Words empty as the wind are best left unsaid.


A picture is worth a thousand words.

~Napoleon Bonaparte

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Egyptian solar deities Part I

                                                             Edited, Dec. 25, 2011
The Neolithic concept of a solar barge, the sun as traversing the sky in a boat, is found in the later myths of ancient Egypt, with Ra and Horus.

Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty he had become a major deity in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the mid-day sun.The chief cult centre of Ra was Heliopolis (called Iunu, "Place of Pillars", in Egyptian), where he was identified with the local sun-god Atum. Through Atum, or as Atum-Ra he was also seen as the first being and the originator of the Ennead, consisting of Shu and Geb and Nut, Osiris, Set, Isis and Nephthys.

 Ra-Horakhty is a combined deity of Horus and Ra, and is usually depicted as a falcon-headed man wearing a sun disk on his head. By themselves, Ra and Horus sometimes share similar iconography.

In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus, as Re-Horakhty ("Ra, who is Horus of the Two Horizons"). He was believed to rule in all parts of the created world the sky, the earth, and the underworld. He was associated with the falcon or hawk. When in the New Kingdom the god Amun rose to prominence he was fused with Ra as Amun-Ra. During the Amarna Period, Akhenaten suppressed the cult of Ra in favour of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored.

To the Egyptians, the sun represented light, warmth, and growth. This made the sun deity very important as the sun was seen as the ruler of all that he created. The sun disk was either seen as the body or eye of Ra.

                                       Ra and Amun, from tomb of Ramses IV.
Ra is represented in a variety of forms. The most usual form was a man with the head of a hawk and a solar disk on top, a man with the head of a beetle (in his form as Khepri), or a man with the head of a ram. Ra was also pictured as a full-bodied ram, beetle, phoenix, heron, serpent, bull, cat, or lion as well as other creatures.

Statuette of Re as a Standing Tomcat, 305-30 B.C.E

                                                  Ra in forom of Khepri
                                                            Ra in forom of Khepri

 Ra Apep

 Stele of Takhenemet paying tribute to the god Ra-Horakhty wearing the costume of Osiris. Pigment and plaster on wood. Third Intermediate Period, Dynasty XXV, c. 775-653 BC. Most likely from Thebes

 Ra traveling through the underworld in his barque, from the copy of the Book of Gates in the tomb of Ramses I (KV16).

The cult of the Mnevis bull, an embodiment of Ra, had its center in Heliopolis and there was a formal burial ground for the sacrificed bulls north of the city.

 Bronze statuette of the bull-headed god of Heliopolis, ca. 4th/3rd century BC.

Aten (also Aton, Egyptian jtn) is the disk of the sun in ancient Egyptian mythology, and originally an aspect of Ra.
Pharaoh Akhenaten and his family adoring the Aten, second from the left is Meritaten who was the daughter of Akhenaten.


 Relief Fragment of Nefertiti with the Sun Disk of the Aten. New Kingdom, 19th dynasty, circa 1350 B.C. Image taken at the Altes Museum, Berlin.
 This stone block portrays Akhenaten as a sphinx, and was originally found in the city of Amarna/Akhetaten. This object is now located in the Kestner Museum of Hanover, Germany.

I have noticed that not only gods and pharaohs had  a snake.

 Nefertiti with Meketaten seated on her lap and Ankhesenpaaten leaning against her.

 The royal family: Akhenaten, Nefertiti and their children

                                                              Sun hieroglyph

 Thutmosis III cartouches. Temple at Deir el-Bahari

Let's look at Horus

Since Horus was said to be the sky, he was considered to also contain the sun and moon. It became said that the sun was his right eye and the moon his left, and that they traversed the sky when he, a falcon, flew across it. Later, the reason that the moon was not as bright as the sun was explained by a tale, known as the contestings of Horus and Set, originating as a metaphor for the conquest of Upper Egypt by Lower Egypt in about 3000 BC. In this tale, it was said that Set, the patron of Upper Egypt, and Horus, the patron of Lower Egypt, had battled for Egypt brutally, with neither side victorious, until eventually the gods sided with Horus.

                                   The temple of Horus at Edfu; relief of Horus.

                                      Wall relief of Horus, temple of Edfu, Egypt

Wall relief of Wadjet and Horus in Cradle chapel, temple of Edfu, Egypt

Interesting that Wadjed is depicted as a snake

                                                              Symbol of Horus

 Dendera, temple of Hathor, Horus

Temple Kom Ombo

Amulet representing a ram-headed falcon. Ancient Egypt, 1254 BC (26th year of the reign of Ramses II), found in the tomb of an Apis bull in the Serapaeum of Memphis at Saqqara. Gold, lapis, turquoise and cornelian.

 Temple at Deir el-Bahari.

We have also winged sun alchemical.
A winged sun hovers above a sepulchre filled with water, from Rosarium philosohorum (Frankfurt, 1550)
The illustration is of the illuminatio stage. It is captioned with
"Here Sol plainly dies again,
And is drowned with the Mercury of the Philosophers."
in the 18th century English translation.
16th century woodcut.

Earlier Egyptian myths imply that the sun is within the lioness, Sekhmet, at night and can be seen reflected in her eyes or that it is within the cow, Hathor during the night, being reborn each morning as her son (bull). Proto-Indo-European religion has a solar chariot, the sun as traversing the sky in a chariot.

  Wall relief of Sekhmet, Kom Ombo Temple, Egypt

 Sculpture of Hathor as a cow, with all of her symbols, the sun disk, the cobra, as well as her necklace and crown.

To view Part II click here