The Gods of Egypt

     Lately we’ve been talking a lot about some of the reasons why ancient Egyptians put the pyramids on the west side of the Nile River and the temples on the east side, why some of the drawings on the tombs and walls of the temples mimic certain ancient gods, the significance of wearing a sun disc on one’s head, and the belief that the sun was a god named Ra that would be born every day in the east, journey through the sky, die in the west, and continue his journey in the underworld. These topics got me interested about the vast mythology that goes behind such beliefs. As you probably already know, many ancient civilizations (Greek, Norse, Roman, etc.) have an extensive mythological story that has an explanation for just about everything that goes on in the world. From the reasons why the seasons change to why humans feel emotion, mythology allowed ancient people to be at peace with the way things are. Well, I am a pretty big Greek mythology buff, but I realized that I know almost nothing about Egyptian mythology. So after doing a little research and looking into some of the different versions of the creation story (no matter the religion there always seems to be different versions of the same story, weird ;p) I decided to blog about the most interesting one I found.

     The world started out as a chaos of churning water, known as Nu or Nun. Out of Nu came Atum, the lord of Heliopolis. He stood on a single mound he created called ben-ben and this is where the temple of Heliopolis was built. The creation of ben-ben brought light into the world and Atum became known as Atum-Ra. Ra, the sun god that rises in the east and dies in the west. Ra then created the gods Shu (the air) and Tefnut (the moisture) through asexual reproduction. Together, Shu and Tefnut produced Geb (the earth) and Nut (the sky). Geb and Nut conceived Osiris, Isis, Nephthys, and Seth (or Set). After conceiving, Geb and Nut were separated by their father, Shu. Now the sky is high above, while the earth is way below with air in the middle. Many ancient drawings of this show Geb the earth laying down with Nut the sky arched over him with Shu the air holding her up. Ra the sun is usually traveling along Nut’s body.

     Now obviously mythology is just that, a myth. But people need to believe in something, and I think it is very interesting how back then, an entire civilization was able to settle on basically the same story of how their world came to be and agree to worship the same gods. Because those were the gods that ruled their world every day.

the air holding up the sky above the earth with the sun and moon moving along its body

1 thought on “The Gods of Egypt

  1. I find this topic very interesting as well. You always hear a lot of stuff about Greek mythology but Egyptian mythology has never been as common. I used to play a game called Age of Mythology, where the gods such as Isis, Osiris, Set, and Nephthys were very common characters. I want to go into a little more detail on these deities, as they played a large role in Egyptian beliefs of the past. Isis was seen as a mother figure in Egyptian mythology. She was depicted as the ideal mother and wife, as well as the patroness of magic and nature. She was seen as the mother of the pharaoh, and was the provider of the throne that the pharaoh would sit on. It was said that Isis had been married to Osiris, her brother. The incestuous relationships like this were the norm in royal families as well as in mythology of the past. Osiris was called the god of the afterlife, and was responsible for leading the dead to their proper resting place. Along with this, he was also said to be called “the agent of the underworld” that would be responsible for granting all life, including plants as well as the flooding of the nile. Set, the third sibling, was said to be the god of desert, storms, and foreigners. He was later said to have been the murderer and mutilator of his brother Osiris. After his murder, Isis would be the one to reassemble his corpse and embalm him. The last sibling, Nephthys, was called “The lady of the Temple”. This was most likely referring to the temple pylon that she was represented by. She was known as the useful goddess, and was shown in Egyptian hieroglyphs as someone who represented divine assistance and protective guardianship. She was also Set’s companion, making the four siblings two couples that were right in the center of Egyptian mythology.

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