Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Atum and Amun, and Ptah, Ra (Aries), Osiris and Horus (Mars)

Posted by Fredsvenn on November 30, 2016

Ara the Beautiful (also Ara the Handsome) is a legendary Armenian hero. He is notable in Armenian literature for the popular legend in which he was so handsome that the Assyrian queen Semiramis waged war against Armenia to get him. He is an annual life-death-rebirth deity, and synonymous with the spring.

In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and also an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him (Latin Martius), and in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming.

Aries (meaning “ram”) is the first astrological sign in the zodiac, spanning the first 30 degrees of celestial longitude (0°≤ λ <30°). According to the tropical system of astrology, the Sun enters the sign of Aries when it reaches the northern vernal equinox, which occurs around March 21. Under the tropical zodiac, the Sun transits this sign mostly between March 21 and April 19 each year. Under the sidereal zodiac, the sun currently transits Aries from April 15 to May 14 (approximately).

The symbol of the ram is based on the Chrysomallus, the flying ram that provided the Golden Fleece.In Greek mythology, the Golden Fleece is the fleece of the gold-hair[a] winged ram, which was held in Colchis. The fleece is a symbol of authority and kingship.

Atum sometimes rendered as Atem or Tem, is an important deity in Egyptian mythology. Atum’s name is thought to be derived from the word tem which means to complete or finish. Thus he has been interpreted as being the ‘complete one’ and also the finisher of the world, which he returns to watery chaos at the end of the creative cycle. As creator he was seen as the underlying substance of the world, the deities and all things being made of his flesh or alternatively being his ka.

Atum is one of the most important and frequently mentioned deities from earliest times, as evidenced by his prominence in the Pyramid Texts, where he is portrayed as both a creator and father to the king. In the Heliopolitan creation myth, Atum was considered to be the first god, having created himself, sitting on a mound (benben) (or identified with the mound itself), from the primordial waters (Nu). Early myths state that Atum created the god Shu and goddess Tefnut by spitting them out of his mouth.

To explain how Atum did this, the myth uses the metaphor of masturbation, with the hand he used in this act representing the female principle inherent within him. Other interpretations state that he has made union with his shadow.

In the Old Kingdom the Egyptians believed that Atum lifted the dead king’s soul from his pyramid to the starry heavens. He was also a solar deity, associated with the primary sun god Ra. Atum was linked specifically with the evening sun, while Ra or the closely linked god Khepri were connected with the sun at morning and midday.

In the Book of the Dead, which was still current in the Graeco-Roman period, the sun god Atum is said to have ascended from chaos-waters with the appearance of a snake, the animal renewing itself every morning.

Atum is the god of pre-existence and post-existence. In the binary solar cycle, the serpentine Atum is contrasted with the ram-headed scarab Khepri—the young sun god, whose name is derived from the Egyptian hpr “to come into existence”. Khepri-Atum encompassed sunrise and sunset, thus reflecting the entire solar cycle.

Atum was a self-created deity, the first being to emerge from the darkness and endless watery abyss that existed before creation. A product of the energy and matter contained in this chaos, he created his children—the first deities, out of loneliness. He produced from his own sneeze, or in some accounts, semen, Shu, the god of air, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture.

The brother and sister, curious about the primeval waters that surrounded them, went to explore the waters and disappeared into the darkness. Unable to bear his loss, Atum sent a fiery messenger, the Eye of Ra, to find his children. The tears of joy he shed on their return were the first human beings.

Amun was a major Ancient Egyptian deity. He was attested since the Old Kingdom together with his spouse Amaunet. With the 11th dynasty (c. 21st century BC), he rose to the position of patron deity of Thebes by replacing Monthu. After the rebellion of Thebes against the Hyksos and with the rule of Ahmose I (16th century BC), Amun acquired national importance, expressed in his fusion with the Sun god, Ra, as Amun-Ra or Amun-Re.

Amun-Ra retained chief importance in the Egyptian pantheon throughout the New Kingdom (with the exception of the “Atenist heresy” under Akhenaten). Amun-Ra in this period (16th to 11th centuries BC) held the position of transcendental, self-created creator deity “par excellence”, he was the champion of the poor or troubled and central to personal piety.

His position as King of Gods developed to the point of virtual monotheism where other gods became manifestations of him. With Osiris, Amun-Ra is the most widely recorded of the Egyptian gods.

As the chief deity of the Egyptian Empire, Amun-Ra also came to be worshipped outside of Egypt, according to the testimony of ancient Greek historiographers in Libya and Nubia. As Zeus Ammon he came to be identified with Zeus in Greece.

Ra or Re is the ancient Egyptian sun god. By the Fifth Dynasty in the 25th and 24th centuries BC, he had become a major god in ancient Egyptian religion, identified primarily with the noon sun. He was associated with the falcon or hawk.

In later Egyptian dynastic times, Ra was merged with the god Horus, as Ra-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.

In ancient Egyptian astronomy, Aries was associated with the god Amon-Ra, who was depicted as a man with a ram’s head and represented fertility and creativity. Because it was the location of the vernal equinox, it was called the “Indicator of the Reborn Sun”.

During the times of the year when Aries was prominent, priests would process statues of Amon-Ra to temples, a practice that was modified by Persian astronomers centuries later. Aries acquired the title of “Lord of the Head” in Egypt, referring to its symbolic and mythological importance.

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 was the father of Shu and Tefnut, whom he created. Shu was the god of the wind, and Tefnut was the goddess of the rain. Sekhmet was the Eye of Ra and was created by the fire in Ra’s eye. She was a violent lioness.

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 favor of another solar deity, the Aten, the deified solar disc, but after the death of Akhenaten the cult of Ra was restored.

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. All forms of life were believed to have been created by Ra, who called each of them into existence by speaking their secret names. Alternatively man was created from Ra’s tears and sweat, hence the Egyptians call themselves the “Cattle of Ra.”

In the myth of the Celestial Cow it is recounted how mankind plotted against Ra and how he sent his eye as the goddess Sekhmet to punish them. When she became bloodthirsty she was pacified by drinking beer mixed with red dye.

Ra was thought to travel on two solar boats called the Mandjet (the Boat of Millions of Years), or morning boat, and the Mesektet, or evening/night boat. These boats took him on his journey through the sky and the Duat, the literal underworld of Egypt. While Ra was on the Mesektet, he was in his ram-headed form.

When Ra traveled in his sun boat, he was accompanied by various other deities including Sia (perception) and Hu (command), as well as Heka (magic power). Sometimes, members of the Ennead helped him on his journey, including Set, who overcame the serpent Apophis, and Mehen, who defended against the monsters of the underworld. When Ra was in the underworld, he would visit all of his various forms.

Apophis, the god of chaos, was an enormous serpent who attempted to stop the sun boat’s journey every night by consuming it or by stopping it in its tracks with a hypnotic stare. During the evening, the Egyptians believed that Ra set as Atum or in the form of a ram. The night boat would carry him through the underworld and back towards the east in preparation for his rebirth.

These myths of Ra represented the sun rising as the rebirth of the sun by the sky goddess Nut; thus attributing the concept of rebirth and renewal to Ra and strengthening his role as a creator god as well.

Ra was worshipped as the Creator god among some ancient Egyptians, specifically followers of his cult at Heliopolis. It was believed that Ra wept, and from his tears came man. These cult-followers believed that Ra was self-created, while followers of Ptah believed that Ra was created by Ptah.

In Egyptian mythology, Ptah (Egyptian: ptḥ, probably vocalized as Pitaḥ in ancient Egyptian) is the demiurge of Memphis, god of craftsmen and architects. In the triad of Memphis, he is the spouse of Sekhmet and the father of Nefertum. He was also regarded as the father of the sage Imhotep, meaning “the one who comes in peace, is with peace”.

In a passage of the Book of the Dead, Ra cuts himself, and his blood transforms into two intellectual personifications: Hu, or authority, and Sia, or mind. Ra is also accredited with the creation of the seasons, months, plants, and animals.

When Ra was in the underworld, he merged with Osiris (alternatively Ausir, Asiri or Ausar, among other spellings), the god usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld, and the dead, but more appropriately as the god of transition, resurrection, and regeneration, and through it became the god of the dead as well.

Osiris was classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh’s beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and holding a symbolic crook and flail.

Osiris was at times considered the oldest son of the earth god Geb, though other sources state his father is the sun-god Ra, and the sky goddess Nut, as well as being brother and husband of Isis, with Horus being considered his posthumously begotten son.

He was also associated with the epithet Khenti-Amentiu, meaning “Foremost of the Westerners”, a reference to his kingship in the land of the dead. As ruler of the dead, Osiris was also sometimes called “king of the living”: ancient Egyptians considered the blessed dead “the living ones”.

Osiris was considered the brother of Isis, Set, Nephthys, and Horus the Elder, and father of Horus the younger. Osiris was considered not only a merciful judge of the dead in the afterlife, but also the underworld agency that granted all life, including sprouting vegetation and the fertile flooding of the Nile River. He was described as the “Lord of love”, “He Who is Permanently Benign and Youthful” and the “Lord of Silence”.

The Kings of Egypt were associated with Osiris in death – as Osiris rose from the dead they would, in union with him, inherit eternal life through a process of imitative magic. By the New Kingdom all people, not just pharaohs, were believed to be associated with Osiris at death, if they incurred the costs of the assimilation rituals.

Through the hope of new life after death, Osiris began to be associated with the cycles observed in nature, in particular vegetation and the annual flooding of the Nile, through his links with the heliacal rising of Orion and Sirius at the start of the new year.

The most commonly encountered family relationship describes Horus as the son of Isis and Osiris, and he plays a key role in the Osiris myth as Osiris’s heir and the rival to Set, the murderer of Osiris. In another tradition Hathor is regarded as his mother and sometimes as his wife. Horus served many functions, most notably being a god of the sky, war and hunting.

Mars in culture is about the planet Mars in culture. For example, the planet Mars is named after the Roman god of war Mars. In Babylonian astronomy, the planet was named after Nergal, their deity of fire, war, and destruction, most likely due to the planet’s reddish appearance. The planet was known by the ancient Egyptians as “Horus of the Horizon”, then later Her Deshur (“Ḥr Dšr”), or “Horus the Red”.

Horus was born to the goddess Isis after she retrieved all the dismembered body parts of her murdered husband Osiris, except his penis, which was thrown into the Nile and eaten by a catfish, or sometimes by a crab, and according to Plutarch’s account used her magic powers to resurrect Osiris and fashion a golden phallus to conceive her son (older Egyptian accounts have the penis of Osiris surviving).

Once Isis knew she was pregnant with Horus, she fled to the Nile Delta marshlands to hide from her brother Set, who jealously killed Osiris and who she knew would want to kill their son. There Isis bore a divine son, 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 The Contendings of Horus and Seth. 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.

As Horus was the ultimate victor he became known as ḥr.w wr “Horus the Great”, but more usually translated “Horus the Elder”. In the struggle, Set had lost a testicle, explaining why the desert, which Set represented, is infertile. Horus’ left eye had also been gouged out, then a new eye was created by part of Khonsu, the moon god, and was replaced.

The popular motif of Isis suckling her son Horus, however, lived on in a Christianized context as the popular image of Mary suckling her infant son Jesus from the fifth century onward.

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