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Religion played a very significant role in Ancient Egypt. Their religion was greatly inspired by custom and tradition. The Ancient Egyptians possessed a complex and intricate religion. “Their main aim throughout their history was to emulate the conditions which they believed has existed at the dawn of creation.” (Rosalie, 1988) Ancient Egyptian includes many religious beliefs and rituals performed in Ancient Egypt beyond 3,000 years. The religious beliefs centered on the worship of numerous deities who signified various features of ideas, nature and purposes of power, articulated by the ways of complicated and many archetypes. Ancient Egyptians were polytheists and worshipped literally hundreds of different gods, including their pharaohs, all of whom were believed to be gods in the form of men. The deities were worshipped with offerings and prayers, in family and home shrines including in temples which are administered by priests. Egypt never had a rational hierarchy because different gods were superior at different periods of time in Egyptian history and also the myths related with them changed over time. Nevertheless, religion of Ancient Egypt is recognized or learned prominently by people around the globe.
Egyptians believed that the temple with premises as the actual home of the god. They performed their daily rituals by preparing a statue which they considered as their actual deity. The most important ritual was performed during the sunrise. They perform another ritual during the mid-day and the last one when the sun goes down. Before the dawn the temple area is filled with priests, temple servants are seen preparing offerings of food, drinks and flowers. Everyone who was to come into the attendance of the ritual had to be purified. Meanwhile in a room outside of the sanctum, only pharaoh and high priests were allowed where the offerings were set out. The offerings included incense burning and chanting of prayers by priests and priestess. At the same moment as the sun reaches above the horizon, the face of the god was to unseal. This represented the rebirth of the sun as incarnated in the statue. The statue was to wash, perfume, apply make-up and dress in clean clothing. The conclusion of the ritual includes the high priest anointing the forehead of the statue with scented oil which affirms that the statue has been instilled with existence of the deity. The high priest seals the door of the sanctum and sweeps away his foot prints leaving no trace. Through their ritual and purifying of god, it was said that that the god will protect the two lands which were Upper and Lower Egypt.
Religion has been described as a belief in and an admiration for supernatural powers regarded as creator and ruler of the universe. Egyptian religion encompasses their ancient gods, the mythology and other aspects of the religion such as creation, death and the afterlife. However, there are undoubtedly more complications to the religion, such as how the king played into this structure of religion, and ethical beliefs concerning what the god are expected of humans. The Egyptians had many tales regarding how the world started. “According to one legend, it started with an ocean in darkness. Then a mound of dry land rose up and the sun god Re appeared. He created light and all things. Another version has the sun God emerging from a sacred blue lotus that grew out of the mud, while a third version has him as part animal and part human.” (Heller, 1999) The Egyptian “Book of the Dead” covers the main thoughts and views in the Ancient Egyptian religion. Egyptians dedicated much time and wealth on preparing for survival in the next world because of their peculiar belief on afterlife. Egyptians saw death as a temporary phase in the progress to gain a healthier life in the afterlife. They believed that they could only attain their full ability after death. Each person was to possess three souls, the “ka”, the “ba”, and the “akh”. The whole civilization of Ancient Egypt was grounded on religion which made their beliefs very significant to them. Their belief in being born again after death became their influential strength behind their funeral practices. Egyptian religion was complex and complicate, as well as vital to many Egyptians, but their polytheistic beliefs certainly caused problems. In the role of “god-kings”, a lot of burden was placed on the pharaohs. They were accused for when the land did not produce well, when there were problems with other countries. The Egyptian gods were never considered by them to be personal.
Egypt was governed by pharaohs and the pharaohs were given the authority at the command of the Egyptian gods. This belief was so powerful in ancient Egypt that all through the nation’s chaotic history various pharaohs discontinue his reign to assure the public that they has obtained the power to reign from the ancient Egyptian gods. “One pharaoh, a female nonetheless, even went so far as to concoct a wild story to insure her subjects saw her as divinely appointed by Hatshepsut.” (The World of the Ancient Egyptian Gods, 2008) Apart from a short period of time when pharaoh Akhenaten tried to establish a monotheistic devotion to one god but the nation was ruled by numerous different Egyptian gods and goddess. Egyptian religion was so interconnected that more focus was provided to their family members and the names of the ancient Egyptian god’s name. Throughout the three thousand year period of the polytheistic religion of Egypt was encompassed of a very complicated system of Egyptian gods and goddesses. They were the one who studied the knowledge of both the scared mystery teachings and the religious philosophies of the times. Pharaoh appointed different high priests to perform the sacred rituals at different temple because he could not carry out ceremonies at all the temples all over Egypt. Priests often give his throne down their positions from father to son. The priests’ responsibilities were to supervise the gods and listen to their needs. They also carry out funeral rites, teaching school, administrating the artists and works, and counselling people on problems. The priesthood of ancient Egypt has an extensive and profound history, entrenched within the traditions of Ancient Egypt. While the pharaohs were seen as gods, the priests and priestesses were perceived as replacement for the pharaoh. The job of the priests and priestesses were considered very high in Egyptian society, as is the situation with most ideally based societies. The spiritual characteristics of the priests and priestesses take on a minor role because the aspect of attaining the ethical and basic needs of the Egyptians. Though there work on society served as a method to order society, to establish a hierarchy, and to conserve the culture for future generations. The role of the priests and priestesses were both practical and spiritual on both levels. A priest or priestess in ancient Egypt was normally selected by either the pharaoh, or they accomplished their position by hereditary means. The priests and priestesses who received their positions hereditarily and through the king were allowed to continue their ordinary life. As a matter of fact, such priests were made to comprise the ordinary life to keep Egyptian society working properly. However the priesthood had begun out modestly, with moderately few temples, in the following reigns the temples increased into the hundreds. For such development, a large government was required to keep the temples in good position; and thereafter, the establishment of small priesthood’s of the Egyptians grew from an estimated hundred priests into the thousands later with it came a priestly hierarchy. Priests were often alternated from position to position within the hierarchy and were combined in and out of ordinary society. This alternation method normally went that a priest would enter into temple life one month, at three times a year. This alternation system had a straight association to the often severe purity rites of the priests. Irrespective of what position the priest was, there were numerous restrictions and tradition’s a priest had to or could not participate in.
Ancient Egyptian religion was similar to current times. Everyone does not believe in the same way, or of the same god. Ancient Egyptian followed the same rule of not following the same god. Egyptian pharaoh worshipped their own gods so did the workers, priests, merchants and farmers of Ancient Egypt. Pre-dynastic Egypt had their own way of thinking and viewpoint of a “god”, which was articulated in symbols and pictures; “writing” was invented in order to convey spiritual thoughts to the people of ancient Egypt. Egyptians influenced many people regarding religion and Egyptians are known for their devotion towards their religion and gods.
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