their strings. Place any crystal you wish to use on top of the jar's lid.
- Set outside in the sun to steep and magickally charge. You may wish to ask Ra to send His power and energy down through the Sun into your tea jar so that it becomes infused with His magick. Be sure to speak from the heart.
- Once tea has reached your desired darkness (at least 5-6 hours is recommended) or the sun is beginning to set, bring inside.
- Squeeze out the tea bags and remove from the jar. If using loose herbs/tea, strain the herbs from the tea and re-bottle.
- Before storing you may wish to say an enchantment over the tea thanking Ra for filling your container with His power and magick. Place your hands over the jar of tea as you do this and again, speak from the heart.
- Label with the date and magickal intention. Include any astrological information as well such as if it was summer solstice, a full moon, solar eclipse, etc.
- Store in the refrigerator for the longest shelf-life. You will want to use this tea up with 1-3 days especially if you plan on drinking it.
Uses: Drink to infuse yourself with the power of Ra, use as the ‘wine’ for cakes and wine at a ritual dedicated to Ra or any Egyptian Ritual in which you wish to bring in the qualities of Ra. Use to asperge your home, room, or ritual space, add to bath water to soak in the solar qualities of Ra. Use to water your magickal plants especially any dedicated to Ra or associated with the sun, such as sunflowers. Add some to a small bowl on your altar as an offering to Ra.
Once one of the most popular deities in the world, Ra is a wonderful introduction or continuation into the diverse Egyptian pantheon of deities. I hope you are inspired by the ideas here to further enrich your practice by connecting to the Sun God Ra in a deeper way.
References and Resources
The Witches’ God by Janet and Stewart Farrar
Ancient Egyptian Hieroglyphs: A Practical Guide by Janice Kamrin
Gods of Ancient Egypt by Barbara Watterson
The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard H. Wilkinson