The ancient Egyptians had many gods and goddesses and many are associated with aspects of nature or natural phenomenon. It was believed that they were capable of influencing events on Earth as well as the lives of humans. The Egyptians built many temples dedicated to the gods and goddesses and had an intricate series of myths telling many stories of the deity. Many where depicted as having the body of a human and the head of an animal.
Some Egyptian gods and goddesses include:
Amun – God of air and his consort was Ament. Later, during the twelfth dynasty he was adopted as the King of the gods and Mut was his consort. They had one child who was known as Khonsu, the moon god. Amun was associated with a number of animals including a goose, ram, crocodile and ape. The earliest known temple dedicated to Amun was found in Thebes and is believed to have been built during the 11th dynasty.
Amun was thought to represent completely holiness and it was believed that it was the invisible force of air that allowed his growth into this supreme form. Ancient Egyptians believed that he was self-created and was able to regenerate himself by becoming a snake and shedding his skin.
Ammut – Ammut was a creature that lived in the hall of Ma’at awaiting the judgement of those who had died. If a soul was found to be unworthy of passing into the afterlife it would be devoured by Ammut. This decision was made by weighting the heart of the deceased against the feather of Ma’at. If the heart was heavier than the feather the ancient Egyptians believed that this meant it was heavy with sin, impurities and wickedness.
The goddess Ammut was depicted as having the head of a crocodile, the fore body of a lion and the hindquarters of a hippopotamus. She can be thought of as the personification of divine retribution and a force for order. Although she was never worshiped as such, her image is believed to ward off evil and a reminder that all should live by the principles of Ma’at.
Anubis – A jackal headed god that assisted in the journey into the afterlife. He was also believed to be the inventor of embalming, a process he created in order to preserve the body of Osiris in the hope that he may live again. Early in Egyptian history he was the god of the dead and underworld. Later he oversaw the embalming of bodies, received the mummy into the tomb, and performed the Opening of the Mouth ceremony and the Soul in the Field of Celestial Offerings. Anubis also monitored the scales of truth to ensure that each soul was treated fairly and protected from deception.
Anubis was depicted mainly as a man with a jackals head or as a black jackal. His fur was black rather than the brown of actual jackals because the colour black was closely associated with fertility, rebirth and the afterlife. He is the patron of lost souls and funeral rites.
Isis – Isis is the goddess of magic and healing and patroness of women and children. In the book of the Dead she is regarded as the giver of life and food to the dead. She was famous for her magic skills and created the first cobra.
Isis is thought of as a loving wife and mother and incredibly pure. She was a wise goddess who used her powers to change the world and to teach the people of Egypt how to cure illness. Isis was kind to all and was a friend even to those seen as lower class in ancient Egypt such as the slaves, sinners and the poor.
Ma’at – The goddess of truth, law and justice. She was also associated with harmony, morality, balance and order. Egyptian myth tells the story of how Ma’at brought harmony and order when the universe was first created. Ma’at became the concept of truth and harmony and was part of ancient Egyptian laws. The principle of Ma’at was used in order to judge if a person was worthy of passing into the afterlife or not. The deceased heart was weighed against the feather of Ma’at (truth) and must be lighter in order to avoid eternal death and pass into the afterlife.
As a personified goddess Ma’at regulated the stars, season and the actions of humans and deity within the universe. Under her watchful eye order was preserved and the universe was prevented from returning to a state of chaos.