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Most important Egyptian deities

Most important Egyptian deities


AMON


The god Amon would be equivalent to the Greek god Zeus. His name in Egyptian (Amen) means "The hidden one". He is one of the most important divinities in the whole repertoire of Egyptian gods. It represents the current that is found everywhere, but that no one can see. His cult was centered in Thebes, in the temple of Luxor, and in that of Medinet Habu.


 In the year 2.000 b.n.e. it was a secondary deity (the one of fertility), but around the year 1.850 b.n.e. it was imposed in the place of Montu, the god of war, so it became the most important deity of the IV Nomo. As in the place where he was most intensively worshipped there were some rams with long and curved horns, he was represented under that form. Soon he became a god of agriculture, and little by little his popularity increased until the pharaohs chose him as a personal god and because of that, he became a solar god. Already at the time of Thothmes III (about 1504 - 1450 b.e.) Amon was the main deity of the civilized world, he was known as the king of the gods.


Many of his followers said it was an externalization of the god Ra, one of the most powerful gods, so it is usual to find references to this god by calling him Amon-Ra. Gradually his fame increased even more, so priests and temples devoted to him were full of fortunes. He had more than 20 important altars, his sacred enclosure had an area of more than 1Km2 and the main temple was more than 1.5Km long.


ANUBIS


His name in Egyptian (Anpu) means "Lord of the Dead" or "Lord of the Sacred Land (necropolis)". It is related to death and resurrection. He was the god of the Duat (the underworld), until his place was taken by Osiris; when this happened, Anubis had a purely secondary role: he was devoted to embalming, guiding, and caring for the body of the pharaoh after death. He also played a fundamental role in the Judgment of Osiris, in which, along with Horus, the "heart" of the deceased weighed heavily (obviously a moral judgment). On his descent and origin, there are different texts that are opposed.


The one that fits better with the rest of the myths is the one that says he is the son of Seth and Nephthys. After his birth, Seth decides to kill him, but Nephthys gives him to Isis to prevent them from killing him. When Seth kills Osiris (Isis' husband), Anubis helps him to recompose his body and resurrect it.


BASTET


Its Egyptian name (Bastet) means "that of the Bas". The Bas were stone containers in which oils were deposited (either funerary or for cosmetic use). This shows a possible relationship with the care of the deceased in the Beyond.


It represents the care, the sweetness, it also symbolizes the loving fecundity... She is the guardian of the home, the defender of her children... sometimes she is also presented as the eye of the moon.


Her iconography is based on a woman with a cat's head or a cat, just like that. Cats were very dear to the Egyptians, in fact, the Greek word cat (miw) was used to call little girls affectionately "miw-Sheri" which would mean little cat or kitten.


Cats became sacred animals because they were great snake hunters. Snakes were especially relevant and feared by the Egyptians... because in addition to being dangerous to a man they were also dangerous to the gods, for example, the serpent Apophis that attacks Ra. That's why they have the symbol of the beetle engraved on their heads (it symbolizes the rising sun - vitality).


His cult was very extended; his followers offered him figures in the shape of a cat. Many cats were mummified and buried in the "house of Baat" (Bubastis).

In his iconography, he is shown with a sistro (a bell) or an aegis in one hand, and in the other a basket. The celebrations of his orgiastic festivals were famous for being the most splendid of all the gods of Egypt. During those festivals, it was forbidden to hunt lions because they could be offended and reveal or show their anger (it was very destructive then). This deity spread during the Greek and even Roman period. It was worshipped for example in Rome and Pompeii.

 

GEB

His Egyptian name is Keb; the Greeks compared him with their god Cronos. He was the son of Shu (later developed) and of Tefnut; his sister and wife is Nut with whom he begets Isis, Osiris, Nephthys, and Seth. He was heir to the title of "Prince of the Gods".


Usually, he is presented as the personification of the earth, but he has other more ancient facets: he was related to the cosmic egg (from which Ra was born), so previously he was a kind of demiurge or creator.

 

ISIS

Its Egyptian name (Ast) means "Throne", is sometimes called "Great magician", "Great mother goddess", "Queen of the gods", "Fertilizing force of nature", "Goddess of motherhood and birth" ... It is compared with the Greek goddess Demeter, as well as Hera and Selene (the goddess of the moon).


Isis was one of the most popular goddesses, as time went by her influence increased as she absorbed the properties of the other goddesses.

Isis was first a local goddess, in the north of Egypt (near Perehbet). She became the wife of Osiris. The triad Osiris, Isis, and Horus were very influential, there are numerous myths that revolve around these three deities (they were very loved and respected).

According to some myths, Isis was in charge of civilizing the Egyptian people, she also taught women the agricultural arts as well as weaving. She also transmitted some medicinal techniques.

The most famous myth is that of the resurrection of Osiris. Seth dismembers the body of Osiris into 14 parts and throws it into the Nile River; Isis manages to recover 13 of the 14 parts (he missed the phallus, a fish swallowed it). Using her magic she managed to regroup them. Anubis embalmed the reconstructed body and returned it to eternal life.

As we can imagine, Isis' knowledge of the magical arts was quite extensive to be able to perform such a feat. Even so, Isis wanted more and more power, she looked jealously at Ra (her grandfather). Through a series of techniques, Isis prepares a trap for Ra; Ra on the verge of death calls the most powerful healers to cure him, however, they find none. Then Isis appears, who promises to cure him if he reveals his true name (remember that for the Egyptians, in the name of things there is strength and essence). In the beginning, Ra tried to deceive her but did not succeed and ended up confessing her name so Isis became the wisest and most powerful goddess.


Although she was a powerful and popular goddess, it is surprising to find texts that do not speak of temples dedicated exclusively to her until the beginning of the thirteenth dynasty (c. 1760 -1630 b.n.e.).


The representation of Isis is very varied; she is often shown nursing her son Horus, but the most common form is seated with a throne on her head. In her animal manifestation, she is shown as a kite or as a cow.


OSIRIS

His Egyptian name (Usir) means "God of Death". Greeks compared him with their gods Dionysus and Hades.


He is depicted as a mummified man in whose arms he holds the staff and the flail (Crusader).

In the beginning he was worshipped as a god of vegetation (sometimes his skin is colored green - symbol of regeneration and growth) obviously linked to agriculture: he controlled the crops (for good or bad), so he is one of the most important gods. As time went by, he was linked to human death, which made him even more popular.

Osiris was the grandson of Ra and therefore the son of Geb and, like them, was an earthly king. His reign changed the way of life of men. Before him, societies living in Egypt were nomadic and warlike. When he reached the "throne", he civilized men (along with his sister and wife Isis). Evidently, he first taught them the art of agriculture (the original form of worship towards him was that of "lord of agriculture"). Then he taught them the technique: the manufacture of utensils to facilitate agricultural work, as well as the ways of sowing. This last teaching was very relevant since, according to some texts, he also taught them how to make bread, beer...


He also taught the technique for construction, the way to worship the gods, the rituals...


He was a harmonious god, in the sense that he pacified the peoples and gave them a full life; he even led many lands under his command. When he thought that his "work" on earth was over, he decided to return to his land (to Egypt). There he met a flourishing people


According to Egyptian tradition, the dead cannot rest until they have received a worthy burial. For this reason, Isis devoted herself to look with hope for her husband's parts so that he could "rest in peace". The search was not easy. In the end, as we know, Anubis helped her to resurrect him.


JONSU

Its Egyptian name (Hnsu) means "The Royal Placenta". He was the adopted son of Amon and Mut, and eventually, he substituted Montu in the Theban triad. Some Greeks called him Hercules.


He is represented as a very young man[8] or almost as a mummified child with a lunar disc on his head. In his hands, he holds a scepter and a staff.


As I said, according to some authors his name would mean "Placenta Real", but not many take it seriously, other proposals of the meaning of his name are "wanderer", "the one who crosses".


As a lunar god, he helped Thot to record the passage of time, healed the sick and protected from evil spirits.


The healing of the sick and protection from evil spirits are related because usually they were considered the cause of disease, so doctors were carriers of magic (were able to perform exorcisms). This healing facet was perhaps the most relevant for the Egyptians since sick people were taken to their temple to be purified and thus to be free of any disease; for those who could not move, they took a statue, and with the presence of the latter it was possible to be healed.

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