ancient Egyptian deities

Egyptian Gods

Learning about the beliefs of ancient Egyptians can be an enriching experience for one’s knowledge. The core of these beliefs revolved around various deities, each with their own myths. These gods and goddesses were worshipped by the ancient Egyptians, forming the basis of their religion, which emerged in prehistory. Ancient Egyptian mythology was heavily influenced by the country’s natural surroundings and events, and the deities represented natural forces and phenomena. The Egyptians would offer offerings and perform rituals to these deities to maintain the divine order known as Maat.

Divinities in Ancient Egypt

Ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses worshipped in ancient Egypt were known as deities. These deities represented natural forces and phenomena, and the Egyptians supported and appeased them through offerings and rituals to ensure that these forces would continue to function according to divine order. The authority to perform these tasks was controlled by the pharaoh, who claimed to be the gods’ representative and managed the temples where the rituals were carried out after the founding of the Egyptian state around 3100 BC.

The ancient Egyptians expressed the gods’ complex characteristics in myths and intricate relationships between deities. These relationships included family ties, loose groups and hierarchies, and combinations of separate gods into one. Deities’ diverse appearances in art alluded, through symbolism, to their essential features, as they were depicted as animals, humans, objects, and combinations of different forms.

In different eras, gods were said to hold the highest position in divine society, including the solar deity Ra, the mysterious god Amun, and the mother goddess Isis. The highest divinity was usually credited with the world’s creation and was often connected with the Sun’s life-giving power. While some scholars argue that the Egyptians recognised a single divine power behind all things, their original polytheistic view of the world remained dominant, except during the era of Atenism in the 14th century B.C., when official religion focused exclusively on an abstract solar deity, the Aten.

Gods were believed to be present worldwide, capable of influencing natural events and the course of human lives. People interacted with them in temples and unofficial shrines for personal reasons and larger goals of state rites. Egyptians prayed for divine help, used rituals to compel deities to act, and called upon them for advice. The relationship between humans and their gods was fundamental to Egyptian society.

Definition of the Egyptian Deity

The number of deities present in ancient Egyptian tradition is difficult to determine. While many Creators are named in Egyptian texts, the nature of some of these gods remains unknown, with vague references made to others who are not named. Scholars estimate that there are over 1,400 deities named in Egyptian texts. However, some suggest there are “thousands upon thousands” of gods.

The terms used in the Egyptian language for these deities were nṯr, meaning “god,” and nṯrt, meaning “goddess.” Attempts have been made to understand the original nature of these gods through etymological analysis, but no definitive conclusion has been reached. However, hieroglyphs used as ideograms and determinatives in writing these words provide some insight into the traits that the Egyptians associated with divinity. For example, a flag flying from a pole was a common sign used to represent the presence of a deity. At the same time, other hieroglyphs included a falcon and a seated male or female deity.

The Egyptians differentiated between “gods” and “people,” but the meanings of these terms do not align perfectly with their English counterparts. The term nṯr was applied to any being outside everyday life, including deceased humans who were thought to be like the gods. However, modern scholars often refer to many of Egypt’s lesser supernatural beings as “demons.” Egyptian religious art also depicted places, objects, and concepts in human form.

Given the blurred distinctions between gods and other beings, scholars have proposed various definitions of a “deity.” One widely accepted definition posits that a deity has a cult, is involved in some aspect of the universe, and is described in mythology or other written traditions. Another definition suggests that nṯr applied to any being that was the focus of ritual, including the king and deceased souls. The preeminence of the great gods was maintained by the ritual devotion performed for them across Egypt.

Origins of Egyptian Gods

Egyptian deities first emerged during the Predynastic Period (before 3100 BC), and the earliest written evidence of their existence dates back to the Early Dynastic Period (c. 3100–2686 BC). Predynastic artwork shows a variety of animal and human figures, some of which are reminiscent of important features of Egyptian religion in later times, while others are not definitively connected with deities. As Egyptian society became more sophisticated, more evident signs of religious activity emerged, and the earliest known temples were constructed in the last centuries of the predynastic era.

There are many theories about how the gods developed during these early times. Some Egyptologists and anthropologists have suggested that the Egyptians first revered elementary fetishes, then deities in animal form, and finally in human form. Others argue that the gods were envisioned in human form from the beginning. Current hypotheses suggest that deities emerged as humans began to distinguish themselves from their environment and to ‘personify’ ideas relating to gods. However, it isn’t easy to prove any of these theories.

Predynastic Egypt consisted of small, independent villages, and many deities in later times were strongly tied to particular towns and regions. Scholars have suggested that the pantheon formed as disparate communities coalesced into larger states, spreading and intermingling the worship of the old local deities. Others argue that the country’s most important predynastic gods were present despite its political divisions.

The unification of Egypt was the final step in forming the Egyptian religion. Sacred kings and their subordinates assumed the right to interact with the gods, and kingship became the unifying focus of the belief. New deities continued to emerge after this transformation, with some significant deities such as Isis and Amun not known to have appeared until the Old Kingdom.

Deities were sometimes created to serve as opposite-sex counterparts to established gods or goddesses, and some non-royal humans were said to have the favour of the gods and were venerated accordingly. Through contact with neighbouring civilisations, the Egyptians also adopted foreign deities. In Greek and Roman times, from 332 BC to the early centuries A.D., deities from across the Mediterranean were revered in Egypt. Still, the native gods remained, and they often absorbed the cults of these new newcomers into their worship.

Characteristics

The primary source of information regarding Egyptian beliefs about the gods comes from religious texts written by the scribes and priests of the society. These individuals represented the elite echelon of Egyptian society, which differed significantly from the general public, most of whom were illiterate. It is unclear to what extent the broader population understood the complex ideas developed by the elite. It is possible that commoners viewed the religion’s symbolic language regarding the gods and their activities as literal truth. However, the limited information regarding popular religious beliefs is consistent with the elite tradition, leading to a unified perspective on the gods and their characteristics across the two practices.

Pharaoh’s Role in Religion

The pharaoh played a vital role in ancient Egyptian religion. Early signs prove that the pharaoh started performing this role immediately after the foundation of the Egyptian state. Historically, the pharaoh started playing this role around 3100 BC. The pharaoh began to control the authority to perform the rituals by then. Indeed, among these rituals was giving offerings to deities in their temples. Thus, the pharaohs are intermediate between people and those gods, presenting offerings and fulfilling practices. Generally, the pharaoh was the god’s representative and son on Earth.

Gods Role

In Egyptian religion, deities were representative of natural and social phenomena. The gods were believed to be present within nature, including physical places, objects, abstract concepts, and forces. For example, Shu was the god of all the world’s air, while Meretseger oversaw a limited region of the Earth, namely the Theban Necropolis. Major gods like Khnum were involved in several phenomena, such as creating all living things and producing the annual Nile flood fertilising the country’s farmland. The primary role of most gods was to maintain Maat, the universal order that was a central principle of Egyptian religion. However, some deities disrupted Maat, like Apep, the force of chaos, and Set, an ambivalent member of divine society.

Gods did not personify rainbows, eclipses, fire, water, and other world components. Each deity’s role was fluid, making categorising or defining their functions difficult. Although the gods had limited abilities and spheres of influence, some evolved to become omniscient and omnipresent, like Amun. Minor divinities or demons were guardians of specific places, particularly in the Duat, the realm of the dead. Others roamed through the human world and the Duat, either as servants and messengers of the greater gods or as roving spirits that caused illness or other misfortunes among humans.

The protective deities Bes and Taweret originally had minor, demon-like roles but eventually gained significant influence. The most feared beings in the Duat were regarded as fundamentally inferior members of divine society and represented the opposite of the beneficial, life-giving, powerful gods. However, even the most revered deities could sometimes display a demon-like side to their character, exacting vengeance on humans or each other and blurring the boundaries between demons and gods.

Gods Behaviour

The ancient Egyptians believed that divine behaviour governed all of nature and that the gods’ actions maintained Maat and created and sustained all living things. They used a force called heka, often translated as “magic”, to do this work. While the gods’ actions in the present are described and praised in hymns and funerary texts, mythology mainly concerns the gods’ actions during a vaguely imagined past in which the gods were present on Earth and interacted directly with humans. These myths are metaphors for the gods’ activities, which were believed to be beyond human understanding.

Myths contain seemingly contradictory ideas, each expressing a particular perspective on divine events. The contradictions in myth are part of the Egyptians’ many-faceted approach to religious belief. In mythology, the gods behave like humans, feeling emotion and exhibiting physical characteristics. However, the gods are more like archetypes than well-drawn characters, with different versions of a myth portraying various deities playing the same archetypal role.

The first divine act is the creation of the cosmos, described in several creation myths focusing on different gods, each of which may act as creator deities. These and other versions of the creation events were not seen as contradictory. Each gives a different perspective on the complex process by which the organised universe and its many deities emerged from undifferentiated chaos. The period following creation, where a series of gods rule as kings over the divine society, is the setting for most myths. A recurring theme in these myths is the effort of the gods to maintain Maat against the forces of disorder.

Another prominent theme is the gods’ death and revival. Instead of being changelessly immortal, the gods periodically died and were reborn by repeating the events of creation, thus renewing the whole world. Nonetheless, it was always possible for this cycle to be disrupted and for chaos to return. Some poorly understood Egyptian texts even suggest that this calamity is destined to happen—that the creator god will one day dissolve the world’s order, leaving only himself and Osiris amid the primordial chaos.

Deities Location in the Universe

In Egyptian mythology, different gods were associated with specific universe regions. The world was believed to consist of the Earth, the sky, and the underworld, with a dark and formless space surrounding them that existed before creation. Although most gods were said to dwell in the sky, those with roles linked to other parts of the universe were said to reside in those places instead. Most mythological events occur in an earthly setting, with deities sometimes interacting with those in the sky. The underworld was considered remote and inaccessible, and the gods who lived there found it difficult to communicate with those in the world of the living. The space outside the cosmos was also believed to be inhabited by deities, some of whom were hostile to the other gods and their orderly world, while others were beneficial.

In the post-mythology era, most gods were believed to be either in the sky or invisibly present within the world. Temples were the primary means of contact between gods and humans. Every day, the gods were thought to travel from the divine realm to their temples, which served as their homes in the human world. There, they inhabited the cult images – the statues that depicted the deities and allowed humans to interact with them in temple rituals. This movement between realms was sometimes described as a journey between the sky and the Earth. As temples were the focal points of Egyptian cities, the god in the main temple of a city was considered the patron deity of that city and its surrounding region.

The spheres of influence of deities on Earth were centred on the towns and regions they presided over. Many gods had multiple cult centres, and their local ties changed over time. They could establish themselves in new cities, or their range of influence could contract. Therefore, the main cult centre of a given deity in historical times is not necessarily their place of origin. A city’s political power could affect its patron deity’s importance. For example, when kings from Thebes took control of the country at the start of the Middle Kingdom, they elevated Thebes’ patron gods – first the war god Montu and then Amun – to national prominence.

Thebes as Hub of Egyptian Gods

Thebes (Arabic: طيبة, Ancient Greek: Θῆβαι, Thēbai), known to the ancient Egyptians as Waset, was an ancient Egyptian city located along the Nile about 800 kilometres (500 mi) south of the Mediterranean. Its ruins lie within the modern Egyptian city of Luxor. Thebes was the central city of the fourth Upper Egyptian Nome (Sceptre Nome) and were the capital of Egypt for long periods during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras.

It was close to Nubia and the Eastern Desert, with its valuable mineral resources and trade routes. It was a cult centre and the most revered city during many periods of ancient Egyptian history. The site of Thebes includes areas on both the eastern bank of the Nile, where the temples of Karnak and Luxor stand and where the city was situated, and the western bank, where a necropolis of large private and royal cemeteries and funerary complexes can be found.

In 1979, the ruins of ancient Thebes were classified by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city of Thebes, also known as Waset to the ancient Egyptians, was a significant centre of ancient Egypt located along the Nile River, approximately 800 kilometres south of the Mediterranean. Its remains are now situated in the modern city of Luxor.

Thebes served as the capital of Egypt for extended periods during the Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom eras. It was the primary city of the fourth Upper Egyptian nome (Sceptre nome). The city’s location was strategically important, near the Eastern Desert and Nubia, which offered valuable resources and trade routes. Thebes was a hub of religious activity and the most revered city in many periods of ancient Egyptian history. The site of Thebes encompasses regions on both the eastern and western banks of the Nile.

The temples of Karnak and Luxor are located on the eastern bank, where the city once stood. In contrast, the western bank hosts a necropolis with large private and royal cemeteries and funerary complexes. UNESCO classified the ruins of ancient Thebes as a World Heritage Site in 1979.

Names and epithets

In Egyptian belief, names hold significant meaning and express the fundamental nature of what they refer to. The names of deities often relate to their roles or origins. For instance, the name of the predatory goddess Sekhmet means “powerful one”, the name of the mysterious god Amun means “hidden one”, and the name of Nekhbet means “she of Nekheb”. However, many other words have no meaning, even when the gods who bear them are closely tied to a single role. Interestingly, the names of the sky goddess Nut and the Earth god Geb do not resemble Egyptian terms for sky and Earth.

The Egyptians also created false etymologies, giving more meanings to divine names. For example, a passage in the Coffin Texts renders the name of the funerary god Sokar as sk r, meaning “cleaning of the mouth”, to link his name with his role in the Opening of the Mouth ritual. Similarly, one of the Pyramid Texts says the name is based on words shouted by Osiris in a moment of distress, connecting Sokar with the most important funerary deity.

In ancient times, the gods were believed to have multiple names, some of which were considered secret due to the depth of their significance. It was thought that knowing the actual name of a deity would grant one power and control over it. A myth illustrates the importance of words where Isis poisons the superior god Ra and refuses to cure him unless he reveals his secret name to her. Upon learning the name, she tells it to her son, Horus, and by understanding it, they gain more excellent knowledge and power.

In addition to their names, gods were given epithets describing some aspect of their roles or worship. These epithets, such as “possessor of splendour” or “lord of the sky”, expressed the diverse nature of the gods’ roles and could apply to many deities. Werethekau is an exciting example of how some epithets evolved into separate deities. It was initially an epithet used for several goddesses that meant “great enchantress”. However, over time, it became its independent goddess.

Gender and sexuality

Gender played an essential role in Egyptian theology, with male deities typically occupying a higher status than their female counterparts. Gods were more closely associated with creation and kingship, while goddesses were seen as providing support and nurturing. Androgynous deities were present within creation myths, with an undifferentiated deity representing the state before the world’s formation. Within the Ogdoad, a group of eight primordial gods, all members had a female form and consort. Atum, the primary male deity, contained a feminine aspect within himself, sometimes seen as a goddess known as Iusaaset or Nebethetepet. Creation began when Atum produced a sexually differentiated pair of deities: Shu and his consort, Tefnut. Neith, a creator goddess, possessed masculine traits but was mainly considered female.

In ancient Egyptian culture, gender played an important role in reproduction. Male deities were believed to be actively involved in the conception of offspring. In contrast, female deities were relegated to a more supportive role, nurturing their children and assisting their male counterparts in maintaining virility. However, as time passed, goddesses began to play a more significant role in the procreation process, also regarded as mythological mothers and queens, serving as models for human queenship.

Female deities also had a violent aspect, which could be seen positively, such as with the goddesses Wadjet and Nekhbet, who protected the king, or negatively. The myth of the Eye of Ra contrasted feminine aggression with sexuality and nurturing. The goddess rampaged in the form of Sekhmet or another dangerous deity until the other gods appeased her; at this point, she became a benign goddess such as Hathor, who, in some versions, became the consort of a male god.

The Egyptian view of sexuality was heavily focused on heterosexual reproduction, and homosexual acts were generally viewed with disapproval. Some texts, however, referred to homosexual behaviour between male deities. In some cases, such as when Set sexually assaulted Horus, these acts served to assert the dominance of the active partner and humiliate the submissive one. Other couplings between male deities could be viewed positively and produce offspring, such as in one text in which Khnum was born from the union of Ra and Shu.

Relationships

Egyptian deities are interconnected in a complex, ever-changing web of relationships that helped define their personalities. These relationships were more significant than myths in expressing the Egyptians’ religious worldview, as they formed the basis for creating tales.

Family relationships are a common type of connection between gods. Deities often form male and female pairs, and families of three deities, with a father, mother, and child, represent the creation of new life and the succession of the father by the child. This pattern connects divine families with the royal line. The quintessential family of this type is Osiris, Isis, and Horus. Over time, this pattern became more widespread, so many deities in local cult centres were assembled into family triads.

Other divine groups were composed of deities with interrelated roles or who together represented a region of the Egyptian mythological cosmos. There were sets of gods for the hours of the day and night and for each nome (province) of Egypt. Some of these groups contain a specific, symbolically significant number of deities. Paired gods sometimes have similar roles, while other pairs stand for opposite but interrelated concepts that are part of a greater unity.

Rulers in the late New Kingdom promoted a significant group of three gods above all others: Amun, Ra, and Ptah. These deities stood for the plurality of all gods, as well as for their cult centres and many threefold sets of concepts in Egyptian religious thought. Sometimes Set, the patron god of the Nineteenth Dynasty kings and the embodiment of disorder within the world, was added to this group, emphasising a single coherent vision of the pantheon.

The Egyptians called several large groups “Enneads”, or sets of nine, even if they had more than nine members. The most prominent Ennead was the Ennead of Heliopolis, an extended family of deities descended from Atum, which incorporates many important gods. The term “ennead” was often extended to include all Egypt’s deities.

This divine assemblage had a vague and changeable hierarchy. Gods with broad influence in the cosmos or mythologically older than others had higher positions. At the apex of this society was the king of the gods, who was usually identified with the creator deity. Various gods were most frequently said to hold this exalted position in Egyptian history. Newly prominent gods tended to adopt characteristics from their predecessors. When Amun became the ruler of the pantheon, he was conjoined with Ra to become a solar deity.

List of Ancient Egyptian Deities

Many deities and 2800 gods formed the ancient Egyptian religion. Some of these deities played an essential role in the universe, while others played a minor role. Herein, we give an idea about the most prominent Egyptian gods and goddesses in ancient Egypt, according to the following order:

Goddesses in Ancient Egypt

Goddess Amunet

Amunet is one of the primordial goddesses from the Ancient Egyptian religion. This fascinating goddess plays a central role in the Egyptian creation myth. However, over time, we lost the stories of Amunet in the drift of history. Subsequently, another goddess replaced her altogether.

Goddess Anuket

The ancient Egyptians worshipped the Egyptian goddess Anuket as the personification of the Nile River. People referred to her as the “Nourisher of the Fields”. Moreover, they also saw her as the deity who would protect women during childbirth.

Goddess Bastet

Ancient Egyptians considered Goddess Bastet, the protector of females, home, domesticity, cats, pleasure and good health. She protected households against evil spirits and diseases affecting women or children. Like other ancient deities, the goddess also had an essential role in the afterlife.

Goddess Bat

Ancient Egyptians revered Goddess Bat as the deity of fertility. The first evidence of Bat worship originates from the earliest records of the religious practices in ancient Egypt.

Most importantly, Egyptian mythology revered her as the cow goddess. Symbols depict her with a human face, cow ears, horns, or a woman. As with other Egyptian divinities, Bat’s identity subsumed with another goddess later. Legends associate Bat with Upper Egypt and the Milky Way galaxy.

Goddess Hathor

According to the ancient Egyptian religion, Goddess Hathor was one principal goddess. Sacredly, she was the goddess of sky, music, dance, joy, love, sexuality and maternal care. In addition, she was the heavenly mother of Horus and Ra.

Goddess Isis

Goddess Isis is one of the famous goddesses in ancient Egypt. Religiously, she was the goddess of fertility, motherhood, magic, death, healing and rebirth. Undoubtedly, this goddess came from a divine family. According to her family origins, Isis was the first daughter of Geb (Earth) and Nut (deity of the sky). Besides, she was the wife of her brother Osiris and gave birth to the god Horus.

Goddess Kauket

Kuk (also called Kek or Keku) is the ancient Egyptian deity of night and darkness. As a concept, ancient Egyptians viewed Kuk as having male and female qualities. His female form was Kauket (also spelt as Keket), simply the female form of the word Kuk.

Goddess Maat

Maat or Maʽat refers to the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was also spelt Mayet in ancient Egyptian religion as the personification of truth, justice, and the cosmic order. The daughter of the Sun god Re, she was associated with Thoth, the god of wisdom. Maat was also the goddess who personified the previously mentioned concepts and regulated the stars’ seasons. Also, Maat handled the actions of mortals and the deities who had brought order from chaos at the creation moment. Her ideological opposite was Isfet (Egyptian jzft), which meant injustice, chaos, violence, or evil.

Meretseger Goddess

Meretseger (also known as Mersegrit or Mertseger) was a Theban cobra-goddess in ancient Egyptian religion, guarding and protecting the vast Theban Necropolis – on the west bank of the Nile, in front of Thebes – and especially the heavily guarded Valley of the Kings. Her cult was typical of the New Kingdom of Egypt (1550–1070 BC).

Goddess Mut

Ancient Egyptians worshipped the deity Mut as a mother goddess. According to the ancient Egyptian language, her literal name translation is Mother. Like other goddesses, the attributes associated with Mut evolved and diversified over the thousand years of ancient Egyptian culture.

Goddess Naunet

Naunet represented the sky over the primaeval ocean as the feminine counterpart of Nun (the ancient waters of chaos) in the Ogdoad theology of Hermopolis. She may be a prehistoric form of the sky goddess Nut.

Nun, also spelt Nu, is the oldest of the ancient Egyptian gods and the father of Re, the sun god. Nun’s name means “primaeval waters,”. He represented the waters of chaos out of which Re-Atum began creation. Nun’s qualities were boundlessness, darkness, and the turbulence of stormy waters; these qualities were personified separately by pairs of deities.

Nun, his female counterpart, Naunet, and three different pairs formed the Ogdoad (group of eight gods) of Hermopolis (Al Ashmunin). Various Egyptian creation myths retain the image of the emergence of a primaeval hillock formed of mud churned from the chaotic waters of Nun. Since ancient Egyptians believed that the primaeval ocean continued to surround the ordered cosmos, the creation myth was reenacted each day as the sun god rose from the waters of chaos. They also believed that Goddess Nun continued to exist as the source of the annual flooding of the Nile River.

Nehmetawy goddess

Goddess Nehmetawy is not very widely known among ancient Egyptian divinities. Nehmetawy (who embraces those in need) was a goddess in the ancient Egyptian religion. Nehmetawy was the wife of the snake god Nehebu-Kau, or in other places of worship, like in Hermopolis, the wife of Thoth. Her depictions are anthropomorphic, with a sistrum-shaped headdress, often with a child in her lap.

Neith Goddess

Neith (Nit, Net, Neit) was an ancient goddess of war and weaving. Goddess Neith was the patron goddess of the Red Crown of Lower Egypt and the city of Zau (Sais, in the 5th Nome of Lower Egypt) in the Delta. According to the Iunyt (Esna) cosmology, Neith was the creator of the world and the mother of the Sun, Ra.

Goddess Nekhbet

Nekhbet is a local goddess from the early predynastic era in ancient mythology. The ancient Egyptians named this goddess “the patron of the city of Nekheb” – El Kab. Subsequently, she became Upper Egypt’s patron and unified Ancient Egypt’s second patron. In Egyptian religion, people also viewed Nekhbet as the protector of all the rulers of Upper Egypt. The bird vulture represented the mighty goddess.

Goddess Nephthys

Ancient Egyptian culture recognises Nephthys, also known as Nebet-Het, as a powerful goddess. She belonged to the Great Ennead of Heliopolis from Egyptian mythology. The myths recognise Nephthys as the daughter of the god Geb and goddess Nut. Also, ancient Egyptian mythology pairs the goddess herself with Isis, her sister, in funerary rites.

In Egyptian mythology, Nephthys was the daughter of Geb (Earth) and Nut (sky) and the sister of Isis. She was Seth’s sister and wife and was the mother of Anubis, although, in some myths, Nephthys was barren.

Goddess Nut

Most cultures of regions with rain personify the sky as masculine, the rain being the seed that fructifies Mother Earth. In Egypt, however, rain plays no role in fertility; all the good water is on the Earth (from the Nile River). In Egyptian religion, Nut is a goddess of the sky, the vault of the heavens, often depicted as a woman arched over the Earth god Geb.

Pakhet goddess

In Egyptian mythology, Pakhet, Egyptian Pḫ.t, meaning she who scratches (also spelt Pachet, Pehkhet, Phastet, and Pasht), is a lioness goddess of war.

Renenutet Goddess

Renenutet (also known as Termuthis, Ernutet, Renenet) was a cobra goddess from the Delta area. She was a powerful goddess whose gaze destroyed her enemies. However, the ancient Egyptians had no reason to fear her, as she offered protection in many areas of their lives. Also, she was a goddess of nourishment and the harvest in ancient Egyptian religion. The importance of the crop caused people to make many offerings to Renenutet during harvest time. Initially, her cult was centred on Terenuthis in Monufia Governorate, Egypt.

Satet Goddess

Satet, also known as Setet, Sathit, Satit, Sati, Setis or Satis, was an archer-goddess of the Nile cataracts. Her name comes from “sat” (shoot, eject, pour out, and throw). Satet, also known by numerous related names, was an Upper Egyptian goddess who, along with Khnum and Anuket, formed part of the Elephantine Triad. A protective deity of Egypt’s southern border with Nubia, she came to personify the former annual flooding of the Nile and to serve as a war, hunting, and fertility goddess.

Goddess Sekhmet

The goddess Sekhmet is one of the most significant goddesses of Ancient Egypt. The goddess usually represents a leonine deity. The symbol depicts her as a woman with the head of a lion. Her name translates to “Powerful.” Moreover, it translates as “The Female Powerful One.”

Ancient Egypt’s history is sprinkled with several lores of the god Ra. Sekhmet was the daughter of Ra. She is not only a warrior goddess but is also the goddess of healing. The pharaohs revered Sekhmet as their protector since the goddess led the kings in warfare.

Serket Goddess

Serket (also known as Serqet, Selket, Selqet, or Selcis) was the goddess of fertility, nature, animals, medicine, magic, and healing venomous stings and bites in Egyptian mythology, originally the deification of the scorpion. Serqet’s family life is unknown, but she is sometimes credited as the daughter of Neith and Khnum, making her a sister to Sobek and Apep.

Goddess Seshat

Seshat was the ancient Egyptian goddess of wisdom, knowledge, and writing. Ancient Egyptians saw her as a scribe and record keeper; her name meant she who Scrivens (i.e. she who is the scribe), and she was credited with inventing writing. She also became identified as the goddess of accounting, architecture, astronomy, astrology, building, mathematics, and surveying.

Goddess Taweret

In Ancient Egyptian religion, Taweret (also spelt Taurt, Tuat, Tuart, Ta-weret, Tawaret, Twert and Taueret, and in Greek, Θουέρις – Thouéris, Thoeris, Taouris and Toeris) is the protective ancient Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility. The name “Taweret” (Tȝ-wrt) means “she who is great” or simply “great one”, a standard pacificatory address to dangerous deities. The deity is typically depicted as a bipedal female hippopotamus with feline attributes, pendulous female human breasts, a lion’s limbs and paws, and a Nile crocodile’s back and tail. She commonly bears the epithets “Lady of Heaven”, “Mistress of the Horizon”, “She Who Removes Water”, “Mistress of Pure Water”, and “Lady of the Birth House”.

Goddess Tefnut

Tefnut was a prominent Ancient Egyptian goddess known for associating with moist air, dew drops, and rain. According to ancient texts, she was the sister and consort of the air god Shu, and together they had two children, Geb and Nut. Tefnut was worshipped as part of a system of gods in the ancient Egyptian city of Heliopolis, where she was revered as the goddess of moisture and rainfall. As an early predynastic deity, Tefnut held great significance in the ancient faith and was regarded as the twin sister and female counterpart of the air god Shu.

Goddess Wadjet

Ancient Egyptians worshipped the goddess Wadjet as the cobra goddess of ancient times. Symbols often depicted her as a cobra wrapped around a papyrus stem. The Greek world knew the goddess as Uto or Buto. Moreover, people from Dep hailed the goddess as their local deity. This place later became a part of the city named by the Egyptians as Per-Wadjet or House of Wadjet. The Greeks referred to this city as Buto, now called Desouk. People considered it a vital site in prehistoric Egypt, and it contributed to the cultural developments of the Paleolithic.

Ancient Egyptian Gods

God Aten

The god Aten’s history and religion is one of ancient Egypt’s most controversial and exciting aspects. Old scripts also refer to the god Aten as Aton, Atony or Itn. There are also several interesting aspects to the story of the god Aten, which intermingled with Pharaoh Akhenaten.

One can not understand the religion of the god Aten without mentioning Akhenaten. He was this king who prominently sent shockwaves throughout the land of Egypt. Undoubtedly, the rise and fall of god Aten reveal great interest. It shows how kings were able to control and influence the religion of ancient Egypt.

God Amun

God Amun is a deity in Egyptian mythology who became one of the most important deities in Ancient Egypt. Amun’s name means “The Invisible.” his name is also spelt Amon, Amoun, AmenSun’setimes, Imen.

The ancient Egyptians depicted the god Amun in various shapes. Likewise, Amun appeared in many forms. Ancient Egyptians described Amun as a human figure, a man with a ram head and a frog. Also, they showed him as a man with a frog head, a ram and a goose. Besides, he looked like a man wearing an ostrich-plumed crown and a goose.

Theban Triad consisted of Amun, his consort Mut and their son Khonsu. Both the 18th and 25th Dynasties favoured them. At the vast Karnak Temple Complex, these gods constituted the primary objects of worship. Other temples and shrines exist throughout Egypt, such as the one at Deir el-Hagar, close to the Dakhla Oasis. Amenhotep I, the pharaoh who built Karnak, was often depicted amongst these gods.

God Anubis

The god of death, Anubis, is one of the most powerful deities in the Ancient Egyptian pantheon. Ancient texts refer to him as the god of mummification, embalming, cemetery, tombs, the afterlife and the underworld. His depiction as a canine or a man with a wolf’s head is a famous symbol in pop culture.

God Apep

Apophis, also called Apep, Apepi, or Rerek, an ancient Egyptian god of chaos, had the form of a serpent and, as the foe of the sun god, Re, represented all outside the ordered cosmos. Although many serpents symbolised divinity and royalty, Apophis threatened the underworld and exemplified evil. His name is reconstructed by Egyptologists as *ʻAʼpāp(ī), as it was written ꜥꜣpp(y) and survived in later Coptic as Ⲁⲫⲱⲫ Aphōph.

In ancient Egyptian mythologies, a chaos deity is a figure or spirit personifying primordial chaos. The list of chaos deities, including Apep, is considered the ultimate evil in Egyptian mythology and takes the form of a snake. Isfet is associated with chaos, disorder, and injustice and opposes Maat. Nu represents the primordial waters, while Set was not initially considered evil but became a despised figure thanks to the invading Hyksos, who identified him with their chief god. Set fights against Apep.

The Egyptians believed the Sun was Ra travelling along a boat in the heavens. Nighttime occurred when he entered the underworld, where he and his ally Set (also a god of chaos) battled the great snake-beast Apep.

As a deity, Apep is preceded historically by Horus, Ra, and other mainline ancient Egyptian gods. Over time, Apep developed as a nemesis to the god Ra, spawning from Ra’s severed umbilical cord.

Ash God

Ash was the ancient Egyptian god of oases and the vineyards of the western Nile Delta and thus was viewed as a benign deity. In his 1923 expedition to the Saqqara (also spelt Sakkara), Flinders Petrie found several references to Ash in Old Kingdom wine jar seals: “This Ash refreshes me” was a standard inscription.

In particular, the ancient Egyptians identified him as the god of the Libu and Tinhu communities, known as the “people of the oasis”. Consequently, Ash was known as the “lord of Libya”: the western border areas occupied by the Libu and Tinhu gro correspond roughly with the location of modern Libya.

In Egyptian mythology, Ash was associated with Set as the god of the oases, originally a god of the desert. Ash was identified as the lover of Set, who was originally a god of the desert and was seen as the protector of the Sahara. The first known reference to Ash dates to the Protodynastic Period. And Egyptians continued to mention him as late as the 26th Dynasty. Still, by the late 2nd Dynasty, his importance grew. He was seen as the protector of the royal estates since the related god Set, in Lower Egypt, was regarded as the patron deity of royalty itself. Ash’s importance was such that he was mentioned even until the 26th Dynasty.

God Aten

The history of the god Aten and his religion is one of ancient Egypt’s most controversial and exciting aspects. Old scripts also refer to the god Aten as Aton, Atony or Itn. There are also several interesting aspects to the story of the god Aten, which intermingled with Pharaoh Akhenaten.

Aten, also known as Aton, Atonu, or Itn, was the primary focus of Atenism, a religious system established in ancient Egypt by Akhenaten, a pharaoh of the late Eighteenth Dynasty. While the exact dating of this Dynasty is still disputed, it is generally believed to have existed between 1550 and 1292 B.C.E. The worship of Aten and Akhenaten’s rule are defining features of the Amarna Period (c. 1353–1336 B.C.E.), a period within the 18th Dynasty.

However, after Akhenaten’s death, Atenism and the worship of Aten as the sole god of Egypt did not continue. Tutankhamun, one of Akhenaten’s 18th dynasty successors, reopened state temples to other Egyptian gods and reinstated Amun as the preeminent solar deity. Aten is often depicted as a solar disk, radiating rays that terminate in human hands.

Atum God

In ancient Egyptian religion, Atum was one of the manifestations of the Sun and creator god, perhaps originally a local deity of Heliopolis. Atum is an important deity in Egyptian mythology, sometimes rendered as Atem or Tem. Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence. In the binary solar cycle, the serpentine Atum is distinguished from the scarab-headed god Khepri—the young sun god, whose name comes from the Egyptian ḫpr “to come into existence”.

Atum’s myth merged with the great sun god Re, giving Re-Atum’s deity. When distinguished from Re, Atum was the creator’s original form, living inside Nun, the primordial waters of chaos. At creation, he emerged to engender himself and the gods. Ancient Egyptians identified this god with the setting sun. Meanwhile, Atum appears as a senior figure who regenerated during the night to appear as Khepri at dawn and Ra at the Sun’s zenith.

God Bes

Bes, a minor god of ancient Egypt, is represented as a dwarf with a large head, goggle eyes, protruding tongue, bowlegs, bushy tail, and usually a crown of feathers. This ancient Egyptian god may have been a Middle Kingdom import from Nubia or Somalia, and his cult did not become widespread until the New Kingdom. Bes ( also spelt as Bisu), with his feminine counterpart Beset, is an ancient Egyptian deity worshipped as a protector of households, mothers, children, and childbirth.

God Geb

Synonymously, ancient Egyptians called Geb the Father of Snakes. Geb was the Egyptian god of the Earth. He was also a mythological member of the Ennead of Heliopolis. Myths from ancient Egypt state that Geb’s laughter created earthquakes and allowed crops to grow. Geb was the god of Earth, vegetation, fertility, earthquakes and snakes.

God Hapi

The Ancient Egyptian Religion highly revered the deity Hapi, the god of the Nile’s annual flooding. Hapi was one of the most popular gods in ancient Egypt. Every year, the Nile River floods and deposits dark and rich soil on the banks of the river. This soil was highly fertile and allowed the crops of Egypt to flourish. One could say that the annual flooding of Egypt sustained the entire country.

God Horus

God Horus is one of the most significant ancient Egyptian gods. He was the God of the Kingdom, the sky, and the God of Living. Also, Horus was the son of Isis and Sunris, as well.

Iah god

Iah (Egyptian: jꜥḥ, Coptic ⲟⲟϩ) was a lunar deity in ancient Egyptian religion. The word jꜥḥ means SunMoon”. It is also transcribed as Yah, Jah or Aah.

God Khepri

In ancient Egypt, Khepri was a Sunrab-faced god representing the rising or morning Sun. By extension, he can also represent creation and the renewal of life.

Khnum God

God Khnum, also spelt Khnemu, was the ancient Egyptian god of fertility, associated with water and procreation. Ancient Egyptians represented this god as a ram with horizontal twisting horns or a man with a ram’s head. Chronically, Khnum was worshipped from the 1st Dynasty (c. 2925–2775 BCE) into the early centuries C.E.

God Khonsu

Khonsu is the ancient Egyptian god of the moon. His name means “traveller”, which may relate to the perceived nightly travel of the moon across the sky. In Egyptian mythology, Khons was the son of the god Amon and the goddess Mut. In the late New Kingdom (c. 1100 BCE), the ancients built a significant temple for Khons in the Karnak complex at Thebes. Ancient Egyptians generally depicted Khons as a young man with a side-lock of hair; he wore a uraeus (rearing cobra) and a lunar disk on his head. Khons also was associated with baboons and were sometimes assimilated to Thoth, another moon god associated with baboons.

God Min

Min (Egyptian mnw) cult originated in the predynastic period (4th millennium B.C.E.). In ancient Egyptian religion, Min was a god of fertility and harvest, embodying the masculine principle. Ancient Egyptians worshipped him as the Lord of the Eastern Desert. His cult was most robust in Coptos and Akhmīm (Panopolis). Wherein his honour, great festivals were held to celebrate his coming forth, with public processions and offerings. The lettuce was his sacred plant. Ancient Egyptians depicted him in many different forms. However, ancients most often represented this deity in male human form, shown with a phallus erect, which he holds in his right hand and an upheld left arm holding a flail.

Montu God

Montu was a falcon god of war in ancient Egyptian religion, an embodiment of the conquering vitality of the pharaoh. Ancient Egyptians mainly worshipped God Montu in Upper Egypt and the district of Thebes.

God Nefertum

In Egyptian mythology, Nefertem ( also spelt Nefertum or Nefer-temu) was originally a lotus flower at the creation of the world that had arisen from the primal waters. God Nefertem represented the first sunlight and the delightful smell of the Egyptian blue lotus flower, having emerged from the primal waters within an Egyptian blue water lily, Nymphaea caerulea.

God Osiris

Osiris is one of the most revered deities in the history of Ancient Egypt. He is the god of agriculture, fertility, the dead, life, resurrection and vegetation. The imagery used for the god shows him as a green-skinned deity with a king’s beard. Osiris has mummy-wrapped legs, and he wears a distinctive Atef crown. Also, the god holds a symbolic crook and flail. Ancient Egyptians first associated Osiris with mummy wraps.

The Book of the Dead contains a plethora of spells and rituals that guided the dead to the god Osiris in the subterranean Duat. These rituals also enabled the dead to join Ra in his journey through the sky in his sun barque and assist him in fighting off Apep. The Book of the Dead also depicts the dead living in the Field of Reeds, a paradisiacal version of the Egyptian way of living, where they encounter the Great Ennead and their parents. While the Field of Reeds is pleasant, manual labour is still required. Hence, burials included shabti or ushebti statuettes inscribed with a spell to undertake any manual work needed for the owner in the afterlife. The Book of the Dead also highlights that the dead acquire divine characteristics and are often called “The Osiris”.

God Ptah

Ptah is an ancient Egyptian deity, a creator god and patron of craftsmen and architects. In the triad of Memphis, he is the husband of Sekhmet and the father of Nefertem. Ancient Egyptians also regarded God Ptah as the father of the sage Imhotep.

God Ra

One of the most powerful gods from the ancient legends, God Ra, is an ancient Egyptian deity of the Sun. During the Fifth Dynasty, Ra became one of the most important gods in Egyptian culture. People identified him with the noon-day Sun. According to tales, Ra ruled the world: the Earth, the sky and the underworld. Indeed, Ra was the supreme god of the Sun, kings, order and the atmosphere.

Serapis God

Serapis, also spelt Sarapis, Greco-Egyptian deity of the Sun, was first encountered at Memphis. His cult was celebrated in association with the sacred Egyptian bull Apis (called Osorapis when deceased). God Serapis was thus originally a god of the underworld. Still, Ptolemy I Soter was reintroduced as a new deity with many Hellenic aspects (reigned 305–284 BCE), who centred the worship of the god at Alexandria.

God Set

Noteworthy that Seth and Suetekh are synonyms for Set. In ancient Egyptian mythology, God Set represents the Egyptian deity of war, chaos, and storms. He was the brother of Osiris, Isis and Horus, the Elder. Set was also Horus the Younger’s uncle and Nephthys’s brother-husband. In addition, Goddess Tawaret, a hippo-headed deity who presided over fertility and childbirth, was a consort of Set.

In the Osiris myth, he is the murderer of Osiris. In some versions of the legend, he tricks Osiris into laying down in a coffin and then seals it shut. Seth’s appearance poses a problem for Egyptologists.

Shu God

Shu was one of the primordial Egyptian gods, spouse and brother to the goddess Tefnut, and one of the nine deities of the Ennead of the Heliopolis cosmogony. He was the god of peace, lions, air, and wind.

According to Heliopolitan theology, Atum created the first couple of the Ennead, Shu and Tefnut by masturbating or spitting. Shu was the father of Nut and Geb and grandfather of OsirisIsisSet, and Nephthys. His great-grandsons are Horus and Anubis.

God Sobek

Sebek, or Sobek, was a revered deity in ancient Egyptian religion. He was a crocodile god, and the primary temple dedicated to him in Fayyūm province housed a live sacred crocodile, Petsuchos, who was believed to be the incarnation of the god.

Sebek’s origins are uncertain, but he may have been an early fertility god or associated with death and burial before rising to prominence and becoming the patron of kings during the Middle Kingdom era (c.1938–c. 1630 BCE). He was later merged with Re, the sun god, to create a crocodile deity named Sebek-Re.

The worship of Sebek endured into Ptolemaic and Roman times, with the god being revered at Kawm Umbū (Kom Ombo) in Upper Egypt and other locations in addition to the Fayyūm. Mummified crocodiles have been discovered in cemeteries at Kawm Umbū and the Fayyūm.

The Ancient Egyptian culture has strong ties with the magnificent Nile River. The culture revolved around the inundations of the river and the fertility it provided. Not surprisingly, this idea manifested itself in the Egyptian religion by taking the form of the god Sobek himself.

Sokar God

Sokar (also known as Seker, and in Greek, Sokaris or Socharis) was the Memphite god of the dead. Still, god Sokar was also the patron of the workers who built the cemetery, the artisans who made tomb artefacts, and those who made ritual objects and substances used in mummification. 

God Thoth

Thoth was one of the most important gods of Ancient Egypt. He was the god of writing, wisdom, magic and the moon. Various versions of the origin of Thoth sprinkle the course of history. Some stories claim that this god created himself. However, others argue that he originated from the seed of Horus and came from Set’s forehead. People often saw Thoth as the son of the two gods representing order and chaos. Thus, they chose him as the god of equilibrium.

In art, Thoth was usually depicted with the head of an ibis, possibly because the Egyptians saw the curve of the ibis’ beak as a symbol of the crescent moon. Sometimes, he was depicted as a baboon holding up a crescent moon.

Wepwawet god

In late Egyptian mythology, Wepwawet (hieroglyphic wp-w3w.t; also rendered Upuaut, Wep-wawet, Wepawet, and Ophois) was originally a war deity whose cult centre was Asyut in Upper Egypt (Lycopolis in the Greco-Roman period). His name means opener of the ways, and he is often depicted as a wolf standing at the prow of a solar boat. Some interpret that Wepwawet was seen as a scout, going out to clear routes for the army to proceed. One inscription from the Sinai states that Wepwawet “opens the way” to King Sekhemkhet’s victory. 

3 thoughts on “Egyptian Gods

  1. So much information in this post. Thank you for educating me about the Egyptian deities. I may be wrongs but I seem to recall that Cats were considered deities in ancient times. But this may not have been in Egypt.

    1. Cats were gods in Ancient Egypt

  2. Egypt, has always been home to a lot many gods and goddesses. Some of their names can’t even be pronounced properly and some are quite easy to do so. But one thing is for certain. They are still many of them who are worshiped and thought to be extremely holy. Saying anything against them was and is considered sacrilege. So read on and try your phonetic skills.

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