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Egyptian Goddesses: Ma’at and Nephthys

In this article, you will learn which Egyptian goddess was represented by the feather and played a role in deciding whether or not the deceased could travel to the afterlife. Another goddess discussed in this article is Nephthys, who helped her sister reassemble the body of their husband after he was murdered, cut up into pieces, and cast into the Nile River.

Ma’at

With a feather representing her, Ma’at is the Egyptian goddess of truth and justice that is associated with law and order, immortality, and breathing life into the gods. If you come across any funerary scenes and works of art that show the underworld, you will notice that Ma’at is often incorporated. A feather placed on the opposing side of the scale from the heart of the deceased is also used to indicate the presence of the goddess. If the scale is balanced, then the dead is deemed worthy of traveling to the afterlife. If the scale is unbalanced, he or she is given to Ammit and devoured. Since Ma’at is linked to justice, the red plume (another symbol of Ma’at) is often used as a hieroglyph for “truth”.

Individuals who lived by the laws of Ma’at often took a sacramental drink which equated ritual purity comparable to that of the Christian Holy Communion. Just in the same manner as baptismal water of life, the potion of Ma’at was believed to cause life after death if one was peaceful and abided by the laws during their life. If they were prone to violence, they were given a sentence of horrible death.

Nephthys

Nekhebet was not the only Egyptian goddess that had the vulture representing her, as the personification of darkness and all that belongs to it (Nephthys) was also connected to the vulture. This daughter of Nut, sister of Isis, and wife of Set was responsible for justice, water, weather, immortality, wild birds, moon and night, as well as the underworld.

The ancient Egyptians recalled Nephthys as one of the goddesses present during the assessment of the souls that had reached the underworld. She would stand next to her sister Isis behind the throne of Osiris, wearing a headdress that combined hieroglyphs for “lady” and “house”, which translated into “lady of the mansion.” When Osiris (her husband) was killed, she went to help her sister Isis. Together, they ruled the country and when Isis relocated all of the pieces of Osiris’ body, it was Nephthys that helped her reassemble it.

In the article titled, “Egyptian Goddesses: Isis and Nekhebet,” you will learn about one of the most significant goddesses associated with the ancient Egyptian culture, as well as encounter information on the goddess known as the ‘Creator of Life.’