Egypt was one of the longest lasting empires and had some of the most complicated myths. They were polytheistic, meaning they believed in many gods. Over the span of years the gods were given different names and the myths had different versions. Some of them were more important than others. Ra, Osiris, Horus, Isis, Nephthys, Set, Anubis, Bast, Serqet, Sekhmet, Khons, Khnum, Ma’at, Shu, and Thoth were some of the most important gods.
Ra was the sun god. Every day he would ride the sun boat across the sky. He would begin in the east and go across the sky, eventually descending into the underworld at the end of the day. He was not Ra the entire day though. He had other manifestations. In the mornings he was Khepri with the head of a scarab beetle, Ra during the day oftentimes with the head of a falcon and a sun disk with a snake (symbolizing the serpent Apophis who was Ra’s greatest enemy), and Khnum with a ram’s head in the evenings at the end of his day’s journey.Order now
Ra was the king of the gods for a long time, but Isis wanted Osiris, her husband to be the king. One night while Ra was sleeping she collected some of his drool. She then mixed it with clay which created a poisonous snake. This snake bit him, putting the fatal poison in his body. Gods are immortal, so they can’t die, but this poison ate away his essence. The other gods tried to heal him, and Isis acted innocent. Thoth, the god of knowledge and healing tried to heal him, but he couldn’t. Isis told Ra that she could heal him, but only if he told her his secret name. Egyptians believed everything in creation had a secret name and if you told someone your secret name they would have control over you. Ra was so desperate he agreed. He told Isis his secret name. Using that she was able to heal him, but she now had control over him. She forced Ra into the heavens, opening the way for Osiris to become king. Set, the storm and desert god had been an important lieutenant to Ra, so he did not want his brother replacing him. This made Osiris and Set enemies and Set determined to get revenge.
In one of the myths, Osiris, Horus, Isis, Nephthys, and Set were the children of Geb, the earth god and Nut, the sky god. Ra had heard a prophecy that one day a child of Ged and Nut would take his place as king. When he heard that Nut was pregnant he freaked out and forbade her to give birth on any night or day of the year, meaning she would have to stay pregnant forever. However she figured out a way to get around it. At the time there were only 360 days per year, so she set up a game of dice with Khons (the moon god). Every time he lost he would have to up some of his moonlight to Nut. Over time he lost enough that Nut had collected all the moonlight she needed to add an extra five days onto the end of the year. She had one of her children each of those days. They called those five days the Demon Days. They believed on those five day the world of living was closer to the world of the dead then on any other days, so demons could travel into the world of the living. The egyptians always wore protective amulets and they were not allowed or supposed to do anything important on those five days. They were always the last five days of the year, starting on December 27. When Ra found out she had disobeyed his orders he was furious. As punishment she was never allowed to see her husband again. He was banished to the earth, while she had to stay in the sky.
Osiris was the god of the underworld. However, it wasn’t always like that. He used to be king of the gods. On Osiris’ birthday (December 27) he was having a celebration in the Palace of Gods when Set, his brother, arrived with some entertainment. At the time he and Isis were married and expecting Horus, their son. Set had brought a jeweled golden coffin carried by four wolf-headed men. Set told them it was a sleeping casket created by the best craftsmen made with expensive materials. He said a god that lies inside of it, for as short as just one night, would see his or her powers increase dramatically. He told them their wisdom would never falter and their strength would never fail. But he made it a challenge. He said it was a gift for the one god who was able to fit inside of it. All of the gods except Osiris went to try to fit inside the box, however, none of them fit. Set asked Osiris if he wanted to try since they had no winner yet. He wanted to. He thought if he was able to fit in the box he would be the most powerful god. Nobody, not even Set would be able to say he was not the rightful king. Isis, his wife, was the only god to be troubled. She warned him that Set didn’t bring gift, he brought only trouble, but Osiris, thinking it was only a game did it. He fit perfectly. Before he was able to rise Set created a lid on the coffin. Golden latches fastened on the lid and Set spoke a magic word causing a caldron of molten lead to pour over the coffin, sealing it shut. He tried to stop Isis from getting away, but Nephthys, his wife stopped him. He made the coffin sink into the floor. Meanwhile, in the form of a kite, a bird of prey, Isis fled. She escaped, but her and her son never forgot what Set had done. Osiris became king of the dead. His deciptains often show him as a mummy or having blue skin, holding the crook and flail, the symbols of a king.
There were many complicated steps to get into the underworld in Egypt. Your body had to be properly mummified and you had to pass several steps once you were dead. While you were still alive you could read the book of the dead, which was like a cheat sheet for getting into the afterlife. Then your brains and internal origins were taken out and your heat was replaced so you could use it in the afterlife. Once you were buried they believed you came back to life in the afterlife to tell the most important gods, such as Ra and Horus all of the good things you did, but also all of your sins. After that you were led to the Weighing of the Heart ceremony by Anubis. Your heart would be weighed against the Feather of Truth or Ma’at on the scales of Anubis. The Feather of Truth belonged to the goddess of order and creation Ma’at. If your heart was lighter than the feather that meant you had lived a good life and had been honest with the gods. However, if the feather was lighter that meant your heart was weighed down by your sins or you had lied to the gods. If your heart was heavier it would be eaten by Ammit the Devourer. They believed your heart was also your soul, so Ammit ate your soul. Ammit was a combination of the three most deadly animals in Egypt. Crocodile, lion, and Hippo. If you passed that you would be led to face the judgement of Osiris the king of the dead by Horus. If Osiris thought you had lived a good life, he would give you back your heart, liver, and other orgins that you were burried with, you would then be able to proceed to the underworld and live enternal life.
Horus was the falcon headed god of war. One of his most famous symbols was the a heiroglyph called The Eye of Horus. The Eye of Horus repersented his one silver eye. In a battle with Set he used his magic to turn Isis and Horus against each other. Isis was so mad at Horus she stabbed his eye out. I return he chopped her head off. Thoth managed to heal Isis while Khons, the moon god fashoned a replacement eye out of moonlight. Today the medical symbol the capital R with the x at the bottom is a syplified version of the Eye of Horus. Oftentimes the Ehyptians would piant the Eye of Horus on the front of thier boats in belief that it would watch over them as they sailed. Horus also had a underworld job. He would lead the dead from the Weighing of the Heart Ceremony to face the judgement of Osiris.
Isis was the goddess of magic. Her most known symbol was called The Knot of Isis.
Saving Osiris was next to impossible, but Isis and Horus were determined to do it. After much searching they finally found the coffin Set had inprisoned him in. It was no longer beautiful, but now battered and dirty. Isis thought if they could find and open it she would be able to use her magic to restore Osiris and bring him back to life. They brought the coffin the a deserted village, but before they had a chance to open it Set arrived. He didn’t give them the chance to do anything before slamming his staff on the coffin and breaking it into fourteen pieces. Isis and Horus were left no choice but to flee. So once again they turned in the brids of prey and flew away. For many years after that they searched all of Egypt for the fourteen pieces of Osiris and the coffin. They finally found all of them, but Set’s magic was too powerful and they were inable to restore hi to how he was. Anubis was able to bind him together in mummy wrappings and Isis used her magic to give him life, but in this form he would no longer be able to rule the gods. He became king of the underworld and that is why you will sometimes see him in mummy wrappings.