Many books have been written on religion in ancient Egypt. This brief overview is meant only to explain some of the basic concepts and to introduce some of the gods. Religion in ancient Egypt was not unlike modern times. Today, not everyone believes in the same way, or of the same god. Egypt was no different. Individual kings worshipped their own gods, as did the workers,priests, merchants and peasants. Pre-dynastic Egypt had formulated the ideas and beliefs of a "greater being", which was expressed in pictures, but some scholars suggest that "writing" was invented in order to communicate spiritual thoughts to the masses. Now the pictures had ideas, and took on human traits. The gods lived, died, hunted, went into battle, gave birth, ate, drank, and had humanemotions. The gods reigns overlapped, and, in some instances, merged. Their was no organized hierarchy structure of their reign. The dominance of the gods depended on the beliefs of the reigning king. Their area of dominance depended on where the king wanted his capital. Likewise, the myths changed with the location of the gods, as did their names. Names in ancient Egypt were very mystic and powerful. Itwas thought that if you inscribed your enemies' name on something, then broke it, that enemy would either be afflicted, or possibly die. If you knew a name you had power. In the same respect, using a name could be beneficial. Each god had five names, and each was associated with an element, such as air, with celestial bodies, or were a descriptive statement about the god, such as strong, virile ormajestic.
The creator of all things was either Re, Amun, Ptah, Khnum or Aten, depending on which version of the myth was currently in use. The heavens were represented by Hathor, Bat, and Horus. Osiris was an earth god as was Ptah. The annual flooding of the Nile was Hapi. Storms, evil and confusion were Seth. His counterpart was Ma'at, who represented balance, justice and truth. The moon wasThoth and Khonsu. Re, the sun god, took on many forms, and transcended most of the borders that contained the other gods. The actual shape of the sun, the disk (or, aten), was deified into another god, Aten.
As stated earlier, certain gods were worshipped in different areas. Local cities or villages, known as nomes, often had unique gods that were known only to that region. On occasion, thesegods attained country -wide recognition and became the myths and legends that were passed on from century to century. Below is a listing of the main gods and their primary place of worship.
Amaunet - A female counterpart to Amon and one of the primordial gods of the Hermopolitian Ogdoad (group of eight gods). She was also worshipped at Thebes along with Amon and Mut.
Amon - Usually associated withthe wind, or things hidden, and was also of the Hermopolitian Ogdoad. At Thebes he became Amon-Re, king of the gods. He was part of the Theban Triad, along with Mut and Khonsu.
Antaios - He was originally a double god, "the two falcons", that was later joined to create one, probably that of Horus.
Anuket - Worshipped at Elephantine, she was associated with the gazelle.
Apis - Seen as the bullwith a solar disk between its horns, Apis was associated with Osiris and Ptah.
Aton - Also known as Aten, he was worshipped at Tell 'Amarna.
Atum - A primordial god that was represented in the form of a human and a serpent. He was the supreme god in the Heliopolitan Ennead (group of nine gods) and formed with Re to create Re-Atum.
Hathor - The goddess of love, dance and alcohol was depicted asa cow. At Thebes she was also the goddess of the dead. She was worshipped at Dendera as the consort of Horus and Edfu, and was associated with Isis at Byblos.
Horus - The earliest royal god was the shape of a falcon, with the sun and moon as his eyes. The sky-god was the ruler of the day. The many forms of Horus are; Re-Harakhti, Harsiesis, Haroeris, Harendotes, Khenti-irti, Khentekhtay (the...