Ancient egypt mythology

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November 2011
Ancient Egypt Mythology
Myths of a certain culture are attempts by people to explain the world or environment
in which they live in. Each culture has its own myths which are considered as universal truths
by the communities. They try to explain their origin and how they came to be. Mythology
refers to a group of myths which form a mythological system. Ancient Egyptian mythology
refers to a collection of myths which were used by the avital Egyptians. More specifically,
Egyptian religious beliefs were a dominating factor in the development of their culture. Their
faith was grounded on a collection of olden myths. These myths unraveled the process of
Earth creation and also formed the basis of antique religious activities.
The Creation Myth. According to the Egyptian account of creation, the only thing that
primarily existed was an ocean. It was called Nun. Then the sun, Ra, was formed from an egg
(some versions say from a flower). Ra was powerful, and he could take many forms. Ra
commanded the sun to rise, pass across the sky and set in the evening. Then Ra named Shu
and the first winds blew. Next he named Tefnut and the first rains fell. He later named Geb
and the Earth came into existence. He then named the goddess Nut and the sky domed over
the Earth. He then named Hapi and the great River Nile flowed through Egypt making it
fruitful. This was a very important river in ancient Egypt as it is today. Ra then named all
things that are on Earth, and they all came into being. Last of all, he named mankind, and
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Egypt was filled with men and women. Ra became the first Pharaoh of Egypt and was
worshiped by all the people in the Earth. Geb and Nut gave birth to four children two sons,
Set and Osiris and two daughters, Isis and Nephthys. Osiris later came to succeed Ra as the
king of the Earth. Seth hated him and killed him. Isis then preserved Seth’s body with the
help of Anubis, who later became the god of the dead. Isis had very powerful charms. She
resurrected Osiris, who became the king of the land of the dead. Horus, son of Osiris and Isis,
later defeated Seth and became the king of the earth (Pinch, 51-53).
A group of nine divinities arises from this myth. They formed the Ennead, which was
made up of a Triad. The triad consisted of the father, mother and son. Each confined temple
in Egypt had its own Ennead and Triad. The greatest Ennead narrated about Ra and his
children. This group was worshiped at a mighty temple in Heliopolis, the center of sun
veneration. Apart from these gods, there were others, whose origin is unclear. Some were
even taken from foreign religions. They were the gods Amon, Thoth, Ptah, Khnemu, Hapi,
and goddesses Hathor, Mut, Neit and Sekhet. These gods were worshiped depending on the
beliefs of the reigning pharaoh. For example, the Ennead of Memphis was led by a Triad
made up of father Ptah, mother Sekhet and son Imhotep. In this era, Ptah became one of the
greatest gods in Egypt. This myth explains the formation of Earth and the Egyptian people.
The Destruction of Humankind Myth. This myth elucidates the commencement of death along
with its reasons. During the time when Ra was king of the Earth, he started to grow old.
Humans began mocking at him and stopped following his rules. They started to plan against
him, saying he was too weak to rule over them. Finding it out, Ra called secretly all the gods
and told them about the malevolent plot made by humans. They all agreed to send the eye of
Ra, Hathor, to take revenge on the Earth. Hathor turned on her rage and prevented humans
from the realization of their wicked plan slaying them and drinking their blood. She came
back to report to Ra how she had demolished humankind. This continued until Ra began to
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fear that all humankind would be wiped out. He devised a plan to stop the goddess. He
ordered his servants to mix beer with a great amount of red mineral. This mixture was poured
where the goddess was about to continue destroying mankind the following day. When she
arrived, she thought it was blood and thus drank it. The beer took its toll and that day she
returned without killing anyone. Ra then bestowed upon her the nature of love and strength of
desire. Since then, the people celebrated each New Year in her remembrance drinking beer
colored with the red mineral (Pinch, 167). That is how mankind was saved. We learn from
this myth, it is very important for men to honor their creator. No matter the circumstances the
creator may be in, respect should be given to him. His laws should be followed to avoid his
wrath, which may be very disastrous.
The Burying Ritual. Burying the dead in ancient Egypt was a religious concern. They
believed that the energetic life force was composed of numerous elements, the main one
being ka, a duplicate of the body. The ka accompanied the body through life and after death.
However, the ka could only exist together with the body, hence Egyptians made efforts to
preserve it. The ka was judged by Osiris after arriving in the kingdom of the dead. If it turned
out to be a sinner, the ka was condemned to hunger or death, but if it was found to be of
proper conduct, it was sent to the heavenly realm where existence was a glorified version of
This myth explains the way the ancient Egyptians respected life. They always ensured
that they gave the dead a proper sending to prepare them for life to come after death.
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Myths elucidate the lifestyle of a community. The myths discussed above try to
explain the way the Egyptians used to be, their practices and ways of worship. They also
show what this ancient nation believed in. Mythology tries to explain the main reasons of
certain behavior, principles and customs in the Egyptian society. This is similar to other
myths. They all try to explain the creation of Earth and human beings and the particularity of
old tradition.
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Works Cited
Pinch, Geraldine. Handbook of Egyptian Mythology. Santa Barbara, Calif: ABC-CLIO,
2002. Print. Pp 26 183.

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