Maat or Ma'at refers to the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, order, law and justice. Maat was the goddess who personified these concepts, regulated the stars and the actions of mortals and the deities who had brought order from chaos at the moment of creation, her ideological opposite was Isfet, meaning injustice, violence or to do evil. Cuneiform texts indicate that the word m3ˤt was pronounced /múʔʕa/ during the New Kingdom of Egypt, having lost the feminine ending t. Sound shifts from u to e produced the cognate Coptic word ⲙⲉⲉ/ⲙⲉ "truth, justice"; the earliest surviving records indicating that Maat is the norm for nature and society, in this world and the next, were recorded during the Old Kingdom of Egypt, the earliest substantial surviving examples being found in the Pyramid Texts of Unas. When most goddesses were paired with a male aspect, her masculine counterpart was Thoth, as their attributes are similar. In other accounts, Thoth was paired off with Seshat, goddess of writing and measure, a lesser-known deity.
After her role in creation and continuously preventing the universe from returning to chaos, her primary role in ancient Egyptian religion dealt with the Weighing of the Heart that took place in the Duat. Her feather was the measure that determined whether the souls of the departed would reach the paradise of the afterlife successfully. Pharaohs are depicted with the emblems of Maat to emphasise their role in upholding the laws and righteousness. Maat represents the ethical and moral principle that every Egyptian citizen was expected to follow throughout their daily lives, they were expected to act with honor and truth in manners that involve family, the community, the nation, the environment, the gods. Maat as a principle was formed to meet the complex needs of the emergent Egyptian state that embraced diverse peoples with conflicting interests; the development of such rules sought to avert chaos and it became the basis of Egyptian law. From an early period the King would describe himself as the "Lord of Maat" who decreed with his mouth the Maat he conceived in his heart.
The significance of Maat developed to the point that it embraced all aspects of existence, including the basic equilibrium of the universe, the relationship between constituent parts, the cycle of the seasons, heavenly movements, religious observations and fair dealings and truthfulness in social interactions. The ancient Egyptians had a deep conviction of an underlying holiness and unity within the universe. Cosmic harmony was achieved by correct ritual life. Any disturbance in cosmic harmony could have consequences for the individual as well as the state. An impious King could bring about famine, blasphemy could bring blindness to an individual. In opposition to the right order expressed in the concept of Maat is the concept of Isfet: chaos and violence. In addition to the importance of the Maat, several other principles within ancient Egyptian law were essential, including an adherence to tradition as opposed to change, the importance of rhetorical skill, the significance of achieving impartiality and "righteous action".
In one Middle Kingdom text the Creator declares "I made every man like his fellow". Maat called the rich to help the less fortunate rather than exploit them, echoed in tomb declarations: "I have given bread to the hungry and clothed the naked" and "I was a husband to the widow and father to the orphan". To the Egyptian mind, Maat bound all things together in an indestructible unity: the universe, the natural world, the state, the individual were all seen as parts of the wider order generated by Maat. A passage in the Instruction of Ptahhotep presents Ma'at as follows: Ma'at is good and its worth is lasting, it has not been disturbed since the day of its creator, whereas he who transgresses its ordinances is punished. It lies as a path in front of him who knows nothing. Wrongdoing has never yet brought its venture to port, it is true that evil may gain wealth but the strength of truth is that it lasts. There is little surviving literature. Maat was the spirit in which justice was applied rather than the detailed legalistic exposition of rules.
Maat represented the normal and basic values that formed the backdrop for the application of justice that had to be carried out in the spirit of truth and fairness. From the Fifth Dynasty onwards, the vizier responsible for justice was called the Priest of Maat and in periods judges wore images of Maat. Scholars and philosophers would embody concepts from the Sebayt, a native wisdom literature; these spiritual texts dealt with common social or professional situations and how each was best to be resolved or addressed in the spirit of Maat. It was practical advice, case-based, so few specific and general rules could be derived from them. During the Greek period in Egyptian history, Greek law existed alongside Egyptian law; the Egyptian law preserved the rights of women who were allowed to act independently of men and own substantial personal property and in time this influenced the more restrictive conventions of the Greeks and Romans. When the Romans took control of Egypt, the Roman legal system which existed throughout the Roman Empire was imposed in Egypt.
Scribes held prestigious positions in ancient Egyptian society in view of their importance in the transmission of religious and commercial information. Thoth was the patron of scribes, described as the one "who reveals Maat and reckons Maat.
Opening of the mouth ceremony
The opening of the mouth ceremony was an ancient Egyptian ritual described in funerary texts such as the Pyramid Texts. The ceremony involved a symbolic animation of a statue or mummy by magically opening its mouth so that it could breathe and speak. There is evidence of this ritual from the Old Kingdom to the Roman Period. Special tools were used to perform the ceremony, such as a ritual adze, an arm shaped ritual censer, a spooned blade known as a peseshkaf, a serpent-head blade, a variety of other amulets. A calf's leg was held up to the lips painted on the coffin; the ancient Egyptians believed that in order for a person's soul to survive in the afterlife it would need to have food and water. The opening of the mouth ritual was thus performed so that the person who died could eat and drink again in the afterlife; the ceremony involved up to 75 "episodes" and, in its most complete version, included the following stages: Episodes 1–9 Preliminary rites Episodes 10–22 Animation of the statue Episodes 23–42 Meat offerings aligned with upper Egypt Episodes 43–46 Meat offerings aligned with lower Egypt Episodes 47–71 Funerary meal Episodes 72–75 Closing ritesThe Book of the Dead contains a spell for this process, which the deceased may use on themselves: Translating as "opening of the mouth," the Egyptian terms for the ritual are wpt-r and um-r.
According to Ann Macy Roth, the verb wpi connotes an opening that splits, divides or separates: "it can be used, for example, to describe the separation of two combatants, the dividing of time, or an analysis or determination of the truth." Parallels between the Opening of the Mouth and Psalm 51 have been noted. The parallels include: Mentions of ritual washing with special herbs. Restoration of broken bones. "O Lord, open thou my lips". Sacrifices. Ancient Egyptian burial customs
Anat, classically Anath is a major northwest Semitic goddess. In the Ugaritic Baal Cycle, ‘Anat is a violent war-goddess, a maiden, the sister and, according to a much disputed theory, the lover of the great god Ba‘al Hadad. Ba‘al is called the son of Dagan and sometimes the son of El, who addresses ‘Anat as "daughter". Either relationship is figurative. ‘Anat's titles used again and again are "virgin ‘Anat" and "sister-in-law of the peoples". In a fragmentary passage from Ugarit, Syria ‘Anat appears as a fierce and furious warrior in a battle, wading knee-deep in blood, striking off heads, cutting off hands, binding the heads to her torso and the hands in her sash, driving out the old men and townsfolk with her arrows, her heart filled with joy. "Her character in this passage anticipates her subsequent warlike role against the enemies of Baal". ’Anat boasts that she has put an end to Yam the darling of El, to the seven-headed serpent, to Arsh the darling of the gods, to Atik'Quarrelsome' the calf of El, to Ishat'Fire' the bitch of the gods, to Zabib'flame?' the daughter of El.
When Ba‘al is believed to be dead, she seeks after Ba‘al "like a cow for its calf" and finds his body and buries it with great sacrifices and weeping. ‘Anat finds Mot, Ba‘al Hadad's supposed slayer and she seizes Mot, splits him with a sword, winnows him with a sieve, burns him with fire, grinds him with millstones and scatters the remnants to the birds. Text CTA 10 tells how ‘Anat seeks after Ba‘al, out hunting, finds him, is told she will bear a steer to him. Following the birth she brings the new calf to Ba‘al on Mount Zephon. Nowhere in these texts is ‘Anat explicitly Ba‘al Hadad's consort. To judge from traditions ‘Athtart is more to be Ba‘al Hadad's consort. Complicating matters is that northwest Semitic culture permitted more than one wife and nonmonogamy is normal for deities in many pantheons. In the North Canaanite story of Aqhat, the protagonist Aqhat son of the judge Danel is given a wonderful bow and arrows, created for ‘Anat by the craftsman god Kothar-wa-Khasis but, given to Danel for his infant son as a gift.
When Aqhat grew to be a young man, the goddess ‘Anat tried to buy the bow from Aqhat, offering immortality, but Aqhat refused all offers, calling her a liar because old age and death are the lot of all men. He added to this insult by asking'what would a woman do with a bow?' Like Inanna in the Epic of Gilgamesh, ‘Anat complained to El and threatened El himself if he did not allow her to take vengeance on Aqhat. El conceded. ‘Anat launched her attendant Yatpan in hawk form against Aqhat to knock the breath out of him and to steal the bow back. Her plan succeeds, but Aqhat is killed instead of beaten and robbed. In her rage against Yatpan, Yatpan runs away and the bow and arrows fall into the sea. All is lost. ‘Anat mourned for Aqhat and for the curse that this act would bring upon the land and for the loss of the bow. The focus of the story turns to Paghat, the wise younger sister of Aqhat, she sets off to avenge her brother's death and to restore the land, devastated by drought as a direct result of the murder.
The story is incomplete. It breaks at an dramatic moment when Paghat discovers that the mercenary whom she has hired to help her avenge the death is, in fact, her brother's murderer; the parallels between the story of ‘Anat and her revenge on Mot for the killing of her brother are obvious. In the end, the seasonal myth is played out on the human level. Gibson thinks Rahmay, co-wife of El with Athirat, is the goddess ‘Anat, but he fails to take into account the primary source documents. Use of dual names of deities in Ugaritic poetry are an essential part of the verse form, that two names for the same deity are traditionally mentioned in parallel lines. In the same way, Athirat is called Elath in paired couplets; the poetic structure can be seen in early Hebrew verse forms. Anat first appears in Egypt in the 16th dynasty along with other northwest Semitic deities, she was worshiped in her aspect of a war goddess paired with the goddess `Ashtart. In the Contest Between Horus and Set, these two goddesses appear as daughters of Re and are given as allies to the god Set, identified with the Semitic god Hadad.
During the Hyksos period Anat had temples in the Hyksos capital of Avaris and in Beth-Shan as well as being worshipped in Memphis. On inscriptions from Memphis of 15th to 12th centuries BCE, Anat is called "Bin-Ptah", Daughter of Ptah, she is associated with Reshpu in some texts and sometimes identified with the native Egyptian goddess Neith. She is sometimes called "Queen of Heaven", her iconography varies. She is shown carrying one or more weapons; the name of Anat-her, a shadowy Egyptian ruler of this time, is derived from "Anat". In the New Kingdom Ramesses II made ‘Anat his personal guardian in battle and enlarged Anat's temple in Pi-Ramesses. Ramesses named his daughter Bint-Anat'Daughter of Anat', his dog appears in a carving in Beit el Wali temple with the name "Anat-in-vigor" and one of his horses was named ‘Ana-herte'Anat-is-satisfied'. In Akkadian, the form one would expect Anat to take would be Antu, earlier Antum; this would be the normal feminine form that would be taken by Anu, the Akkadian form of An'Sky', the Sumerian god of heaven
Amunet is a primordial goddess in ancient Egyptian religion. Her name, jmnt, is a feminine noun that means "The Hidden One", she is a member of the Ogdoad of Hermopolis, who represented aspects of the primeval existence before the creation: Amunet was paired with Amun — whose name means "The Hidden One" too, with a masculine ending — within this divine group, from the earliest known documentation. Such pairing of deities is characteristic of the religious concepts of the ancient Egyptians, being the Ogdoad itself composed by four balanced couples of deities or deified primeval concepts, it seems that Amunet may have been artificially conceived by theologians as a complement to Amun, rather than being an independent deity. The Pyramid Texts mention the beneficent shadow of Amun and Amunet: O Amun and Amunet! You pair of the gods. By at least the 12th dynasty, Amaunet was superseded as Amun's partner by Mut as cults evolved or were merged following Mentuhotep II's reunification of Egypt — but she remained locally important in the region of Thebes, where Amun was worshipped.
There she was seen as a protector of the pharaoh, playing a preeminent role in rituals associed with the coronation of the pharaoh and Sed festivals. In the Festival Hall of Thutmose III, Amaunet is shown with the fertility-god Min while leading a row of deities to visit the Pharaoh in the anniversary celebration. In spite of Amaunet's stable position as a local goddess of Egypt's most important city, her cult had little widespread following outside the Theban region. At Karnak, Amun's cult center, priests were dedicated to Amaunet's service. Amaunet was depicted as a woman wearing the Deshret "Red Crown of Lower Egypt" — as in her colossal statue placed in the Record Hall of Thutmose III at Karnak during the reign of Tutankhamun — and carrying a staff of papyrus; the exact reason for this iconography is uncertain. In some late texts from Karnak she was syncretized with Neith, although she remained a distinct deity as late as the Ptolemaic Kingdom: she is carved on the exterior wall of the Festival Hall of Thutmose III in Karnak suckling pharaoh Philip III of Macedon, who appears after his own enthronement, as a divine child.
Hart, George, A Dictionary of Egyptian Gods and Goddesses, Routledge, 1986, ISBN 0-415-05909-7. Wilkinson, Richard H; the Complete Gods and Goddesses of Ancient Egypt, Thames & Hudson, 2003, ISBN 0-500-05120-8
Heka was the deification of magic and medicine in ancient Egypt. The name is the Egyptian word for "magic". According to Egyptian literature, Heka existed "before duality had yet come into being." The term ḥk3 was used to refer to the practice of magical rituals. The name Heka is identical with the Egyptian word ḥk3w "magic"; this hieroglyphic spelling includes the symbol for the word ka, the ancient Egyptian concept of the vital force. The Old Kingdom Pyramid Texts depict ḥk3w as a supernatural energy; the "cannibal pharaoh" must devour other gods to gain this magical power. Heka was elevated to a deity in his own right and a cult devoted to him developed. By the Coffin Texts, Heka is said to be created at the beginning of time by the creator Atum. Heka is depicted as part of the tableau of the divine solar barge as a protector of Osiris capable of blinding crocodiles. During the Ptolemaic dynasty, Heka's role was to proclaim the pharaoh's enthronement as a son of Isis, holding him in his arms. Heka appears as part of a divine triad in Esna, capital of the Third Nome, where he is the son of ram-headed Khnum and a succession of goddesses.
His mother was alternately said to be Nebetu'u, lion-headed Menhit, the cow goddess Mehetweret, before settling on Neith, a war and mother goddess. Other deities connected with the force of ḥk3w include Hu, Werethekau, whose name means "she who has great magic"; as Egyptologist Ogden Goelet, Jr. explains, magic in The Egyptian Book of the Dead is problematic. The text uses various words corresponding to'magic,' for the Egyptians thought magic was a legitimate belief; as Goelet explains: "Heka magic is many things, above all, it has a close association with speech and the power of the word. In the realm of Egyptian magic, actions did not speak louder than words--they were one and the same thing. Thought, deed and power are theoretically united in the concept of heka
Ancient Egyptian concept of the soul
The ancient Egyptians believed that a soul was made up of many parts. In addition to these components of the soul, there was the human body. According to ancient Egyptian creation myths, the god Atum created the world out of chaos, utilizing his own magic; because the earth was created with magic, Egyptians believed that the world was imbued with magic and so was every living thing upon it. When humans were created, that magic took the form of the soul, an eternal force which resided in and with every human being; the concept of the soul and the parts which encompass it has varied from the Old Kingdom to the New Kingdom, at times changing from one dynasty to another, from five parts to more. Most ancient Egyptian funerary texts reference numerous parts of the soul: the ẖt "physical body", the sꜥḥ "spiritual body", the rn "name, identity", the bꜣ "personality", the kꜣ "double", the jb "heart", the šwt "shadow", the sḫm "power, form", the ꜣḫ. Rosalie David, an Egyptologist at the University of Manchester, explains the many facets of the soul as follows: The Egyptians believed that the human personality had many facets - a concept, developed early in the Old Kingdom.
In life, the person was a complete entity, but if he had led a virtuous life, he could have access to a multiplicity of forms that could be used in the next world. In some instances, these forms could be employed to help those whom the deceased wished to support or, alternately, to take revenge on his enemies; the ẖt, or physical form, had to exist for the soul to have intelligence or the chance to be judged by the guardians of the underworld. Therefore, it was necessary for the body to be preserved as efficiently and as possible and for the burial chamber to be as personalized as it could be, with paintings and statuary showing scenes and triumphs from the deceased's life. In the Old Kingdom, only the pharaoh was granted mummification and, thus, a chance at an eternal and fulfilling afterlife. However, by the Middle Kingdom, all dead were afforded the opportunity. Herodotus, an ancient Greek scholar, observed that grieving families were given a choice as to the type and or quality of the mummification they preferred: "The best and most expensive kind is said to represent, the next best is somewhat inferior and cheaper, while the third is cheapest of all."Because the state of the body was tied so with the quality of the afterlife, by the time of the Middle Kingdom, not only were the burial chambers painted with depictions of favourite pastimes and great accomplishments of the dead, but there were small figurines of servants and guards included in the tombs, to serve the deceased in the afterlife.
However, an eternal existence in the afterlife was, by no means, assured. Before a person could be judged by the gods, they had to be "awakened" through a series of funerary rites designed to reanimate their mummified remains in the afterlife; the main ceremony, the opening of the mouth ceremony, is best depicted within Pharaoh Sety I's tomb. All along the walls and statuary inside the tomb are reliefs and paintings of priests performing the sacred rituals and, below the painted images, the text of the liturgy for opening of the mouth can be found; this ritual which would have been performed during internment, was meant to reanimate each section of the body: brain, limbs, etc. so that the spiritual body would be able to move in the afterlife. If all the rites and preservation rituals for the ẖt were observed and the deceased was found worthy of passing through into the afterlife, the sꜥḥ forms; this spiritual body was able to interact with the many entities extant in the afterlife. As a part of the larger construct, the ꜣḫ, the sꜥḥ was sometimes seen as an avenging spirit which would return from the underworld to seek revenge on those who had wronged the spirit in life.
A well-known example was found in a tomb from the Middle Kingdom in which a man leaves a letter to his late wife who, it can be supposed, is haunting him: What wicked thing have I done to thee that I should have come to this evil pass? What have I done to thee? But what thou hast done to me is to have laid hands on me although I had nothing wicked to thee. From the time I lived with thee as thy husband down to today, what have I done to thee that I need hide? When thou didst sicken of the illness which thou hadst, I caused a master-physician to be fetched…I spent eight months without eating and drinking like a man. I wept exceedingly together with my household in front of my street-quarter. I left no benefit undone that had to be performed for thee, and now, behold, I have spent three years alone without entering into a house, though it is not right that one like me should have to do it. This have I done for thy sake. But, thou dost not know good from bad. An important part of the Egyptian soul was thought to be heart.
The heart was believed to be formed from one drop of blood from the heart of the child's mother, taken at conception. To ancient Egyptians, the heart was the seat of emotion, thought and intention, evidenced by the many expressions in the Egyptian language which incorporate the word jb. Unlike in English, when ancient Egyptians referenced the jb they meant the physical heart as oppos
Isis was a major goddess in ancient Egyptian religion whose worship spread throughout the Greco-Roman world. Isis was first mentioned in the Old Kingdom as one of the main characters of the Osiris myth, in which she resurrects her slain husband, the divine king Osiris, produces and protects his heir, Horus, she was believed to help the dead enter the afterlife as she had helped Osiris, she was considered the divine mother of the pharaoh, likened to Horus. Her maternal aid was invoked in healing spells to benefit ordinary people, she played a limited role in royal rituals and temple rites, although she was more prominent in funerary practices and magical texts. She was portrayed in art as a human woman wearing a throne-like hieroglyph on her head. During the New Kingdom, as she took on traits that belonged to Hathor, the preeminent goddess of earlier times, Isis came to be portrayed wearing Hathor's headdress: a sun disk between the horns of a cow. In the first millennium BCE, Osiris and Isis became the most worshipped of Egyptian deities, Isis absorbed traits from many other goddesses.
Rulers in Egypt and its neighbor to the south, began to build temples dedicated to Isis, her temple at Philae was a religious center for Egyptians and Nubians alike. Isis's reputed magical power was greater than that of all other gods, she was said to protect the kingdom from its enemies, govern the skies and the natural world, have power over fate itself. In the Hellenistic period, when Egypt was ruled and settled by Greeks, Isis came to be worshipped by Greeks and Egyptians, along with a new god, Serapis, their worship diffused into the wider Mediterranean world. Isis's Greek devotees ascribed to her traits taken from Greek deities, such as the invention of marriage and the protection of ships at sea, she retained strong links with Egypt and other Egyptian deities who were popular in the Hellenistic world, such as Osiris and Harpocrates; as Hellenistic culture was absorbed by Rome in the first century BCE, the cult of Isis became a part of Roman religion. Her devotees were a small proportion of the Roman Empire's population but were found all across its territory.
Her following developed distinctive festivals such as the Navigium Isidis, as well as initiation ceremonies resembling those of other Greco-Roman mystery cults. Some of her devotees said; the worship of Isis was ended by the rise of Christianity in the fourth and fifth centuries CE. Her worship may have influenced Christian beliefs and practices such as the veneration of Mary, but the evidence for this influence is ambiguous and controversial. Isis continues to appear in Western culture in esotericism and modern paganism as a personification of nature or the feminine aspect of divinity. Whereas some Egyptian deities appeared in the late Predynastic Period, neither Isis nor her husband Osiris were mentioned before the Fifth Dynasty. An inscription that may refer to Isis dates to the reign of Nyuserre Ini during that period, she appears prominently in the Pyramid Texts, which began to be written down at the end of the dynasty and whose content may have developed much earlier. Several passages in the Pyramid Texts link Isis with the region of the Nile Delta near Behbeit el-Hagar and Sebennytos, her cult may have originated there.
Many scholars have focused on Isis's name in trying to determine her origins. Her Egyptian name was ꜣst, which became ⲎⲤⲈ in the Coptic form of Egyptian, Wusa in the Meroitic language of Nubia, Ἶσις, on which her modern name is based, in Greek; the hieroglyphic writing of her name incorporates the sign for a throne, which Isis wears on her head as a sign of her identity. The symbol serves as a phonogram, spelling the st sounds in her name, but it may have represented a link with actual thrones; the Egyptian term for a throne was st and may have shared a common etymology with Isis's name. Therefore, the Egyptologist Kurt Sethe suggested she was a personification of thrones. Henri Frankfort agreed, believing that the throne was considered the king's mother, thus a goddess, because of its power to make a man into a king. Other scholars, such as Jürgen Osing and Klaus P. Kuhlmann, have disputed this interpretation, because of dissimilarities between Isis's name and the word for a throne or a lack of evidence that the throne was deified.
The cycle of myth surrounding Osiris's death and resurrection was first recorded in the Pyramid Texts and grew into the most elaborate and influential of all Egyptian myths. Isis plays a more active role in this myth than the other protagonists, so as it developed in literature from the New Kingdom to the Ptolemaic Period, she became the most complex literary character of all Egyptian deities. At the same time, she absorbed characteristics from many other goddesses, broadening her significance well beyond the Osiris myth. Isis is part of the Ennead of Heliopolis, a family of nine gods descended from the creator god, Atum or Ra, she and her siblings—Osiris and Nephthys—are the last generation of the Ennead, born to Geb, god of the earth, Nut, goddess of the sky. The creator god, the world's original ruler, passes down his authority through the male generations of the Ennead, so that Osiris becomes king. Isis, Osiris's wife as well as his sister, is his queen. Set kills Osiris and, in several versions of the story, dismembers his corpse.
Isis and Nephthys, along with other deities such as Anubis, search for the pieces of their brother's body and reassemble it. Their efforts are the mythic prototype for mummification and other anc