Overview of Egyptian gods and the afterlife

Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/egypt-anubis-judgement-god-640875/
Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/egypt-anubis-judgement-god-640875/

The ancient Egyptians seemed to have a deep belief in the existence of many gods and the role that the supernatural had in their day-to-day lives.

 

Egypt society was polytheistic, which means that that believed in, and worshipped, more than one god. In fact, we still don't know how many gods the Egyptians worshipped, as we have evidence for hundreds of different deities. The most famous gods of Ancient Egypt are Ra, Osiris, Seth, Isis, Anubis, and Horus. The pharaoh himself was considered to be one of the gods during his time in power. Even after a pharaoh's death, Egyptians believed they became another god in the afterlife.

 

A temple carving showing some of the gods of Ancient Egypt. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/egypt-kom-ombo-temple-engraving-3329720/
A temple carving showing some of the gods of Ancient Egypt. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/egypt-kom-ombo-temple-engraving-3329720/

 

Some of the Egyptian gods were linked to one particular town or city in Egypt. For example. the god Amun was considered to be the main god of the city of Thebes. However, all settlements had temples to a lot of different gods, as each god was important to particular parts of a person's life, or was linked with something in nature.

 

One of the most striking things about the Egyptian gods is that they were often pictured as half-human, half-animal beings. Animals such as birds, lions, cats, crocodiles and dogs are some of the most well-known.

 

Egyptians believed that the gods were responsible for the outcome of the seasons, the harvests and even how well people's lives turned out. It was important, therefore, that the gods were kept happy by regular sacrifices and religious rituals. As a result, temples and priests became important elements in Egyptian society, as it was believed that their work would guarantee the success of Egypt.

 

The pharaoh himself was thought to be the high priest of all temples and that by his participation in religious rituals, the gods were most pleased. 

An ancient Egyptian temple. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/luxor-egypt-temple-pharaoh-statues-4862455/
An ancient Egyptian temple. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/luxor-egypt-temple-pharaoh-statues-4862455/

The Afterlife

 Egyptians seemed to have taken a particular interest in what would happen to them after death. Based upon the decorations in many tombs, they believed that the afterlife was similar to the life a person lived on earth. However, it appears that someone's actions in life determined how likely they were to survive an initial judgment by the gods. Those that were honest in life were considered to be the most likely to enter into a positive afterlife.

 

However, the Egyptians believed that in order to live after death, that the body of the dead person had to be preserved. This is why mummification was developed: as a way of protecting the body from decay. On top of this, they thought that the body still needed food and drink in the afterlife, and tools, and servants, plus many more. Due to this, the ancient Egyptians developed the habit of burying people with as many goods as possible, just in case they needed it in the afterlife.

 

The Egyptian people believed in a great judgment scene that would occur when someone dies, where the gods met the deceased person in a place called 'The Hall of Truths'. During this judgment, Annubis, the god of the dead, would weigh the heart of the dead person on a measuring scale. On the other side of the scale was a feather. If the feather weighed more than the heart, it indicated that the person led a good life, because their heart was 'light' from having no guilt or blame stored up from their time on earth. As a result, the person could enter the afterlife.

 

However, if the heart was heavier than the feather, the person had failed the test and their soul was eaten by the monster-god Ammit, which was depicted as a half-lion, half-crocodile.

A scene from an ancient Egyptian papyrus showing the judgment scene in the afterlife. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/egypt-anubis-judgement-god-640875/
A scene from an ancient Egyptian papyrus showing the judgment scene in the afterlife. Source: https://pixabay.com/photos/egypt-anubis-judgement-god-640875/