Story of the Main Egyptian Gods: Ra, Horus, Osiris, Seth, Anubis, Bastet

Story of the Egyptian Gods: Ra, Horus, Osiris, Seth, Anubis, Bastet

This is the story of the Egyptian gods in Egyptian Mythology. I will be covering the essential deities in the Egyptian myths. This includes Ra, the Sun-god; Horus; Osiris, Lord of the Underworld; Seth (also Set) God of War; Anubis, God of Mummification and Afterlife; and Bastet, Cat Goddess.

The Beginning of the Egyptian Gods

The Benben Stone from the Pyramid of Amenemhat III, Twelfth Dynasty, Egyptian Museum & Royal Mummies Hall, Cairo, Egypt. Credit: Elias Rovielo

In the beginning, there was nothing. The universe consisted of a great chaotic ocean, and Benben emerged amid this primal chaos—Benben was a huge pyramidal mount. There was a lotus flower with Benben and this, when it blossomed brought the god Ra to the world and light came with him.

Ra himself, Ra generated the first generations of gods; Shu the god of the air, and Tefnut, the goddess of rain was born.

The universe was enrapt by a vast mass of primordial waters. Shu and Tefnut plunged into the waters to explore its immensity. Ra felt afflicted after realizing that their children were taking a long time to return and fearing never seeing them again; he sent his best messenger to find them.

Shu and Tefnut returned safe and sound, and Ra’s joy was so immense, that human beings were born from his tears. After a turning, their children generated, in turn, Gabe, the god of the earth and Knut, the goddess of the sky. And thus, the sky and the earth were created. The god Ra sovereignly ruled the universe power and he was awarded the title of the first Pharaoh.

The god gifted Egypt with several sacred animals, like the ox and the lion, but his greatest offering was the creation of the Nile River. Around its shores, men would begin civilization, glorifying the gods. But Ra had a premonition that his grandchildren would give birth to a new generation of gods, who had put an end to his reign.

And so, the god forbade the sky and the earth to have any offspring whatsoever. But Newt and Gabe disobeyed and gave rise to a powerful offspring, Isis, Nephthys (or Neph), Seth and Osiris. They dethroned Ra and Osiris started to reign over the world. But the new god’s throne was not safe because his brother, Seth, was eager to take all power for himself. And so, the saga of Egyptian gods began.

Story of the Egyptian Gods

Osiris and Seth

Seth and Osiris fighting

After deposing the god Ra, the deity who gave origin to the Egyptian world, Osiris became the new god of the universe. The new Supreme God took the goddess Isis, as his wife, and started a reign of great prosperity.

Osiris brought civilization to men, who until that point lived quite primitively. The god taught them agriculture, weaving, and how to make bread. Besides that, he decreed the use of laws, which would give order to chaos. The Egyptian civilization began to flourish under the reign of the benevolent god Osiris.

However, Osiris had a powerful and ambitious brother Seth. His kingdom stood in the arid desert around Egypt, and so he was jealous of his brother who had a fertile and prosperous Kingdom. Osiris had an affair with Nephthys, Seth’s wife, and Anubis the god of the dead emerged from this union. Angered by his brother’s betrayal, Seth prepared his revenge.

The god of the dry lands and personification of evil invited Osiris for a great feast in his honour. During the feast, Seth gifted the guests with a beautiful coffin and said he would offer it to the one who fit into it perfectly. Osiris decided to try it and immediately after settling in, Seth closed the coffin, trapping the god. The evil god through the coffin into the Nile, drowning the Supreme God.

Isis wept profoundly after losing her beloved husband, and these tears poured into the Nile River giving rise to its traditional floods. The goddess and her sister Nephthys, looked for Osiris’s body and Isis after finding it, tried to hide it. But Seth spotted it, nonetheless, smashed it into 42 pieces, spreading them throughout Egypt.

Isis with Anubis’s help, managed to recover the pieces and under the guidance of the god of the dead, she mummified Osiris. Using her divine powers, the goddess was able to resurrect her love, but Osiris would now reign over the world of the dead. After coming back to life, Osiris had a son with Isis. His name was Horus, and he swore he would defeat Seth, the usurper of the throne that was his by right.

Horus and Seth

Story of the Egyptian Gods: Horus and Seth
Horus and Seth

Seth, the god of destruction had murdered Osiris, the God who reigns supreme in Egyptian mythology. Seth took the throne from his brother for himself and unleashed his reign of terror. Nevertheless, Osiris had generated an heir, together with the goddess Isis—his name was Horus. This was a falcon god, whose prophecy said that he would reign over the skies and would bring the light back to Egypt, ending the darkness brought by Seth.

Horus already an adult, decided to claim his throne which had been usurped by his uncle. The contention is judged by the gods, while the court presided over by the sun god Ra. Decided who would be worthy to sit on the throne, a series of clashes between Seth and Horus had begun.

Seth had Ra’s sympathy, since the usurper protected the Sun god from the serpent of puppets, while the latter crossed the skies. Seth proposed a challenge to Horus, both would have to transform themselves into hippos and should be submerged for three months. Horus relied on his mother, the goddess Isis, to take advantage of Seth’s vulnerability to kill him. The goddess felt sympathy for Seth and could not kill him.

This betrayal enraged Horus, who then attacked his mother cutting off her head. The god Thoth, the god of knowledge, saved the goddess, replacing the severed head with a cow’s head. The clash between Seth and Horus continued for many years.

When fighting in the desert, Seth managed to pluck Horus’s eyes. Due to Hathor’s helped, the goddess of love, Horus had his vision restored. The court of gods demanded a reconciliation between Seth and Horus. The evil god, Seth pretending to be benevolent, invited Horus for a feast in his palace.

During the night, Seth tried to abuse his nephew, making him unworthy to the throne. However, Horus managed to defend himself and prevented the gods poisonous seed. Horus then decided to take revenge, and with the help of the goddess Isis, the God placed his divine seed in lettuce leaves, which were then offered to set by the goddess Isis.

The god of barren deserts ate the contaminated lettuce. Poisoned, Seth started to deteriorate in front of everyone, and a golden disc emerged in his forehead. Thoth grabbed the bright disc and ingrained it in her own head. Seth had been humiliated, and that was when, after 80 years, the court granted Horus the throne that was his by right. Isis couldn’t be prouder to see her son with Osiris assuming the Father’s throne.

Seth’s fate was to travel with Ra, the Sun God of the skies and his enraged screams to be heard with thunder. And so, Horus’s reign over Egypt began, and all the Pharaohs who one day reigned over Egypt were among his descendants.

Ra and the Sun Boat: god of the Sun in Egyptian Mythology

Ra – The egyptian sun god

Ra is the Sun God in Egyptian mythology. This God is usually depicted as a being with a man’s body and a head of a falcon. The Sun disc is over his head. He had been one day, the greatest of all gods, but time wore him down and finding himself too old. He decided to relinquish the power and go to the skies. This god is one of the most revered figures in Egyptian mythology.

As the Sun God, one of his duties was to drive away the darkness, and to accomplish his work, the god crossed the skies on his son boat, lighting the whole world. But when the twilight came, he and his vessel plunged into the sea waters towards the underworld. There he would have to sail through the dark world and cross the twelve gates—which would be the twelve regions of the underworld.

Ra took an hour to go through each gate. Osiris was in one of them, the Lord of the underworld whom Ra always visited to pay his respects. But before leaving the underworld’s darkness, the god was attacked by the terrible snake, Apophis. This force of chaos tried to destroy the god’s vessel, and each day, the serpent seemed closer to accomplish her desire.

Apophis once managed to swallow the Sun boat, putting an end to the sunlight in the morning, but the serpent failed to hold the god in her stomach and regurgitated him. This event was marked as a Solar Eclipse.

However, destroying Ra’s boat became more difficult. Since Seth, the god of destruction, after losing the dispute of the supreme throne for Horus, had been condemned to navigate with Ra across the skies, he helped the Sun god defending his vessel against the terrible serpent, defeating it several times, making Ra’s underworld journey safer.

The god Ra was a figure worship throughout Egypt, but this God was especially adored in the city of Heliopolis. The god’s prestige was so vast that other traditions of Egyptian religions of antiquity merged the god’s depiction along with the greatest figure of their own Pantheon’s. For instance, the figures of the supreme gods, Amun and Atum, were also known as Amun-Ra and Atum-Ra.

The gods name was used by many Pharaohs. Ramses is a well-known, for example. His name means, ‘Son of Ra’ or ‘the son of sun’. And so, the Pharaoh would strengthen his divinity before his subjects.

Anubis: god of Mummification and Afterlife in Egyptian Mythology

Anubis god of Mummification and Afterlife in Egyptian Mythology
Anubis: god of Mummification and Afterlife in Egyptian Mythology

Anubis, the god with a jackal head, is a deity of Egyptian mythology connected to life after death. The god is one of the most ancient Egyptian deities and, therefore, his role changed as the centuries went by. Anubis was already considered the main deity linked to death and the underworld’s god, but this role was transferred to the god Osiris.

The jackal god was also considered the god of embalming and mummification. In funeral rites, it was common to see a priest wearing a jackal mask during the mummification process. The god was also considered as the protector of tombs and cemeteries. Therefore, protecting the bodies of those who went to the underworld.

Anubis is the son of the goddess Nephthys, wife of Seth. But Anubis was not born of the union with Nephthys’s husband, Seth; since Nephthys had been disguised as the goddess Isis, and so she mingled with Osiris. Seth coming to terms with that act of disloyalty, plotted against Osiris, killing him and scattering his body parts throughout Egypt.

After Isis gathered all the parts, Anubis helped the goddess during the Gods funeral ritual. So, Anubis transformed the body of Osiris into the first mummy. Anubis became the deity that led the spirit of the Dead to the underworld, where the dead would be judged by a court presided over by Anubis.

The god placed the deceased heart in Osiris’s scale and the feather of truth on the other side. If the heart was heavier than the feather, it indicated that it was full of wickedness. He was then delivered to Ahmet, a demonic creature known as the heart devourer. If the feather was heavier than the heart of the soul of the righteous and good, Anubis would take the person to Osiris and the deceased stepped into life after death.

In the period of Greek rule over Egypt, the god Anubis was associated with Hermes, which in Greek mythology is also a deity that led souls to the underworld. This association gave rise to a deity called Hermanubis, which became popular during the period of Roman rule.

Anubis is certainly one of the most popular divinities in Egyptian mythology—the god accountable to lead souls to the afterlife.

Bastet: Cat Goddess in Egyptian Mythology

Bastet - Cat Goddess in Egyptian Mythology
Bastet: Cat Goddess in Egyptian Mythology

Bastet is the cat goddess in Egyptian mythology. Depicted as having a woman’s body with a cat’s head. The Egyptians devoted great honours to cats. They were considered sacred animals. The felines had a meaningful role in the Egyptian world, since thanks to them, their food was safe from rodent infestations. Also, cats could scare treacherous poisonous snakes.

Bastet is a goddess associated with the Sun, and because of that, the goddess followed Ra during the day in his sun boat, crossing through the skies. At night, the goddess turned into a cat, and focussed, the goddess protected the world against the dreadful serpent, Apophis.

The goddess was worshipped throughout Egypt. Therefore, doing harm to any cat was a terrible sacrilege. The author of such a violent act could be punished with death. Cats were seen as family members and according to some reports, whenever a house was set ablaze, the cat entered the burning house to help their residents escape the fire. Sometimes these cats appeared to be dead in the flames, but they returned to life, thanks to the goddess Bastet—emphasizing the popular saying of a nine-life cat.

For being sacred animals, cats were mummified, and Egypt has cemeteries dedicated to these animal mummies. According to some versions, the goddess Bastet is linked to Sekhmet, the lion goddess. This goddess was violent and bloodthirsty but was tamed becoming a gentle and milk-drinking cat goddess. In other versions, Bastet and Sekhmet were sisters, and Ra’s daughters.

Even after the end of the worship of the Egyptian gods, cats to this day continue to look man up and down, hoping to have their deity acknowledged again.

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