Egyptian culture is a culture of curiosity and mystery. Ancient Egyptians worshipped a huge number of gods and goddesses. Egyptians feared many things and their belief in the supernatural was very strong; their texts claim to have are more than 1400 ancient gods. While most of these gods were local gods, some of them became so popular that even today you will be able to recall their names.
To the ancient Egyptians, the gods and goddesses represented natural forces which performed important day to day functions. The Egyptians strongly believed in giving them religious offerings time to time to keep the natural forces to continue their function.
Nothing much has changed till today. Egyptians still strongly believe in the religion and presence of various gods and goddesses, religious offerings, rituals, customs, and much more. Egyptian culture focuses on doing good deeds and philanthropy so that their life after death is comfortable.
Religion in this culture was never very rigid or stringent; it was rather flexible. Sometimes with the change of Pharaoh (a ruler or the one who guides religious proceedings), they changed their religious practices. The pharaohs were treated as divine characters and they were considered as the successors of the god.
Some Famous Gods and Goddesses
While there were scores of Gods and Goddesses in the culture, some popular ones, which many of us might have heard of are Ra, Isis and Anubis amongst others.
Ra or the hawk-headed sun god was one of the most important gods. It was believed that every night the sky goddess Nut ate him up and then he was reborn every morning at sunrise. In Later years, he was merged with the god of wind, Amun, making him Amun-Ra, the mightiest of all gods. The famous boy-king, Tutankhamun, was also named after him.
Osiris was an ancient god who ruled the underworld and was the judge of the dead. Isis was the goddess and the wife of Osiris and the mother of Horus, an ancient hero. An animal headed god was the ibis-headed Thoth. Thoth often played a role of mediator between contradictory gods.
Anubis, one of the most famous God, was a jackal-headed god. He was the god of the dead. The jackals were related to death because they used to dig dead bodies to eat them. Sobek was a crocodile headed god of strength and power and Heka, son of Khnum, was the god of magic, medicine and fertility. Khepri was the god who had a head of a scarab beetle.
Controlling the rain and water was the lion-headed goddess Tefnut who was believed to have come out of the spit of Ra, the sun god. Another interesting god in this culture was the god Bes, who was a dwarf with lion features and who looked after mother and babies.
Intriguing Facts about Egyptian Gods and Goddesses
There are many interesting facts about Egyptian culture to leave one awe struck. The Egyptians saw the deities in art, animals, and humans and even in objects. Gods were presumed to be omnipresent and going by such belief, people used to interact with them in temples and shrines by literally speaking to the God for help, advice, and often did casual chit chat too. This was an essential part of Egyptian culture.
The Egyptians had a unique way of displaying reverence. The most common of them was to put up a flag flying from a pole. They often placed something similar at the entrances of temples indicating the presence of God.
They also had a very interesting theory on the cause of flood in the river Nile. The answer as per ancient Egyptians was that the tears of the goddess Isis made the Nile River overflow. They also celebrate a festival when the Nile overflows, called as the “Night of the Tear Drop.”
It is quite strange to know that ancient Egyptians believed that people were made of clay which came from the potter’s wheel by the river god Khnum. The one who was able to write was believed to be a God man.
Before the scribe started writing, it was a ritual to sprinkle some water mixed with ink to offer to the god Thoth, who was believed to be an envoy of the gods and patron of scribes. The Egyptians who could write were believed to have the power from the gods because it was assumed that they learned writing only when the god Thoth disclosed the secret of writing to them.
In ancient Egypt, every big city had their own God and the Gods behaved just like humans. The Gods were known to have emotions and feelings. The Gods could also eat, drink, weep, sleep, fall ill, and die. Every God had its own unique feature and traits. Some were known to be furious and some impulsive.
One can find more amusing facts in Egyptian writings. Some of them also describe Gods bodies in a detailed description. Some of them looked like humans, some like animals like crocodiles, jackals, cats, rams and even falcons. Mostly the Gods had human built with head of an animal.
As per beliefs, the Gods themselves were made of exquisite constituents. Their skin was known to be gold, their bones are silver, and their hair is lapis lazuli. To add more, the Gods even emitted a smell and the similar scents are used in religious rites too.
The texts also describe the Gods in particular including the height and the color of the eyes. However, it was also believed that gods changed their appearances often. Egyptian gods were often depicted in paintings holding the mysterious Ankh symbol. This symbol was a mark of eternal life and reinforced the permanence of their rules. The Ancient Egyptians erected huge statues of their Gods and believed in washing and oiling them and dressing them with exquisite jewels clothes, and make-up.
Ancient Egyptians also believed in the existence of another strong supernatural power, that of the demons. They were considered much less powerful than the gods yet played a strong role in belief system, being considered much more powerful than humans. They were considered immortals.