ANCIENT EGYPTIAN RELIGION, GODS, MYTHS AND SUPERSTITIONS

ANCIENT EGYPTIAN RELIGION

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Orisis
The ancient Egyptians were an immensely religious people. It has been argued that religion drove them to achieve what they did. The ancient Egyptian religion is difficult to understand. It is full of contradictions, strange unfathomable rituals and complex texts.

Egyptian religion and the worship of Isis, the god of the afterlife, continued until at least the sixth century A.D.

Books: The Ancient Egyptians: Religious Beliefs and Practices by Rosalie David; Gods and Men in Egypt: 3000 BCE to 395 CE by F. Dunand & C. Zivie-Coche and translated by David Lorton.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

The Egyptians had over 2,000 gods. There were supreme gods, subsidiary ones. There were gods with specific duties, gods associated with specific tasks, gods worshiped in certain areas, gods enshrined in homes and gods associated with natural manifestations such as water and air. Many had totemist and animal elements. Grasping the pantheon of Egyptian gods and their symbols is a difficult task. Gods can be local or universal. Favored gods and their symbols often changed from year to year and region to region.

The gods were ordered in a hierarchy. As was true in Mesopotamia local gods also had following in other towns and cities. Most important gods began as local deities and attracted more followers as the influence of their hometowns rose. When a region was conquered, its local gods were often assimilated into the Egyptian cosmological scheme.

The Egyptians believed that gods controlled every aspect of their lives and temples were built to honor them. Gods could be both benevolent and malevolent, good and evil, at the same time. Gods are often pictured holding an ankh and a wassat (a staff)--- signifying power. Egyptians believed that gods could die and be reborn. There were even god cemeteries.

There were a number of local Nile gods, including Hapy, the God of the Nile. Sebek (Sobek) was a local crocodile god popular in southern Egypt. He was honored as a god of fertility because the Nile floods brought fertile soil to the farmlands. Live crocodiles were kept at temples honoring Sobek and priests there may have bred crocodiles for ritual use.

Egyptian goddesses were sometimes pictured topless with a red dress. Goddesses are often distinguished from one another by their headdresses and jewelry around their neck.

The ancient Egyptians practiced polytheism: the worship of many gods. Polytheists have traditionally been looked down upon by practitioners of the great monotheistic religion which worship only a single god---Judaism, Christianity, Islam---as primitive and barbaric pagans. But who knows maybe they had it right. Mary Leftowitz, a classics professor at Wellesley College, argues that a lot of world’s troubles today can be blamed in monotheism. In the Los Angeles Times she wrote, Polytheists “didn’t advocate killing those who worshiped a different gods, and they did not pretend that their religion provided all the right answers.

Book: The Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt by Richard Wilkinson.

Ancient Egyptian Gods and Animals

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cat mummies
While the pharaohs were described as “half man and half god” the gods were described as “half man and half animal.” Many were depicted with human bodies and animal heads. There were animal cults that venerated bulls and crocodiles.

Some gods were defied animals. Characteristics of gods often matched the characteristics of the animals they were associated with. Storks were connected with soul perhaps because dwelt in the sky. Serpents were associated with deceit. The Hippopotamus god was associated with fertility and safe childbirth.

Sekhmet was the lion goddess—“the one who is powerful”---the embodiment of the fiery eye of the sun god Ra. Bes was a goddess who was part dwarf and part lion. She guarded pregnant women and newborn children. Bastet, the cat goddess, was associated with pleasure and was a favorite god who was honored with festivals.

Live animals were often kept in temples. One temple in Saqqara had 60,000 ibises. Symbols of the god Troth, ibises were mummified in greater numbers than any other animal. When these animals died they were mummified, and given funerals, sometimes with elaborate processions. In some cases, animals mummies were placed inside statues of the gods they were connected with.

Sacred Animals in Ancient Egypt

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Sobek at Kom Ombo
Animals were important in the religious life of ancient Egyptians in both their deified forms as half-animal Egyptian gods and as the animals themselves. A.R. Williams wrote National Geographic, “Different sacred animals were worshipped at their own cult centers---bulls at Armant and Heliopolis, fish at Esna, rams at Elephantine Island, crocodiles at Kom Ombo. Ikram believes the idea of such divine creatures was born ast the dawn of Egyptian civilization, a time when heavier rainfall than today made the land green and bountiful. Surrounded by animals, people began to connect them with specific gods according to their habits.” [Source: A.R. Williams, National Geographic, November 2009]

“Take crocodiles. They instinctively laid their eggs above the impending high-water line of the Nile’s annual flood, the pivotal event being that water enriched fields and allowed Egypt to be born again year after year.” Ikram said, “Crocodiles were magical because they had that ability to foretell.” [Ibid]

“The news of a good flood, or a bad one, was important to farmers. And so in time crocodiles became symbols of Sobek, a water god of fertility, and a temple arose at Kom Ombo, one of the places in southern Egypt where the swelling flood was first observed every year. In that sacred space, near the riverbank where wild crocodiles lay sunning themselves, captive crocodiles led an indulged life and were buried with due ceremony after death.” [Ibid]

“Some places were associated with just one god and its symbolic animal, but old venerated sites such as Abydos have yielded whole menageries of votive mummies, each species a link to a particular god...Excavations have uncovered ibis mummies likely representing Thoth, the god of wisdom and writing. Falcons likely evoked the sky-god Horus...And dogs had ties with jackal-headed Anubis, the guardian of the dead.” [Ibid]

Ra, Shu, Nut and Geb

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Nut and Geb
The ancient Egyptian sun god was called Ra (Re). According to ancient Egyptian creation myth, before the world emerged from the waters of chaos Ra appeared. He was so powerful that all he had to do was say the name of something and it came into being. "I am Khepera at the dawn, and Ra at noon and Tum in the evening," he declared and the first day was created. When he cried "Nut" the goddess of the sky took her place between the horizons. And when he the shouted "Hapi" the sacred river Nile began flowing through Egypt. After filling the world with beautiful things Ra said the words "man" and "women" and thus people were created. Ra then transformed himself into man, thus becoming the first pharaoh. [Source: Roger Lancelyn Green, Tales of Ancient Egypt]

The ancient Egyptians believed the sun was a god (Ra) who visited the underworld, a watery realm of the demons of the dead, where he battled with the serpent of chaos, and victoriously returned to the day each morning. They believed the Sun-god Ra rode across the sky from east to west in a “day boat” and changed to a “night boat” for the return trip through the underworld. He rose in the jaws of a lion in the East and set in the jaws of a lion in the West and was guided at night through the waters of chaos. The myths about Ra, it has been argued, made sense to the ancient Egyptians because they did not contradict what they saw with the naked eye.

Shu was the god of air. Shu separated space into Geb (earth) and Nut (sky). Osiris, Isis, Seth and Nephyhys were all offspring of Geb and Nut.

Nut was the sky-goddess. She was the great mother who held up the canopy of the sky. From her breast poured the Milky Way. In one tomb painting she is shown with her legs spread and her lover Geb, with an erect penis, reaching for her. Pharaohs often claimed to be the offspring of Nut and Geb, or as Pepi II put it from "between the thighs of Nut."

Geb was the Earth god. He is sometimes depicted with an erect penis and was sometimes represented by a crocodile.

Osiris, Seth and Isis

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Seth
Osiris is the God of the Dead and the Afterlife. He was Judge of the Divine Court and presided over the judgement of the dead. He was the first mummy and one of the most revered and powerful deities. He is often depicted with a tall conehead-like headdress and a crook in one hand and a flail in the other. These object are often pictured on images of pharaohs to represent their divine power. Isis was Osiris’s wife. Seth was his evil brother.

Osiris was a human who died and was resurrected as a god. He acted sort of like an Egyptian Jesus, giving humans the hope of an afterlife. Many Christian rituals---crucifixes, rosaries, communion and holy water---can be traced back to the Egyptian Osiris cult.

Isis is the Goddess of Maternity and Magic. The wife and sister of Osiris, she is often topless and dressed in a red dress. She was originally a local god in northern Egypt. According to legend Osiris was originally a local fertility god in southern Egypt. He was slain by his evil brother Seth and had his body parts scattered all over the world. Isis collected the pieces and wrapped them in a magical cloth woven from her hair by the embalming god Anubis, allowing Osiris to be reborn as the god of the dead. In one version of the story his body was torn into 14 pieces and all of them were found except one piece---Osiris’s penis. Mummification is viewed as reenactment of the events of Osiris’s death.

Also See Pyramid Texts, Funerals, Judgement.

Hathor, Horus, Min and Thoth

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Horus
Hathor was Queen of the Skies and the Goddess of Love, Joy, Music, Beauty Healing, Fertility and Motherhood. She is the wife of Horus and is often depicted with the head or ears of a cow (sometimes called "star studded cow"). She is sometimes linked to drunkenness and is often associated with the Thebean Necropolis. She looks very similar to Isis. See Apophis, Sekmet, Hathor and Good and Evil

Dendara (near Cairo) is the home of the Temple of Hathor, dedicated to the cow-headed goddess of healing. One of the best preserved temples in Egypt, it was built in the first century B.C. by the Ptolemaic Greeks and is famous for a ceiling painting, with astronomical symbols, and its great Hypostyle Hall. It even has a roof. The temple incorporates both Greek and Egyptian architectural styles. The 24 massive papyrus pillars in the main hall are capped with images of Hathor and decorated with hieroglyphics and Egyptian symbols. The stone ceiling features an Egyptian version of the star-lit sky, with goddess Nut, who, Egyptians believed, spanned the sky with her body and swallowed the sun each night and gave birth to it each morning. One of one of the walls is a famous picture of Cleopatra and Caesarian, her son from Julius Caesar.

Horus was the falcon-headed sky god. He is the son of Osiris and Isis. Isis gave birth to Horus after Osiris was murdered and hid him from his wicked uncle Seth by concealing him under her magic hair. Horus was king of the living. He is often identified with protection and associated with pharaohs.

Thoth is the ibis-headed god of wisdom, knowledge, learning, writing, measurement, historical records, science, magic and scribes. He had a good memory and was involved in the after-life ceremony of the dead in which the heart was weighed against the feather of truth. Thoth is the lord of the moon and is sometimes represented as a baboon. Temples devoted to Thoth were often filled with caged ibises and other birds that were mummified after death.

Min, the god of sexual fertility, appeared in both human form and as an erect phallus. It was no surprise that he was worshiped by a fetish cult similar to the one that honored Dionysus (Bacchus) in Greece.

Anubis and Other Gods Associated with the Dead

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Anubis
Anubis was the jackal-headed god of the dead, and mummification. Even though jackals were dreaded because they dug up the graves of the dead, Anubis was watchful-guardian deity who watched over the dead. See Funerals, Judgement.

Maate is the winged Goddess of Justice. She is often represented with her wings spread on lintels over doorways in the tombs of pharaohs and their wives in the Valley of the Kings and the Valley of the Queens.

Isis, Nephthys, Neith and Selket were the four female benefactors of the dead. The four sons of Horus---Imsety, Hapy, Qebhsenuef and Duamutef---guarded the shrines of internal organs among other duties.

The goddess Selket, who guarded the shrines of internal organs, was so powerful she could cure the sting of the scorpion. She is often depicted with a scorpion on her head. The artisan-god Khnum is credited with creating human beings on his potter's wheel. Kheperi was the God of the Rising Sun and Resurrection. Montu was the God of War.

Atum, Mut, Amun and the Thebean Triad

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Amun
As Thebes became powerful in the Middle Kingdom the influence of its local gods grew. Its primary god Amun became a dominant god in all of Egypt, with connections to the sun god Ra and the pharaoh. The word "amen" is said to have originated in ancient Egypt as a tribute to Amun. When the Egyptians prayed they said "By Amun!," a custom that was picked up by the Hebrews and later passed on to the Christians.

Amun was originally a local god of fertility and growth. Amun-Re (a combination of Amun and the sun god Re) became the state god during the New Kingdom. Mut was the wife of Amun. Mut (which means "vulture") is symbolically portrayed in the form of a vulture. Khonsu was the son of Amun and Mut. Amun, Mut and Khonsu are referred to as the Thebean triad.

Atum (Atem) was a supreme god with connections to the creator god and "the god of the visible disc of the sun." He had his own city within which a temple was dedicated to him. Atum had some similarities with Amun. A descendent of the sun-god Ra, Atum emerged from a chaotic ocean known as Nun and immaculately conceived and gave birth to Shu (air) and Tefenet (moisture).

The Pyramid Texts provide three possibilities for how this was achieved. In one passage Atum's hand is referred to as a goddess (some say this implies masturbation). In another passage in another text he describes himself as hermaphrodite ("I am he who engendered Shu: I am he-she”). And in yet in another passage he vomits as the two gods.

Pharaohs and the Gods

The pharaohs were considered to be gods---incarnations of falcon-head Horus, children of the sun god Re. They were descendants of the Amun, regarded as the first Egyptian king, who in turn descended from the sun-god Ra and the falcon god of kingship Horus. Egyptians believed they were given their authority to rule when the world was created.

Referred to as the "lord of all the sun disk encircles," the Pharaoh was believed to be one with the universe and the gods and was regarded as an intermediary between the gods and people on earth. Through them the life force was conveyed from the gods to the people.

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Amenhotep I

A Pharaoh’s coronation was viewed not as "the making of a god but the revealing of a god." According to the ancient Egyptians, the pharaohs were the link between heaven and the earth and their breath kept the two worlds separate.♣

Egyptian Creation Myth, the Sun and Their Concept of the Universe

According to ancient Egyptian creation myth, before the world emerged from the waters of chaos the Sun god Ra appeared. He was so powerful that all he had to do was say the name of something and it came into being. "I am Khepera at the dawn, and Ra at noon and Tum in the evening," he declared and the first day was created. When he cried "Nut" the goddess of the sky took her place between the horizons. And when he the shouted "Hapi" the sacred river Nile began flowing through Egypt. After filling the world with beautiful things Ra said the words "man" and "women" and thus people were created. Ra then transformed himself into man, thus becoming the first pharaoh. [Source: Roger Lancelyn Green, Tales of Ancient Egypt]

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Raising of the Sun
As recorded in colorful paintings in the tombs of the pharaohs, the Egyptians believed that the cosmos consisted of a dome of heaven supported by the god of Air. According to Egyptian mythology, the Nile divided the world in two. The sky was supported on four poles or mountain ranges. The sun was pushed above the horizon by a hawk and then pushed across the sky by a scarab beetle the same way it rolls its dung. Later the Egyptians believed their sun God carried the sun in his chariot, a chore also performed by the Greek god Apollo.

The ancient Egyptian believed the earth emerged from the sea of chaos and was like an egg guarded at night by the moon which were described as being "a great white bird...like a goose brooding over her egg." The concept of the Earth and eggs rising out of the sea is thought to have developed from the observation of fertile silted mounds emerging from the Nile when the flood waters receded.

The ancient Egyptians believed the sun was a god (Ra) who visited the underworld, a watery realm of the demons of the dead, where he battled with the serpent of chaos, and victoriously returned to the day each morning. They believed the Sun-god Ra rode across the sky from east to west in a “day boat” and changed to a “night boat” for the return trip through the underworld. He rose in the jaws of a lion in the East and set in the jaws of a lion in the West and was guided at night through the waters of chaos. The myths about Ra, it has been argued, made sense to the ancient Egyptians because they did not contradict what they saw with the naked eye.

Apophis, Sekmet, Hathor and Good and Evil in the Egyptian Creation Myth

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Hathor
Later Apophis (the Dragon of Evil) entered the souls of the people of Egypt and many of them began rebelling against Ra. Ra then called a meeting of all the gods and asked for their advise. He wanted to kill all the people of Egypt with a "burning glance" from his eye but Nun, the god of water and the oldest of all the gods, told Ra, "If you send forth the burning glance of your Eye to slay mankind, it will turn all the land of Egypt to desert. Therefore make a power that will harm men and women only; send out that which will burn the evil but not harm the good." Thus Ra created Sekhmet, a giant lioness with an insatiable appetite.

Sekhmet stalked her prey at night and hid in the rocks during the day. Finally after Sekhmet killed thousands of people, Ra decided enough was enough and ordered the people of Elephantine Island near the First Cataract to bring him some ocher. He then ordered all the sun temple priests and members of his court to command their subjects to crush barley, make beer and mix it with the ocher. Ra then ordered the people to hide. When Sekhmet came out at night she couldn't find any people. She saw the red beer. Thinking it was the blood of people that she had previously killed she drank greedily and eventually became so drunk she could not hunt or kill.

An entire night passed without a single death. The next morning Ra said to the lioness: "You come in peace, sweet one, peace be with you and a new name. No longer are you Sekhmet the Slayer: you are Hathor, the Lady of Love. Yet your Power over Man will be even greater than it was---for the passion of love shall be stronger than the passion of hate, and all shall know love, and all shall be your victims."

Ancient Egyptian Religious Symbols


Ankh mirror from
Tutanchamun'sTomb
The Ankh is the symbol of life. Worn only by pharaohs and gods, it indicates that the wearer has the power to give and take away life. Obelisks, cobras and discs are all symbols of the sun. The cobra and vulture symbolize the Upper and Lower kingdoms of Egypt.

The prevailing eyes (the holy symbol of the ancient Egyptian religion) represent the eyes of Horus and symbolize the sun and the moon and represent good health. According to legend, Horus lost the eye in a fight with Seth and had his eye restored by the goddess Hathor. It is a common motif in Egyptian art and often appears on amulets and tomb paintings.

Hieroglyphic texts are filled with titles and names. For example a walking duck followed by a circle with a bull’s eye means "son of [the sun god] Ra." This combination of symbols often preceded the name a pharaoh. Various combinations of symbols can represent objects, pronouns, possessive pronouns and question words. Some hieroglyphic letters serve as prepositions: The owl can represent "of" or "with"; the water line can represent "to" or "for." Other hieroglyphic letters can represent personal pronouns. A horned snake can be "he," "him," "his" and "it" and a basket with a handle can represent "you."

Scarabs

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scarab
The black scarab beetle was revered as a symbol of the sun god and rebirth. They were believed to be the source of the power that makes the sun move across the sky and were connected with Kheperi, the god of the rising sun an resurrection.

Scarabs were buried with mummies. Small statuettes of scarabs were carved from valuable stones. The Egyptians worshiped scarabs as symbols of immortality because they entered the ground and later emerged again as if resurrected.

Scarab beetles are dung beetles. They feed on recycling plant matter and feces. Some have brilliant iridescent colors. African scarab beetles roll animal dung into balls, which are buried and eaten by beetle larvae. Their association with power and energy is believed to be tied to their energetic rolling of dung. Their connection with rebirth is tied to fact the bugs lay their eggs in dung, and are thus reborn from waste.

Dung beetles work by themselves or in pairs to build perfect balls of dung larger than themselves and then stand on their front legs and push and roll the balls of dung backwards with their back legs and then bury it. The dung beetle selects the least fibrous bits of dung for its ball. They bury tons of material a year, fertilizing the soil by entrapping nitrogen underground where I can be utilized by plants.

Dung beetles are thought to have got their start by feeding on dinosaur dung before moving on to mammals. Today they occupy an important environmental niche, moving dung underground, where it can be used as fertilizer for plants and can sprout seeds rather than staying aboveground where it can attract flies, diseases, beastly smells or be washed away and fowl waterways.

Some species cut out pieces of dung and roll it away for private consumption. Others dig under a deposit and draw it into their tunnels. The tunneling species have evolved horns which the use to protect their tunnels from other males.

Dung beetles bury the dung to keep it away from competitors and provide a safe place for their offspring to grow up. Females lay their eggs in the dung and the larvae fed on the dung until they develop into beetles.

The beetles do their work mostly at night When a ball is complete, a beetles moves it as quickly as it can to a shelter so the ball is not stolen by another beetle. Studies have shown that dung beetles are able to strike out in a direct line to their shelter when the moon is full but have difficulty finding the way on moonless nights. Further studies shows the beetles oriented themselves not to the moon itself but used moonlight to navigate their way.

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scarab with wings

Ancient Egyptian Superstitions

The superstition that spilling salt is bad luck and the custom of throwing salt could cancel bad luck was practiced by the ancient Sumerians, Egyptians, Assyrians and later the Romans and Greeks. It is believed to have been practiced since 3500 B.C.

Walking under a ladder is superstition that has been dated to 3000 B.C. in Egypt. Ladders were considered good luck but a leaning ladder formed a pyramid-like triangle that was considered to be the sacred realm of the gods and was sacrilegious for commoners to enter.

Fear of the "evil eye" is a superstition found in many cultures and is quite common in the Mediterranean. Egyptians wore kohl, the world's first mascara, in a circle or oval around their eyes, in part to ward off the evil eye.

The act of writing was believed to have magical powers and hieroglyphic were thought to possess the power of the object that they represented. Positive images were thought to bring positive rewards. Negative images such as scorpions were often intentionally left unfinished in tombs so their negative power would not affect the dead in their journey to the afterlife.

Book: Magic in Ancient Egypt by Geraldine Pinch, a professor of Egyptology at Cambridge University.

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sacred knots

Ancient Egyptian Amulets

Amulets were carried by the living and wrapped with mummies. The mummy of King Tut had 143 of them. Their primary purpose was to attract “sympathetic magic” that would protect the wearer from misfortune and maybe bring some good luck. Amulets were inserted in different stages of the embalming process, each with special spells and incantations to go along with it. Some bore inscriptions and were made of materials, such as gold, faience (a blue stone), lapis lazuli, carnelian, green feldspar, and green jasper.

Amulets with protective cobras, ba (winged symbols of the soul), re (sun disk), ankhs, and scarabs were popular. There were amulets for limbs, organs and other body parts and ones derived from the hieroglyphics for “good.” “truth.” and “eternity.” Hearts, hands and feet were often found on mummies in places where the real body parts were normally found, the idea being that they could be offered as substitutes if the real ones were coveted by demons.

There were amulets for at least 50 principal gods and a countless number of local ones. These amulets took the form of the gods themselves or their symbols. Popular ones included Anabus (a jackal), Horus (a falcon), Thoth (an ibis) and Hathor, the Egyptian goddess of love and fertility. The old amulets were found in simple burials dating to 3100 B.C.

The amulet symbolizing udjat (health)---the eye of Horus---connected the wearer with the god Horus, who lost his eye in a cosmic battle with the god Seth and later had the eye restored. The udjat is regarded as one of the most powerful of all amulets, preserving the wearer and making him strong in the afterlife. Tyet amulets of Isis are red in color, symbolizing her blood. They also brought strength and good health to the wearer.

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Book of the Dead spell

Ancient Egyptian Curses

The ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, Romans, Persians, Jews, Christians, Gauls and Britons all dispensed curse tablets to placate "unquiet" graves and call up the spirits of the underworld to make trouble.

One Egyptian curse outside a tomb read: "Listen to you! The priest of Hathor will beat twice any one of you who enters this tomb or does harm to it. The gods will confront him because I am honored by his Lord. The gods will not allow anyone bad to enter my tomb, [the] crocodile, [the] hippopotamus, and the lion will eat him.

A curse found in a tomb near the pyramids read: “As for any person, male or female, who shall do evil against this tomb and shall enter therein, the crocodile shall be against him upon water, the hippopotamus shall be again him in the water, and scorpion shall be against him on the land.”

Book: Curse Tablets and Binding Spells from the Ancient World by John Gager, professor or religion at Princeton (Oxford University Press, 1998)

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Calendar Senenmut

Ancient Egyptian Astrology

The Egyptians refined the Babylonian system of astrology and the Greeks shaped it into its modern form. Astrology as we know it originated in Babylon. It developed out of the belief that since the Gods in the heavens ruled man's fate, the stars could reveal fortunes and the notion that the motions of the stars and planets control the fate of people on earth. The motions of the stars and planets are mainly the result of the earth’s movement around the sun, which causes: 1) the sun to move eastward against the background of the constellations; 2) the planets and moon to shift around the sky; and 3) causes different constellations to rise from the horizon at sunset different times of the year.

In ancient times astrology and astronomy were the same thing. The Babylonians were the first people to apply myths to constellations and astrology and describe the 12 signs of the zodiac. The Greeks and Romans borrowed some of their myths from the Babylonians and invented their own. The word astrology (and astronomy) are derived from the Greek word for "star."

The names and shapes of many the constellations are believed to date to Sumerian times because the animals and figures chosen held a prominent place in their lives. It is thought that if the constellations originated with the the Egyptians were would ibises, jackals, crocodiles and hippos---animals in their environment---rather than goats and bulls. If they came from India why isn’t there a tiger or a monkey. To the Assyrians the constellation Capricorn was munaxa (the goat fish).

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14 Gods on the Hunefer papyrus (upper row)

The Greeks added names of heroes to the constellations. The Romans took these and gave them the Latin names we use today. Ptolemy listed 48 constellations. His list included ones in the southern hemisphere, which he and the Mesopotamians, Egyptians, Greeks and Romans couldn’t see.

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons, The Louvre, The British Museum, The Egyptian Museum in Cairo

Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Yomiuri Shimbun, The Guardian, National Geographic, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, Lonely Planet Guides, Compton’s Encyclopedia and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated January 2012

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