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 Egyptian Religion


 Religion was integral to Egyptian life. Religious beliefs formed the basis of Egyptian art,  medicine, astronomy, literature and government. The great pyramids were burial tombs for the  pharaohs who were revered as gods on earth. Magical utterances pervaded medical practices  since disease was attributed to the gods. Astronomy evolved to determine the correct time to  perform religious rites and sacrifices. 
 
The earliest examples of literature dealt almost entirely  with religious themes. The pharaoh was a sacrosanct monarch who served as the intermediary  between the gods and man. Justice too, was conceived in religious terms, something bestowed  upon man by the creator-god. Finally, the Egyptians developed an ethical code which they  believed the gods had approved.  J. A. Wilson once remarked that if one were to ask an ancient Egyptian whether the sky was  supported by posts or held up by a god.
 
Egyptian Religion
 
 
The Egyptian would answer: "Yes, it is supported by  posts or held up by a god -- or it rests on walls, or it is a cow, or it is a goddess whose arms and  feet touch the earth" (The Intellectual Adventure of Ancient Man, 1943). The ancient Egyptian  was ready to accept any and all gods and goddesses that seemed appropriate. For instance, if a  new area was incorporated into the Egyptian state, its gods and goddesses would be added to the  pantheon of those already worshipped. 
 
 From its earliest beginnings, Egyptian religious cults included animals. It is no accident that  sheep, bulls, gazelles and cats have been found carefully buried and preserved in their own  graves. As time passed, the figures of Egyptian gods became human (anthropomorphism) although they often retained the animal's head or body. Osiris, the the Egyptian god who judged  the dead, first emerged as a local deity of the Nile Delta in Lower Egypt. 
 
It was Osiris who  taught the Egyptian agriculture. Isis was his wife, and animal-headed Seth, his brother and rival.  Seth killed Osiris. Isis persuaded the gods to bring him back to life, but thereafter he ruled below.  Osiris was identified with the life-giving, fertilizing power of the Nile, and Isis with with the  fertile earth of Egypt. Horus, the god of the sky, defeated the evil Seth after a long struggle.  But Horus was only one kind of sky god. 
 
There was also Re, the sun god, later conjoined with  Amen, and still later Aten. The moon god was the baboon-headed Thoth, who was the god of  wisdom, magic and numbers. In the great temple cities such as Heliopolis ("city of the sun"),  priests worked out and wrote down hierarchies of divinities. In the small communities of  villages, all the forces of nature were deified and worshipped. One local god was part crocodile,  part hippopotamus, and part lion.  
 
Despite the ever-increasing number of deities which could be added to this hierarchy of deities,  one thing is certain: Egyptian religion, unlike the religion of Mesopotamia, was centralized. In  Sumer, the temple was the focus of political, economic and religious organization. Indeed, it was  often difficult to know where one aspect began and another ended. By contrast, the function of  an Egyptian temple was focused on religion. We are certain that ancient Egyptians were preoccupied with life after death. 
 
They believed that  after death each human being would appear before Osiris and recount all the evil that had been  committed during one's earthly existence: "I have not done evil to men. I have not ill-treated  animals," and so on. This was a negative confession and justification for admittance into the  blessed afterlife. Osiris would then have the heart of the person weighed in order to determine  the truth of their confession. 
 
 The Egyptians believed not only in body and soul, but in ka, the indestructible vital principle of  each person, which left the body at death but which could also return at other times. This  explains why the Egyptians mummified the dead: so that the ka, on its return, would find the  body not decomposed. And this also explains why tombs were filled with wine, grain, weapons,  sailing ships and so on -- ka would find everything it needed, otherwise it might come back to  haunt the living.


Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

The ancient Egypt religion played a central role in the lives of people. The inhabitants of the region had long worshiped natural objects such as animals, stones, trees, and mountains. Over a period of time, a colorful pantheon of animal gods emerged as a reflection of the varied wildlife that once thrived in Egypt.

Although these gods were initially represented in their natural forms, many were eventually depicted in human form, with only the heads retaining animal features. Amongst these animal deities were the lion-god Mahes, the hippopotamus-goddess Taurit, the crocodile-god Sebek, and the frog-goddess Heqit.

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion



Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

The scarab beetle was also sacred, and the most popular of good-luck charms. On account of its habit of pushing a ball of dung over large distances, the beetle came to be identified with the sun-god Khapre, who in Egyptian mythology pushed the sun across the sky everyday.

Furthermore, the scarab's young, which seemed to miraculously hatch from dung, was likened to life emerging from the earth, thereby making the beetle a powerful symbol of regeneration. Accordingly, it was customary to bury scarab-shaped amulets with the dead.
 
The cat was also accorded a special place in Egyptian society. The cat-headed goddess Bastet was closely identified with the sun's power to ripen crops. The reverence in which cats were held led the Egyptians to develop something of a penchant for embalming their feline friends, as testified to by the countless cat-mummies discovered lying in special cemeteries.(see: Egyptian Mau Cat)

The abundance of different gods did not mean that Egyptians worshipped them all. In fact each village had its own deity, one that might well be completely unknown by outsiders. Usually, these gods were presented as triads, that is with their wife and child. In the case of the big-city gods, their status very much depended on the fortunes of their city.

Thus when a city became the capital, its principal deity would be elevated to the status of the national god. For example, when Memphis was the capital, its god Ptah was the national god. When Thebes became the capital, the god Amun was similarly brought to prominence.

These the national gods were, by and large, the concern of the ruling elite. They played little or no part in the lives of ordinary Egyptians, who continued to worship local gods in temples especially dedicated to them.

In ancient Egyptian mythology, the gods were, in fact, believed to have originally been mortals, albeit ones who were extraordinary and extremely long-lived. Having died, it was the job of the temple priests to ensure that their spirit, known as the ka, was perpetuated.

Therefore, in temples that were often erected on the site where the god in question was thought to have been buried, the priests summoned the ka daily, using pictures or statues, and made vital offerings food and drink to ensure their eternal survival.
 
 
 

Egyptian Mythology pictures

 
 
Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion


Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion


Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion

Ancient Egyptian Mythology and Religion


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