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Find the meanings of abnormal words or acronyms in our glossary!
An earth-god also presiding over the juncture of the western and eastern horizons in the Underworld. The motif of Aker consists of the foreparts of two lions, or two human heads, juxtaposed so that they face away from each other. Aker opens the earth's gate for the king to pass into the Underworld. He absorbs the poison from the body of anyone bitten by a snake and neutralizes the venom in the belly of a person who has swallowed an obnoxious fly. More importantly he imprisons the coils of the snake Apophis after being hacked to pieces by Isis. This idea of enclosure accounts for the socket holding the mast of the Underworld ferryboat being identified with Aker.
A goddess whose name means 'hidden one' and whose shadow, among the primeval gods, is a symbol of protection. A deity at Karnak temple at least since the reign of Sesostris I (Dynasty XII), she is predominantly the consort of Amun playing, however, a less prolific role than his other wife Mut. A statue datable to Tutankhamun's reign which was set up in the Record Hall of Tuthmosis III at Karnak shows the goddess in human form wearing the Red Crown of the Delta.
AMMON Also AMON; AMMON; AMUN; AMEN "Hidden."
A bearded Man wearing a cap surmounted by two tall plumes. A ram, a ram headed man, or a ram headed sphinx. Self created at the beginning of time. Believed to be the physical father of all Pharaohs. King of the gods of Egypt. Patron of the Pharaohs. Originally a god of fertility, a local deity of Memphis. Ammon became linked with the sun god Ra through the royal family, becoming Ammon-Ra.
Early, a god of air and wind. Later, a fertility god. The Creator of all things. During the New Kingdom he became "The king of the gods". He was said to be able to assume any form he wished, with each of the other gods being one of these forms. From the eighteenth dynasty on he was a national deity. Through political means managed to assimilate many lesser gods.
One of chief Theban deities; united with sun god under form of Amen-Ra. As the city grew from a village to a powerful metropolis so Amun, whose name signifies 'hidden', grew in importance. He ousted the Theban god of war, Mont, and went on to be regarded as chief god Egypt, 'King of the Gods'. Originally he might have been a wind or air god; later he was given several powers and attributes.
As an ithyphallic god, either standing or enthroned carrying a whip, Amun was god of fertility. At Karnak he was considered to be incarnate in a sacred ram which was kept in that temple. Another symbol of sexual power, the goose, was also sacred to him.
From being worshipped as a god of generative power to being worshipped as an agricultural deity responsible for the growth of crops was but a short step for Amun. He then rose to be the patron of the Pharaohs, and because of the inevitable connections between royalty and the sun, became linked to the great god Ra. As Amun-Ra he became supreme among the gods and ruler of the Great Ennead. During the reign of Akhenaten, the worship of Amun, like that of all the other great gods, was severely curtailed.
On the death of Akhenaten the new king, the boy Tut-ankh-aten, changed his name to declare his allegiance to the neglected but now ascendant Amun; the youthful monarch is known to us as Tut-ankh-amun. Thebes, home of the god Amun, developed into a state within a state, a rich and powerful inner kingdom ruled by the high priestess of Amun and staffed by men of nobility and genius.
The god's fame extended well beyond the boundaries of Egypt; Ethiopia was virtually a vassal state to the city of Thebes. To the west, in Libya, his cult was the centre of public religion, lasting well into Classical times as the cult of Jupiter Ammon. Even Alexander the Great thought it worthwhile consulting the oracle of Amun.
He received a favorable reply and assumed the title, Son of Amun. Apart from Thebes, which grew so important that it was simply known as 'the city', Amun was worshipped all over Egypt, and his magnificent temples at Luxor and Karnak are among the finest remains of antiquity. Amun formed a triad with his wife Mut and his son Khons.
A combination of the head of a crocodile, the middle of a lioness and the hind quarters of a hippopotamus.
We find Ammut during the weighing of the heart of a deceased person against the feather of Maat. It was Ammut who would devour the souls of those who's hearts proved heavier than Maat. This was a terrifying prospect for the ancient Egyptians. It meant the end of existence. They would never meet Osiris and live forever in the Fields of Peace.
God in anthropomorphic form originally worshipped in the mid-Delta in Lower Egyptian Nome 9. Andjety (meaning 'he of Andjet', i.e. the town of Busiris) was the precursor of Osiris at the cult centre of Busiris. The iconography of this god persuasively argues for his being the forerunner of Osiris. Andjety holds the two scepters in the shape of a 'crook' and a 'flail', insignia which are Osiris's symbols of dominion. Also his high conical crown decorated with two feathers is clearly related to the 'atef' crown of Osiris.
ANHUR (Anhert, Onouris, Onuris)
A sky god associated with Shu.
Anhur is shown as a man with one or both arms raised. He wears four straight feathers on his head and sometimes holds a spear. His name is interpreted as 'skybearer', or 'he who leads that which has gone away'. He was a warrior, and was invoked against both human and animal enemies whom he chased in his chariot. Apart from being a personification of war, he was also regarded as the creative power of the sun. Sometimes he is shown holding a string by which he leads the sun; this to recall the story that when Ra's eye meandered away it was Anhut who went to fetch it back. He was a popular god in the New Empire with cult centres at Sebennytus and This. Married to the goddess Mehit, Anhur was a generally benign god, warlike in order to be helpful. His festival included a playful mock combat between the priests and people, who hit each other with sticks in honour of their saviour god.
ANTA - ANAT
Considered by the Egyptians to be a daughter of Ra, Anta is an aspect of Ishtar. She was that of a warrior goddess of Ugarit on the Syrian coast and attested in Egypt from the end of the Middle Kingdom. The Hyksos rulers seem to have promoted her cult and in the Ramesside era Anat was a crown flanked with plumes, her martial nature is emphasized by the shield, lance and battle ace. The fact that Anat can be shown under the iconography of Hathor is not surprising since Hathor can closely relate to foreign deities (ex: Baalat at Byblos or in the Sinai peninsula) as well as possessing a bloodthirsty, albeit usually subdued, side to her nature. Anat is called 'mistress of the sky' and mother of all the gods' but it is her warlike character that predominates in both Egyptian and Near Eastern references to her. Anat's introduction into the Egyptian pantheon was on account of her protecting the monarch in combat.
ANUBIS - ANPU
A man with the head of a jackal. A dog or a jackal.The jackal-headed god. Anubis can foresee a mortal's destiny and is associated with magic and divination. Anubis supervises the weighing of the soul when the departed are brought to the hall of the dead. Guardian of the Necropolis (cemetery). He was the guide of the dead as they made their way through the darkness of the underworld. As a patron of magic, it was believed he could foresee a persons destiny, in this role he was the announcer of death.
Anubis was the patron of embalming. He was also the keeper of poisons and medicines. He provided unguents and rare herbs to help Isis and Nephthys with the embalming of Osiris. Anubis then performed the funeral of Osiris, which would be the model for all funerals to come. As he received the mummy into the tomb, he performed the 'Opening of the Mouth'ceremony.
The Assyro-Babylonian goddess Ishtar, inducted into the Egyptian pantheon and made a daughter of Ammon-Ra. Sometimes identified (or confused, which is the same thing) with Isis.
Astarte was one of the earliest Mother Goddesses. The "bird-headed" figure above left are very common and thought to represent Astarte or one of her precursors. Parts of the world that honored the Astarte archetype were Indo-European, the Anatolian and Indo-Iranian branches, eg, areas where these statues are found. The bronze figure on the right is intriguing and rare.
ATON ATEN - Pharaoh Akhenaten
The Pharaoh Akhenaten was known as the Heretic King. He was the tenth King of the 18th Dynasty. Egyptologists are still tying to figure out what actually happened during his lifetime as much of the truth was buried, for all time, after he died.
Akhenaten lived at the peak of Egypt's imperial glory. Egypt had never been richer, more powerful, or more secure. Up and down the Nile, workers built hundreds of temples to pay homage to the Gods. They believed that if the Gods were pleased, Egypt would prosper. And so it did.
Atum was one of the most ancient gods in Egypt and was part of the Heliopolitan cosmology. Originally an earth god, he became associated with Re, the sun god. Specifically, he was considered to be the setting sun. In later times he became associated with Ptah and eventually Osiris.
According to the priests of Heliopolis, Atum was the first being to emerge from the waters of Nun at the time of creation. Originally, he was a serpent in Nun and will return to that form at the end of time. However, Atum was depicted in art as a man wearing the Double Crown of Upper and Lower Egypt. As such, he is the first living man god conceived of by the ancient Egyptians. Until then, their gods were all forms of animals.
AUF - EFU RA
An aspect of the sun god Ra Auf was a ram-headed god who wore the solar disc and traveled at night through the Underworld waterways in order to reach the east in time for the new day; however, he still had to fight off the creatures of the Underworld. Demons and gods towed his boat along while Auf stood in a deck-house, over which was coiled the serpent Mehen who warded off the dangerous Apep. The boat of night was crewed by the gods Hu, Saa and Wepwawet.
Ba Neb Tetet (Banebdjedet, Baneb Djedet, Banaded)
Ram god whose name means 'ba (or 'soul') lord of Mendes', his cult centered in the north-east Delta.
When the two gods Horus and Set were making the heavens ring with their wranglings over precedent, it was the ram-god Ba Neb Tetet who sensibly suggested to the gods in council that they should write a letter to the goddess Neith and ask for her opinion. His suggestion opened the way for discussion and arbitration which finally settled the dispute. His character, one of peace and level-headedness, has been sadly perverted in sensational 'occult' fiction, for Ba Neb Tetet is the benign original for a travesty called the 'goat of Mendes', who is supposed to be some sort of diabolic spirit. At Mendes was kept a sacred ram, worshipped as the incarnation of Ra and Osiris. Originally a local god, Ba Neb Tetet was given the solar disc and uraeus (coiled cobra) and brought into the main-stream of religious life.
Prominent god of the sky and storms whose cult spread from Ugarit in Syria into Egypt, where he possessed a priesthood by Dynasty XVIII. Aliyan Baal, son of a less well-attested god Dagan, dwelt on Mount Sapan (hence Ball-Zaphon) in North Syria but also became associated as a local deity of other sites such as Baal-Hazor in Palestine, and Baal-Sidon and Baal of Tyre(Melkart) in the Lebanon. Although the anme Baal can mean 'lord' or 'owner' it was being used as a proper name for a specific god by the sixteenth century BC.
Baal has a pointed beard, a horned helmet and wields a cedar tree, club, or spear. His epithet in the cuneiform texts, 'he who rides on the clouds', is admirable for a god of tempests and thunder- relating thereby to the Mesopotamian thunder- god Adad and in Egypt to the god Seth. Ramesses II in his almost fatal struggle against the Hittite confederation at the battle of Kadesh is called 'Seth great of strength and Baal himself'. The war cry of Ramesses III is like Baal in the sky, i.e. Baal's voice (the thunder) which makes the mountains shake. His relationship to the warrior-pharaoh image may account for the popularity of his cult at Memphis, capital of Egypt, and the theophorous name Baal-Khepeshef or 'Baal-is-upon-his-sword'.
The cat-headed goddess, a local deity of the delta. The kindly goddess of joy, music and dancing. Cats were sacred to Bast as a symbol of animal passion. Bast's devotees celebrated their lady with processions of flower-laden barges and orgiastic ceremonies. Her festivals were licentious and quite popular. She appears as a woman with the head of a domesticated cat, sometimes holding a sistrum. The town of Bubastis was the cult centre of this solar goddess represented as a woman with a cat's head, or simply as a cat. The goddess holds a sistrum or rattle. She was identified and confused with both Mut and Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess. Bastet wore an aegis or shield in the form of a semi-circular plate, embellished with a lion's head. She was goddess of pleasure and inevitably became one of the most popular deities. In her temple were kept sacred cats, who were supposed to be incarnations of the goddess. When they died they were carefully mummified. The Egyptians found something to worship in just about every animal they had: dogs, cats, lions, crocodiles, snakes, dung-beetles, hippos, hawks, cows and ibises.
As the daughter of Re she is associated with the rage inherent in the sun-god's eye, his instrument of vengeance. It was probably this ferocity that made the analogy so plausible between Bastet and lioness. Her development into the cat-goddess par excellence, of the Late Period of Egyptian civilization, retains the link with the sun-god but in some ways softens the vicious side of her nature. She becomes a peaceful creature, destroying only vermin, and unlike her leonine form she can be approached fearlessly and stroked.
It has been suggested that in one myth the Egyptians saw Bastet's return from Nubia, where she had been sent by Re as a lioness and had raged in isolation, to Egypt in the form of the more placid cat as an explanation of the period of inapproachability in the cycle of menstruation. A tangential evidence that advocates of this theory cite the scenes in New Kingdom tomb paintings at Thebes where a cat is depicted under the lady's chair as a deliberate ploy to indicate that she will always be available for sexual intercourse with the tomb owner in the Afterlife.
In her earliest appearances in the Pyramid Era Bastet is a goddess closely linked to the king. A magnificent example of precise engineering in the Old Kingdom, namely the valley temple of King Khafre at Giza, carries on its facade the names of two goddess only- Hathor of Southern Egypt and Bastet of the north. The latter is invoked as a benign royal protectress in the Pyramid Texts where, in a spell to enable him to reach the sky, the king proclaims that his mother and nurse is Bastet.
Besides the king, Bastet has a son in the form of the lion-headed god Mihos and is also the mother of a more artificial offspring combining the natures of Nefertum and the child Horus, personifying her connection with perfume and royalty. With the dramatic extension of the roles of deities to assist Egyptian courtiers as well as the pharaoh that we find in the Coffin Texts of the Middle Kingdom, Bastet gives immense protection as first-born daughter of Atum. The aggressive side of Bastet can be seen in historical texts describing the pharaoh in battle. For example, Amenhotep II's enemies are slaughtered like the victims of Bastet along the road cut by the god Amun.
From her epithet 'lady of Asheru', the precinct of the goddess Mut at Karnak, it is clear that Bastet had a place on Theban soil where she could be equated with the consort of Amun- especially since the lioness and the cat were also claimed as sacred animals by Mut. Reliefs in the temple of Karnak show the pharaoh celebrating ritual races carrying either four scepters and a bird or an oar in front of Bastet who is called ruler of 'Sekhet-neter' or the 'Divine Field'- i.e. Egypt.
A guardian god. Dwarf-god, grotesque in appearance, benign in nature. A god of a far different order from the serene and poised figures of the official pantheon. He was a plump, bandy-legged, hairy, rude dwarf with a wicked gleam in his pop-eyes. his tongue resolutely stuck out at the follies of mankind. Bes was aforeign god, an import from the land of Punt (Libya). He was a swaggering, jolly, mock-gallant pigmy, fond of music and clumsy, inelegant dancing.
He was a popular proletarian god who was adopted by the middle classes; he was considered a tutelary god of childbirth and, strangely enough, of cosmetics and female adornments. Bes chased away demons of the night and guarded men from dangerous animals. His image was carved on bedpost, bringing a touch of coarses geniality into the boudoir. He eventually became a protector of the dead and, amazingly, competed with even the refined and magnificent god Osiris for the attentions of men. Bes' only clothing appears to have been a leopard skin tied round his shoulders and an ostrich feather stuck in his uncombed hair.
Duamutef - Tuamutef
A funerary god, son of Horus. Like Anubis he was jackal-headed and concerned with the dead. The stomach was Duamutef's sphere of influence, the preserved viscera in question being removed from the body, preserved in spices and placed in a jar on which was a mode of Duamutef's head. The viscera were preserved as being essential parts of the mummified human.
GEB - SEB KEB
Son of Shu and Tefnut, twin brother of Nut, husband of Nut, father of Osiris and Isis, Seth, Nephthys. As a vegetation-god he was shown with green patches or plants on his body. As the earth, he is often seen lying beneath Nut, leaning on one elbow, with a knee bent toward the sky, this is representive of the mountains and valleys of the earth. He was often pictured with a goose on his head or as a goose. Geb was thought to represent the earth, he is often seen reclining beneath the sky goddess Nut. Geb was called 'the Great Cackler', and as such, was represented as a goose. It was in this form that he was said to have laid the egg from which the sun was hatched. He was believed to have been the third divine king of earth. The royal throne of Egypt was known as the 'throne of Geb' in honor of his great reign.
God of the desert, particularly the regions of the west including the oases. Ha is anthropomorphic and wears the symbol for desert hills on his head. As lord of the desert he wards off enemies from the west, probably referring to invading tribes from Libya.
Husband of Nekhebet. A bearded man colored blue or green, with female breasts, indicating his powers of nourishment. As god of the Northern Nile he wears papyrus plants on his head, and as god of the southern Nile he wears lotus plants. He is often seen carrying offerings of food or giving libations of water from a vase. Sometimes he is pictured offering two plants and two vases, which represented the upper and lower Nile. .
She symbolizes rebirth.Hathor is a sky goddess, sometimes represented as a woman with cow's horns between which hangs a solar disc, sometimes portrayed as a cow. Hathor concerns herself with beauty, love and marriage, and watches over women giving birth. Mother and wife of Ra. Hathor is also a goddess of death and offers comfort to the newly dead as they pass into the after-world.
HEKET - HEQET
Goddess of creation, birth and the germination of corn. Heket was pictured as a frog, or a frog-headed woman. She is a midwife, assisting at the daily birth of the sun. An earlier Theogony made greater claims for her, saying that with Shu as husband she gave birth to the gods. A goddess of very antiquity, her cult never really got off the ground.
He who is above. Attributes: The name Horus comes from the Egyptian word Hor, which translates as 'face'. We find him worshipped as Mekhenti-irry which translates as 'He who has on his brow Two Eyes', the sun and moon representing his eyes. On nights when there is no moon we find him worshipped as Mekhenti-en-irty, 'He who on his brow has no eyes', in this form he was considered the god of the blind.
The followers of Horus invaded Egypt in pre dynastic history, at this time he was venerated as a victorious warlord. He became a part of the state religion and was associated with the sun god, Ra. Horus was so important to the state religion that Pharaohs were considered his human manifestation and even took on the name Horus.
In the more popular religious beliefs of the Osiris cults he was the son of Osiris and Isis. The avenger of his father's murder and the model of a dutiful son. Itis in these stories that we find him doing battle with his uncle, Seth.
* Representation: You will find different Representations of Horus that fit with the different names that are listed below, however, the most common is a falcon or falcon headed man.
Haroeris (Horus the Elder) An early form of Horus. He was a god of light. His eyes represented the sun and the moon. He was also the brother of Osiris and Seth. Sometimes he was the son, or the husband of Hathor.
Horus Behudety In the form of Horus of Edfu, he represented the midday sun. This Horus was worshipped in the western Delta and later, as his cult spread south into Upper Egypt, a cult center was established in Edfu. Horus of Edfu fights a great battle against Seth and an army of conspirators. He is pictured as a winged sun-disk or as a hawk headed lion.
Ra-Harakhte (Horus of the two horizons) This horus was identified with Ra and the daily voyage of the sun from horizon to horizon. The two deities combined to become Ra-Harakhte. He was represented as a falcon or a falcon-headed man wearing the solar disk and double crown or the uraeus and the atef crown.
Harmakhet (Horus in the Horizon) In this form he represented the rising sun and was associated with Khepri. He was also considered to be the keeper of wisdom. He was sometimes pictured as a man with a falcon's head, or a falcon headed lion. But his most recognizable form is that of a sphinx, or as a ram-headed sphinx.
Harsiesis (Horus son of Isis) This Horus was the son of Isis and Osiris. He was conceived magically after the death of Osiris and brought up by Isis on a floating island in the marshes of Buto. The child was weak and in constant danger from the scheming of his wicked uncle Seth, who sent serpents and monsters to attack him. But his mother, Isis was great in the magical arts and she warded off this evil by using a spell against creatures biting with their mouths and stinging with their tails, and the young Horus survived and grew.
Harpokrates (The infant Horus) As a child he represented the new born sun and was often pictured being suckled by Isis. he was usually represented as a seated child, sucking his thumb, his head was shaved except for the sidelock of youth. Even as a child, he wore the royal crown and uraeus.
Harendotes (Horus the avenger of his father)
Har-pa-Neb-Taui (Horus Lord of the Two Lands)Last updated: December 31, 1969
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