Egyptian Pantheons

By: Wesley Tooson

General Introduction of Egyptian Culture:

The ancient egyptian civilization was built on the 3-fold model of wisdom. Truth, cosmic order of space, and time. The egyptian pantheon consisted of many gods. The egyptians believe many of the gods are creaters of the cosmo. The development of Egyptian religion in the New Kingdom lead some early Egyptologists to believe that the Egyptians were really monotheistic. The Ancient Egyptians created beauty by design and much of their philosophy revolved around their observations of the celestial bodies in the heavens and their own certainty of the existence of life after death.

Spiritual Belief Structure:

The entire Egyptian spiritual belief system was built around a system of temples, gods and initiations whose purpose was to learn, grow and progress with the goal of having immortality. The everyday population were not aware of the entire underlying goals of the belief system, but the priests, and higher ranking people were. There were 3 levels of consciousness for alert beings in physical existence on the earth. These were:
1: Under the ground (that which lies hidden or cloaked, not yet come to fruition) symbolised in pictograms by the snake or cobra;
2: Flying over the ground (that which is higher and less earthly and still to be attained) symbolised by the vulture;
3: Walking upon the ground (that which is earthbound and searching, like man) symbolised by the Right Eye of Horus.
The Egyptians also believed that every person was followed through life and afterlife by an invisible double called a Ka. One's Ka could not be seen, and is equal to what we call the spirit. They also believed each person had a soul called a "Ba" which dwelt within the person.

The Order of the Gods:

Many of the names we use today for the ancient Egyptian gods and goddesses Greek versions of the Egyptian names. All the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt had and have many differing aspects and names or titles. Their family tree varies from time period to time period, and this makes sense when we understand that the Ancient Egyptian civilisations spanned many many centuries. Note also that the gods and goddesses are primarily symbolic archetypes and these Gods show eternal cosmic realities. Therefore they never die, but are eternal.

The Gods had 3 levels of beings:

The Highest level also known as the Metaphysical level contained those beings known as Amun, Atum, Ra and Neith.
The Mid-level also known as the Cosmic level contained what were seen as being the primary gods and goddesses - Isis, Osiris, Set, Nepthys, Horus, Thoth, Anubis, Hathor and Nut.
The Lower-level also known as the Terrestrial level it had many of the secondary gods and goddesses, including Ptah, Anubis, Amun-Min, Mut and Set. Some were placed within both mid and lower levels, depending on the time period and what was believed at that time.
All levels and beings had some of the same relations and a god may have had a different name according to their apperance, function and divine purpose.
They took many forms including animals, and human combinations. Their color and appearence were all part of a symbolic code.

The Spirtual Role of The Kings, Queens, Pharohs And Priest:

The kings and queens were known as the earthly representatives of the gods, and the pharoh was the high priest of the nation. The priests and priestesses were also earthy representatives. The temples of Egypt were the houses of the Gods, and the Priesthood were all servants of the gods. The belief was that if the gods were looked after well by the priests, then the land and the people would prosper. Each temple was complete and mainly self-contained, being rather like a small town than a temple. It had many officials and administrators, who far outnumbered the small number of lifelong priests.

Specific Gods of Egypt:

  • Aken - Ferryman to the underworld
  • Ammit - crocodile-headed devourer in Duat, not a true deity
  • Amun (also spelled Amen) - the hidden one, a local creator deity later married to Mut after rising in importance
  • Amunet - female aspect of the primordial concept of air in the Ogdoad cosmogony; was depicted as a cobra snake or a snake-headed woman
  • Anubis (also spelled Yinepu) - dog or jackal God of embalming and tomb-caretaker who watches over the dead
  • Anuket, Goddess of the Nile River, the child of Satis and among the Elephantine triad of deities; temple on the Island of Seheil, giver of life and fertility, gazelle-headed
  • Apep (also spelled Apophis) - evil serpent of the Underworld, enemy of Ra and formed from a length of Neith's spit during her creation of the world
  • Apis - the Apis bull probably was at first a fertility figure concerned with the propagation of grain and herds; but he became associated with Ptah, the paramount deity of the Memphis area and also, with Osiris (as User-Hapi) and Sokaris, later Gods of the dead and the underworld. As Apis-Atum he was associated with the solar cult and was often represented with the sun-disk of the cow deity between his horns, being her offspring. The Apis bull often represented a king who became a deity after death, suggesting an earlier ritual in which the king was sacrificed
  • The Aten - the sun disk or globe worshipped primarily during the Amarna Period in the eighteenth dynasty when representing a monotheistic deity advanced by Amunhotep IV, who took the name Akhenaten
  • Atum - a creator deity, and the setting sun
  • Bakha
  • Bastet - Goddess, protector of the pharaoh and a solar deity where the sun could be seen shining in her eyes at night, a lioness, house cat, cat-bodied or cat-headed woman, also known as Bastet when superseded by Sekhmet
  • Bat - represented the cosmos and the essence of the soul (Ba), cow Goddess who gave authority to the king, cult originated in Hu and persisted widely until absorbed as an aspect of Hathor after the eleventh dynasty; associated with the sistrum and the ankh
  • Bes - dwarfed demigod - associated with protection of the household, particularly childbirth, and entertainment
  • The four sons of Horus- personifications of the containers for the organs of the deceased pharaohs - Imsety in human form, contained the liver and was protected by Isis; Hapi in baboon form, contained the lungs and was protected by Nephthys; Duamutef in jackal form, contained the stomach and was protected by Neith; Qebehsenuef in hawk form, contained the large intestines and was protected by Serket
  • Geb - God of the Earth and first ruler of Egypt, and husband of Nut
  • Hapy (also spelled Hapi) - God embodied by the Nile, and who represents life and fertility
  • Hathor (also spelled Hethert) - among the oldest of Egyptian deities - often depicted as the cow, a cow-Goddess, Sky-Goddess and Tree-Goddess who was the mother to the pharaoh and earlier to the universe, the golden calf of the bible, and later Goddess of love and music
  • Heget (also spelled Heqet) - Goddess of childbirth and fertility, who breathed life into humans at birth, represented as a frog or a frog-headed woman
  • Horus (also spelled Heru) - the falcon-headed God most notably being the God of the Sky, God of War and God of Protection. Includes multiple forms or potentially different Gods, including Heru the son of Isis, God of pharaohs and Upper Egypt, and Heru the elder
  • Isis (also spelled Aset) - Goddess of magical power and healing, "She of the Throne" who was represented as the throne, also later as the wife of Osiris and as the protector of the dead
  • Iusaaset - the great one who comes forth, the Goddess who was called the mother and grandmother of all of the deities and later, the "shadow" of Atum or Atum-Ra
  • Khepry (also spelled Khepra) - the scarab beetle, the embodiment of the dawn
  • Khnum - a creator deity, God of the inundation
  • Khonsu - the son of Amun and Mut, whose name means "wanderer", which probably refers to the passage of the moon across the sky, as he was a lunar deity. In the late period, he was also considered an important God of healing
  • Kuk - the personification of darkness that often took the form of a frog-headed God, whose consort or female form was the snake-headed Kauket
  • Maahes - he who is true beside her, a lion prince, son of Bast in Lower Egypt and of Sekhmet in Upper Egypt and sharing their natures, his father varied—being the current chief male deity of the time and region, a God of war, weather, and protector of matrilineality, his cult arrived during the New Kingdom era perhaps from Nubia and was centred in Taremu and Per-Bast, associated with the high priests of Amon, the knife, lotuses, and devouring captives
  • Ma'at - a Goddess who personified concept of truth, balance, justice, and order - represented as a woman, sitting or standing, holding a sceptre in one hand and an ankh in the other - thought to have created order out of the primal chaos and was responsible for maintaining the order of the universe and all of its inhabitants, to prevent a return to chaos
  • Mafdet - she who runs swiftly, early deification of legal justice (execution) as a cheetah, ruling at judgment hall in Duat where enemies of the pharaoh were decapitated with Mafdet's claw; alternately, a cat, a mongoose, or a leopard protecting against vermin, snakes, and scorpions; the bed upon which royal mummies were placed in murals
  • Menhit - Goddess of war - depicted as a lioness-goddess and therefore becoming associated with Sekhmet
  • Meretseger - Goddess of the valley of the kings, a cobra-goddess, sometimes triple-headed, dweller on the top of or the personification of the pyramid-shaped mountain, Al-Qurn, which overlooked the tombs of the pharaohs in the Valley of the Kings
  • Meskhenet - Goddess of childbirth, and the creator of each person's Ka, a part of their soul, thereby associated with fate
  • Menthu (also spelled Montu) - an ancient god of war - nomad - represented strength, virility, and victory
  • Min - represented in many different forms, but was often represented in male human form, shown with an erect penis which he holds in his left hand and an upheld right arm holding a flail; by the New Kingdom he was fused with Amun (Amen) in the deity Min-Amun-kamutef, Min-Amun-bull of his mother (Hathor), and his shrine was crowned with a pair of cow horns
  • Mnevis - was the sacred bull of Heliopolis, later associated with Ra as the offspring of the solar cow deity, and possibly also with Min; when Akhenaten abandoned Amun (Amen) in favour of the Aten he claimed that he would maintain the Mnevis cult, which may have been because of its solar associations
  • Mut (also spelled Mout) - mother, was originally a title of the primordial waters of the cosmos, the mother from which the cosmos emerged, as was Naunet in the Ogdoad cosmogony, however, the distinction between motherhood and cosmic water lead to the separation of these identities and Mut gained aspects of a creator Goddess
  • Naunet - a Goddess, the primal waters from which all arose, similar to Mut and later closely related to Nu
  • Neith - Goddess of war, then great mother Goddess - a name of the primal waters, the Goddess of creation and weaving, said to weave all of the world on her loom
  • Nekhbet - Goddess depicted as an Egyptian vulture - protector of Egypt, royalty, and the pharaoh with her extended wings - referred to as Mother of Mothers, who hath existed from the Beginning, and Creatrix of the World (related to Wadjet); always seen on the front of pharaoh’s double crown with Wadjet
  • Nephthys (also spelled Nebthet) - Goddess of death, holder of the rattle, the Sistrum - sister to Isis and the nursing mother of Horus and the pharaohs represented as the mistress of the temple, a woman with falcon wings, usually outstretched as a symbol of protection
  • Nut - Goddess of heaven and the sky - mother of many deities as well as the sun, the moon, and the stars
  • Osiris (also spelled Wesir) - God of the underworld after Hathor and Anubis, fertility, and agriculture - the oldest son of the Sky Goddess, Nut, and the Earth God, Geb, and being brother and later, the husband of Isis - and early deity of Upper Egypt whose cult persisted into the sixth century BC
  • Pakhet - she who tears, deity of merged aspects of Sekhmet and Bast, cult center at Beni Hasan where north and south met - lioness protector, see Speos Artemidos
  • Ptah - a creator deity, also God of craft
  • Qebui - The "Lord of the North Wind," associated with the lands beyond the third cataract (i.e. Kush and the land of the Modern Sudan.
  • Ra - the sun, also a creator deity - whose chief cult centre was based in Heliopolis meaning "city of the sun"
  • Ra-Horakhty - God of both sky and Sun, a combination of Ra and Horus - thought to be god of the Rising Sun
  • Reshep - war God who was originally from Syria
  • Satis - the Goddess who represented the flooding of the Nile River, ancient war, hunting, and fertility Goddess, mother of the Nile, Anuket, associated with water, depicted with a bow and arrows, and a gazelle or antelope horned, and sometimes, feathered crown
  • Sekhmet - Goddess of destruction and war, the lioness - also personified as an aspect of Ra, fierce protector of the pharaoh, a solar deity, and later as an aspect of Hathor
  • Seker (also spelled Sokar) - God of death
  • Selket (also spelled Serqet) - scorpion Goddess, protectress, Goddess of magic
  • Sobek - crocodile God of the Nile
  • Set (also spelled Seth) - God of storms, later became God of evil, desert and patron of Upper Egypt - 'Set-animal'-headed- as one of the most prominent deities of chaos he does not have an actual animal to represent him, but is seen as an amalgamation of many different characteristics of other animals.
  • Seshat - Goddess of writing, astronomy, astrology, architecture, and mathematics depicted as a scribe
  • Shu - embodiment of wind or air
  • Swenet - Goddess of the ancient city on the border of southern Egypt at the Nile River, trade in hieroglyphs
  • Tatenen (also called Tenen or Tatjenen)-Ancient Nature God. Later combined with Ptah as Ptah-tenen
  • Taweret (also spelled Tawret) - Goddess of pregnant women and protector at childbirth
  • Tefnut - Goddess, embodiment of rain, dew, clouds, and wet weather, depicted as a cat and sometimes as a lioness
  • Thoth (also spelled Djehuty) - God of the moon, drawing, writing, geometry, wisdom, medicine, music, astronomy, magic; usually depicted as ibis-headed, or as a goose; cult centered in Khemennu
  • Wadjet - the Goddess, Snake Goddess of lower Egypt, depicted as a cobra, patron and protector of Egypt and the pharaoh, always shown on crown of the pharaohs; later joined by the image of Nekhbet after north and south united; other symbols: eye, snake on staff
  • Wadj-wer - fertility God and personification of the Mediterranean sea or lakes of the Nile delta
  • Wepwawet - jackal God of upper Egypt
  • Wosret - a localized guardian Goddess, protector of the young God Horus, an early consort of Amun, who was later superseded by Mut