Thursday, November 18, 2010

Egyptian "Life After Death"

"If your looking for the judge he's in the hall of judgement. Good luck." This is how I imagine you would be greeted in the afterlife for an Egyptian. The god Anubis, son of Ra, was in charge of the underworld and who would be let in. First, I think I should mention that the Egyptians believed the body of the deceased needed to be preserved for their soul to go to the afterlife. From there the wandering souls would be weighed on the scale of judgement. (by the way that's not why most Egyptians were skinny). What it means is Anubis judges you on your good and bad deeds from your former life, to decide if you are let in to the Egyptian underworld more commonly known as the Tuat. If not his trusty sidekick/ heart-eater would be more than happy for your soul. It is an ancient Egyptian myth that Anubis' father, Ra(a.k.a: the sun god) would pass through the Tuat at night to provide light for all of the souls in the dark. P.S. it is contrary as to whether Anubis is Ra's son or Osiris'.

Egyptian Ways to Worship

Many Egyptians felt it necessary to pray to the gods, and did so in their own, special way. While most cities and towns had one local god, others were widely known. From what I've seen the Egyptians had a pretty "laid back" sort of religion. Did you know that they devoted whole temples to just one god? That's pretty crazy if you ask me. But even though the gods were represented as animals, it wasn't common to treat the actual animals with any more respect. That was most commonly frowned upon in Ancient Egyptian society. The effort they put in the temples were designed to pay tribute to the gods. (Or god if it was a single god they were worshiping.) They must have appreciated them too because the architecture is "brilliant" as the British say; more on that later.

Symbols and Egyptian Religion

As I mentioned earlier each gods represented different areas in Egyptian life. The Eye of Horus was believed to protect against injury for example. You may see these symbols in many ancient artifacts. The ankh may represented life and can be seen in vast amounts of jewelry, mirrors and just about every house hold item you can imagine in ancient Egypt. If something was wrong with a family member an Egyptian might pray while holding a representation of life and wellness. They might pray to specific gods or just the gods in general. Many Egyptians would pray from home but there were many temples throughout ancient Egypt. Most pharaohs incorporated godly symbols in there monuments.  Like I said, the gods were a pretty popular group of people in their time.

Gods and Their Symbols

Most, if not all gods, were represented as an animal of some sort. There's a list below.   Some gods are represented as multiple animals but these are the most common representations.

Horus:            Falcon                      Set:            Donkey

Thoth:            Baboon                     Geb:         Goose
Anubis:           Jackal                       

Isis:               Swallow

Nephyths:     Swallow

Bastet:          Cat

Nut:             Sow

Godly Representations

I bet everyone has heard of or seen some sort of hieroglyphs but didn't really know what they represented. Many symbols you might see on the side of Egyptian structures represented the many gods of their polytheistic religion. Each god represents a different part in the Egyptians daily life. The symbols themselves may have represented power, knowledge, strength, happiness and many more. For example the Egyptian god Thoth was the god of knowledge and was represented through its symbol. Many symbols were animal heads to represent the gods. For example Thoth was also represented as a baboon. Egyptians often carved these symbols in the side of temples of worship.