Egyptian Ancient Religion Essay

Religion is defined by many people as a belief in a “greater power” as well as personal morals. Most religions usually include a system of values as well as various practices. Egyptian religion included their ancient gods, the mythology of the gods, and other parts of their religion. For example their religion explained and included creation, death and the afterlife, and the cults that worshiped the gods. In Egypt, the king or pharaoh played a very important part in their religion and what the gods expected of the people also.

Egyptian religion consisted of many myths and rituals too. Religion was a very influential part of Ancient Egyptian culture and shaped their ancient civilization of the Nile greatly. Like most other cultures, the ancient Egyptians wanted to find the meaning for their existence, but there were also other influences on their religion, such as the need to justify kingship, along with many others. Egyptians have numerous Gods in there culture and they feel that the Gods walk among them, invisibly on Earth.

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Ra is the most central God of the Egyptian gods. Known as the sun god, Ra was the most important element of life in ancient Egypt and represented light, warmth, and growth. Ra embodies the Egyptian beliefs of order and truth, and he signifies the cycle of birth, life and death. Of all the ancient Egyptian Gods Anubis is frequently the one referred to as the gatekeeper of the underworld and god of death. The Egyptian goddess Isis was worshiped throughout Egypt. Isis was considered to the patron saint of women, mothers and children.

Horus was always associated with the same symbol; that of the falcon. In almost all types, Horus was known as the patron saint of the existing pharaoh. The pharaoh was often referred to as the ‘Living Horus’. Seth, god of chaos, is associated with thunder, the desert and infertility. Due to Egyptians having so many gods, they also had many myths. Some of them, such as those surrounding Ra, Horus and Seth became central to the Egyptian religion, most likely because of their connection to Kingship.

However, other myths involving Hathor as a healer, for example, were very important to more common Egyptians, as were myths concerning Bes, a goddess of childbirth and the home. There were many other myths, sometimes connected and overlapping with others, that explained creation, dealt with the afterlife, and even the end of times. Ma’at was different than the gods but also a very important factor in their religion. As a symbol of truth, balance and order, an individual could violate Ma’at by their actions, as well as the nation as a whole.

The King represented Egypt before the gods, and in making offerings to the gods he attempted to secure order and peace, or Ma’at. The king was the single link between the divine and the profane, as well as the representative of the gods on Earth. The king was always responsible for maintaining Ma’at on behalf of the country, usually by maintaining and supporting the cult centers, fending off foreign powers and by maintaining the system of values. The ancient Egyptians believed that failure to maintain Ma’at as a country could cause divine intervention.

A major example of this intervention would be that the Egyptian gods provided only low Nile floods, which would lead to famine, enemy invasions or even complete disorder in the country. Cults were used to worship the Egyptian gods. In ancient Egypt it included the priests who carried out rituals for the gods, and the center of the Egyptian cult was the temple. Inside the sanctuary of the temple was the cult statue, which was the god worshiped in that cult center. Cult rituals were really based on the gods talking to one another, which included the king. The king acted in the divine performance as a god.

Rituals for worshiping the gods were also a large part of ancient Egyptians lives. Centered on offerings, it included many daily functions, such as washing and clothing the gods, or at least the statue of the gods. Other rituals where during celebrations, and it was during these festivals that common Egyptians probably came closest to their gods, because at other times they couldn’t enter the sanctuaries that housed the cult statues. In Ancient Egypt the cult and the benefits of religion and the god’s which it served were limited to the king for the most part.

Common Egyptians could only hope that the king took his religious duties seriously. If they didn’t then they might expect to go through famine, disasters, and having little chance of an afterlife. There was no written book or source that stated the religious beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. This could have been because the beliefs were different from region to region, and the mythology evolved over time. This really influenced the king’s power over the people. Due to the fact that they didn’t have the knowledge, they couldn’t decide for themselves on what to believe or follow.

Commoners had to rely solely on the pharaohs to lead and direct them in not only religious matters, but life matters as well. The daily life of people of ancient Egypt revolved a lot around the various gods and goddesses who ruled Egyptian mythology. It was quite acceptable to worship more than one god and most towns and villages throughout Egypt did so, although a city would normally claim a patron god. Due to the Egyptians major reliance on gods and kings for daily life needs, as well as eternal life requirements, the pharaohs ruled with little revolt. Temples were built and scattered throughout Egypt, showing a religion that involved a lot of rites, rituals and practices, as well as a religion with a lot of power over its followers.

References:

http://www. ancient-egypt-online. com/ancient-egyptian-gods. html 2008 Attic designs An Overview of the ancient Egyptian religion http://www. ancientegypt. co. uk/god/explore/main. html August 21, 2011 the British Museum Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt http://www. touregypt. net/godsofegyp. html 2011 Tour Egypt Gods of Egypt What Ancient Egypt