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Ancient Legends & Myths

Egyptian Gods and Goddesses


Below is a list of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses:

Amon - One of the eight divine forces of chaos known as the Ogdoad. Amon was worshipped as a fertility god at Thebe in Upper Egypt and became a national deity in the Second Millennium BC. His name was fused with that of the supreme solar deity, RA to create Amon-RA, one of the four great creator deities (the others being Atum, Khnum and Ptah). Amon-Ra was the hidden power who created the gods. According to one account, the snake form of Amon was the earliest being to exist in the primeval waters.

Anat - A female warrior deity of Syrian (Canaanite) origin: She is derived from the goddess Anath. In Egyptian mythology Anat is the daughter of the solar deity Ra. She was usually depicted carrying a shield, spear and axe. Anat was also a cow goddess.

Anubis - The jackal-headed god of embalming, also known as Anpu. He is sometimes said to be the son of the god Osiris, the first king or pharaoh on earth, and his sister Nephthys. After Osiris was killed b his brother Set, Anubis enbalmed the body and wrapped it in linen bandages making Osiris the first mummy. Anubis later defended the corpse against the attacks of Set. After death Osiris became ruler of the underworld. Anubis, as one of the most important officials, guided the deceased through the underworld into the presence of Osiris and oversaw their judgment.

Astarte - A warrior goddess of Middle Eastern origin (her Mesopotamian counterpart was Inanna/Ishtar), said by the Egyptians to be the daughter of the sun god or of the creator god Ptah. Astarte was a wife of the god Set.

Atum - One of the four principle creator deities (the others being Amon, Khnum and Ptah). Atum, whose cult center was a Heliopolis, first emerged from the primeval chaos in the form of a serpent, but was usually represented in human form. Like other creator deities, the god represented a totality, which contained both male and female. He caused the first division into male and female when he put his semen in his mouth and sneezed or spat it out, creating the first divine couple, Shu and Tefenet. As Ra-Atum, he represented the evening sun.

Bastet - The Cat-headed goddess of love, sex and fertility. Like the ferocious war goddess Sekhmet, Bastet was originally a lioness deity, but from c. 900 BC, she begain to be represented as a cat, perhaps because of her gentler nature. She was sometimes depicted with kittens, which symbolized her role as a fertility deity. Mummified cats were often buried near her shrines.

Bes - A protective deity. Bes, usually portrayed as a hideous but jovial dwart, was revered as the god of pleasure and entertainment and as a protector of the family, especially of children and women in childbirth.

Geb - the god of the Earth, the offspring of Shu, the god of air, and Tefenet the goddess of wetness and water.

Hathor - A powerful and complex goddess with numerous attributes. Hathor was the protector of women, whom she assisted in conception and childbirth. As the guardian of children she suckled the young god Horus in the form of a cow, and later restored his sight after the god Set tore out his eyes. She was also the protector of lovers. Hathor was associated with death and rebirth. She greeted the souls of the dead in the underworld and offered them refreshments of food and drink.

Heh and Hehet - A pair of primal deities embodying infinity. They formed part of the group of eight divinities known as the Ogdoad.

Horus - The falcon-headed god, the son of the goddess Isis and the god Osiris. Set caused the death of his brother Osiris, the first king of Egypt, and seized his throne. Isis retrieved her husband's body and hovered over it in the form of a sparrowhawk, fanning enough life back into him for her to conceive a son, Horus. She knew Set would harm her child, so she fled the Nile delta and gave birth to Horus at Chemmis near Buto. With the assistance of other deities, such as the goddesses Hathor, Selquet, Isis raised Horus until he was old enough to challenge Set and claim his royal inheritance. The sun god invited Horus and Set to put their cases before the Ennead. Set declared that he should be king because only he was strong enough to defend the sun during its nightly voyage through the underworld.

Imhotep - An architect and priest-minister of the pharaoh Djoser (27th century BC). Imhotep, an historical figure, was revered as a demi-god of wisdom, medicine and magic. His parents were apparently the creator deity Ptah, the god of crafts and intellect and a human mother.

Isis - A great goddess, the wife and sister of Osiris, the sister of Seth and Nephthys, and the mother of Horus. Isis, one of the nine great deities known as the Ennead, is featured in myth principally as the devoted wife of Osiris, the first king on earth, and the mother of Horus. As the divine exemplar of the dedicated wife and mother, Isis was the center of an important cult which spread over, and out of, the borders of ancient Egypt. The goddess's adversary was her brother Set, who brought about the death of Osiris and stole his throne. Isis retrieved her husband's corpse and protected it from Set, using magic powers to halt or reverse the decay. In one account, Isis hovered over the body as a sparrowhawk and fanned enought life into Osiris with her wings to enable her to conceive a son, the god Horus. Isis protected Horus from Set and assisted him to regain his birthright, the Egyptian kingship, from his uncle.

Khnum - One of the four principal creator gods of the Egyptians, the others being Amon-Ra, Atum and Ptah. Khnum was shown as a potter who molded deities, humans and animals from clay on his potting wheel, and then breathed life into them. He was usually depicted as a man with the head of a ram, his sacred animal and a symbol of male creative power. Khnum was believed to control the rising of the waters of the Nile, an annual phenomenon crucial to the fertility of the land and life itself.

Maat - The goddess of truth and justice. Maat, the daughter of the sun god and wife of Thoth, embodied divine order and harmony. She was depicted standing or squatting, with her symbol, an ostrich feather, in her headdress. In the underworld, the heart - or the conscience - of a dead person was weighed against the feather of Maat; or Truth. If the heart was burdened by sin so that it was heavier than the feather, the deceased was devoured by a monster. If the scales balanced, the deceased became a spirit among the gods. See The Book of the Dead for a complete description of this process.

Meresger - A snake goddess of the mountain peak overlooking the royal tombs of Thebes (modern Luxor). She was generally benevolent and had the power to cure disease, but she could also inflict sickness on sinners.

Naunet - A primal deity embodying the primeval waters. Naunet and her male counterpart Nun formed part of the Ogdoad, eight divinities which personaifed the forces of chaos.

Neith - The great mother goddess. According to one account, she emerged from the Nun, the primordial waters, and created deities and humans. When she spat into the Nun, her spittle became Apep, the serpent of chaos. She was also the mother of Sobek, the crocodile god. During the struggle of Horus and Set over Egypt's kingship, the gods and goddesses wrote Neith seeking her advice. She replied that to compensate for giving up the throne to Horus, Set should receive Anat and Astarte, two goddesses of foreign origin, as wives. This judgment probably implies that Neigh considered Set unworthy of marriage to native goddesses.

Nekhbet - The vulture goddess of the Southern city of Nekheb (modern el-Kab) and the paton goddess of Upper Egypt. With Wadjet, the patron goddess of Lower Egypt, Nekhbet was the protector of the Egyptian Pharaoh and was often depicted as a vulture hovering with her wings spread about the royal image. She was also the goddess of childbirth, and was identified by the Greeks with the goddess Eileithyia.

Nephthys - A goddess, the daughter of Geb and Nut, sister of Isis, Osiris and Set. Nephthys, less prominent in Egyptian myth than her sibllings, married Set but produced no children, so she committed adultery with Osiris and consequently bore the god of embalming, Anubis. She deserted Set after he had brought about the death of Osiris and then she lamented with Isis over her brother's corpse. It was the custom at Egyptian funerals for two women to impersonate Nephthys and Isis and lament over the body of the deceased.

Nut - Nut was the sky-goddess, whose body created a vault or canopy over the earth. Nut was the sister/wife of Geb, the god of the earth. She was also the mother of Isis, Osiris, Nephthys and Set. The ancient Egyptians believed that at the end of the day, Nut swallowed the sun-god Ra, and gave birth to him again the next morning.

Osiris - Osiris was the god of the dead, and ruler of the underworld. Osiris was the brother/husband of Isis, and the brother of Nepthys and Set. He was also the father of Horus. As well as being a god of the dead, Osiris was a god of resurrection and fertility. In fact, the ancient Egyptians believed that Osiris gave them the gift of barley, one of their most important crops. A large temple was built to honor Osiris at Abydos. Osiris ruled the world of men in the beginning, after Ra had abandoned the world to rule the skies, but he was murdered by his brother Set. Through the magic of Isis, he was made to live again. Being the first person to die, he subsequently became lord of the dead. His death was avenged by his son Horus, who defeated Set and cast him out into the desert to the West of Egypt (the Sahara).

Ptah - In one creation myth Ptah was a creator god. He spoke the words and the world came into being. He fashioned the bodies in which dwelt the souls of men in the afterlife. Other versions of the myths state that he worked under Thoth's orders, creating the heavens and the earth according to Thoth's specifications.

Ra - Ra was the sun god. He was the most important god of the ancient Egyptians. The ancient Egyptians believed that Ra was swallowed every night by the sky goddess Nut, and was reborn every morning. Ra was the sun god.

Re - He was the god of the sun during dynastic Egypt; the name is thought to have meant "creative power" and as a proper name "Creator", similar to English Christian usage of the term "Creator" to signify the "almighty God." Very early in Egyptian history, Re was identified with Horus, who as a hawk or falcon-god represented the liftiness of the skies. Re is represented either as a hawk-headed man or as a hawk. In order to travel through the waters of Heaven and the Underworld, Re eas depicted as traveling in a boat. In dynastic Egypt, Re's cult center was Annu (Hebrew "on", Greek "Heliopolis", near modern-day Cairo). In Dynasty 5, the first king, Userkaf, was also Re's high priest and he added the term Sa-Re "Son of Re" to the titles of the pharaohs. Re wa father of Shu and Tefnut, granfather of Nut and Geb, great-grandfather of Osiris, Set, Isis and Nephthys, and great-great-grandfather to Horus.

Sekhmet - She was the goddess of war. A lioness goddess, worshiped in Memphis as the wife of Ptah; created by Re from the fire of his eyes as a creature of vengeance to punish mortals for their sins; later, was transformed into a peaceful goddess of pleasure and happiness, Hathor.

Seshat - She was the goddess of writing and measurement.

Set - He was the god of chaos. Set represented everything that threatened harmony in Egypt. He was the brother of Osiris and Isis, as well as the brother/husband of Nephthys. He murdered his brother Osiris, then battled with his nephew Horus to be the ruler of the living. At certain times in the history of ancient Egypt, Set was associated with royalty. In earliest times, Set was the patron deity of Lower (Northern) Egypt, and represented the fierce storms of the desert whom the Lower Egyptians sought to appease. However, when Upper Egypt conquered Lower Egypt and ushered in the 1st Dynasty, Set became known as the evil enemy of Horus (Upper Egypt's dynastic god).

Shu - He was the god of the air. Shu held up the figure of Nut so that the earth and the sky were separated. The god of the atmosphere and of dry winds, son of Ra, brother and husband of Tefnut, father of Geb and Nut. Represented in hieroglyphs by an ostrich feather (similar to Maat's), which he is usually shown wearing on his head. The name "Shu" is probably related to the root shu meaning "dry, empty." Shu also seems to be a personification of the sun's light. Shu and Tefnut were also said to be but two halves of one soul, perhaps the earliest recorded example of "soulmates."

Sobek - He was a Nile god. Sobek was connected with the Nile, and protected the king. Live crocodiles were kept in pools at temples built to honor Sorbek.

Tawaret - She was a goddess who protected women during pregnancy and childbirth. Many of the gods and goddesses in ancient Egypt had temples built to honor them. Other gods and goddesses like Tawaret and Bes were worshipped by people in their own homes.

Tefnut - She was the goddess of moisture. She was the wife of Shu and the mother of Nut (the sky) and Geb (the earth). Tefnut was depicted as a woman with the head of a lioness, which was her sacred animal. The name "Tefnut" probably derives from the root teftef, signifying "to spit, to moisten" and root nu meaning "waters, sky".

Thoth - He was the god of writing and knowledge. The ancient Egyptians believed that Thoth gave them the gift of hieroglyphic writing. Thoth was also connected with the moon. The god of wisdom, Thoth was said to be self-created at the beginning of time, along with his consort Maat ((truth), or perhaps created by Re. Thoth was depicted as a man with the head of an ibis, and carried a pen and scolls upon which he recorded all things. He was shown as attendant in almost all major scene involving the gods, but especially at the judgment of the cedeased. He served as the messenger of the gods, and was thus equated by the Greeks with Hermes.

Wadjet (Wadjyt, Wadjit, Uto, Uatchet, Edjo) was the predynastic cobra goddess of Lower Egypt, a goddess originally of a city who grew to become the goddess of Lower Egypt, took the title 'The Eye of Ra', and one of the nebty (the 'two ladies') of the pharaoh. Wadjet was the personification of the north. Often shown as a rearing cobra, she was a protector of the pharaoh, ready to strike and kill his enemies. She was also depicted as a woman-headed cobra, a winged cobra, a lion-headed woman, or a woman wearing the red crown of Lower Egypt. She was often shown together with Nekhbet who was in an identical form - as a snake or woman - or paired together with Wadjet as a snake and Nekhbet as a vulture.



September 25, 2014
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