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What is the sun’s journey in Egyptian mythology?

The sun is the source of life, light, and warmth for all living beings on earth. But how did the ancient Egyptians understand and worship this powerful celestial phenomenon? In this blog post, we will explore the mythology and symbolism of Ra, the sun god of ancient Egypt, and his journey across the sky and the underworld.

Ra is one of the oldest and most important deities in the Egyptian pantheon. He was believed to have ruled as the first pharaoh of Egypt, and he was the god of order, kingship, and the sky. Ra was portrayed as a falcon with a sun disk on his head, or sometimes as a man with a falcon head. He was also associated with other gods, such as Horus, Amun, and Atum, who represented different aspects of the sun at different times of the day.

Ra’s journey began at dawn, when he emerged from the eastern horizon in his solar barge, called the Mandjet. He carried the sun disk across the sky, providing light and life to the world. He was accompanied by various gods and goddesses who protected him from his enemies, such as the chaos serpent Apophis, who tried to swallow him every day. Ra also had to face other challenges and dangers on his way, such as storms, eclipses, and rebellions.

At noon, Ra reached his zenith, and he was at his most powerful and radiant. He was then known as Amun-Ra, the king of the gods and the creator of all things. He was worshipped by millions of people who offered him prayers and sacrifices. He also communicated with his earthly representatives, the pharaohs, who were considered his sons and incarnations.

At sunset, Ra entered the western horizon, called the akhet, and began his descent into the underworld. He switched to another barge, called the Mesektet, and took on a ram-headed form. He sailed through the dark waters of the subterranean Nile, passing through twelve regions and gates that corresponded to the twelve hours of the night. Each region had its own dangers and inhabitants, such as demons, spirits, and souls of the dead. Ra had to judge and illuminate them with his sun disk.

At midnight, Ra reached the deepest part of the underworld, where he met Osiris, the god of death and resurrection. Ra merged with Osiris, becoming Atum-Ra, the father of all gods and the source of life. He also regenerated himself by swallowing his own children, Shu and Tefnut, who represented air and moisture. He then prepared himself for his rebirth at dawn.

At dawn, Ra emerged again from the eastern horizon, completing his cycle of death and resurrection. He was then known as Ra-Horakhty, or Ra who is Horus of the two horizons. He resumed his journey across the sky, bringing a new day to the world.

Ra’s journey was not only a mythological story but also a symbolic representation of the natural phenomena of sunrise and sunset, day and night, life and death. It also reflected the Egyptian belief in maat , or cosmic order and balance that Ra maintained and restored every day. By worshipping Ra and following his example, the Egyptians hoped to achieve harmony with themselves, their society, and their environment.

Ra’s journey also inspired many artistic expressions in ancient Egypt. His image was carved on temples, tombs, statues, amulets, jewelry, and other objects. His name was written with a hieroglyph that depicted a sun disk with a dot inside it. His story was told in hymns , prayers , spells , books , and paintings . His cult center was at Heliopolis , or Iunu , which means “city of the sun god”.

Ra’s journey is one of the most fascinating aspects of Egyptian mythology. It reveals how the ancient Egyptians perceived and celebrated their most vital natural phenomenon: the sun. It also shows how they connected their religion , culture , history , art , and science with their environment . By learning about Ra’s journey , we can gain a deeper understanding of one of the most influential civilizations in human history. write seo meta description for a blog on What is the sun’s journey in Egyptian mythology?

Published Date

24 June, 2023


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