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Gods and Goddesses of Egypt
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2004 4:09 pm    Post subject: Gods and Goddesses of Egypt Reply with quote

Hi All

I had too much time on my hands over the weekend, so I tried to sort out the different gods and goddesses.
This info comes from a book called “All Colour Book of Egyptian Mythology” by Richard Patrick, with a foreword by Margaret Drower. (The title makes it sound like a colouring book, but it isn’t.)

There are several ancient gods and goddesses, as wel as some deities who were specifically associated to cities.

City of Heliopolis:
(Ra-)Atum is the creator god. He was the father of:
- Shu, god of air
- Tefnut, goddess of rain
Shu and Tefnut were the parents of:
- Geb, god of the earth
- Nut, goddess of the sky
(Another tradition makes Geb and Nut the children of Ra)
See under Thebes for the offspring of Nut and Geb.

City of Memphis:
Ptah is the master of destiny and the creator of the world.
Sekhmet, the lion goddess, is his wife and defender of the divine order. She was sent to chastise mankind if they failed to worship the gods.
Nefertum, their son was the god of rebirth and associated with Hermopolis, a city south of Memphis.

City of Thebes
Nut and Geb (of Heliopolis) had four children:
- Osiris, Ancient fertility god
- Isis, Enchantress, teaches the household arts to women, her magic was allied to the wisdom of Toth.
- Set, God of destruction. Many evil deeds were associated with him. (red-head according to legend)
- Nephtys, goddess.

Osiris and Isis were married, and had a son called Horus(Falcon headed god). Set and Nephtys were also married, but Nephtys helped her sister Isis after Set killed his brother Osiris.
See Neith for alternative parents for Isis and Osiris.
As you are probably aware, there is a whole intricate story associated to this family of gods and goddesses, but that’s (maybe) for a later post.

The sungod Ra (also known as Ra-Harakhte) was father to:
- Anubis, the jackal headed god, associated with burials.
- Hathor, cow-headed goddess. She was the goddess of pleasure, love, music and dancing.
- Mayet (= Maat), often personified with the feather of truth. She was the goddess of justice.

The god Haroesis (= Horus the elder) was thought to be either the husband or son of Hathor.


The City of Thebes was home to another triad of gods:
- Amon, the ram-headed god. He was said to be hidded until the times were ready for him. He assumed the powers of Ptah, ra, and the creator gods.
- Mut, she was wife of Amon. she was often identified with the vulture headed goddess Nekhebet. (She was also worshipped in Akhmin.)
- Khons, the moon god was the son of Amon and Mut.

Other gods:
Anhur - god from Abydos. Saviour and good warrior.
Bes - dwarf god. god of happiness. Originated in the Sudan.
Hapi - God of the Nile. He was invoked to ensure the annual flooding of the Nile. He was not part of any theological system.
Harmakhis(= Horus of the Horizon), a sungod. Sometimes identified with Ra. Thutmosis IV claimed on his dream stela that this god appeared to him in a dream, and promised him the kingdom if he cleared the sand away from the Sphinx.
Khnum - ram-headed god. An ancient self created god. Ancient god of the First Cataract of the Nile, maker of the earth, water, and underworld.
Min - god of fertility
Sebek - crocodile god. Son of Neith. Alternatively, he was a manifestation of the God Horus as he searched for pieces of Osiris in the Nile.
Seker - sparrow god. Later identified with Osiris.
Thoth - the ibis headed god. He was self-begotten. He was god of wisdom, god of the moon, inventor of speech etc. Sometimes associated with a babboon (the ancient god Asteh.)

Other goddesses:
Bastet - cat headed goddess. Ancient protective deity.
Buto - Cobra goddess. Protectve godess of Lower Egypt.
Nekhebet - vulture goddess. Protective goddess of Upper Egypt. She is depicted, with Buto, on the forehead of kings (and some queens)
Mertserger - Serpent goddess. Protector of Osiris. A Theban goddess.
Neith - Earth mother of the Delta region. Sometimes given as the mother of Isis, Osiris and Horus. At other times she is depicted as an attendant deity. (The book didn’t define that, but I take it to mean that she was involved in the Osiris myth, but not neccessarily related to any of the main characters.)
Selket - scorpion goddess. Ancient protective goddess. Gardian goddess of burial.
Taueret - hippopotamus goddess. Ancient mother goddess.



There are also the guardians of the Canopic Jars:
Imset - human head - guardian of the South - Protects the liver.
Hapy - ape head - guardian of the North - Protects the lungs.
Qebehsenuf - falcon head - guardian of the West - Protects the intestines.
Duamutef - jackal head - guardian of the East - Protects the stomach.


There is also of course:
The Aten - Specific to the 18th dynasty. (Thutmosis IV, Amenhotep III, and most importantly under Akhenaten.)



I am very confused about the god(s) Horus. There seem to be at least 3 by this name:
Horus of the Horizon = Harmakhis - a sungod
Horus the elder = Haroesis
Horus the child - son of Isis and Osiris.


This is definitely not a complete list. There are a number of people who were deified:
Imhotep, Ahmose-Nefertari, Arsinoe, and probably more.

During later dynasties there was a god called Serapis. I don’t remember off the top of my head how he came to be worshipper or where he came from.

There are also some mythical monsters:
Apep - serpent who tries to swallow the sun barque
Ammut - devours souls who are deemed not light enough.


Any additions you can think of???
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anneke
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2004 4:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My brother and sister-in-law went on vacation to Egypt last year, and they bought me a book called “Art and History of Egypt”. I believe they bought it at Karnak. It does contain some really interesting information. I’m not sure I understand all of it, but I will summarize their info. They give a short overview of the gods of Ancient Egypt.

They tallk about two different cosmologies.
The cosmology of Hermopolis: The primordial chaos is an immense sphere without light in which the original tumulus took shape. The primordial egg issued from this conic-pyramidal form, like an incommensurable lotus flower, to let the sun-Ra (Thoth or Ptah), source of life, come out. Tears which generate all human creatures fall from the eyes of Ra that is from the Light of the Universe. From his mouth, source of the generating Word, are born all the divine creatures, the forces which generate every vital form.
A group of 8 gods evolved in Hermopolis and was comprised of 4 joint couples:
Nedu and Nenet, gods of the occult world; Nun and Nunet, gods of the primordial waters; Heh and Hehet, gods of the spatial infinity; Kek and Keket, gods of darkness.

I have never heard of these 8 gods before. Sound familiar to any of you?

I am more familiar with the cosmology from Heliopolis:
Before creation the Absolute Spirit Ra was diffused in primordial Chaos. At the beginning of time Ra became aware of himself, seeing his own image (Amon). Then in the Great SIlence, he called his double: “Come to me”. Ra, light and Conscience of the Universe, “calls” Amon, spirit of the universe itself. With this call, that is with the word - creative power - space/ air (Shu) and movement / fire (Tefnut) become manifest and in turn they generated and separated the earth (Geb) from the Sky (Nut) ending chaos and therefore giving the universe equilibrium and life. Everything at this point was ready to receive the creative forces of terretrial and extra-terrestrial life, that is the fertilizing force Osiris - seed and tree of life, water which gives nourishment - and the generating force Isis, love of creatures, fecund power.
Later the destroying couple made their appearance - Seth and Nephthys, the forces of evil who continuously lose to the life-bearing couple, but are also their collaborators since they provoke the eternal becoming of universal life.

In imitation of the royal organization of mankind Amon-Ra was to have his court, consisting of 4 pairs of gods:
1,2. Shu, god of air, and Tefnut, goddess of fire.
3,4. Geb, the earth god, and Nut the sky goddess
5,6. Osiris, god of the afterworld, and Isis, goddess of divine love and generating power.
7,8. Seth, god of destruction, and Nephthys, sister goddess and aid of Isis.

They also list the deities with their essential symbols:
Ra (Re) - solar disk
Nut - stars
Geb - plume and rams horn
Shu - great feather
Tefnut - bundle of feathers
Osiris - plumed crown, crook and flail
Isis - throne (sycamore)
Seth - monstrous animal
Nephthys - tower or pillar
Amon - plumerd tiara
Hathor - solar disk (cow)
Horus - Falcon and crown
Khephri - scarab
Maat - Ostrich feather
Anubis - black dog
Harakhte - falcon and solar disk
Sekhmet - lioness
Sobek - crocodile
Khnum - Ram and solar disk.
Aten - Solar disk
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Hatshepsu
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

i skimmed that pretty fast.. and well i noticed you said anubis was ras kid.. not true..Anubis was either Osiris or Seths child.. of course Nepthys is the mother.. well thanks for the helpful guide.. lol woo go boredom!
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Thoth
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 12:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Heh, well if it's any consolation it's an interesting and potentially useful patch of boredom, lol

Quote:
Nedu and Nenet, gods of the occult world; Nun and Nunet, gods of the primordial waters; Heh and Hehet, gods of the spatial infinity; Kek and Keket, gods of darkness.



I know of the second two, but have only heard of the last two (as in, heard but don't know about). Nun especially featured quite heavily in one of the many Creation Myths I've read on the internet, obviously representing the primordial waters.
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Hatshepsu
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 1:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

same.. its all familiar.. byut nun is NOT a surprise!.. if you look in the touregypt thing you should find a small virtual clip..

Serena
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Thoth
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 1:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I think I first saw Nun on the British Museum's AE website a while ago. I always thought it was a reletively well-known god as a result, guess not.
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"I stand like Horus. I sit like Ptah. I am strong like Thoth. Mighty like Tem. I walk with my legs. I speak with my mouth. I chase my enemy. He hath been given unto me, and he shall not be delivered from me."
Egyptian Book of the Dead
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2004 8:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Interesting stuff! I've never heard of a lot of these gods, but hey, I came here to learn new stuff!
I have heard of Nun, yes, wasn't he the 'father' of Ra/Atum?
And Hatshepsu's right about Anubis-I believe he was the illegitimate child of Osiris and Nephtys, but the Set supporters would say he was Set's son...
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Sesen
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 14, 2004 5:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Over 2000 Gods in Egypt at one count!!
Its easy to get stymied when trying to sort them out. I think the confusion starts when we try to label and categorize the Gods into neat sections, with firm, hard fast rules as we have in our modern religions. The was no set 'Egyptian Religion' as we understand religion, there were religious ideas and there is a difference. There was much variation between the different nomes, and your average Joe worshipped the god that was most appropiate to him in his life, regardless of who the state God was.
Oh and Ptah, this is from Geddess and Gossets Egyptian Myth and Legend:
He was the chief of nine earth spirits (that is, eight and himself added) called Khnûmû, the modellers. Statuettes of these represent them as dwarfs, with muscular bodies, bent legs, long arms, big broad heads, and faces of intelligent and even benign expression. Some wear long moustaches, so unlike the shaven or glabrous Egyptians. At the beginning, according to Memphite belief, Ptah shaped the world and the heavens, assisted by his eight workmen, the dwarfish Khnûmû. He was also the creator of mankind, and in Egyptian tombs are found numerous earthenware models of these "elves". who were believed to have had power to reconstruct the decaying bodies of the dead.
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anneke
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I also read in some sources that Anubis was the son of Osiris and Nephtys. Several of you mentioned this.

It's hard to say if the first book I read just got it wrong, or if Ra being the father is just one of the many versions.

There were quite a few changes in the Egyptian beliefs. Deities were combined, some took on some of the powers of others. I still think it is amazing that they kept their stories somewhat straight over the thousands of years this civilization existed.

Isn't the Egyptian civilization the one with the greatest longevity?
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Djehtinefer
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 16, 2004 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The third of the three major Old Kingdom cosmogonies is the Hermopolitan creation myth of Hermopolis. This provides a whole set of creation myths which are variations on a theme. There is not one supreme creator god at Hermopolis, like Heliopolis there is another family group, this time a group of eight groups called The Ogdoad.

There are four male deities and four female deities that make up this group of gods.

Male Serpents Nun Huh Kuk Amun
Female Frogs Naunet Hauhet Kauket Amaunet


Nun is the primeval ocean, whose female counterpart is Naunet; Huh, which means ‘millions of years’, or eternity, who is married to Hauhet; Kuk means darkness, who is married to Kauket; finally Amun who is air, and is married to Amaunet. The male deities had serpent’s heads and the females had frog’s heads.
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almostascribe
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 17, 2004 5:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hmm i though shu was the god of dryness and tefnut was the godess of moisture
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anneke
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2004 10:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

almostascribe wrote:
hmm i though shu was the god of dryness and tefnut was the godess of moisture


Those are also descriptions. From dryness to air and moisture to rain is not that big of a leap. I wonder if that can be a translation issue?

I did find several representations of Tefnut as a lion godess.
Supposedly the difference between Tefnut and Sekhmet is that Tefnut had pointy ears, while Sekhmet had rounded ears.
(There must be a Spock joke in there somewhere Smile )
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Steve
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2004 1:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

the deal with the Egyptian gods is they differed literatley from village to village and had there own meanings for that specific temple. For example Isis was worshipped for diferent reasons in diferent areas (mother goddess, goddess of magic... etc etc)
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 2:32 pm    Post subject: Hekate Reply with quote

Has anyone came across of the temple or temples dedicated to Hekate. She is an incredible goddess and I would like to go to Egypt to place where there is/was this temple. Any suggestions there?
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Erm...Hecate's a Greek goddess, so if you want to see her temple, you'll need to go to Greece, though I don't know where in greece...
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