Category: Egyptian Mythology
Horus - God of Power and Wisdom
The deathless and timeless Egyptian god Horus symbolizes both power and wisdom. Worshiped in the form of the all-revealing 'eye', Horus is still very much a part of tattoo designs and an extensively studied and interpreted ancient symbol. This son of Isis and Osiris remains synonymous with strength...
Other Names: Heru, Hor, Harendotes/Har-nedj-itef (Horus the Avenger), Har-Pa-Neb-Taui (Horus Lord of the Two Lands)
Patron of: the living Pharaoh, rulers, law, war, young men, light, the sun, many others depending on the particular variant.
Appearance: His most common form is that of falcon-headed man, but he is also shown as a falcon, a lion with the head of a falcon, or a sphinx. He is also shown as a falcon resting on the neck of the pharaoh, spreading his wings to either side of the pharaoh's head and whispering guidance in his ear.
Description: It is nearly impossible to distinguish a "true" Horus from all his many forms. In fact, Horus is mostly a general term for a great number of falcon gods, some of which were worshipped all over Egypt, others simply had local cults. Yet in all of his forms he is regarded as the prince of the gods and the specific patron of the living ruler.
The worship of Horus was brought from the outside by neighboring tribes who invaded and then settled into Egypt. He was their god of war, but was quickly absorbed into the state religion, first as a son of Ra, then changing to become the son of Osiris. He was the protector and guide to the pharaoh and later pharaohs were believed to be his avatar on earth. Horus was also the patron of young men and the ideal of the dutiful son who grows up to become a just man.
The most popular story of Horus is the one in which he grows to manhood to avenge the death of his father Osiris by battling against his cruel uncle Set. In many writings, he is said to continue to battle Set daily to ensure the safety of the world.
Worship: Worshipped widely throughout all of Egypt, even his variant forms were widespread.
God of the dawn and of the morning sun, he is also worshipped as a keeper of secret wisdom. Harmakhet's form is that of a sphinx or a sphinx with the head of a ram, often depicted as a companion to Khephri. It is thought that the Great Sphinx, staring at the eastern horizon, represents him.
Rarely found depicted without his mother Isis. He is shown as a nursing infant with the royal sidelock or sometimes even with a crown, thus demonstrating his right to kingship from the moment of his birth. His worship became very popular in the New Kingdom, spreading even into the Greek and Roman civilizations.
This is the form of Horus that is most familiar, the son of Osiris and Isis. He was conceived magically after the death of Osiris, and Isis hid him away on an island to protect him from Set. In this form he is worshipped as an infant and is beseeched to gain his mother's protection for the worshipper.
Horus Behudety/Horus of Edfu
God of the noontime sun. This particular variant was first worshipped in the western Delta and spread south, a cult center being established at Edfu. He is represented by a winged sun or as a lion with the head of a hawk. Horus Behudety fights constantly against Set and an army of darkness to ensure that the sun rises each day.
Horus the Elder (Haroeris)
An early form of Horus, when his cult was still new in Egypt. A god of light, his left eye was the sun and his right eye the moon. He was the brother of Osiris and Set, and the husband of Hathor.
A combined god of Horus and Ra, he was the god of the sun and took it on its daily path across the sky. He is represented as a falcon or a falcon-headed man wearing the solar disk and the double crown. Sometimes he is pictured wearing the atef crown and the uraeus.
Horus: The Ancient Egyptian God
Horus, the ancient Egyptian god is primarily seen in the form of a falcon. He was considered to be the patron deity of Nekhen. The latter was worshiped as the first national god in upper Egypt, by the kings. Ancient Egyptians believed that the king was a manifestation of Horus, while alive. In death, the king was supposed to have donned the role of Osiris, another god in the pantheon. The Egyptian god Horus was worshiped as the son of Isis and Osiris. There was a parallel tradition that believed Hathor to be his mother and wife. Horus is an important part of Egyptian hieroglyphics that are reconstructed to represent the falcon. He symbolizes 'the distant one' or 'one who is high above'.
Horus was also famous as Harmerty, the blessed one with two eyes. He was believed to be the 'favored one' of the gods. Mythology has it that when Horus, the patron deity of lower Egypt, battled Set, the patron deity of upper Egypt, the gods sided with Horus and he emerged the ultimate victor. Thereafter, he came to be known as Harsiesis or Har-Wer, which meant 'Horus the Great'. The ancient Egyptians believed that in the battle between Horus and Set, the latter lost a testicle and this was used to interpret the reason behind the desert in upper Egypt being completely infertile. Horus lost his left eye in the battle, the reason behind the Egyptian belief that the loss is the cause of a weak moon, in comparison to the sun.
Ancient Egyptian myths and religion centered around a pantheon of gods and goddesses. Horus is not only one of the oldest gods in the Egyptian pantheon, but also one of the most significant deities. The religion has its roots in the Predynastic period and dates back to the Greco-Roman era. The history of the pantheon highlights different forms of the god Horus, each distinct in mythology and history. Egyptologists claim that the various forms are in fact different perceptions of the same god Horus. The deity is believed to be multi-faceted and a storehouse of attributes and syncretic relationships.
The attributes and relationships associated with the Egyptian god Horus are complementary to one another and a strong indication of how the ancient Egyptians harbored multiple facets of the same reality. It is believed that Horus was told by Isis to protect the Egyptians from the desert god, Seth. Seth was believed to be in charge of the arid deserts, chaos and storms. Horus resided in the sky and hence, he took the form of a falcon-headed man to take care of his responsibility towards his people. Horus or Heru was worshiped throughout upper and lower Egypt. He was also referred to as Nekheny or falcon or Kemwer, which meant the 'the great black one'.
What does the Egyptian God Horus Look Like?
Horus was represented as a falcon, master of the sky, sun and moon. The sun was believed to reside within his right eye, while the moon was in the left. Ancient Egyptian culture propounded that the bright star (sun) and the satellite (moon) traversed the sky as Horus flew across to protect his people. Horus is also represented as a naked boy sitting on a lotus, with a finger in his mouth. He is shown alongside his mother and in this form, Horus is referred to as Neferhor, 'the good Horus'. Horus was synonymous with majesty and power and revered by the pharaohs. In fact, it was believed that the pharaohs were Horus in the human form. Horus is also represented as a youth with a lock of hair on the right. In this form, he wears the crowns of Egypt and symbolizes the rising sun. Many believe this to be the original form of Horus, one that reflects his inherent 'sky' nature. The symbols associated with Hours include the falcon, a bull, a winged disc, a double crown, the sphinx, weapons and blacksmiths.
Eye of Horus: Meaning
Wedjat or the 'eye of Horus' is an Egyptian symbol associated with the age-old battle between Set and Horus. According to mythology, they refused to relent and every move made by either one culminated in a new set of challenges. It was believed that Horus and Set finally challenged one another to a stone-boat race. However, in this particular race, Horus had an edge, since his boat was actually made of wood, but disguised to resemble stone. Set's boat sank and Horus won the race. Legend has it that Set officially handed over the throne of Egypt to the victor. This myth culminates in the unification of upper and lower Egypt.
The 'Eye of Horus' represents the sun. Horus was worshiped as the most important god of Egypt. He was given more than fifteen distinct forms, which were divided into two groups or clans, solar and Osirian. Those who believed him to be the son of Isis worshiped him as Osirian, while others worshiped the 'eye' of their favorite solar deity. The Eye of Horus symbolizes protection. The 'eye' stands for indestructibility that aids rebirth. Most funerary amulets in ancient Egypt were shaped to resemble the Eye of Horus. The symbol is still revered as 'the vessel of wisdom' that increases man's ability to view the world with truthfulness.
How did Horus Die?
Horus was considered to be immortal. Ancient Egyptian religion propounded that he lived through the life of every pharaoh, an embodiment of his presence. On the death of a pharaoh, it was believed that Horus simply changed form and became Osiris. In ancient Egypt, kings were believed to be the incarnation of Horus, inheritors of eternal life.
By Gaynor Borade
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