Ancient Egypt

The Eye of Ra

The Eye of Ra was a valued symbol in the ancient Egyptian culture. Some scholars believe the Eye of Ra was originally Horus' right eye, a representation of the sun. Over time, the Egyptians came to associate it with Ra, the sun god, and called it the Eye of Ra.

Mythology of the Eye of Ra

Relief of Ra wearing the sun disc

© Hornet Arts - Ra with sun disc

Several Egyptian myths discuss the Eye of Ra. According to one myth, Ra's children, Shu and Tefnut, wandered away and got lost. Ra plucked out his eye and sent it to find his children. The eye found Shu and Tefnut and brought them back to Ra.

While the eye was gone, Ra grew a new eye. The eye saw this as a betrayal and became enraged. To appease the eye, Ra changed it into the uraeus. He wore the uraeus on his forehead.

In another myth, Ra became angry about how humans were treating him. He sent his eye to punish humanity. The eye raged and destroyed humanity. The gods feared the eye would kill all humans. Ra used red beer to make his eye drunk and it passed out. Then, the eye became peaceful again and returned to Ra.



Eye of Ra Symbol

Many people believe that the Egyptians symbolized the Eye of Ra with the same image as that used to symbolize the Eye of Horus. Some scholars think that the sun-disc encircled by two uraeus cobras was the Egyptian symbol for the Eye of Ra. The Egyptians saw several goddesses as personifications of this symbol, including Bastet, Hathor, Mut, Sekhmet, and Wadjet.

Sun Disc at Kom Ombo

© Mindy McAdams - Sun Disc at Kom Ombo

Eye of Ra Meaning

The Eye of Ra represented the sun to the Egyptians. Often, it was associated with the destructive power of the sun, but Egyptians also used it to protect buildings and themselves. The Eye of Ra was a symbol of royal authority.


Eye of Ra

© A. Parrot - Eye of Ra


Worship and the Eye of Ra

Statue of Goddess Hathor wearing the Uraeus headdress

© Jan - Hathor with Uraeus Headdress

The Eye of Ra played a part in the worship of the goddesses the Egyptians saw as its personifications. The Egyptians saw each goddess as the mother, sibling, consort and daughter of Ra. They conducted rituals to celebrate the life-giving aspects of the Eye of Ra. Some of these rituals took place at the New Year to celebrate the eye's return to Egypt and the arrival of the Nile floods.

The Egyptians also celebrated dangerous aspects of the Eye of Ra. Symbols of the eye were used to invoke the god's protection. People believed that the queen was the earthly personification of the various goddesses associated with the Eye of Ra. The queens often wore headdresses similar to those worn by the goddesses in images.


Eye of Ra Facts

  • The Eye of Ra was a symbol for the sun.
  • It is personified by several Egyptian goddesses, such as Wadjet, Sekhmet, Hathor, Bastet and Mut.
  • It was represented through a sun disc encircled by two uraeus cobras.
  • Although perceived as a potentially destructive force, it was also inscribed on walls or amulets for protection.
  • The eye of Ra is similar to the eye of Horus, but is personified by another god(s).