Ancient Egyptian Religion.
Although it had a brief flirtation with monotheism, ancient Egyptian religion centred around many gods.
There were gods of fertility, gods of the sun, gods of creation and pretty much everything else that affected the everyday lives of ancient Egyptians.
But apparently the gods were not static. They changed names, merged with other gods and took on a variety of roles in their long existence.
To please the gods and to ensure a safe and successful journey to the afterlife, the Egyptians had many spells, prayers and practices to follow.
They had trained priests in glorious temples and pharaohs who were closer to the gods than any other mortal.
Come explore the mystery and magic of ancient Egyptian religion.
So what was the Egyptians relationship to the gods?
* Pharaoh - There is no doubt that the pharaoh was the gods favorite mortal. Only the king of all Egypt could be sent to the afterlife from the specially designed and much-laboured-on pyramid.
In many cases, such as Khufu, their entire life was spent overseeing the construction of their final resting place. He would have priests design a tomb that aligned with certain stars and spells and prayers carved into the walls.
The Pharaoh would be laid in the burial chamber with many valuable treasures, so he could take them on his journey.
Ramesses II, served long enough as leader of Egypt to transform from man to god. He professed to have harnessed the power of Set, Horus, Re and Amun.
* Priests - The priests were very important in carrying out the all important funerary spells, documenting the Pharaoh's relationship with the gods and all other forms of worship. They were the middle man between the Earth and the heavens.
* Nobility - With money, came the ability to pay for safe passage to the afterlife. Government officials and military leaders were among this group that could afford the expense of a proper tomb and funeral practices such as embalming.
* Commoners - Your everyday folk may not have received the same privileges, but they paid tribute to the gods and worshipped them all the same. For fishermen and farmers, keeping the gods happy was essential to a decent catch or crop.
The Egyptians were in awe of the gods and paid their respects diligently.
Common households could contain the statues of protective gods and goddesses. Also a family wishing to have children sometimes had small statues representing fertility gods.
Farmers, being under control of the temples, paid tribute by taking some of their harvest to the temple of their town.
The close association between ancient Egyptian religion and government meant that schools were attached to temples and those attending were educated by priests.
Festivals were another way for people to celebrate the Gods. During a festival for a particular god or goddess a procession was held with a statue carried through the streets. Such events were well attended.
Some temples were more than just a place of worship or education in religious matters, they were literally a home on earth for the appropriate god or goddess. No one but the highest priest or pharaoh was allowed into the inner sanctums.
By far the most important part of Egyptian religious belief, was that of the afterlife. Rituals such as mummification and being buried with protective spells and prayers were treated very seriously.
It was considered essential that the body be preserved so that it could reunite with the soul and maintain the individuals identity in the afterlife.
Proof of how seriously the Egyptians took their own deaths can be seen in the construction of the pyramids. Never has such effort been applied to a construction that will serve no purpose other than to house the dead.
Below are some links to explore on ancient Egyptian religion in more detail.
Ancient Egyptian Afterlife
Book of the Dead
Ancient Egyptian Masks
Ancient Egyptian Tomb Paintings
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