The gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt were an integral part of the people's everyday lives. It is not surprising then that there were over 2,000 deities in the Egyptian pantheon. Some of these deities' names are well known: Isis, Osiris, Horus, Amun, Ra, Hathor, Bastet, Thoth, Anubis, and Ptah while many others less so. The more famous gods became state deities while others were associated with a specific region or, in some cases, a ritual or role. The goddess Qebhet, for example, is a little known deity who offered cool water to the souls of the dead as they awaited judgment in the afterlife, and Seshat was the goddess of written words and specific measurements overshadowed by Thoth, the better known god of writing and patron of scribes. Ancient Egyptian culture grew out of an understanding of these deities and the vital role they played in the immortal journey of every human being.
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The numerous gods of Egypt were the focal points of the nation's cultic rites and personal religious practices. They also played a part in the great mortuary rituals and in the Egyptian belief in posthumous eternal bliss. The gods evolved from an animistic belief system to one which was highly anthropomorphic and imbued with magic. Heka was the god of magic and medicine but was also the primordial force, pre-dating all the other gods, who enabled the act of creation and sustained both mortal and divine life. The central value of the Egyptian culture was ma'at - harmony and balance - represented by the goddess of the same name and her white ostrich feather, and it was Heka who empowered Ma'at just as he did all the other deities. Heka was the manifestation of heka (magic) which should be understood to be natural laws which today would be considered supernatural but, to the Egyptians, were simply how the world and the universe functioned. The gods provided people with all good gifts but it was heka which allowed them to do so. These gods all had names, individual personalities and characteristics, wore different kinds of clothing, held different objects as sacred, presided over their own domains of influence, and reacted in highly individualistic ways to events. Each deity had their own area of expertise but were often associated with several spheres of human life. Hathor, for example, was a goddess of music, dancing, and drunkenness but was also understood as an ancient Mother Goddess, also associated with the Milky Way as a divine reflection of the Nile River, and, in her earlier incarnation as Sekhmet, as a destroyer.
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The goddess Neith was originally a war goddess who became the epitome of the Mother Goddess, a nurturing figure, to whom the gods would turn to settle their disputes. Many gods and goddesses, such as Set or Serket, transformed through time to take on other roles and responsibilities. Sign up for our free weekly email newsletter! These transformations were sometimes dramatic, as in the case of Set who went from a hero protector-god to a villain and the world's first murderer. Serket was almost certainly an early Mother Goddess, and her later role as protector against venomous creatures (especially scorpions) and guardian of women and children reflects those characteristics. The Egyptians had no problem with a multitude of gods and they seldom shelved old deities in favor of new ones. Characteristics and roles of various gods were syncretized to reconcile differing religious beliefs, customs, or ideals. For political and religious reasons, for example, the Theban god Amun, who was considered the most powerful deity in the New Kingdom, was united with Ra, a sun god whose cult dated to the beginnings of Egypt. Worship of the gods of Egypt evolved over time as large cults developed on a local and then on a national scale. The following list of the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt is derived from numerous works on the subject which follow below in the bibliography. Every attempt has been made to create a comprehensive listing but minor regional deities have been committed if their role seems uncertain or they were transformed into major gods. When a major god evolved from an earlier minor deity, it is noted.
Included also are concepts, such as The Field of Reeds or Lily Lake, which were regions in the afterlife associated with the gods. The definitions of the god's characteristics and the roles they played are synthesized for clarity but it should be noted that not every deity listed was understood in the same way throughout Egypt's long history. Osiris, for example, was most likely a fertility god in the Predynastic Period of Egypt (c. First King by the Early Dynastic Period (c. Amun was considered King of the Gods. Although these developments are sometimes noted below, the gods are generally described in the roles they were best known for at the peak of their popularity. A'ah - An early moon god who evolved into Iah (also known as Yah) and, eventually, Khonsu. Aken - Custodian of the boat which ferried souls across Lily Lake to the Field of Reeds in the afterlife. He slept until he was needed by Hraf-Hef, the surly Divine Ferryman. His name only appears in the Book of the Dead. Aker - The deified horizon, guardian of the eastern and western horizons of the afterlife.
He protected the sun barge of Ra as it entered and left the underworld at dusk and dawn. Am-Heh - A god in the underworld, "devourer of millions" and "eater of eternity" who lived in a lake of fire. Amenet (Amentet) - A goddess who welcomed the dead to the afterlife with food and drink. Known as "She of the West", Amenet was the consort of the Divine Ferryman. She lived in a tree near the gates of the underworld. Daughter of Hathor and Horus. Ammit (Ammut) - "Devourer of Souls", a goddess with the head of a crocodile, torso of a leopard, and hindquarters of a hippo. She sat beneath the scales of justice in the Hall of Truth in the afterlife and devoured the hearts of those souls which were not justified by Osiris. Amun (Amun-Ra) - God of the sun and air. One of the most powerful and popular gods of ancient Egypt, patron of the city of Thebes, where he was worshipped as part of the Theban Triad of Amun, Mut, and Khonsu. Supreme king of the gods in some periods, though originally a minor fertility god. By the time of the New Kingdom he was considered the most powerful god in Egypt and his worship bordered on monotheism. Other gods were even considered aspects of Amun at this time. His priesthood was the most powerful in Egypt and the position of God's Wife of Amun, given to royal women, almost on par with that of the pharaoh.
She was originally from Syria or Canaan.
Along with Hardedef and Imhotep, one of the few human beings deified by the Egyptians. He was the royal architect of Amunhotep III (1386-1353 BCE). He was considered so wise that, after death, he became deified. He had a major temple in western Thebes and a healing center at Deir el-Bahri. Amunet - The female counterpart of Amun, member of the Ogdoad. Anat - Goddess of fertility, sexuality, love, and war. She was originally from Syria or Canaan. In some texts she is referred to as the Mother of the Gods while in others she is a virgin and, in still others, sensuous and erotic, described as the most beautiful goddess. In one version of The Contendings of Horus and Set, she is given as a consort to Set at the suggestion of the goddess Neith. Often equated with Aphrodite of Greece, Astarte of Phenicia, Inanna of Mesopotamia, and Sauska of the Hittites. Anta - An aspect of the Mother Goddess Mut worshipped at Tanis as the consort of Amun. Andjety - Early god of fertility associated with the city of Busiris (Andjet). His name means "He who is from Andjet" associated with the djed symbol. He eventually was absorbed by Osiris and his name became associated with that deity.
Anhur (Han-her) - Also known as Onuris by the Greeks. God of war and patron of the Egyptian army. Anqet (Anukit or Anuket) - Goddess of fertility and the cataract of the Nile River at Aswan. Anti - A Hawk god of Upper Egypt sometimes associated with Anat. Anubis - God of the dead associated with embalming. Son of Nephthys and Osiris, father of Qebhet. Anubis is depicted as a man with the head of a dog or jackal carrying a staff. He guided the souls of the dead to the Hall of Truth and was part of the ritual of the Weighing of the Heart of the Soul in the afterlife. He was probably the original God of the Dead before that role was given to Osiris, at which time he was made Osiris' son. Anuke - A war goddess originally and one of the oldest deities of Egypt, sometimes consort of Anhur, god of war. She came to be associated with Nephthys and, to a lesser degree, Isis and is referred to in some texts as their younger sister. Early depictions show her in battle dress with bow and arrow but she was transformed into a Mother Goddess and nurturing figure. The Greeks associated her with Hestia. Apedemak - A war god depicted as a lion, originally thought to be from Nubia.
He was depicted as a lion or a man with a feathered headdress.
Apep (Apophis) - Apep, the celestial serpent assaulted the sun barge of Ra every night as it made its way through the underworld toward the dawn. Gods and the justified dead would help Ra fend the serprent off. The ritual known as Overthrowing of Apophis was performed in temples to help the gods and departed souls protect the barge and ensure the coming of day. Apis - The Divine Bull worshipped at Memphis as an incarnation of the god Ptah. One of the earliest gods of ancient Egypt depicted on the Narmer Palette (c. The Apis Cult was one of the most important and long-lived in the history of Egyptian culture. Arensnuphis - Companion to the goddess Isis and worshiped primarily at her sacred site at Philae. He was depicted as a lion or a man with a feathered headdress. Asclepius (Aesculapius) - A god of healing of the Greeks also worshipped in Egypt at Saqqara and identified with the deified Imhotep. His symbol, possibly derived from the god Heka, was a staff with a serpent entwined about it, associated in the modern day with healing and the medical profession, known as the Rod of Asclepius. Ash (As) - God of the Libyan desert, a kindly deity who provided the oasis for travelers. Astarte - Phoenician goddess of fertility and sexuality, often closely equated with Aphrodite of the Greeks, Inanna/Ishtar of Mesopotamia, and Sauska of the Hittites; referred to as Queen of Heaven. In Egyptian mythology, she is given as a consort to Set, along with Anat, by the goddess Neith.
Aten - The sun disk, originally a sun deity who was elevated by pharaoh Akhenaten (1353-1336 BCE) to the position of sole god, creator of the universe. Atum (Ra) - The sun god, supreme lord of the gods, first god of the Ennead (tribunal of nine gods), creator of the universe and human beings. Atum (Ra) is the first divine being who stands on the primordial mound in the midst of chaos and draws on the magical forces of Heka to create all the other gods, human beings, and life on earth. Auf (Efu-Ra) - An aspect of Atum (Ra). Ba'al - Storm god originally from Phenicia. His name means "Lord" and his was a major deity in Canaan only worshipped in Egypt in the later period of the New Kingdom (1570-1069 BCE). Ba'alat Gebal - Phoenician goddess of the city of Byblos, a protector deity, incorporated into Egyptian worship through her association with papyrus, which came from Byblos. Babi (Baba) - He was a virility god depicted as a baboon and symbolizing male sexuality. Banebdjedet - A fertility/virility god who appears as a ram or a man with a ram's head, associated with the city of Mendes, eventually another name for Osiris. Ba-Pef - God of terror, specifically spiritual terror. His name translates as "that soul".