Were there ancient civilizations without gods
Amun and Re - goddesses and gods in ancient Egypt
The religion of the ancient Egyptians was very imaginative and full of mysteries. The Egyptians had a magical relationship with the animals around them. That is why animals play a major role in their world of gods. Almost all gods were depicted with a human body and the head of a hawk, lion, crocodile or other animal. Every being embodied special qualities of God like speed, strength or courage. There were many stories about the gods. Each area of life was associated with a deity. There were gods of heaven, of the Nile, of the desert, of birth and death. In the houses there were small statues of the families' favorite gods. Some gods were only worshiped in certain places, others were valid for the whole empire. A splendid temple was created for each god, in which he was worshiped.
Amun and Re - the gods of the cosmos and the sun
At the beginning of all Egyptian gods is Amun, the creator of the cosmos. He is sometimes depicted as a ram. It is said that he climbed a hill that rose from the waters of Chaos and his own Son Schu - the air - created and his Daughter Tefnut - the humidity. The siblings united and created Born, the earth and Groove, the sky. Amun also means "breath of life for all things". As the god of all gods, he wears the double feather as a crown.
Re is the falcon-headed sun god. Re meant sun in Egyptian, and so this god was considered the giver of all life. Re usually wears the sun on his head. When the cosmos was created, so the legend says, there was nothing left for it to do. He loved idleness and rode across the sky in the sun barge with his daughter Maat, the goddess of justice. At night he crossed the waters of the underworld with the barge. Sun shrines were built in his honor. In the 6th Dynasty, Re rose to become the new main deity in Heliopolis. In the new Egyptian empire, Amun and Re merged into one deity, Amun-Re. Pharaoh Akhenaten later replaced Amun-Re with the sun god Aton and banished all ancient gods from the temples. But the highly paid priests of Amun feared for their income. They eliminated Akhenaten and raised the old gods back to the main deities.
The falcon, the cow and the scarab, the pill-turner, are related to the heavenly gods. Horus, the falcon-headed one, was a sky god and at the same time god of kings. He was also considered a protector of children. He is often depicted in the form of a falcon or as a person with a falcon's head. The sun and moon were his eyes. Various myths surround both eyes. Its wing tips touched the boundaries of the earth. The king was considered the earthly embodiment of Horus. For this reason, the kings of Egypt wore the falcon god Horus in their royal costume.
Hathor is the sky goddess. She is shown with cow antlers and a sun ball, sometimes she also appears as a cow figure. She was worshiped as the goddess of love. When Re left the primal chaos, a liquid formed in his eyes, which fell to the floor and transformed into a beautiful woman. It was called "the gold of the gods". The Egyptians believed that Hathor kept Re in their womb overnight and gave birth every morning.
Chepre is the god with the pill-rolling head. It symbolizes the sunrise. His name means 'the one who arose by himself'. The Egyptians believed that the scarab, like the sun, reproduced without an act of procreation. In fact, the beetle reproduced very quickly in the Nile mud. He hid his balls in a ball of dung, which he pushed in front of him like a ball. That is why the scarab can often be found on drawings of how it pushes the sun disk over the horizon in the morning.
Maat is the daughter of the sun god Re, she is depicted with a feather. She is the goddess of justice and world balance. In the underworld, the weight of their feather decides whether the dead reach the afterlife.
Creator gods of the Nile
Aries, crocodiles and hippos were the godfathers of the Nile's creator gods. These gods were very important. Because without the Nile, life in the Egyptian Empire was unthinkable. Khnum is the ram-headed creator god. He was considered to be the donor of the Nile flood. The Egyptians believed that he created gods and humans as well as animals and plants by bringing them to life with the help of his magic wand. As the god of fertility, he was master of conception and birth.
Taweret is often depicted as a pregnant hippopotamus. She was considered the goddess of birth. Pregnant women sought her protection and hung their clothes around the statue to receive the goddess' benevolence. Their images can often be found on beds and headrests. Taweret was also seen in a very dark light. It was said that she devours the dead who fail before Orisris's judgment of the dead. Sobek is the crocodile god from whose sweat the Nile arose. So he was a very important god. Numerous temples with ponds for the sacred animals were dedicated to Sobek, the most important ones were found in Upper Egypt and in Krokodilopolis in the Fayyum Basin. Crocodiles who died in these sacred temples were embalmed like humans and buried as mummies.
Goddesses of fertility
According to the Egyptian belief, cats and cows watched over fertility. Conceiving offspring and bearing children was considered the most precious gift from the gods.
Isis is the goddess of birth, the wife of Osiris and mother of Horus. It is often represented with what scepter and ankh signs. The Egyptians worshiped them as Goddess of love or Queen of the Western Heaven. Mothers asked her to bless their children. She was considered a powerful sorceress who knew all the secrets and future events. In inscriptions it is said that she is “smarter than all gods”. So she also had dark sides for the Egyptians. She stole the magic from God Re to gain dominion over the world. Bastet is the cat goddess. The Egyptians believed that it was related to the moon. They worshiped Bastet as the goddess of fertility. Often the goddess is represented as a cat or a woman with a cat's head. Bastet was revered as the protector of pregnant women. She was also considered the goddess of joy, dance, music and celebrations. It was believed that Bastet had rather gentle properties. In stark contrast to her angry sister Sachmet, the goddess of war.
Gods of war were also gods of the desert
Birds of prey and lions were the godfathers of the gods of war Seth and Sachmet.
Seth is the god of violence and war. He is often depicted in human form with the head of a bird, with a pointed, long beak and upright ears. He embodies a very ancient deity and was also worshiped as a desert god and protector of the oases. In times of war the pharaoh asked for his protection. For this reason you can see him on murals as a companion in a chariot. The most famous story is about the fight against Osiris and Horus. Sekhmet is a lion-headed goddess, whose fiery breath was the hot desert winds. She was nicknamed "Lady of the Trembling". With the ancient Egyptians she was the goddess of war, of illness, but on the other hand also of healing. It was feared as it could bring disputes, epidemics, and even death. She was considered fierce and bellicose. But it was believed that the priests could appease them with prayers.
Thoth - the god of scripture and wisdom
Thoth had a special position among the gods. He was at home both in heaven and in the hereafter. Because he had to write down the decisions of the gods.
The sacred animal of Thoth is the ibis. The god of writing is often depicted with the head of an ibis. Sometimes you can also find him depicted with the head of a baboon. The invention of hieroglyphics and the art of writing was one of Egypt's greatest achievements. He is therefore also one of the oldest gods in Egypt. Thoth was worshiped as a moon god as early as the Old Kingdom. He was considered to be the one who watched over the lunar rhythms and also invented the calendar. Writing board and pen are his attributes.
Gods of the underworld
The underworld was as real to the ancient Egyptians as their real life. They were convinced that after death they would live on. Because of this, the gods of the afterlife were just as important as the sky gods. You should protect the dead from the enemies in the afterlife.
Osiris ruled the underworld. He is the god of the dead and the resurrection.The dead must answer to him before they reach the hereafter. All otherworldly enemies of the deceased, like the net catcher or the ones with the terrible faces, are emissaries of Osiris. Every collection of sayings that accompanies the dead in the grave contains incantations against these demons.
Anubis is the jackal-headed god of the dead and mummification. He shared the task with Osiris. Anubis supervised the correct embalming and led the soul to the "field of heavenly offerings". He put his hand protectively on the mummy. Anubis was also a judge. He oversaw the judgment of the dead. The heart of the dead was weighed against the pen of Maat, the goddess of justice. Those who failed this test were devoured. The judgment of Anubis was decisive for whether one was well in the afterlife. That is why the prayers for the dead were addressed to him too. Death priests wore his mask during the burial ceremony.
The Egyptians also worshiped a dwarf god. His name was Bes and was the patron god of the familybecause he drove away evil spirits. He also kept snakes out of the houses. His picture was placed on beds, mirrors and in front of the buildings to ward off the evil eye. Women wore it on an amulet around their necks. Besides, Bes was a really ugly ghost, he grins in all the pictures, sticks out his tongue and has a completely overgrown body. But the women and children loved him. If you see garden gnomes in front gardens today, then they remind you of this dwarf god and of the oldest of all defensive spells. Who knows, maybe also to the dwarf world in the novel Lord of the rings.
More about the gods of the pharaohs in the book: Old Egypt.
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