There’s a whole hidden world in the myths and stories from the ancient era. It’s an all too familiar but different world that encompasses Gods, Goddesses, mythical creatures, and people. One of the cultures that stand out from the pack is that of Ancient Egypt.
The mythology of Ancient Egypt is not only intriguing but also diverse that there’s a profound appreciation for it, to date. The ancient Egyptians had thousands of Gods that they could count on for help with their life. Keeping that in mind, we’ll explore some of the best Egyptian myths, including the popular tales about the unique Gods and Goddesses. Dive in!
1. The Story of Re
Also known as the Myth of Creation, the Story of Re revolves around an egg that named all the living beings, including mankind. Once all the living creatures were named, it turned into a man that served as the 1st Pharaoh of Egypt for years on end. The Egyptians then began making fun of him that he was getting too old to be their Pharaoh. However, things quickly cooled down once the Isis intervened.
2. The Isis and Osiris
As the son of Re, Osiris married Isis, after which he became Egypt’s sole ruler. While he was well-liked, his brother Set wasn’t fond of him. He thereby tricked Osiris and killed him which left his beloved wife distraught.
Nonetheless, she used magic to put his body back together, embalmed him and laid him to rest. From then on, embalming the dead became an Egyptian tradition for years after. The logic behind this was for their souls to come back to the earth when Horus who was the son of Osiris, avenged his father.
3. The Battle of Set and Horus
Upon the embalming of Osiris, his son Horus was magically conceived. After the death of Osiris, his brother Set took over as the ruler of Egypt. However, Horus challenged him to the throne. Therefore, a battle ensued between Horus and Set.
It entailed appealing to a myriad of deities, contests, shape-shifting, and even lascivious frenzies between the two. Nonetheless, there was no conflict resolution between the two men. The story thereby sets the tone for the duality that’s pre-eminent in Egyptian myths.
4. The Underworld and Anubis
Anubis was the other son of Osiris from his sister Nephthys. She was a protective Goddess that was a representation of the death experience, just like her brother Osiris marked the birth experience. In some ancient Egyptian temple myths, she was referred to as the ‘Excellent Goddess’ or ‘Useful Goddess.’
Anubis served as a guardian for the underworld and was the head of a jackal. So, after someone passed on, he would take their soul to the afterlife and witness a ceremony known as the Weighing of the Heart.
It entailed the heart being weighed on the Scale of Truth against the feather of the Goddess of Truth. If the heart weighed less than the feather, then the soul was allowed in the underworld. However, if it was heavier, then it would be devoured by a demon, and the person would ‘die again.’
As the God of the Sun, Ra was associated with fire. The Egyptians believed that Ra sailed on a boat, daily.
Every morning, before he could rise from the east, Ra would go head-to-head with Apep, the opponent of truth and light who was depicted as an enormous serpent. They believed that on the days when eclipses occurred, and there was darkness, Ra lost the battle and his boat was swallowed by Apep.
6. Cats and Bastet
Bastet was the Egyptian Goddess of domesticity, childbirth, the home, women’s secrets, fertility, and cats. She was the protector of homes from disease and evil spirits associated with children and women.
It’s for this reason that she’s depicted as a woman with a cat’s head, which is the logic behind Egyptians worshipping cats. They were put on a pedestal because of their ability to catch mice and rice that threatened the food.
While domestic cats were regarded as docile, they had a ferocious side to them. It’s for this reason that Bastet was believed to be kind and a nurturer but ferocious at times.
Thoth prophesized her to be Egypt’s 1st female Pharaoh. The prophecy stems from the fact that Ra wished for a female Pharaoh that would bring the world together.
He believed that the only person who was capable of uniting the world was the daughter of Thutmose, the Pharaoh. Nonetheless, the plan didn’t come to fruition because Thutmose passed on before the conception of Hatshepsut. As a result, Ra impregnated Thutmose’s maiden, Ahmes, via his divine breath.
8. The Prince and the Sphinx
As a favorite, nearly everyone plotted against Hatshepsut’s great-grandson. So, amped up to prove himself, he escaped the court and embarked on a journey across the desert until he encountered the sphinx. It was designed solely for Khafra, the Pharaoh, who turned out to be just like his father in every way.
According to his predictions, Thutmose would be an excellent Pharaoh. However, he first needed to free him from the desert. Thutmose promised to do so once he became the Pharaoh. True to that, he became one of Egypt’s greatest Pharaohs.
9. The Book of Thoth
It’s believed to be a book that’s packed with the profound knowledge and wisdom that the Gods of Egypt had. The Book of Thoth is tucked away on the floor of the Nile River in a locked set of boxes and is safeguarded by serpents.
Over the years, a multitude of Pharaohs has attempted to get their hands on it. However, their efforts have proved futile because the knowledge that the book holds is not meant to be possessed by humans.
The God of the Moon, Khonsu, symbolizes the passage of time with one of the ancient Egyptian deities named Thoth. Khonsu means traveler, concerning the nightly traverses of the moon across the sky.
The Egyptians believed that the appearance of a crescent moon meant that women gave birth. Therefore, Khonsu was the marker of childbirth. He was depicted as a hawk-headed man who wore a lunar disk.
11. The Girl Who Wore Red Slippers
As the world’s 1st ever Cinderella story, a Greek girl named Rhodopis was the protagonist that was sold into slavery in Egypt. She’s bought by a man who shows her kindness by giving her a beautiful house to live in and lavishing her with gifts.
One day, in an interesting turn of events, an eagle flies off with one of her red slippers and brings it to Amasis, the Pharaoh. As the story goes, she and the Pharaoh lived happily ever after and even died on the same day.
Unlike the other Egyptian Gods, Bes is depicted from head-to-toe as a bandy-legged, grotesque dwarf with his tongue constantly sticking out. He was the symbol of entertainment and fun times but also regarded as the God of childbirth. Bes also protected the Egyptians from savage animals and the demons of the night.
As the patron goddess of love, music, women, and beauty, Hathor was Ra’s daughter. She’s depicted in 3 forms; a woman with a cow’s ears, a cow, and a woman donned in the headdress of a cow’s horns with a solar disc that sits between.
Being Horus’ consort, her name means ‘House of Horus.’ Out of the barrage of temples she had, the most famous is located in Dendara.
Nonetheless, there was a grim side to Hathor. There were beliefs that she was sent by Ra to punish human beings for their wickedness. She caused such adverse havoc on the human race that Ra was floored and determined to bring her back to him.
So, he tricked her by luring her with large amounts of beer mixed with mandrake and the blood of the slain. Killing mankind was a tedious task that made Hathor eager to quench her thirst. She then overindulged in the beer until she became too intoxicated to proceed with her slaughter.
He was the inundation of the River Nile rather than the God of it. Every year, he caused the flooding of this river, which resulted in rich silk being deposited by the river’s banks. In turn, this paved the way for the Egyptians to grow crops that flourished.
Hapi was depicted as a pot-bellied man that had breasts and donned a headdress designed from aquatic plants. His cult center was located in Aswan, and he was believed to dwell in the caves of the 1st cataract.
As the wife of Shu, the Egyptian God of air and the mother of Nut and Geb, who later became the Earth, Tefnut was the 1st Goddess that Atum created. Tefnut was the deity of dew, rain, and moisture and was depicted as a lioness or a woman with the head of a lioness.
Read: Zeus the Greek God
The ancient world was packed with mystery. Much of what the people experienced in this world was scary, with lots of uncertainty. The ancient Egyptian Goddesses and Gods were markers of the ‘supernatural’ and ‘natural’ surroundings and helped them fathom its various aspects.