Ancient Egyptian Religion: Gods, Goddesses & Priests

Egyptian God, AnubisWhen it came to the various aspects pertaining to Egyptian life, religion was one of the most prominent details to focus on. Ancient Egyptians focused on a polytheistic view of their religion, which means that they worshipped many different gods and goddesses. With the exception of the reign of Akenaton, polytheism was the approach ancient Egyptians took towards religion.


Ancient Egyptian Gods and Goddesses


There were about 2,000 gods and goddesses within the ancient Egyptian belief system. There were two different ways that these deities were worshipped. The first set of deities was hailed throughout the entire country, as seen with Amun. The second set of deities was regarded mostly on a local plane. An interesting aspect of these gods and goddesses was the fact that some sort of animal mostly represented them.


Many of the deities appeared in art, possessing some human parts, as well as animal characteristics. This can be seen in gods, such as Anubis, who had the head of a jackal and represented the God of the Dead. It is his image, that many uncovered Egyptian tombs have sketched on the sides. The sky god, Horus, has the body of a human with the head of a hawk. When it came to animals, the cat, the bull, as well as the crocodile were seen as holy figures.


Chief Gods


There were two main gods associated with the ancient Egyptian culture. Amon-Ra was thought to represent God of the Sun, as well as the lord over the rest of the universe. Osiris was considered the God of the Underworld. When the concept of immortality is mentioned, it is this god who is associated with this belief. A peaceful transition to the afterlife was often associated with Osiris, as well.


Book of the Dead


Within the Book of the Dead, the main thoughts and beliefs pertaining to the ancient religion is written throughout the pages of this text. Ancient Egyptian religion focused on an afterlife, which influenced the living at that time to spend a great amount of time and money on preparing for what they may encounter when they reach the “next world.”


The Role of Temples


Temples were viewed as the gathering place of the Gods, who could appear anywhere at will, but often dwelled within the temples. Each Egyptian city erected a temple for the God mainly associated with that location. The temple then served as a place where man and Gods could communicate with one another. Later versions of the temples began to include tombs within their layout schemes.


The Role of the Priest


As religion within this ancient civilization evolved, the role of the priest became increasingly prominent. The job of the priests was to tend to the needs of the Gods, as well as care for the temple. They were also responsible for delivering funeral rites, as well as teaching in the schools. They looked over the works of the artists in the area and were also looked upon as beings that could help residents with their problems.