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Ancient Egypt
Beliefs and Mythology
Beliefs & Mythology
The Gods
The Gods
In the beginning there was darkness.
There was nothing but a great body of
water called Nun.
Nun was limitless.
It was believed that Nun always existed,
living at the edges of the world and
would one day return to destroy it,
beginning the cycle of creation all over
Out of the
darkness arose
• Re was believed to have arisen from
Nun as a great, shining egg.
• Re was all powerful and could take
many forms.
• He had a hidden name that held his
• When he spoke others names they
would come into being.
• Kephri is a form of the
sun god, Ra.
• He is usually depicted
as a human with a
beetle on his head or
as his head.
• He rolled the sun
across the sky, much
like a dung beetle rolls
a ball of dung.
• His name comes from
the Egyptian word,
kheprer or "to
• Atum was one of the most
ancient gods of Egypt.
• He was originally an earth
god and then became
associated with Ra.
• He was considered to be the
setting sun.
• He was one of the first
beings to emerge from Nun.
• He was originally a serpent
in Nun and will return to
that form.
• Shu and Tefnut were his
Shu and Tefnut
Shu and Tefnut were twins from Atum and believed to be two parts of one
Shu means "dry, parched, withered."
He was the god of the air.
It was his eternal job to separate his
children (earth (Geb) from sky (Nut)) and
he is often shown holding his daughter
above his son.
If he were ever removed from his place
then chaos would reign over the earth.
He was believed to hold power over snakes
He held the ladder the deceased used to
climb to heaven.
The goddess‘s name is related
to the root tef, "to spit, be
moist" and nu, "sky, waters".
Tefnut is the mother of Geb and
She is depicted in the form of a
woman who wears a solar disc
with 2 cobras.
She holds in her hands the
scepter and ankh.
Sometimes she has the head of
a lioness or is shown as being
Geb and Nut
Geb and Nut were brother and sister, husband and wife
They had four children – Isis, Osiris, Nepthys and Set
• Geb was a god of the earth.
• He guided the dead to heaven
and gave them food and drink.
• He became “heir of the gods”.
• He is usually shown as a man
wearing a crown of the north or
the south.
• The goose was a sacred animal
to Geb.
• He was sometimes called the
Great Cackler because of this.
• It was believed that Geb’s
laughter caused earthquakes.
• He is often shown as having
green or dark skin with leaves
on him.
• Nut was the goddess of the
• She was portrayed as a
woman who wears a vase of
water on her head.
• She is often shown as a
woman whose hands and feet
touch the earth, forming a
semi-circle representing the
• She is held up by her father,
• Her husband lies
beneath her
representing the
hills and ground.
• Isis was married to her brother, Osiris.
• She wears a vulture headdress with the
solar disc between a pair of horns.
• She was a great magician.
• She brought her husband back to life
after his death.
• Isis was the greatest goddess of Egypt.
• She was the purest example of a loving
wife and mother which made the people
adore her even more.
• She is regarded as the giver of life and
food to the dead.
• Her son was Horus.
• Osiris was a god of the earth and
• He was the first child of Nut and
• Osiris was the great god of the
• He became king and taught the
people what to eat to stop them
from cannibalism.
• He was a god-king and believed to
have given Egypt its civilization.
• He was killed by this brother Seth.
• He is shown as a mummified human
with a beard.
• He has green skin and is shown
holding the flail and crook.
• Seth was represented by a bigeared imaginary animal with red
hair resembling a donkey or
maybe an aardvark.
• He was Lord of Lower Egypt.
• Seth was married to his sister,
• Seth was exiled to the desert for
all time after killing his brother,
• While he was evil, he was also
revered as the one who kept the
desert at bay.
• Seth never had any children.
• The name "Nebthet" means the
"lady of the
• Nephthys was
portrayed as a
woman wearing
on her head the
symbol of her
• Her son was
Anubis, whose
father was Osiris.
• It was Nepthys’
affair with Osiris
that is believed
to have caused
Seth to kill him.
• Nepthys helped
Isis restore Osiris
from the dead.
• She was always
depicted as the
loyal friend and
sister to Isis
• Horus was portrayed as a falcon headed
• Horus carries a falcon-headed staff
• He was the son of Osiris and Isis.
• He was conceived magically by Isis after the
murder of his father.
• As a child, he was known as Harpokrates,
"the infant Horus“.
• He was raised on the floating island of
Chemmis near Buto.
• His uncle Seth tried to kill him but his
mother protected him.
• He eventually banished his uncle to the
desert for eternity.
• He was one of the most important gods of
• It was said the Pharaoh was the human body
of Horus.
• Anubis was the son of Nephthys, and his father was
• He is the jackal-god of mummification who helps the
dead be admitted to the Underworld.
• He had three important functions:
– Embalming the dead
– Receving the mummy into the tomb and performing
the Opening of the Mouth ceremony and then
conducting the soul in the Field of Celestial
– Most importantly he monitored the Scales of Truth
to protect the dead from deception and eternal
• He was originally known as the god of the dead but
was replaced by Osiris as he became more popular.
• Anubis is portrayed as a man with the head of a jackal
holding the divine scepter carried by kings and gods.
• Egyptians worshipped Anubis to help protect their
dead from jackals and the decay of death.
Family Tree of Ra
• The ancient Egyptians were the first to
develop the beginnings of a religion.
• Their beliefs developed slowly over the
• It eventually developed into a world view
shared by the people of the Nile.
• Before the concept of God, power was
depicted in the hieroglyph of a scepter.
• There was no single belief system but the
Egyptians shared an understanding of
how the world was created and believed
that chaos would reign if the destructive
powers of the universe were unleashed.
• The ancients were very devout in their beliefs.
• They worshipped daily in many ways, such as:
– Offering food, drink, clothing and ointment to the dead
– Performing Rituals
• They were dedicated to their gods.
• The ancient Egyptians were a highly
sophisticated society.
• They were not unlike us today in that
they had strong morals and values.
• They had a strong sense of justice.
• They wore amulets to ward off evil.
• Magical texts were
written in tombs to
protect against grave
• Spells, rituals, and
concoctions were used to
treat the sick or injured.
• It was considered the will
of the god if the magic
didn’t work.
• Everything that happened
had spiritual meaning
and had a unique god
assigned to it.
The Afterlife
• The two most important
concepts concerning the
afterlife were the ka and the
• The ka was a kind of other
self that guided the
fortunes of the person in
• When people died they were
said to have joined their ka.
• The Ba is loosely the
person’s soul.
• Represented as a bird, the
Ba was the manifestation of
the individual after death.
• The ancient Egyptians
believed that the dead were
still very powerful.
• A negative spirit of a dead
loved one could often be
blamed for what was going
on in a person’s life.
• It was believed that the
ancients wrote letters to the
newly dead to ask them to
protect them from ill
fortune and to remind them
that they treated them well
while they were alive.
The Underworld
• The Egyptians believed that when they died they would
journey to another world – the Underworld – where they would
lead a new life.
• They would need all of their earthly possessions in this other
life which is why their most treasured belongings were put
into their tombs.
• In order to pass into the afterlife they believed that they
would have to face great perils and go through dangerous
• These places would have such obstacles as monsters, fires,
boiling lakes, and spitting, poisonous snakes.
• They would write down spells and leave them in or near the
coffin as these spells could overcome the evil.
• If they overcame the evil then they would reach the gates of
Yaru and meet their friends again.
• Before they could do this, they had to pass the greatest test
of all in the Hall of Two Truths.
Hall of Two Truths
• This was the test that allowed a person to pass fully into the
• It consisted of weighing the person’s heart (this was the only
organ left in the body).
• The heart was placed on one side of a balance scale and on
the other was place the Feather of Truth.
• The Feather of Truth held all of the person’s lies and sins
from their life.
• Osiris, Anubis, and Toth were the three great gods who gave
the results of the test.
Results of the Hall of Two Truths
• If the person passed they were
allowed into the gates of Yaru.
• If the person failed their heart
was eaten by a monster known as
the ‘Devourer’.
• The devourer was part
hippopotamus, part lion, and part
• Once the dead person’s heart was
eaten by the Devourer that
person was gone forever.
• Ancient Egyptian civilization was based on their
religion and their beliefs were important to them.
• They believed in many, many gods of which we
discussed some of the most important ones.
• Death was not the end of life for them, but merely
an interruption as they believed in the afterlife.
• Their religion was closely linked with aspects of
their daily lives and their political systems.
• They were logical in their beliefs and their stories
are woven from actual facts of their daily lives.
• Their main goals were to keep the forces of chaos
at bay and to ensure a secure afterlife.