Ancient Egyptian Beliefs You Will Never Believe
Cats Are Magical
Step back in time and explore the intriguing world of ancient Egypt, a civilization rich in mystical beliefs and captivating traditions. In this captivating slideshow gallery, we delve into the most peculiar and fascinating beliefs of the ancient Egyptians. From their elaborate burial rituals to their profound reverence for cats as magical beings, the ancient Egyptians had a unique perspective on life, death, and the afterlife.
Discover the secrets behind their captivating beliefs, including the sacred importance of food in the realm beyond, where even gods and humans needed sustenance. Join us on this enlightening journey through ancient Egypt's strange and extraordinary beliefs. Keep reading to uncover the mysteries that shaped this remarkable civilization.
Cats held a special place as they were believed to possess magical qualities. Egyptians attributed mystical powers to cats, considering them as bringers of good luck and protectors against evil forces. Cats were highly valued and revered for their perceived connection to the spiritual world. Wealthy families often pampered their feline companions by adorning them with jewelry and treating them to luxurious delicacies. The high regard for cats in ancient Egypt showcases their esteemed status and the belief in their inherent magical nature.
They Had A Complex System Of Deities
The ancient Egyptians had a rich and complex belief system that revolved around a pantheon of deities. These deities represented various aspects of nature, the cosmos, and human life. At the heart of their religious practices were the major gods and goddesses who held significant roles in Egyptian mythology. Among the most prominent were Ra, the sun god and creator; Osiris, the god of the afterlife and resurrection; Isis, the goddess of magic and fertility; Horus, the falcon-headed god associated with kingship and protection; and Hathor, the goddess of love, music, and joy. Each deity possessed unique attributes, symbols, and stories, reflecting the diverse range of beliefs and cultural values held by the ancient Egyptians. Their worship of these deities was an integral part of their daily lives, with temples dedicated to their veneration and rituals conducted to honor and seek their favor. The Egyptian pantheon exemplifies the deep reverence and connection the ancient Egyptians felt towards the divine forces that shaped their existence.
The Universe Is Centered Around Ma'a
The ancient Egyptian concept of Maat, or Maʽat, held profound significance in their belief system. It encompassed a holistic understanding of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice. Maat was not only an abstract concept but also embodied as a goddess who governed the stars, seasons, and the behavior of both mortals and deities. The ancient Egyptians believed that Maat ensured cosmic order and maintained the equilibrium of the universe.
Ancient Egyptians considered Maat as the force that emerged from chaos during the act of creation. In contrast, Isfet represented the opposing concept of injustice, chaos, violence, or evil. The Egyptians aspired to uphold Maat's principles in all aspects of life, from personal conduct to social interactions and the governance of the kingdom. Maat represented a moral compass and a guiding principle that governed their worldview, emphasizing the importance of maintaining balance and upholding righteousness.
Egyptians Viewed Royal Authority As A Divine Force
Egyptologists have extensively discussed the extent to which the pharaoh was seen as a god in ancient Egypt. It appears that the Egyptians primarily regarded the authority of the pharaoh as a divine presence. While they acknowledged the pharaoh's human nature and susceptibility to flaws, they also believed that the essence of kingship itself possessed a divine quality.
Consequently, the pharaoh was considered both a human and a god, serving as a vital link between the Egyptian people and the deities. This role involved the pharaoh acting as an intermediary, ensuring justice and harmony in society, and maintaining the favor of the gods through temple rituals and offerings. Due to these responsibilities, the pharaoh held ultimate authority over all religious affairs of the state.
Humans Are Full Of Ka
In ancient Egyptian belief, the concept of Ka held great significance as it represented the essence of life and the soul. The Ka was considered the spiritual counterpart or double of an individual, existing alongside the physical body. Even after death, the Ka was believed to persist and required a dwelling place to ensure its continued existence. To achieve eternal life, it was crucial for the Ka to survive. Various rituals and practices were undertaken to provide the Ka with a suitable abode and maintain its well-being. The concept of Ka exemplified the ancient Egyptians' belief in the enduring nature of the soul beyond earthly life, emphasizing the importance of preserving the Ka's vitality for the attainment of everlasting existence.
"Ba" Has To Be Removed From The Body After Death
The concept of Ba represented the individual's distinct set of spiritual qualities and characteristics. Unlike the Ka, which was the spiritual double, the Ba remained connected to the physical body even after death. Egyptian funeral rituals were conducted with the purpose of releasing the Ba from the body, allowing it to move freely and reunite with the Ka, transforming into an Akh.
The preservation of the deceased's body was considered essential, as the Egyptians believed that each night the Ba returned to its body to receive new life, emerging in the morning as an Akh. This cycle ensured the continuity of the individual's existence and their eternal journey beyond death in the afterlife.
The Tribulations Of The Dead Determine Where Someone Ends Up In The Afterlife
In the ancient Egyptian beliefs, the afterlife was a complex journey with various challenges and judgments. During the New Kingdom, the soul had to navigate the Duat, a realm filled with supernatural dangers, before reaching the final judgment known as the "Weighing of the Heart." In this judgment, Osiris and the Assessors of Ma'at compared the actions of the deceased (represented by the heart) to the feather of Ma'at, to determine if they had lived in accordance with Ma'at, the concept of truth and balance. If found worthy, the deceased's ka (life force) and ba (spiritual essence) were united into an akh, a transformed and blessed state. Different beliefs existed regarding the destination of the akh, with the realm of Osiris, described as a lush and pleasant land in the underworld, often mentioned as the dwelling place for the deceased.
According to the ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead, the journey to the afterlife was challenging and filled with obstacles. The deceased had to pass through a series of gates, caverns, and mounds guarded by formidable supernatural creatures. These creatures were depicted in grotesque forms, often with human bodies and animal heads or combinations of ferocious beasts. They carried enormous knives and had names like "He who lives on snakes" or "He who dances in blood." To overcome them, the deceased needed to recite specific spells from the Book of the Dead, pacifying the creatures and gaining their protection. Another type of supernatural beings were the "slaughterers," responsible for punishing the unrighteous on behalf of Osiris. The Book of the Dead provided the necessary knowledge to avoid their attention. Additionally, there were threats from both natural and supernatural animals like crocodiles, snakes, and beetles, further complicating the journey to the afterlife.
For A Brief Period Of Time Aten Was The Main God In Egypt
During the New Kingdom period in ancient Egypt, Pharaoh Akhenaten made a significant change in the religious landscape by replacing the worship of multiple gods with the exclusive veneration of the sun-disk deity called Aten. This shift is often considered a pioneering example of monotheism, though there is ongoing debate regarding the precise nature of Atenist theology.
While some argue that it was true monotheism, others suggest that Akhenaten practiced monolatry or henotheism, as he did not explicitly deny the existence of other gods but focused solely on the Aten. The abandonment of traditional Egyptian religious practices was a radical departure, and Akhenaten faced opposition and condemnation. After his reign, Egypt returned to its traditional polytheistic beliefs, and Akhenaten himself was vilified as a heretic. The reign of Akhenaten marks a notable chapter in Egyptian religious history and raises fascinating questions about the development of monotheistic ideas.
The Book of the Dead Contains Spells For The Recently Deceased
The ancient Egyptian "Book of the Dead" refers to a collection of funerary spells that served as a guide for the deceased to navigate their way to the afterlife and be reunited with the god of the dead, Osiris. While we commonly use the term "book" today, the spells were not organized into bound volumes. Instead, they were inscribed on various objects like mummy wrappings, coffins, and figurines that were placed in the tomb alongside the deceased. These spells, numbering nearly 200, provided instructions and assistance for the challenges the deceased would encounter on their journey. It was essential for the spells to be recited aloud, and inscribing them on tomb items allowed the mummy to recite them from within the coffin. The texts were written in hieroglyphic Egyptian or a cursive script known as hieratic, depending on the context and purpose.
Mummification Was Required For Divinity
The ancient Egyptian practice of mummification held great significance in their beliefs about the afterlife. Mummification was a complex and carefully performed process that aimed to preserve and transform the physical body into a state known as "sah," which represented an idealized and divine form. The Book of the Dead, a collection of funerary spells, included specific spells intended to safeguard the body of the deceased. It is possible that these spells were recited during the mummification process, which involved various steps such as removing internal organs, desiccating the body, and wrapping it in linen bandages. The goal of mummification was to ensure the deceased's physical form remained intact, as it was believed to be essential for their journey in the afterlife.
The Heart Of The Matter
In ancient Egyptian belief, the heart held significant importance both in life and after death. It was considered the seat of intelligence and memory, encompassing a person's essence. To protect the heart in the afterlife, spells were included in the funerary rituals. In case any harm befell the physical heart, it was customary to bury jewel-encrusted heart scarab alongside the deceased as a substitute.
During the embalming process, the internal organs and entrails were removed, while the brain, deemed insignificant by the Egyptians, was extracted through the eye sockets or nose using a hook. The pharaohs, concerned that their heart might refuse to accompany them to the next world, sought to replace it. This replacement took the form of a heart scarab or beetle stone, which was either placed within the chest cavity or positioned on the left side of the chest, securely wrapped within the bandages that enshrouded the mummified body. This practice aimed to ensure the preservation and spiritual completeness of the deceased in the journey beyond life.
The Field Of Reeds
According to ancient Egyptian beliefs, the Field of Reeds was a heavenly realm described in the Book of the Dead where the deceased would continue their existence after death. It was envisioned as a paradise, mirroring the earthly world but in a more abundant and perfect form. In the Field of Reeds, there were fertile fields, flourishing crops, peaceful waterways, and populated by both ordinary people and divine beings, including the Great Ennead and the deceased person's own parents.
Although the depiction of the Field of Reeds was idyllic, it was understood that certain responsibilities still existed. To fulfill these duties, burials included small figurines known as shabti or ushebti, inscribed with spells from the Book of the Dead. These figurines were intended to perform any necessary manual labor on behalf of the deceased in the afterlife, ensuring their comfort and freedom from toil.
A Spell Was Required For The Dead To Remember Their Name
In ancient Egyptian belief, it was essential for the name of the deceased to be written in the funerary texts that accompanied them in the afterlife. The name held great significance as it represented the individuality and identity of the deceased. To ensure their continued existence, the name was inscribed in multiple locations within the Book of the Dead. Spell 25 specifically addressed the importance of remembering one's own name. This emphasis on preserving and recalling the name underscored the belief that the deceased's identity needed to be maintained in order to navigate and prosper in the afterlife.
Assessors of Ma'at
In ancient Egyptian belief, it was believed that after being buried, the deceased had to undergo a crucial task. This task involved addressing the forty-two Assessors of Maat by name and reciting the sins they did not commit during their lifetime. By correctly stating each judge's name, the deceased would prove their knowledge of the individual and establish their purity and innocence. This ritual allowed the dead to present themselves as morally upright and free from wrongdoing, aligning themselves with the concept of Maat, which encompassed truth, balance, order, and justice. By engaging in this process, the deceased sought to demonstrate their worthiness and readiness for the journey in the afterlife.
Even Gods Have To Eat
In the ancient Egyptian belief system, it was firmly held that both gods and individuals who had passed away would require sustenance even in the afterlife. This belief extended from kings to ordinary people. To ensure that the gods and the deceased would receive the necessary nourishment, various practices were employed. Offerings of food and drink were presented at temple altars or gravesites, symbolically providing sustenance to the gods and the spirits of the departed. Additionally, rituals such as the "Opening of the Mouth" ceremony were performed to awaken the senses of the deceased and enable them to partake in the offerings provided to them. These customs emphasized the continuity of life and the reciprocal relationship between the living and the deceased, ensuring that the divine and the departed would not go hungry in their eternal existence.
Sex Is Sacred
In ancient Egyptian belief, sex was considered to be a sacred and revered aspect of life. The Egyptians held the belief that sex was an act of creation, representing the divine power to bring new life into existence. They attributed significant importance to the role of sexuality in the origins of the world. According to their mythology, the first god, Atum, was believed to have existed alone and brought about the creation of the world through an act of self-pleasure. The birth of the first gods was often depicted as a result of ejaculation, and semen was seen as the earliest evidence of life. These beliefs underscored the Egyptians' profound reverence for the concept of sexuality and its association with the creative forces of the universe.
Animal Were Believed To Be Manifestations Of Deities
In ancient Egypt, specific animals were regarded as sacred manifestations of particular deities. These animals were worshipped at various sacred sites based on their unique markings, which were believed to symbolize their suitability for embodying the gods. Some of these revered creatures, such as the Apis bull in Memphis representing Ptah, held their positions for their entire lives. Other animals were chosen for shorter durations. As these cults gained popularity over time, many temples began breeding and raising stocks of these sacred animals to select new divine manifestations.
In the Twenty-sixth Dynasty, a separate practice emerged where members of a specific animal species were mummified as offerings to the corresponding deity they represented. Countless mummified animals, including cats, birds, and others, were buried at temples dedicated to Egyptian gods. Devotees would pay priests to obtain and mummify an animal associated with a particular deity, and the resulting mummy would be interred in a cemetery near the god's cult center. This practice formed a significant part of ancient Egyptian religious rituals and beliefs.
Oracles Were A Go Between For Humans And Gods
Ancient Egyptians believed that oracles served as intermediaries between humans and the gods, providing a means to seek knowledge and guidance from the divine realm. The practice of consulting oracles was prevalent during the New Kingdom and continued afterward, although its origins likely trace back even earlier. People from all social classes, including the pharaoh, would turn to oracles for answers to their inquiries.
One common method was to pose a question to the divine image while it was being carried in a festival procession and interpret the responses based on the movements of the sacred barque. Other methods included observing the behavior of cult animals, casting lots, or seeking the guidance of statues through which priests would convey messages from the gods. The interpretation of these divine communications bestowed significant influence upon the priests who conveyed and explained the messages, making them pivotal figures in ancient Egyptian religious practices.
Heka Was More Than A God
The belief in Heka played a significant role in their understanding of the natural world and their religious practices. Heka was considered a fundamental force, responsible for the creation of the universe and harnessed by the gods to exert their power. It was believed that humans could also tap into this force, and thus magic and religion were closely intertwined.
Even the regular rituals performed in temples were regarded as magical acts. Individuals often turned to magical practices for personal purposes, using them to prevent or overcome negative events. While it was recognized that magic could potentially harm others, no form of magic was inherently seen as malevolent. Instead, it was primarily viewed as a means for humans to assert control over their lives and shape their destinies.
Ancient Egyptians Believed In Bathing Four Times A Day
In ancient Egypt, cleanliness and bathing held great significance for the people. The hot climate and the desire for personal hygiene led the Egyptians to practice frequent bathing, often at least four times a day. Bathing served not only practical purposes but also had religious connotations. The ancient Egyptians believed that bathing during their lifetime would please the gods of the afterlife. It was seen as a way to maintain purity and show respect to the divine, ensuring a favorable transition into the realm of the gods. Thus, bathing played a dual role in ancient Egyptian society, serving both practical and spiritual purposes.