ANCIENT NILE'S
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN GODS AND GODDESSES





BOOK


GOD


QUALITIES


IMAGE


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Amun (Amun-Ra) God of War / the 'Hidden One'

A deity strongly associated with Thebes and Karnak Temple where he is described as 'the king of the gods'.

He became assimilated with Ra, the most powerful sun god

DEPICTION:
There are many representations, including the Ram


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Anubis God of the Dead / Mummification

Anubis is often associated with Osiris, the other principal god of the dead. In primitive times Anubis, the jackal god,was associated with the dead because the jackal was generally seen prowling about the tombs. His worship is very ancient and may be older than that of Osiris. In the Unas text he is associated with the Eye of Horus and his duty was that of guiding the dead through the underworld to Osiris. Again in the Funeral Procession scene Anubis receives the mummy and, standing by its bier, lays his protecting hands upon it. The duty of guiding the souls of the dead around the Underworld and into the kingdom of Osiris was shared by Anubis and another god, Ap-uat, whose symbol was also a jackal.

Known as the Guardian of the Necropolis, he was also a patron of magic and it was believed he could foresee a person's destiny.

Anubis was also the god of embalming and the keeper of poisons and medicines. It is written that he provided the ingredients (herbs, Powders and unguents) to help Isis and Nephthys embalm Osiris. Anubis then performed the funeral of Osiris, which would be the role model for all funerals to come. As part of the funerary ritual he would performed the 'Opening of the Mouth' ceremony before the mummy was put into the tomb. This ensured that the deceased would be able to speak in the afterlife.

In the "Hall of Maat", it is Anubis who sees that the beam of the great scale is in the proper position as he supervises the weighing of the heart of a deceased person against the feather of Maat. Anubis also protects the dead from Ammut, the 'Devourer'.

Originally a deity of Upper Egypt, Middle Kingdom

DEPICTION:
A Man with the head of a jackal / dog


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Aten God of the 'Visible Sun'

Popular in the New Kingdom. Particularly at el-Amarna.

A god believed to have been propagated by the Pharaoh Akhenaten in opposition to the great god Amun. It failed with his death.

DEPICTION:
Sun disc / orb and rays.


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Bastet Fertility Goddess.

Bastet is regarded as a friendly, kind, but strong-willed feline goddess who is related to Hathor and Mut. Her heiroglyph is an ointment jar. Her main centre was at Bast (Greek- Bubastis, present day - Tell Basta) a city in the Nile Delta which lies some 60 miles north-east of Cairo. Bastet means 'She-of-Bast' Herodotus refers to her temple per-bastet (House of Bastet) and the Festival of Bastet. However in the Old Kingdom she was also worshipped at Memphis where she was associated with the local goddess, Sekhmet. She is connected with womens fertility prayers, safe childbirth and has protective magical powers. In Heliopolis she was known as the daughter of Atum, the primeval creator god.

DEPICTION:
Cat. Woman with cat's head. Originally portrayed as a wild Lion.


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Bes Protector of the Family.

Said to have protected women, especially in childbirth, and frightened away demons.

DEPICTION:
Fierce ugly looking dwarf with long arms and crooked legs. Very popular on amulets.


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Haapi (Hapi) Essence of the Nile.

Haapi was regarded as the 'Spirit of the Nile'. The annual inundation was the arrival of Haapi and it was believed he had a cavern in the first cataract of the Nile at Aswan, from where he discharged the rising waters. Along with Nephthys, his wife, Haapi guarded the canopic jar which contained Pharaoh's lungs and whose stopper was the head of a baboon.

DEPICTION:
Well fed man with a headdress of Nile plants.


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Hathor Goddess of Heaven Earth and the Underworld.

One of the most powerful goddesses. Often associated with Isis.

She was known as Horus' wife. She had many titles, being closely associated with music, joy, the desert, and sexuality.

Her cult was worshipped at Dendera and Memphis.

DEPICTION:
Cow / woman with ears of a cow / woman with wig, horns and sun disc


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Horus The 'Protector of the Reigning King'.

The large impressive temples of Edfu and Komombo are dedicated to Horus.

Known as the son of the god Osiris, he became known as the ancestor of all pharaohs. Pharaoh was known as 'Horus, the living God on Earth' Associated with both the sun and moon.

DEPICTION:
Hawk / falcon


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Ihy (Ahy, Ehy, Ahi) Child God of Music.

Ihy was the protector god of music / musicians and was the son of Hathor of Dendara and Horus of Edfu. He was worshipped chiefly in the Dendara area. The ritual of his birth festival was celebrated annually in the birth house (mammisi) at Dendara and dates back as far as Hatshepsut's time. As a youthful child god he has links with the primeval creation.

DEPICTION:
Shown playing a sistrum (sacred musical rattle) and wearing a menit (necklace).


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Isis 'Goddess of Many Names' / 'Queen of the Gods'

Isis was the most popular Egyptian goddess, even though nothing is known of her origins. However, it is generally believed that she was worshipped in the Delta region, close to Busiris, the oldest known cult centre of Osiris.

She had close associations with every great Egyptian goddess, including Nut, Bastet, and Hathor.

Isis played a prominent role within the relationship of the gods. She was known as the daughter of Ged and Nut, the sister-wife of Osiris, the mother of Horus and the sister of Seth and Nephthys. She was also one of the four goddesses that guarded a corner of the royal sarcophagus. In her particular protection was Pharaoh's liver. Both Isis and Nephthys were known as the chief divine mourners at Pharaohs funeral. But she is most famously known, in mythology, for her quest to find her husband's body, after Osiris had been killed by his brother, Seth. Through the legend of Osiris, Isis typified the faithful wife and devoted mother. And her magical powers, particularly in the care and cure of children, ensured her continuing popularity.

Isis took on particular importance during the reign of the Ptolemys (Dynasty XXX) when several temples were built in her honor including the temples at Denderah and Philea. The worship of Isis continued through both the Greek and Roman occupations of Egypt, up until the sixth century AD. During this time Isis was universally worshipped and her cult had spread through many lands including; Syria, Palestine, Asia, Cyprus, Crete, Rhodes, mainland Greece, Phoenicia and eventually Rome. The worship of Isis even spread as far as Britian.

DEPICTION:
She is often depicted nursing Horus / Female with wings (as on the sarcopgagus) / Woman wearing cow's horns and sun disc (Borrowed from Hathor) / Woman wearing the hieroglyph sign for 'throne' on her head.


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Khepri God of Reincarnation / Creation

He is recorded as early as the 5th dynasty (2500 BC) in the pyramid texts.

At Heliopolis he was considered a sun god. He has strong ties with the creator-god Atum.

DEPICTION:
Beetle / scarab


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Maat Goddess of Order, Justice, Truth and Harmony.

Maat (order) is the goddess who represented social and religious order,
which maintained the necessary balance of the Egyptian world, as opposited to isfet (chaos).
She was present in the Nile Valley and Delta or 'Black Land' (kemet), where harmony existed, not in the 'Red Land' (deshret) or desert, where death and chaos ruled.
In death, the deceased's heart was weighed against the principle and truth of Maat represented by the ostrich feather. If the deceased had done wrong in their lifetime their heart would be devoured by a terrifying beast and they would be condemned to oblivion. But if they had been a good person then they would be granted a place in the Fields of Hetep and Iaru. (Heaven)
Even ancient Egyptian aspired to live a life in accordance with Maat.
Some crimes were considered to be against (or deaf to) Maat, such as, disorder, rebellion, laziness, deceit, greed, etc

DEPICTION:
Woman with a single ostrich feather headdress.
In a funerary context she is often shown with large outstretched wings.
Pharaoh (beloved of Maat) is often shown holding her in his hands.


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Min God of Fertility

One of the more ancient gods, probably predynastic.

He is particularly associated with two ancient cities - Gebtu and Khent-Min where he was worshipped in the form of a white bull, a symbol of virility.

As a desert deity he was also associated with nomads, travellers and hunters.

Later, in the 18th dynasty he became linked with the most powerful of gods, Amun. He had his own harvest celebration - 'The Festival of the Coming Forth of Min'.

DEPICTION:
White Bull / Man with a cap of tall plumes, a flail in one hand and erect phallus.


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Mut Lady of Heaven. Mother of the Sun in Whom He rises

Mut was both the eye of the sun and the mother of the sun. The goddess was regarded as the mother of pharaohs. According to myth, she was self-created. She can be traced back to the Middle Kingdom, but was probably worshipped earlier.

DEPICTION:
She was often depicted as a woman with a vulture skin on her head, together with the crown of Upper Egypt. Mut was also depicted as a woman standing with her arms stretched out with a large pair of wings. The goddess became the Eye of Ra when Amun was in the position of the sun god, and would often be represented as a lioness.


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Nut Sky Goddess / Goddess of Rebirth / Funerary Goddess

Nut was a sky-goddess whose body symbolised the vault of the sky. She is considered to be the daughter of Shu, sister-wife of GEB and mother of Osiris, Isis, Horus the Elder, Seth and Nephthys. She is usually portrayed in human form but on rare occasions she takes the form of a cow straddling the earth with her star-studded underbelly. This often gets her confused / interchanged with Hathor, another bovine goddess.

Nut’s body was thought to arch over the earth and every evening, as the sun descended over Mount Manu in the west, she was said to raise her head off her pillow (Mount Manu) and swallow the setting sun, (known as the god Ra) and then every morning she would give birth to him from her womb in the form of the rising sun. There are many depictions of this act on the walls of tombs and temples. Nut’s body was also interpreted as the progression of the stars across the sky, which can be seen as spandled decoration on her long blue dress or body.

As Nut was associated with rebirth (renewing the sun each day) she was also a favourite funerary deity helping to give rebirth to the dead pharaoh. The pyramid texts tell how she, ‘enfolded the body of the king’ and also how he asked, ‘my mother, Nut, spread yourself over me, so I may be placed among the imperishable stars and never die’. She is often associated with pharaoh’s coffin, especially the lid of the sarcophagus, where she is regularly found on the underside, arching her body protectively over the dead king, face to face for eternity.

DEPICTION:
Female human form arched across the sky (sometimes carrying a water pot on her head)/ More rarely as a cow


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Osiris God of the Underworld / God of Harvest and Fertility. (Probable origins)

The constant battles between Osiris and his brother, Seth, were the basis for the Egyptian account of the creation. The eventual death of Osiris, caused by this sibling struggle, enabled the Afterlife to come into being. After his wife Isis had resurrected him in the afterlife, she bore him a son, Horus, who continued the battle against Seth in this world. As the principle god of the underworld and the judge of the dead, he represented order and justice in the next world. He was the supreme ruler.

It's thought that Osiris probably started out as an harvest god, due to his Atef crown.

One of his principle cult centers was at Abydos.

DEPICTION:
He wears the insignia of royalty with crook and flail. Also the Atef crown with plant stems and ostrich feathers.


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Ptah Lord of World Order / God with Accessible Face / God of Artists and Craftsmen.

Ptah's main cult centre was at Memphis where he was associated with several other gods including Osiris and Sokar. In the Memphite Theology he was the creator god, - whose name created the world. And in the 19th and 20th dynasties of Egyptian history he joined Amun and Ra as the 'Triad of the Kingdom'.

DEPICTION:
Shown in mummification form with close fitting cap, holding a composite scepter.


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Sekhmet Goddess - The Powerful One - Mistress of War and Strife.

Her chief place of worship was at Memphis. She could kill as well as cure.

Wife of Ptah, mother of Nefertem (The Memphis Triad)

DEPICTION:
Woman with head of a Lion.


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Seth God of Chaos and Confusion.

Son of the sky goddess Nut and the brother of Osiris, whom, according to legend, he murdered.

He then engaged in a long battle with his nephew, Horus, who sought revenge for his father's death. A battle Horus eventually won as he took the throne.

Seth's reign was considered outside of the divine order and therefore, as an opposing force he helped maintain a necessary balance.

In later dynasties he was venerated and thought of in a more favourable light, so much so, that several Pharaoh's took his name, eg Seti I (1294-1279 BC) and Sethhnakhte (1186-1184 BC) However, by 800 BC he had lost popularity and was once again viewed as an evil force.

DEPICTION:
Human body with the head of a mysterious animal, with a long nose and square ears.


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Shu God of Air and Light/ Guardian of the King / Supporter of the Heavens/

Son of Atum. Popular in the New Kingdom. Associated with the sun-god Ra.

The main site of worship was at Nay-ta-but, South East of Heliopolis.

DEPICTION:
Lion / Man with plume on his head


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Sokar God of the Memphis Necropolis - mainly with a funerary role. It is written in the pyramid text that he was the 'Creator of the Royal Bones.'

His main area of worship was around Memphis and later at Thebes, especially at the temple of Medinet Habu.

Early records hint that he was also a God of Agriculture. He has strong ties with both Ptah and in later dynasties, Osiris. Their names are often linked, eg Ptah-Sokar-Osiris The god's yearly celebration was called 'The Great Festival of Sokar, celebrated in Memphis on the 26th day of the 4th of the akhet season as far back as the Old Kingdom period.

DEPICTION:
Hawk headed mummy holding, crook, flail and waas-sceptre.


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Taweret (Ta-urt Apet Opet) Goddess - Mother and Nurse to the Gods

Said to have brought babies to childless women.

A favourite to be portrayed on charms and amulets. References to her date back to the Old Kingdom.

DEPICTION:
Woman with hippopotamus head.


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Tefnut Goddess of Moisture

Wife / sister of Shu. Sun deity.

The main site of worship was at Nay-ta-but, South East of Heliopolis.

DEPICTION:
Lioness / lionheaded woman (opposite picture shows Shu and Tefnut as a pair of lions on an ivory headrest.)


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Thoth Lord of the Sacred Words

The Egyptian Moon (Lunar) god, presided over scribes and knowledge, and was the messenger and scribe to the gods. He was the god of all wisdom and was connected with anything to do with intellectual pursuits, in both arts and sciences. He was sometimes said to be son of Horus, although, according to tradition, he sprang from the head of evil god, Seth. He is associated with the cult centre known as Khemenu (Town of the Eight) which today is called el-Eshmunein. He was the leader of the group of eight gods known as the 'Ogdoad'and was said to be the inventor of the hieroglyphs which was called 'mdw-ntr'. He is also credited with writing forty-two books which contain all the wisdom of the world, including magic. Thoth was said to have taught Isis how to spell and helped her to reassemble her husband's body (Osiris). As a royal god both he and Horus took part in a ceremony known as 'The baptism of the Pharaoh' where they would annoint the king with purified water. Seshat (goddess of writing and books) was known as his wife, unlike Thoth, who was a public god of the people, she belonged to Pharaoh alone.

DEPICTION:
Ibis or Baboon often holding a reed pen in his hand




This list is by no means complete and more names will be added periodically. This page must not to be reproduced, copied, or published elsewhere, without permission from the author, or www.ancientnile.co.uk.
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