The Impact Of Egyptian Mythology

Egyptian mythology was strongly linked to the belief that gods and goddesses were like humans with real emotions and lifestyles. These gods were so strongly revered, that using a god ‘s name in any negative manner would result in punishment.

Egyptian gods were often linked to an element of nature. Different regions relied on the god that best fit their needs, but only a few gods were worshipped throughout all of Egypt. Ra, God of the sun, was one of these highly important gods. Ra ‘s mythological influences on the sun were vital to crops and the Egyptians’ wellbeing.

For centuries, myths were handed down from generation to generation orally. Eventually, papyrus writings allowed Egyptians to create written accounts of the stories. Researchers believe that most myths began as stories told to entertain. Over time, the stories became real for many, and the Egyptian people began worshipping their gods and goddesses.

Egyptian Timeline

Until 4 BC, the beliefs of Egyptian mythology went hand-in-hand with Egyptian religion. The myths told stories of the gods and goddesses, and the Egyptians worshipped them by leaving offerings or going to temples for communal worship. As the BC era came to an end, Alexander the Great conquered Egypt and modern religions became more prevalent.

Generally speaking, there are four time periods that each mark changes in the practice of Egyptian mythology and religion:

  • Old Kingdom: From the 25th to 23rd centuries BC, Egyptians in the Old Kingdom worshipped the gods of their own areas: Heliopolis worshipped Atum, Hermopolis ‘ chief god was Thoth, Elephantine worshipped Khnum, Thebes worshipped Amun and Memphis worshipped Ptah.
  • Middle Kingdom: From 1878 BC to 1839 BC, the god Amun gained popularity. Egyptians erected the Temple of Abydos in his honor.
  • New Kingdom: During the New Kingdom, Heliopolis and Hermopolis merged. Osiris was the main god in earliest portions of this time frame. His son, Horus, would replace him at the throne.
  • Late Period: As the Amarna Dynasty ended, the final years of Egyptian mythology began. The Egyptian Book of the Dead would be all that remained of the earlier ancestors ‘ beliefs.

Important Egyptian Gods

There are dozens of gods who play integral parts in Egyptian mythology. Some gods were regional, while others were revered in all areas of Egypt. To understand Egyptian mythological influences, it is important to understand the gods and their powers. Some of the most important gods are:

  • Amon: God of the wind. One of the three Theban Triad, Amon became the King of the Gods at Thebes.
  • Anubis: Egyptians believed Anubis helped transport them from a state of living to a state of death. He decided who was good and who was evil.
  • Atum: One of the eight most important gods who later became the Supreme God in the Heliopolitan Ennead, Atum was a human/serpent who merged with Re to form Re-Atum.
  • Geb: The earth was believed to be the physical form of the god known as Geb. On Geb ‘s back grew trees, grass and other vegetation. The Egyptians believed that Geb’s laughter was the cause of earthquakes.
  • Horus: Horus was the royal god of the sky, who formed with many other gods to create more powerful gods like Harmakhis, eminent ruler of the Sphinx.
  • Isis: Isis was Osiris ‘ wife Horus’ mother who was known as the goddess of fertility. Following Osiris ‘ murder, Isis went on a quest to find her husband and bring him back to the living.
  • Osiris: God representing life after death. Egyptians believed Osiris ‘s son Horus was his reincarnation.
  • Re: God of the sun, who was worshipped throughout all of Egypt.
  • Set: One of the more powerful gods who reigned over the desert and foreign lands. Set was Nephthys’ husband.
  • Thoth: The god who helped Isis find her deceased husband, Thoth was the god of wisdom, and went on to claim the throne after Horus.

Egyptian Mythology and the Modern World

The impact of Egyptian mythology is still felt in today ‘s world. For example, like the Egyptians, Native American tribes believe in gods and goddesses that control things found in nature, such as the sun, and worship them. One example of a form of worship is the performance of rain dances in times of drought.

Egyptian Mythology and Modern Religion

Perhaps the biggest impact that Egyptian mythology has had has been on modern religion. Egyptians were the first to practice religion, believe in higher powers (gods), rituals, and cults. They were also the first society to believe in the afterlife and elaborate rituals were performed after a person ‘s death to insure that they were going to be comfortable in the next life.

Egyptians also took great pride in their temples, not unlike the modern-day churches and synagogues.

These days, Egyptian gods and goddesses are no longer worshiped, but it is their original myths that paved the way for the modern religions we practice around the world today.