Deities of Ancient Egypt
The gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt were a complex group of beings and ideas. As the culture evolved, so did many of the deities and what they represented. Here are some of the best-known gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt.
•Anubis, God of Funerals and Embalming
Anubis is known as being a jackal-headed god of the dead, but he plays a significant role in the tale of Isis and Osiris. Find out why Anubis was important to the ancient Egyptians.
•Bast, the Cat Goddess
In ancient Egypt, cats were often worshipped as deities, Bast was one of the most highly honored feline gods. Also called Bastet, she was a goddess of sex and fertility. Originally, she was portrayed as a lioness, but was sometimes portrayed with kittens beside her, as an homage to her role as a goddess of fertility.
•Geb, God of Earth
In the ancient Egyptian religion, Geb is known as the god of the earth and is the first king of Egypt. He is often portrayed lying beneath the sky goddess, Nut. In his role as a god of earth, he is a fertility deity. Plants grow within his body, the dead are imprisoned inside him, and earthquakes are his laughter. He is more than a god of the surface of the earth – in fact, he is a god of everything contained within the earth.
•Hathor, Patron of Women
In Egyptian religion, Hathor was a predynastic goddess who embodied femininity, love and the joy of motherhood. In addition to being a symbol of fertility, she was known as a goddess of the underworld, in that she welcomed the newly departed to the West
•Isis, Mother Goddess
Originally a funerary goddess, Isis was the lover of Osiris. After his death, she used her magic to resurrect him. Isis is honored for her role as the mother of Horus, one of Egypt’s most powerful gods. She was also the divine mother of every pharoah of Egypt, and ultimately of Egypt itself.
•Ma’at, Goddess of Truth and Balance
Maat is the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice. She is married to Thoth, and is the daughter of Ra, the sun god. In addition to truth, she embodies harmony, balance and divine order. In Egyptian legends, it is Maat who steps in after the universe is created, and brings harmony amidst the chaos and disorder.
•Osiris, King of Egyptian Gods
Osiris was the son of earth and sky, and beloved of Isis. He is known as the god who taught mankind the secrets of civilization. Today, he is honored by some Pagans as a god of the underworld and of the harvest.
•Ra, the Sun God
Ra was the ruler of the heavens. He was the god of the sun, the bringer of light, and patron to the pharaohs. According to legend, the sun travels the skies as Ra drives his chariot through the heavens. Although he originally was associated only with the midday sun, as time went by, Ra became connected to the sun’s presence all day long.
•Taweret, Guardian of Fertility
Taweret was an Egyptian goddess of childbirth and fertility – but for a while, she was considered a demon. Associated with the hippopotomus, Taweret is a goddess who watches over and protects women in labor and their new babies.
•Thoth, God of Magic and Wisdom
Thoth was an Egyptian god who spoke as the tongue of Ra. Find out what’s special about this ibis-headed deity of ancient Egypt, and how he factors in to the story of Isis and Osiris.