Ra - The Sun God of Egypt
Ra is the Sun God of Egypt. Many people call him “rah” but the correct pronunciation is “ray” (that's why his name is also written as “Re”). He is considered the father of Gods, and was the most important and worshipped king of Gods.
Ra is usually depicted with the body of a human and the head of a falcon.
Ra's wife is called Ratet and his daughter Hathor, aka Eye of Ra.
The Sun God
The sun was first worshipped as Horus, later as Ra. He is associated with the mid-day sun (other deities represent other positions of the sun).
The sun was the primary element of life in ancient Egypt and represented:
This is why sun deities were very important in ancient Egypt.
Father of Gods
Ra is known as the father and grandfather of Gods. He rose in the beginning of creation and spit forth the first godly couple:
- Shu (symbolizes air)
- Tefnut (moisture)
- Geb (earth)
- Nut (sky)
Ra bore several other offspring; amongst those was his son, the king.
The Symbolism of Ra
Ra embodies the Egyptian beliefs of order and truth.
In Egyptian mythology, he signifies the cycle of birth, life and death. That's why he is known as the father of creation:
Ra is perpetually resurrected in the mornings, he rides across the sky during the day and at sunset he is swallowed by the goddess Nut, only for her to give birth to him in the morning.
The most common symbol associated with the ancient Egyptian God Ra is the sun. He is depicted in a wealth of symbols, but they all are formed around the theory of Ra representing creation and nature. Most of his symbols were shared with other solar deities, mainly Horus.
- In Egyptian art, Ra is usually seen as a man with a pharaoh's crown on his head and a sun disk above it.
- Ra is often depicted with a falcon head, just like Horus.
- The winged sun disk: the primary symbol of Ra, a very ancient symbol that signifies the “Sun of Righteousness with healing in his arms.” It also represents the creative elements of nature.
- Wedjat: (aka utchat, eye of Ra, eye of Horus) is a sacred eye symbol (see below).
- Phoenix: Ra rose in the shape of a phoenix from the primordial ocean of Nun and landed on a single mound of dry land and then let the sun's rays shine forth.
- Lotus Flower: Ra formed himself from the chaos of Nun and emerged from the lotus petals.
The History of the Sun God Ra
The ancient Egyptians have numerous Gods in there culture and they feel that the Gods walk among them, invisibly on Earth. Ra is the most central God of the Egyptian Pantheon and doesn't dwell on earth, but watches his children and kingdom from the sky.
At sunrise, Ra is a young boy called Khepri, mid-day he becomes the falcon-headed man and at sunset he becomes an elder called Atum. He travels in a sun boat and had to be defended against Apep, a giant serpent that tries to eat the sun boat every night.
Ra changed greatly over the course of ancient Egyptian history. In dynastic times he was merged with Horus and became Re-Horakhty. He then ruled over sky, earth and underworld and was the creator of the world.
Ra developed through the second and fifth dynasty. In the fourth dynasty, pharaohs were known as "sons of Ra". Ra was upheld the most in the fifth dynasty, where he became more associated with the king then the pharaoh. Kings erected pyramids that were considered solar temples and aligned them with the rising and setting sun in his honor.
During the Middle Kingdom, Ra was more and more combined with other deities like Osiris and Amun.
In the New Kingdom, Ra became more and more popular, which resulted in a kind of monotheism.
The worship of Ra as a religious and cultural figure has significantly deteriorated over years due to the rise of christianity.
The Eye of Ra
The Eye of Ra
The name has changed over generations but the meaning is still the same. The Eye of Ra was once known as the Eye of Horus or Wedjat. It is an ancient Egyptian symbol of protection and the divine royal power. It is a powerful force that is linked with the fierce heat of the sun and was passed on to each Pharaoh. The Eye is considered the all-seeing eye and protects the king and thwart off evil.
This Egyptian symbol appears on the Great Seal of the United States, and on every United States dollar bill. The eye within the pyramid represents Ra awaiting rebirth. Even though he is enclosed in the pyramid his soul remained alive and watchful, as indicated by the open eye.
The ancient pyramid texts state: Perfect is the Eye of Horus. I have delivered the Eye of Horus, the shining one, the ornament of the Eye of Ra, the Father of the Gods."