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Egyptian god and myth questions
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 6:06 pm    Post subject: Egyptian god and myth questions Reply with quote

Ok, two more questions.

Is it true that there is a religious text that refers to dead pharaohs eating gods? Shocked I'm not sure because cannibalism wasn't in the Egyptian's nature or used in their worship, for example, in the myths, Osiris was said to have abolished it.

Is Hathor connected with death? I watched something on the tv some time ago and they looked at a coffin and they pointed out a cow figure, say she was Hathor 'who was connected with the dead' and i thought 'what the? That's Nephtys who's the death goddess, not Hathor, isn't it?' Because Hathor is a goddess of love, joy, music, dancing etc, which really contrasts with the whole death thing, don't you think? (sometimes people attribute Hathor with too many things-like saying she's a sky goddess when that was Nut's job, or saying she was a mother goddess when that was Isis's job, or saying that Sirius was her star when it was the star of Isis. Don't even get me started on that whole 'Isis versus hathor-who's the real mother of Horus' dilemma, or I'll get a headache... Laughing )

Mind you it reminds me of that thread about Osiris, which I will continue here...

Psusennes wrote:
This whole Osiris argument sounds highly dubious, Isisinacrisis. Osiris is not really the God of death, because for the Egyptians death was just the beginning of a new life. Osiris was the God of not just death, but also of new life. If you look at his life story then thins becomes apparent- it is one huge cycle of death and rebirth, the cycle that each Egyptian believed that they too would follow. The word for death is never used in relation to Osiris, and indeed, one of his titles is 'Lord of the Living', in reference to those 'living' in the Netherworld.

The connection between Osiris and the fertile nile is believed to have come from the idea of death and rebirth too. As a fertility God Osiris' cult grew rapidly in size and Egyptologists believe that he assimilated the properties of many smaller Gods. For example, he is thought to have taken on the properties of Andjety of Busiris as well as many other deities of the region such as Kentyimentu, a jackal God. It is only later that Osiris begins to be viewed as the one who taught humans to farm, invented beer and so on.


kmt_sesh wrote:
Isisinacrisis, Psusennes answered your last post perfectly. I remembered after writing my last post here yesterday that the fertility aspects of Osiris are indeed connected to the rebirth and regeneration attributed to the life-giving Nile. You were right about that. And Psusennes was correct in pointing out that we of today attribute much too much of the death angle to Osiris; we tend to disregard or negate the powerful fertility symbolism he embodied to the Egyptians.


Thanks for clarifying this, Psu and Kmt-sesh. You see, all primary schools and children's books and exhibitons said that Osiris was a death god who ruled over the afterlife, judged the souls of dead people, and that's it. That was what I thought of him until i truly became interested in Egypt, and the idea that he was connected with fertility/vegetation/the nile seemed a bit odd to me. Damn my one-dimensional mind Laughing I thought the resurection of Osiris was linked to Orion (as in the constelation disappearing and reappearing through the year), but I didn't know about the rebirth of plants being linked with him because I thought Geb was the god of the earth and vegetation, not Osiris, and as I mentioned before, Hapi was the Nile god, not Osiris. So could this be that certain attributes or aspects of nature could be linked to more than one god? Or do the Egyptians believe there is some connection or similarity between life and death that modern people can't grasp, and this is why Osiris could be simultaneously be a fertility and an afterlife god? (Someone mentioned maybe this connection could be shown that when something dies, it fertilises the soil causing new life to grow, but I can't remember where I saw that.)
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

One thing that you must bear in mind is that no Egyptian cult centre worshipped all of the Gods. Polytheistic religions followed over thousands of miles often have many deities who 'overlap' in their fields of expertise. Most Gods had influence in many areas. Ra for example was a god not just of the sun, but also of primeval creation in the Heliopolitan creation myth (different areas have their unique creation gods, who often overlapped with other deities), but also a God of the Underworld (its protector), part time King of Egypt, ferryman of the sky, father of the king. . . the list goes on. It is often the case that many Gods overuled different areas. There are hundreds of Nile deities, perhaps less well known than Hapi, but still revered highly in certain cult centres.

In response to the Hathor/death thingy: Yes, Hathor was assosciated with death. She assimilated the properties of the cow goddess Mehet-Weret (a quick google search for more info?), and she appears in the last vignette of the Papyrus of Ani (Spell I86). There are links on that text btw.

Hope that helps!
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just on the Hathor question (Psusennes did such a good job on the other question).

Hathor was also Mistress of the West and is seen as one example in the tomb of Seti I welcoming him.

http://www.thebanmappingproject.com/images/large/10066.jpg

In this form she is goddess of the necropolis of the west bank, the place of the setting sun. She offers to protect the deceased on their hazardous journey to the next world.
She can be seen embracing the king and holding an Ankh, a symbol of the new life that awaits him.

Another form of funerary Hathor is as 'Lady of the Southern Sycamore'. She is depicted as handing out water to the deceased from a sycamore tree.

A couple of other forms of Hathor (just to confuse the issue Wink )
She was a goddess linked to foreign countries and desert areas :

Hathor as nebet mefkat (Mistress of Turquoise) worshipped in the Sinai region.

Hathor of Abshek in Nubia. Here she is a local goddess of love, beauty and motherhood.
Ramses II built a temple dedicated to this Hathor and his Great Royal Wife Nefertari. Nefertari is depicted in her temple as this Hathor.

Her sacred instrument is the sistrum (a sort of rattle), this identifies her as a goddess of music and sexuality. There are 2 types of sistrum, an iba (looped shape, with loose cross bars of metal above a Hathor head and a long handle) and the sesehet (the shape of shrine/naos temple above a Hathor head, loops on the side).
The first type of sistrum looks to me to be a sylized shape of the ankh, sign of life and one of Hathors attributes as Mistress of Life.

Many gods of the 'same name' are represented throughout Egypt - they are regional or local deities. There is no one Hathor or one Horus (lol, sorry Isi I know we've done the Horus thing before), different forms of these deities were worshipped in local areas, becoming very popular and powerful when connected to the king.
There was never one Egyptian Religion, but Egyptian Religious Ideas that fluctuated over such a vast length of time. Some of the major gods alter very little, for example Ra or even Amun when you consider the length of time, but in the case of Aten - a big jump.
Little regional deities sometimes got merged into more powerful ones, and little knowledge of them remains.

Confused That all reads very jumbled - I'll never make a writer!
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 10:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've heard of there being more than one horus but not more than one Hathor, that's totally new to me. I never knew she was the goddess of the desert or foreign lands-I thought that was Set's domain? Unless she represented their more positive aspects, and Set represented the negative.

I'm surprised Isis and Hathor never had any rivalry between them-both seem to copy from each other! Laughing as you may know I personally have problems with the idea that Hathor is the mother of Horus (unless it's the elder Horus, as in the one who's usually the son of Nut, but I saw one website recently that claimed that it was Hathor who gave birth to the younger Horus who was Osiris's child (wtf??) in the papyrus and she was the one who inspired the virgin Mary iconography-and all this is usually linked to Isis! I think that website got majorly confuuuused...I have never heard of Hathor being involved in the Osiris mythology until she heals Horus's eyes.) and I personally don't believe that Isis was merely a 'minor spinoff' from Hathor. I think the two goddesses developed independently and then maybe some of their aspects merged or got confused.
I'll stop now before my brain bursts... Laughing
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 11:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Forgot your first question
Isi wrote:
Quote:
Is it true that there is a religious text that refers to dead pharaohs eating gods?


There are the texts from the Pyramid of King Unas (Dynasty V):
"..... provideth meals for himself; he eateth men and he liveth upon gods...."
(Wallis Budge, Gods of the Egyptians)

I don't think to this date that there is any evidence of cannibalism in Egypt.
It could be a reference to a much earlier tradition in their, as yet, unknown past.

I do think though that the 'eating' is purely symbolic, a way of taking on power and assimilating with the gods after death - becoming Osiris.

There are African traditions of hunters eating animal parts (liver etc) after a kill to absorb their power.
Actually even in England after hunters have killed the fox does'nt the blood get smeared on the face of the hunter?
Also I've read of spells or prayers being written on papyrus, soaked in water or some liquid, and then when the writting has disolved into the fluid the papyrus is removed and the water is drunk. The drinker is therefore consuming the words of power that were in the water.
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 11:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, hunting is going to be banned here so I don't know about the hunting ritual described above.

I've also heard of water being poured over statues of Sekhmet or the child Horus, this water is then collected in another container and drunk. They believed the powers of the gods of the statues transferred to the water.
I've also heard of a tradition that describes bread being baked in the shape of Osiris, or bread that represents him, which is eaten as the god's symbolic flesh-hmm, isn't that eerily similar to Christian tradition of bread at communion representing Jesus's body? or am I stretching this a bit too far? Confused
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PostPosted: Mon Jan 03, 2005 11:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
Well, hunting is going to be banned here
I'll believe that when I see it. (I personally think it should be but don't hold your breath! - and sorry, that is off topic and maybe should be discussed elsewhere. I couldn't help myself Embarassed )
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
as you may know I personally have problems with the idea that Hathor is the mother of Horus (unless it's the elder Horus, as in the one who's usually the son of Nut, but I saw one website recently that claimed that it was Hathor who gave birth to the younger Horus who was Osiris's child (wtf??)


I'll just add something here, isisinacrisis, about this confusion over Hathor. "Confusion" is the perfect word. Psusennes mentioned in an earlier post about the occurance of gods and goddesses overlapping, and this is certainly the case. It's also the case that gods and goddesses were worshiped differently in different locations. Horus, for instance, came from numerous falcon gods and manifistations, and so there is sometimes confusion. The same is true for Hathor, who is alternatively recorded as Horus' mother and Horus' wife. Her name (ht-hr) literally means "House of Horus."

Hathor does in fact have afterlife dimensions. Sesen mentioned the "Lady of the West" manifestation, and this is the goddess Imentet (also the Egyptian word for "west," which is itself an anology for the land of the dead). In later times Isis also became known as Imentet, and in fact, as time went on, Isis began more and more to assume the roles formerly given to Hathor, though she never completely disappeared from Egyptian religion, of course.

Sesen also mentioned the Pyramid Texts of the 5th Dynasty pharaoh Unis. I think she explained it correctly in an ethno-cultural sense. In many African cultures (as well as in many Native American cultures, for that matter) there is the belief that to consume something is to acquire its powers. By "devouring" the gods Unis became divine himself and absorbed their powers.
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isisinacrisis
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

But the House of Horus meaning of Hathor's name doesn't necessarily mean she was his mother...I prefer the meaning that it's an analogy for her being Horus's protector. I've heard that she could have been a wetnurse or midwife to him as well, but I don't think she was the biological mother of Horus. The mythology of Isis is more complete and makes more sense when it comes to Horus's birth, in my opinion. I also do not believe that Isis was 'inferior' to Hathor, as some sources seem to imply.
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 04, 2005 4:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to further confusticate the situation, Hathor, as the mother-protectress (not biological mother) of Horus, was also the 'mother' of the King (as Horus on earth). The Pharaoh was called 'the child of Hathor' (despite also being called 'son of Ra' as well. Hathor was the Pharaoh's maternal protector, and often the Pharoah's wife or chief priestess was seen as the living manifestation of Hathor on earth. Throughout Egyptian history, Hathor was a model for the ideal wife and was associated with both mothers and wives.

Like Seth, Hathor was said to be a goddess of unknown areas. Unlike Seth however, Hathor commanded areas not of chaos, but of wealth and prosperity. These foreign lands included Lebanon, Punt and the mines of Sinai and the western oases. At these far off places it was Hathor who protected the Egyptians and their allies.

Another thing that I don’t think has been mentioned is another of Hathor's roles in the afterlife. Like men aspired to become Osiris in the Afterlife, women aspired to become Hathor. In many tomb paintings she is shown as a sycamore tree, offering food and refreshing water to the deceased in the afterlife so that they will never go hungry. She was thought (again there is a clash here, with Nut in this case) to receive the sun every night, and thus the deceased wished to 'be in the following of Hathor'. On top of that we have her well-known roles as the Goddess of rejoicing, music and happiness.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 2:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

isisinacrisis wrote:
But the House of Horus meaning of Hathor's name doesn't necessarily mean she was his mother...The mythology of Isis is more complete and makes more sense when it comes to Horus's birth, in my opinion. I also do not believe that Isis was 'inferior' to Hathor, as some sources seem to imply.


Bear in mind the mythology of Isis and Horus was not there from the beginning of dynastic Egypt. The lore of the "family" of Osiris, Isis, and Horus evolved through time. Like I said, Horus assumed the roles of other gods from earlier periods, as many Egyptian deities did. The texts do in fact altenately mention Hathor as either "mother" or "wife" of Horus. Hathor, as the House of Horus (i.e., "protector of Horus") makes sense as either mother or wife.

As far as Isis being inferior to Hathor, I don't know what sources you encountered, but they're quite silly. First, I doubt the Egyptians viewed either one as inferior to the other; second, it was a temple of Isis on Philae that was the very last temple closed in Egypt, by order of the Christian emporer of Rome--Isis outlasted Hathor in the end, and in fact more or less absorbed her roles as time went on. But as far as one being better than the other, I have to laugh. That's a weird way of looking at it.
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 2:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You see, to me it was a bit of a shock finding this out because I've lived under the impression that Isis was the mother of Horus since I first heard of the gods back when I was little, so it's quite scary finding this out and implies that horrible feeling that I've been lied to all my life! and since I prefer Isis to hathor (personal preference, please don't take offence) I still want to think of her as Horus's mum and Hathor as his wife. But is
there a straight answer to this???

Plus I also believe that there may be some evidence of Isis and Osiris being older than we thought, we just haven't discovered it yet...since I've heard that a large percentage of ancient Egyptian artefacts are still lying under the sands undisturbed and waiting to be discovered. Plus a lot of artefacts were carelessly destroyed by people throughout history (did you know they used papyrus as train fuel once, and that the British army used temples and monuments as firing grounds to test guns? Totally disrespectful!)

It's jsut that I saw somewhere that Isis was merely a 'minor spinoff' of Hathor and that she 'stole' or 'usurped' the cow goddess's attributes-her crown being only one of them, or something like that...
I also saw something saying: 'Isis was a barren goddess and could have never physically given birth or concieved a child, meaning that Horus was not her biological son, but her adopted son.' and that the mother of Horus aspect of Isis was only invented in Greek times, and even some claim that Isis was a 'foreign goddess'-it's probably a mixture of bogus sources I've gathered here, but they seem to imply that Hathor is 'more Egyptian' and older than Isis, and her aspects were more optimistic, and therefore she's 'more superior', which is BS in my opinion because both goddesses should be equal...although sometimes I wonder why the two goddesses didn't have a rivalry between them...or is this my westernised way thinking getting in the way? Laughing

Anyway Hathor's cool, I'm not bashing her in any way Very Happy I've found out something that has made me realise why Hathor is linked with music (or moo-sic! Wink ) and that is that cows produce more milk when they are played music! Coincidence? I wonder if the Egyptians knew that...
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 9:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isi wrote:
Quote:
I've found out something that has made me realise why Hathor is linked with music (or moo-sic! ) and that is that cows produce more milk when they are played music! Coincidence? I wonder if the Egyptians knew that...

Laughing that is quite true in a way. Dairy farmers often play music in the milking sheds as a calming influence - if cows are calm they let their milk down better - stress them out and all you get is a gumboot full of hot, steamy, liquid s**t.
Some prefer classical music, some radio talkback, others hip hop.
.... and no I'm not joking there either!
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PostPosted: Wed Jan 05, 2005 10:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to go back to what we were talking about - the confusion over religion.
This is just a few of my thoughts from my own experiences.

I think that nowadays we are pretty conditioned to the mindset of monotheistic religions where there is one god and a set doctrine. We try to catalogue and label each Egyptian god with a parentage and job - all neat and tidy to understand. Then it becomes apparent that often jobs between gods overlap and there are several mythologies connected to the 'same' god in different regions. Confusion is inevitable and the brain scrambles trying to make head or tail of them all.

This sort of confusion seems to start because often the 'hobby sites' on the net and the simpler coffee table type popular books fail to put each version of the mythological stories in their historical context. The stories around the well known gods eg the death of Osiris, Contendings of Horus and Set, the origins of Anubis - all alter over time. When these stories are put in context, the confusion over parents, jobs etc does ease. Its not always known exactly when the various myths were written, but at least knowing when they were popular makes a difference.

The ancients were so much more connected to the forces of nature and the cycles of life and death - far more than we are today. The gods were their way of explaining the unexplainable - sunrise, sunset, eclipse, disease, and pacifying that which they feared (eg Sekhmet, Set and even death).

this site is a goody. The author writes for TourEgypt.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 06, 2005 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Isisinacrisis, don't fret it too much. Just look at it as learning something new, and there's certainly no reason for it to diminish your love of Isis. We all have our favorite Egyptian deities. Mine happens to be Anubis (I hope that doesn't give you a bad impression of me! Very Happy ).

Both Isis and Osiris are incredibly ancient. Though we're not sure exactly where and how these gods and goddesses evolved, and from where some of them came, many of the most famous--including Isis and Osiris, and Hathor for that matter--stretch back far into predynastic times, probably before there was even a written language (and that's one of the chief reason we may never know the true origins of many of them).

Quote:
did you know they used papyrus as train fuel once


People of recent history are guilty of incredible acts of stupidity in the handling of ancient artifacts. It wasn't just papyri that was used for this. Native Egyptians in the 19th Century used MUMMIES to fuel their locomotives! Mad

I'm very scared of some of these sources you've come across. I hope you dismiss them outright. Isis was a barren goddess??? I have never come across such a thing and have to laugh about it! Laughing The trinity of Osiris-Isis-Horus far predates the Greek Period, and Isis was certainly no minor spinoff of Hathor. Like I've said, though, Isis did in fact assimilate many aspects of Hathor (including the crown and cow horns) so that by the Late Period, it becomes very difficult for even professionals to tell one goddess apart from the other. Sometimes the only way we can is if there is a caption identifying one as Isis or Hathor.

Your love of Isis is well founded. She outlived many gods and goddesses of the Two Lands, and like I said in my last post, one of her temples was the very last place of Egyptian worship when the Roman (Catholic) Emporer shut it down (that was Emporer Justinian, and he closed it in CE 550). Hathor also had a temple on Philae, but to make you feel better, hers was dwarfed by the size and layout of Isis'.

From burning papyri and mummies to the conservation efforts of the modern day, things have certainly changed. You've probably heard of the efforts on behalf of UNESCO when the Aswan High Dam was built some 30 years ago. When they realized Philae would be submerged by the rising waters of the dam, they moved all of the structures of that island to the nearby island of Agilkia. That's where you'll find them today.
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