The combination of the major Egyptian Gods and Goddesses is known as the Pantheon. Here we take a look at the major Gods and Goddesses in turn:
God/Goddess of: Sun
Appearance: Head of Falcon and Sun Disk
Summary: Ra was thought to die every single day. At night, Ra would sail on his boat, the ‘Barque of Millions of Years’ to the Underworld leaving the moon to light the sky in his absence. On his voyage, Ra would travel through 12 doors, symbolizing each hour throughout the night with the following dawn indicating his rebirth.
God/Goddess of: Cats
Appearance: Cat or head of cat
Summary: Daughter of Ra, Bastet protected her father every night on his journey to the Underworld, fighting off the snake Apep. The Ancient Egyptians had great respect for cats since they hunted mice and rats, stopping them from eating the grain and rice.
God/Goddess of: Magic
Appearance: Throne on head, holding a baby, with a Sun Disk
Summary: Isis tricked Ra into giving her his secret name and assumed his power in doing so. She was the mother of Horus, who is thought to be the baby she holds and who she aided in defeating his enemy, Seth, by tricking him. Isis was married to Osiris.
God/Goddess of: Dead
Appearance: Holding a Crook and a Flail, wearing white mummy wrappings
Summary: Osiris was the husband of Isis and father of Horus and boasts green skin to symbolize vegetation. His flail would be used for farming and he taught the Egyptians all about how to farm and the benefits of it. Osiris’s brother, Seth created a wooden box which only Seth could fit in. Once inside, Seth sealed the lid and threw it in to the Nile, killing Osiris.
God/Goddess of: Desert, Storm and Violence
Appearance: Animal head with curved and pointed snout
Summary: The exact animal head is unknown although it closely resembles that of an Aardvark. Seth carries a scepter which is in the same shape as Seth himself with other Gods carrying the same scepter. Seth tricked his brother, Osiris and killed him by throwing him into the Nile. Fearful that Osiris’s wife Iris would resurrect her husband, Seth cut up Osiris’s body into many pieces and scattered them up and down the Nile.
God/Goddess of: Sky
Appearance: Man with head of a Hawk
Summary: Horus was more commonly known as the protector of the ruler of Egypt and also the son of Osiris and Iris. His Uncle, Seth, killed his dad, Osiris, forcing Horus to struggle against Seth for the throne of Egypt. During battle, Horus lost an eye, which was later to become a symbol of protection across Egypt.
God/Goddess of: Embalming and the Dead
Appearance: Man with head of a Jackal
Summary: The thought is that Anubis watched over the dead since Jackals were commonly found in cemeteries. After Seth killed Osiris, Anubis aided in the mummification, which was thought to preserve Egyptians. Other priests who were involved in mummification wore a mask of Anubis. Egyptian belief was that upon death, you travelled to the Hall of the Dead where Anubis would weigh your heart against the feather of Ma ’at, who was the Goddess of Justice.
God/Goddess of: Justice
Appearance: Ostrich feather in hair
Summary: Married to Thoth and along with her husband, Thoth, Ma ‘at aided in the process known as the Weighing of the Heart which was carried out upon death. If your heart was lighter than the feather of Ma ‘at, you were to live forever. If it were heavier, then Ammit the Destroyer, a demon, would eat your heart.
God/Goddess of: Wisdom
Appearance: Man with head of an Ibis
Summary: An Ibis is a bird which has a bill shaped like a pen which it dips in the mud to hunt for small fish, as if it was dipping in ink and hence the reference to wisdom. The ancient Egyptians believed that it was Thoth who gave them hieroglyphics and that there was a ‘Book of Thoth’ containing two spells. If the first spell was read out loud, the reader would be able to summon the fish in the sea and to be able to understand every beast and bird. If you read the second spell, then you would have the power to bring the dead back to life.
God/Goddess of: Creation
Appearance: Man wearing crown with Ostrich feathers
Summary: Amun was arguably the most important and powerful Egyptian God, being the creator of all things. It is thought that Amun combined with Ra to become Amun-Ra
God/Goddess of: Sky
Appearance: Blue with gold stars
Summary: Nut was Geb’s lover, however married to Ra, and was mother of Osiris and Seth. Nut’s body despicts the sky, arching over Geb lying down on the floor. During the day, Nut and Geb were separated only to come together again at nighttime, causing the darkness.
God/Goddess of: Earth
Appearance: Man in the color of plants and Nile mud
Summary: Geb lies below his lover Nut’s body, symbolizing the earth below the sky. Married to Nut and father to their children, Osiris, Isis, Nepthys and Seth, Geb made Horus the ruler of the living when Seth and Horus struggle for power of the throne. The belief of the Ancient Egyptians was that Geb’s laughter was the cause of earthquakes.
God/Goddess of: Love
Appearance: Woman with Cow horns and Sun Disk on head
Summary: Hathor looked after all women and was also the Goddess of music and dancing. The sun symbolizes life, however the belief was that the desert sun could kill you. This links to Hathor’s darker side as the Goddess called Sekhmet, the Eye of Ra, who was the destructive Sun Goddess.
God/Goddess of: Sun
Appearance: Woman with Lion’s head
Summary: Ra would send down Sekhmet, Hathor’s darker side, to earth to punish mankind. She would kill men and drink their blood instead of punishing them which worried Ra. He died some beer red to look like blood, which Sekhmet drank when she was bloodthirsty and fell asleep drunk. When she awoke, Ra convinced her to stop killing mankind but only to punish them as he originally intended.