There may be a lot of art inspired by Greek mythology, but Egyptian mythology is a lot older. It’s portrayed in every corner of Egyptian monuments, and is admired by people all around the world. You may have some background on Egyptian mythology or be familiar with Osiris for instance, but in case you’re not and would love to dive into the magical stories of Egyptian gods and goddesses, then keep on reading!
Mythology was a way for people to spread their culture and put a structure to their society. Egyptian mythology has been around since at least 4,000 BCE, and it shows in their tomb paintings. Ancient Egyptians also had a story for the creation of the world and how to sustain it. Their mythology led every aspect of their lives, it was their religion and it was widely spread, greatly influencing Greek mythology as well. Both of their mythologies share a belief in eternal life, reincarnation, and gods in charge of different aspects of life.
The creation of the world
To Egyptians, the world sprung out of darkness and chaos. From eternal darkness, the God Atum stirred the world into existence. The darkness was called Nun, and Atum created himself out of the darkness through by his own will. Once he materialized, he continued to create the world. The story of how Atum created the world is told in The Book of the Dead, where Ancient Egyptian’s most basic rules of life started. They believed the gods controlled everything. All of this is evident from hieroglyphic writings on the Pyramids, tombs, and temples. Egyptians believed that the gods are all living up in heaven, but that once upon a time, they had lived on Earth in their own kingdom. When the gods left Earth, the pharaohs inherited the kingdom and ruled it under the guidance of the gods.
Demons were much stronger than humans, but definitely not as powerful as gods. Some of the demons’ powers include that of a supernatural nature, such as being able to be in many places at once, immortality. However, the most popular demon is actually a demoness called Ammit, also known as the Devourer of the Dead. Part lioness, part crocodile, and part hippopotamus, Ammit would eat the corrupt hearts of evildoers and would have no chance in an afterlife.
The gods and goddesses who greatly influenced Ancient Egyptian culture and their way of life can be place on a long, long list. There was a god for everything, from the God of the air (Shu), the God of war and the sky (Horus), the Goddess of fertility (Heqet), to a goddess of moisture (Tefnut).
Osiris is the God of the underworld. He symbolized death, resurrection, and the cycle of Nile floods. Serving as one of the most important Egyptian gods, he is believed to have civilized mankind at the time. Osiris was the King of Egypt for a while, until he was killed by his brother Seth out of jealousy and hate. Seth cut him into pieces and scattered them across Egypt to which Osiris’s wife, Isis, didn’t approve of. She looked for him all over Egypt and put his pieces back together and breathed him back to life. After he was resurrected, he became the ruler of the underworld and a judge of the dead, never to return to the living. In the drawings, he’s portrayed with the colors blue, green, and black. Blue represents the color of the dead, green as the color of resurrection, and black as the color of the fertile earth.
Isis’s origin is unknown, and stories speculating her background vary. She is known as a protector, a mother, a healer, and an enchantress. To the Egyptians, she’s the Mother of God, the perfect wife and mother with godly maternal instincts. She’s also associated with funeral rites and the underworld. Most importantly, Isis is known for resurrecting Osiris. As the goddess who brought Osiris back to life, she was worshipped by many. After her husband came back to her, they had a son called Horus, the God of war and the sky.
The Goddess of morality, justice, and truth, Ma’at appears on numerous temples and engravings as the goddess who weighs the hearts of the dead in order to decide their fate in the afterlife. Her primary goal was to maintain harmony in the universe. Aside from being just, she controlled the seasons and the stars, and was connected to the Demoness Ammit, as a heart she finds heavier than her feather would be devoured by Ammit.
One of the oldest gods is Thoth, the God of wisdom and writing, and was an intermediate between the gods. Believed to have invented the hieroglyphic script, he possessed the knowledge of the world and magic, which was all documented in a book that contained knowledge of the gods. The book was guarded by serpents, never to be acquired by another god or human, and Thoth is usually shown in drawings, writing, and calculations.
King of the gods and the goddesses, Amun was considered to be the father of the pharaohs, and is also known as “The Hidden One,” which meant that his nature could not be seen or felt. Amun was the God of the air, and he used oracles to express his wishes and will. His influence on the politics of Ancient Egypt was immense, with a cult of his own that many royal women were associated with.