Essay

Discover 6 Animals Associated with Ancient Egyptian Deities

Important Points:

Certain animals are linked to specific Ancient Egyptian gods, but others are connected to entire assemblages of gods.
Egyptian deities were frequently shown as having a human body and the head of their sacred animal.
Many Egyptians held the view that animals were sacrosanct because the gods could take up residence in their bodies as hosts.

Relation Between Animals and Ancient Egyptian Deities

Although they were frequently connected to the gods and goddesses of Ancient Egypt, animals were rarely worshipped on their own. Some gods had more than one symbolic animal, while some deities used animals as symbols. Moreover, the belief held by the Ancient Egyptians was that gods may take on the form of an animal, thereby rendering the animal an embodiment of a deity. As a result, numerous animals were revered by particular gods and were either sacrificed to the gods or used as their embodiments.

Six Animals Linked to Egyptian Deities in Ancient Egypt

The six animals listed below are considered sacred by the gods of ancient Egypt. We also include details on ancient literature and the themes connected to each deity and goddess.

1. Baboon

Baboons are connected to the gods Hap and Thoth. The god of writing, magic, and wisdom in ancient Egypt was named Thoth. Thoth had the ability to take on the form of an ibis and a monkey at the same time. Thoth also stood for justice and order, which he applied to resolve conflicts and issues among the gods of Egypt.

The god of the annual flooding of the Nile River, Hapi stood for both prosperity and the fertility of the planet. Hapi shared a baboon-related association with Thoth. In most art, Hapi is portrayed as having a baboon’s head. Hapi was revered as a god of the underworld who guarded the lungs of the dead, which is another intriguing aspect about this deity.

2. Cat

The Egyptian goddess most closely linked to cats was Bastet. Cats were significant religious and agricultural symbols in ancient Egypt. Cats helped slow the spread of illness by killing rats and protecting crops. Bastet was frequently depicted as having the head of a cat and the body of a female human because many Egyptians thought the goddess could take on the form of a cat. In Ancient Egyptian culture, Bastet represented joy, health, and safety.

3. Crocodile

Being the god of crocodiles, Sobek was often shown in portraiture with a crocodile’s head. Ancient sources list Sobek as one of the oldest Egyptian gods ever unearthed. Some Egyptians thought that Sobek was the one who created the Nile River, home to the majority of crocodiles. Sobek is linked to themes of chaos and fertility.

4. Frog

Alongside the frog are a number of Egyptian gods, such as Nun, Kek, and Amun. The Ogdoad, which describes a collection of eight prehistoric Egyptian deities, included these three. In the Ogdoad, there were four male and female deities. Three male deities with frog-like heads were Kek, Nun, and Amun. According to Egyptian mythology, Nun represented dark and tumultuous seas, Kek represented darkness and night, and Amun represented the air. Heket, a female goddess, on the other hand, also had a frog’s head. Heket was the fertility and birth deity of ancient Egypt.

5. Snake

The female counterparts of the male gods in the Ogdoad had snake or serpent heads. Although the majority of people think that goddesses like Amunet and Naunet were among the female Ogdoad members, this list of Egyptian deities has been subject to revision. However, the majority assert that in early writings, all Ogdoad ladies exhibited snake heads. But all snakes were represented by one goddess. The goddess of serpents, Buto (also called Wadjet) had the appearance of a snake.

6. Lioness

The lioness is connected to Astarte, Tefnut, Mut, and Sekhmet. Sekhmet had the body of a woman and the head of a lioness. Sekhmet, the goddess of chaos, war, healing, and the desert sun, was a very strong character who deserved a strong symbolic animal like the lioness. Similar to Sekhmet, Tefnut was shown as having a lioness’ head and a woman’s body. The goddess of dew, rain, and moisture was Tefnut.

The goddess Mut was usually portrayed as a human lady, although on rare occasions, she was shown with a lioness’ head. This characteristic was particularly noticeable when Mut was connected to other Egyptian goddesses like Bastet and Sekhmet. In addition, Mut was the mother goddess and goddess of the sky because she and Amun-Ra were the ones who brought forth all of creation. Lastly, Astarte was a goddess of both love and war who was frequently connected to lions in addition to doves and bees.