Egypt: The Magic and the Mythology

Just some of the basics of Egyptian mythology.


3. Symbols and Creatures

There are four hieroglyphic forms of the word “god”: a seated deity, a falcon, a flag, and a five-pointed star. These hieroglyphs were all used at different points in time. The Egyptian word netcher, while shown to have no concrete meaning, has also been used to describe the divine. The gods were not the only type of supernatural being. There were many other creatures. There were demons and spirits that seem to have similarities to the Arab djinn and afrits, known in modern culture as genies. The beings that were feared the most were the bau, which were the manifestations and messengers of the gods. Also feared were the akhu, which were ghosts and spirits of the deceased. There were also many hybrid deities. One of the more commonly known hybrids is the Sphinx. Some of the gods are also shown in human-animal hybrid forms. Examples would be Horus, Thoth, and Bast, who had the heads of a falcon, an ibis, and a cat, respectively. There were also creatures that were hybrids of just animals. One of these is Ammut the Devourer, a creature that ate the hearts of those who failed to pass the judgment of the dead. Normal animals were often used to symbolize various gods, and some gods had more than one animal symbol. Thoth was represented by both the ibis and the baboon. Thoth, the god of knowledge, gave both humans and gods fixed life spans using a spell from the Book of the Dead. There are various “tombs” spread throughout Egypt for the gods. Egyptians believed that death followed life and life followed death in an endless cycle. They had two views of eternity: djet, which means eternal continuity, and neheh, which means eternal recurrence. Neheh and Djet are occasionally seen personified as gods. Despite the eternal life beliefs, there was a predicted “end of time” in which Re and Osiris would be the only ones remaining until they, too, perished with the cosmos. (The Complete Gods and Godesses)


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