Written by Crescentia
Ancient Egypt has one of the most varied and often confusing pantheons as so many Gods and Goddesses not only shared atributes, but shared names. Egyptian Gods changed as the country did with some Gods becoming composits (Amun and Ra becoming Amun-Ra for example).
Here is a brief description of the Egyptian Pantheon. I will add to this article from time to time and you are welcome to submit more information. (only Registered users can submit news or articles).
Amun-Ra God of Kings and King of Gods. The oldest and longest venerated ruler of ancient Egypt, Amun, meaning “hidden” and Ra meaning “light” translates to "hidden light". The sacred creature of Amun is the ram with curved horns. This image was probably suggested by the ram's procreative energy, a symbol to his aspect as a God of fertility. “Woserhat”, the gilded, festival boat of Amun had a ram's head at its prow and stern, and the processional roads to his temple were flanked with ram-headed lions. Pharaohs repeatedly called themselves “Merry-Amun” or Beloved of Amun. Also, since the ruler was “Son of Ra” it followed that Amun was father of the Monarch. As God of the Theban capital, Amun attained the position of supreme state God in the new kingdom, and as Amun-Ra was identified with the Sun-God. Lastly, the God “He who abides in all things”, was imagined as the soul (Ba) of all phenomena.
Anubis God of the Dead, represented with a head of a jackal or simply as a jackal opened the road to the other world and presided over embalmments. After a funeral, Anubis would take the deceased by the hand and introduce him into the presence of the sovereign judges where the soul of the deceased would be weighed. Anubis was the Guardian of Offerings brought to the ceremony by heirs of the deceased and he also guarded the mummy from evil forces in the night. When the body was embalmed, a priest wearing a jackal mask acted as Anubis's representative. He also was the guardian of the Sacred Esoteric Mysteries. The origin of this God lay in the fact that jackals could be heard howling in the desert to the west of the Nile at sunset-at the time when burials took place. Here, Anubis is shown carrying the long ‘was’ scepter and the crook and flail, symbols of kingship.
The Egyptians didn't worship the animals, but the forces of nature that they symbolized. Anubis, God of the Dead, represented with a head of a jackal or simply as a jackal opened the road to the other world and presided over embalmments. After a funeral, Anubis would take the deceased by the hand and introduce him into the presence of the sovereign judges where the soul of the deceased would be weighed. Anubis was the Guardian of Offerings brought to the ceremony by heirs of the deceased and he also guarded the mummy from evil forces in the night. When the body was embalmed, a priest wearing a jackal mask acted as Anubis's representative. He also was the guardian of the Sacred Esoteric Mysteries. The origin of this God lay in the fact that jackals could be heard howling in the desert to the west of the Nile at sunset-at the time when burials took place.
Bastet is a feline goddess, daughter of the sun god “Ra”. Bastet was originally a lion goddess, but after 1000 B.C. as her cult developed, she became more associated with the cat and was considered to be the center counterpart of the lion goddess Sekhmet. Cats could be observed skilfully hunting and catching snakes, which had special relevance for the Egyptians since the snake was the symbol of Apophis, the demonic enemy of the sun god Ra. So cats became animals sacred to the solar deity. Bastet was especially worshipped at her temple at Bubastis (“the house of Bastet”). As a sun goddess, Bastet was the goddess of plenty and the mistress of pleasure. The celebrating of her festivals were renowned for being the most lavish of all the gods of Egypt. Bastet was also associated with the moon and in myth became the eye of the moon. The Greeks associated her with the Greek goddess Artemis. She is usually depicted as a cat-headed woman. In one hand she holds either a sistrum, a kind of musical rattle, or an aegis, in her other hand she often carries a basket.
The first reference to the domestic cat appears in the eleventh dynasty. Because it was hostile to snakes, it became a sacred animal of the Sun God. In the New Kingdom, the male cat was regarded as an incarnation of the Sun God and the female cat was equated with the solar eye. Feline figures may display a scarab, the symbol of the rising sun, engraved on the head or breast thus showing their solar significance. The domestic cat attained special significance as the sacred animal of the Goddess Bastet. Hundreds of figures were set up as votive offerings in the temple at Bubastis in order that the donor might share in the Goddess's grace. Actual mummies of cats were buried by the thousands in special cemeteries in the area.
Heket, represented in the form of an Egyptian frog or with a frog’s head, was worshipped especially in the town of Hew-Wer as the female complement of Khnum. Together with other Gods she assisted in fashioning the child in the womb and presided over the birth in her capacity of midwife. Amulets and scarabs worn by women to protect them during childbirth often bear the image of the Frog Goddess. The life-giving powers of Heket enabled her to be adopted as a benign deity fit to accompany Osiris, in whose temble at Abidos she receives wine from King Seti I and is labelled “Mistress of the Two Lands”.
Horus is the Falcon-God ‘Lord of the Sky’ and symbol of divine kingship. The name Horus is a latinized form of the greek ‘Hores’ which in turn derived from the egyptian ‘Hor’. This name comes from the same root as the egyptian word for ‘the high’ or ‘far away’. Horus was represented either as a falcon-headed man or as a falcon. The sky was represented by the wings of Horus and his two eyes symbolized the sun and the moon, with the right eye being the sun and the left, the moon. The phrase ‘the eye of Horus’ usually refers to the moon eye. It was this eye that was lost to Seth and later, after being recovered, presented to Osiris to aid him in his resurrection. The falcon was sacred to Horus from the earliest times and the image of a falcon on its perch became the hieroglyp symbol representing the word ‘God’. In ancient Egypt, the Pharaoh was seen as a manifestation of the ‘living Horus’ on the throne of Egypt and each succeeding Pharaoh used the name of Horus as the first of his titles.
The eye of Horus also called Oudjat or Wedjat, is the left lunar eye which originates from the struggle btween Horus and Seth. In this fight, Horus loses his left eye which is taken by Seth, but then Horus acquires spiritual sight, the eye of light. The eye was later healed by Thoth and returned to Horus and then called “the Oudjat” (“the Whole One”). It was a symbol of the power of the God of light, and therefore a popular amulet for protection and good luck. Some oudjat eyes had an arm carrying the Ankh or the papyrus staff, symbol for “to flourish”. The eye of Horus was also used as a protection against the evil eye. From the late old kingdom, two oudjat eyes were placed on the door recesses of tombs.
Isis means “seat” or “throne”. She was regarded as the symbolical mother of the King. In myth, she sought her dead husband and brother, Osiris, conceived her son Horus by him, buried and mourned him together with her sister Nephtys. Isis was regarded as the “Eye of Ra” and was worshipped as the “Great of Magic” who had protected her son Horus from snakes, predators and other dangers: thus she would protect mortal children also. The ancient Egyptians regarded the Goddess as the “Eye of Ra”. Here she carries the ankh and the papyrus sceptre of Goddesses as well as the horns and sun disk of Hathor. She wears a feather dress and a headdress composed of a vulture, showing that she was identified with Mut.
Maat (or Ma'at) is the personification of all the elements of cosmic harmony as established by the Creator-God at the beginning of time-including truth, justice, law, world order and moral integrity. Maat is shown as a lady wearing on her head an ostrich feather. The seated image of Maat was held in pharaoh’s hand like a doll and was presented as an offering to the Gods. This meant that the king was the representative of divine order since Maat was seen as legitimizing their authority to govern and to uphold the laws of the universe which she embodied. Judges were regarded as priests of Maat. In the hall of judgement at the weighing of the heart the heart of the deceased was placed on the scales of justice balanced against the feather of Maat, symbol of justice.
Osiris The Resurrection God, is the central figure in the afterlife myth and in Egyptian mythology as a whole. His name means "The Seat of the Eye". To die and be properly prepared for the other life is to become one with Osiris in the underworld over which he rules. Osiris received earthly rule from his father, Geb. His brother Seth envied his hegemony; he enticed Osiris into a chest and flung him into the Nile. His wife sought and found his body and with her own magic powers and the help of Thoth, Nephthys, Anubis and Horus, restored Osiris to life. Osiris, however already belonged to the world of the dead, and although after his resurrection he could have reclaimed his throne, he preferred to maintain his kingdom in the Land of the Dead, leaving his vindication on earth in the hands of his posthumous son Horus.
Sekhmet Together with her husband Ptah and her son Nefertem, Sekhmet made up the Memphis Triad. Her name meant "The Mighty One". Her nature being that of a Goddess of War, she accompanied the King to battle and was often described as his mother. She spread terror everywhere; the henchmen of Seth and even the serpent Apophis succumbed to her. Sekhmet was represented as a lioness or as a woman with lion's head. Her weapons were arrows "with which she pierces hearts" and a fiery glow emanated from her body. The hot desert winds were regarded as the Goddess's hot breath. She was connected with the fire-spitting Uraeus of the King and thereby became the "Eye of Ra". Sekhmet was also regarded as the one "Great of Magic" whose knowledge of sorcery gave her a place in the service of healing.
Seth is “He before whom the sky shakes”, God of winds and storms, with lightning and thunder his heralds. Early in Egyptian history, Seth is spoken of in terms of reverence. He was known as the Lord of Upper Egypt. Horus being the Lord of Lower Egypt. It was Seth who stood in the bow of the solar barque of Ra and slays the enemies of Ra as the ship traverses the sky on its daily journey. It seems that in very early times the followers of Seth were conquered by the followers of Horus but they resisted the followers of Horus and the First Dynasty Pharaoh, Menes when he united Upper and Lower Egypt. At this point, Seth was discredited and literally demonized, and in later periods was identified with Apep as a symbol of complete destruction. Seth was already known as a deity of the night and darkness. As god of chaos and destruction, Seth represented a necessary force in the universe, that of strength and violent force which together with the force of creation maintains the balance of the universe and the cosmic order that was so important for the Egyptians to maintain and was personified by the Goddess Maat. Seth was represented as a man with the head of an unknown animal with square ears, often called the “Seth animal”.
Thoth Originally named Tehuti by the Egyptians, Thoth was given his better known name by the Greeks. They linked him with their god Hermes, and like Hermes, he was considered to be the god of wisdom, writing and invention. He was also the messenger and spokesman of the gods and finally the lord of the moon. He is represented as a man with the head of an ibis, which is often crowned by the crescent moon supporting the full moon disk. He often holds a writing palette. The baboon is also sacred to him, for in Hermopolis, he merged with the local baboon god Hedj-wer. Thoth invented the arts and sciences, music, and magic, and was the god of learning, but above all, he was famed for being the creator of hieroglyphs, and was known as “the lord of holy words”. As the god who invented writing, he was the protector of scribes. Thoth was occasionally described as the tongue or heart of Ra. As the god of magic, he was called “the elder”.