Gods and Myth
A large number of gods constitute the pantheon of the Egyptians and their activities, their mythology. Here are a few of the more important gods from Budge’s “Egyptian Book of the Dead”. (25)
PTAH – At creation Ptah carried out the mandates of Thoth (divine intelligence). He opens the mouth of the dead.
KHNEMU – Called the “molder”, he helped Ptah in the beginning.
KHEPERA – He represents the rising sun and matter moving from inertness into life.
TUM – Called the “closer”, He represents the evening or night sun.
RA – Ra is the sun, the visible emblem of God, who represents life and the victory of good over evil.
SHU – He represents light. He separated the sky, Nut, from the earth, Seb.
OSIRIS – He is the son of Seb and Nut, husband of Isis, father of Horus, brother of Set, and brother of Nephthys, Set’s wife. He represents the sun after it has set. He became the symbol of immortality, judge of the dead, and the hope of resurrection to the Egyptians due to the myth concerning his sufferings, death, and resurrection.
ISIS – She is the wife of Osiris and a nature goddess, called “the great goddess, the divine mother, the mistress of charms and enchantments”.
HORUS – He is the hawk sun-god who fought night and darkness.
HORUS – This Horus is the son of Isis and Osiris who avenged his father after the murder of Osiris by Set.
SET – He is the brother of Osiris who murdered him and he is the symbol of evil. Before the 22nd dynasty he represented night, natural opposite of Horus and friend to the dead.
ANUBIS – He is the son of Osiris or Ra by Isis or Nephthys and a nature god, represented as a jackal who guarded and protected the dead, lead them to the Elysian fields, and acted as a messenger for Osiris.
THOTH – Thoth represents divine intelligence and is scribe to the gods, inventor of arts and sciences, lord of writing, god of right and truth, and chronologer of heaven and earth.
MAAT – She is the wife of Thoth and the daughter of Ra and goddess of the unalterable laws of heaven. Maat translates to “right, true, truth, real, genuine, upright, righteous, just, steadfast, unalterable”.
HATHOR – She is the goddess of the sky where Horus rises and sets. A group developed called the seven Hathors who are like good fairies. Hathor provides food and drink for the deceased.
SEBAK – This god is represented by the crocodile and has a dual identity. One is the friend of Set, the other is a form of Horus, the sun-god.
HAPI – He is the god of the Nile.
HAPI, TAUMAUTEF, AMSET, QEBHSENNUF – These are the children of Horus and the gods of the cardinal points.
SHAI and RENENET – These are the personifications of destiny and fortune and are called the “hands of Thoth”.
AMEN – He is the god of Thebes and his name means “hidden one”. He became identified with Ra as Amen-Ra and personified the “mysterious creating and sustaining power of the universe”.
According to Encyclopedia Britanica, the temple ritual was the center of Egyptian religion. The temple was the home of the god and the daily temple ritual focused on the care of the god. (3b)
According to Reymond in his “Mythical Origin of the Egyptian Temple”, inscriptions on the temple at Edfu record the mythological history of the sacred places and temples of the Egyptians. (26) Reymond also tells us what the temple was. He tells us that the temple, its statues, and the reliefs were all alive. (27) They were awakened each morning by the morning hymns. (28) The temple at Edfu was a descendant of an earlier mythical temple. (29) That temple was a concrete form of the son of earth whose creation followed the creation of earth and whose function was to protect the soul of earth and renew the sacred place of god. (30) The Edfu temple was the last sacred place of the falcon (early god). The old names of the mythical temple were given to the new temple to create continuity. These names had magical force of becoming and protecting. In the inscriptions, Thoth is shown giving a book to Horus containing a record of the past which ensures the continued life of the temple. (31)
In Bleeker’s “Egyptian Festivals” we learn that the focus of Egyptian religion was not dogma, but the rituals of the festivals. (32) He tells us that religious renewal was the magic effect of the festival rites and that every ritual action had its supernatural effect through the magic words accompanying the actions. (33)
Encyclopedia Britanica mentions the following types of Egyptian festivals: the birthdays of the gods, special calendar days, seasonal events, ceremonies involving the king, and victory ceremonies. During temple festivals, there were processions of the images of the gods and sometimes the gods visited other gods at their temples. (3b)
Bleeker cites three main types of festivals: those of the gods, the king, and the dead; whose function as mentioned above was renewal. In reference to the dead, they had their own festivals and were also invited to attend other festivals. (34) These were to help the dead start afresh, arrive at the land of the living, and become beings of light. The lighting of torches was done to help the deceased become a light being, (35) In the “beautiful festival of the desert valley” the living and the dead met at the necropolis near Thebes and celebrated with the king and the bark of Amon.(36)